Wednesday, 6 June 2007

A shout out to all Entrepreneurial Engineers

Yesterday Amyas and I were at the IET's Entrepreneurial Engineer event in Cambridge. It was wonderful to see so many engineers keen to learn more about entrepreneurship, both in the true sense of starting new businesses, and within their current employing organisations. Everyone we spoke to was excited by the AlertMe proposition, and it was good to meet so many people who are already fans of ZigBee! There was a real buzz around new consumer technology ideas such as ours, and several people said how great it was to see a company using ZigBee for the purpose it was designed for, and getting a compelling new product out using it.

So a big Hi to everyone we met yesterday, especially the avid followers of this blog! Do sign up at so we can keep you up to date with when AlertMe will be available in your area, and keep being entrepreneurial.

Mythbusting - Home Security Myth #1: Risk

One of the most common misconceptions of home security is about RISK.

Generally, people are bad judges of risk. Whole industries exist for the management of risk in various forms, ranging from financial to personal. Business managers are kept up nights by their decisions around risk mitigation. And we all have to judge risk, reward, and consequences on a daily basis.

  • Can I park on the yellow line for 15 minutes or will I get a ticket?
  • Should I buy a house now or hope the property bubble will burst soon?
  • If I leave work early today will the boss think I'm being slack?
  • Do I need to replace the batteries in my smoke detector today or next week?

A good way to think about risk is to weigh the CHANCE of an event happening against the OUTCOMES if it does or does not.

Parking on the yellow line might conveniently saving me walking several blocks and circling around looking for a legal space, and the chance of a traffic warden coming by in the next 15 minutes is fairly low, but the consequence might be a 60 pound penalty citation and the minor hassle of paying it.

Interestingly there is also an emotional cost to all this. If I park in a legal space, then I don't have to worry about it - very nice benefit that should be factored in. If I get a ticket for illegal parking, it'll probably annoy me for the rest of the day, and again when I get around to paying it.

What does this have to do with home security? A lot actually.

Some decisions are made daily. Lock up the house, using one or more locks. Close some or all of the windows.

Some decisions we make once and then forget about. Getting an alarm system. Installing smoke detectors. Joining Neighbourhood Watch.

It's well worth re-evaluating the risks of home security now. The chance factor should reflect 733,000 reported home burlaries last year in the UK according to the Home Office Crimes Report, and the average cost is fairly high at an average theft claim of £2,250 (total home property loss claims were at £1.4 billion in the UK last year.)

Again, not least is the emotional cost of the risk. That same Home Office report says that 63% of people believe crime has increased in the UK, with 13% expressing very high levels of worry. The most significant issue may be the awful feeling of invasion if you do have the misfortune of being a victim.

This is all a personal decision, but now you have some of the facts, assumptions and myths around the risk of burglary. A similar decision can be made for smoke and fire detection, and a variety of other considerations.

Perhaps the strongest conclusion is that it is worth being informed and making an educated decision about risks to your home. I hope this helps you do that.