There's An App for That

Staying connected is easier than ever


Word on the street is that everyone is getting fired up about apps. But it's not just those tech-savvy folks who see the benefits of these software tools.

Now, communities, fitness centers, restaurants, retailers and even your local coffee or grocers are staying connected through software-driven applications to access instant information from their mobile device. There are Apple apps, Google apps, Android apps, cross-platform fun and games apps (Angry Birds, anyone?)-and there's no sign of the app craze slowing down as it hits the security industry full speed. Whether it involves installing cable, checking remote cameras or taking care of trouble tickets-there's a security app for that.

"Having apps on your smartphone is the ultimate in connectivity, making the smartphone an all-inclusive type of remote control, or ultimate communication device across a plethora of platforms," said Art Morrison, operations manager, ProTech Security Inc., North Canton, Ohio.

The full-service security solutions integrator prides itself on its IP-based solutions and working "as a team in sharing similar core values of honesty, integrity and commitment to providing 'best of breed' products and services to our clients," continued Morrison.

"You need to put the app into the customer's hand," he added, citing that with the proliferation of IP and networks we expect connectivity in all aspects of our lives.

"The traditional 'hands on' theory of sales is custom-made for this type of app," said Morrison. "You can demo specific cameras from your office environment to give a more diverse presentation of the features and benefits of the app."

Gary Franklyn, vice president of Business Development, Security Networks, West Palm Beach, Fla., noted that added services like apps make for a stickier customer.

Their iNet package includes energy management, home automation and two co-branded offerings called iNet Interactive Solutions and iNet Video Monitoring. The iNet Interactive Solutions lets customers control and monitor their security system anywhere, anytime. The service offered by their 150,000 affiliates is based on apps from Alarm.com and Honeywell but is branded by Security Networks.

"Our affiliates can start with a basic service and upgrade customers to these," said Franklyn.

Morrison noted the app trend has users abandoning their laptops for tablets and people synchronizing their smartphones to their laptops.

"Smartphone growth has been critical to the growth of apps as well," he said, as it is quite effective for a business, its customers and workers.

What's more, apps are driving the business especially as more people have smartphones, agreed James Ward, president of C.O.P. Security Systems, Alexander, Ark. "People are into technology. They like to have control of things on the go. And apps breathe a whole new life into security," said Ward. "The technology makes security work for them."

C.O.P. Security Systems uses the Telguard interactive app, which allows customers to arm or disarm their system, view the history of the system and receive text message event notifications. Their customers have a choice of three platforms-Android, iPhone and BlackBerry. "I've seen them all in action and they each work great," Ward added.

Get the app that fits your needs

But like most things in life, there is a time and place for apps and Richard Jimenez, general manager of IE Alarm Systems, Riverside, Calif., agreed that each app has its specific purpose. "If used correctly, and as a quick reference or management tool, an app definitely has value," he said, though he noted that an app "should not be relied upon as the primary medium for remote viewing or management."

IE Alarm Systems (formerly D.C. Electronics Two Inc.), founded by Utana and George Del Valle in 1985, provides a range of services including fire alarm, camera and access control systems.

And while Jimenez saw apps firsthand from other industry manufacturers, he uses Samsung Techwin America's iPolis app as his primary solution.

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