Can Your Camera See In The Dark?

West Midlands Police-Infrared FootageNot all surveillance cameras are created equally.  It may seem as simple as selecting a surveillance camera and popping it into place, but what about the external factors that affect the quality of recorded images?  One of the top concerns for industry professionals and end-users alike is a cameras ability to see in the dark or varied light conditions.  Whether you’re using interior or external cameras, their ability to function under varied light conditions is paramount.  Our experts at Perfect Connections, Inc. understand the importance of a surveillance system that doesn’t quit when the sun goes down.  We are a licensed security systems company that has been providing comprehensive security solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for over 25 years.

What challenges do different lighting conditions pose to surveillance cameras?  The most obvious is the absence or lack of light.  Unless your cameras are True Day Night it is likely that they will not be able to pick up fine details in the lack of light.  Another common issue is the effect of light glare.  Problematic glare can come from car headlights to poorly placed exterior lighting fixtures.  Glare will disrupt the sensors in the video camera and the recorded footage can be rendered useless.  It is important to take lighting conditions into consideration when choosing and installing cameras as it will impact the overall effectiveness of your system.  What good is a camera that captures grainy unclear images or blanks out for seconds at a time?

Fortunately there have been vast improvements in the surveillance industry that are changing the game when it comes to light adaptation capabilities.  According to Greg Peratt, Senior Director of the Panasonic Video Solutions Integration Team, there are IP (Internet Protocol) cameras that can capture detailed footage in lighting less than .01 lux illumination.  Lux illumination is the metric measurement for how much light falls on an object.  A measurement of 1 lux, “equals the amount of light that falls on a one-square-meter surface that is one meter away from a single candle.”  Therefore a camera that can capture detailed images in less than .01 lux illumination is not only impressive, it’s advantageous.

Another helpful advancement in the case of low or varied light is the Infrared Cut-Filter Mechanism (IRCF).  This filter is automatically lifted or lowered in front of the camera’s sensor depending on the light levels.  The IRCF helps block out disruptive infrared light that can come from sunlight or certain lighting fixtures and it ultimately improves the camera’s low-light performance.  When light levels are low-typically at night-is when the filter is automatically lifted from in front of the sensor.  Cameras that have this feature are considered to have True Day Night capabilities.

The only hitch with this technology is color is often distorted or lost completely.  However, the camera is still able to capture a clear black and white image and according to Steve Carney it captures an image, “…that is not only vastly more usable but also cleaner without chroma noise.”  Carney points out another differentiator between True Day Night cameras and the impersonators is what happens when the IRCF is lifted or removed.  In a True Day Night camera a piece of “dummy” glass will take the place of the IRCF in order to maintain focus and, “minimize the spectral offset between visible and IR light.”  In other cameras the ability to remove such a filter doesn’t exist, therefore the full spectrum of visible and infrared light cannot be taken advantage of.

Other features to look for when considering Day Night cameras are the shutter speeds and any tinting on the camera housing.  Varying shutter speeds affect the amount of the light that is able to be captured.  The slower the shutter, the more light is captured which isn’t always better.  Often times a camera will come with a domed or “bubble” exterior housing.  These “bubbles” can sometimes be tinted.  Depending on your application you may or may not need tinting; sometimes the tint can have an adverse effect by decreasing visibility and obstructing image clarity.

Whether you are replacing older interior/exterior cameras or installing new, your best solution is to call on the experts.  Every business and facility is different which means each will have different requirements when it comes to day/nighttime surveillance.  Having a licensed security professional do an in person assessment of your facility will help determine what type of camera should be implemented and where.  Our team of licensed professionals at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security solutions to businesses and facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We believe in personalized service that tailors solutions to your individualized 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 West Midlands Police-Flickr-Creative Commons

Four Tips To Feel Safer At Home

Front DoorWhat is it about our homes that make us feel safe?  Is it the sound of our kids running up and down the stairs?  Is it the personalized décor?  Is it the smell?  Maybe it’s the locks on our doors and windows or the surrounding neighborhood?  Whatever it is, we all want that feeling to last, right?  Of course we do.  So what are you doing to maintain the safety and security of your home?  There are many tips and tricks you can use to safeguard your home, one of the best defenses is a customized comprehensive security system.  As a trusted security systems provider for over 25 years, our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has helped homeowners maintain their peace of mind.  We provide residential security solutions throughout northern and central New Jersey.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. we believe a comprehensive security system includes burglar alarms, alarm monitoring, fire alarms, surveillance, smoke detectors, home automation, and some form of access control.  Installing a comprehensive security system is part of a cohesive solution to feeling safe in your home.  Here are four tips to help you protect what’s important.

