Alula’s Russell Vail Weighs In On Trends Impacting Monitoring Centers, By Warren Hill

Advanced technologies enable manufacturers, installing dealers and monitoring centers to continually improve how residential and SMB customers secure and automate their homes and businesses. New smartphone apps put tremendous system control in the hands of end users.

But new technology, such as universal dual and IP path communicators and 5G cellular-ready systems (while the industry continues to meet the 3G sunset), aren’t enough to overcome all the difficulties associated with getting alarm signals from customer sites to monitoring centers.

POTS vs. Cell & Radio Signals

Home security systems communicate with monitoring centers in different ways. Traditionally, they communicated directly to monitoring center receivers via landline phones, also known as plain old telephone service (POTS). Today, more signals are sent to automated systems using Internet or radio signals. “We prefer automation-to-automation,” says Russell Vail, executive vice president and co-founder of Alula. “By bypassing the old-school receivers, we eliminate unnecessary bottlenecks.”

He says that all industry segments are pushing for end users to replace their POTS lines with cellular or Internet signals. Still, about 35% of customers rely on landlines. “When you start sending alarm signals over an analog phone line to one that’s digital, you can receive unreliable communication,” he adds. “Calls may be delayed for several minutes or just be wrong. You might send an emergency responder to an incorrect address. We must replace these analog lines. Getting customers to change to cellular or Internet communication requires a concerted effort from the entire industry.”

Ashley Raisanen, business manager at Rockford, Minn.-based WH International Response Center (WHIRC), agrees with Vail that landline phone lines are a significant problem for monitoring center operators. WHIRC monitors about 65,000 customers in 38 states. She estimates landlines generate about 40% of calls to WHIRC.

“In the last five years, we’ve seen a decline in the quality of traditional phone lines. They are quickly becoming unreliable. Alarm panels will be forced to redial the receiver if there is any disturbance on the line. Waiting for callbacks delay response times.”

WHIRC has little influence over its customers’ communications paths, especially in rural areas lacking adequate cellular service. Many of the center’s rural sites are vacation homes where owners don’t want to pay for year-round Internet coverage providing IP communication. WHIRC can sometimes trace calls through phone switches when there is a communications error. However, too often, landline calls are not identifiable.

With a mobile app, subscribers can easily verify an alarm event themselves instead of having to be called by a monitoring center.

“Customers can be resistant to changing their landlines until they fail,” Raisanen says. “With the changes in technology and reduction of costs, we have seen customers wanting more connectivity with their alarm panels. They are making the choice to switch communication paths prior to complete failure.”

She says WHIRC looks to its manufacturing partners to help with solutions — cellular, IP or dual takeover modules that replace landlines and improve communications while remaining cost-effective in the residential and SMB markets where affordability is crucial. The monitoring center also looks to manufacturers to help educate installing dealers.

Raisanen says some manufacturers offer reduced-price upgrades and sunset programs, reducing the cost of Internet communications through long-term commitments that enable dealers to replace old communications systems.

Dwight Sears, president and CEO of Silent Guard, an installing dealer based in Somerset and Lexington, Ky., says his technicians no longer install systems using landline communications. “Landlines are obsolete. We may still serve a few [legacy] landline systems, but they are no longer an installation option for us.”

Customers Take Control

Modern IP-based systems offer smartphone apps, providing end users greater control over who receives and responds to their signals. For example, there’s no need for a monitoring center to routinely notify users that a child has returned from school. Customers can handle this on their mobile phones without outside involvement.

“When an alarm transmits signals, our system simultaneously sends the signal to all users and the monitoring center,” says Vail. “Customers may cancel the application’s alarms or verify an emergency, requesting immediate calls to first responders. There are many actions customers can perform with the system that a monitoring center cannot.”

He says this system works well with younger end users — those under 40 — who strongly favor communicating via a text message instead of a phone call. Manufacturers are bringing the alarm system in forms end users prefer. Customer-operated smartphone apps work well with monitoring centers, says Raisanen. “End users receive immediate alerts. Sometimes, they’ve fixed a problem before we call them. For example, they use cameras in their homes to see if a kid forgot to disarm the alarm panel. That’s one less thing for us to handle. Everyone is happy.”

