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Benefits of Smart Devices for People Living with Disabilities

smart devices

Thanks to technology, life has become incredibly convenient. We can buy stuff online, talk to family and friends across the country and the globe, and control numerous smart devices through our tablet or smartphone. Those taking advantage of the Internet of things include the world’s largest minority, namely, individuals with disabilities.

In addition to the many other technologies of our digital world, disabled individuals benefit from the use of smart devices. It’s a lot like how the general public gets to enjoy the benefits of website accessibility. When websites are made accessible, it improves the user experience for all. If you’re not sure about getting on this technological trend, let us give you the reasons why you should.

What are smart home devices?

google miniA smart home is a residence that features devices interconnected with each other via the Internet that will enable the owner to remotely monitor and control them. Smart home devices include appliances, lights, thermostats, doorbells, door locks, cameras, speakers, etc.

How does a device qualify as a smart home device? Technically, any product inside your home that can be plugged into your home network and commanded by voice, remote control, tablet, or smartphone is considered a smart device.

How does smart home technology help people with disabilities?

Having your devices “talk” to each other has obviously transformed the lives of many people, but what has it done for those who are living with disabilities? How do these smart home devices help improve their daily lives?

A smart home system gives control to people with disabilities. These devices can help them enjoy independent living while easing the worries of their loved ones. They’re giving power to this community while providing them with cost savings. Smart devices are considerably less expensive than single-purpose assistive devices.

disabilityHow do smart home systems do all of that? One good example is a smart door sensor that is connected to smart speakers. Blind people can use this smart home technology to let them know if someone has entered or left the house. Another good example is the Amazon Echo program.

This personal assistant device can listen to your voice commands and control Bluetooth-enabled devices and appliances. People with limited physical mobility no longer need to get up to change the thermostat or to get in touch with a loved one. Opening curtains or blinds can be difficult for some people with restricted mobility. Having a smart device enables them to perform this task with ease.

Robotic vacuum cleaners, smoke alarms, ovens, and even coffee makers are just some of the other things that can be controlled using smartphones or even just spoken commands. As such, people living with disabilities are given the “ability” to perform tasks that they used to ask others to perform for them. It increases accessibility without requiring them to make changes to how their home is designed or built. Simply put, this type of technology provides them with “home control,â€� which can make a huge difference in how they can live their everyday life.

Best devices to make your home smarter

Door sensors

If you’re investing in a smart device, security should be your top priority. What better way to make your house secure than to get a door sensor? A door sensor sends you an alert whenever someone tries to enter your home. You’ll never have to worry about leaving your home unattended again because you’ll know immediately if your door opens.

For people living with disabilities such as dementia, loved ones can feel much safer with a door sensor installed. It eases their mind because they’ll be able to know right away if their family member leaves home without them.

Electronic door locks

A smart lock enables you to open and lock your doors remotely. It ensures you’re never locked out of your home—something that can easily happen if you forget your key or the code into your house.

It also allows you to provide people temporary access to your homes whenever you want it. In fact, you can even dictate the number of times and days someone can go in and out of your home. With a smart lock, you’re not just able to provide access. You’re also able to monitor access.

Motion sensors

motion sensorMotion sensors, as we all know, can detect movement in an area where there shouldn’t be any. These play an integral role in any security system. It can alert you when your children are entering an area in the home (like the basement) when they shouldn’t be; It will let you know if your teen is breaking curfew or going out while you’re asleep. Also, It will alert you when intruders are going into your home.

With a smart home system, you can set up your motion sensor to trigger other connected devices such as lights or alarms. These devices can even be used to help you save money. For example, you can set the device to turn off lights whenever there is no motion detected in a room for a certain period.

Smart lights

Smart lighting is more than just being able to turn your lights on and off remotely. It enables you to control lighting levels allowing you to change a bulb’s brightness to suit your needs and/or the time of day. It also allows you to save energy. As we’ve already mentioned, you can connect motion sensors with your smart lighting allowing you to turn off the lights in unoccupied rooms. In short, you’re able to conserve electricity as well as your personal energy.