Time for a trim

Let’s take a look at the first line of defense.  If someone is vetting your home prepping for a break-in, the first thing they’ll see is the exterior.  The exterior of a home includes the landscape.  You may or may not have a landscaper/gardener you charge with caring for plant and tree maintenance around your home.  Either way you want to make sure the vegetation surrounding your home isn’t turning into a national forest.  Why?  High bushes and overgrown plants are the perfect hiding spots for would be thieves.  According to Officer Mark Buetow of the Milwaukee Police Department this type of maintenance, “doesn’t cost but a few hours of your time, yet it can make a difference in making your property much less attractive to a burglar.”  It’s imperative to keep plants near windows and entries low and non-obstructive.  This will help you feel safer inside your home because you’ll be able to see clearly to the outdoors.

Light it up!

An exterior and interior feature that helps protect you and your home is lighting.  No burglar wants to get caught in a “deer in headlights” situation while approaching your home.  With exterior lighting that is motion activated and on timers your home becomes less appealing to potential invaders.  Keeping lights on also increases feeling safer while at home.  In fact being in the dark is a common fear and according to Hillary Johnston who holds a degree in Public Health and Disaster Management, “(it) is probably the number one reason we feel unsafe.”  With energy efficient lighting options becoming more and more prevalent you won’t have to worry about energy costs as much.  Using timers and/or home automation settings will help minimize electrical consumption as well.  Including lighting as part of a home automation system will allow you to adjust your lighting preferences from afar as well.  This feature can come in handy if you’re on vacation or away for an extended period of time.

Locks

One of the most simple and often forgotten or neglected things you can do to feel safer at home is lock your doors and windows.  Did you know, “A surprising 30 percent (burglars) entered homes through an unlocked door, window or other opening without resorting to force,”?  Many people fall into the mentality that their neighborhood is safe and nothing bad could or would ever happen. Unfortunately, no community is immune to crime.  Don’t fall victim to a misguided sense of security.  Use your locks!  According to senior trainer for the National Crime Prevention Council Charles Sczuroski, “Sixty percent of all burglaries take place at ground floor doors and windows.”  All the more reason to reinforce main entries and windows with dead bolts and sensors.  Sensors on your doors and windows help alert you during a break-in by tripping your central alarm.  The noise of an alarm typically makes the perpetrator flee in a hurry.

Security Systems

Aside from simpler techniques that make you feel safer in your home like drawing the shades at night, locking doors, trimming hedges, and lighting, one of the most effective crime deterrents is a comprehensive security system.  Criminals are less likely to attempt a home break-in if they know there is an active alarm system.  In fact according to the Electronic Security Association 9 out of 10 burglars purposefully avoid homes with security systems.  There is a peace of mind you get from knowing your home is being monitored and protected that you can’t get anywhere else.  It is our belief at Perfect Connections, Inc. that a comprehensive security system is the most effective way to safeguard what is irreplaceable, your family.  As a top provider, we’ve been installing customized alarm systems to homes throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  Our team can assess the security risks specific to your home and create a tailored solution that will help protect what matters most.

If you own a home 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 Olger Fallas Painting-Flickr-Creative Commons

Why You Need A Monitoring Station

Traditionally in any monitored security system, the individual security devices are installed by a systems integrator and when an alarm sounds or something looks suspicious a signal, and sometimes a video clip, is sent to a central monitoring station which then either contacts the end-user or the local authorities to initiate an emergency response. This system still exists today and is considered an effective means for preventing disaster and catching criminals. However, in light of recent technological advancement, the end user now has the capability to “monitor” their own property via their mobile device. One has to wonder, how effective can self-monitoring be and could it actually replace a central monitoring service?

Our licensed team of integrators at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992. We have seen how technology can affect not only individual security devices but the system as a whole. There are pluses and minuses to every situation, but its understanding which methods and devices provide the most benefits that make the difference, and monitoring services are no exception.