Sears is also a proponent of a single customer app that controls most residential security. Most of his customers are monitored by a nationwide provider. “I personally love and use the apps daily. It keeps me connected to multiple locations at the same time. It’s one of the best things that’s happened to our industry. It allows us to be a true partner with our customers. In the past it was ‘your system’ to now we are hearing ‘our system,’ that’s huge for our industry.”

He says both Silent Guard and its monitoring center invest heavily in health monitoring resources for their customers. His company uses a text messaging platform to communicate with its customers, notifying them of trouble signals, alarms and other events that might occur.

Raisanen says she wants system manufacturers/service providers to share component changes with monitoring centers before introducing them to the dealer community and end users. “We want to ensure things are ready with the technology in place at our end before changes are implemented.”

According to Sears, good communication between manufacturers and Silent Guard is important for his business. One of the current issues involves delays in getting required inventory. “We need more communication as we don’t want any surprises. Communicate and then at the end of the day, communicate more. Many times, there are solutions if they would just reach out and let us know what’s going on. That would be a win-win for both of us.”

Verification Cuts False Alarms

False alarms are a problem facing the entire industry. Recent studies show that up to 94% of alarms are false — mostly due to end-user errors. Many law enforcement organizations charge for repeated false alarms (as high as $500 per incident) and some agencies stop responding to alarms from repeat offenders.

That’s why many experts agree that alarm verification is necessary. Raisanen says WHIRC has an enhanced call verification process. Signals go from the homeowner’s system to the monitoring center, where an agent calls the customer to confirm the need to contact emergency services.

Monitoring center dispatchers make two calls to the primary contact. If there is no answer, dispatchers will dispatch authorities then try to contact any other keyholders on the list. It’s a process that may take 15 minutes or more depending upon the number of people. Customers can quickly cancel nuisance alarms using a smartphone app that reduces false alarms.

She says WHIRC is working with manufacturers to incentivize alarm verification methods with little cost. Vail says more information assists station operators with actionable data required to make the best dispatch decisions. That includes more indoor and outdoor video, enabling operators to see what’s happening at a customer’s home.

For example, artificial intelligence will determine if motion resulted from a pet, a motor vehicle, or a person instead of nothing more serious than windblown foliage. Video enables operators to provide more details to first responders, such as a vehicle’s type and color and the number of people inside.

“We’ll charge a little more for this added service to cover our development costs, but it will be pennies a month — far less than the fines many law enforcement departments charge for false alarms,” he says.

Sending alarm signals over an analog phone line to one that’s digital can result in unreliable communication.

A Smarter, Brighter Future

Kirk MacDowell, president of Oregon-based MacGuard Security Advisors, is a 42-year industry veteran and a member of the Security Sales & Integration editorial board. He sees AI making predictive determinations about alarm signals with a system’s hub serving as the collection point.

“Within a few years, a system’s hub will gather data from multiple sources to grade a potential response. For example, it will know if customers are at home based on the location of their mobile phones,” he says. “Based on all the information, it might determine there’s only an 8% chance of a false alarm. Using the proposed Alarm Validation Scoring standard from The Monitoring Association, this event might rate a level four call for service, meaning there is likely a person or persons present at the site and it appears there is a threat to life.”

Calls rated at a lower level may not warrant a call for immediate assistance. This information will help monitoring centers prioritize calls to first responders, resulting in fewer requests for assistance. “Fewer calls allow monitoring centers to spend more time on training existing staff, work smarter and offer a better quality of service to dealers and their customers,” he adds. As part of a continued change, MacDowell sees monitoring centers soon providing ancillary monitoring of nonsecurity devices, such as home generators and HVAC systems.

“The industry has changed. For example, we’ve largely eliminated door knockers; technology and communications have changed. Monitoring centers haven’t changed to any great degree — and they’re going through that metamorphosis now.”

Sears says that each provider in the residential security chain — manufacturers, dealers, monitoring centers and customers — must adapt to new technologies. “It’s like the old saying, stay ahead of events and adapt or you die as a business. We’re also passing along the businesses to a younger generation — in our case, our son. The industry continues moving at a faster pace. I’m excited to see where it’s going.”

Alula’s Dave Mayne featured in Industry Publication

What’s Coming for Residential Dealers?

The way security and automation dealers and their clients interact is changing rapidly as technology advances and do-it-yourself systems proliferate. Continued dealer success hinges on their ability to embrace these changes as part of everyday business.

