Integrating security with smart automation by Mark Taylor, UK and Ireland managing director, RISCO
According to international market research firm, Fortune Business Insights, the smart automation sector is estimated to increase by around 20% between 2021 and 2028 (https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com/industry-reports/smart-home-market-101900). The growth in demand is coming from both the commercial and residential sectors, and a rising number of end users are seeking integrated solutions that combine the convenience and energy-efficiency of smart automation with security.
The ongoing cost-of-living crisis is unfortunately perpetuating a long-standing perception among many buyers that robust professional security systems are preferable rather than necessary, with many residential property owners still opting to install low quality DIY products themselves.
Yet a new wave of professional integrated security alarm and smart automation solutions are providing installers with the opportunity to offer end users a cost-effective system, amalgamating smart automation with an enhanced level of security.
These new integrated solutions also provide customers with a superior degree of security to that offered by autonomous security systems. Users may create event rules, whereby intruder detection triggers a series of “proactive protections” such as the switching on of outdoor lights, that deter burglars from attempting to access a building. They may also establish time-scheduled rules designed to make thieves believe that a vacant property is occupied, programming the system to turn lights on and off at certain times of day.
Integrated scenes can be preconfigured, not only saving occupiers time when they leave a building, but also precluding security omissions caused by human error. At the point at which a property is vacated, the security system automatically locks doors, windows and gates, generating peace of mind.
Installers too stand to gain a great deal from integrated solutions, not least the opportunity to expand their offer to include security as well as smart automation. It is quicker and easier to fit a single combined system than autonomous products, and cost-effective projects help installers to achieve healthy margins even within the context of the cost-of-living crisis when end user budgets are squeezed.
The comprehensive new solutions require contractors to carry only a relatively small amount of stock, which both enables them to save on storage space required and facilitates a simpler, swifter procurement process less vulnerable to the vagaries of a supply chain which in some areas has yet to fully recover after the global pandemic.
Contractors also make savings in the time it takes to train their engineers in the correct and efficient installation and maintenance of equipment, providing instruction on one product instead of two.
The number of integrated systems available on the market is growing, and the choice can be bewildering, especially for smart automation installers new to the field of security. But by following a few simple guidelines, contractors can make the decision-making process easier and less time-consuming.
Integrated solutions manufactured by security specialists tend to feature high-level security as the bedrock of their functionality. They provide installers with the opportunity to offer their customers a professional system, fully differentiated from lower quality options available on the DIY market. Many of these producers stock a range of compatible devices such as locks, lights and garage doors, facilitating ease of purchase.
The best manufacturers will also be able to provide installers not only with reliable after-care, but also comprehensive – and in the best cases, bespoke – online and face-to-face training for their engineers, designed to enable them to fit and maintain the solutions with effectiveness and efficiency. As well as allowing installers to guarantee the cost-effective delivery of efficacious systems, robust product training helps to enhance their engineers’ capabilities. By offering enrichment opportunities to their staff, installation firms can help to boost their employees’ level of job satisfaction and so too their loyalty; this is of particular importance while the UK continues to face a shortage of engineers.
It is vital that contractors select a security alarm of the correct grading, reflecting the value of a property’s contents and the associated risk of intrusion. Not only is this necessary to safeguard contents and people, but it is also vital to meet the criteria stipulated by insurance policies. Security grades begin at one and rise to four for the highest risk facilities.
Open-source solutions present a series of advantages over proprietary ones, facilitating easy integration with customers’ existing devices, irrespective of brand. They also allow flexibility in the future expansion of combined systems, enabling installers to select devices that meet their customer’s needs precisely.
Scalable products allow the efficient increase of the number of zones covered, permitting straightforward adaptation in the event of property evolution or extension or the incorporation of new buildings.
Installers should look for a solution that connects the controller to the alarm via Bus, the most flexible wiring topology available. Bus enables devices to be quickly and easily wired in a single-line “daisy-chain” protocol in addition to or in place of a conventional “star” layout, minimising the quantity of cabling and zone expanders required. Our customers have made time and material savings of up to 75% on projects incorporating this protocol.
Ultimately of course, installers want to be able to provide their customers with an exceptional user experience that will not only meet their immediate needs but also encourage repeat business and referrals to friends and business associates. Ease of operation is a big part of this, and integrated solutions that enable residential and commercial users to effortlessly manage security and smart automation remotely from a single control panel and via app permit simplification of their daily routines. And of course, voice activation control is rapidly becoming an expectation rather than a preference.
Earlier this year, RISCO utilised its 45 year experience in the manufacture of security solutions to create the RisControl Controller for Alarm and Smart Automation, an integrated security alarm and smart automation solution for commercial and residential installers that may also be supplied as a standalone automation controller.
RISCO has a national distribution agreement with leading global security distributor, ADI Global Distribution, and on 29th September, ADI will host a webinar for installers keen to discover more about the operational scope and business benefits of adding combined systems to their portfolios, as well as technical advice.
For further details please visit www.smarthome.riscogroup.com