The Past and Present of Home Security

past and present of home security graphic

Home Security is a concern for all people–the need to preserve life and as much comfort as possible. That concern for security quickly extends to property, and the notion of home security is nothing new. We might consider it starting when humans began to stay in relatively fixed “homes” and began to accumulate wealth. Once we have a reliable shelter and a surplus of resources, we become an attractive potential target for other folks who equally want those things. To help secure this shelter and these resources, we quickly developed systems to help us protect them.  

The Early-Early Days of Home Security

 

Early on, people began to enlist animals to help with this. Livestock, dogs, and even geese were placed near the entrance of the home. These animal-based security systems would make a noise when they sensed an intruder. Evidence suggests that dogs were domesticated somewhere between 19,000-36,000 years ago for this specific purpose. Dogs were, and for the most part continue to be, particularly adept both at hunting and at guarding with their sharp senses and strong connections to their immediate social group.

cute-pug-wrapped-in-blanket

Beyond Dogs and Geese

Somewhere around the middle of the 18th century, in Enlightenment England when new ideas were flourishing, an inventor named Tildesley created the first non-animal-based security alarm. This system was pretty rudimentary: a set of chimes connected to the door lock that would ring if the lock or door were disturbed. The real benefit of non-animal-based security is their reliability. Dogs and geese are reliable to a certain extent, but they need to be trained, fed, and can be tricked with snacks and other treats.

Edwin_Holmes_(inventor)

Inventor Edwin Holmes

About a century later, with the advent of electricity, home security systems took a leap forward. Augustus Russell Pope invented the central burglar alarm that used an electric circuit connected to all the windows and doors in a home. The system was then commercialized by Edwin Holmes. When one of the entries was opened, the circuit would be broken causing magnets to move and make a sound, alerting the homeowner. Soon, the magnets were replaced with a bell that was easier and more distinct to hear. This fundamental concept of securing entries was at the core of most security systems for the next 150+ years. The use of video cameras was introduced by Marie Van Brittan Brown in the mid-20th century. Brown could be seen as the founder of the modern home security system that combined a centralized alarm system with closed circuit television and two way audio system. While the specific technologies have advanced, their use in concert has not advanced significantly since Brown. 

blueprint-Van-Brittan-Brown’s schematics

Van Brittan Brown’s schematics

Popularization of Home Security Systems

Of course these non-animal-based security systems initially were very expensive and most people could not afford to install them. Beyond this, security systems based on alarms and video cameras require a person to watch them. security-officer-in-white-shirtThat’s perhaps one of the advantages of animals–dogs or even geese can give a nasty bite and scare off intruders quite effectively. In the 1990s, things changed, and alarms became prolific as costs of production decreased, not unlike the rise of the personal computerPC. Also, companies offering home monitoring systems began to that included not only the hardware, but also a team to monitor their systems and alert the authorities appropriately. No longer did you need to monitor the system yourself.

But On the other hand, there were some issues associated with whether we should trust home security people or not. First, you’re trusting a major company to ensure that their technology is working and reliable. Often when working with companies, you’re dealing with their in-house risk assessment team and their financial analysis regarding doing a good enough job not to get sued versus the cost of doing higher quality, and perhaps more expensive work to better outweigh the potential cost of security breaches. Hello Equifax!  Second, are the people in the company that you’re giving access to monitor your home trustworthy? Sure the company may be fine, but the person who can get into your house and knows when you’re away? The report from Forbes points out that some companies have a 90% customer dissatisfaction rate. Perhaps this is what’s pushing us towards DIY home security solutions.

DIYing Home Security

Today we’re seeing a new evolution in home security systems. With wireless technology, we can introduce more devices and access those devices over the internet. We no longer need a specialized company to monitor our home security systems. Instead we can do it with our smart phones. The Internet of Things (IoT) has also allowed us to integrate all of our devices at home. We can adjust our connected devices–our television, our thermostat, our security system, and even our lights–from our smartphones. diy-home-security-systems1DIY home security gives us many opportunities to customize our home security, and some new systems even provide monitoring services if we’re too busy to monitor it ourselves. In the future, we’ll spend some time talking about how to select a DIY system that best suits your needs. For now, it’s safe to say that home security has really advanced since it’s early days with dogs and geese, and the future of home security systems is looking bright.

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