Traditionally, the dealer was the source of all devices and services required for a connected home. Dealers installed equipment and things remained mostly unchanged until the customer moved, stopped paying, or a cellular sunset required upgrading a system’s communicator. There was little or no need for regular interaction between dealers and their customers.

However, there’s been a significant shift across multiple industries. Consumer-centric business models, pushed by tech giants such as Google and Apple, are aimed at the cost-conscious and younger consumers who are comfortable setting up a DIY smart home system without dealer assistance. While security remains essential, these customers are more interested in automation and convenience and aren’t afraid to install devices purchased online or from big-box stores. To succeed, dealers must provide the services these customers want. Despite what some dealers may think, it’s difficult to grow while only installing security systems. 

Increasingly, dealers must accept the smart lighting, Wi-Fi plugs and other devices customers bring into their homes. Leading smart home manufacturers now design network-enabled, discoverable products that can locate other smart devices. IP-based equipment enables dealers to gain insight into what’s essential to their customers. 

New technologies, providing more benefits and services, offer dealers tremendous growth potential over the next few years. Home systems, built around sensors that detect movement and things opening and closing, are now adding cameras equipped with artificial intelligence. The cameras serve as sensors that go beyond detecting basic motion. A good example is life safety services increasingly powered by AI-equipped cameras. They detect such events as smoke and fire or an older adult who has fallen or is showing a change in gait. Built-in object detection highlights motion by people, vehicles or pets, making it easy to search for things important to end users, such as children arriving home from school. 

This industry was built on users, or their security provider, having to program what they wanted their systems to do. Increasingly, we have AI-based systems observing our actions and automatically suggesting activities. We’ve already seen this with virtual assistants suggesting music based on our previous selections. This type of learned behavior will make its way into the security and home automation industry in a big way. 

Also, look for wireless devices with improved transmission range, providing more choices for product placement. And expect new services enabling communities of family and neighbors to respond to a user’s system alerts and alarms – all through a common smartphone app.

 

SMB

Small to medium businesses represent a sizable percentage of revenue for many alarm dealers. In a post-pandemic world, SMB employees come and go at different times of day, making it essential for managers to control systems remotely. 

Dealer-installed devices can integrate with other building systems, such as access control. AI will enable interactive systems to handle events such as unattended deliveries. With a push of a button on a mobile app, the security system is disarmed. Another button press unlocks the door and the delivery person is given access to leave packages indoors. Once the delivery has been completed the system re-arms itself. And it all happens while a camera monitors the event. 

Some of the automation activities offered by smart home systems will also help small businesses control lighting and other systems, improving security and reducing energy costs. Dealers can help franchise owners unify and collectively manage multiple locations under a single account. 

 

Consolidation

In a very competitive marketplace, including DIY, dealers must become more efficient in their account creation costs. This involves viewing consumer-purchased devices as reducing the amount of time and money needed for a dealer to get an account up and running. 

We’re likely to see increased industry consolidation. Smaller dealers may be at risk if they aren’t building scale, volume or specialized offerings. Technology offers these dealers a chance to redefine their businesses, making themselves known as integrated technology leaders. They need to say to potential and existing customers, “We’re your local technology integrator. We deliver more.” Adopting an integrator mindset is an important path to survival. 

 

Cyber awareness

More IoT devices create added opportunities for a successful cyberattack. Users may have 10, 20 or more “connected” devices on their network. When they buy a device, most people have no idea where it was made or who’s hosting it. Yet, these home networks are where users do their taxes and store health data and other private information. 

Cybersecurity fears will drive some DIY adherents to a professional dealer/installer. Here is an opportunity for dealers to offer managed networks with no need to roll trucks as firmware and software updates are controlled remotely. Managing networks provides dealers with a reliable source of recurring monthly revenue.

Successfully operating a home security and automation business is challenging at any time. For years, dealers built businesses around monitoring intrusion and life safety sensors. Then came the addition of controlling lights, locks and thermostats. That’s all good, but now it’s time to think about providing remote management and proactive monitoring of more devices. Technology offers new ways for dealers to display their professionalism and take control of their customers’ systems – and their businesses. 

 

(Dave Mayne is chief revenue officer for St. Paul, Minn.-based Alula, the leader in smart security and system communications for professional installers)

 

 

 

Alula Launches New Enhanced Video Platform

New camera models, AI-based object detection, Mobile app enhancements and more!