As a business owner it’s nice to feel in control of your facility and what goes on within it. This is where the idea of self-monitoring comes into play. If you have a security system installed at your facility, it can be set up to send notification directly to your mobile device. This means that when there is a disturbance, maybe an intruder walks in front of a motion sensitive video camera, a video clip can be sent directly to your smartphone or mobile device so you can act. The same is true of a tripped alarm. This all sounds great, right? However, it’s not without its limitations.

One of the major drawbacks of monitoring your own alarm system is failure to initiate an immediate and adequate response. This could happen for a number of reasons. One being your mobile device is turned off or not on your person. Another could be a missed notification. As a business owner you likely have enough on your plate to occupy the full 24 hours of the day, never mind trying to keep an eye on your facility at all times. It’s a feat not likely met by any independent business owner, you have to sleep at some point. Self-monitoring can also become a nuisance, receiving excessive notifications throughout the day. The constant interruption would be enough to drive anyone mad. It’s for these reasons central monitoring services continue to prevail.

The goal of monitoring an alarm system is to create a proactive response versus a reactive one. In the recent past, surveillance footage was primarily being utilized in “after the fact” scenarios where local authorities would try to catch a perpetrator or solve a crime based on recorded footage. Today, with real-time video verified notifications and improving communications, local authorities stand a better chance of catching someone red-handed.

There are essentially four different types of monitoring that can be implemented, including self-monitoring. There’s onsite monitoring which typically consists of paying someone to sit and stare at TVs or computer monitors. According to a study from Sandia National Laboratories the attention span of a person viewing surveillance footage for just 20 minutes will be “significantly diminished.” It’s not a very reliable or economical method to ensure the security of your facility.

Then you have remote monitoring where surveillance footage is monitored off site by streaming footage over the internet to a remote location. However, this doesn’t mean someone will be vigilant 24/7. This could mean streaming it to your home computer and that would only be effective if someone were there to monitor it. Lastly, there’s professional remote video monitoring. This type of monitoring typically employs operators that are trained on how to interact with local authorities and respond to different security scenarios. These types of monitoring stations are typically staffed 24/7.

Professional remote video monitoring is an advantageous service because the operator on duty can interpret live video footage and provide useful information to the local authorities. Information that isn’t necessarily transmitted to a mobile device in a 5-10 sec video clip; things like a perpetrator/s physical description, maybe the license plate or make and model of their getaway vehicle, what the suspect is doing, how many people are present, and whether or not the suspect/s is armed.

This type of monitoring can also help filter our false alarms and fees incurred by false dispatches by validating on site activity with the end user via real-time footage. As the end user you can also request that the operators perform occasional virtual tours throughout your facility or parts of it. These routine surveys of your property would help detect any disturbances but also help in general maintenance of your facility. An operator may notice things like loose wires or a piece of equipment that looks out of place. Depending on your facility’s capabilities, monitoring operators can sometimes interact with suspects or people on site through speakers on a VoIP (voice over internet protocol) system.

While new technology continues to usher in the desire for self-reliance it also fosters further development of security system components and the way monitoring services are able to interact with them. Many industry professionals agree that having a professional monitoring station is still the preferable method of watching over your facility. There’s simply too many holes in trying to self-monitor your own business. According to Simon Morgan, director of Technology, SureView Systems, “The central station remains the first line of defense.” Matthew Riccoboni, director of Marketing, OzVision, says, “There truly is a value in 24/7 monitoring by the central station. Customers like to know someone is keeping an eye on their assets whether they are awake or not.” With a central monitoring station you can rest easy knowing someone is always there to initiate a response.

At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed integrators have been providing comprehensive security systems to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for over 25 years. We understand the value our customers place on their business that they’ve worked so hard for; we work to provide the best solutions to fit 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.

Check out this video on actual events that highlight the differences between monitoring stations that have video verification and those that don’t. The last scenario is what everyone wants to avoid. Link: What is Video Verification?

Image Credit: Image by Bosch Service Solutions-Google-Creative Commons

If Your Security System Is Missing One Of These, It’s Not Complete

CCTV-Wikipedia ImageIn an unpredictable world, one thing is certain, we all want to protect what’s ours.  Whether you’re a business owner or a homeowner, you want to keep safe that which you’ve worked so hard for.  One of the most effective ways to do that is to install a security system.  Well, what exactly is a security system and what makes it a complete security system? Security can be defined as, “the state of being protected or safe from harm,” and system can be defined as, “a group of related parts that move or work together.”  A security system is an assemblage of equipment that helps prevent imminent danger or damage.