Voice assistants

Voice assistant technology has transformed the lives of everyone. Commanded through voice, it is a software that performs as a digital assistant providing users with a service through an application. A good example of voice assistants includes Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant.

With a voice assistant, you can control various devices through one specific app or device, such as the Amazon Alexa app, Amazon Echo, or Google Nest. Among other things, you can use it to call loved ones, search Google, watch a movie, create a shopping list, set reminders, and alarms, play music, lock the door, and change the thermostat. No hands required.

Video doorbells

A video doorbell is just as the name suggests. Your doorbell has a camera that records video. Why should you install it? Well, this smart device is a great criminal deterrent. Seeing a camera recording their actions just outside your door can make them think twice about breaking into your home. You can record everyone that goes to your door, which provides you with valuable video footage that can serve as evidence of a crime or blackmail material for a loved one.

Another benefit to this device is that it allows you to watch over your Amazon deliveries while you’re out of the home. It will also enable you to screen your visitors during those days when you’d rather be left alone.

Leak sensors

As you’ve probably already guessed by its name, this smart device alerts you whenever it detects a leak. Traditional devices will sound an alarm, which only works when you’re at home and can hear it. With a leak sensor such as a smart water leak detector, you get the alert on your smartphone.

Why would you need this? Prevention is better than a cure. Water damage is hard to detect until it has become a visible problem. That could cost you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Some people with disabilities might not have the ability to search for a leak. With a smart leak sensor installed in areas where leaks are likely to occur, they’ll get notified if and where it happens.

Thermostats

ThermostatsSome people like to keep their homes warm; others prefer it cooler. A smart thermostat allows you to set the temperature inside your home just the way you want it. Why is this important?

Well, with a smart thermostat, you can lower the heat while you’re out of the house to save on costs and then warm it up when you’re on your way home. For people living with disabilities, being able to remotely control the temperature of their home is a convenience that makes life easier.

Smart home devices are easy to install and setup.

Smart home devices can be intimidating to some of us. It sounds too much like science fiction, but the future is now. People don’t have to be afraid of this technology because it’s easy to install and set up. Most smart devices are designed to be user-friendly. Moreover, for most of them, you only need to install an app and plug the device into your home network.

Advantages of using smart home technologies

The advantages of a smart home are too numerous to cover in just a short article. For this reason, we’ll only cover five, but these are the big ones.

Home assistant

House chores certainly have never been this easy to accomplish. You can use your smart home devices to preheat your oven, get your coffee going, or have the carpet vacuumed while you’re miles away. Some smart home devices can even let you know when your food has cooked to perfection on the grill and is ready to serve. All of that is done without lifting more than a finger.

Smart heating/cooling

With a smart thermostat, you can make sure your home is warm and ready to welcome you in its arms as soon as you get home. Adjust your water temperature so that you’re ready for a hot shower as soon as you step through the door. The cooling and heating of your home is easily achieved through your smartphone.

Save energy and money.

Smart home devices enable you to regulate how much energy is spent in your home. You can lower the heat while you’re out of the house by only turning it up when you’re about to get home. You can turn off lights in unoccupied rooms or dim them down to keep energy costs low. Some applications can even help you monitor how much energy your household is using and notifies you of ways you can save energy, and when you save energy, you save money.

Health tracking

Health trackingIf you want to keep an eye on your health or the health of someone you love, smart health trackers can do that for you. It can check your stress level, calories, heart rate, pulse, and even your sleep patterns.

Safety

The world is a dangerous place. There’s no doubt about that. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t enjoy a worry-free life. With smart home technology, you can keep an eye on your home whether you’re inside it or far away. If there’s an intruder when you’re at the office or a water leak while you’re on vacation, you can get notified immediately instead of when you get back home hours, if not days/weeks, later.

Smart home technology can even let you allow people access to your home if necessary while you’re not in town. Moreover, it’ll give you peace of mind knowing that you’re able to lock the door even when you’re already at the airport waiting for your flight.