St. Paul, Minn. – April 22, 2022 – Alula, the leader in smart security and system communications for professional installers, today announced the release of its powerful new video platform. Featuring new camera models, AI-based object detection, enhancements to video clip navigation and viewing in the Alula Smart Security App and advanced video capabilities through the new Slimline Touchpad PRO. These new products and capabilities strengthen the role that video plays as a core component of professional security, and further reinforces Alula’s position as a full service solutions provider.

Three new cameras have been added to Alula’s video portfolio. The first is a modern, industrial designed Outdoor Bullet – perfect for viewing porches, alleyways, backyards and more. The second is a smart Doorbell camera with robust and simplified aesthetics, improved motion detection algorithms, and active motion highlighting. The final model is the Indoor 360, featuring responsive pan-tilt operation for broad viewing coverage. All three cameras deliver a high definition viewing experience, motion detection, extended Wi-Fi range and night vision to help users see what’s going bump in the night.

The Outdoor Bullet camera, specially equipped with AI object detection, allows the camera to differentiate between vehicles, people, pets and other objects. System owners will appreciate that they are able to see more while capturing less, as AI object detection filters out “motion noise” and intelligently captures clips of desired activity – such as a child returning home from school or a potential unknown intruder.

With Alula’s Smart Security App, individual camera settings can be adjusted so that system notifications are sent to system users when specific motion activity occurs. App enhancements for navigating stored video clips make it easier for users to find and view clips that were captured at a specific date and time.

Alula’s new video platform can be used in multiple ways. It can be used as part of a more comprehensive smart security system when used in conjunction with the Connect+ control panel. It can be paired with the BAT-Connect alarm panel communicator, on new system installations or on legacy panels that may be in need of a feature refresh. It can also be used as a standalone video surveillance system, which is important for dealers and integrators who are looking for a way to get their foot in the door with consumers and small business owners that may initially only be interested in video services.

“If you need another reason to take a serious look at Alula’s new video platform, consider our newest system control interface – the Slimline Touchpad PRO,” said Corey Plender, Alula’s Vice President, Product Management & Customer Success. “These new cameras and our new touchpad have been purposely integrated to deliver an enhanced customer experience.”

The new touchpad brings these cameras to life by enabling users to monitor live or recorded video on a 7-inch, full color display. The Touchpad PRO plays an audible chime when the doorbell is activated. It also enables two-way conversation with visitors through the new Doorbell camera, or with people in various locations throughout the property with the Indoor 360 camera.

“The advances we’ve achieved with this new video platform are just the beginning,” Plender said. “We are working on intelligent processing that will allow us to combine the AI detection capabilities of these new cameras with our sensor technology. Using the video information and sensor activity together, will allow us to tell a more complete story of what’s going on inside of a home or business. These elements will all be brought together to further evolve the video verification experience.” 

Visit alula.com/cameras to learn more about Alula’s new cameras or alula.com/slimline-touchpad for more information about the Slimline Touchpad PRO.

ABOUT ALULA

Alula’s fire, security and home automation solutions are purpose-built for today’s independent security dealer and integrator professionals. Alula offers end-to-end alarm and interactive services, a mobile app, dealer portal, wireless security/smart home system, universal communicators, translators, cameras, sensors and more. Alula’s mission is to provide differentiated security, automation and smart property solutions that help professional alarm dealers and integrators grow their business more profitably.

 

For more information about Alula, visit https://alula.com/

 

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Alula Services Create a Community for Alarm System Response

Alarm Verification Services and Alula Messenger create a collaborative environment to reduce false alarms and increase system use.

St. Paul, Mn. – March 15, 2022 – Alula, a leader in smart security and system communications for professional alarm dealers, today announced two new service enhancements – Alarm Verification Services and Alula Messenger – enabling system owners to create a community for responding to system alerts and alarms in real-time. Maintained by the system owner, the notification and response community may include family members and neighbors.

Community members may act on alerts and alarms resulting from detected intrusion events as well as day-to-day activities based on video clips from integrated cameras. The user’s response team receives real-time notifications and communicates with other members through the Alula Smart Security App. 

Warren Hill, Alula’s Vice President of Marketing, said the service enhancements create a home monitoring and control platform capable of checking on events that might include:

  • Inadvertent alarm activations
  • Temperature or water leak alerts from inside the home
  • Ensuring children arrive home safely from school
  • Safety checks on elderly adults living independently

Both Alarm Verification Services and Alula Messenger enable system owners to create an established support community,” he said. “These new tools enable community members to quickly investigate, collaborate and communicate with each other and their monitoring center.”

