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What is Geofencing? And How Does it Work with Smart Home Security?

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What is Geofencing? And How Does it Work with Smart Home Security?
May 15, 2020
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What is Geofencing? And How Does it Work with Smart Home Security?

Geofencing

lets you control your home’s lighting, temperature, and security measures just

by going about your daily routine. 

By the time you get home from work, you’re ready to relax. But as you walk in the door, there are a few things to take care of. If you were conscientious about saving energy and money while the house was empty, it will be darker and quite a bit warmer or colder than you’d like. Before you can settle in, you’ll have to turn on the lights you need and adjust the thermostat. Even then, it will take a while for the room temperature to get to a comfortable level.

There is a better way, however. One that allows you to walk into the house after a long day and head straight to your favorite chair or spot on the couch. No fumbling in the dark to switch on multiple lights—no waiting for the house to cool off or warm up. And no cringeworthy realization that you forgot to lock the front door when you left.

Geofencing can take care of all that for you, and a whole lot more.

How does

geofencing work with a smart home network?

Smart homes use interconnected devices to take care of things like security, lighting, and temperature. You control these devices remotely and wirelessly, and they communicate with each other the same way. The best smart home components are linked together by a control panel, or hub, using a wireless communications protocol called Z-Wave.

Z-Wave is similar to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi—but it has a longer range than the former and uses less energy (and is more reliable) than the latter. It’s ideal for connecting smart appliances and security components. And once these devices begin working together through a hub, they become much more than the sum of their parts.

One of the ways you can enjoy the full, combined potential of a smart home network is by setting up geofencing. What is geofencing, exactly?

It’s a virtual perimeter, or boundary, around a specific location. You set up a geofence by specifying this boundary in an app or web portal, and by providing the software access to your smartphone’s location data.

Let’s take a look at how easy this is to do:

Picture of person on cellphonePicture of person on cellphone
Set up a geofence tied to your smartphone, and smart devices can operate based on your location.

How to

set up a geofence

The Hub that controls Frontpoint smart security products and third-party devices can be controlled with an app that you can download to your smartphone or tablet. There is also an online Customer Portal with all of the same functionality.

The app and portal let you control the products remotely. You can turn your security alarms off and on, dim your lights, and adjust other appliances with just a few taps on the screen. Components can also be programmed to take action based on schedules or events.

The Geo-Services feature that relies on geofencing technology enables one of these events. Whenever your smartphone crosses a virtual boundary—say, a geofence just outside your home—the system will command devices to perform specific actions.

To set up a geofence, you first have to make sure the app can use your phone’s location services. That’s how it knows when you’ve crossed a specific line. Next, there are just a few simple steps:

  1. With the Geo-Services feature opened on your device, enter your home address (assuming you want the geofence around your home—you can actually set one up anywhere).
  2. This will display a map showing your house and the surrounding area. You'll see a circle on the map around your home—that's the geofence. Now, you can adjust the size of the circle manually, or by entering a specific radius—say, one mile.
  3. You can then choose from a menu of alerts and rules that will be triggered when your phone crosses the geofence boundary. One typical signal is an arming reminder. This one sends you a notification if you’ve forgotten to arm your security system. The system can also be programmed to arm your security system if you cross the boundary.
  4. You can specify the times and days you want your alert or rule to be in effect, turn it on and off, and make other adjustments with the app or portal.

What else

can geofencing do?

Geo-Services can control your smart devices in a variety of useful ways—the feature’s potential is basically only limited by the equipment you have and what you can imagine. Let’s look at a few possibilities:

Secure your home remotely

We’ve already established that a geofence can let you know if you left home without arming the security alarm. The app will also allow you to arm the system remotely, wherever you happen to be. Better yet, you can set rules that can take care of things like this automatically. To avoid using your phone while driving, for instance, just set the Geo-Services app to automatically arm your intrusion sensors when you cross that geofence boundary.

