Security’s Role in Property Management

Commercial BuildingAs a property manager you have a lot of people that depend on the safety and security of the real estate you oversee.  Whether or not you own the properties you rent, or work with a landlord in managing their properties, a bulk of the responsibility lies on your shoulders.  Your main goal is to attract responsible patrons, keep them, and build your brand.  How can you do that if the property you oversee is publicly perceived to be too risky or unsafe?  That’s the problem, if there has been an incident at a property that you own the public tends to remember and will likely steer clear of that address.

This negative reaction can be limited by implementing preventative security measures that meet the needs of your tenants and the risks associated with the surrounding area.  One of the best preventative measures you can take as a property manager is to incorporate a comprehensive security system in combination with defined property protocols.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed integrators provide comprehensive security system solutions that suit your specific needs.  We have been installing security systems in facilities and residences throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  Our team recognizes the challenges property managers face dealing with multiple properties both commercial and residential.  We specialize in comprehensive security systems that include fire and burglar alarms, access control solutions, video surveillance, and system monitoring.

Trying to determine what type of security system is necessary for a specific property can be difficult that’s why it is important to involve a security professional from the start.  This is especially true for new construction projects.  Involving a security integrator from the start will ensure you are getting the coverage you need and create a seamless installation process.

One of the first and most important procedures to tackle is a risk assessment.  A risk assessment should include a licensed security systems integrator and it should be performed as early on as possible.  This will help determine where your greatest security threats are and how best to tackle them.  The next step would be to design a custom security system that helps combat those threats.

While every security system application will be different dependent on the location there are some key components that will benefit most buildings.  Video surveillance is a major security feature that is essential to any comprehensive system.  The mere presence of a camera system is sometimes enough to deter potential criminals.  It helps keep an eye on your property even when you can’t be there, it also gives your tenants a peace of mind knowing their public spaces are being looked after.

Access control is another important piece of the security system pie.  It helps limit who and how people can gain entry and sometimes exit.  Access control can be implemented in a number of ways.  Often times a credential is issued to the approved users and they typically come in the form of a swipe card, a fob, or a proximity card.  These credentials are used in conjunction with an electronic reader installed by the desired entry point.  Using access control credentials instead of traditional keys helps prevent lost or stolen items from being duplicated.  A similar type of idea can be used with parking lots and garages as well.

Fire and burglar alarms in combination with access control, video surveillance, and an alarm monitoring service make for a comprehensive security system.  A security systems integrator helps ensure your fire alarm is installed and operates according to national and local codes.  Having an alarm monitoring service will help alert you and the proper authorities at the first sign of a disturbance.  With today’s technology there’s the potential to remotely monitor what is going on at your facilities through an app on your smartphone.  Mobile apps typically have the capability to send you notifications if an alarm is triggered, or you can customize the type of notifications you want to receive.  This could be particularly beneficial if you own multiple properties in different areas.  A security system is meant to be a purveyor of safety and convenience.  It helps protect your property investments and your patrons.

There is no “one-stop” security solution for any facility or residence.  That is why it is imperative to involve a security systems integrator, they will assess the risks associated with your particular facility and design a system that suits your specific needs. As a property manager you have people that depend on you to maintain the facilities they utilize, and security should be a factor in that maintenance.  Even if installing a security system isn’t your decision to make, it’s worth bringing up to whomever would make that choice.  Having a comprehensive security system can be a good selling point to your clients and a way to keep them.  Our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security system solutions to facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We understand the value a security system can add to a facility and the sense of safety it instills in those it is meant to protect.

If you live, run a business, or manage properties in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Ines Hegedus-Garcia-Flickr-Creative Commons

What is Hybrid Surveillance?

Mike Mozart-surveillanceAs a business owner protecting your facility is always a top concern.  Are you getting the coverage you need?  If you have a comprehensive security system you’re already in a good position.  However, a security system is only as good as the sum of its parts.  One of the most crucial parts of a security system is the surveillance aspect.  Surveillance systems are the eyes that keep watch over your business even when you can’t.