As a licensed security systems provider, our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been helping protect homes and businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We believe that complete security systems should not only be a group of working parts, but that it should be comprehensive.  Comprehensive can be defined as, “complete; including all or nearly all elements or aspects of something.”  After decades of installing security equipment we’ve found that a truly comprehensive security system should include some form of access control, fire and burglar alarms, surveillance, and a monitoring service.

Access control is the means by which you limit admission to a specific point of entry.  It’s essentially your first line of defense against unauthorized entrants.  Probably the most conventional form of access control is a standard lock and key.  Today, the lock and key method is either being eliminated or used as a backup to more technologically advanced controls.  Traditional keys when lost or stolen can be easily replicated whereas using readers, fobs (tokens), and sometimes biometrics in combination with a password are more concrete and less susceptible to duplication.

Card and proximity readers are typically placed next to a point of entry and a fob or card that is programmed with the appropriate credentials is used.  The card or fob is either tapped or swiped on or near the reader to gain access. The benefit to using a swipe card or fob is if they are lost or stolen they can be deactivated in the operating system whereas you can’t deactivate a physical key unless you change out the entire lock.  Biometrics, which uses physical credentials like a fingerprint, is similar in the sense that access information isn’t as easily stolen or duplicated.  This type of access control isn’t as widely used today because they tend to be more complex and costly.  However, as technology progresses we may see a rise in biometric applications.

Fire and burglar alarms are critical alerts in potentially life-threatening situations.  Fire and burglary can strike at any given time without warning, wreaking havoc on your business or home.  With burglary occurring every 14.6 seconds and national fire departments responding to an estimated 1,240,000 fires a year (2013), it’s critical to the safety and security of any home or business to implement preventative measures.  Physical structural damage and property loss incurred by a fire or burglary is only part of the aftermath, the emotional and psychological damage is even harder to repair.

In conjunction with burglar alarms and access control, surveillance is essential.  When installed correctly surveillance equipment is not only a helpful crime deterrent, but a useful tool in solving crime.  In the wake of IP (Internet Protocol) and wireless technology, surveillance equipment is no longer limited to hardwired installations.  This increases scalability, flexibility, and ease of installation.  It also helps reduce the cost of installation by not having to pull as much cabling through walls.  Another benefit to having a surveillance system is the potential capability to access footage remotely.  With a plethora of mobile apps at your disposal, you can access your surveillance system to see what is going on at your facility or home when you can’t be there.  Being able to remotely access your security cameras adds a layer of monitoring and convenience that, up until recently, wasn’t widely used or available.

Lastly to complete the effectiveness of a security system you should have an alarm monitoring service.  Without a monitoring service who is going to respond to an active alarm?  If you’re lucky someone nearby will call the authorities, that’s assuming someone is actually near your facility or residence when the alarm goes off.  An alarm monitor can help save you, your family, or your business from potential disaster by decreasing the response time from local authorities and emergency responders.  When an alarm is triggered the monitoring station is instantly notified; they typically try to contact you first, and if they don’t get a response within a given amount of time authorities and emergency crews are dispatched.  This is a particularly beneficial service in the event that you’re out of town or unable to respond in an emergency.  Having an alarm monitoring service can mean the difference between catastrophe and a manageable situation.

A security system is so much more than the equipment that comprises it.  It helps provide protection and life safety in a volatile world. Remember, a system is only as effective as the parts that comprise it.  For a security system to be comprehensive it should include fire and burglar alarms, access control, surveillance, and a monitoring service, at least.  As a security systems expert, Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing complete and comprehensive security solutions to homes and businesses in northern and central New Jersey for over 25 years.  We understand the importance of mitigating the unpredictable and what it takes to do so.

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 KRoock74-Google-Creative Commons

Want Better Surveillance Video Quality? Go With Megapixel.

