Security companies here are vying for the attention of customers who increasingly want to monitor security systems at homes and businesses through a mobile device with a quick flick of the finger on a smartphone or tablet.
Until mobile control of security systems became available, customers had to manually punch in a lock code or security companies monitored camera footage, says Brian Morgan, sales consultant for Allied Fire & Security, of Spokane. He says customers now have more control of their systems because more security component manufacturers are offering mobile access capability.
Allied Security offers a mobile service called Total Connect Remote Services. Manufactured by Honeywell International Inc., Total Connect uses a mobile application available on Apple, Android, and Blackberry devices. The application enables customers to control their security systems and view live video or pictures on mobile devices. Customers also can receive text messages or email notifications when motion is detected or the system senses something about the house or business is abnormal.
Morgan says at Allied Security, Total Connect is an add-on feature for Honeywell security systems and doesn't come standard. About 20 percent of its customers that use Total Connect are small businesses, he says. The remaining 80 percent use Total Connect for residential systems.
Between 40 and 50 percent of Allied Security's new customers now opt into using Total Connect, which is up from about 5 percent two years ago when the company first began offering it, Morgan says. He projects that mobile customer growth will continue to rise as more and more people become smartphone users.
"Just now small businesses are realizing it's a useful tool for them," he says.
Business owners are the ones controlling the system, he says. They can arm or disarm the system on-site and off-site with mobile devicesand don't have to rely on employees to set the alarm.
"With the uptick in crime, security systems have become more important, but they don't do any good if it's not armed," Morgan says.
He says Total Connect uses cloud technology, and data is stored on servers located in the New York area.
Morgan says Total Connect also has the ability to control other parts of a home or business, such as lighting, and heating and cooling.
Total Connect may be able to do more in the future, Morgan says, such as enabling businesses to track company cars through GPS.
Allied Security also offers systems manufactured by Digital Monitoring Products, which has its own version of mobile access, known as Z-Wave. Security or home automation equipment with Z-Wave capabilities can be controlled by smartphones or tablets using the company's virtual keyboard app or through DMP's MyAccess text commands.
A security system typically costs between $200 and $600 to purchase and install, and Allied Security charges between $21 and $28 a month for monitoring and maintenance, Morgan says. Adding Total Connect to a security system ranges between $4 and $10 a month depending on what additional automation a customer wants to include, such as thermostat or lighting controls, he says. DMP's similar product costs slightly more at $10 a month.
Jim Burke, president of Spokane-based CSK Communications Inc., says the main security system offered by the company is called Flysight, which is manufactured by Geovision Inc. That system has between four and 32 cameras. It has been around for eight years, but has had mobile access and control capability for just the last four years, Burke says.
CSK Communications provides, installs, and maintains the security equipment, but customers monitor their own systems. Burke says there is no monthly charge for the security system.
Flysight customers receive email alerts when movement is detected, along with five digitally transmitted images of whatever triggered the alert, Burke says.
"It provides the customer with the ability to do their own security, and we just maintain the electronics for them," Burke says.
About 95 percent of Flysight customers are businesses, Burke says. CSK Communications expects to see an increase in small business participation with the recent release of a lower-priced, four-camera system distributed by Bolide Technology Group Inc. that also has mobile capabilities, Burke says.
CSK Communications has installed the Flysight system at places such as Riverpoint Pharmacy in the U-District, and almost all of the Catholic Charities Spokane facilities.
Burke says the four-camera option competes in price with store-bought, plug-and-play security systems.
Some store-bought security systems do have mobile monitoring capabilities, Burke says, but their setup can be more difficult than most customers expect.
"It tends to be a little bit more technical than plug-and-play," Burke says, pointing specifically to Internet configuration and electrical wiring involved with setup.
Burke says he doesn't expect to see a big increase in larger CSK business customers, but says he hopes to see smaller businesses that otherwise would use the do-it-yourself systems opt to install Flysight.
In addition to store-bought models, Morgan says the number of home-automation service providers that double as security service providers has increased in recent years, adding, "There's a ton of people dabbling in it."
Providing customers the ability to control temperature, locks, and lights through a security system is a secondary service for a security company, he says.
"It's the other way around for a lot of these upcoming do-it-yourself products," Morgan says.
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