Bridging The Gap From Analog to IP Cameras

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Power? No Problem! – Protecting Your Home During Power Outages

Lightning-Anthony QuintanoWe all know the weather is unpredictable no matter how many radars or meteorologists tell us otherwise.  Mother Nature is impulsive and she strikes at will.  A common and sometimes unpleasant result of severe weather is power outages.  During a thunderstorm outages may last a couple of hours but extreme weather conditions have been known to leave civilians without power for weeks at a time.  The 2008 ice storm that swept the Northeast region of the United States is a perfect example of how detrimental volatile weather can be.  It left over a million without power, some for weeks.  How fast power can be restored really depends on the weather conditions and the resources available in each location.

While extreme weather is not necessarily an everyday issue-and it varies by location-there is still an impact incurred by smaller and more frequent storms that cause power outages.  Power outages affect not only lighting but heating, electric water pumps, and your home security system.  Does that mean you will be unprotected during an outage?  That depends on what type of system you have.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. we provide customized security systems that help protect you and your family even in the direst of situations.  Our experts have been securing homes in northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  As we are based in New Jersey, we are no strangers to the inclement weather and its effect on local residences.

What happens during a power outage?  Everyone goes scrambling for lanterns, candles, and maybe a puzzle to pass the time, right?  Okay, so you have the entertainment portion down, but what about the safety of your home.  Will your security system still work during a power outage?  As previously mentioned that really depends on what type of system you have.

Some of the most common operating modes for security systems are through phone lines, cellular radio, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), and the internet.  With an alarm system that operates through traditional phone lines, it will continue to communicate with monitoring services even during a power outage as phone lines typically stay up and running.  Like many systems, the central control panel will continue operating off its backup batteries.  How long the backup batteries last varies; some may last hours, others may last days.  Your security system provider should have information on how long your backup batteries will last.  A system that runs off cellular radio capabilities will also rely on backup batteries during a power outage.  This is a wireless system so communication would be unaffected.  VoIP wireless systems rely on internet and phone lines for power and communication so if power is out and internet is out, you can lose communication with monitoring services.  Internet based systems have been touted as the least reliable during an outage.  The reason being they lose communication capabilities if the internet is out, which if the power is out the internet typically follows.

To ensure that you will be covered during a power outage it’s best to be prepared.  To be prepared you should know what type of system you have and talk with your provider to find out what would happen if an outage occurred.  You don’t want to assume you’ll have 2 days of backup battery when you really only have a few hours.  Stocking extra batteries isn’t a bad idea, especially if you live in an area that is prone to inclement weather.  Knowing your systems capabilities and limitations will leave you better prepared in the event of an outage or any emergency for that matter.  Aside from knowing the ins and outs of your security system you could invest in preparatory measures like alternative exterior lighting.  One of the best crime deterrents, besides a comprehensive security system, is lighting.  Burglars don’t want to break-in to homes that are well lit, it leaves them too exposed.

You can’t predict the weather, but you can be prepared for it.  Knowing the limitations of your home security system will help prevent panic during power outages and other weather related incidents.  No security system is infallible, but having one significantly decreases the chances of catastrophe.  Whether you are considering a security system for the first time or looking for expertise do not hesitate to call on our team of professionals at Perfect Connections, Inc..  We have been providing comprehensive security solutions to homes throughout northern and central New Jersey for over 20 years.  Our specialists can guide you through the process from an initial assessment to final installation.  It’s important to note that every home is different therefore each security system should be individually tailored.  Don’t fall for a “one size fits all” solution.

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 Anthony Quintano-Flickr-Creative Commons

Upgrading To IP Cameras

If you’ve had a surveillance system installed within the past decade it’s more than likely that it’s either an analog or IP (Internet Protocol) system.  So what’s the difference?  Analog typically refers to an older technology that doesn’t use Ethernet protocol.  IP includes “IP-addressable items,” the cabling, and network equipment used to connect all components to an Ethernet networked system.  As people transition to a fully digital IP system there is some overlapping of the two technologies creating hybrids. Upgrading to IP cameras isn’t always as daunting as it may seem, and there are options that make the transition easier.

So why make the switch from analog to IP?  For one, a fully digital IP system will have improved performance over an analog system.  Many IP cameras are equipped with features like, “advanced digital signal processing, optical zoom lenses, wide dynamic range, on-board analytics and auto image stabilizers…” These features in conjunction with high resolution megapixel cameras provide better coverage and the ability to cover more area with less cameras.  Being able to expand or re-configure, also referred to as scalability, comes easily with an IP system.  This is an advantage to any organization especially one that plans on expanding or renovating in the future as the initial investment cost isn’t lost in the process.

