Surveillance Footage Monitoring

laptop monitor-Intel Free PressWhen you picture a surveillance monitoring station what do you see?  Is it a half awake guard staring blankly at multiple monitors?  If that’s the case you can scratch that image from your mind.  The future of monitoring services is quickly shifting and adapting to our society’s need for streamlined and efficient processes.  As surveillance systems migrate from analog to IP with megapixel network cameras, and our world becomes more and more connected through the IoT (Internet of Things), the desire to access and monitor footage from anywhere increases.  This is where the idea of remote monitoring comes into play.

Being able to remotely monitor surveillance footage from virtually anywhere is a convenience that, up until recently, hasn’t been a pervasive security feature.  It differs from alarm monitoring in the sense that a service representative isn’t necessarily waiting around for an alarm to go off, instead they are actively watching live recordings to catch potential disasters before they happen.  In the past a company would typically hire people to monitor cameras on site, which isn’t always the most economical or effective method.  Today, companies are using off-site monitoring services that have the ability to keep watch over multiple facilities 24/7.  In conjunction with that, business owners have the ability to download apps that allow them to access their surveillance footage at their convenience via a mobile device.

At Perfect Connections, Inc. our experts typically recommend a monitoring service as part of a comprehensive security system to help ensure its effectiveness.  Our team of licensed technicians have been providing security solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 25 years.  The technological climate is ever changing and we always do our best to stay on top of relevant trends that will benefit our customers.

Remote monitoring allows an individual or group of users to access surveillance footage through a secured network from virtually anywhere via a smartphone, tablet, computer, or mobile device.  Why is this beneficial?  It can help cut down, or eliminate entirely, the need to have an on-site staff staring at monitors, how effective can that be anyway?  According to Doug Marman, CTO of VideoIQ Inc. and founder of Remote Guarding Alliance, “…humans monitoring video screens grow fatigued to the point of ineffectiveness after only 20 minutes…”  Marman argues that the traditional method of monitoring surveillance is at best a practice in “hindsight” strategy.  Meaning by the time a reaction is made the damage is done or the perpetrator has already escaped.

Marman’s system of remote monitoring using a combination of video analytics and audio over IP, or voice over IP (VOIP), decreases response time and increases the ability to monitor a large quantity of cameras at once.  And in contrast to human attention span, video analytics are “100 percent vigilant.”  Marman illustrates the ability to interact with intruders instantly via audio over IP, citing how quick they are to abandon their criminal attempt when someone is calling them out over a speaker on site.  While audio interaction is an intriguing feature that allows for a virtual presence at all times, it may not be necessary depending on your type of business and your security needs.  What matters most is the ability to react instantly, reduce any lag time in response, and prevent false alarms as they typically result in fines and wasted essential resources.

With response time being one of the top benefits of remote monitoring it can also reduce overall monitoring costs, increase scalability options, and send notifications via e-mail or other media.  While the benefits of a remote monitoring system may eliminate the need to hire on-site staff, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should rely solely on self-monitoring.  If you were to take on the task of monitoring everything yourself, your business could be at risk.  Imagine you’re monitoring from a smartphone, it runs out of battery and you don’t have your charger handy.  What if you misplace your smartphone and miss an important notification?  Think about logistics too, as a business owner even you need to get sleep, you can’t be vigilant 24/7.

Having the ability to self-monitor should be looked at as an added layer of security, not your only means of protection.  According to Jerry Cordasco, vice president of operations for G4S Video Monitoring Support and Data Center, “A better choice for remote video surveillance is the use of a professional monitoring facility.”  Having a remote monitoring service provides a virtual presence 24/7 that can access real time footage and initiate the appropriate response immediately.

Security systems can be an effective crime fighters, but what good are they if an alarms goes off and no one is notified or made aware?  What good is a surveillance system that no one is monitoring?  You might get lucky and capture a license plate number that could eventually lead you to the perpetrator after the fact, but by that point the damage has been done.  The goal of a remote monitoring service is to provide timely and accurate responses to disturbances on site.

