Going for the Gold in Home Security

A Q&A with Tom McKinney of ADT regarding residential video surveillance, home automation and the convergence with consumer electronics

A couple weeks ago, you may have read a press release we posted about a new program from ADT called "Custom Gold Home Service" that was designed to offer custom security and automation services to high-end homeowners - the kind of homeowner with the home that might have a great deal of value in its furnishing, be owned by persons of notable interest, or which may be established in an estate setting, or perhaps be a second home for the wealthy. According to Tim McKinney, the director of custom home services for ADT in North America, ADT looked at this type of homeowner and recognized that these homeowners often need a different level of security, remote access and automation than the rest of us.

SecurityInfoWatch.com caught up with McKinney during the recent Consumer Electronics Show to speak about the wave of change hitting the high-end residential market and how it's shaping the future for a top security provider. Video, of course, is at the core of the system, augmenting traditional intrusion detection systems, but also offering the ability to cast a watchful eye on standard house management issues. As McKinney notes in his interview below, you can use video for security but you can also use it to find out if packages have arrived on the doorstep. The Gold Service is currently being rolled out nationally via ADT directly, and here's what McKinney had to say about the new "Gold" program and the security industry's move toward residential automation:

SIW: In his keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Microsoft's Bill Gates spoke about his vision for the wired home. What have you been watching that space?

Tim McKinney: I think all the buzz that's coming out this morning at CES about what's taking place out there with internet video and being able to watch TV on your cell phone, that's really cool. It's really one of the coolest things that's happening right now in residential. As you know we've got 6 million customers and are the oldest and largest security company, so we have to stay out there on the cutting edge, continually bringing new technology into the home. It's important for us to be that premier provider.

In terms of the technology, it provides ADT an opportunity to ride the digital revolution that's happening in the home. With all of the convergence that's happening now in terms of the ability to bring data into and out of the home with a broadband connection - whether it's a cable connection or DSL - it allows us new opportunities.

If you look at video as an example, it allows us to remotely transfer that video to wherever the customer may be. We have a new product in that area which we refer to as Safewatch VideoView, and it simply allows that customer with an IP addressable camera system to bring that video to the person or anywhere they might have access to a website. So they pick up video from their beach house or their mountain home.

Do you see video as being the dominant driving factor of this part of the market?

I see video as addressing a major application that has found its way in multiple different scenarios. From a security and safety standpoint, I think video addresses the needs of the customer very well. It could be the pool in the backyard; it could be the notification that someone is coming up the long driveway and they can see exactly who it is. It could be that the FedEx driver is dropping off some packages and you want to make sure they are in a spot where they're not going to be damaged by the weather. So there are multiple applications for the VideoView product that we see in this high-end residential market.

Is network video part of the plan?

I think down the road it's possible. Right now we're at the point where we have to ask what is it that customer is looking for. It could be a traditional alarm scenario where we're then able to bring frames of video back to the monitoring center as a reference to know is it a good guy or a bad guy scenario. Those are the things that are happening today.

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