Conclusion:

There’s no question that smart home devices have made life easier for many consumers. For people living with disabilities, they’ve made life more normal. These devices have given them more control over how they will live their lives, enabling them to accomplish more on their own. Disabled people no longer need to rely on assistive technologies that usually only serve one purpose and cost a lot of money.

With smart home devices, their lives are better and their pockets fuller.

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Smart Home and Data Protection: Between Convenience and Security

smart home data security

According to projections, more than one-fifth (precisely 21.3%) of households worldwide would be using smart home devices by 2025. To put that into perspective, the penetration rate in 2020 stands at 4.9%. Here is all about smart home and data protection and the struggle between convenience and security.

What is the cost of your privacy and cybersecurity?

While smart home devices’ proliferation is for good causes (safety, comfort, convenience, wellness, entertainment, etc.), more than enough reports have shown that these benefits come at the expense of privacy and cybersecurity.

Research has shown that most people have little trust in smart device providers.

According to an ADT survey, 93% of smart home devices consumers are concerned about how companies share their data. The human wariness factor is certainly not misplaced.

Smart home devices collect very personal information, and security is paramount.

Data Security Concerns

The fear of users of connected devices is two-fold. On the one hand, there are suppliers infamous for unauthorized data collection, usage, and sharing. On the other hand, some attackers would stop at nothing to intrude on devices and access a user’s data for nefarious purposes.

  • Unauthorized data collection and usage (suppliers).

“New technologies cause new problems,� said Surya Mattu as he received his 2018 Technology in Journalism award. This is the award that Mattu won with his co-journalist, Kashmir Hill.

Together, they investigated how much data smart home devices collect and share about their users. By building a special router to monitor the smart home devices installed in Hill’s apartment while the experiment lasted — Mattu was able to collect personal and sometimes very sensitive data about her and her husband.

As an ESET study revealed, even in privacy policies that guarantee user data protection, the use of the term “but not limited to” in privacy policies  — extends the potentials of data collection.

Agreeing to these terms may inadvertently grant the vendors unrestrained access to and usage of other forms of data than the ones that have been explicitly stated in the policy.

In addition, there may be privacy risks through device integration across vendors, especially when one of them has significant security issues.

  • Unauthorized data access and intrusion (attackers).

Last year, several reports emerged of vulnerabilities in the Nest Cam IQ indoor camera that could enable hackers to hijack the device and interrupt the network.

The vulnerabilities found included denial-of-service (DOS), code execution, and information disclosure.

Compared to other devices such as smartphones and laptops, smart home devices are notorious security liabilities.

A Kaspersky team uncovered a security vulnerability that enabled hackers to access backup data stored on Fibaro Home Center hub in a test study.

The backup data contained the owner’s personal information, including location and contact details. Apart from that, the team exploited a remote code execution vulnerability to access the smart hub, all the devices it controlled, as well as the home network.

With an attack such as this, there was hardly any conceivable limit to what hackers can do. Anything from pulling off a prank to robbing the house is possible.

Examples of attacks that smart home devices may face.

  • Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks allow a hacker to intercept the communication between two devices to steal personal information, impersonate a party, or corrupt data, among others.
  • Denial-of-service (DOS) attacks interrupt a device or network, rendering it unavailable to the rightful users. An example is the Mirai botnet attacks that occurred a few years ago. Permanent DOS attacks can cause irreparable damage to a device.

Regulations and Government Policies

Apparently, governments have not lived up to expectations as regards regulating data protection for smart home devices.

Some of the minimal laws that exist contain ambiguous provisions that complicate data protection issues. Two of the major laws that address smart home devices are the GDPR and the CCPA.

  • GDPR

The EU General Data Protection Regulation controls the use and sharing of personal data collected by businesses. The data includes smart home device vendors.

The GDPR does not prevent the use and collection of data. However, and more importantly, it forces companies to become transparent in handling users’ data and gives consumers more power over control of their data.

  • CCPA

The introduction of the California Consumer Privacy Act at the beginning of the year rightly generated plaudits.

