According to Tim McKinney, Director of ADT Custom Home Services, home security technology has become so much more affordable that it’s really driving the trend towards more high tech home security systems.
“For years, business owners have used video surveillance systems to keep tabs on their operations remotely,” he says. “Now homeowners are taking advantage of the same technology to monitor their homes when they are away.”
The Safewatch Videoview service is ADT’s newest home security system offering to Canadian consumers. Using a series of video cameras, homeowners can make sure family members have arrived home safely, check on possible damage to their vacation home after a storm or monitor the progress of repairmen from anywhere.
“Homeowners are discovering that motion sensing video cameras can make busy lifestyles a little easier by providing customers with email notifications of triggered events and the ability to look in on their homes at any time,” McKinney said. “All they need is an Internet connection to log on to an encrypted and secure, password-protected Web site, which can be accessed even through a corporate firewall.”
Coupled with a standard home security system, Safewatch provides homeowners with a great way to enhance the services that the home security system would offer, and at an affordable price. The system starts at less than $700 (professionally installed) and costs only $10 month to maintain in addition to regular home security monitoring fee of $30.
“So for under $50 month you have the benefit of a full home security system for intrusion and fire, but you’d also be able to add the video camera component,” says McKinney.
The system allows homeowners to capture pre and post video footage of intruders in the event that the alarm is triggered by bringing up the cameras remotely from anywhere in the world. It also has the ability to take that signal and transmit it to anybody accessing the web. But Big Brother isn’t watching in this case. The video cameras are password encrypted so you can see your cameras but ADT cannot.
But you don’t have to be away from home to make good use of home security video cameras. If a parent is in the kitchen and the kids are in the pool, even if there is no line of sight the kids can be monitored on a television or computer screen from anywhere in the home.
If this system isn’t quite high-tech enough for you, security companies say that the sky’s the limit if you have the budget.
“Some over-the-top features that we’ve installed include complete video solutions that have video cameras, starlight cameras (capable of bringing signal back to DVRs so you can record footage 24/7 in the home), weatherproof housing, windshield wipers for the video cameras, blowers, the whole nine yards,” says McKinney. These features allow homeowners to secure not only the interior but the entire perimeter of their property.
“All the bells and whistles of the work we do in the commercial world, like banks and high security locations, is now available to home owners if they’re willing to pay for it,” he says.
Most home security systems today are controlled by a central panel and are capable of sending five distinct types of signals to the service provider. These include intrusion, fire, critical condition (temperature monitoring), gas monitoring, trouble (battery on panel is dropping off or medical emergency).
In general, it’s easier to install wiring for home security systems at the construction stage although McKinney says that 80 per cent of their installations involve retrofitting existing homes.
“Technology allows us now to run a lot of things like smoke detectors and heat sensors as wireless so aesthetically the systems are more pleasing. What we’ve done is taken commercial applications and aesthetically designed them for the consumer space,” says McKinney. “At the same time, we’ve been able to bring the price down, making home security more attractive to the average consumer.”