Home Comment Remote controls and risks

Remote controls and risks

by Andy Clutton

home automationOur acceptance of all things connected and the expectation of a signal wherever we are has led to a change in the way we communicate and the way in which the security industry is moving

I like a bit of nostalgia as much as the next man but were things really better in the old days? I remember while going on a family holiday in the 70s we had to turn the Morris Minor around because my Dad couldn’t recall whether or not he’d locked the back door. That did not sit well with us as it was only extending the journey to Rhyl Sun City even longer. Another time my parents forgot to cancel the milk, so to avoid returning home to six pints of milk on the doorstep, or advertising that we were away, my Dad had to drive back home from the holiday site. Not that he would have minded because at least it gave him some peace and quiet.

Fast forward to 2014 and what do we have? A network connected lifestyle that allows us to check on home security remotely and to call up anyone in our Contacts list (or find their number on the web) which means that we can be anywhere in the world (even in Rhyl) and be in control. What’s more, we EXPECT that wherever we go there will be wi-fi or mobile data availability.

This connectivity has led to some changes in the intruder alarm industry over recent years. This sector has largely remained unchanged for some time, but now with the ‘always online’ capability we carry around in our pockets the alarm industry has tapped into this giving us real time access to our domestic and business security systems. Previously this type of remote access was only available via the services of an alarm monitoring centre (ARC) but now is in the hands of Joe Public.

Let’s not be too over the top with it though and be warned, the remote access you can get using the latest alarm equipment should not be seen as a replacement for the services of an ARC. As one cynic said to me; “If you’re using your phone to look at video of your house being burgled how do you phone the police at the same time and will they give it the same response as a call from an ARC?” The remote access possibilities of modern systems is a value-added service that installers can offer on top of the fitting/maintenance, it is not meant to make them cancel their ARC services.

One concern for the ARC and for the security industry is the arrival of new companies into this sector. We have already seen British Gas offering remote control of your hot water system via a smartphone (like we’ve all wanted to turn up a radiator while we were down the pub) and there are many building management systems coming to the market that include control of security systems. Line this up next to the fact that recently a load of celebrities showed us exactly how NOT to use iCloud and there are potential security issues if a non-security minded person sets it all up.

There are some dangers ahead for people who jump on the remote access bandwagon if they do not educate their customers properly. It’s like online banking, inherently it’s safe, but the customers can easily screw up the system. It’s not as if we have to go back to the days of driving home to cancel the milk to avoid security problems, but a little care and attention is needed when giving remote access capabilities out to customers.

And the good old days? Nostalgia isn’t as good as it used to be.

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