Like any other technology surveillance equipment is constantly evolving through research and development that is meant to improve its efficiency.  In today’s IoT (Internet of Things) IP-based (Internet Protocol) systems are a driving force that is changing the role of surveillance in comprehensive security.  But not everyone is so keen on the uptake.  Prior to the inception of IP cameras and network devices the world was and has been dominated by analog cameras and DVR devices (Digital Video Recording).  If you have existing surveillance equipment, chances are it’s a legacy analog system.

While the IP surveillance trend is picking up, there are still more than 40 million analog cameras in operation around the world today.  Making the switch from analog to IP isn’t an easy transition for everyone and integrators have become increasingly aware.  Fortunately there are hybrid solutions that allow you to work with your existing analog infrastructure and start your migration to an IP-based system.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. our team of licensed integrators work with you to provide comprehensive security solutions that meet your needs.  Our experts have been providing comprehensive security system solutions, including surveillance, to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for that past 23 years.  We recognize the value technology adds to the security systems we install and how they can benefit our customers.

Why replace an analog system?  To be fair, analog systems have filled a security need since the beginning of surveillance that would have otherwise gone unfulfilled.  But just like any technology, progress is always pushing the envelope of what is relevant and effective.  Look at smartphones, they are constantly evolving, every year a new model with new features that jettisons society forward.  While businesses aren’t necessarily turning over their surveillance systems at the same rate, the growing trend is leaning towards IP and network based solutions.

Hybrid solutions for companies that aren’t ready to make the full switch to IP just yet offer the benefits of a more effective system that will ease the transition when the time is right.  According to Mark Collett, general manager of Sony Security Systems Division, “With hybrid solutions, you can get the best of both worlds—the near-zero latency of analog plus IP’s HD imaging quality.”

Video encoders are the catalyst for the hybrid solution, replacing out of date and expensive DVRs.  DVRs were traditionally responsible for storing and recording footage captured by connected surveillance cameras.  According to James Marcella, a technologist in the security and IT industries, a video encoder is, “an open-platform technology that acts as a bridge between the analog and digital world by essentially turning an analog investment into IP cameras.”  Video encoders would allow you to make use of existing infrastructure by attaching to the coaxial cable from you analog system, transforming the analog signal into a digital stream.

Many industry experts consider DVRs to be one of the most expensive pieces of equipment the consumer will purchase, and they are typically outlived by the analog cameras.  Also, they are not dependable, if they go down so does the whole surveillance system, and this could happen at a critical moment.  Video encoders are capable of running on power over Ethernet that can be tied to a backup power supply, keeping you covered no matter what.  You can also employ redundancies like NAS devices (Network Attached Storage) and SD memory cards to help prevent recording loss.

DVRs lack the image resolution, edge intelligence, and network capabilities that a video encoder can offer.  The frames per second rate (fps) is what creates a smoother clearer image, the higher the better especially in high motion scenarios.  Video encoders are capable of capturing images at up to 60fps whereas DVRs only go up to 15fps.  DVR intelligence is typically limited to whatever the manufacturer specifications have been set to.  Video encoders open the door to third party intelligent applications which allow you to choose video management software from virtually any provider in the connected world.  This creates a platform for advanced video analytics.

There is a large storage and scalability disparity between DVRs and video encoders.  DVRs typically have a low tolerance for the quantity of cameras they can accommodate which can leave a business vulnerable by not being able to cover risky areas.  On the other hand video encoders offer virtually limitless retention by being highly scalable.  Video encoders have the ability to accommodate single cameras and there are some units that can accommodate up to 84 cameras making them a highly flexible and effective solution for a large or small facility.

The hybrid solution allows you to keep existing analog cameras and infrastructure and as the cameras die or warrant replacement, they can easily be swapped out for IP creating a smoother transition.  Remote monitoring is another benefit to opting for a hybrid solution.  This adds a level of security you can’t obtain from an analog system, being able to login to your surveillance system to see what is going on at your facility when you can’t be there.

