Selling Home Security
Home Safe Home
Inside Web-Based Security Systems
By Natalie Hope McDonald
It's Tuesday night and Sandy Roy's flight arrives in Florida. Even before he picks up his luggage, the lights have been activated and air conditioning has been turned on several miles away at his house in Valrico. Because Roy spends much of his time traveling for business, he has installed a Web automation system that not only secures his house, but also allows him to navigate it while he's on the road. This eastern regional sales manager for HAI (Home Automation Inc.) believes that a good security system requires a two-prong approach: traditional and Internet networking.
"It used to be you really had to work hard to get someone to listen," Roy admits from his home office. "It was pie-in-the-sky technology." Now, the eight-year Web veteran says that home and commercial property owners are eager to protect their assets using familiar technological vehicles—like the World Wide Web, PDAs and cell phones—that are coupled to security systems that include cameras and traditional touch pads.
Because the demand for networked security has increased exponentially, providers have had to reinvent the methods by which users balance independent control with third-party monitoring. Of course, manufacturers of these devices have been promising the homeowner an "automated home of the future" since the World's Fair days of the 1930s. But from the beginning, the dream of the intelligent home or office building has been tripped up by complicated technologies, expensive custom programming and proprietary systems that may limit customer choice.
That was then. Today, it's possible to control home functions using as little (or as much) as a cell phone.
There are several paradigms that Web-based systems use to provide home automation, but they can be broadly boiled down into three categories. The first is one where the homeowners have to network securely into their homes to access a Web automation system. The second is where the automation system in the home sends data to centralized servers located outside of the homes, so that the data is "hosted." The third is a hybrid of these two approaches.