Use Your Phone To Unlock Your Door

Access-ErvinWe use our smartphones and other mobile devices for many functions in our daily lives. It’s almost impossible to go through an entire day without seeing someone tapping, scrolling, or swiping through their phone, never mind using your own phone. We’ve created a mobile environment where convenience lies in the palm of our hands.

Technological progression has taken us so far in a short amount of time; we can pay our bills on our phones, we can chat with someone a world away, we can make everyday purchases, and now they can be used as an extension of our security systems. In particular as a means of access control and authentication in commercial applications using near field communication (NFC). According to Jeremy Earles, Readers and Credentials Portfolio Manager for Allegion, NFC technology, “provides simplified transactions, data exchange and wireless connections between two devices that are in close proximity to each other…” This is essentially the same technology you may have seen advertised by Samsung where two phones can be tapped together to share information, see HERE.

At Perfect Connections, Inc. our team of licensed professionals provide comprehensive security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey. We have been helping a wide range of businesses secure their facilities for over 25 years. As with any technology, progression in the realm of security components shows no signs of slowing. At Perfect Connections we realize it is our responsibility to stay on top of these changes and provide our clients with solutions that are current but practical as well.

NFC technology is an exciting new venture in access control applications. However, it has yet to become as ubiquitous as traditional access controls like key fobs, swipe cards, and proximity readers. One of the many reasons being NFC technology has yet to become an innate feature in the spectrum of devices in circulation today.

In theory NFC access control would work by allowing your employees and authorized users to utilize their mobile device, likely their cellphone, as their access credential. The user’s phone would have an embedded NFC chip that would wirelessly receive an authorized credential from an administrative control. This process can be similar to how you would download an app or retrieve information stored in a cloud service; or it could be easily managed by plugging the phone into an administrative device via a USB cord. Once the phone has the proper credential it can be used in the same fashion as a fob or proximity card, simply tap the phone or be within range of a reader that will grant or deny access. Imagine the convenience!

With 5.9 billion, or 87% of the world’s population, being mobile subscribers it’s no wonder NFC technology is creating buzz among end users and security integrators alike. Of those mobile subscribers 91% keep their phone within and arm’s length throughout the day and night. It only makes sense that phones would become part of integrated security protocols. With younger generations the desire for new and streamlined processes is endless, especially for those now entering the workforce. They don’t want to be bothered with having to search through their pockets or purses for badges or fobs when their phone like an extension of their hand. While NFC technology may not be the universal method for access control yet, the case for it exists today.

One of the many benefits NFC technology offers is no longer having to print or buy new ID badges which can be costly and time consuming. It also allows you to change credentials on and as needed basis. This would be helpful if you have a contract or temp worker who needs provisional access. You would simply send or upload a temporary credential to their phone and when their job is done you can delete access from the administrative network.

According to Ron Oetjen, president of Intelligent Access Systems (IAS), NFC technology saves money by not having to replace lost or stolen card credentials. Oetjen argues that security may be even better when using smartphones than cards or fobs considering how obsessively people guard them, and the fact that in order to use it as a credential the phone first has to be unlocked using a PIN or biometric identification. So many companies already employ a BYOD (bring your own device) policy at work that the transition would be easy for the user. If a phone is lost or stolen it can be remotely tracked, disabled, and/or wiped preventing an unauthorized user from gaining access.

Like any other developing technology, NFC is not perfect and consumer perception is still evolving. Currently one of the major drawbacks is that it’s not universally integrated in mobile phones and access readers. Then there are some businesses that don’t want to lose the traditional ID badge that displays a photo of the user for security reasons. The issue of existing security infrastructure can be tricky too as it may require the removal and reinstallation of new system components which adds cost.

The world of security systems is constantly evolving. This requires integrators and end users to be aware of changes that will affect and potentially enhance their systems. NFC technology is an exciting addition to the access control component of a security system that will likely become more ubiquitous in the coming years. It will provide a new level of security and convenience that has yet to be fully realized. At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed integrators are constantly educating themselves on changes in the industry and how they may benefit our clients. We provide comprehensive security systems that include access controls to businesses and facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey, and have been doing so since 1992. Our experts will help guide you through the process from an initial security assessment to final installation, implementing technologies that are not only effective but make sense for your specific situation.

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 Ervins Strauhmanis-Flickr-Creative Commons

Home Automation and Security Systems

As the technology driven world continues to evolve, our lives are becoming more and more connected.  Virtual distances are shrinking.  This has been happening since the inception of the internet.  You no longer have to fly across the world to have a meeting, you simply login to a virtual meeting where you can talk “in-person” via video chat.  Although it may be imperfect, technology has certainly had an impact on all of our lives in one way or another.

