Home Security Systems – Do They Actually Protect Us?

Home Security Systems – Do They Actually Protect Us?

This is why we consider them, right? For security. The question, however, is do you want to make you home more secure or are you in fact trying to make it  safer?

These are two very different objectives. Security systems protect our home. Our possessions and our assets. Creating a safer home means protecting our family . The people in our home. If you truly want to create the safest and most secure environment then you need to adopt technology that does both. So let’s explore the 4 best systems on the market right now to do so.

1. Electronic locking systems.

Locks in general are an obvious staple in this space. But in conventional applications if you forget to lock the door when you leave the system is compromised. Not to mention if you lose a key it’s a pain in the arse. If you need to let someone into your home (like family or friends) while you’re at work it can be, well, impossible.
To counteract these inconveniences you make choices to further compromise the situation by say, leaving the back door unlocked for the day… just in case someone comes by.
Then there’s always that much greater fear that you haven’t locked ALL the doors and windows after going to bed and dreading the worst for yourself or your kids if someone was to ‘break in.’
Unfortunately 1 in 10 break-ins in Australia occur while the home is occupied and most commonly when the owners are asleep. Electronic door locks give you the ability to lock one or every door and window in the entire home with a single push on your mobile device, giving you peace of mind every night.

2. Lighting control systems.

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that the very best way to stop intruders is to deter them before they even get to the doors or windows. Conventional sensor or security lighting can do this, and has done for many years. But this does have a fairly one dimensional level of functionality. Movement at night = Lights come on. However, it is pretty hard to cover every nook and cranny around the home with security lighting, and in many cases having a dog in the back yard will create nuisance operations. Furthermore, if you are away on a holiday and the crooks are smart enough to work out that no one is home, will they even care if the light comes on over the back door? If anything it’s probably helping them to pick the lock!
More holistic lighting control systems incorporating SMART technology can offer so much more to supercharge the level of safety and security. The standard sensor systems around the perimeter can be programmed to require ‘double trips’ or other engineered inputs to stop dogs and trees setting off the lighting. One of the other applications that is oh-so-easy is to program in a ‘panic’ style button beside the bed so that if you’re in bed and hear some suspicious noises outside, with a gentle touch EVERY light outside (and inside if you really want) comes on at full brilliance giving a pretty clear ‘rack off’ message!
One of my other favourites is the utilisation of a ‘holiday’ mode. Here simple programming can mean that while you’re away enjoying a break you can set schedules for lighting throughout the home to turn on and off when you like. Kitchen from 7pm to 9pm, Lounge from 9pm to 11pm, toilet for 5 minutes at 10pm, 1:37am and 5:22am etc. There is no better way to give your home that ‘lived in’ look to any potential home invaders out there.

3. CCTV (Closed Circuit Television)

This is just a fancy name for a heap of cameras wired in a ‘closed’ circuit recording everything and anything that happens in and around a building. It’s a technology that has predominately been adopted commercially for many years with almost all new offices, schools and public buildings now using them. This has been for a couple reasons:
  1. For years these systems have been pretty expensive.
  2. They have been too ‘big’ and unsightly for our beloved homes.
  3. There has been too much cabling required, making retro fitting to existing buildings tough.
Fortunately, this has all changed in recent years with more consumer systems now readily available. These systems are far cheaper but also use far smaller, more discreet hardware so our homes don’t look like a prison. More impressively, most of the newer applications are either IP cameras (just a single Ethernet cable) or WiFi enabled needing no cabling at all! As they are now all Ethernet or WiFi based they are connected to your homes existing data network and as such you can view them on your phone, tablet or desktop computer from anywhere in the world. And if you’re worried about the battery life of these wireless units (a valid concern) then don’t. They have built in motion sensors so only operate when there is movement and also give you a warning on that same phone when the batteries need to be changed.

4. Conventional security systems (with a tweak)

I’m sure everyone has seen one of these systems over the years. Half a dozen or so motion sensors jammed in the corners of living rooms, hallways, kitchens etc. Then there’ll be a keypad at the front door, and probably the back also. When leaving, you ‘ARM’ the system, when returning home you ‘DISARM’. Simple. Well that’s actually the problem; they’re a little too simple.
You can’t turn them on while you sleep for protection, as if your kids get up to use the loo overnight and walk past one… Wakey wakey! Probably more relevant though is to consider the criminals intent if they are looking to pinch the laptop on the table and the jewellery from your dresser while you’re at work. They know that these systems generally have a 60 second waiting period before the alarm sounds to let you enter the code into the keypad, and how long exactly do you think it will take them to pinch your stuff? What if they enter through a bedroom window where you don’t have a sensor? In these archaic systems, by the time the alarm sounds they’re half way home with your stuff in tow.
Let’s face a pretty harsh reality too. Do you really care about your TV getting pinched? It’s insured isn’t it? What you want is to deter them from coming in at all, especially if you or your kids are asleep inside.
But there is a solution – these systems can be easily adapted (in most cases) to incorporate specific door and window sensors to actually monitor in real time if these barriers are infiltrated. Wouldn’t you rather one of these crooks opening a window and the alarm going off instantly before they even got a foot in the door? It also gives you the ability to arm these access sensors only at night leaving you to freely move about the home without any unwanted screeches!
Other really simple ‘add on’ units to these systems can be advanced access control units (swipe cards, fingerprint readers etc.), WiFi/smartphone monitoring so you can actually see if any of these sensors have been tripped during the day before you enter, and integration with the locking systems, lighting systems and camera applications mentioned earlier.
Home security (and safety) has come a long way hasn’t it! But you know where the magic happens? It’s when all of these applications are integrated together in harmony so all you’re doing is touching ‘Welcome’, ‘Goodbye’ or maybe ‘Holiday Time’ on your phone and the rest is taken care of. Watch this space as soon this will all be able to happen without you having to touch anything.
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For more information on supercharging your homes systems to create a higher level of functionality and automation check out what Sam and the team are doing over at www.smarterbuildings.com.au and look out for his new book HOMES WITH A HEARTBEAT: The Step by step guide to an automated home.