Internet of things networking startup Sigfox just got into the burglar alarm business. On Thursday it announced a deal with Securitas Direct, the biggest provider of home and business security systems in Europe, to connect millions of alarms in Spain to its pervasive wireless network.
Sigfox doesn’t run the kind of wireless network used to connect mobile phones, tablets and laptops. Rather, with the help of telco partners, it is building a specialized network optimized for the internet of things in countries around the world. The types of devices it connects only access the network intermittently and send minuscule amounts of data. Think sensors, industrial appliances, even dog collars.
Securitas Direct will basically use the Sigfox networks as a redundant network for notifying its monitoring centers when an alarm has been tripped. Typically security companies rely on phone lines (which can be cut) and GSM networks (which can get overloaded or go down) for such emergency communication. By adding Sigfox as a backup, Securitas customers get extra assurance that the authorities will be contacted when an alarm goes off even if the primary telephone networks are down, said Thomas Nicholls, head of communications for Sigfox.
Sigfox has built its network in the U.K., Spain, Russia and Netherlands with the help of carrier partners (in Spain Sigfox is working Abertis Telecom), and it’s even begun building a U.S. trial network is San Francisco. Its first announced customer in the U.S. is quantified canine gadget maker Whistle Labs, which is using Sigfox’s network to keep tabs on pooches when they stray from their owners. But Nicholls said Sigfox is in discussion with several other device makers and internet companies.
The Securitas Direct deal, however, is Sigfox’s largest by far, piling millions of new connections onto its network in a short period of time. Securitas’s alarms are already equipped with radios that tap the 868 MHz bands used for many industrial communications purposes in Europe. That’s the same band used by Sigfox’s network, so to upgrade millions of alarms already in the field, Securitas need only send out a software update, Nicholls said.
We often think of smartwatches, health trackers and connected consumer appliances when we think of the internet of things, but there’s an industrial internet world whose operation won’t be obvious to the general public but could become far bigger than the consumer internet of things. How those billions of sensors and devices are linked will be one of the big discussion topics at Gigaom’s Structure:Connect conference next month in San Francisco.