It was bound to happen: A home-automation and building-control system with cybersecurity at its core. The system – and the venture – is CommandScape, launched by Netscape founder and Internet pioneer Jim Clark.
Netscape invented the SSL (now TLS) encryption scheme eons ago so it should be no surprise that everything in the CommandScape ecosystem – from the hubs to the end devices – is “wrapped in a cybersecure envelope,” says former ADT executive Don Boerema, president and CEO of the start-up. “We’re the first ones to use a [security] certification process fully.”
Like other home- and building-control systems, CommandScape will control lights, HVAC, security, motorized shades, surveillance systems, and more. Unlike most systems, though, this one will be completely wired. Nary a wireless sensor, light switch, door lock or keypad in sight.
The sort-of exception is that CommandScape employs HomePlug powerline-carrier technology, delivering data and power to some products over the building’s existing AC wiring.
Another unusual feature of CommandScape is that no usernames and passwords are required for entry into a secure location, or access to protected applications. Users are authenticated via their iPhones, and permissions granted and revoked by Mom, Dad or the systems administrator.
CommandScape home-automation and security system
CommandScape can do this because of its end-to-end security authentication process, Boerema tells CE Pro.
“Today, most people only verify the server, but not the clients,” he says. “We put [security] certificates end-to-end, from the clients all the way to each and every device.”
Remember that big credit-card breach at Target? Boerema reminds us the hackers got in via the HVAC system.
That can’t happen with CommandScape’s authorization scheme, he says.
Unfortunately, there’s one little exception: like if the HVAC guy borrows your phone. Or if little Amelia grabs your mobile device and wanders into the gun closet.
Asked about this fairly realistic proposition, a CommandScape spokesperson tells me: “Anyone who doesn’t keep control of their device will potentially run into problems in regards to others having access to any of the phone’s information. We do not see this as a barrier to being successful in the marketplace.”
Before joining CommandScape, Boerema was a top exec at ADT for nearly two decades, so between him and Clark, the company should have physical and digital security pretty much covered. (Earlier partners in the venture included Mike Snyder and Dennis Kozlowski, former CEOs of ADT and Tyco, respectively. A CommandScape spokesperson says the former CEOs are not now involved with the company, and they “had minimal impact on the founding of the business.”)
Keen on Security, Not So Much on Integration
At launch (which is now), the new CommandScape system offers lighting control, physical security, video surveillance, network/data security, and motorized shade control.
Not available now, but “on the product roadmap,” are climate control, energy management, access control and A/V.
CommandScape is making its own lighting, security, access and energy management subsystems.
Since the whole premise of the CommandScape business is end-to-end security, the company wants to keep it mostly in the family, working only with select outsiders that can (and will) drop a special security certificate into their devices. Currently, CommandScape is working with Axis for video surveillance and Lutron for motorized shades.
All devices in the ecosystem – from the user’s smartphone to the cloud connection to the cameras and lighting controls – “have to do a two-way handshake to verify it’s the right connection, and the individual has the authority,” Boerema says.
He hesitates when asked about other integrations, but says the company will explore third-party connectivity where it makes sense, for example, TVs. On the other hand, we probably shouldn’t expect CommandScape to work with third-party lighting, security, access or HVAC control systems.
Owning the ecosystem not only improves prospects for digital security, it also can foster better interoperability among subsystems, according to Boerema. For example, a single sensor might serve the security system (trigger alarm if sensor tripped), the energy management system (set back temperature if room is vacant) and the lighting-control system (turn on lights if motion detected).
While this scenario might be commonplace in residential automation, it’s not always the case in commercial projects, where each trade has its own ecosystem and its own set of specialists.
The CommandScape Business Model
In addition to its security thrust (a compelling thrust at that), CommandScape is promoting its “exquisite” software for dealers and end-users alike.
CommandScape Editor, the company’s app-based programming tool for pros (no computer required), can “dramatically reduce labor hours” compared to competitive products, Boerema says.
That is certainly one benefit of using a single vendor for a complete ecosystem, especially when there’s no A/V involved.
CommandScape Navigator, the customer-facing UI, takes a floor-plan approach to building control, allowing users to navigate their properties by room, floor … or country, for that matter. Touch the camera icon in a given room to view the video from that area. Touch the light bulbs to brighten or dim the space.
End users themselves have the ability to set schedules and alerts. They can create macros by setting their devices just so … and then capturing the scene.
In the future, CommandScape will offer a remote networking monitoring tool with analytics on uptime, activity, speeds, potential breaches and all the usual networky stuff.