Hybrid solutions are an economic and less disruptive option if you’re not fully committed to taking the IP plunge, even though progress will continue to push us in that direction.  If you opt for a hybrid solution or aren’t sure what to do always consult a licensed professional to ensure proper application and installation.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed integrators have been providing comprehensive security solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We can guide you through the process of creating a system that meets your specific needs, from an initial assessment to final installation.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Mike Mozart-Flickr-Creative Commons

What is Z-Wave Technology?

Smart home AccessIn the wake of home automation, smart home, or connected home technology you may have come across the term Z-Wave technology.  What is it?  Z-Wave technology is, “a wireless technology that makes regular household products, like lights, door locks and thermostats ‘smart’.”  It’s what allows your home devices to “talk” to each other and be controlled remotely via your mobile device.  Why is this important?  Well, if you have home automation or been considering it, it’s all about ease of integration, flexibility, and interoperability.  Home automation and its perspective devices are an integral part of a comprehensive home security system.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed integrators have been providing comprehensive home security solutions for the past 23 years.  We believe in making your life easier and more convenient by providing technologies that not only operate effectively but help provide superior protection.

Having strong communication between devices is crucial to the efficacy of your system.  It seems Z-Wave technology has the majority grip on the market as it stand today, one of the main reasons being it boasts communication capabilities for more than 1,100 products from over 300 different manufacturers.  This is beneficial to integrators and end-users alike.  The quantity of smart products that operate on Z-Wave technology opens the door to highly flexible smart home applications.  This means you can outfit your entire house with automation devices that can be controlled from your central control panel or a single application on your mobile device versus having to control devices piecemeal because they don’t operate on the same technology.

According to Mark Walters, chairman of the Z-Wave Alliance, “…greater than 80 percent of the North American security company-based lifestyle solutions are powered by Z-Wave.”  The wide breadth of automation product availability within the Z-Wave family provides immense system scalability for homeowners and integrators.  Meaning your initial product installations are not finite.  Security and automation devices can be added on an as needed basis.  For example, you may start with automated door locks, lighting, and garage door control but you may find that with time your needs expand to temperature management, skylight controls, and/or guarding against potential water damage; it’s always nice to only have to go through the installation process once, but it’s comforting to know you have options after the fact.  While most homeowners rely on the experts to properly install devices in their home, the range of Z-Wave technology products does open the door to a more DIY approach.  However, it is important to note that it is always wise to consult a licensed security system integrator to ensure proper product installation and operation.  This technology also provides an open platform for integrators and consumers who prefer products from a specific manufacturer, making it easier to get exactly what you want.

What about existing household technologies, will they be affected by Z-Wave home automation devices?  Today our lives are inundated with technology, your home probably has a slew of devices that operate on Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.  The potential issue with a house full of devices operating simultaneously is the communication disruption they can incur on one another.  Luckily with Z-Wave technology you don’t have to worry about interference with or from other household devices.  Its operational capabilities were designed specifically for home control.  It’s a low energy consumption, bandwidth efficient technology that won’t inhibit other home devices.  Z-Wave technology also has a vast international presence throughout Europe further expanding their territory for consistency, device compatibility, and home automation integration.

Home automation is a facet of comprehensive security systems that improves a homeowners posture in security.  It is meant to improve lives through convenience and seamless integration.  With home automation you can turn lights on and off remotely with the tap of your finger on your mobile device.  You can arm or disarm your alarm system while on vacation.  You can monitor an aging loved one who wants to maintain a level of independence by tracking their activity on your smartphone.  Or you can use it to receive instant notifications of real time events like your kids arrival home from school.  Like any system, home automation is only as good as the sum of its parts and the technology it operates on.

Z-Wave technology is the means by which many automation devices communicate with each other and the system as a whole.  The strong hold it has on the market today seems to prove it’s effectiveness and dependability.  It creates flexibility in product selection and system integration without interfering with existing household devices.  Chances are if you already have home automation as part of your security system your devices operate on Z-Wave technology.  This technology and the devices it encompasses show no signs of slowing down in our age of technological progression.

