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Does Your Business Need a Home Automation System?

Does Your Business Need a Home Automation System? Credit: Business security image via Shutterstock

While businesses have long been using security systems as protection, many are now integrating those measures with home automation systems.

Home automation systems allow businesses to control various aspects of their operation – lighting, heating, air conditioning, music, video and security – with the touch of the same button.

"With home automation, convenience, efficiency and functionality are the driving forces for business and homeowner adoption," Duane Paulson, senior vice president of product and market development for Linear, told BusinessNewsDaily. "Integrating security systems with automation doesn’t necessarily make a home or business more secure, but rather it provides additional management options and streamlines control of the system with other systems."

Some businesses, particularly bars, restaurants, retail locations and professional offices, would benefit more than others from pairing the two together.

Paul Williams, vice president of security and communications for Coltrol4, said in bars and restaurants a home automation system's easy controls eliminate the need for staff members to worry about setting the perfect lighting, as the system's sensors will dim or brighten lights and raise or lower shades when needed.

"That stuff all happens automatically," Williams said. "It allows the business to focus on what matters most."

Further, restaurants and bars benefit from a home automation system's audio and visual capabilities.

Hy Haddad, owner of HDH Intelligent Technologies, said the systems remove the need for extensive cable wiring and the numerous remote controls previously required for bars with multiple TVs and multiple video sources such as cable, satellite, DVD players, Blue-Rays and iPhones.

The system also allows for different types of music to be played in different areas of an establishment.

"The dining room can play more gentle music, while the bar area can play something totally different," Haddad said.

More broadly, Williams said security systems' integration with home automation systems can lock the whole building with a single touch, sending email alerts when a door or window is left open or the security system is triggered.

Williams points to professional offices, such as those used by doctors and dentists, as other businesses that are taking advantage of home automation systems.

Many doctors and dentists now keep patients entertained with a TV in each room while they are waiting or being worked on. In addition to being able to easily control all of the televisions, home automation systems allow for the TVS to be used quickly by doctors or nurses to explain issues to patients.

"You can have X-Rays and digital images shown on those same (televisions)," Williams said.

From a security standpoint, home automation systems also allow doctors and dentists to ensure certain doors and cabinets containing dangerous medicine and supplies are secured.

A security system is still only as good as its sensors and alarms, but automation systems have the potential to make security system management more efficient, Paulson said.

"With more extensive programming, automation allows triggers to set off flashing lights and do other things should a certain security status change unexpectedly," he said.

With professional offices having different rooms in use at different times, Williams said the control over the lighting, heating and air that automation systems provide can be especially valuable.

"It keeps operational costs down," Williams said.

Haddad said that can be perfect for retailers that use lighting to spotlight certain products or areas of the store.

"The lighting control system can automatically adjust for daytime and nighttime," Haddad said.

Williams said businesses that like the use of a full-service boardroom are also reaping the benefits of home automation systems.  In a boardroom the automation system can modify backlighting, dim or raise the lights, change background music, select which computer to display on the projector and control audio all at the touch of a button.

"You can easily switch between multi-media," Williams said.

Josh Ferguson, president of Mile High Automation, said the security features automation systems provide are a good fit for any business that wants to keep track of who is coming and going from their facilities.

"It logs when employees arrive and leave, as well as cleaners and other staff," Ferguson said.

Paulson believes companies that keep high-value, perishable or easy-theft inventory in stock, or that have multiple facilities without adequate managerial oversight, would benefit from a home automation systems that have security system integration.

Additionally, Paulson said businesses that work with highly sensitive materials, either classified or hazardous, should be especially interested because of the instantaneous alerts and flow of information that automation systems provide.

"The theft of classified info or a chemical spill requires an immediate response," Paulson said. "Having a security system that communicates what is happening and allows you to take action, even when it’s 3 a.m. and you’re on vacation, can mean the difference between a crisis and a contained incident."

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Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.