A Primer on Surveillance in the Smart Home


Security surveillance for the home seems ubiquitous in 2018. It’s par for the course for many homeowners. With the steady influx of consumer-grade security cameras, video doorbells, and alarm systems, there certainly won’t be a shortage of devices designed for securing your home in the foreseeable future. Much like surveillance for the home, home automation continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Additionally, the proliferation of surveillance and home automation devices allows for myriad DIY applications. In this primer, we’ll go over how surveillance and home automation can be integrated to create the ultimate smart home.

What is Home Automation?

Home automation is essentially a system capable of controlling things like lighting, thermostats, doors, sensors, appliances, electronics, or any device in your home connected to the system. Connected devices can be controlled individually or together to ensure that they function optimally, based on your settings.

The Brains of the Operation

A hub is sometimes required for home automation because it functions as the brains of the operation for devices that require a hub to operate. Hubs typically use wireless networking technology such as Zigbee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth to connect devices to be controlled via user interfaces like a touchscreen, computer, web browser, or mobile app. If your hub is connected to the Internet, it can usually be monitored and controlled remotely from anywhere via a mobile app or web browser.

Some devices have an integrated hub that can be controlled by voice commands via virtual assistants like Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, and Microsoft Cortana.

Wi-Fi Connectivity

While a hub is sometimes required, many automation devices don’t require a hub for operation, thanks to Wi-Fi connectivity. Examples of this are smart plugs from TP-Link that will work with surveillance devices plugged into them, like the TP-Link Kasa Cam security camera or light fixtures with smart bulbs, enabling you to control your lighting from anywhere, which is a handy feature that can be used to keep your lights on while you’re away, to help deter intruders by making it look as though your home is occupied. With Wi-Fi connectivity, the user will typically be able to control connected devices with a mobile app or web browser and/or voice commands via virtual assistants. With surveillance devices that capture footage, optional cloud storage is often offered.

TP-Link HS100 Wi-Fi Smart Plug

Integrating Your Devices

When integrating surveillance devices like a security camera or a video doorbell within a home automation system, you’ll need to ensure that everything will be compatible in the ecosystem of your choice so the connected devices can communicate with each other.

A great starting point for integrating and connecting your surveillance and automation devices is with the Honeywell Smart Home Security Base Station. This base station is an all-in-one home security solution that offers seamless home integration with compatible devices like Z-Wave lights, sensors, and key fobs. It captures 1080p resolution video and has features such as night vision, motion and sound detection, facial recognition, geofencing, IFTTT compatibility, and voice control via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Honeywell Smart Home Security Base Station

Some brands take the guesswork out of compatibility by working together. Two examples of this are Nest and Yale, with their keyless lock, and Honeywell and SkyBell, with their Wi-Fi video doorbells. In these instances, where compatibility is a selling point, operation of these devices is typically app-based.

Nest x Yale Lock with Nest Connect

A Simplified Integration Solution

Alternatively, kits and starter packs are also great starting points for surveillance in the smart home. Kits and starter packs further simplify the process of figuring out compatibility, since they are bundled with devices that will work together. One example is the Nest Secure Alarm System Starter Pack that bundles a Nest Guard base station, two Nest Tag key fobs, and two Nest Detect motion sensors. From this point, you can add Nest surveillance and access control devices that are compatible with the starter pack, like a Nest Cam security camera, Nest Hello video doorbell, Nest x Yale keyless lock, and additional key fobs or sensors.

Nest Secure Alarm System Starter Pack

Integrating surveillance devices into the smart home might seem daunting due to different industry standards and control mechanisms. Compatibility across platforms isn’t always guaranteed, so as previously mentioned, if you aren’t buying a kit/starter pack or devices from brands that are designed to work together, ensuring that your devices will work together within an ecosystem is essential. Once that has been figured out, it’s smooth sailing from there.

Are you interested in surveillance and automation for a smart home? Read more about smart products, home security, and surveillance by clicking on the links. Already have a smart home? Looking to expand or add more devices to your smart home system? Let us know in the Comments section, below!