Our licensed integrators at Perfect Connections, Inc. have been providing custom and comprehensive security system solutions to homes throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We believe in providing technologies that enhance your home’s security and home automation devices do just that.  Home automation is part of a comprehensive security system which should include fire and burglar alarms, video surveillance, access control, and a monitoring service.  We help your home security stay relevant and provide technology that improves your quality of life.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

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False Alarms

False alarm may cost a life-Shannon ClarkIf you have a security system you might already understand the consequences of a false alarm.  It is not something to be taken lightly and can have serious implications.  False alarms can happen for any number of reasons and it’s important to understand why and how best to avoid them.  No security system is perfect, and false alarms are bound to happen, but as end users and integrators it is our duty to try to minimize them.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed integrators have been providing comprehensive security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  They are knowledgeable about the products they install and can provide useful information on system function and upkeep to help avoid any mishaps.

As technology progresses and advancements in security manufacturing lead to better products it’s likely the instance of a false alarm or dispatch will be lessened.  According to Ron Walters, director with the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), prior to the 90’s false alarms were typically attributed to faulty security products.  Since then manufacturers have been and continue to produce quality products, however that doesn’t guarantee proper application and use.  Accurate installation and usage lies the hands of the security integrator and the end user.  That is why it is critical to hire a licensed security expert for system installation and user specifications.  It is also important that the end user has an understanding of what is expected of them in order to avoid false dispatches.  Unfortunately, approximately 15% of false alarms are considered to be caused by user error.

In a world where there are an estimated 35-36 million alarms in use, according to Stan Martin who is the executive director of the SIAC, false alarms are an unavoidable evil. False alarms and dispatches are an annoyance for end users, but their ramifications don’t end there.  They take valuable time and resources away from emergency responders that might otherwise be needed at an actual crisis.  If you have too many false alarms it can create a “boy cried wolf” situation where authorities might be more hesitant to respond.  On top of all that you could end up paying substantial fines for repeat offenses.  Recurring false alarms that go unchecked can create tension between local authorities, end users, and security integrators.  But negative impacts aside, the SIAC reports that 90% of law enforcement still consider alarm industry professionals valuable allies.

Sometimes it’s difficult to pinpoint the cause of a false alarm as it could have been a situation where an intruder was attempting a break-in and escaped before authorities arrived making it appear like a false alarm.  This is where video surveillance, alarm monitoring, and remote system access come in handy.  Being able to tap into your facility’s surveillance system and visually verify whether or not an intruder is or was present, is a critical time and resources saver.  With remote access via an app on your smartphone or mobile device you can do just that.  The beauty of remote access is you don’t have to physically be on site to see what is going on at your facility.  Having a monitoring service will also help determine whether or not there is an actual emergency and whether or not authorities should be dispatched.  An added benefit to having video surveillance is even if the perpetrator escapes before authorities arrive, the recorded footage can be used to aid an investigation and hopefully identify the intruder.

Aside from having proper security equipment installed there are some helpful tips for end users to keep in mind that will help avoid pesky false alarms.  One, always know your alarm code and be sure all windows and doors are secured before arming your system.  Two, be sure you get your system tested regularly, it’s typical to have an annual inspection but some situations might require quarterly or more frequent tests.  Be sure critical sensors and smoke detectors are adequately covered during any construction or building modification to avoid disruptions caused by debris.  Lastly, always consult a licensed security system provider with any maintenance or care questions.

While false alarms aren’t completely avoidable, you can lessen the chances of them happening to you.  Hiring a licensed security system integrator who is knowledgeable and has extensive installation experience is key.  Installing a comprehensive security system that includes video surveillance, fire and burglar alarms, access control, and a monitoring service will provide complete coverage and reduce the risk of false dispatches and alarms.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed professionals have been providing comprehensive security systems to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  Our technicians have the experience and expertise to install security devices and can help educate you on proper usage.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Shannon Clark-Flickr-Creative Commons

What Happens if My Network Fails?

