Smartphones – The ARC Killers?

18th February 2019 Reliance News

As we become ever more dependent on our devices, the smartphone revolution is changing the way we live, at home and at work, in all manner of ways. That “How on earth did we do this before smartphones?” moment of wonder is becoming a near universal experience. A brief examination of almost any aspect of life will usually show that it has changed, often dramatically, as a result of the relentless advance of smart devices.

Security is no exception to the rule. It is therefore a high priority for Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) providers to clearly understand how ubiquitous smartphone usage affects the monitoring of domestic and commercial alarm and video systems.

Key among the various issues is whether ARCs will see domestic business tailing off across the board as homeowners increasingly self monitor with smart devices, or whether a strong market for ARC services will persist, with only the more price-sensitive customers abandoning them in favour of self monitoring.

Opportunities and Threats

While there is no doubt that smartphones are changing the security world, driving often unforeseen changes in domestic and commercial security markets, the reality is that these changes present opportunities as well as threats. As is ever the case, it will be the forward thinking integrators and ARCs, carefully analysing and understanding the new market realities, and adapting their models accordingly, which will prosper and thrive.

 Lower end, self monitored systems, for example, can offer a low-cost option for homeowners who wouldn’t normally consider investing in a security system at all, enabling the marketing of entry level systems to a wider audience than would be possible without widespread smart device usage. This incremental market momentum could drive higher sales in additional services and devices, or create new opportunities for services such as monitoring on demand, for holidays and other limited time-frames.

While it might seem likely that there will also be a negative effect, driving down the popularity of ARC-based solutions, there is as yet no clear evidence of this. This may be because ARC users often enjoy insurance discounts and police responses, both of which require a professionally installed, approved and monitored system – the police will typically only respond when issued with an approved Unique Reference Number (URN).

Naturally, such factors may shift as time goes on. Watch this space.

Ask the Right Questions

ARC monitored systems still have strong benefits to offer over smartphone-based self-monitored solutions. For example, ARC providers should point out and users should carefully evaluate the inherent risks of self monitoring: how will an alert be raised if an activation occurs during a power cut or broadband outage, when the user is in a meeting, or while their phone is switched off or muted?

At Reliance High-Tech we continually evaluate new systems and innovative, value-adding use cases. With 40 years’ experience in security systems, we know the right questions to ask. Such questions naturally vary from customer to customer, and indeed from project to project, but the following are some examples that we’ve been asking recently.

  • Does the proposed system provide proactive monitoring, for example highlighting that a user’s child has returned home from school or that an elderly relative has not got up at the usual time? Monitoring activity, non-activity and usage can often be as beneficial as genuine alarm events.
  • Can the system provide remote access for authorised individuals such as cleaners and care providers?
  • Is a pay-per-use model available for customers needing ad hoc cover for short periods such as holidays or even meetings?

Insight and Expertise

Change, as the cliché says, is the only constant. Smartphones and other devices are here to stay and there’s no reason to assume our dependence on them is going to wane at any point in the foreseeable future. To weather the storm, growing and thriving through it, ARC providers must change, too, developing to add value beyond security by offering insight and expertise on smarter use of existing and emerging technologies, to individuals and to society at large.

At Reliance High-Tech our own dedicated monitoring centre looks after nearly 40,000 connections. We have extensive national and international experience and a profound interest in listening to customers, understanding their needs and delivering solutions and services through continual innovation. Contact us to find out more:, or 0845 121 0808.