Not uncommon: A friend was at work 40miles away from his residence and gets a call from the home security company that their alarm has set off. The backup, a relative who lived 10 miles away from him, was a thousand miles away on vacation. His wife was at home but was sleeping and could not be awakened by phone nor doorbell. Police was dispatched and my friend had to drop everything and rush home. Thankfully, their puppy merely wandered through a side door which might not have been tightly closed, activating the alarm.
Still far from usual: A Florida homeowner catches a thief who broke into his home while he was away. He had customized a home security system using a laptop which was connected to his printer, cameras and a motion detector. The sensor went off and sent an email alert to him. At the same time, the cameras emailed pictures to him of the scene, including the intruder,which he in turn emailed to the dispatched police. A suspect was arrested while he was still inside the home.
The above scenarios show the whole spectrum — from having limited use of technology to being very tech savvy as far as home security systems. Moving the needle from Not Smart to Very Smart, home security companies are tapping on cutting edge technology to put greater control in the hands of homeowners through Interactive Monitoring via smart phone/tablet/desktop compatible apps and gadgets.
Interactive Monitoring has become almost a standard offering across companies. To name a few, LifeShield has LifeView, Vivint has Z-Wave Technology while Protect America’s interactive is called Smart Connect. Features, cost and availability widely differ.
Interactive service includes:
- Apps and Remote Control Capability Connected to an Existing Security System.These allow homeowners to interact with their security systems 24/7 and from anywhere with a cellphone connection. Remote arming/disarming of the security system and getting alerts for home intrusion are more common features. Usually at an additional cost, more sensors may be installed to monitor fire, flooding, carbon monoxide poisoning and other environmental hazards. Simplisafeadvertises that they can install sensors in gunand liquorcabinets.
Generally, home security systems with interactive access entail additional costs. ADT Plus Interactive Services is upfront with their $1 a day incremental charge.Some companies such as Frontpointclaim not to charge extra for interactive. Similarly, Comcast Xfinityhas no additional charge although `their home security service is bundled with their internet, cable and phone services.
- Live Video Streaming using Wireless Security Cameras. This is usually offered as an additional service at an added cost to homeowners.
Alarm Force has a system that allows video surveillance of anyone at the front door withcapability even to talk with that person.
- Home Automation. This gives the homeowners remote control of locks, lights, faucets and home temperature. Guardian offers this as one of several features in their emPowerPackage.
With the interactive capability now a given in the services checklist of home security companies, homeowners are provided unlimited access, convenience and precision with their safety monitoring systems. Yes, there are apps and more for all those!