If you’re in the market for a security system a major component you’re probably considering is video surveillance.  While doing a little research you’ve likely come across a plethora of surveillance options with various technological features.  It may seem like a daunting task to choose the cameras that suit your needs, which is why you should always consult a licensed security systems professional.  They’ll be able to assess the security risks associated with your facility and provide optimal solutions.  Our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security systems to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for the over 25 years.  We understand the process and can help you protect what matters most.  Our experts are knowledgeable in all aspects of security system integration including surveillance.  Whether or not you’ve done your own research it’s likely you’ve heard or come across the term megapixel.  What does that mean in regards to surveillance systems, and what are the advantages/disadvantages?

640px-Definitions_of_TV_standards To understand the relationship between megapixels and video surveillance let’s first figure out what megapixel means.  A pixel is a “picture element residing on the image sensor (in a camera).”  The quantity of pixels helps determine the resolution of an image.  All megapixel cameras have a minimum of 1,000,000 pixels which means the image is comprised horizontally and vertically 1,000 x 1,000 pixels.  In recent years there has been an increased demand for megapixel surveillance cameras over the standard definition cameras widely used in the past.  Standard resolution cameras typically have a resolution of approximately 400,000 pixels.

To get an idea of the difference between image resolutions the picture above shows three variations.  The front image shows a standard resolution of 576 pixels, the middle shows an HD (High Definition) resolution of 720 pixels, and the last image shows an HD 1080 pixel resolution.  While most consider all HD cameras to fall under the megapixel category Raul Calderon, senior vice president of marketing for Arecont Vision, says that HD cameras with a 720 pixel resolution are not technically a megapixel camera as the resolution only adds up to 921,600 pixels.  A major difference between HD and megapixel cameras is HD cameras have to comply with set standards whereas megapixel cameras simply refer to the number of pixels.

A major advantage to investing in megapixel camera technology is the ability to use less cameras to cover larger areas.  With standard definition IP (Internet Protocol) or network cameras coverage is significantly limited and typically requires more cameras and cabling.  Megapixel cameras require less cabling and therefore the cost of labor and cabling is typically less than installing standard resolution cameras.  The ability to digitally zoom-in on an image without losing clarity is another benefit of utilizing megapixel cameras.  Megapixel recordings are clearer than standard resolution cameras therefore more consumers are storing footage for longer periods of time, which can be helpful in solving crimes.  They decrease the need for constant live monitoring as the footage can be revisited with ease.  Other benefits include a long lifespan, they conserve energy, and they are low maintenance.

Megapixel cameras not only benefit the owner but different industries as well.  With more quality recorded footage being stored the more the recording and storage industries will grow.  As megapixel cameras become more ubiquitous, technologies used in conjunction with them will grow and change.  For example the types of video displays and lenses will likely become more developed.  While there are many benefits to megapixel cameras the potential drawbacks include initial cost of installation and the challenge of keeping up with the fast paced technological changes.  Fortunately, as these types of cameras become more widely used their pricing will be driven down.  As far as technological advancements are concerned there will always be changes and improvements it’s a matter of security system experts providing ease of integration and updates.

While you now have a little background on megapixel cameras and their advantages/disadvantages, it’s still imperative to contact a licensed professional for your security needs.  They’ll be able to assess the specific security risks associated with your facility and which products will work best.  Our team of experts at Perfect Connections, Inc. have been providing professional service to businesses and facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We understand the complexities involved in creating a comprehensive security system that is tailored to your 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 Raskoolish at ru.wikipedia-Google-Creative Commons “Definitions of TV standards” by Raskoolish at ru.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Definitions_of_TV_standards.jpg#/media/File:Definitions_of_TV_standards.jpg

How To Spot A Scam

Scam-Widjaya IvanImagine you’re at home and the doorbell rings. You go to answer the door. Who’s there? It’s a salesman claiming to be a representative from a security system company. They tell you they’re at your home to offer you a free security system. Sounds too good to be true, right? That’s because it probably is. Unfortunately, this type of scam is not uncommon in the residential security system industry.

At Perfect Connections, Inc. we believe in helping our customers, not ripping them off. Our licensed experts install customized and comprehensive residential security systems throughout Northern and Central New Jersey. We know each home is unique, which means each system should be tailored individually. False promises, aggressive sales tactics, lengthy and overpriced contracts are NOT what we are about. Unfortunately, there are many door-to-door “sales” people that are only looking to make a quick buck. In doing so, they typically pressure you to sign high priced contracts or make a purchase on the spot. They talk fast to avoid any questions you might have, and to meet their end goal which is you writing a check or giving them your credit card information.