The act included a section that tackled IoT security specifically. The IoT security law, as SB 327 is regarded, requires manufacturers of connected devices to “to equip the device with a reasonable security feature or features.�

However, the ambiguity of the text complicates matters. Therefore, the law has been deemed inadequate for guaranteeing IoT security.

The reality is that there aren’t enough regulations globally to ensure the security of smart home devices.

Perhaps, the technology is developing at a pace faster than the law can keep up with. This means that users of smart home devices have an enormous responsibility for vigilance in protecting their data.

Smart Home Safety

  • Permissions

Permission settings allow you to determine how your data is used and share and integrate controls for other devices and apps. Deny permissions that are too intrusive or that you are not comfortable with. And consider as a potential threat any permission to edit router settings.

Note that some permissions are set by default. Therefore, one of the first actions to take after purchasing a smart device is to check all the permissions and deny the unwanted ones.

Likewise, when you stop using a device, whether because it stopped working or otherwise, don’t forget to disconnect it from your network and from other devices.

  • Secure Access

Observe basic security hygiene to keep your devices away from unauthorized intrusions. For passwords, change the default password to a strong password you can easily remember. Likewise, use different passwords for each device and change these passwords intermittently to secure access to your device.

Another important measure is enabling multi-factor authentication. This provides an additional layer of authentication, making it difficult for an intruder to access your account, even if they know your password and username. Also, do not forget to secure your network.

  • Network Segregation

Segregating your network based on the behavior of your devices helps you to protect your most personal and most sensitive data.

Even the FBI recommends it. Keep all your IoT devices and appliances on a separate network from personal devices such as smartphones and laptops. The basic way to do this is to use different routers.

Alternatively, many Wi-Fi routers allow you to create virtual networks that operate as separate networks but are run on the same network. You just have to know how to set these up.

Conclusion

In the end, those who regard convenience as the enemy of security are not entirely wrong.

Applying tighter security measures to smart home devices would accelerate the adoption of these products as a by-product of abating many people’s fears. No one should have to give up their privacy just because their speaker or their lighting system is connected to the internet.

However, while the goal of not giving up your privacy remains the aim — there is a great responsibility for users of smart home devices to ensure their data protection.

After all, the ADT report also stated that less than 40% of the survey respondents were taking any data privacy measures at all!

Image Credit: sebastian scholznuki; unsplash

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Aeris 3-in-1 Aair Pro AI breathe easy Health Product Reviews Smart Home smart home devices Tech

Aeris 3-in-1 Aair Pro: Fighting Against Coronavirus from Your Living Room

air purifier

Living in California I’ve tested many air purifiers. Between the recent uptick in wildfires as well as the threat of Covid-19, peace of mind in breathing good air has saved my bacon more than once. Recently I got to try out the Aeris 3-in-1 Aair Pro — and color me impressed!

Aeris is fairly new to the US — and gaining in popularity. The Aeris brings to mind the mantra never send a small air purifier to do a big air purifier’s job.

The high performance of the Aeris 3-in-1 leaves most other purifiers (literally) in the dust.

3-in-1 Aeris Aair Pro

The 3-in-1 Aeris Air Pro gets its name from the three layers of filtration Aeris has incorporated into its replaceable filter, in essence performing the job of three purifiers.

The first filter is a protective pre-filter, designed as the first line of defense against larger particulates.  The next layer is activated charcoal, designed specifically to capture gases and odors.

The final layer is its True HEPA filter that stops particles clear down to a tenth of a micron, protecting you from viruses that are on all of our minds these days.

Pricing

Coming in at just under $1000, the 3-in-1 is not the cheapest on the market, but the extra cost does bring some bang for your buck.

The unit boasts a 750 square foot cleaning area, which is saying something for its modest size. Standing just below 24â€� tall and about a 15×15â€� square, it takes up only a bit more space than other air purifiers.

Admittedly, the unit was heavier than I expected, coming in at about forty pounds, but it likely isn’t something you’re going to be moving too frequently. The filter itself, on average, lasts you about a year and is, at the time of writing, $199 to replace.

