The COVID-19 global pandemic had a life-changing impact on all of us in 2020, including a multi-faceted jolt on the physical security industry. With the benefit of hindsight, we can now see more clearly the exact nature and extent of that impact. And it’s not over yet: The pandemic will continue to be top-of-mind in 2021. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What have been the positive and negative effects of Covid-19 on the physical security industry in 2020? What impact will it have on 2021?
Alarm.com has released the first commercially available video doorbell that rings without requiring any contact to reduce public health risks and make home visits and deliveries safer for all. The Alarm.com Touchless Video Doorbell is the next generation of video doorbells, combining sleek design with some of the most advanced video intelligence available to consumers for touch-free operation. It is the latest technology innovation from the company that pioneered smart home security. Touchless Video Doorbell The Alarm.com Touchless Video Doorbell eliminates the need to physically press a doorbell button. Anyone coming to the front door simply stands on a doormat placed at a safe distance to ring the chime. Rather than using motion detection common to other doorbell cameras, rapid and accurate person detection activates the Alarm.com Video Doorbell to reduce unimportant interruptions. When a person is detected, the doorbell immediately triggers the existing chime in the home, sends a mobile alert to the homeowner and starts recording a video clip. Homeowners can see and speak with visitors through the Touchless Video Doorbell’s live HD video and two-way audio instead of having to answer the door. Touchless security solution Our Touchless Video Doorbell helps homeowners and visitors alike maintain social distance" “Protecting the health and safety of loved ones and our communities has never been more important,” said Anne Ferguson, Vice President of Marketing at Alarm.com, adding “Particularly in the current environment, our front doors have become an even greater hotbed of activity.” Anne adds, “Our Touchless Video Doorbell helps homeowners and visitors alike maintain social distance and avoid encountering germs, bacteria and viruses that may exist on surfaces around the front door. Adding this touch-free solution to an Alarm.com-powered smart home security system is another way we can stay vigilant and protect one another.” Home automation As an integrated part of the expansive Alarm.com ecosystem, the Touchless Video Doorbell can automatically trigger other device activity through user-defined rules. For example, lights can turn on when the doorbell detects a person. Rapid people detection also helps ensure that inadvertent chimes are not triggered by animals, packages or other non-human objects. The device also features: 150° vertical field of view that gives homeowners a full head-to-toe image of visitors and clear look at packages left on the doorstep. Optimised portrait viewing on mobile so there’s no need to rotate the mobile device. Full HD resolution, HDR, and infrared night vision. Onboard heater for low temperature operation. Live video and saved clip viewing using the Alarm.com mobile app or website. The Alarm.com Touchless Video Doorbell will be available through the company’s robust network of professional security service providers.
An impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been to accelerate change. In 2020, the security industry was among many others that sought to adapt to shifting norms. In the process, we grabbed onto new opportunities for change and, in many cases, re-evaluated how we have done business for decades. If necessity is the mother of invention, perhaps crisis is the mother of acceleration. This article will reflect on how these themes impacted the physical security industry in 2020, based on content we published throughout the year, and with links back to the original articles. Sensitive data leakage Since the lockdown came into effect, organisations globally have undergone years' worth of transformations in a matter of months. Whether it has been to transition their operations online or moving their IT infrastructure to the cloud, there’s no denying that the face of business has changed permanently, experiencing a seismic shift, both operationally and culturally. As we enter the ‘next normal’ there remains a great deal of uncertainty around what the next 12 months holds and how organisations can navigate turbulence in the face of a possible recession. One of the most notable and widely reported trends has been the switch to remote methods of work, or home working. With so many employees logging on from residential networks, through personal devices that may be more easily compromised, the overall attack surface has greatly increased, raising the risk of potential corporate and sensitive data leakage in their new home office settings. Security and data protection are larger issues than ever. Good cybersecurity hygiene Criminals will use the crisis to scam people for money, account information and more" With a majority of the world working from home, businesses had to respond to this changing landscape. While it used to be that in-person networking events and sales pitches secured new projects