With IP surveillance systems comes advanced analytics.  That means footage can be monitored, recorded, interpreted, archived, and retrieved by the central server as well as peripheral devices.  How is this beneficial?  It helps when looking for specific recordings as a search can be initiated versus having to view hours of useless footage.  If an alarm is activated this type of intelligence can be used to zoom in on what is setting it off which cuts down on time looking for what it might be.

There’s also a flexibility that comes with converting to an IP system.  It makes system integration easier when it comes to adding features like access control, alarms, and extra cameras.  You also have more of a reason to store a higher volume of footage with an IP system because the image quality is clearer and be accessed easily.  Having an IP system allows for ease of software upgrades which helps keep it relevant.  In that sense IP is worth the initial up front cost as it is more adaptable to future technologies and won’t require extensive re-cabling and labor in years to come.

Does this mean you have to completely abandon your analog system all at once?  Not necessarily.  As each system is different the only real way to tell what will need to be done is to hire a security systems expert to do an in person assessment of the current situation.  One option might be to use the existing analog equipment and simply add converters to the camera and network switch ends of the cabling.  This creates a sort of hybrid system where you’re using existing coax cable from the analog system but the converters allow you to add IP cameras; they don’t have to rely on your company’s network and can still be recorded on your DVR, NVR, or VMS (Digital Video Recorder, Network Video Recorder, and Video Management System).

The benefit to a hybrid system is you don’t lose out on the initial investment of the original system and it allows for easy add-ons, upgrades and replacements of IP technology.  The other option is to completely remove all analog devices and cabling and start over with a new IP system.  Sometimes IP systems can utilize existing analog infrastructures so that could be an alternative to starting from scratch.  Remember if you have an IT department at your facility it is important to include them in the process to ensure a seamless integration.

Whether you’re looking to upgrade to and IP system all at once or try the hybrid approach it’s key to include a licensed security systems expert from the beginning.  They can help guide you through the process from start to finish.  We understand that each facility is unique and requires individualized security solutions.

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.

How Smart Is Your Home?

Home Automation Image-PC websiteWhen it comes to home security systems, you may have heard the phrase “interactive services.” You may have even heard the terms “home automation,” “connected home,” and “smart house.” What do they all mean, and how are they related to home security? They’re meanings are essentially the same, and in relation to security, they describe the ability to remotely interact with, and access, devices in your home by means of a mobile device or computer. If you have a comprehensive home security system, you likely have cameras, motion detectors, door and window sensors, fire and carbon monoxide detectors that communicate with a central control panel located in your home. Being able to connect and interact with these security features from a remote location is beneficial for a multitude of reasons. Cameras and motion detectors aren’t the only devices you can access from afar. Imagine being able to adjust the temperature in your home before you get there, or turning lights on and off, even opening or closing your garage door. In partnering with Alarm.com, Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing these interactive service options to homes in Central and Northern New Jersey for years. Our team of licensed professionals can help you customize a security system that will connect you to the inner, and sometimes outer, workings of your home.

How Does It Work?

First, you have a home security system installed with all of the sensors, cameras, and detectors that you and your security systems specialist customized. In order to access the full functions of your remote services you must have an interactive service plan with a company like Alarm.com. After that, you simply download their app on your tablet, smartphone, computer, or other mobile device, and you’ll have total home control at the tips of your fingers.

There are basically two ways a home can become “connected.” Wireless or hardwired. The trends of our progressive society tend to make everything more technological, therefore, many security systems are being installed wirelessly with cellular backup. This eliminates the need to cut holes in walls and have dangling or exposed wires. Wireless technology is particularly favorable if you own an older home where breaking open walls isn’t an option. The same technology that works for our cellphones and Bluetooth devices can now be implemented in the home. More and more homeowners are leaving landlines in the past and switching to cellular devices anyway, making the connected home a smoother integration. A hardwired system does required cabling, however, it has been in use for a longer period of time, and proven to work. Some home automation systems use a combination of both wireless and hardwired technologies. To determine what type of system is right for your home, hiring a professional to perform a full assessment is your best bet.

What Are The Capabilities?

Home Automation-from our websiteDepending on how many, and what kind of devices are connected to your system, your operating choices are seemingly endless. By using the mobile app, you can gain access to the security cameras inside and outside your home to see what is happening throughout the day. Certain motion detectors can be set up to send you snap shots of specific areas and activity in your home. Your system can be set up to notify you when you kids arrive home from school, if you’re not able to be there. The ability to adjust your thermostat and turn lights on and off is a common feature. Check-in on loved ones and/or pets throughout the day. Having interactive services as part of your comprehensive security system will alert local authorities to any disturbances at your home while simultaneously alerting you on your mobile device.

Why Is It Beneficial?

