There's An App for That

Staying connected is easier than ever

"I really like the ease of use of the GUI [graphical user interface] with Samsung's iPolis and the flexibility to use it with their analog and IP products and platforms," he said. "The multi-screen functionality and PTZ control are nice features. The app also streams fluidly with a standard 3G connection and even better on Wi-Fi."

ProTech Security has sold apps from both MobiDEOS and Lextech Labs and ensures the client is involved and the app fits their needs. "We prefer to present the highlights of each system, allowing the client to participate in the selection process, unless one app will clearly serve their interests better," said Morrison.

They also use apps for their intrusion detection systems. "From a daily business operation standpoint, we have developed an in-house app that enhances our installation and service technicians' capabilities," Morrison continued.

Technicians can accept service ticket assignments, close out service call assignments and acknowledge arrivals and departures, all via their smartphones. "This saves time for both the techs and office staff where they used to have to communicate via office phone and input the data," he added. "Now, a simple text populates a universal 'Associate Status View' graphic that appears on any desktop."

Traditionally, surveillance was a commercial product; business owners liked the ability to watch the cash register or ensure their employees were actually working. Ward sees that appeal moving to the home market.

From commercial to residential and more

"Apps sell surveillance on the residential side," he said. "They are good for watching the property. But they also are great for false alarm reduction," he added, noting that a customer can view video and cancel an unnecessary dispatch before it becomes a charge.

C.O.P. Security Systems offers a video surveillance app that allows the customer to look at their property while on the go.

Apps also appeal to areas with a Neighborhood Watch program. "If your alarm goes off, you text your neighbors and immediately everyone is looking at your house," Ward noted.

"Clients have little, if any, issues with the concept of using their smartphone as a security or surveillance remote controller, whether at home, at the office or traveling," Morrison agreed.

He is torn between several useful apps. "It is difficult, if not impossible to say one app is more effective than another. This is especially true when you realize they each apply to different aspects of our business," he said. Forced to choose, his preference would be the app for intrusion detection systems only because these systems still dominate sales. "That ability to 'verify' whether the alarm condition is real or not can often be the feature that sells the app."

The app accesses intrusion panels, allowing the client to arm, disarm and monitor status conditions. It has some notification applications such as garage door status (open/close), sump-pump failure, temperature control, environment programmable thermostats and lighting.

Jimenez feels most apps carry a similar feature-set as far as functionality. "It seems like each manufacturer does have its own proprietary app," he said. But he doesn't see this as a huge problem for his company and customers "because we have standardized on a single platform," he explained.

He is also careful not to oversell apps. "I sell apps as a convenient secondary management and quick reference tool while on the go," Jimenez continued. "It doesn't seem realistic or efficient for a manager or business owner to sit and watch video all day via their phone. However, it does allow a person to quickly reference the activity of their facilities and their employees at any given time and place, which then enables a person to more efficiently manage situations based on real-time information (using video)."

"Our affiliates get higher RMR and the retention is better-people using their system are less likely to cancel contracts," Franklyn summed up.

The mobile takeaway