Pros

 

AQI

Something that I really liked in the Aeris is that it notes the actual air quality index rating (AQI). Most purifiers only give you a generic rating that will, at most, indicate general levels from “healthy” to “very unhealthy,” often using colors for these blanket categories.

The Aair 3-in-1 actually shows you the indoor air quality rating on the unit while the app will display both the indoor and outdoor air quality.

Covid-19

In addition to all the other particulates and pollutants that are removed from the air, it comes as some relief that the 3-in-1 Aair Pro has been tested specifically against Covid-19. Tests indicate that 94% of coronavirus was removed within two hours.

Side note: I was initially concerned that the testing noted “feline coronavirus.” Upon further research, Feline coronavirus/Munich Strain is the alternative virus strain that is used as industry-standard testing because of its close relation to Covid-19, while being non-transmittable to humans.

AI

Aeris has also developed an AI that will learn with age. So, the longer you use it the better it will be at analyzing environmental patterns and household habits to boost its performance. While I haven’t yet noticed a difference I look forward to seeing the improvements listed in my air-quality over time.

Air Quality Over Time

No Ozone

A large issue with many air purifiers is the generation and release of ozone. While these other purifiers may be purifying your air, removing pollutants, allergens, pollens, bacteria, mold, or other particulates — a hidden danger of air-purifying is the release of toxic ozone gases.

The Aeris 3-in-1 is designed to prevent the release of ozone. Having the quality of “NO-ozone” protects those in at-risk groups of asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

Environmental Changes

Of all the air purifiers I’ve used and tested over the years, I’ve never had one notice (and respond) when I’m cooking. It stands to reason that off-gassing and carcinogenic changes would be occurring while you cook — but this was the first time that an air purifier that did anything about it.

I took bread out of the oven, and within a minute of opening the oven, the Aeris sprung to life in the other room. The Aeris gave me just a small note — but that is really cool.

Cons

While there were many great aspects about the 3-in-1, there was one con that really stood out to me. At present, Aeris doesn’t allow more than one user to be signed into the account through the app.

In the event that you try to log on from another phone or device, the app will actually kick off any user currently logged into the app.

I reached out to customer service and they were wonderful and quick to respond (A+ to their CX team). Sadly, it also doesn’t seem to be an upcoming feature to change that anytime soon.

Only one signed-in user may be a real dealbreaker for many households who have multiple partners, roommates, or children who need to be able to access and control the unit’s settings.

While you can increase fan speed and put into Smart Mode from the unit itself, it was a bit of a bummer to not be able to do so from the app on more than one phone.

One other minor thing to note is that the light of the unit does not turn off when in night mode which may make you reconsider putting the device in bedrooms — or remember you slumber mask.

Additional Notes

Modes: The device features a Manual, Smart, and Night mode. I generally keep mine in smart mode, with a few scheduled “Quick Cleans” now and then.

Noise: Smart mode’s low fan setting is almost impossible to tell it’s on. The Aeris is very quiet on the low settings. That being said, the unit can also pack a punch in the higher fan settings during Quick Clean.

Customer Service: A+

Unit Functions: You can see indoor AQI, raise or lower fan speeds, turn on Smart Mode, or power off.

App Functions: Indoor and outdoor AQI, change device mode settings (Night, Smart, Manual), view filter status. Analytics (Hourly, Daily, Monthly). Schedule modes, change account settings, contact customer service.

Connectivity: I was pretty impressed with the connectivity. I only had to connect the unit to the internet once, and it hasn’t disconnected.

specs on Aeris Aair Pro

The Specs:

Room Size: 750 ft²

Fine Particule CADR: Up to 390 cfm

Gas-Phase CADR: Up to 115 cfm

CCM: P4/F4

Fan: EBM papst

Power: 25W (avg) | >50W (max)

Noise: 35 – 65 dB(a)

WiFi Connectivity: IEEE 802.11b/g/n

PM2.5/PM10 Sensor: aeris asense

Filter Class: F7 and H13

Gas Filter: Active charcoal and active alumina

Filter Layers: 3

Dimensions: 14.56×15.23×23.62 in

Weight: ~36lbs

Overall Thoughts

Overall, I really enjoyed this air purifier. The Aeris 3-in-1 Aair Pro is a big air purifier, with even bigger results.

