Beware of Scammers

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

It’s Time To Upgrade Your Old System

Old Tech-Steve JurvetsonMaybe you’ve had a home security system installed years ago or perhaps you recently moved into a new home with an existing alarm system.  Whatever the case, how can you tell if your home security system is still valid?  There are some tell-tale signs that you may be dealing with an antiquated system.  However, if you have a security system and are concerned it’s not as relevant as it once was, 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 the past 23 years.  We can help assess the validity of your alarm system and offer solutions specific to your security needs.

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  Outdated software may leave you susceptible to hacking and viruses, plus you may not be getting the most out of your system.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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: Image by Steve Jurvetson-Flickr-Creative Commons

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.

IT Security Tips For Your Alarm System

For those who own alarm systems, whether they are video surveillance, access control, burglary, or fire protection, our systems watch over us and protect us around the clock.

But in today’s day and age, just about everything is connected to the internet. In many cases, this includes our alarm system. And like any device that is connected to the internet, if not taken care of properly, it can be at risk of attack from hackers.

“Attackers used an army of hijacked security cameras and video recorders to launch several massive internet attacks” said a recent news piece by the Wall Street Journal. Many times, these cameras were infected by pre-compromised routers that already existed.

Here are some tips about how to protect your alarm system as well

Router security:
We recommend using WPA2 security for your router. Most routers, unless they are fairly old, are capable of this type of security. For more information on this, check out your router’s brand’s website – Belkin, Linksys, and Netgear are common brands.

Firmware updates: It is very important that any device that connects to the internet, from thermostats to alarm systems to routers to televisions to computers, always has the most up to date firmware. Each device’s manual or website will have instructions on how to do those, and if there is a phone application that interfaces with the device, you can often do it through the application.

Password protection: Many devices come with generic user names and passwords. These are easy targets for hackers. Make sure you change any default passwords, and try not to use the same password on multiple devices. It is most important that this is done on the router.

New hardware:
According to Kenneth White, a security researcher and director of the Open Crypto Audit Project, “If the company that made your [device] isn’t selling that model anymore or offering security updates, that’s a good sign for you to throw it in the trash.”

Maintaining Your Alarm System

So you bought an alarm system, what kind of maintenance and service should you do?

Really, not much. It should work flawlessly for quite some time. The first thing to go will be batteries. All systems will have to have their system battery replaced after 3 to 5 years. When the battery is low, the keypad will notify you as will the central station. The batteries for most alarm systems in service today are 12 volt and 4 to 7 amp hour. Newer graphic self-contained systems have different smaller batteries, the 2Gig GO! Control has a 7.2 volt back up battery. All batteries should give you 24 hour back up. It is not a bad idea to schedule replacement of your battery every 3 years to preempt any possible issues.

If you have a wireless alarm system, you will also need to replace the batteries in the various devices such as door and window transmitters, wireless motion detectors, wireless glass break detectors, wireless carbon monoxide detectors, wireless smoke detectors, key fobs, panic buttons, and other wireless devices. Most of the new devices use lithium batteries, from CR123 3 Volt lithium batteries to lithium watch sized batteries. The smaller the device, the smaller the battery. Typically the bigger batteries last longer, 3 years plus, while the watch type batteries last 2 years plus. Devices that are used most often, like entry doors, drain quicker. On the newer systems, the keypad tells you which transmitter has a low battery, making replacement easy.

Make sure your alarm company shows you how to change the batteries during the installation. You should also get a list of the batteries required for all the various devices you have so you don’t have to scramble to find out when they are low. If you choose not to replace your own batteries, the alarm company should be happy to replace them for you.

Older systems use typical alkaline batteries, 9 volt, AAA and AA are common. These need to be replaced more often. Many older systems don’t tell you when the batteries are low so regular replacement is necessary.

Other than changing batteries, not much else is necessary. Make sure devices such as motion detectors and smoke detectors are clear of spider webs and that’s about it.

If installed and programmed correctly, your alarm system should monitor all parts and devices on the system, as well as services it is connected to, like power, telephone, and cellular. If any of these systems go down, your alarm system should alert you to that fact. The first reaction is to think that there is something wrong with your alarm system, when in reality it is working correctly. It is supposed to tell you when it is compromised when a service it relies on is not working properly.

Even though the system monitors itself, testing the alarm system is something that you should regularly do. You depend on your alarm system and you should make sure that it is working properly all the time. The best way to test the system is as follows: Call the central station and put the system on test. Arm the system and then trip a zone. Reset the alarm and then call the central station to make sure they received the right signal. Next week put it back on test and trip the next zone. Go clockwise around your house and you will eventually check all your devices and then start again. It is worth the effort to protect your home and family.