No Internet-Marcelo GraciolliDoes your security system, or part of it, rely on your company’s internet network?  Or are you considering a system that is at least partially dependent on network connectivity?  If so, what happens if that network fails or is compromised?  Fortunately nowadays the chances of your network dropping or losing connection is pretty slim, in fact the probability of most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) experiencing an outage is about 1%.  But in the rare case that it does become inactive there are methods to keep security features active, in particular network attached surveillance or IP (Internet Protocol) cameras.  Maintaining an operating surveillance system is crucial to the overall effectiveness of a comprehensive security system.  Surveillance footage can aid in police investigations and the mere presence of cameras can help deter criminals.  Fortunately there are methods of streaming and recording footage even when your local area network (LAN) is down.

Our licensed integrators at Perfect Connections, Inc. understand the importance of security system continuity and one that functions with minimal incident.  We have been providing comprehensive security solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  We specialize in surveillance systems, fire and burglar alarms, and access control solutions.  There is no perfect system, but by installing redundancies and planning with prevention in mind, system issues will be few and far between.

Traditionally recorded surveillance footage would be stored on an external digital video recorder (DVR), but thanks to progressing technology and the desire to streamline everything, virtual and network storage options are becoming more popular.  The cloud is becoming a popular virtual storage method that is cost effective and has seemingly limitless real estate.  To find out more about the cloud, check out our post here.  Whether you’re using the cloud or an external device like a DVR, it’s not a bad idea to have a back-up in the unlikely event your network goes down.  Two common types of redundancies are Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices and SD memory cards.

NAS devices are installed on the same network as your security cameras.  If you’re network were to suddenly go out or someone accidentally caused and outage, the NAS would continue recording.  If you were using the cloud as your main storage and the network drops, the NAS device could be setup to automatically upload recorded data to the cloud once the network is repaired.  It’s also a cost effective method as multiple network cameras can be setup to stream to the same NAS device.

SD memory cards are exactly what they sound like.  They’re storage cards within the actual camera, essentially the same as memory cards used in digital cameras and other devices.  This type of technology is also sometimes referred to as “edge storage.”  SD cards are typically programmed one of two ways.  Either they are constantly recording regardless of the network status, or they are programmed to kick-in when network connection is lost.  According to Fredrik Nilsson, General Manager of the Americas for Axis Communications, using SD cards as a redundancy works best in smaller applications where there are minimal cameras.  The main reason being they cost more per gigabyte of storage in comparison to NAS devices that can accommodate multiple cameras on a single device.

While the likelihood of your network failing or dropping out is pretty low it’s always best to plan for the worst case scenario.  There is no perfect security system, but there are measures that can be implemented to ensure coverage when you need it most.  When it comes to surveillance it’s imperative to have continuity, therefore it couldn’t hurt to have redundancies installed when using network cameras.  NAS devices and SD memory cards are two effective back-up storage methods that will help retain critical information that can later be accessed if need be.  To find out which type of backup is best for your facility always consult a licensed security system integrator.  Our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We understand no two businesses are exactly the same and that they should be treated with an individualized approach that suits their specific needs.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by Marcelo Graciolli-Flickr-Creative Commons

What is Motion Detection and How Does it Work?

Motion_detectorWhen you think motion detectors (or sensors) you might picture a heist scene from the movies where a thief has to perform acrobatics in order to avoid a web of alarm triggering laser-beams surrounding a priceless gem.  While that narrative is not necessarily complete fiction, it’s not exactly how motion detection is implemented in the real world.  In modern day applications security system integrators use motion detectors to sense unwarranted movement within or outside of a home or facility.  Motion detectors are typically implemented as an essential part of a comprehensive security system meant to help detect an intruder.  There are different types of detectors and their applications are not necessarily synonymous.