Easily handling 750 feet squared areas, and giving you peace of mind in knowing your home’s AQI. While it may be on the more expensive end of home air purification, this is one to seriously consider adding to your home.

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Neighborhood Security: Steps to Achieve Community Safety

neighborhood security

Local communities and police departments are increasingly adopting technology that helps improve neighborhood security in new ways. Methods that link CCTV camera networks together greatly enhance their reach and scalability.

This helps to identify any criminal or irregular activity better and improve access law enforcement agencies have to evidence when trying to catch criminals. Recent developments in ‘smart’ technologies help to make this all possible.

Smart Security Considerations

The System Type – So what makes a security system smart? The key difference is in the system’s infrastructure, or the way it makes the video feed accessible. Modern systems are primarily Internet Protocol (IP) cameras and recorders. These systems transmit over CAT 5 Ethernet cables, the same cables you use to connect your computer to the internet.

By comparison, older systems are either HD-CVI or analog and transmit video over coaxial cable, the same kind of wire as cable television.

Depending on the model, smart systems may have other advantages, like access for viewing on any computer or mobile device via the internet. A setup like this is also better in logging security events, making it easy to review specific footage for incidents.

How to Improve Neighborhood Security

Your neighborhood security all depends on who’s living in the area and how much they care. If you have a community full of people — or even just a handful of very motivated individuals — who really want to make the area more secure, it will be much easier than just one person trying to do it alone.

Since most modern CCTV systems enable remote viewing via computers, as well as cell phones and tablets, you’ll want to make sure that you choose one of these types and that it’s compatible with the systems your neighbors are using. This way, any trusted neighbor with access to the network can benefit.

1. Choose The Right Device for the Job

The right device may vary from person to person and property to property, but you should keep a few things in mind when browsing for new security products. First, consider smart devices that will be most effective in your location.

While CCTV cameras provide real-time footage beneficial for peace of mind and recovery in the event of a theft, there are also products like LED Floodlights, which are cost-effective in deterring intruders (atlantalightbulbsdotcom).These can be extremely useful if you don’t have landscaping or decorative lights around your home.

Smart locks work with security systems to let certain guests inside while keeping the building secure, and are great for those with dog-walkers, extended family who often stop by, rentals on Airbnb, and can even be used to let people in at certain times, depending on the lock or app you have. There are also options like motion sensors that will notify owners of unwanted activity through real-time alerts.

2. Set up Your Phone

Your phone is an indispensable tool in community security. It has been since home phones were first installed and have continued to evolve and improve since with the advent of smartphones. Now, in addition to calling your neighbor, you can monitor your front door and other areas of your home, depending on the devices you have.

Using Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or cellular networks, connect your security device to your smartphone or tablet (cctvsecurityprosdotcom). This will ensure that you can manage security alerts and video feeds in real-time. Be aware that if your phone is not connected to a network, the smart devices’ information may be delayed.

In addition to linking your new devices with your phone, be sure to save their contact information. Having a network of individuals in your area, all looking out for each other can be extremely valuable and helpful in safety and security situations.

3. Select Security Apps and Stay Connected

Choose apps on your smartphone or tablet that align with your security goals. While most companies that offer a security device include a complementary app, a growing marketplace of third-party apps can provide you with even greater peace of mind. Streety is one mobile app that aims to increase neighborhood safety by allowing neighbors to view each others’ video footage through a trusted, private network. Another app, called Neighbors, allows residents and business owners to connect to local networks, share media, send texts, and receive alerts from the local police department.

Some neighborhoods are finding these apps so effective that they pool money together to rent cameras and the software to service them. Should a crime be committed, residents have the option of sharing footage and other information with local police departments. Typically, a more involved resident in the community’s security or acts as the neighborhood watch leads the initiative.

