So, I’ve had the Wink Hub 2 for almost a week now. While it does have some nice features, it also has some significant drawbacks that have caused me to continue running my SmartThings 2 Hub within my home network. I’ve decided to continue to run both hubs and use the best features of each hub to do what I want to do. More on that later…

Sonos Support

On my SmartThings hub, I have rules set up that announce throughout my house if one of the exterior doors are opened. I’ve got Sonos speakers in each room that all play the message simultaneously. And I like it. Unfortunately, the Wink hub does not support Sonos at all. So rather than migrating my door sensors over to Wink, I’ve left them on the SmartThings hub so it can continue to function as my home announcement system.

Motion Sensor Grouping

Wink calls their smart apps Robots. It is basically IFTTT but allows you to specify compound rules and resulting actions. The user interface is really slick and I found myself setting up a ton of these rules in no time. But if you have more than one motion sensor in your setup, it forces your apps to trigger off of motion on any of the motion sensors. This will not work if you’ve got motion sensors through your home triggering unique events. The Wink app says that this will be resolved soon, but it is a pretty big annoyance.

Home Assistant Saves the Day

So now that I’m running two Smart hubs, my next question was how to get those hubs communicating with each other. That lead me to discover Home Assistant. Home Assistant is an open-source Python-based home automation application. It is being actively developed and has pretty good documentation on getting everything set up and configured.

I had a Raspberry Pi that I’ve been meaning to do something with, so I took this opportunity to put it to good use. If you don’t mind getting your hands dirty, Home Assistant is amazing! It supports Wink with very little configuration. Getting SmartThings integrated was a bit more difficult, but now I’m able to build fairly complex rules in Home Assistant using events from both hubs. And I think I’ve only scratched the surface on what all it can do.

Connecting SmartThings and Home Assistant

Honestly, you can probably do everything you need to do with Home Assistant. I’m basically using my SmartThings and Wink as bridges to the various networks (Z-Wave, Zigbee, etc) since there is no native support for those networks on the Raspberry Pi. I’m planning on doing a more detailed write-up on Home Assistant later.

Decisions, Decisions

If I had to do it again, I don’t think I would get the Wink 2. It just wasn’t that much of an upgrade from my SmartThings hub after having to deal with the drawbacks. But since I’ve got it up and running smoothly with everything else, I’m going to keep it and I’ll just have another toy to play with. I’m sure the software issues will be resolved over time and only get better.

On a side note, my Google Home should get delivered today and I’ll be playing with that the rest of the weekend!

Today, I finally received version 2 of the Wink Hub. I’ve been a long time SmartThings user having used by version 1 and the current iteration of the hardware hub. I had originally started with the Staples Connect hub (which seems like ages ago) and have a bunch of Lutron switches that I later learned were not compatible with SmartThings when I made the switch. When I saw the Wink 2 would support those dust-collectors, I decided to give it a shot to see how it would fare against my tried-and-true SmartThings setup. Here are my first impressions after un-boxing this bad boy.

Installation

Well, that was easy (Staples pun intended). I guess that is the norm these days with connecting an automation hub. Once plugged in and connected to my router, I installed the Android app and we were off!

Wink Setup

Setup

The app walks you through setting up any existing connected hardware you have in your home. I immediately went with adding my Hue lights since I know those will work with both the Wink and SmartThings at the same time. Once I authenticated with Hue via Google auth, the app just presented me with a spinning icon. I thought it was hung up, but it eventually came back and told me no lights were found. I tried again with the same results. Things are not starting out well so far…

I decided to kill the app and restart. That seems to have done the trick as it immediately detected my new Wink hub. Maybe it was because I signed up for a Wink account in the same session? This time, the Hue hub / lights were added successfully and the app walked me through light controls (as well as a Hue firmware update). Once completed, I was free to control my lights. Light reaction does seem a tad bit slower than it is when I toggle one in the SmartThings app. I’ll see if that continues.

I will also note that I immediately noticed the app is much “prettier” than the ST app. Oh and I can create light groups directly from the app??? To me, that is a huge win over ST as I haven’t been able to find a clean, easy way to make that happen. Hopefully, there are more pleasant surprises coming my way.

Next, I connected my ecobee3 thermostat. That was super easy and connected with no issue.

Pretty much everything else I have is Z-Wave so I will have to remove them from the SmartThings hub before I can play in this new world. I plan to entertain myself with that tomorrow and will update with my progress. Stay tuned!