Our licensed team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been protecting homes and businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey with comprehensive security systems for the past 23 years.  We know one of the best ways to halt an intruder is immediate detection that triggers the alarm system.  Motion detectors do just that.  When they detect motion they communicate with the central alarm panel triggering an alarm, ultimately notifying your monitoring service of a disturbance; and before you know it help is on the way.

What are the different types of detectors?  In general there are two types of motion detectors, passive and active.  Within those two categories there are different detector technologies.  Passive detectors sense energy changes within a specific boundary whereas active detectors emit energy to detect motion.

Passive infrared (PIR) is a common technology that detects heat.  If there is disparity between the temperature of the protected area and an obstructive object (intruder) the sensors will be tripped and an alarm will be triggered.  This technology is not immune to triggering false alarms especially if automatic temperature compensation is not employed.  A PIR detector should have automatic temperature compensation to help stabilize the detector in variant temperature conditions.

Microwave (MW) is an active detector that emits microwave pulses and reads the reflection of a moving object.  This type of detector can cover a larger area than a PIR but it can be susceptible to electrical interference.  MW detectors do not recognize the boundaries of walls so they can trigger false alarms set off by random exterior motion.

Then there is Dual Technology detectors which employ a combination of active and passive sensors.  This could mean the combination of PIR and MW technology.  These types of detectors are less likely to set off false alarms as both types of sensors would have to be tripped in order for an alarm to be triggered.  However, that doesn’t mean these detectors are infallible.

Prior to the creation of PIR and MW detectors, motion detectors were not held in the highest regards by system integrators and end-users alike due to their high false alarm rates.  Before PIR and MW there was ultrasonics and photoelectric beams.  Ultrasonic detectors would send out high frequency tones and then interpret the reflections for any disruptions.  Photoelectric beams would send a light beam to a receiver that if interrupted would initiate the alarm sequence (picturing that heist scenario?).  These types of detectors were particularly susceptible to unpredictable movements as they didn’t have the technology to discriminate accurately.  While these motion detectors are not as widely used today they are by no means obsolete.

As technology progresses and the notion of wired installations becomes less and less appealing, wireless systems are taking off.  It’s no different with motion detectors.  Most can be installed wirelessly making their applications less laborious and diverse.  Many security system components have been developed to include interior motion sensors as well, like surveillance equipment and access controls.  For pet owners, there are motions detectors that can be setup to ignore regular motion from pets of a certain size.  Proper installation is crucial to the effectiveness of a motion detector therefore it should be done by a licensed professional.

Comprehensive security systems are what protect your home and business from external and internal threats.  It’s important to consider motion detectors as part of a comprehensive system.  They provide a layer of security that can’t be duplicated, sensing an intruder at the first sign of a break-in.  As licensed security system integrators, our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security solutions to businesses and homes throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We help protect what is most important and give you a peace of mind you can’t get from anything else.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by CHG (Own work)-Google-Creative Commons

Healthcare Climate and Security

Healthcare-NEC Corp of AmericaHealthcare facilities pose a unique security situation.  By nature they hold a lot of risk other organizations don’t necessarily have to deal with.  Most healthcare facilities are open to the public and provide care for a vast array of people on a daily basis.  Many facilities also house expensive and often sought after narcotics or medications.  Also, recent changes to healthcare policies are having an effect on everyday operations and their implications may not be fully realized yet.  These factors combined with the unpredictability of patient and public behavior make healthcare facilities particularly sensitive environments that require special attention when it comes to security.

As licensed security system integrators our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. understands the changing healthcare climate is producing security risks that need to be addressed.  We have been providing comprehensive security system solutions to facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  Protecting the integrity of any healthcare facility is crucial to the safety of not only its patients and the general public, but medical staff as well.

Unfortunately, healthcare facilities are no strangers to criminal activity.  The 2012 Crime and Security Trends Survey, based on responses from 208 healthcare organizations across the United States, showed that incidents of crime at healthcare facilities are on the rise.  In just two years from 2010 to 2012 these incidents rose 37% from a reported 15,000 to more than 20,500.  Keep in mind these were reported events.  The US Department of Justice estimates that at least half of the crimes committed go unreported.  A reason organizations fail to report disturbances is at least partially due to the fact that they don’t want to look bad in the public eye and potentially lose patronage.