4. Place Deterrents

Most criminal acts are crimes of opportunity; they’re often unplanned. When an unscrupulous person sees an opportunity to steal something without getting caught, they may make the jump from law-abiding citizens to criminals. The trick as a homeowner in your neighborhood is to make crimes as risky as you can for criminals.

neighborhood watch area sign

This might start with a neighborhood watch sign placed prominently at the entrance to your neighborhood. These signs get visitors thinking about the neighborhood security, priming them to see deterrents they might not otherwise notice. You’ll want to use these together with other strategies for the greatest effect.

Dogs make an excellent deterrent to burglaries and home invasions. If you have a dog, adding a “beware of dog� sign to your property enhances this effect. Even if you don’t own a dog, a “beware of dog� sign can still be effective.

Surveillance signs and stickers work similarly. When visitors know they’re being watched, they’re more likely to be on their best behavior.

5. Consider Local Crime Tools

Apps will provide you with considerable information on the security of your property and neighborhood. But you may want to consider other information that local authorities use to track crime. Using tools like CrimeReports can even help you understand how effective smart security systems are. Reports provide detailed analysis on which types of crimes are most prominent across neighborhoods. These insights provide a great foundation to determine which types of smart devices and monitoring techniques are most effective, given the type of crime you are trying to prevent.

One often-overlooked local crime tool is social media. Consider creating a custom group on Facebook or inviting your neighbors on to NextDoor. If your neighbors aren’t particularly tech-savvy, a group text message will work fine too. These platforms make it easy to call out and document potential neighborhood security threats. When something looks suspicious, the decision to speak up can be the difference between a crime prevented or a crime carried out.

Neighborhood Security Safeguard

Technology can be an excellent partner in helping catch criminals and even deter it. If communities don’t band together, their overall safety will never be as good as possible. So even as smart homes develop and community security evolves, continue to talk to your neighbors and get to know them.

Some of the most effective neighborhood security methods are the most low-tech.

  • If you see a vehicle in your area strangely driving slowly or parked, post a photo of it. Take note of the license plate number along with the make, model, and color. Then add a photo of it to your neighborhood’s social media page or group text chat.
  • Watch for signs of damage or disturbance to your neighbor’s property. A broken window or door left open is a sign worthy of giving your neighbor a call or sending a text message.

Using All of the Tools Available for Safety

Choose smart systems and employ smart strategies that empower your community to collaborate as a new digital neighborhood watch. At the end of the day, looking out for your neighbor is still the single most effective way to protect your neighborhood from crime.

Image Credit: AdobeStock

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Security, Connectivity, and Privacy: Plume’s CEO on the Importance of Smart Homes in the World of Remote Work

As workers headed home over six months ago, few companies were prepared for what would follow. Cyberattacks have soared, WiFi connectivity weakened, and businesses simply aren’t operating like they should be.

The IT protections offered by the office simply aren’t there anymore in most cases. If employers and employees alike want to maximize their security, they need to bring some technology into the home.

The problems caused by a newly remote workforce call for advanced technological solutions like Plume, a smart home services pioneer co-founded by Fahri Diner. For Diner, working from home should bring all of the benefits of office life with it, without incurring new problems along the way.

That sounds good, but what exactly does it mean? As Diner describes it, it’s safe, reliable access to the internet, seamlessly integrated with the bleeding edge of smart home tech. And it all starts with a next-generation Wi-Fi optimization solution: Plume Adaptive WiFi.

The Importance of Adaptability

To deal with dead zones—areas without proper WiFi connections—in the home, many people have opted for mesh WiFi systems, networks that disseminate connectivity from a few key points throughout the home. In Diner’s mind, however, this solution doesn’t go nearly far enough.

“Mesh is just a starting point,� Diner explains in a recent Cheddar interview. “We don’t really see ourselves as competing with mesh players.�

In order to get a handle on the difference between mesh WiFi and Adaptive WiFi, think of it in terms of building a highway system. Mesh networks integrate links individually—in other words, building one road at a time without thinking about the optimal way to connect them. Adaptive WiFi, on the other hand, understands your household’s structure and traffic patterns, using this information to build the perfect WiFi highway for you. A highway built haphazardly, piece-by-piece is not going to work as well as it could, so that’s why Adaptive WiFi works as one cohesive system.

