The DIY (Do-It-Yourself) bug has bitten the security industry, making Ring, Nest, SimpliSafe and other purveyors of smart home security systems among the most popular gifts of the 2019 holiday season. But, in the estimation of many security experts, they’re also providing a false sense of security to homeowners and facility managers alike.
For the unfamiliar, DIY security systems are usually comprised of intrusion-detection alarms, video monitoring, environmental sensors, lighting, and other physical security tools. (Many of these systems also include professional monitoring services for a monthly subscription.)
Even the likes of ADT, long a provider of subscription-based security services, has gotten in on the DIY mania. And given the industry’s explosive growth along with a growing list of high-profile active shooting events, many of the tech industry’s heavyweights (aka Google and Amazon) are now getting in on the action.
A False Sense of Security
There’s nothing wrong with any of this, of course. From the gas pump to banking, from the grocery checkout line to home improvement, our culture has become accustomed to DIY-based products and services. But in the eyes of many security specialists, DIY isn’t the best fit for home and building security.
“It’s one thing to pump your own gas or swipe a SKU code at checkout,” says Rob Soles, founder and president of RD Soles & Associates. “But it’s quite another to hand people some gadgets and say, ‘Here, plug these in to protect the people and property that matter to you.’ In my opinion DIY security is treading in risky waters and giving people a false sense of security.”
An internationally recognized security expert who has provided professional risk assessments and plans for embassies, businesses, houses of worship, VIPs and others, Soles is concerned that homeowners will install these plug-and-play systems and mistakenly think they’re protected.
Worse, he fears they’ll assume those same DIY tools are sufficient for their businesses, places of worship, and even the schools their children attend.
Security is an Increasingly Complicated Business
“Look at it this way,” says Soles. “One of the reasons we depend on technology experts to protect our computers and networks, engineers to keep our bridges standing, and pilots to fly us from A to B is because they’re experts who are constantly educating themselves about the dangers and risks of their trades.
“So why is it,” he asks, “do we assign so little emphasis or value on the proper security of our homes and offices and places of worship where the people and things we most care about are located?”
What do pros like Soles recommend?
#1. Professional Assessment
No two homes or buildings are ever the same. From external and internal design to the landscaping around them to the practices and habits and of their occupants, a DIY, one-size-fits-all solution makes no sense. Instead, a professional assessment is required to determine the:
- Unique design of the building and its surroundings
- The needs of its occupants
- Likely risks facing the structure
- A thorough understanding of the tools that fit those needs
#2. Security Plan
Based on the assessment results, a security plan is drawn up to include, but not be limited to, the kinds of technologies contained in those DIY kits. Cameras, alarms, lighting systems, and more can be implemented in an intelligent and coordinated fashion to ensure there are backups and redundancies, appropriate workflows for different kinds of threats, and rehearsed action plans for a home or building’s occupants.
Most homeowners and facility managers are unskilled in the proper application of security solutions. “Just because it says DIY doesn’t mean you actually know how to implement them,” says Soles.
Professionally installed systems are tailored to the unique activities that take place in and around the buildings. Which exits are used and at what times of the day and night. Where are air vents located to avoid a curtain blowing and setting off a motion alarm. Who is provided access to alarm codes and how are those tracked? What are the latest risks associated with those tools?
The list of such questions can be long, but it’s also important if a proper security system – one that you can truly take comfort in – is implemented.
“For me, the issue is this,” says Soles. “My home, my business, my place of worship – these are the locations where I and my loved ones spend most of our time. I want to know they’re secure – truly secure – and a DIY system, no matter how cool or cutting-edge its technology, is simply not enough.”