The new service enhancements reduce false alarms and the related penalties imposed by certain jurisdictions by verifying actual alarms. System users create and maintain their lists, which greatly increases the chances of them remaining up to date. 

Historically, the creation and maintenance of lists have fallen to alarm dealers or monitoring centers. Frequently, regular updates were not made, resulting in monitoring centers struggling to locate the right people and wasting valuable time and money responding to events.

These new features will bundle with other Alula system services and be available exclusively through professional alarm dealers and system integrators and provide them another way to increase their monthly revenue.

“These new features were designed to help dealers reduce account attrition by providing an alarm system that’s more relevant and integral to a customer’s everyday life,” said Hill.

 

ABOUT ALULA
Alula’s fire, security and home automation solutions are purpose-built for today’s independent security dealer and integrator professionals. Alula offers end-to-end alarm and interactive services, mobile app, dealer portal, wireless security/smart home system, universal communicators, translators, cameras, sensors and more. Alula’s mission is to provide differentiated security, automation and smart property solutions that help professional alarm dealers and integrators grow their business more profitably.

 

For more information about Alula, visit https://alula.com/

 

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Alula Launches A Builder Program Offering Unequaled Flexibility To Alarm System Integrators

Alula, the leader in smart security and automation systems for professional installers, today launched the Builder Program, an industry-leading program for professional smart home security integrators who work with residential homebuilders. This program provides the flexibility and cost structure alarm dealers and residential integrators need to grow their business, while delivering the technology new homebuyers demand.

“Throughout the creation of this program we talked to a lot of alarm dealers across the U.S. about their ideal solution for the new construction market,” explained Brian McLaughlin, CEO at Alula. “The number one thing they asked for was the ability to design packages specifically for the homebuilders they work with. Our program does just that. We provide solutions and leave it up to the integrator to customize a unique package that works for their builders. It’s by far the most flexible, cost-effective program available in the industry.”

Unlike other programs that require dealers to work with multiple suppliers for hardware and services, Alula offers an integrated solution that covers the complete experience. Because of this, Alula is able to offer hardware packages at everyday low prices and then add prepaid service plans that fit the needs of each integrator. In addition to providing the complete hardware and service solution, Alula also provides sales and marketing assets to help alarm dealers sell the value of offering a smart home experience to new homebuyers.

“A key differentiator of the Alula Builder Program is how we’re going to market. Alula is launching this program to our professional dealer partners,” McLaughlin added. “We’re remaining true to Alula’s brand by putting our dealer partners first and allowing them to customize smart home packages that work for their builder customers. Other programs in this space bypass the residential integrator and engage directly with the homebuilder.”

Four standard service plans, ranging from 12-months to the lifetime of the original homeowner, are available. Service plans include smart device control and automation (lights, thermostats, door locks, and more), live video viewing and local alarm. Alarm dealers can work with builders and homeowners to add additional services, capabilities and hardware.

Additional core benefits of the Alula Builder Program include:

  • Versatility: One panel for automation, video and security
  • Customization: Select the kit that works best for the homebuilder’s needs
  • Cost-Efficiency: Save with model home discounts, remote service activation and cellular communication on-demand
  • Flexibility: Alula’s platform covers wireless and hardwired applications
  • A Dynamic App: Alula’s mobile app automatically configures itself based on the services to which a homeowner has subscribed

“Having smart home security technology installed in new construction is no longer considered an upgrade — homebuyers expect these tech features in their new homes,” said Rob Bowlin, President of Quantum Security. “We’re installing smart lights, door locks, cameras and security devices throughout the home. The great thing about the Alula program is that we can use the same equipment for automation as we do for security. Plus, the Alula platform gives us the ability to remotely activate new features, which significantly reduces costs typically incurred on return trips.”

The Alula Builder Program is available to all Alula dealers. To learn more about the Program, visit www.alula.com/builder.

