Smarthoods - How To Build The Connected Neighborhood

Published: Wed, 13 May 2015

Smarthoods, or connected neighborhoods, sounds like a lofty proposition. And by Smarthoods, I'm not just referring to discussion forums that allow neighbors to air their dirty laundry. I'm talking about neighborhoods that are truly connected, in the wired/hardware sense. In a way that finally starts to bring that distant and shapeless term - the Internet of Things ("IoT") - to life for regular people. We've already discussed how Home Security systems are going to be the catalyst for IoT, and here's how we see that evolution happening.

The basic premise of home security starts with deploying sensors, consistent with the starting point of any conception of IoT. But for most traditional deployments such as ADT home security, this is where the common ground with IoT ends. IoT envisions the deployment of cheap sensors that are networked beyond the needs of a single user. Because home security systems are typically fully featured offerings with multiple layers of redundancy, they are far from cheap, and the only connectivity that extends beyond the home owner is usually to a professional call center.

In this context, Korner is a real departure from the ADT home security approach. It's utter simplicity dictates a low price, and it is designed from the ground up to be truly connected. Let's start with our innnovative one-piece door and window sensors, or 'Tags'. A lot of work went into designing these Tags, but once complete we stopped there. Instead of trying to design the most intelligent home security system known to mankind, we stripped away most of the features and functionality associated with home security systems and focused on a solution that was as cheap and simple as we could possibly make. Then through our App, we developed a basically costless approach to building and maintaining connectivity with friends, family and neighbors, or what we call a 'Security Circle'.

So how does this lead us to the Smarthood? The Security Circle's immediate purpose is to allow a home owner to forward an intrusion alert, with the press of a button, to their community. Although this is a much more cost effective, and in many cases reliable, way to deal with an intrusion than forwarding an alert to a remote call center, this won't get IoT nerds excited. But as more people within a given neighborhood start to deploy these systems, the utility of these otherwise simple and inexpensive sensors, connected to a common platform, become more interesting:

  If all sensors in the same neighborhood lose connectivity simultaneously - power outage.   If all sensors on a common ISP lose connectivity - user has lost internet connectivity.   If all sensors in the same area experience simultaneous vibration - earthquake.   If all sensors within a home lose connectivity, but this doesn't happen in adjacent or comparable homes - something is happening specific to your home (i.e. someone cut the power or communication lines, something happened to your equipment, etc.)   In the event of an intrusion, the user can choose to broadcast the alert not only to their Security Circle, but to anyone on the network who lives in the same neighborhood (whether they know them or not).   If a user has a question or comment relevant to the neighborhood, they can post anonymously to the network, not just their Security Circle, to discuss.

Granted, some of these attributes are covered by existing home security systems, but at a much higher cost. The point here is that once the deployment of an inexpensive and simple system reaches critical mass, provided it is designed to be connected, the level of functionality and utility begins to expand exponentially, at no additional cost - which is precisely the objective of IoT.

A more expansive use of this type of connected community could extend to novel ways to engage local law enforcement. Any other ideas? I'd love to hear what creative applications that people can come up with for this conceptualization of IoT...

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