As a security systems provider, our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. understands the importance of immediate action.  Mere seconds can be the difference between prevention and disaster.  We have been providing comprehensive security system solutions, which include monitoring services, to facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  Every business has different security risks that is why we tailor our solutions to fit your 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 Intel Free Press-Flickr-Creative Commons

Are Security Guards Better Than An Alarm System?

Garry Knight-Security GuardYou might think that hiring a security guard or team of security personnel is all you need to protect your business. On the other hand you might think that installing a comprehensive security system is all you need.  The two on their own are no doubt effective in different ways, but are even more beneficial when combined.  However, security guards on their own are limited to their singular entities whereas a security system provides full coverage of an entire specified area, lacking only the immediate physical response that a guard would possibly have.  No protection system is perfect, but there are certain advantages and disadvantages that are unique to each.  As a security system provider our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. believe a comprehensive security system can help businesses avoid potential catastrophes.  We have been securing business facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  Our systems have provided their owners with a peace of mind hard to obtain from anything else.

Pros & Cons: Security Guards

One of the most obvious pros to hiring security guards to watch over your business is their physical presence.  Being there in person allows for an immediate reaction if the need arises.  Having a security guard present at your business also creates a sense of security among employees and customers.  Their physical presence can also act as a crime deterrent making a targeted location less appealing to a thief or criminal.  As a business owner instead of hiring another individual or taking time out of your schedule, security guards can also be assigned to monitor surveillance footage.

What are some of the potential cons?  Unlike a surveillance camera that is constantly keeping watch because that’s its inherent function, humans are not guaranteed to be vigilant 100% of the time regardless of their pay.  To that point, the cost of hiring security personnel can sometimes be a financial burden for businesses.  Costs can vary depending on the type of security guard you’re looking for (i.e. armed or unarmed etc.).  The costs for a security guard can range anywhere from $10-100 per hour.  Knowing  that you hired a reputable guard can be tricky too.  Some guard service companies may not be licensed and this can affect the quality in training, background checks, and insurance of the guards they represent.  To be sure you’re hiring a professional that has a solid background it’s important to use a licensed and bonded guard service company.  Security guards are only human which means they can’t see absolutely everything.  On the other hand security cameras can be set up to cover an entire store or facility so if that shoplifter or thief isn’t caught red-handed, they can be caught on camera.

Overall, hiring a security guard seems to have more pros than cons for many businesses.  However, the human element shouldn’t be the only line of defense for a business.  Incorporating technology is an important and cost effective aspect to safeguarding any business facility.  In fact according to SecurityMagazine.com, “It is at the critical interface of manpower and technology that the greatest cost efficiencies related to security management can be gained.”  While the physical response of a guard is ultimately the desired outcome of any security situation their reaction time and effectiveness would be greatly enhanced with the technological aid of a comprehensive security system.

If a guard were able to monitor what surveillance cameras are capturing via a mobile device versus having to sit in a designated room, their reaction time to an issue would ultimately be quicker.  They would have the security info and alerts they need in the palm of their hand versus having to look or wait for it.  This holds true for an activated alarm, if it goes off, a notification will be sent directly to the guard’s mobile device.  Remote monitoring is a helpful security feature that is becoming commonplace in many comprehensive security systems nowadays.  It makes sense considering our “on the go” society lifestyle.

While no system is infallible a combination of customized security features will help protect any business facility.  Adding the human element of a security guard couldn’t hurt either, just be sure you’re hiring someone reputable.  You might consider combining the two, technology and guards, it really depends on the type of business you operate.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. we believe a customized comprehensive security system can greatly decrease the chances of catastrophe at any establishment.  Our team has been providing expert service to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  Security systems provide a peace of mind you can’t obtain from anything else and they let you get back to what is most important, running your business.

