smart home

By Eric Murrell

The front porch has never been a bigger target.

Whereas brick and mortar stores ruled the 20th century, the thousands of online marketplaces that have popped up since the turn of the millennium have completely changed the way consumers and businesses purchase goods. Packages deliveries, once a rare occurrence, have become a daily routine for many people, especially those of us who run businesses out of our homes. From office supplies to documents, manufacturing goods and electronics, these daily deliveries are the lifeblood that powers our entrepreneurial endeavors.

They’re also a massive target for theft. Log on to the message board for any homeowner’s association, and you’ll see a laundry list of complaints and vigilance for brazen package thieves. Deliveries and online classified pickups are so common now that these criminals are harder to detect than ever. But as prevalent as this problem has become, there are finally some excellent solutions on the market that can help safeguard your livelihood and make your neighborhood a safer place at the same time. Here are some of the best products to consider.

Keep Your Eyes Outside with Smart Cameras

Camera systems have always been a great security tool, but the initial cost and clumsy monitoring systems limited their use to office buildings and large businesses in the past. However, a recent wave of smart camera technology has dramatically lowered the cost and improved ease-of-use, making smart cameras a must for every home business.

Today’s Wi-Fi smart cameras (available at the electronics store or from your internet service provider) offer powerful camera units that pair with a mobile app on your smart phone or tablet, or with your cable box to keep a constant eye on what’s going on outside. Whether it’s a sun-soaked afternoon or cloudy night, these systems use an array of sensors and infrared night vision technology to alert you the moment motion is detected. When you see that a package is delivered, you can take steps to get it safely inside immediately.

Cameras are also fantastic tools for getting a sense of the typical foot traffic in your neighborhood, allowing you to spot any unwelcomed snoopers more easily.

Monitor Your Visitors with a Video Doorbell

Another fantastic tool for home-based business owners is the video doorbell. Serving as a smart peephole for your front door, this tiny security camera replaces your doorbell and offers the best look at recent deliveries and suspicious visitors. It takes only minutes to install, and when paired with a companion app or smart home system, you can receive notifications the moment motion is detected — you’ll likely know visitors are present before they ever ring the doorbell (if they ever ring it at all!).

Best of all, most video doorbells also feature two-way talk, which you can engage in remotely, allowing you to always give the appearance of being at home. Not only is this great for verbally “signing” for packages, but it’s also a deterrent — most thieves won’t stick around when they know they’re being actively monitored.

Take It Up a Notch with a Smart Home Hub

These tools work great independently, but they really shine when you integrate them with a comprehensive smart home system. Smart home hubs are readily available from your internet service provider or the hardware store, and they can combine your smart cameras, doorbells and lights to create a powerful security network for your home.

If an outdoor camera detects someone walking around your house at night, a smart home hub can automatically turn your home’s floodlights on. The moment your video doorbell detects motion, it can send a signal to activate the light in your foyer and even trigger loud barking noises through a connected smart speaker. They’re great tools for scaring off the bad guys.

What if the Worst Still Happens?

No matter how effective a tool is, bad things can still happen to good people. If you do become a victim of theft, these smart gadgets make it a lot easier to prove the crime and help bring criminals to justice. Almost all smart cameras and video doorbells feature automated recording, making it easy to file a comprehensive police report with solid evidence. It’s also a good idea to post the footage to your neighborhood’s message board or Facebook group, taking the concept of a “neighborhood watch” to a powerful new level.

If you own a home-based business, you owe it to yourself to make your home smarter and more secure. Nothing helps you sleep better at night or enjoy a vacation more than knowing your packages are arriving safe and sound, and your home is being monitored (even when you’re away).

Eric Murrell is a software developer and technology contributor to XFINITY Home. He enjoys sharing tips on how people can benefit from incorporating smart home automation and security in their homes on his blog At Home in the Future.