Controlling and accessing various devices in your or a loved one’s home is advantageous for a multitude of reasons. One of the most obvious benefits is that it provides peace of mind on a constant basis, knowing you’ll instantly be notified of what matters most to you. Being able to remotely adjust your thermostat and turn lights on and off will lower your utilities bill and inadvertently help you waste less energy. Remote access is extremely convenient, you have control in the palm of your hand at all times, as long as your device is charged. Having remote capabilities will save you time by not having to rush home last minute to adjust appliances or unlock doors for pet sitters, family members, or scheduled visitors. With services provided by Alarm.com alerts and access don’t have to stop even when your system is unarmed. The functions of your home become more efficient.

Utilizing a connected home system is a great way to help your loved ones maintain their independence, but also ensure their safety. Specific features allow you to make sure a family member is moving throughout the day, not leaving potentially dangerous appliances on, and you can activate or deactivate their alarm system for them if they forget. Maybe a family member uses an emergency response pendant (like Life Alert) which requires them to take action. But what if they can’t? Services provided by Alarm.com simplify their life and yours by not requiring personal action in case of an emergency. It’s a non-invasive approach to protect your family.

Whether you’re considering the Connected Home for the first time or it has been on your to do list for a while, don’t hesitate, contact the security professionals at Perfect Connections, Inc. for an in home assessment. Our team knows the safety of your home is paramount in the protection of your family. We have been providing service to Northern and Central New Jersey for decades, so you can be confident in our security knowledge and expertise.

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.

Emergency Preparations for Businesses

Creative CommonsNo business is immune to risk or unpredictable circumstances. In an emergency, often times, there’s an influx of panic for those involved. Our dedicated and hardworking emergency responders-firefighters, EMTs, ambulance, and police-are the ones who keep a strong front and are prepared to help us through these tough situations. As a business owner wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to lessen the constant fear of unknown threats to your organization? Fortunately, there is something you can do for your business, your employees, yourself, and the responders. Be prepared and have a plan.

At Perfect Connections, Inc. we believe instead of being fearful or worrisome about the unknown, you should be as prepared as possible for it. Part of being prepared is maintaining proper security of your organization. We’ve been providing peace of mind to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992 by installing comprehensive security systems. A security system is so much more than just a video camera and alarm code. To truly be protected a system should include a monitoring service, some form of access control, video surveillance, fire and burglar alarms, and carbon monoxide detectors. While the physical aspect of a security system offers protection and prevention, it is also important to have some form of emergency protocol within your organization.

What is your plan and why do you need one?

No one enjoys thinking about the potential disasters that could occur in our daily lives, but they are, no matter how unsavory, a part of life. If you haven’t already, you should work with your company, local authorities, and maybe a risk management firm to come up with an emergency plan. The world is an unpredictable place, even if your business is located in a safe area, there are no guarantees. According to Kelly Jenkins, Director of Emergency Management for Lawnwood Regional Medical Center and Heart Institute in Florida, “The worst possible scenario is to be not prepared.” Having some sort of contingency plan is important because it’ll help you recover quicker and reinforce customer’s confidence in the integrity of your business. It’s important to maintain that competitive edge that drives the workforce, as they say, “The show must go on!”

It’s not just being prepared for a disaster, it’s how you continue operation after as well, sometimes referred to as a BC (Business Continuity) plan. What is your BC plan and how do you come up with it? According to Kim Lindros and Ed Tittel for CIO, there are 6 general steps in developing a BC plan, and they are as follows:

  1. Identify the scope of the plan.
  2. Identify key business areas.
  3. Identify critical functions.
  4. Identify dependencies between various business areas and functions.
  5. Determine acceptable downtime for each critical function.
  6. Create a plan to maintain operations.

Once you have a plan the best way to ensure everyone is on board and prepared is to test it. What good is a plan if no one knows how to use it? Have frequent drills so you, your employees, and all personnel understand what they need to do in the event of an emergency. Testing and running drills will eventually create more of a “muscle memory” response so precious time isn’t wasted trying to figure out which steps to take. If you’re stuck on where to begin consider hiring a professional and reference online guidelines like the Planning and Responding to Workplace Emergencies provided by OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration).

How does having a security system affect emergency situations?

As a business owner you want to do everything in your power to protect your organization. Having a comprehensive security system installed may be the catalyst in a better defense. How will the system affect circumstances during an emergency? Imagine there is a major fire at work. As part of your comprehensive security system you have a functional fire alarm and monitoring service. The alarm sounds sending a signal to the monitoring station which then informs local emergency responders. Luckily, due to the speedy response time, firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the flames minimizing property damage, costing you less in repairs. But most importantly you, your staff, and customers were able to exit the facility safely.