Smart home AccessOur lives are saturated in advanced technological gadgets, everything from our cars to our smartphones, why should our homes be any different?  It used to be enough having a home security system that would alert the authorities in an emergency, but why stop there?  Home automation, or the “connected home,” is quickly becoming an integral part of a comprehensive home security system.  It’s a driving force that is changing the way homeowners and system integrators perceive “home security.”

As a licensed security system provider, our professionals at Perfect Connections, Inc. are always looking for the best ways to protect your home.  We have been providing comprehensive security system solutions to residences throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 25 years.  Technological advancement means we are constantly learning and adapting our solutions to best suit client needs.  That’s not to say just because something is new that it should be implemented, we do our due diligence before installation of any product including home automation devices.

Home automation products aren’t exclusively linked to home security.  In fact there are a plethora of automation devices that can be installed separate from a security system, often requiring a DIY (do it yourself) approach.  For example there are devices that can be attached to kitchen appliances that can be controlled by logging into apps on your smartphone.  However, rather than complicating our daily lives by having to download separate apps for everything in our homes, we have steadily been adopting technology in an effort to streamline and simplify.  When it comes to home security, with DIY solutions you’re likely not getting full coverage while simultaneously complicating processes.  Plus they often lack continuity and one of the most important aspects of a security system, monitoring.  Rather than separating the functions of a home security system and home automation, integrators and homeowners are combining the two creating more efficient and effective life safety and lifestyle systems.

One of the top benefits of home automation is convenience.  Capabilities include remote interaction with home devices and your security system.  Imagine being able to know the exact moment your kids walk through the front door while you’re at work or on your way home.  With home automation you’re able to set up custom notifications that will be sent to your smartphone, mobile device, or computer.  This means you can go on vacation and be notified of temperature drops in your home, package deliveries, or close the open garage doors you forgot about before you left.

Depending on your home automation application, often times you can log-in to your surveillance cameras, turn lights on and off, lock and unlock doors, control media (audio and video), arm and disarm your alarm system, all from the convenience of your mobile device.  When integrated with your home’s security system a singular control panel can be centralized to help avoid confusion that can result from having too many different operating mechanisms.

As a homeowner you might be asking yourself “how will home automation affect my security system?”  For the most part home automation is considered a promising and revolutionary approach to added home safety and efficiency, but as with anything, it isn’t perfect.  Any technology that operates over the internet inherently comes with the looming threat of hackers.  Why would someone want to hack a home automation or security system?  To state the most obvious, they’re likely interested in disabling your alarm system so they can break-in.  Other reasons could include wanting to cause general havoc by tampering with your lights or HVAC system, wasting energy for no other reason than driving up your utilities bill; for “fun.”

Fortunately there are ways to decrease the chances of being hacked, both on the user and integrator end.  In many cases home automation operates wirelessly over a home Wi-Fi network.  No matter how protected you think your network may be it should always be protected with encryptions and user authentication.  The same holds true for connected security devices and any device that transmits a signal.  There must be authentication between home automation devices, the security system, and whatever mobile device you are using to access them.  Otherwise your system is susceptible to third party hackers.

Take the case of Insteon home automation systems back in 2013.  Kashmir Hill, a Forbes Staff Writer, highlights the findings of David Bryan and Daniel Crowley, security researchers at Trustwave, and what they discovered is alarming (for lack of a better word).  They found that not only was there a lack of password protection on the consumer end, but that the Insteon products (now discontinued, for obvious reasons) themselves did not require usernames and passwords and were “crawl-able” (searchable) on the web.  This meant that anyone with a little know-how could access and mess with the connected Insteon products; unnerving to say the least.  Be sure to hire licensed professionals that fully understand the products they are installing and how they will interact with your home network.

While technology is imperfect and constantly transforming you can be sure if you hire a licensed security integrator with product knowledge and experience you’ll be setting yourself up for success.  A professional with industry knowledge will be able to ensure your system is as secure as it can be by using products that require authentication and that your network is encrypted.  As a licensed security system provider, our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. understands that securing a home and improving the lives of others doesn’t mean haphazardly throwing random products together just to get a job done.  We have been providing security solutions to homes throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  Technological evolution is never-ending as is our commitment to providing the safest products and security systems available.

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 Phil Campbell-Flickr-Creative Commons

Maintaining Your Business’s Fire Alarm

Fire Strobe-Alfonso PierantonioFire is an unpredictable force that can wreak havoc on any business. It is imperative as a business owner, facility manager, or building owner that the proper precautions are in place to help prevent catastrophe. The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) is a leading advocate in fire prevention and safety. They’ve written numerous codes and standards that have been implemented nationwide. These standards are designed to help reduce the risk and effects of fire. In combination with local regulations, NFPA codes and regulations are what system integrators and contractors have to follow in order to pass inspection from local authorities.