If you live in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, or if you would like us to perform a Home Safety and Security Audit, absolutely free, please call 800-369-3962 or simply click the link below.

Home Vulnerability Test

Dorothy-Insomnia Cured Here“There is no place like home.” — L. Frank Baum (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Oz, #1))

Isn’t that the truth?  There truly is no place like home.  It’s your place of comfort, family congregations, entertainment, and life.  With any home there are weak spots that open you up to potential threats.  Maybe you already know this because you’ve hired a professional to assess your security needs, and you now have a comprehensive security system installed.  Whether or not you have sought professional service to protect your home, there are things you can check/do to make sure you’re properly deterring potential threats.  Providing residential security systems solutions to Northern and Central New Jersey for the past 22 years, our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. can offer insight on how to better protect your home.  Check out the following tips for a safer home.

Knowing Your Weaknesses:

  • High or untrimmed shrubbery/vegetation surrounding your home
    • Creates convenient hiding spots for criminals
  • Leaving spare keys throughout your property-you know the typical “it’s under the matt” approach
    • Makes it easier for burglars/thieves to get into your home
  • Poorly lit driveways and home entries
    • Allows a criminal to go undetected/conceals them better
  • Leaving valuable items in plain sight
    • Gives a burglar more incentive to break-in
  • Out of date or dysfunctional fire alarms and carbon/smoke monoxide detectors
    • Leaves you and your family inadequately protected in the event of an emergency
  • Broken or weak door and window locks
    • Provides easier access to your home
  • Not having a home security system
    • All of the above

What You Can Do:

  • Keep the plants and vegetation surrounding your home trimmed especially near windows and doors
    • This will help decrease any potential hiding spots for criminals
  • Don’t leave spare keys out, or keep them fully concealed and secure (maybe in a coded or locked location)
    • Prevents an intruder from easily entering your home
    • Leaving a key with a neighbor is a better option as you don’t have to worry about losing a key outside or who might find it
  • Light your driveway, perimeter, and entries; use automatic timers
    • Intruders are less likely to attempt a break-in at a well-lit property
    • Automatic timers can be set to go off even when you’re not home
    • With home automation you can turn your interior lights on and off while you’re away vs having to leave lights on until you get home; a light left on for too long will tipoff burglars that you’re not really home, especially if they’ve been watching your home
  • Don’t leave valuables lying around your home
    • This includes jewelry, irreplaceable items, cash, small or moveable safes that house other precious objects or documents
  • Make sure your fire alarms and carbon/smoke detectors have batteries and are working properly
    • This will ensure you and your family will be properly warned in the event of an emergency, helping to prevent catastrophic loss and damage
  • Routinely inspect your door and window locks, and make sure they are locked
    • Locking your doors and windows may seem obvious, but many homeowners don’t do it because they live in a “safe” neighborhood. Don’t be fooled, anyone is susceptible to crime, the difference is how you are prepared for it.
  • Occasionally walk the perimeter of your home
    • It’s simple, but it will make you aware of any potential weaknesses and/or damage to your home
  • Hire a professional to install a comprehensive security system with alarm monitoring
    • They will perform an in depth inspection of your home’s interior and exterior
    • You will have a system that is customized to the specific needs of your home
    • You will rest easy knowing that your windows and doors have sensors, cameras are recording and deterring what is happening inside/outdoors
    • Your fire and burglar alarms are set to alert the authorities the instant something happens
    • You can access different features, including lighting, through home automation services

While you can certainly perform routine checks of your property, to fully secure your home, hire a professional.  An expert will pick up on things you may not notice and you’ll get unbeatable protection for your home and family.  If you are located in Northern or Central New Jersey, do not hesitate to call on our professionals at Perfect Connections Inc. to find out more about residential security systems.  We have been providing expert residential security services for over 20 years, and we are dedicated to understanding your specific needs.

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.

For other helpful tips, check out these sites:

Safewise.com-Thieves Offer Home Security Tips

Safewise.com-Self Evaluate

Image Credit: Image by Insomnia Cured Here-Flickr-Creative Commons

Security Advice For New Home Owners

Helpful Security Tips For New Homeowners

There is no doubt that moving into a new home can be exciting; however, between getting all your belongings moved in, unpacking and getting organized, it can be quite easy to overlook security in the new home.

Thieves work where there is an opportunity. They will prey on people or locations they believe are “easy targets.” With movers coming and going from the space and the homeowners being distracted, a burglar can easily take advantage of the situation.