Will CommandScape fly in the home-technology channel? It is primarily a building-management system created for commercial projects … and maybe some very large and busy homes with lots of people coming and going at all hours.
It would seem to make sense for security-conscious customers with utilitarian needs – change the lights, manage the energy, see who’s at the front door. The fun stuff won’t be available until later.
The problem, however, is that the HVAC guy and the electrician and the security guy must all install the CommandScape product. The low-voltage girl (CEDIA dealer) installs the network and maybe some parts of the other subsystems.
What’s it going to take to get all of these trades to switch to CommandScape from their go-to products? It might require an entirely new business model, where traditional home-technology integrators bring all those other trades in-house. Or maybe they just forge some very strong local relationships.
Boerema says CommandScape has talked to “dozens” of top installation companies in the commercial HVAC, electrical contracting, commercial integration and residential integration (CEDIA) channels.
Several installations have already been completed, he adds.
Jim Clark Announces Launch of CommandScape, Bringing a State of the Art Building Management System to Commercial and Premium Residential Properties
CommandScape redefines how customers manage their homes and businesses with a fully integrated, cybersecure solution
DELRAY BEACH, FLORIDA – August 22, 2017 – Jim Clark, serial entrepreneur and founder of Silicon Graphics, Netscape, WebMD, MyCFO and Shutterfly, today announces the launch of his latest business venture, CommandScape, the only truly integrated building management system for commercial and premium residential properties. The CommandScape suite of products and services combines video surveillance, security, lighting and more, introducing an entirely new cybersecure platform that delivers total control and connectivity for commercial buildings and larger homes.
“There has been limited building management innovation over the last several years and in turn, there remains a need for a highly secure and integrated control system suitable for commercial properties and large homes,” said Jim Clark, founder of CommandScape. “CommandScape solves that problem with the next generation of security and control that allows users to connect and manage their property though an intuitive application anywhere and anytime. Our world class leadership and engineering teams have worked to perfect the system for anyone who is authorized to interact with it.”
CommandScape introduces a new standard to the industry with a building management system that features a customized floor plan beautifully represented on a simple and intuitive mobile interface. The CommandScape Navigator™ app opens instantly and users can easily find and interact with multiple properties from anywhere in the world. CommandScape delivers the highest level of cybersecurity while accessing and managing properties using the same highly secure certificate process invented by NetScape. Instead of relying on username / password combinations, the solution uses device-based encryption to create instant connectivity and prevent unauthorized access. CommandScape allows you to authorize individuals and specify access to properties via individual certificates, assign different levels of permission and limit or grant access to specific areas, rooms or functionality. At launch, CommandScape will provide physical security, lighting, shade control, video surveillance and the ability to incorporate motion detection for automation and notification purposes all wrapped in a cybersecure envelope. Additional building management capabilities, including network monitoring, climate control, energy monitoring, access control, home entertainment and multimedia are on the product roadmap for the future.
CommandScape enables integrator partners to provide their clients with new technology not available on the market today. CommandScape’s intuitive, elegant design, reflected in both the software and hardware, delivers a clean and exquisite experience that enables protection and full property control. In addition to being accessible and easy to install for an integrator, it’s easily transferrable to a property manager or any authorized user of the system. With CommandScape Editor™, it is easy to customize schedules, presets, automations and alerts based on each user’s personal preferences. Integrators can also remotely troubleshoot client systems saving time and money.
In conjunction with CommandScape’s launch, Jim Clark is appointing Don Boerema as President and CEO. Don has a wealth of professional experience and a proven record of success in leadership roles with Fortune 100 Proctor & Gamble, PepsiCo, and AT&T Wireless and privately held FDN Communications.
Don joins CommandScape from The ADT Corporation where his latest role was Senior Vice President and Chief Corporate Development Officer, leading corporate strategy, market and business development, mergers and acquisitions and the health business unit. During his time at ADT he also was the Chief Marketing Officer, overseeing all marketing and product management for the Residential and Commercial business segments.
“CommandScape’s highly skilled and accomplished team is bringing a compelling experience to customers and integrators alike.” said Don Boerema, President and CEO, CommandScape. “CommandScape provides property owners an integrated experience that offers flexibility, customization and peace of mind through a sophisticated combination of hardware and software. We built this solution with very clear customer needs in mind and are committed to deliver secure solutions that delight our customers with every aspect of our system.”
CommandScape offers the only fully integrated cybersecure building management system on the market that delivers an exceptional experience for users, integrators, property managers, businesses and partners. CommandScape will continue to develop a robust ecosystem of partners and integrators to ensure all the personalized needs of customers are met.
CommandScape is available beginning today. Those interested in learning more can visit www.commandscape.com.