Home Security 2.0 next generation monitored home service
By Vawn Himmelsbach
First there was Web 2.0, then Enterprise 2.0. Now, iControl and GE Security have rolled out what they’re calling Home Security 2.0, or the “next generation of home protection.”
By Vawn Himmelsbach
The companies are talking to a number of security dealers in North America, but the first to sign on to offer the system to customers is alarm-monitoring company Monitronics International.
“Cable guys and telco guys are competing directly to deliver security as the next bundled service and what that’s doing is acting as a catalyst for security dealers,” says Reza Raji, CEO of iControl Networks Inc. in Palo Alto, Calif. “They’re all competing with each other trying to deliver the next generation of security systems.” It’s a 40-year-old industry that has seen little innovation, he added, and it’s ripe for a revolution.
Building onto traditional monitored home security, Home Security 2.0 adds broadband and mobile access to security systems, cameras and home devices, delivering remote home monitoring and control functionality. Rather than ignoring or punching in a code on a security panel before they leave the house, customers can remotely control their own security system over the Web or their mobile phone.
“It’s a perfect marriage between traditional security and Internet broadband and content,” says Raji. This will allow security dealers, cable companies and telcos to deliver a new service to their customers that complements an existing market and deliver a perceived daily value.
One of the reasons churn is so high in the home security business is because customers don’t see that perceived daily value, says Raji, so they don’t always bother renewing their contracts. Home Security 2.0 offers additional services that customers can use on a day-to-day basis, he says, which can help security dealers justify their monthly service fees.
Customers can see live video and pictures of their homes and receive e-mail or text message notifications when events occur – whether they’re anticipated or unanticipated. They can also control lighting and thermostats from a Web portal or mobile phone.
“[Security dealers] can not only reduce their churn but attract customers that have been sitting on the fence and not buying security,” says Raji. They can also take advantage of the broadband pipe that’s out there. “It’s free to them, they’re just not taking advantage of it.”
Monitronics is the first security dealer to announce an offering around Home Security 2.0, though Raji says iControl is talking to a “slew of security dealers in Canada” that want to offer this. It will ultimately be up to security dealers how they want to package and price it – whether they offer it as a bundle or a la carte.
“It really is an extension of one’s own security equipment,” says Mitch Clarke, CEO of Monitronics International Inc. in Dallas. At the simplest level, it allows customers to remotely turn their security system on and off. But it will also allow them to get more use out of their security system through an intuitive Web interface.
“It’s really taken the security system that doesn’t get used and puts it in the palm of your hand,” he says. With his BlackBerry, for example, Clarke can get a notification if his front door opens after 10pm.
The customer can control the system remotely, either on demand or through the use of triggers. Not all triggers have to be emergencies, says Clarke. It can let you know when your child comes home from school or if your teenager took the car without permission.
“You determine how far you want to go with what alerts you want,” he says.
Monitronics is wrapping up an employee trial, where employees without a lot of technical expertise were asked to try the system at home. The majority of them, says Clarke, didn’t require assistance when setting it up (though it can be professionally installed).
The alarm-monitoring company plans to run market trials within the next two months and offer the system to its customer base next year. It’s still working out the pricing proposition, but it will likely be in the form of a small monthly fee in addition to the customer’s base security – making this much less expensive than the high-end systems of the past, says Clarke. And, if they don’t see value in it, they can simply turn it off.
“It’s about a whole new level of security products that you as an individual can tailor to what you need,” he says. “It’s not a pre-programmed thing.”
Monitronics will first market the system to existing subscribers in the U.S., and eventually make it available to all customers, including those in Canada and Puerto Rico.