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 Garry Knight-Flickr-Creative Commons

Upgrading An Old Security System

Old Tech-Steve JurvetsonMaybe you’ve had a home security system installed years ago or perhaps you recently moved into a new home with an existing alarm system.  Whatever the case, how can you tell if your home security system is still valid?  There are some tell-tale signs that you may be dealing with an antiquated system.  However, if you have a security system and are concerned it’s not as relevant as it once was the first thing you should do is contact your security system provider for an assessment.  As a security systems expert, our professionals at Perfect Connections, Inc. understand the importance of maintaining a functional security system and keeping up with advancing technologies.  Our team of professionals have been providing comprehensive and customized home security systems throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  We can help assess the validity of your alarm system and offer solutions specific to your security needs.

Maintaining an effective alarm system isn’t just about running annual tests, it’s making sure it progresses as you, your home, and technology press forward.  It’s not like buying the newest IPhone just to keep up with trends, it’s making sure the technology you’ve invested in is providing the best protection.  If you’ve had a security system for a while and can’t remember the last time the software was updated, or if updating isn’t even an option it might be time for an upgrade.  Outdated software may leave you susceptible to hacking and viruses, plus you may not be getting the most out of your system.  You don’t want to pay for a system that’s subpar right?

Another sign it might be time for an assessment or system upgrade is the dependence on a singular keypad for control.  In today’s fast-paced world we often have the need for convenience.  Is it convenient to have to drive home from work because you forgot to arm your security system?  Is it convenient to have to make it to the security keypad to punch in your pin while your arms are chalk-full of groceries?  No, so why not look into interactive services or home automation?  With home automation you no longer have to worry about forgetting to arm or disarm your system because you can do it from your mobile device from virtually anywhere.  You could access your surveillance system through an app on your mobile device, allowing you to view what is going on real-time at home.  Other advantages to an interactive system is the ability to adjust your thermostat and lighting from afar.  As Alarm.com puts it, “Using a smartphone to manage an interactive home security system is like having a remote control for the system right in your pocket.”  This added technology will save you time, money, and lots of headaches.

How was your security system originally installed?  Was it hardwired?  While there is nothing necessarily wrong with a hardwired system it’s important to consider current technology benefits and how your system compares.  Just as our phones have become wireless many industry professionals are installing wireless security systems with cellular capabilities.  Why?  For one there’s no need to tear open walls, which is costly and laborious.  Technology has advanced to the point where wireless capabilities have become more effective and ubiquitous making them more viable, dependable, and available.  When comparing wireless to hardwired systems a noticeable difference, aside from the wires, is the continuity of service.  With a wireless system you don’t have to worry about burglars cutting wires to disable your system because there are none.

Lastly, a common sign of an antiquated security system can be low-res (low-resolution) cameras.  While cameras alone can sometimes deter an intruder from attempting a break-in, what good is a surveillance system that offers fuzzy picture quality if a break-in does occur?  The purpose of a camera is being able to record quality footage to positively identify intruders and sometimes their vehicles if need be.  Clear footage can be a helpful tool for law enforcement and in court.  Effective cameras can also be used to monitor the arrival of packages, expected and unexpected visitors, interiors and exteriors, remote properties (i.e. barns, sheds etc.), and distant areas of your property.  Fortunately there is a vast array of high-resolution cameras available today.  Your security system company will be able to provide the best solutions for your specific needs.

Whether you’re unsure your current security system is functioning optimally or if you’re looking into home security for the first time, contact a specialist.  They will be able to assess your current security situation and provide customized solutions.  Our team of experts at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing custom home security systems throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We can help you update an outdated system and offer comprehensive systems for new installations.

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 Steve Jurvetson-Flickr-Creative Commons

Can I Keep My Camera System On My Office Network?

Network-Norlando PobreWhether you are installing a new surveillance system or changing an existing one you need to consider the type of system and the operating implications associated with it.  The desire for advanced image quality, video analytics, ease of integration, and remote access has ushered in the era of IP (Internet Protocol) surveillance systems.  IP surveillance systems have opened the door to a more integrated security system and they provide increased scalability which is important to company growth and future adaptation.  This type of surveillance system typically relies on an internet network, and as they say “therein lies the rub.”