These so called “sales” representatives aren’t even associated with an actual security company in many instances. In some cases, like one reported by CBS Miami, these sales associates may falsely represent themselves as part of an already established company. The case in Miami involved a man named Yassiel Cabre who reportedly worked for a company called Alarm Digital Telecommunication. Instead of representing himself that way, he would tell homeowners he worked for ADT, which is a well-known security systems company. He even gave out folders and business cards that clearly displayed the ADT logo. He conned one victim into signing a 5 year contract (industry standard is typically 36months) with a company called Monitronics (ADT competitor), promising them they would be saving money because ADT supposedly purchased Monitronics. Of course this was 100% false.

Con artists or aggressive door-to-door sales people will sometimes use scare tactics to get you to sign contracts, buy what they are trying to sell, or simply let them into your home-only to steal from you. They might feed you forged crime statistics about your neighborhood to persuade you into buying what they’re offering. They do this hoping fear will get the better of you. If they’re not scaring you into buying an inadequate or fake system, they might offer freebies. A common tactic is to offer a free “system” in exchange for allowing them to put a sign on your lawn (consumerreports.org). While this may sound like an awesome deal, it’s not. As you’re caught up in the word “free,” long term contracts will be sneaked in as a formality of the deal, and you’ll sign because it seems fair. Next thing you know, you’re locked into an expensive agreement that costs an arm and a leg to cancel.

Don’t let yourself be a victim of these forceful sales strategies. There are some telltale signs that you might be getting scammed or ripped off. Check out the list below:

  • Aggressive sales tactics
  • Skipping right to the contract instead of taking the time to discuss and review the vulnerabilities of your home
  • Limited time offers
  • Companies that sell your contract to a bigger company after the initial agreement is made
  • Using fear as a selling point
  • Offering everything for “free”
  • Claiming to be a representative from your current security systems company
  • They will not produce proper identification or licensing
  • Fast talking and speedy contract review
  • Immediate installation without an assessment

Lesson number one: do your research before signing anything. If you suspect someone of false representation or not having the proper licensing, report it to your local authorities. Be sure you find a security systems company that is not only reputable but knowledgeable. The sophistication and effectiveness of your system is only as good as the experts who provide and install it. For over 25 years Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing custom residential security systems to Northern and Central New Jersey. Our specialists are licensed and understand the complexities of a comprehensive system. We know how to guide you through the process from an initial on site assessment to final installation. Let us help you protect what matters most.

If you live 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. Beware of scammers and make sure you’re relying on a trusted and proven security company by calling us today.

Image Credit: Image by Widjaya Ivan-Flickr-Creative Commons

Protecting Your Home This Summer

Summer brings many wonderful experiences – long overdue vacations, day trips to the beach, holidays spent with family and friends, and lots more. But did you also know summer brings the highest risk of break-ins?

Here are some helpful security tips for summer to make sure your home is protected during the summer months.

  • Don’t Advertise That You’re On Vacation – As tempting as it may be to brag on social media about your upcoming vacation, thieves are becoming more clever and may be watching your posts. Be careful what you post online – anything that lets people know you’ll be aware from your home for an extended period of time is an invitation for someone to break in.
  • Timers – Technology today can help with many tricks to help make it appear as if you’re home. Timers can be set on lighting systems to turn lights on and off, both inside and outside your house, making it appear as if the house is occupied while you’re away. You can even have your radio or television turned on and off remotely.Vacation-Google
  • Pause Your Mail/Newspapers – The post office will hold mail deliveries for up to 30 days. A quick trip to the post office will ensure that stacks of mail don’t pile up at your house while you’re away, which is a big sign that no one is watching the house.
  • Helpful Neighbors – Ask neighbors that you trust to pick up your newspaper / mail (if you choose not to have it paused). Give them contact information if they don’t have it to use in case of emergency, and ask them to watch out for any unexpected packages that may arrive while you’re away.
  • Sliding Glass Doors – A metal rod installed in the track of a sliding glass door makes it more difficult for any potential thieves to dislodge the door and get inside.
  • Garage Door – If you’re going to be away for an extended period of time, disable the power to your garage door and manually lock it.  This closes down one more potential means of entry for any would-be burglars.
  • Landscaping Tips – If you’re going to be away for a longer period of time, arrange to have your lawn cut. Make sure your bushes and hedges are trimmed as well – the smaller the number of potential hiding spots, the lower the chance of someone breaking in.

