Modelling the South African connected home for the benefit of customers and their insurance providers

South Africa is currently experiencing an internet-connectivity boom, and, as of 2017, more than half the country’s population has access to the internet. As this ratio increases each year, the knock-on effect of us becoming more connected is that we look to connect more. 

Indeed, smart homes might not be commonplace in South Africa just yet, but, already, we can buy a host of gadgets and sensors to build a web of connected devices. From Google Home’s seamless integration with Spotify and our living-room sound systems to smart light switches connected up to Raspberry Pis by home-automation tinkerers, South Africans not currently automating at least parts of their homes, soon will be.

Access to Digitisation
There are, of course, several barriers to entry when it comes to connectivity and smart homes in South Africa: Namely, not everyone can afford being connected. The country’s information gap is already well documented, with people who earn more than R30,000 per month enjoying 82.4% internet penetration, while those earning less than R2,500 per month sit at around 30% penetration. Another hurdle is the current cost of digitisation – devices connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) are generally quite expensive. 

However, as more companies come to the party, inevitably, these barriers lower. A 2015 report by the McKinsey Global Institute states: “… digitization could add some $2.2 trillion to annual GDP [of the United States] by 2025.” Insurance companies around the world have seen this, including stakeholders in South African, and are seeing value in creating the ‘connected customer’. From vehicle tracking and fitness wearables to insurance-premium reductions and discounts on healthy foods, the connected customer – and consequently the connected home –  is no longer a wistful vision of the future, but more a reality of as-yet untapped potential.

Setting up a connected home, however, can be an expensive exercise – especially for early adopters – and insurance companies need to stand-out. Insurance providers that are able to entice users to convert or upgrade existing products into smart devices that can integrate into the burgeoning connected-home ecosystem offer the best way to overcome the barriers explained above; quickly on-boarding new customers and keeping them for longer.

Smart and Cost Effective
That’s where Sensor Networks comes in. Our Sensor Networks Smart Geyser device has already proven itself able to transform traditional ‘dumb geysers’ into ‘smart geysers’, offering benefits to customers such as immediate energy savings and fault detection, and insurance providers through improved risk mitigation and a measurable reduction in claims. Now, the company looks to expand its product offerings to include a much-needed modernisation of traditional home security systems.

The Sensor Networks Smart Security device makes use of the same IoT platform as the Sensor Networks Smart Geyser. In fact, the two products can be operated from within the same Android, iOS or Huawei mobile app. Able to be installed on a range of alarm-panel types already installed in homes across South Africa, the Sensor Networks Smart Security device turns these outdated relics of home security into smart devices that users can control from the touch of a button, from virtually anywhere, and reduce risk for insurance companies through automatic behavioural analysis and smart security suggestions.

Stand-out Insurance
As IoT Insurance Observatory says in their Smart Insurance whitepaper, “… the product and the experience from one carrier to the next is remarkably similar, and the customer is hard-pressed to distinguish between insurers.” Thus, standing out from the competition is essential as the connected-home market tries to find a foothold in South Africa. Insurance companies are at the bleeding edge of what comes next for South African home owners, and have the unique opportunity to take full advantage with optics of current global trends.

Images courtesy Unsplash

Further reading:
– Electronic Communications Network, “State of Connectivity in SA”, 2019,
– IoT Insurance Industry, “Smart Home Insurance”, 2019,
– McKinsey Global Institute, “Digital America: A Tale of the Haves and Have-Mores”, 2015,
– Sensor Networks Products,