There are many contributing factors to the rise in criminal incidents at healthcare facilities.  For one, many facilities are open to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week which can leave them vulnerable.  Outside disputes sometimes spill into the healthcare environment causing disturbances and putting staff and patients at risk.  Many facilities house pharmaceuticals which can attract substance abusers and drug dealers, increasing the risk of narcotic theft and violence.  Another security issue facilities face is when their real estate expands.  When healthcare organizations acquire new facilities it can be difficult to create consistency in mitigating risks and instituting security protocols, especially across sprawling campuses.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA also known as “Obamacare”) poses a not so obvious concern when it comes to healthcare security.  How can a healthcare policy affect security you ask?  According to James Barbour, Market Research Analyst on the Kratos PSS Marketing Team, the ACA will undoubtedly have implications on healthcare budgets.  He says, “Hospitals will guard their budgets cautiously, and security—traditionally viewed as a cost center—will feel the pinch.”  Experts also estimate a rise in patient volume due to more people being insured.  This has the potential to overwhelm facilities that are already stretched too thin due to budget cuts.  The repercussions of the ACA have not been fully realized in general, however security integrators and healthcare professionals should be thinking about ways to effectively and economically manage the risks associated with the healthcare environment.

Often times a healthcare facility will employ physical security guards to help ensure the safety of their staff and patients.  However, in the changing economy and in light of policy changes we know security may be faced with spending challenges.  Security guards may be on the chopping block when it comes to budget costs, so how can facilities make up for the lack of physical security?  Implement comprehensive security systems that include access controls, surveillance, monitoring and notification systems, and lockdown capabilities.

Access control systems can help limit who can gain entry to specific areas of your facility.  This would help in sensitive areas, like pharmaceutical storage and data centers.  According to Joe Liguori, president of the Board of Directors Security-Net, “healthcare facilities are finding that there is a long-term cost savings by implementing access control for storage and supply closets, for example, eliminating the need to change locks and replace lost or stolen keys.”  Access control can also help decrease or eliminate theft.  By using different methods like card readers, fobs, or sometimes biometrics credentials are harder to duplicate or steal making it easier for medical staff to focus on what is most important, their patients.

In addition to access control, surveillance plays a key role in crime prevention and overall safety.  Security cameras allow an organization to have eyes across their entire facility including areas that often go unprotected like parking lots/garages.  Having a monitored security system, especially in regards to surveillance, helps alert the proper authorities faster in an emergency.  In tandem with a monitoring service, a mass notification system can notify the right personnel in an emergency or dangerous situation as it is occurring.  Being notified of an event as it happens would allow for immediate action and hopefully prevent further damage.  This is where lockdown capabilities would be beneficial as well.  All it would take is the touch of a single button from a facility member, and part or all of a building could be shut down.  This is a particularly beneficial feature that can keep a perpetrator out of certain areas in high risk scenarios.  Fortunately, lockdown capabilities can sometimes be easily integrated with existing access control features.

While crime statistics can seem daunting, it’s important to remember that many, if not most, healthcare facilities are generally considered safe.  However, as a healthcare professional or facilities manager it behooves one to consider the risks specific to their organization and how they can be mitigated.  As security system integrators, our licensed team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security solutions to healthcare facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  Just like your patients, we know that no two facilities are exactly the same and that it takes an individualized approach to solve specific needs.

If you live or run a healthcare facility in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image by NEC Corporation of America-Flickr-Creative Commons

What’s The Difference Between Conventional & Addressable Fire Alarms?

