With the flurry of new devices unveiled at Amazon’s fall 2021 event, it’s not surprising that some new Amazon services made it under the radar — and we want to take time to talk about a particularly interesting smart security service the company’s brand Ring is now offering homeowners. Virtual Security Guard is a unique type of business and home monitoring service for those who want the very best protection possible when they aren’t available to monitor it themselves. Here’s how it works and everything else you should know when choosing the right security plan.
How it works
Traditional security monitoring plans can send alerts to a monitoring center, which can then take action to help protect your home. That could mean contacting the fire department if a fire alarm goes off, or calling the police if there appears to be a break-in. But the workers at these monitoring systems only have access to basic alert information and may have to deal with many alerts from a ton of homes in their region, so it’s not exactly a one-on-one service, and problems like false alarms can still be an issue.
The Virtual Security Guard service goes a step beyond and assigns your security system a pair of dedicated eyes via the company Rapid Response. These monitoring agents still respond to alerts like all monitoring centers do, but they have extra capabilities to look at camera livestreams, use two-way audio to communicate with strangers, and follow your instructions based on how you want to handle scenarios. You know, like a virtual security guard.
This can lead to more accurate responses and an escalating approach to help deal with tricky situations. For example, let’s say there is a trespasser on your property. The remote security agent can:
- Use two-way audio to communicate with any unexpected visitors.
- Send an alert to the owner (or suggested contact) that they are monitoring the situation.
- Ask unwanted people to leave the property.
- Sound the emergency siren if a person refuses to leave.
- Contact emergency services as needed.
While Ring’s Virtual Security Guard is a service, you still need to use compatible devices. You will need a wired outdoor cam, such as a Ring Video Doorbell, a Ring Spotlight Cam, a Ring Stick-Up Cam, or a similar device. These products have a continual supply power that ensures the agent can do their job, offer two-way audio communication, and provide live video feeds for monitoring. If you have multiple Ring devices that qualify, you will need to choose particular cams for monitoring.
Note: This service is focused almost entirely on the outside of a home or business. The service isn’t designed for monitoring the inside of a building.
Personalization and privacy
The owner of the business or home will be able to personalize their Virtual Security Guard service in a few ways. First, the agent will only be able to access your device when it’s in Home or Away mode. If the security system is fully disarmed, guards won’t be able to take a look. They also can’t pop into your cam livestream whenever they want — there needs to be a Ring alert, such as from a motion detector, first.
Owners will also be able to note specific preferences for the service, such as when to expect regular deliveries or if certain people are allowed on the property even if they don’t live or work there.
Ring cams and video doorbells also allow you to set Privacy Zones or areas that are blocked off for cameras. Privacy Zones aren’t usually as important for outdoor cams, but if you do set a Privacy Zone (such as on a kid’s play area), then the agent will not be able to view that zone.
Pricing and availability
Virtual Security Guard is still in its early stages, and Ring is planning to start its rollout later in 2021 with select invites. You can sign up to request an invitation, but it’s not guaranteed.
Ring reports that pricing starts at $99 per month, and there does not seem to be different tiers of this service for now. However, owners will also need Ring’s latest Protect Pro monitoring plan, which costs $20, making the overall cost for Virtual Security Guard at least $120 per month (with some savings possible if you purchase plans annually).
At that price, it’s easy to see why Ring’s focus is on small businesses, although there’s no reason homeowners can’t use it if they’re willing to pay for a human eye on their property. We’ll be sure to keep you updated when the service starts rolling out and we get a better look at how it works in the real world!
Is this similar to Alexa Guard?
No. Alexa and Echo devices are a separate branch of Amazon and not related to the company’s ownership of Ring. Alexa Guard is a home security service, but it’s different from Ring’s Virtual Security Guard. There is no live monitoring by a person — instead,
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