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Managers at commercial and industrial buildings often oversee functions -- security, lights, heating -- from a central unit.
Now manufacturers are rushing to perfect similar, affordable systems for homes, known as home awareness systems.
They do not converge all your home electronics, such as media and communication. But they let you manage and monitor essential building functions through a network of wireless sensors. The sensors communicate with homeowners through e-mails and text messaging.
Home awareness systems monitor your home's power, security, water and air conditioning. In the area of home security, they bring a new level of sophistication to services. The system will let you know if a door or window is opened anywhere in your house. It reminds you that you left the garage door open.
Early version of this system already are on the market and can be found online. Look for more sophisticated systems with DIY installation to be on the market for $200 or less by 2007. It's too early to predict the effectiveness of these products. Their goal to improve home security and safety is likely to attract the attention of consumers.
Gated communities are not a substitute for home security. Too often homeowners wrongly see gated communities and guard stations as their personal home security. Residents develop a false sense of security.
In reality, the guards routinely allow in pizza deliveries, appliance repair people and contractors.
Homeowners may naively tell the staff at guard stations their vacation schedules, even though they know little about them or their associates.
Teens who live in these gated communities even may be responsible for some of the burglaries or petty theft.
There have been a number of cases across the nation where clusters of burglaries occurred in gated communities. Once a burglar mastered how to enter one house, others were hit.
The criminal was familiar with the subdivision, and used the same method for other break-ins. Homes in gated communities often are similar in structure and design to make repeat crimes easy.
Police officials say that burglar alarms provide more reliable protection than a wall around the subdivision where you live. The most secure home protection system is an electronic one with sensors that "watch" your home continually.
It's hard to believe, but we are at the Model T stage in the technology revolution. Early autos led to luxury SUVs of today.
In the technology revolution, computers are transforming our lives at home. Imagine a day in the near future, when home electronics converge into one convenient system. You are in control at your computer screen.
Touch the screen or keypad to choose your favorite movie, arm your home security, turn up the heat, or talk to the delivery person at the door.
Your home's functions may operate through your broadband computer network, and your PC may be central command.
If you're away from home, you may manage your home's functions -- lights, appliances and heating -- from your laptop.
Is someone at your gate or door? Your security system will let you know via voice communication and a surveillance camera that shows images on your PC, or a hybrid of your computer and TV screens.
Is there a new movie you want to watch? Scan the offerings on your PC and set the evening's entertainment.
Did someone leave the back door ajar? You will receive a warning from your security system via your PC.
Is the battery running low on your smoke detector? Your security system will text message you or there will be an alert on your computer's home page.
Garages are common targets for thieves. It's easy to see why. They may not be connected to a burglar alarm system, or have any security.
You also need to protect the things stored in your garage. Add up the cost of the items inside -- your lawn mower, snow blower, tools, bicycles, sports equipment -- and it easily may top $5,000 or $10,000.
Here are some tips for keeping your garage safe:
Security systems have not been a standard part of new home construction. But that is changing.
Builders are discovering that home security installation is inexpensive and attracts buyers. Along with dishwashers and central air conditioning, home security is a desirable feature in mid-priced homes.
Home security systems have been around for generations, but they were not a routine part of new home construction. Costs were too high for hardwiring systems, which required specialized technicians.
But the new generation of wireless systems are affordable and convenient. Financing plans enable consumers to pay for monthly monitoring of their home security, after they move in. The builder does not have to assume the costs.
Security systems impress new home buyers. They are still unusual enough in new homes, that builders can try promoting the feature as a marketing tool. It makes their homes distinctive.
When shopping for a burglar alarm, you will find most systems have similar standard features: motion detectors, sirens and sensors. But some systems offer additional features that add protection and convenience without driving up the price.
You may want to check out some of these state-of-the-art features when shopping for a new alarm system:
VOIP lets users make phone calls over the Internet. It is cheap to use, but can be vulnerable to hackers. VOIP is so new, that it does not have direct 911 service, and may not be super reliable.
So it's no surprise that home protection companies do not recommend VOIP to link with monitored security services. Instead homeowners are advised to use a broadband Internet connection. LAN lines are the standard option.
VOIP may let your security system communicate with the monitoring facility, but most home protection companies will not stand behind the connection.
Living in a safe neighborhood will not make you immune to crime. Be aware of suspicious cars or people in your neighborhood and also teach your children to be safe.
With portable cell phones that go where you go, who needs LAN lines?
Many Americans are asking themselves this very question. Their answer may be to disconnect LAN lines, because they duplicate cell phone service.
Home security companies have responded to the change by offering 24-hour-a-day monitoring services that do not require a LAN line.
Check out the following options:
If you are concerned about intruders, unexpected visitors, theft, mail tampering, or even dangerous areas for your children around the house, look no further than the newly patented and wireless Voice Alert Protection System. It notifies you of any intruder with your own voice.
This Voice Alert System is a new system featuring wireless sensors, transmitters and a remote receiver/speaker base unit. Users record their own alert messages and are then notified with their own voice message when activity in a monitored is detected.
The System allows a maximum of six user recorded messages. Each message is specific to one zone. For instance, zone one could be for a driveway alarm -“Car coming up the driveway” while zone two could be for a sensor monitoring the back yard- “Alert! Child by the pool!” Perhaps a third sensor guards a side entrance against intruders. However, when this sensor detects movement, the base unit plays “Intruder on patio” and triggers a floodlight using one of four relays included on the base unit. The most recent system can monitor all three zones simultaneously and still have three additional zones available when needed. Users can alter their messages and place the wireless sensors wherever they wish.
Key applications include:
• Wireless Driveway Alarm
• Residential and Small Business Security
• Child Monitoring and Pool Safety
• Home Automation
Technology moves so quickly that it is worth it to keep up with new items for home security.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|