 

I am a bit bummed that Sonos is not supported. Yeah, I probably should have looked that up before pulling the trigger. I like having every speaker in my house announce when somebody opens / closes the front door (as well as other sound-based automations) 🙂 I’m going to see if connecting the Wink hub to my Home Assistant installation might solve that problem before I rule this one out.

 

As a person responsible for government purchasing, have you ever sat back and thought to yourself, “This is perfect! I have so many great Vendors responding to my proposals that I can hardly keep up! I am really getting some great deals here and saving the public so much money!”

Oh I’m sorry, did I wake you up from a nice dream??

Competition in the Government Vendor Community

When any government agency puts out a significant proposal for bid, not only do they want many Vendors to respond, in most cases the law requires it! Having more Vendors responding increases competition and ultimately results in your agency getting the lowest price possible for the goods or services. It also shows the public that you understand you are spending their money and are doing your best to ensure it is spent wisely.

No matter the need, there are usually a very large number of Vendors that can and would love to give you their business. The difficult part is ensuring that as many of those Vendors as possible are aware of your particular needs. The process to find these Vendors should start well before you need them. Having a good pool of trusted Vendors will make you much more successful when it comes time to solicit their services.

Easier Said Than Done

I know you’d love to channel your inner Harry Potter, wave your magic wand, and those wonderful Vendors would be knocking at your door. Unfortunately as we all know, it’s not that easy. This process requires a bit of effort, but it should not be that difficult. These Vendors want your business, remember? Once you’ve established that relationship, they should be ready for your call when it comes. Just remember to continue to reach out to the community over time so you don’t miss out on new Vendors!

Internet Searches Are Your Friend

So, the easiest way to find new Vendors is the same way you would find anything else on the Internet. Search for it using your favorite search engine! Using the commodity, category, or keywords you should be able to find Vendors out there that will be able to help you with future needs. Once you’ve located them, invite them to register in your purchasing tool. I doubt you will have to ask them twice.

Reach Out Locally

There are a number of ways to find Vendors in your community. Using local Vendors ensures that the public’s money is being reinvested in the local economy so everybody wins! You also stand a higher likelihood of maintaining a diverse group of Vendors.

Recurring Outreach Sessions

Setting up a recurring outreach session each month allows you to stay connected to the community and provides an opportunity for more Vendors to participate over time. It also provides a great forum for Vendors to ask questions about purchasing processes so that everybody ends up being successful. These should be advertised in the local newspaper (some people do still read those!). If the demand is high, you may even want to have sessions broken up by industry. This will allow the session to be focused on specific issues within that industry that may not affect others.

They should also be advertised using all of your social media accounts. If you do not have a social media presence, now is a great time to establish one specific for your government agency! Post and/or tweet often to keep engaged with your base. Here are some hashtags to get you started, but you are only limited by your imagination.

#procurement
#publicprocurement

Use Your Website

Your local website is likely already being used today to expose government services to the public. Why not use this same platform to let potential Vendors out there that there may be opportunities for them? It is easy to do and you already have a user base to see the information. Just make sure you get them to send you their info after you’ve captured their attention! Which leads me to…

Set Up Mailing Lists

Set up a mailing list and allow Vendors to subscribe. You can break it out by industry or keep it simple. Then as needs arise, you simply need to notify the army you’ve collected over time. Competition and great prices are right around the corner! There are lots of online tools out there that will facilitate most of this for you (MailChimp is a great one).

Software-based Approaches

If you already use enterprise-level software to manage to your proposals, then you already know how this works. You create the proposal and let the software take care of the rest. Vendors have already registered in the system and specified the types of goods / services that they provide. All of those Vendors are automatically available to you and are even immediately notified when new opportunities are released. They probably already have a large pool of Vendors that will see your proposals without any additional on-boarding work on your part. In addition, they take care of advertising your requests to the general public and can even have that content embedded in your existing web site.

If you don’t have software helping you facilitate this entire process, you should start looking for one ASAP. There are many different solutions out there suiting governments of all shapes and sizes (though I am a bit partial to one in particular 🙂 ). #webprocure #perfectcommerce

Let’s Do It!

Ideally, you should be following all of the steps that I’ve outlined above to ensure you get as many Vendor proposals as possible. You should also be looking for new ways over time to connect with potential Vendors both in your community and elsewhere. In a future article, we’ll talk about making sure your Vendors are real, qualified, and adding value to your sourcing process.