In previous posts, we’ve discussed adding simple smart home ideas to your home security plan. The past couple of years have seen huge developments in this technology. In turn, this greatly enhances what our customers can do with their security systems. A few weeks back, we looked at How to Use Your Smart Phone to Add Security to Your Alarm. That post examines how adding a cellular dialer to monitor your security system allows you to control your alarm and smart home devices with your cell phone. Our post on Security System Add-Ons for Your Smart Home also covers specific smart home technology that you can add control through your burglar alarm.
In this post, we look at one of the most recent additions to the smart home catalog: geo services. Geo services are provided by our own interactive cellular dialer powered by Alarm.com. They provide many ways to help ensuring your home stays safe, secure, and comfortable. Since these services do represent a new addition to the security industry, we’ll spend some time reviewing what the term “geo services” means and what they entail. From there, we’ll look at the types of specific smart home actions and alerts you may wish to set up. Let’s begin with defining and explaining geo services.
Defining the Term “Geo Services” and Getting Started
The term “geo services” refers to smart-home related alarm features that activate based on your geographical location. In order to activate these services, you must allow your Alarm.com app to track your smartphone’s location. From there, you can create specific appliance and security system responses based on your location. Some of these services reference automated actions, and some reference alerts. You can customize each and every smart home response you wish to activate through these services. Furthermore, you can also define specific locations that activate each service.
When you get started, you will create a “fence” that you must cross to activate a geo service response. Starting with your own address, you can set up a radius around your home that you must enter or exit to activate your selected geo services. You can set up multiple geo service fences to activate different alerts and actions. Turning your lights on, for example, takes less time than heating up your home. Therefore, you may use a different geo-fence to control your lights than your thermostats. Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s look at some specific actions that our customers set up.
Creating Automated Actions
One of the most appealing features of smart home services lie in their ability to automatically control areas of your home. In this section, we’ll look at some of the most popular automated actions provided by geo services. We’ll start with one of the most basic smart home features. From there, we’ll look at actions based on functionality and comfort.
Control Lights with Geo Services
The ability to control lights remotely remains a smart home staple. In our Vacation Security System To-Do List, we discussed the concept of adding lights to your smart home platform as a security measure. Using geo services, you can also ensure that you never come home to a dark house. Many users create a geo-fence to turn selected lights on as you approach home. Additionally, consider adding a command for lights to turn off once you’ve traveled a certain distance away from the home. This can save energy if you’ve forgotten to turn any lights off before leaving.
Create Actions to Manage Your Cameras
Adding Alarm.com cameras creates many security benefits. These cameras allow you to view them remotely, in addition to storing motion-activated clips. They can also send live clips to your phone, based on your settings. Often, these settings are based on time and date preferences. However, some customers avoid this option due to having inconsistent schedules. If you elect to receive live motion-base clips from a camera only on weekdays, for example, a holiday or vacation day could lead to receiving excessive camera clips while you walk around your home. At that point, you can either deal with receiving the clips or change your account settings for one day, only to change them back the next. Likewise, being away when you are usually home could lead to not receiving a video alert you would have wanted to see.
We offer a simple solution to this issue. You can use geo services to mandate when you receive camera clips, rather than date and time settings. If someone with your Alarm.com app and login at home or arriving shortly, the cameras will not send out clips. Once everyone leaves, cameras will resume sending live, motion-based video. This ensures that you don’t receive excessive video clips while you are home, and always receive important motion-based alert clips while away from the house.
Use Geo Services to Save Energy and Keep Your Home Comfortable
Smart thermostats have remained one of the hottest-selling smart home devices since they hit the market. We discussed how much energy they save in our Smart Security Tips to Save You Money. Because you can create smart thermostat actions for both leaving and returning to your home, you can take advantage of your thermostat’s energy-saving capabilities while also making sure your home is comfortable when you return.
Thermostats obviously take some time to make the house reach its desired temperature. Therefore, we recommend creating a wider geo-fence for this action than you would for your lights or cameras. Having your home reach a safe, low temperature after you leave will lower energy bills considerably. Doing so will also save you time, as you will no longer have to manually change thermostat settings every day. The ability to save energy and still return to a comfortable home every day makes this one of the most popular geo services that we offer.
Geo Services Alerts
In addition to creating “actions,” geo services also offer alerts. You can create both smart phone and email alerts. Additionally, you will have the option of receiving alerts only on specific days or at specific times. Here, we’ll look at some of the most popular types of alerts offered by geo services. Unlike the services we looked at earlier, these alerts do not automatically create a related action. However, they do prompt you to take a recommended action if you would like (such as in the example pictured). Let’s begin by looking at alerts related to your security system.
Security System-Related Geo Services Alerts
You have multiple options for using geo services to get the most out of your alarm system. In general, many customers opt for interactive cell dialing so that they can arm their security system with their phone. Since people occasionally forget to do this, this ability adds both security and peace of mind. Creating a location-based alert when leaving the house can take that security one step further. Now, you can receive an alert if you cross your geo fence without arming your security system. At that point, you can fix that problem with the press of a button, if desired.
You can also create alerts based on individual sensors. For example, you can create an alert that tells you if you’ve left a door or window open. Any door or window with a sensor on it will be accounted for every time you leave — even if the security system is disarmed. If you have a garage door opener tied into your Alarm.com app, you will receive a notification for your garage door as well. Simply follow the alert’s on-screen prompt to close the door, and you’ve solved the problem without having to turn around.
Geo Services Alerts for Locks
Smart locks can add security to your home in multiple ways. For one, they allow family members and guests access to your home without giving away keys. They also allow you to lock and unlock your door remotely, so you can let house sitters, workers or others into your home without even having to give them a code. Using geo services, you can now create an alert for an unlocked door. Just as with your security system and garage door alerts, you can fix the issue and lock your doors with your phone when prompted.
Putting it All Together
After reading this post, you should have some ideas about how adding geo services makes your home more secure, efficient, and comfortable. Perhaps you wish to add geo services to make sure you don’t leave without locking the house and arming your alarm. Or maybe you find yourself attracted to the smart home-specific features geo services provide. Either way, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about the information in this post. We can provide a free home site survey to see how geo services can work for you specifically. Additionally, we can answer any other security-related questions you may have and provide our own recommendations. Together, we will create a complete security and smart home plan for you and your family.