For many people, whole-home WiFi access is more of a luxury than an absolute necessity. There is one aspect of Adaptive WiFi, however, that Plume designed specifically with the needs of remote workers in mind: last-mile broadband delivery.

For Diner, this issue is a personal one: “I’ve spent the lion’s share of my professional life working on innovative projects to bring high-speed broadband to people,� Diner writes in a blog post. “The magic that I know happens in the upstream network over tens of thousands of miles disappears in the last few meters—oh come on!�

Some homes, by virtue of their plan, provider, or location, simply don’t get as strong of a signal as others. To help get around this problem, Adaptive WiFi distributes broadband to exactly where it’s being used the most—according to the unique needs of each device and application—ensuring that you’re always getting the amount of signal you need in order to do your work.

With greater connectivity comes greater possibility of infiltration. Adaptive WiFi wouldn’t be what it is if not for another of its key features: intelligent security.

Security: A Crucial Component of Any WiFi Network

The last thing that IT experts wanted was for workers to suddenly leave the office and go work from places without proper cybersecurity protocols, so imagine their shock when the lockdowns began in March of this year. 

No longer are important data points and corporate secrets being sent on secure, in-house networks—they’re coming from workers’ living rooms.

For hackers the world over, it’s like Christmas has come early. Plume IQ data shows that cyberattacks have doubled since lockdowns began, with almost 90% of households reporting at least one blocked attack.

Plume’s advanced cybersecurity carefully observes all broadband activity using AI, so it detects and stops attacks as they happen. By comparing your WiFi signals to enterprise-grade threat intelligence databases, it can determine whether any unusual activity is taking place and immediately put a stop to it. Using sophisticated anomaly detection, Plume’s AI Security can even determine which device has been compromised in real-time and isolate that device such that the threat is fully contained. 

While it’s great to have a network that both functions seamlessly and protects you from attack, Diner sees these as only the beginning. The true value of Adaptive WiFi rests in its ability to power the hands-off smart home.

Adaptive WiFi & Smart Homes

In order for workers to reach office levels of productivity, they need office levels of convenience—that’s where smart devices step in.

Smart devices need a strong, reliable network in order to function properly, but they also can’t become potential points of network vulnerability either. You need a network that can handle both the functionality and the security of a smart home.

In a recent keynote presentation, Diner describes just what a challenge that is. Over 800 million devices are connected to Plume’s OpenSync smart home operating system, covering well over 1,600 brands and facilitating the transmission of 62 petabytes of data per day. 

Transitioning to a smart home could overwhelm a traditional WiFi system and expose potential vulnerabilities in the network. Consumers need to know that a smart home is only as good as the network it runs on.

Plume has partnerships with ISPs the world over in order to provide the best possible service to customers. Diner points to his company’s latest partnership with networking equipment provider ADTRAN as a prime example of how Plume works to maximize connectivity for everyone.

The Importance of Data Privacy

The purpose of all cybersecurity is ultimately to ensure data privacy, and Diner points to three principles that demonstrate how Plume treats customer data:

  • Personal data must stay personal.

Plume keeps no records of data transmitted through their networks, period. The company even provides VPN pass-throughs for those wanting an additional layer of data security. 

  • Personal data is never monetized.

Plume doesn’t monetize user data and never will—to do anything else would be to betray customer trust.

  • Users are in control of their data.

Back in April 2019, Plume released a suite of tools that allow users to control the exact relationship that Plume has with their data, ensuring that no one is in the dark with regards to how their data is used. 

Work-from-home arrangements demand a new level of network, and Diner’s Plume has stepped into the market to provide one. Plume may not be a household name just yet, but all roads today seem to lead straight towards Adaptive WiFi for remote workers.

The post Security, Connectivity, and Privacy: Plume’s CEO on the Importance of Smart Homes in the World of Remote Work appeared first on ReadWrite.