Michael Nicholson, 2N’s business development manager for the UK & Ireland looks at integrating access control into home automation systems: 5 things installers and integrators need to bear in mind.

Over the summer, research firm ResearchAndMarkets published a report on the smart home automation market. It forecast that the market will reach $187.8 billion globally by 2028, rising at a compound annual growth rate of 15.2% over that period. Part of this growth will come from home automation systems expanding to incorporate access control technologies, a trend which is starting to become visible in many countries across the world.

In response, and to mark European Cybersecurity Month 2022, we have published some guidance to help integrators and installers who are considering including access control devices into customers’ home automation systems.

The guidance includes five core pieces of advice:

1. Bear in mind the full range of security benefits available

This is something we wrote about earlier this year. For many homeowners looking to take their security system to the next level, integrating access control and home automation can give them exactly what they are looking for – but many people are still not aware of the full range of options open to them.

For example, imagine that a burglar is prowling around and rings on the intercom to see if anybody is at home. With an IP intercom, you can receive the call on your smartphone. You can see the burglar and talk to him – and, if you want to, pretend that you are at home. Connecting the intercom to a home automation system means you can then take immediate action – for example, by turning on the lights in your house remotely.

In my experience, these are the kinds of upgrades that homeowners value – not because they are cool, but because they have a tangible impact on making their property more secure.

2. Consider all of the convenience upgrades that access control can offer

It is easy to think of access control in terms of intercoms, and connecting IP intercoms into smart home systems can provide an array of new options for homeowners. For example, it can make it possible for couriers to drop off packages even when they are out – a major plus given the huge rise of e-commerce over recent years.

But it is not just about intercoms. Integrating a product like the 2N Indoor Touch 2.0 answering unit into home automation solutions from companies such as Control4, Savant, RTI and Crestron can turn it into the central control panel, regulating everything from the lights, air-conditioning and music system through to the garage door and lawn irrigation system.

3. Choose devices based on open standards or vendor specific protocols

Maximising the security and convenience benefits of integrating access control into home automation requires technologies that work well together. Our advice to installers and integrators is therefore to avoid proprietary, closed systems which can’t be interconnected with different brands. Instead, prioritise devices which are based on open standards or with an open API, as they can easily be integrated with third party technology.

Ultimately, this is about giving yourself the flexibility to select a solution which is both the right fit for your customer, and the most cost-effective option available.

4. Remote management saves both time and money

Home automation customers typically value the flexibility to add new features to their smart home quickly and easily. Remote management options like the My2N cloud platform can facilitate this, providing integrators with the opportunity to work more efficiently and save their customers money at the same time.

5. Prioritise the cybersecurity of access control devices

This may be our final piece of advice for installers and integrators but it’s definitely not the least important – which is emphasised by the fact that we chose to launch the guidance during European Cybersecurity Month 2022.

It shouldn’t need stating, but cybersecurity is just as important as physical security – and any weak links in a home automation system risks cyber attacks on a smart home. We have published a list of seven pieces of best practice when it comes to cybersecurity which integrators and installers should bear in mind when working on all projects, and also a Hardening Guide which explains how to configure 2N products in a truly secure way. Follow these rules and your customers will enjoy all of the security benefits of integrating access control into their home automation system, without adding a layer of risk from cyber attacks.

Those five pieces of advice are very straightforward – and will be intuitive to most installers and integrators out there.

If I had to sum it all up in one sentence? I would simply say this:

There is huge potential value in integrating access control into home automation systems, but if customers are to enjoy the full benefits, it needs to be done right.