Why DIY Home Security is the Future...

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Canary in the coal mine

I was born in Brazil back in 1985. Calling the US was expensive, and my parents rarely did it. To save money, my father got his HAM radio license. We would go to a little room upstairs in a publishing house down the road from where we lived in Belo Horizonte, and we would call America at scheduled times in order that whoever was on the other end could hear our message and respond. We would also write our fair share of traditional, pen-to-paper letters.

But everything has changed.

As I see it, no one really understood how disruptive all this new technology was until around 1999 when Napster changed the landscape of the web. The impending slaughter of traditional business was unknown, but it wasn't long before the first victims of this new age began to close their doors. A mere 10 years after Napster started the revolution with their peer to peer music sharing technology, the last Virgin megastore in New York city closed. Those years destroyed the entire music business as we knew it. And yet, even in spite of that, the number of artists we have come to enjoy seems to have swelled as hard-working musicians are suddenly able to promote their own music and actually make money (unlike in the old model).

Everything has changed since 1999. Most people have gotten rid of their pesky house phone, copper lines are dying, 8 year olds have their own phone numbers, 2 year olds know how to operate tablet PCs, phones are computers and one of the biggest, most important companies in the world started off indexing pages on the internet. The tech bubble died, language has changed ("lol", "ROFL", and other weird letter-based phrases have entered the vernacular), and we purchase products - site unseen - by going to websites and typing in our address and credit card.

Unfortunately for those who are frustrated by the rate of change, the future doesn't look like it's going to slow up at all. Google's self-driving cars are sure to kill the truck driving industry or taxi industry, pharmacists may start being replaced by robots, and the rise of e-books will continue to change traditional publishing. Every industry is ripe for disruption... and that includes the home security industry.

So what is next for alarms? What is the future going to bring?

The question is important, and we need to understand some of the changes that have already happened. 1) home security systems have become affordable enough that anyone can put them in their homes; 2) advances in simplifying user interfaces made by companies like Blackberry, Palm, and Apple have made security systems simple to program and use; 3) the evolution of wireless technology has revolutionized the industry as they no longer need complicated wire-runs in order to work; and 4) open source operating systems like Linux or Android, open source sensors and open source computers like Arduino or Raspberry Pi make the production side of home security attractive decreasing barriers to entry for competitors with some of the biggest home security companies.

The most important of these realities is number 4. While it hasn't been done well yet, these open source platforms decrease barriers to compete. Preliminary evidence of the attempts to use these projects to disrupt the industry can be seen in such products as Ninja Blocks. While new, Ninja Blocks is built on open source software (Linux), includes open source hardware (Arduino), and is encouraging that their users take advantage of open source technology to make the produce more and more powerful. While Ninja Blocks does not yet have the capability to inform a central station of a break in, and (as of the date of this post), it doesn't appear to have such safety designations as a UL listing, it's presence certainly makes it clear that this industry is being primed for a disrupter to emerge.

Thankfully, as a result of Alarm Grid's newness and understanding of these technologies, our goal is to both disrupt and encourage good disruptors who are willing to work with us, in order to make sure that we survive the coming changes.

Anyhow, that's enough about how far the world has come since we were all younger. It's important to understand how the world has changed, but that is only part of the story. Maybe I've convinced you that the home security industry needs to be disrupted, but now you're left wondering why part of that disruption will have anything to do with a rise in that DIY mentality.

Well the truth is, one of the things that makes the home security system industry so ready to be changed has to do with the installer model. It's not to say that no one will ever use an installer. Au contraire. It's just that if more people do their own installations, fewer installers will begin to get a bigger piece of the pie. Less jobs=less installers. It's sad, but it's often what happens when technology marches forward.

So why DIY is all the rage?

The easy (though non-scientific) answer to why DIY is all the rage would probably be to point to the economy the last 10 years and say people want to save money. But I'm not so sure that's the case. The truth is, the do-it-yourself American spirit has really been a mainstay of American life for a very long time. When cars were not so complex, men loved working on them in their garage. Even today, thousands of husbands have abandoned their wives to live in the garage where they are restoring an old hot rod. Humans are hands-on. It's sort of part of our caveman nature. For many of us, building things makes us feel accomplished.

So what makes something drop into the "this is a weekend DIY project" category? Well, for that to happen, the consequence of doing the project without having any previous experience can't be dire. The project has to be sufficiently simplistic; the complication needs to be largely stripped out of it. Finally, it has to be fun.

You know what's not fun?

Rolling around in your attic on fiber glass insulation running wires. Mike Rowe might enjoy that sort of thing, but for your average Joe, tearing up from all the itchiness is not our idea of having fun. It's also not fun to have to remember weird button sequences to get zones programmed. Hit *18 + 79 + *33 + 82 then tap 0, 16 times, spin around, touch your toes twice, and hit Away, then slap the wall next to the keypad, and say the magical phrase, "supercallifragilisticexpialidocious." That's how programming a wired Vista 20P system sounds to most of us. I'm amazed that people can and do do it. You know what is fun? Spending only 10 minutes programming a system, using fun home automation technologies that make your lights turn on and off, and then instantly being gratified as you hit buttons.

The rise of the wireless security system has changed everything. Now, programming the system, pairing it to the WIFI or GSM network, and even installing the system are easy as pie. Likewise, since we can now check your system's programming from hundreds of miles away from an office in Florida, we can mitigate any consequences that you might have suffered as a result of not programming your system correctly because you didn't know what you were doing. But I can assure you, you will likely have no problems with programming at all. Programming these state of the art systems is easier than you could ever have imagined.

If you are interested in installing your own DIY home security system, let us know. We have a YouTube channel and incredibly knowledgable techs on hand who will make this process ridiculously easy. Be prepared to be surprised by Alarm Grid's amazing service.