or opportunities, the current landscape pushes businesses to be more creative in how they reach their customers. For example, with ISC West being postponed, many companies have turned to online resources to share new product demonstrations and other company news. Others are hosting webinars as a way to discuss the current climate and what it means for the industry. Without the proper precautions, working from home could become a cybersecurity nightmare, says Purdue University professor Marcus Rogers. “Criminals will use the crisis to scam people for money, account information and more,” he says. “With more people working from home, people need to make sure they are practicing good cybersecurity hygiene, just like they would at work. There is also a big risk that infrastructures will become overwhelmed, resulting in communication outages, both internet and cell.” Work-life balance In a typical office with an on-premise data centre, the IT department has complete control over network access, internal networks, data, and applications. The remote worker, on the other hand, is mobile. He or she can work from anywhere using a VPN. Until just recently this will have been from somewhere like a local coffee shop, possibly using a wireless network to access the company network and essential applications. There are many benefits of working remotely with productivity right up the top of the list There are many benefits of working remotely with productivity right up the top of the list. By reducing the unproductive time spent commuting and travelling to meetings, we are able to get much more done in a day. Add to this the reduction in stress and improved work-life balance and it makes for an impressive formula of happier, healthier and more motivated colleagues. And it’s still easy to measure results no matter where someone is working. Video conferencing platforms Trade shows have always been a basic element of how the security industry does business - until the year 2020, that is. This year has seen the total collapse of the trade show model as a means of bringing buyers and sellers face to face. The COVID-19 pandemic has effectively made the idea of a large trade show out of the question. The good news is that the industry has adapted well without the shows. A series of ‘on-line shows’ has emerged, driven by the business world’s increasing dependence on Zoom and other video conferencing platforms. The fact is, 2020 has provided plenty of opportunities for sellers to connect with buyers. Some of these sessions have been incredibly informative – and conveniently accessible from the comfort of a home office. Online training courses Online training has grown in popularity this year, and the change may become permanent Online training has grown in popularity this year, and the change may become permanent. “We have seen unprecedented international demand for our portfolio of online training courses ranging from small installation companies to the largest organisations, across a wide range of sectors,” says Jerry Alfandari, Group Marketing Manager of Linx International Group, a UK training firm. “More than ever, businesses are looking to ensure they have the skills in-house to coordinate their response to the changing situation. Individuals are also taking this time to upskill themselves for when we return to ‘normal’ by bringing something with them they didn’t have before. Perhaps unsurprisingly, people are still seeking to better themselves for what will be, eventually, a competitive market.” Virtual trade show ‘Crisis and the Everyday’ was part of Genetec’s Connect’DX virtual trade show last spring. The virtual conversation – emphasising both in form and content the topsy-turvy state of the world – included interesting insights on the current pandemic and its near- and long-term impact on the industry. In the middle of this pandemic, there is an opportunity to help security reinvent itself “In the middle of this pandemic, there is an opportunity to help security reinvent itself,” said Brad Brekke, Principal, The Brekke Group, one of the panelists. “Amid the business disruption, we should ask ‘what’s the new playbook?’ It’s an opportunity for security to look at ourselves now and look at a business plan of what the future might look like. We need to align with the business model of the corporation and define our role more around business and not so much around security.” Cloud-based platform As a cloud-based platform for service providers in the security, smart home and smart business markets, Alarm.com adapted quickly to changing conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. In the recent dynamic environment, Alarm.com has kept focus on supporting their service provider partners so they can keep local communities protected. “We moved quickly to establish work-from-home protocols to protect our employees and minimise impact on our partners,” says Anne Ferguson, VP of Marketing at Alarm.com. The Customer Operations and Reseller Education (CORE) team has operated without interruption to provide support to partners. Sales teams are utilising webinars and training resources to inform and educate partners about the latest products, tools, and solutions. Alarm.com’s partner tools are essential for remote installations and support of partner accounts.
