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The changing face of home security technology

Vijay Arisetty, Dec 14 2017, 21:41 IST
Modern technology has made security easy, Smartphone apps can help homeowners track whereabouts of visitors in the premises.

Modern technology has made security easy, Smartphone apps can help homeowners track whereabouts of visitors in the premises.

The average modern homebuyer is a tech-savvy millennial marked by his or her need to be constantly mobile and connected. So, it's quite possible that they hunted for the perfect apartment through their smartphones, took a virtual tour of the property and struck the deal with the builder online, eliminating the need for middlemen and agents. Clearly, homeownership is no longer the drudgery it once was. This new trend is sending the residential real market into a tizzy with annual property market sales projected for $462 billion by 2025. The new breed of homeowners will most likely earn double incomes and will not shy away from employing an entourage of domestic help, drivers and cooks. Majority of them now opt for shopping for their day-to-day needs online and have it delivered to their doorsteps.

What do the numbers say?

Builders must move beyond their plain vanilla properties and rethink their strategies for their apartments. Unfortunately, in most gated communities, there exists a gap between expected security and what is actually offered. Our research shows that 20% of domestic help and 30% security guards change jobs every month. There is a whopping 50% rate of annual decline among delivery boys.

Another layer of complexity is added when the quantum of inbound traffic is unmanageably huge. On a daily basis, a gated complex of about 400 flats is likely to experience 800-1,200 external footfalls driven by deliveries of all kinds, courier boys, cabs or autos and hundreds of maids, cooks, maintenance and other staff.

As a result, identity verification and security take a huge blow. Not only is the manual method inconvenient and inefficient, it is also a major guzzler of a community's budget with a very little impact on crime prevention. Thankfully, rapid innovations in the home security space €“ both globally and locally - offer apartments and gated communities access to an array of hardware and software solutions to keep their premises safe and secure.
The most prevalent ones are:

Home alarms

Subject to where they lie in their spectrum of capabilities, home alarm systems provide the easiest protection against neighbourhood burglaries by protecting major points of entry on the premises. They are often connected to a cellular station for emergency contact. On the flipside, home alarms are essentially pieces of hardware that require the residents themselves to take responsibility for repair and maintenance. They are also suited for individual homes and can rarely be scaled upwards to gated communities with thousands of residents.

CCTV

CCTV has been one of the earliest entrants in the home security market. Owing to the relatively low costs of installation, businesses and homes alike have been invested in the concept of monitoring and cracking down on crime in the vicinity. CCTV camera comes with a monitor to which it transmits recorded images. The monitor, in turn, sends these images to the videotape or DVR which are rich sources of information (and legal evidence).

However, the CCTV depends on hired monitoring. A growing number of residents are also opting for fake CCTVs just to keep potential perpetrators at bay. But we must not forget that an experienced thief will be able to differentiate between fake and authentic devices in as much as a glance. Therefore, CCTV cannot solely serve at the first line of defence. Even when viewed from an ethical perspective, the jury is still out on whether CCTVs are a violation of citizens' privacy or a necessity to deter neighbourhood crimes.

Keypad access control systems

Keypads work on the principle that is most familiar to users - on a password. We
already do it while banking and logging into our emails, so taking it a step further with a four-or six-digit passcode for home security is as straightforward as it can get.

Keypad access works with minimal glitches until it is extended to multiple users. Like most passwords, the one in your house can also be compromised if it is predictable or remains unchanged for a long period. There are also chances of your employees or guests memorising the pattern you key in each time or tailgating on the sly. Therefore, users of this kind of security must be alert and responsible with their passwords at all times. In most cases, standalone keypad access control systems are deal-breakers for communities that have a heavy footfall every day.

Biometric authentication

Biometric authentication is catching on as one of the more secure methods of authentication in bigger gated communities. Technologies such as face recognition, iris scan and fingerprint recognition essentially record the unique patterns present in an individual's respective body parts, store them as codes and tag them exclusively to the individual they belong to for future use.

Keeping imposters off limits with biometric authentication can be all too enticing theoretically but it comes with its share of logistical challenges. Though biometric authentication systems are highly priced, they still suffer occasional lapses in their read rates. This means you could well be presenting your body part to the reader several times before it recognises you and lets you in. It is perhaps the last situation a resident would want to be in, especially in bad weather or emergencies.

While there are myriad technologies emerging in the home security marketplace, they only offer one piece of the jigsaw in the big picture. They are also capital-intensive and their benefits tend to decline over time.

Where do we go now?

There is a dire need for homes of the future to make way for simple, comprehensive and intelligent solutions that address modern gate management challenges. Read real-time domestic help management, digital validation of all staff, complete attendance management, stickerless vehicle parking management and much more in an affordable manner.

Take, for instance, mobile applications based on algorithms such as behavioral intelligence augmented authentication (BIAA). They can be downloaded instantly on the users' and security guards' smartphones with the assurance that all exchange of data is securely stored in the cloud. Wherever a resident may be, he or she will be updated in real-time on the whereabouts of visitors on the premises. Communities that have already jumped the bandwagon have witnessed substantial savings in the range of 10-15% in costs. In addition to automated and digital attendance, time saved on the manual registry and intercom communication and avoidance of car stickers.

The way we see it, the gate management of the future will no longer need expensive, standalone technologies that call for tedious installation and maintenance. Think touchless residential security where people and their vehicles move in and out seamlessly without manual intervention yet authenticated with unseen technologies running in the background.

(The author is CEO & co-founder, myGate)

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