A geofence can do many other things, of course. According to one study cited by the FBI, about a quarter of all burglars simply enter through an unlocked door or window. If you have a Frontpoint Smart Lock, you can set it to lock itself once you’re past the geofence. No matter how forgetful you are, the geofence has your back. Your house will be locked up tight with all of the security devices set. And you don’t have to do anything but keep driving.

Save energy—and money

Again, shutting off lights and adjusting the temperature when you're not home is good for the environment and your bank account. But if you need to leave the house in a hurry, you simply may not have time to do it. No worries. Let the geofence handle that. Just set a rule that turns off specific lights and resets the temperature to a predetermined level when you move across the boundary.

To do this, you’ll need smart light bulbs and a smart thermostat. These devices communicate with your hub via Z-Wave, just like the other components we've discussed. The smart thermostat can be set remotely—through a manual command, a schedule, or an event-triggered rule—and the smart light bulbs can be switched on or off and brightened or dimmed to pre-set levels.

Frontpoint Smart Light Bulbs fit standard sockets. But what if you have a vintage lamp that requires an odd-sized bulb? If you have a Wireless Light Control, you can plug any lamp or other small appliance into it and remotely switch that on or off as well. Just program the geofence app, and it will happen automatically.

Picture of the Frontpoint Wireless Light ControlPicture of the Frontpoint Wireless Light Control
A geofence can be set to control any lamp or appliance plugged into a Frontpoint Wireless Light Control.

The geofence works in the other direction as well

Geo-Services can do a lot of things for you as you leave the house. But it can also do plenty when you’re on your way home. For instance, you can set a rule that turns the lights on when you cross back into the boundaries of the geofence around the home—or a separate geofence that’s farther out.

Let’s say you have a typical work schedule and are out of the house all day Monday through Friday. That’s when you’ll want to adjust your lights and thermostat. On Saturdays and Sundays, however, you might just leave for an hour or so to run an errand. Thus, program the geofence to make the lighting and temperature adjustments only on weekdays. If you are going to be gone all day on the weekend, just reprogram the geofence or skip Geo-Services altogether and create a pre-set “scene.”

A scene labeled “gone for a while” can make those adjustments on an ad hoc basis with the press of one button.

As noted above, you can set up a geofence anywhere. Another common place users tend to set them up is around their workplaces. All you’re doing is entering an address into your phone.

Setting up a geofence around your workplace allows you to set rules for devices that need a little more time to do their work. For example, after your smart thermostat adjusts itself, it might take as much as an hour to heat or cool to your preferred temperature. This depends on the size of your house, how low or high it was set while you were away, the weather, and other factors. So, just set your workplace geofence to adjust the thermostat when you’re leaving work. That’ll give the system more time to heat or cool. And to keep the thermostat from resetting when you’re just running out to lunch, set the rule to apply only at the end of the day.

Another way to handle this issue is to set up a second “Home” geofence with a wider radius—say 10 miles. You can set up multiple fences around the same location or different locations. For example, when you cross the 10-mile geo fence on your way home, your thermostat can begin the heating or cooling cycle. Then, when you cross the one-mile geofence, your lights—and anything else plugged into your wireless light control—can switch on.

Setting

up a geofence gives you freedom and control

With a well-programmed geofence, you won’t have to worry about forgetting to arm your security system or lock your doors. Geo-Services also make it easy to save money on utilities without ever having to put up with a dark, uncomfortable house.

Of course, you can always use your app to make manual adjustments to your smart appliances remotely. But the geofence makes events automatic. If you’re a little forgetful, it’ll save hassle and money, whether you remember or not.

If you’re interested in leveraging this incredibly convenient technology, you’ll need a Frontpoint system. 


Frontpoint keeps homes safe whether families are there or not. We've been revolutionizing the home security industry for over a decade. And we're just getting started. To shop DIY home security systems, check out our Security Packages. If you have questions or would like to discuss a quote, contact us at 1-877-602-5276.

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