As a cloud-based platform for service providers in the security, smart home and smart business markets, Alarm.com has adapted quickly to changing conditions during the coronavirus pandemic. In the recent dynamic environment, Alarm.com has kept focus on supporting their service provider partners so they can keep local communities protected. “We moved quickly to establish work-from-home protocols to protect our employees and minimise impact on our partners,” says Anne Ferguson, VP of Marketing at Alarm.com. The Customer Operations and Reseller Education (CORE) team has operated without interruption to provide support to partners. Sales teams are utilising webinars and training resources to inform and educate partners about the latest products, tools, and solutions. Alarm.com’s partner tools are essential for remote installations and support of partner accounts. Helping customers remain connected Adapting to challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, Alarm.com is further investing in solutions that help customers remain connected and engaged. The company has created a resource hub called “Succeeding Remotely” that provides tools, tips and news links that partners can use to adapt their business operations. From adjusting sales and installation techniques to maintaining cellular upgrades, Alarm.com is helping partners stay connected to customers remotely, keep their teams trained, and address rapidly evolving customer concerns without rolling trucks.The company has created a resource hub called “Succeeding Remotely “Additionally, after seeing all that our partners are doing to support their local communities in need, we were compelled to highlight those efforts with ongoing videos called Good Connections, which we’re sharing with our partner community to spark more ideas and ways to help,” says Ferguson. “Though our partners have experienced varying degrees of disruption to their business, we’re inspired by their adaptability, ingenuity and resilience,” says Ferguson. “Along with establishing proper safeguards for operating in homes and businesses, our partners are leveraging our support resources more heavily, while our entire staff has worked tirelessly to deliver new, timely resources.” Do-It-Together solutions Alarm.com partners are successfully employing Do-It-Together (DIT) solutions, focusing on 3G-to-LTE upgrades, and pivoting to new verticals like commercial and wellness. Many are also streamlining their business operations and taking advantage of virtual training opportunities to enhance their technicians’ skills and knowledge, says Ferguson. Do-It-Together installs involve depending on customers to perform part or all of the installation process. Partners can send customers fully configured kits with mounting instructions, or technicians may guide customers on a remote video call. Alarm.com’s tools, training and products help partners modify remote installation options depending on each customer’s needs. End users can validate the Alarm.com Smart Gateway with their central station that sensors they have mounted were done correctly using the Alarm.com mobile app Alarm.com Smart Gateway For example, the Alarm.com Smart Gateway can be pre-configured with indoor and outdoor cameras for easy customer installation and to reduce the likelihood of future service calls. Also, end users can validate with their central station that sensors they have mounted were done correctly using the Alarm.com mobile app. “DIT is helping our partners continue onboarding customers and avoid backlogs,” says Ferguson. “We’ve been pleasantly surprised by the resiliency and level of future investment that our residential and commercial partners have shown in the face of adversity,” adds Ferguson. For example, a significant number of business customers have used the slow period to install systems that are typically too disruptive to put in during normal business hours. Similarly, service providers are adopting new technologies or business models, such as cloud-based access control. “They’re often saying to us, ‘I’m going to take this opportunity to make changes to improve our business,’ and have been working closely with us on training and business consulting to support their efforts,“ she says. Shift to the cloud Ferguson sees a growing preference for cloud-managed surveillance and access systems over ones that have historically been run on-premise. The technology itself is attractive, but especially driving change is the enhancement to the daily lives of service providers and customers, which have been strained during this time. “The foundational benefit of our cloud-based solution is the hassle-free, seamless customer experience it delivers,” says Ferguson. “We make this possible by taking ownership of the servers, software maintenance, firmware updates, health monitoring, and more. With cloud technology, these aspects become invisible to the customer and take a lot off their plate, which is more important than ever.” End users can take advantage of Smart Tip video tutorials to help with DIT installations, or they can use the Alarm.com Wellcam to connect with loved ones anywhere.End users can take advantage of Smart Tip video tutorials to help with DIT installations Partners can attend training workshops focused on remote installation tactics, while driving consumer interest in new offerings through Alarm.com’s Customer Connections platform. The goal is to make it simple for partners to stay connected to their customers to maximise lifetime account value. “We are well-positioned to endure the pandemic because of the strength of our partners in their markets along with our investments in technology, hardware and our team,” says Ferguson. “As restrictions slowly lift, there is cautious optimism that the residential, commercial, property management, plumbing/HVAC, builder and other verticals will recover quickly. We believe that as more partners adopt the DIT model and add commercial and wellness RMR, they will find increasing opportunities to deploy security, automation, video, video analytics, access and more throughout their customer base.”