Fire Alarm-shlala-FlickrAs with anything in the security systems industry, prevention is vital.  Preventing catastrophic loss is a top priority and one of the most crucial security system components that helps avoid such situations is the fire alarm system.  This is a no brainer, but there is some disparity between what type of fire alarm system is best.  In the alarm industry there are basically two types of fire alarm installations, conventional and addressable (or analog addressable).  As always, every situation and application is different therefore claiming one system is superior to the other may not be the right approach.  However, it is important to understand the difference between systems and why one might be used over the other.

Regardless of the type of system installed, all have to meet the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) codes, local regulations, and the Life Safety Code enforced by the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ).  All commercial buildings are required to have a code compliant fire alarm system, the best way to ensure proper installation is to hire a licensed integrator with knowledge and experience.  Our licensed experts at Perfect Connections, Inc. have been providing comprehensive security system solutions, including fire alarms, to facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  We stay updated on current technologies and how they may benefit our customers, implementing solutions that fit individualized needs.  It’s also part of our mission to help our clients gain a better understanding of the systems that we install.

To understand the difference between an addressable fire alarm system and a conventional one you must first understand what a fire alarm system is.  In general a fire alarm system is a group of visual and audio devices (automatic and/or manual)-i.e. smoke detectors, heat sensors, strobes, alarm pulls, and sprinklers-linked to a main fire panel that sends a signal to local emergency responders when an alarm is activated.  Each device has to be linked to the main fire panel, but there are different methods of doing so.  This is where the big difference between addressable and conventional comes into play.

fire alarm system diagramAddressable fire alarms indicates that each installed device or module is connected to the main fire panel in a “loop” often by means of a singular wire.  Conventional alarm systems require individual wires per each device, again connecting back to the main fire panel.  The most obvious difference between the two, in terms of installation, is cabling requirements and labor costs.  Due to the fact that addressable systems require less cabling they make for less complex installations.  That’s not to say there aren’t situations where a conventional system might make more sense.  Although it seems most new construction projects implement addressable systems.

One of the many benefits of an addressable fire alarm system is that each device is given its own unique address.  In the event of a triggered alarm a single device can be pinpointed which gives responders a more concise location as to where a fire might be occurring.  This helps save precious time and improves life safety.  It’s also helpful in the event a device is malfunctioning or requires maintenance.  According to Jim Kimpel, product manager for Fire Control Instruments, Inc., being able to pinpoint specific devices lessens the hesitation an end-user might have-mostly caused by the fear of costs-when making a service call.  This helps prevent unnecessary losses due to a defunct system.

As with any alarm system, routine inspections are required for addressable fire alarm systems.  According to Brandt Phillips, Commercial Fire & Security Director of Sales for Napco Security Technologies Inc., inspections and system testing are made easier with addressable systems.  He says installing an addressable system, “…eliminates the need for expensive testers, excessive labor for testing, and gives you the ability to automatically generate the same reports directly from the software you used to program the panel…”  In comparison Phillips points out that inspections for conventional systems can cost thousands and be quite lengthy.

While conventional systems may require extensive wiring, intensive testing, a higher labor cost, and are being phased out by addressable alarms, they’re not completely disregarded when it comes to installations.  The size of a project may determine what type of system is a better fit.  It seems that for small jobs, i.e. a single story office building, conventional systems may work just fine.  They’re initial upfront costs are fairly low and if you’re not dealing with multiple floors and zones it may not be necessary to implement an addressable system.  However, the appeal of quick installs, concise reporting of fire occurrences, and the ease of inspection and system testing will continue to draw support for addressable systems; it seems to be the trend in most new construction projects.

With fire and life safety codes continually evolving, in tandem with developing technologies, there’s no telling what advancements will emerge next.  For now, streamlining processes and incorporating intelligent components will continue to help shape the fire alarm systems of today.  Our licensed experts at Perfect Connections, Inc. are committed to providing security systems that enhance life safety and help prevent disasters.  We have been installing comprehensive security system solutions, including fire alarms, to facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  Don’t wait for the unpredictable to happen, let us help you protect what matters most.

If you live or run a business in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

Image Credit: Image #1 by shlala-Flickr-Creative Commons, Image #2 by