Mobilizing Alarm System Access
Growing consumer demand to access and control as much as possible through their mobile devices is creating new recurring revenue for security installation and monitoring companies. Increasingly, manufacturers are offering devices and software to make these services more widespread.
Got mobile? If not, you’d better get it soon. That’s because it’s almost impossible these days to go anywhere in public and not find at least one person pulling out a smart phone to check E-mail, download music, look up GPS coordinates or update their Facebook and/or Twitter status.
During the past couple of years, alarm technology vendors have correctly pounced on the opportunity presented by popular consumer electronics such as the iPhone and BlackBerry. As these devices have become our personal and professional remote controls, it’s only natural to try to leverage them as a way to simplify security and make it a bigger part of the consumer’s daily routine.
In an age where many installers look to increase the value of a sale with add-on devices that enhance the core system, mobile monitoring capabilities represent a new era of selling: Dealers can now use devices that customers already own, or already want, to help close their sales. And the recurring monthly revenue (RMR) potential is just as strong. As a result, the ability to offer mobile monitoring through use of these consumer electronics is fast becoming a must-have in the dealer’s arsenal.
As with any fast-growing trend, though, there is a degree of caution to be heeded. The rapid proliferation of mobile monitoring, for instance, is also calling attention to the need for a strong end-to-end solution that ensures the overall system remains viable. And in some cases, the sheer number of confusing options available to the dealer has caused some to sit still and not embrace the technology at all.
And that may be the biggest consequence of all, from a business perspective.
Market Potential Is in the Numbers
Mobile monitoring represents the biggest opportunity yet for dealers to intertwine security with lifestyle-enhancing technology. In fact, there were more than 270 million cell phones in use in December 2008, the most recent figure available from CTIA-The Wireless Association, a wireless phone industry group for the major carriers. That figure is up from 110 million in 2000, and it means that 87 percent of Americans have a phone they take everywhere. These devices are among the most highly demanded gadgets in the world today.
Unlike the iPhone and BlackBerry, though, security technology — while considered a necessity by many home and business owners — hasn’t exactly been high on many holiday gift lists through the years.
In the past couple of years, however, the prevalence and convenience offered by the Internet began adding the “cool” factor to security. With the advent of Web-based communication services, homeowners began relishing the ability to conveniently check the status of their home security systems by logging onto a secure Web site from their work computers.
E-mail notifications that alerted them to noncritical events such as a child returning home from school provided additional peace of mind. And the ability to remotely arm and disarm an alarm panel spoke to the evolving technological lifestyle of the times. It was only natural, therefore, for these security offerings to follow the path of the smart phone’s evolution.
The cutting-edge touch screen graphics of devices such as the iPhone, for example, are enabling homeowners to replicate the look and feel of the standard system keypads that have become fixtures in secured homes. It means a very short learning curve for the consumer and virtually no training that needs to be provided by the dealer. Other capabilities include streaming video applications that allow end users to access digital captures, even full motion video inside the house or business directly from their mobile devices.
Additionally, end users will be able to easily program cameras via Web services to alert the system if they detect movement in specified areas such as the front steps to the house or driveway entrance. If the camera pixels detect movement in the designated area, a notification can be sent directly to the customer. That’s right, video analytics for the masses. So in addition to a user receiving an alert notifying him or her of an impending meeting or conference call, they can also be notified if a potential intruder is approaching a gated area or even if a household pet ventures into an area it shouldn’t.
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