About Alula

Alula is the leading all-in-one security and home automation platform, purpose-built for today’s independent security and installation professionals. From panel to communicators and sensors to the industry’s fastest network, Alula offers a complete, end-to-end solution and one accountable partner. Today, thousands of alarm dealers and integrators across North America have nearly 400,000 active locations connected and secured with Alula. Designed for professionals, the Alula platform provides a complete security, automation and video solution for renters, homeowners and commercial installations. Alula is a business-driven platform designed to reduce truck rolls, increase RMR, simplify inventory and put today’s professional providers in control of their business, their customers and their revenue. The Alula Builder Program is available to professional installers in the U.S., Canada and Australia. For more information about Alula, visit http://www.alula.com. For information about becoming an Alula partner, visit https://alula.com/advantage/.

Alula Wins 2021 ESX Innovation Award For Giving Smart Home Security Installers New, Optimized Tools That Drive Profitable Business Growth

Electronic Security Association Recognizes IoT and Security Pioneer Alula for Third Consecutive Year

Alula, the leader in smart security and automation systems for professional installers, was recognized by the Electronic Security Association (ESA) at the 2021 Electronic Security Expo (ESX), winning the ESX Innovation Award in the Installation & Service Tools category. Alula’s latest win for their Platform Service Enhancements marks the third consecutive year Alula has received an Innovation Award at ESX.

Alula enjoys a rich history of award winning innovation for their products and services. In 2020, Alula won an Innovation Award, and was recognized as Best in Show runner up for the Slimline Touchpad in the Smart Home – Electronics/Control Systems category. In 2019, Alula’s BAT-Connect universal 5G-ready communicator took home the Innovation Award in the Intrusion Systems Category.

“This award reinforces Alula’s commitment to constantly innovate on behalf of professional dealer-partners. We’re honored to be recognized by the leaders of the security industry for providing alarm dealers with tools that will save them time and money and help strengthen their own brand in the eyes of their customers,” said Warren Hill, Vice President, Marketing and Partner Development at Alula. “Alula is focused on delivering value to professional security dealers and integrators with a comprehensive suite of services that improve overall customer engagement, satisfaction and retention.”

The three key elements to Alula’s latest service enhancement include:

Auto-configuration of Alula InteractiveTM: The Alula mobile app will automatically optimize the user interface based on the services that the customer has purchased, so the end-user only sees icons they can use. The app will automatically remove any unnecessary service options to streamline and simplify the customer experience.

Remote communication path enablement: The AlulaConnectTM platform has been enhanced to enable remote management of the communication path. From the beginning, Alula has allowed for triple-path connectivity utilizing Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and/or Cellular connections. This platform enhancement now allows professional dealers to remotely manage and toggle these paths, on and off, without rolling a truck.

Custom branding on app and touchpad: Alula Partners may now incorporate their logo, branding, and color scheme on both the mobile app and on the Slimline Touchpad. This customization is ideal for any professional installer looking to enhance brand recognition with their customers.

“Professional dealers are the lifeblood of this industry and consumers increasingly want them to serve as trusted partners to install, service and secure their smart home. These new service capabilities will empower our partners to do just that,” said Brian McLaughlin, CEO at Alula. “Alula’s continued focus is on delivering services and solutions that will help alarm professionals win in an increasingly competitive environment.”

Alula VP Paul Saldin featured in Security Today

Alula VP of Engineering Paul Saldin contributes a column to this month’s issue of Security Today.

Called “Cutting the Cord,” the column explores how the introduction of reliable wireless communication has changed the security industry for the better and created the “Internet of Things.”

Saldin writes:

The self-contained panel–with its user interface on the front and battery and electronics on the inside–was an architectural innovation that proved to be a game-changer for the security industry. For the first time, security panels did not need to be installed in basements and utility closets. They could be placed on a wall near the front door, or on a kitchen counter — a more convenient location for homeowners and installers alike.

This was also the dawn of a fundamental change to the industry: the gradual move by installers away from charging for a full day’s labor pulling cables and instead shifting to the recurring revenue model.

Read the full column here.

Alula Pro Roundtable: Insights on the ADT/Google Partnership

Alula recently hosted an interactive panel discussion with insiders from various segments of the security industry to discuss a number of changes and developments impacting the security industry, from Google’s partnership with ADT to the effects of COVID-19 and social unrest. Below are some key takeaways from this wide-ranging and informative discussion:

Tech Giants Entering the Market

The recent partnership between Google and ADT highlighted a number of factors, the first of which is the value of the professional channel, specifically the “feet on the street” and technical leadership necessary to bring value to the connected home/connected business experience. That Google would partner with ADT to launch security offerings demonstrates how much value there is in the professional channel.