Prior to settling into your new home, take some time to address a few security concerns. Some tips that can help to keep new homeowners and their belongings safe include:

 

American Advisors Group-House Sold

Change the locks – this should include window locks. You never know how many other copies are “out there.”
Perform a security audit – walk around and try to think like a criminal. Address any issues such as broken fences, bushes near the house or windows or doors that do not shut securely.
Install a security system – monitored security services are perhaps the best way to help keep your home secure.
Install plenty of outdoor lighting – motion or sensor lights are great at deterring would-be intruders.
Get to know the neighbors.

 

Moving into a new house is a huge occasion, but you cannot ignore the security issues that may be present. Be sure that you take note of the tips here to keep your new home and yourself safe and secure.

 

Helpful Additions You Can Make To Your Home Security Alarms

Your home is your castle. For most people, protecting it is a top priority. One of the best investments you can make to provide superior protection for your home, belongings and family is a home security alarm. Modern options are far more advanced than the security systems that were available as little as a decade ago. Getting to know some of the new features and advancements offered by these security systems will help you see why they are such an invaluable asset.

Remote Access Viewing – One of the most helpful additions that you can add to your home security alarm is a set of cameras. With the advances in modern security technology, it is now possible to access the video cameras in your house from anywhere in the world. This will allow you to view your home – no matter where you are – to make sure that everything is safe and that no one has broken in.

Increased Electrical Safety – Another helpful feature offered with modern home security alarms allows you to determine whether or not any electrical components, such as a stove or outlet, have been left on in your home. This will help to improve the overall level of safety in your home.

Added Fire Safety – Yet another beneficial thing that you can add to your home security system is smoke detectors and sensors. In most cases, these are very easily added to your system and they can provide a lot of added safety. When a fire is detected the alarm will sound and if you are paying for monitoring, the proper authorities will be contacted. This will help to increase the response time and it will help to reduce the damage that you have to your home in the event of a fire.

Installing a modern security system or upgrading your existing one just makes sense. It will provide you with peace of mind that your home and family are safe and secure.

Finding The Missing Puzzle Piece

Missing puzzle pieceWhile businesses have a lot to offer, many are lacking the protection they need.  No I don’t mean stowing an arsenal below your cash-wrap, but rather an effective security system and security features.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. we can help you protect what you’ve worked so hard for.  If you run a business in central or northern New Jersey, let us assess your security risks and provide a custom solution to fit your needs.  Many don’t know what they are lacking and how it can be rectified, our licensed professionals can help in that arena.  Don’t fall victim to preventable disasters find out what a comprehensive security system can do for you and the health of your business.

What’s lacking?

An incomplete security system is a bit like working on a puzzle with missing pieces.  There are essential features that should be included in a comprehensive security system.  Maybe you already have a security system installed at your business, but is it monitored?  What good is a security system if no one, except those in the area, is alerted when the alarm goes off?  Having a 24/7 monitoring service as part of your security system is crucial for the quickest response times.  Surveillance equipment can also help deter employee theft which is, “the fastest growing crime in America,” according to the FBI.  Employee theft costs businesses up to $200 billion each year.  Installing surveillance equipment not only in the main customer space, but in offices, storage, and inventory spaces can help decrease chances of employee theft and misconduct.

Other areas that tend to be overlooked or under-protected are doors and safes.  While a door typically locks, if it’s not sturdy and linked to an alarm, what’s preventing someone from kicking it in?  To protect your entries, exits, and interior spaces be sure that your doors are not only sturdy and alarmed but protected by some sort of access control.  Whether it’s a swipe card, key fob, passcode, or some form of biometrics, access control will help prevent unwanted entrants.  Safes that are out in the open and easy to grab or crack open provide minimal protection for whatever is in it.  If you’re going to store valuables or cash in a safe at your business be sure it’s secure either bolted to the ground or in a fortified room.

Inadequate protection from fire and carbon monoxide can be a killer for any business.  Having detectors and alarms may not be enough if they don’t communicate with emergency services.  It’s the same idea as the unmonitored burglar alarm, if no one is around to hear the detectors go off a fire could easily escalate to the point of no return.  For the quickest response time, fire alarms and detectors should be linked to a monitoring service that communicates with emergency services.  Proper fire alarms, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors should be an integral part of a comprehensive security system.  Your business is likely your livelihood, protect it.

There are few certainties in life, but taking initiative to protect what you’ve built by installing a comprehensive security system is guaranteed to help.  No two businesses are the same, therefore no two security systems will be the same.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. we believe in customizing security solutions for each individual business based on their specific needs.  As security systems experts we have been providing security solutions to northern and central New Jersey businesses since 1992.

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.

Make Sure Your System Is Monitored

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 service 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 the past 23 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

Preventing False Alarms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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