While you no doubt have some sort of fire detection and/or suppression system in operation it’s important to maintain it in accordance with national and local requirements. As a security systems integrator, our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been installing fire alarm systems in business facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey for that past 23 years. We specialize in comprehensive security systems that include fire alarms as a major component to a fully functioning system. We do offer maintenance and service contracts helping you preserve a system that will continue to pass annual inspections and work efficiently in the event of a fire.

What goes into fire alarm maintenance? First off, unless you or your staff is trained and licensed, you must hire a licensed technician. This will help avoid accidentally setting off any false alarms which can result in substantial fines. A common starting point, whether the system is fairly new or if you moved into a space with an existing system, is to find out the systems age and maintenance history. The age of a fire alarm system will help determine whether or not components need to be replaced and what type of maintenance might be required.

According to Mike Lohr, director of service marketing for SimplexGrinnell LP, “Systems between five and ten years old may experience component breakdown caused by harsh, but normal, environmental factors. Voltage fluctuations, temperature, and humidity may cause system failure or nuisance alarm problems.” He notes that systems between 5-10 and 10-15 years can provide adequate “life-safety” responses, but those within the 10-15 year marks should be watched carefully. This is even more important if you have a shoddy record of maintenance history as it could have been poorly taken care of in the past.

Aside from knowing the age of your system you have to take any specific regulations the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) might have into consideration. While the NFPA provides codes and standards for the nation, the AHJ will likely have their own set of rules that are specific to the area they preside. This means that even if your system meets NFPA standards it may not pass local inspection because of AHJ specifications. For this reason it is imperative to hire experts that are licensed and educated not only in maintenance specific to your system, but national and local requirements as well.

In most cases fire alarm systems must be inspected at least once a year some may require a more frequent assessment. It really all depends on the type of business. During an inspection all components of the system will be tested so if something is not functioning properly, it will likely be taken care of at that time. Before an inspection you should notify the building occupants as the alarms will be tested and it gets noisy. Your alarm system company is the one who should contact the alarm monitoring station and local authorities in advance to avoid false emergencies.

Maintaining a functional fire alarm system is key to preventing potential catastrophe. It helps protect not only the physicality of your business, but everything that goes into running your business, i.e. you, your employees, company records, and equipment. If you ever consider cutting corners when it comes to fire alarm maintenance carefully consider the extent of what it might cost you if you do.

While as a business owner you may not need to know all the fine details of what goes into fire alarm maintenance, it is important to have a basic understanding of what you can expect when the time comes. For further information on fire alarm maintenance and inspections check out our related blog post HERE. If you run a business in northern or central New Jersey do not hesitate to call on our licensed technicians at Perfect Connections, Inc.. We have been providing comprehensive security system solutions including fire alarm installation and maintenance since 1992.

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 Alfonso Pierantonio-Flickr-Creative Commons

Custom Systems For Your Specific Needs

As we all know, every business is different. Each business has its own unique challenges when it comes to ensuring complete protection and safety. Unfortunately, we’ve seen numerous examples of people believing they were protected by “one size fits all” systems, when all they really do is provide a false sense of security. This year, one out three businesses will go bankrupt from theft. More than $3 billion dollars in damages will be assessed from business fires Are you able to take the risk that a cookie-cutter system will be able to defend against all the unique problems you face in your day-to-day business?

There are a number of factors that must be taken into account when designing a security system that works for your business. What are the local ordinances and laws that require compliance? How many employees do you have? What other types of buildings surround your business? Hospitals can require certain types of security systems, while manufacturing facilities will require a completely different system.

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Many larger security companies are willing to give you a quote on a security system sight unseen. We’ve seen so many problems arise because of this. Many times, these systems won’t work when you need them to – an incident won’t be recorded because a camera was not pointed the right way, or storage was full. Vulnerable entrances left unprotected. Valuable property not monitored properly. There is often fine print that will lock you in to high cost monitoring for extended periods of time, coupled with pricey charges if you need to end your contract early.

Surveillance systems are not the only part of a comprehensive security system though. At Perfect Connections, we believe a complete security system also includes fire protection, access control, burglar alarms, and carbon monoxide detectors, along with 24 hour monitoring. Fire alarm codes differ from town to town. Each company’s access control needs will be different. Burglar alarms and carbon monoxide detectors add important layers to any security system, protecting your property and employees.

With today’s technology, these systems can not only be monitoring 24 hours a day remotely, but can also be viewed with any smartphone or computer. Automatic notifications can be sent to alert you when something at your business happens. Climate controls can be set remote to help save costs on heating and cooling.

When you’re looking to install or upgrade a security system at your business, remember to make sure you’re getting a system that fits the needs and challenges your business faces on a day to day business. While a cookie cutter system may be a bit more affordable than a custom security system, the extra protection and peace of mind you get from knowing that your security system is tailor-made for your business is well worth the investment.