Now, without getting too graphic, imagine the shooter scenario. Unfortunately, it’s become an all too common occurrence in our daily lives. So how can a security system help in this type of situation? Your access control system and surveillance come into play. Because you had a swipe card access control system installed at all entries the shooter cannot get into your facility as they do not possess the required credentials. With your surveillance equipment you were able to capture footage of the deviant. The footage helped identify the criminal and authorities were able to detain him/her. This is a best case scenario, but you can see how certain security features, when combined, can be extremely effective in deterring catastrophe.

There are infinite disastrous possibilities that can affect your business, but you can’t spend every minute of every day worrying about them. Instead create a plan and be as prepared as possible. If you are considering a security system for your business for the first time or need an assessment of your current situation do not hesitate to call on our experts at Perfect Connections, Inc.. Our knowledgeable and experienced team has been providing security system solutions to northern and central New Jersey businesses for over 25 years. We believe in helping you protect what matters most.

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

Image Credit: Image by Creative Commons

Save On Home Insurance With A Security System

As a homeowner, you have no doubt invested precious time and money with realtors, bankers, maybe lawyers, even architects and contractors. All in an effort to secure the home of your dreams. Now that you have it, the wallet and purse draining may seem never ending. As a first time home buyer or builder, you probably do not have all of the necessary tools and home accents of a fully functioning domicile. You’ll probably need to purchase the essentials, a lawnmower, some furniture, a basic tool kit, and appliances like a refrigerator and a washer/dryer. Needless to say, these items do not come cheap.Money-401kcalculator.org

In addition to the essential purchases, you’re home security is a top priority. You’ve moved in, you have the keys, well what if all of your new neighbors also have keys? It’s not uncommon for neighbors to exchange a set of keys, and since you don’t know the neighbors yet, changing your locks should be step number one. In fact, according to Zillow.com you should assume that, “everyone and his brother has a set of keys to your new home.”

Realizing your home is potentially compromised, you change your locks. Great! You’ve taken the first step in protecting what matters most. However, a simple lock and key may not cut it when it comes to home security. Having a comprehensive security system installed will not only help prevent catastrophe, it could save you money. If you’re considering a home security system, be sure to hire a licensed and insured specialist like Perfect Connections, Inc. Here at Perfect Connections, Inc. we can guide you through the subtle nuances of a comprehensive security system from customizing features to final installation.

How can a security system SAVE you money?

Besides the more obvious savings that come with a security system, like fire and burglary prevention, you can actually save on your homeowners insurance. Wait, insurance companies offer discounts? Yes they do! In all likelihood, during the process of buying your home you’ve signed for a home insurance policy. Most mortgage lenders won’t let you sign for a house until you have an insurance policy in place, or are working on obtaining one. According to Peter G. Miller for realtor.com, even if you own the house outright, sans mortgage, insurance is still a smart investment as it will help protect you and your family from financial disaster if something were to happen to your home.

Insurance Definition-Alan CleaverJust how much can you save by installing a security system? The answer to this question varies, it all depends on your insurance provider and the state you reside in. Although each company has a different policy, the average savings can be up to 20% (Erin Raub for safesoundfamily.com). Each company will likely have different discount/credit or premium reduction qualifications. Your best bet is to call your policy provider and ask specific questions, especially if you’re at the beginning stages of choosing a security system. There will be different discounts for various security features. For example, your discount/credit will be less if you only have local fire alarms and dead bolts versus a comprehensive monitored alarm system. Nick DiUlio for insurancequotes.com references Michael Barry from the Insurance Information Institute, citing that, “homeowners typically can expect discounts of at least 5 percent for smoke detectors, burglar alarms or deadbolt locks. For more advanced alarm systems that report directly to a police station, fire department or other monitoring stations,some companies may cut premiums by as much as 15 percent or 20 percent.” This type of discount may also be available to renters.

Here is a list (in no particular order) of some insurance companies that offer home security discounts/credits:

Aside from the cost of a security system, and the installation, you will be paying a monthly monitoring fee which can range anywhere from $25-50. Over the span of a year this will cost you between $300-600. How does this compare with the cost of insurance? According to homesecuritysystems.info the average homeowner will spend between $1,200-1,500/year on insurance premiums. If your insurer offers a discount on the high end, up to 20%, you could save up to $300/year. Keep in mind the fact that every time you make a claim, your premium is likely to go up. Installing a security system can help you avoid having to make claims by protecting your home and its contents.

As long as you own your security system you will save on insurance. Even if the initial cost of a security system may seem substantial, it typically ends up paying off in the end. Whether it’s preventing an attempted burglary or lowering your yearly insurance costs, a security system is a sound investment.

For more information on security systems and their features go to Perfect Connections, Inc. We’ve been providing security systems solutions to Central and Northern New Jersey since 1992. Needless to say, we know a thing or two about home security applications, and their benefits.

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.

Image Credits: Image #1 by 401kcalculator.org-Flickr-Creative Commons, Image #2 by Alan Cleaver-Flickr-Creative Commons

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.

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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.