This deal also underscores the point that security is the lead technology that ties a lot of automation solutions together in the home or business. Security, life safety and protection services becomes the lead element and drives the adoption of other connected devices. Big tech hasn’t quite figured out how to monetize the connected home yet, but the security industry has. The value of the professional channel and the dealers who will participate in this deal are now highlighted in Google’s investment and their partnership with ADT. 

Security is in a great position, with Google coming onto the professional installer’s turf, and if installers continue to innovate and differentiate themselves in the marketplace, everyone is going to have a bigger piece of pie. 

More than Technology

Google has been making bets on devices with Nest and Dropcam. This latest development demonstrates Google’s desire to monetize those investments and its recognition that it takes more than technology to be a success in security. 

This may be the first of many dominoes to fall because based on how this partnership works out, it’s safe to assume that we’ll see more movement into security from other tech giants like Amazon (which has already entered the market with its acquisition of Ring).

Like Google, Amazon hasn’t had a ton of success monetizing their devices, so you can be sure they’re watching the Google-ADT partnership to see what works and what doesn’t. And they’ll likely be looking for their own “feet on the street” partner – or straight-up acquisition – in the not-so-distant future.

Where the large tech companies have missed the boat is in the services aspect that goes along with the technology. Devices themselves are one-off sales, but the professional security market has long realized that the real money is made in the recurring revenue component from service offerings. Traditionally, that may have been monitored security intrusion going into a central station, but those services have become more all-encompassing in recent years. So while Google and others may have been entering security from a technology standpoint, a more accurate measure of their penetration going forward will have to include some consideration of recurring revenue elements around those companies’ devices. 

Security in an Uncertain World

Security has long been an event-driven purchase, and pandemics and social unrest are certainly events. Uncertainly, anxiety and change seem to be the new normal in day-to-day life, and as a result there is a greater desire to settle in and protect. As a result, we’re seeing an uptick on security devices going into homes, and people turn to people they trust, and in security and life safety, that tends to be a company with a local presence. This is where an ADT comes into play from Google’s perspective. While we don’t know what the world is going to look like in the next 18 to 24 months, the good news is that recent events haven’t negatively impacted the security industry. It’s just forced people to rethink how they go to market and how they do business.

What’s Next?

Between the global pandemic, social unrest, new players entering the market and other changes and uncertainty, the security industry needs to be flexible and creative. This opens up opportunities to bring a heightened level of service to emphasize the customer experience, support and professionalism. At the same time, we need to be mindful of the relationship we have with our customers, which, as Google recognized, is as much a factor in business success as the technology itself.

Alula Launches Wireless Outdoor Siren to Protect the Yard

The new device adds to an outdoor security products line that includes an outdoor gate sensor, outdoor motion detector, outdoor bullet camera and doorbell camera

Alula, the leader in smart security and automation systems for professional installers and the award-winning inventors of the Connect+ Platform, today announced the latest addition to its line of outdoor security products, the RE636 Wireless Outdoor Siren.

The Wireless Outdoor Siren is an extended perimeter warning device that produces high volume alert sounds and visual strobing. The device provides an early warning to summon help in the event of burglary, smoke or carbon monoxide alarm conditions. The siren’s volume and strobe lights are adjustable through AlulaConnect to accommodate any installation scenario, and the siren can be incorporated into home automation routines through Alula’s Scenes engine.

“In an emergency, there’s no time to waste, and we’ve seen tragic instances where first responders weren’t able to find the right house,” says Dave Mayne, VP of Products for Alula. “With the outdoor siren, there’s a flashing light that tells police and firefighters exactly where help is needed. Eliminating confusion in those crucial moments can save lives.”

The RE636 includes a multi-cadence siren, 2-5 year battery life (batteries included), and IP56 water resistant enclosure. The siren can be installed with AC power by routing the power supply wire through the hole in the back plastic, while wall mounting can be achieved by securing the siren to a surface with the included mounting screws. The Connect+ panel supports up to eight RE636 sirens at one time for especially large properties. 

“There has been a dynamic shift with people spending more time at home this year,” said Alula CEO Brian McLaughlin. “It’s more important than ever to feel secure at home, and the Outdoor Siren offers an early warning that can save lives and provide peace of mind.”