Should your surveillance system operate on the same internet network as your office computers?  The answer is not a simple yes or no.  The short answer being it certainly is a viable option, but it could depend on the size and type of business you run.  It’s also possible to set up an IP surveillance system on its own network but it may not be cost effective or necessary.  For these reasons it is imperative to consult a licensed security system professional when altering or adding a surveillance system.

When it comes to a company’s network there seems to be some trepidation about how and what devices can and should be allowed on it.  It’s understandable, a company’s network is often a basis for its everyday functions, but where does the worry come from?  A lot of it usually has to do with a communication gap between security integrators and IT professionals or end users.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed experts are able to provide clear and understandable information about the surveillance equipment we implement and how it will affect your company’s network.  We have been providing comprehensive security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  Our team has witnessed and been a part of the migration from mainly analog surveillance to IP.

Let’s discover the common concerns about network devices and how they can be dissolved, but first we’ll review some quick terminology when talking about networks.  LAN, MAN, and WAN are three basic types of networks you’ll likely hear about from integrators and IT professionals.  Local area networks (LANs) are typically found at most small to medium sized businesses as they cover a smaller more specific area.  In all likelihood your company operates on a LAN network.  Metropolitan area networks (MANs) cover a larger area and are usually present in cities and across large campuses.  Wide Area Networks (WANs) provide the most coverage, anything from expansive distances to the whole world.  According to Fredrik Nilsson, general manager for Axis Communications in North America, WANs are often comprised of multiple smaller networks including LANs and MANs.

All networks are comprised of some sort of cabling and equipment such as switches, servers, and hubs.  The most popular type of network configuration used with LANs is called star.  A star configuration allows all network devices to be connected to a central point where if one device crashes the rest will remain in operation.  However, redundancies are typically incorporated to account for the possibility of a central station crash.

Now that terminology is out of the way, what are some of the major concerns one might have when adding surveillance equipment to a company network?  One of the most common is bandwidth consumption.  This often stems from companies that have had to deal with employees streaming or downloading videos via company networks which eats into the available bandwidth.  According to James Marcella, director of technical services for Axis Communications, IP surveillance equipment is wrongly accused when it comes to bandwidth consumption.  He says most IP cameras today can be customized to fit a company’s network and storage guidelines.  To help limit their consumption surveillance can be setup on a Virtual LANs (VLANs) which Marcella says, “prevents video traffic from grabbing the lion’s share of bandwidth.”

Then there’s the ever-present question, “what about hacking?”  In our world where virtually everything is connected through the IoT (Internet of Things), it’s hard not to worry about who can access private information and how that information is being protected.  Having surveillance equipment on the same network as your company computers may seem scary, but in reality, more oft than not, there are procedures in place to prevent hacker access.

When it comes to adding network devices and keeping the network safe authentication protocol and data encryption are key.  According to Marcella authentication protocol protects the network at the physical port level.  If someone were to unplug a network camera and try to plug in their own device, all “traffic” to that port’s switch would automatically be shut down as the foreign device wouldn’t have the proper authorization.  Data encryption is essentially creating a password to your network whether it’s wired or wireless.  This prevents someone from getting into your network or freeloading on your company’s internet.  Encryptions can be highly effective as long as they are not something obvious or easily guessed.

Lastly, network storage is a top concern.  This is often directly linked to bandwidth consumption concerns.  Due to high image quality of IP camera recordings it’s not uncommon for businesses to store video footage for longer periods of time.  Fortunately, with IP surveillance systems you don’t necessarily have to store recordings directly on the network.  For smaller installations there is the option to utilize in-camera storage through internal SD cards (Secure Digital Cards).  Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices and cloud-based systems are other viable options.  In order to determine which method is best for your company an evaluation of camera quantity and storage needs should be conducted.

Whether you are adding a new surveillance system or updating an existing one it’s imperative to consider the impact it will have on your company’s network, if any at all.  Always consult a licensed security system professional as they can help guide you or your IT department through the process from initial assessment to final installation.  Our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  We can help break down the communication barrier that sometimes creates apprehension when installing network devices.

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 Norlando Pobre-Flickr-Creative Commons

How Does an Internet Outage Affect Security?

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 your 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