In addition to all these tips, one of the bonuses of a home or business security system is the added functionality of environmental controls. With an integrated system, you can remotely control your thermostat to make sure you’re saving as much as possible on your cooling bill.

Securing Multi-Tenant Offices

Office SpaceWe have all seen an office building, whether it’s the 104 floor World Trade Center in New York City or the 5 floor office you work in.  Many of these buildings house a multitude of different businesses.  This begs the question, how do you protect your business when you share a space with multiple tenants?  You don’t know their clientele or who is coming and going on a regular basis, just as they don’t know yours.

The security challenges that face business owners in a multi-tenant office space are diverse as each tenant is providing a different service with individualized needs.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. we have been providing security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for over 25 years.  Our experts understand the security complexities business owners and facility managers encounter on a daily basis, and we can provide an individualized plan specific to your company’s needs.

What security challenges do companies face in a multi-tenant space, and how can they be overcome?

A major challenge for tenants and facilities managers is communication.  As each business within a shared space operates differently, they’re likely going to have different security needs.  These needs should be clearly communicated with the building owner, facilities manager, and security systems provider.  If you’re a business that requires a higher level of secured access into the main building, and your office space, that should be discussed up front.

Often times in a shared building there are already security features in the entrance or lobby.  These areas serve as an initial means of access control, but different business owners may have different desired security restrictions.  For example, the company next door to you might not require a sign-in or check-in with security upon arrival, but maybe your company does.  Why does this matter?  It may affect how you secure your individual office space within the building.  You may not want another company’s client or employee accidentally wandering into your space.  A building owner or manager may have their own set of restrictions for each tenant as well, so having that conversation up front is imperative.  By having your own security in place you lessen the chances of workplace violence and employee theft from unauthorized entrants as well as within your own business.

Providing your employees with an emergency plan or protocol is important.  The buildings facilities manager will likely already have a plan for the entire building that includes alarm testing, drills, and escape routes.  You may be the type of company that wants to run your own emergency drills.  Running emergency drills is a great way to ensure your employees are prepared.  However, when running preparatory drills be sure to inform your neighbors and the facilities personnel to avoid confusion and unneeded chaos.  It might be beneficial to hold a meeting about emergency procedures with the building manager and neighboring company owners to come up with a cohesive plan.  That way you reduce the risk of complete panic if everyone is on the same page.

Construction and renovation within multi-tenant office buildings is not uncommon.  Redistributing space or accumulating office space can pose a security challenge for tenants.  During a renovation your building becomes a host to a multitude of people that you aren’t used to seeing on a daily basis.  This includes construction workers, architects, inspectors etc.  While these people are likely respectable individuals, you don’t know them, and you may not want them accidentally entering your space.

While most would agree a comprehensive security system is better to install during the initial stages of building construction, it doesn’t always happen that way.  In some buildings you may have tenants that opt for an individualized security system after moving in.  When acquiring space, you may run into old or inefficient security systems that do not align with what you might have in your current space.  To ensure your security system is cohesive and efficient you should involve your security systems provider during the initial design phase for the new space.  This will help make sure your current space is protected during the construction phase, and that all components will work seamlessly once completed.  According to Sean Ahrens, a senior security consultant with Schirmer Engineering (in regards to access control and alarm monitoring), “The only way to address those issues is with communication during the design process.”  He’s right, and this concept applies to all security issues a tenant may have.

While securing your business within a multi-tenant space can be complex, the technical side would be covered by your security systems provider.  It’s up to you as the owner to communicate your desired outcome, get the right professionals involved from the start, and to have a vision for how you want your company protected.  Here at Perfect Connections, Inc. we’ve been providing comprehensive security system solutions to companies throughout central and northern New Jersey since 1992.  We provide everything from access controls to video surveillance and so much more.  Our team can assess the risks specific to your business and provide a customized system to 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.

View Your Cameras From Anywhere

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 over 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 and view your cameras from anywhere 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, which 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

How To Know When It’s Time To Upgrade

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, it’s time to upgrade your system. 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 over 25 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