Upgrading An Old Security System

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

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  Outdated software may leave you susceptible to hacking and viruses, plus you may not be getting the most out of your system.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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Important Information for Verizon Customers

If you have Verizon telephone/internet service, please read the below for important information.

We’ve been getting a few inquiries lately, so we wanted to put an article on our blog about this – Verizon has recently made the decision to retire their copper phone lines in favor of fiber-optic communications. If you still have copper cabling at your home or business, you will be receiving a notification from Verizon along with a request to access your building in order to upgrade your cabling.

Failure to respond to Verizon or failure to allow the upgrade will cause a discontinuation of your phone service, which will result in a communication failure for your burglary or fire alarm system. Local Fire Marshals have begun notifying their residents that a non-communicating fire protection system is a violation of the New Jersey Uniform Fire Code and that you may be subject to penalties.

Please keep an eye out for any communications from Verizon and coordinate appropriately. If you do not wish to upgrade your copper cabling, please call us at 800-369-3962 to discuss other options for communication, including cellular.

For more information, please see this release from Verizon regarding their plan.

To see if you are affected by this, please take a look at the addresses here.

If you have any further questions, you can contact your local Fire Marshal, or you can call us at 800-369-3962.

How To Avoid Security Scams

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 20 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.

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

Wired Or Wireless?

Wires-Windell OskayThe process of researching home security systems can seem daunting. There are many factors you must take into consideration. You have to choose which company you trust to perform the work, how much you’re willing to spend, and what type of system to have installed, to name a few. The type of system you opt for can seem like a tricky decision, that’s why it is imperative to hire a licensed security professional to advise you on the best solution for your home. There are two types of systems in terms of how they are installed, hardwired and wireless. Sometimes a combination of both are implemented, it really depends on your specific needs. Here at Perfect Connections, Inc. we provide security system solutions to Northern and Central New Jersey, and can assess an individual homeowners needs for either a hardwired or wireless installation.

According to safewise.com, “The network of sensors, plus the control panel, make up a self-contained system that may be wired or wireless.” So what’s the difference between hardwired and wireless? A hardwired system involves installing physical wires from the various alarm components (i.e. motion detectors, sensors, etc) to the central control panel. The wires are typically hidden behind walls, which is why it’s beneficial to install this type of system in the construction phase of a home, if possible. According to asecurelife.com, “most older home alarm systems rely on hard wiring where most new systems are gravitating towards wireless or hybrid alarm systems.”

A wireless system relies on radio frequencies to transmit and receive signals between the alarm devices and the control panel; kind of like how a cell phone works. In fact, one of the major benefits of a wireless system is you have the ability to remotely control different aspects of your home via your mobile phone/device. A hardwired system may require a landline to communicate with the monitoring service, whereas a wireless system doesn’t. In this day and age, many homeowners are moving away from landlines all together, making a wireless system almost an indisputable choice. An interesting article about the seaside New Jersey town of Mantokoling describes how the phone lines destroyed by Hurricane Sandy were not rebuilt at all. Instead a wireless option was offered by Verizon. Whether by choice or natural causes, wireless technology seems to be the trend of the future.

While the decision between wireless or hardwired might seem difficult, a specialist will be able to help you figure it out, and in some cases you may not have to choose; it might be dictated by the structure of your home or the area you live in. Hiring an expert will not only save you time and aggravation, but provide you with a peace of mind knowing your system is appropriate for your home and that it was installed correctly. If you live in Central or Northern New Jersey, don’t hesitate to contact our team of licensed professionals at Perfect Connections, Inc.. We’ve been providing residential security systems services for the past 22 years. Our team is knowledgeable about the systems we install and the ever changing technology in the security systems industry.

Check out this brief list of the pros and cons of hardwired and wireless systems:

Hardwired Security System

Pros:

  • It’s a reliable system
  • Can be integrated seamlessly with new construction projects
  • They typically have backup batteries in case of power outages
  • Hardwired systems are less susceptible to electrical interferences from other devices
  • Alarm will sound if any wiring is cut
  • Will likely be installed by a licensed professional ensuring smoother integration

Cons:

  • Can sometimes be more expensive
  • May require tougher installation (drilling holes in walls etc.)
  • Makes relocation of system devices more difficult
  • Typically have longer more intensive installation
  • Can’t bring the system with you when/if you move

Wireless Security System

Pros:

  • Installation is fairly easy and quick
  • Devices can easily be moved, replaced, or updated
  • Can control parts of your home remotely from your mobile device (thermostats, lighting, etc.)
  • System maintenance is typically easy, in most cases systems will require battery replacement
  • Device software can be updated as it evolves
  • May be a more economical system
  • Devices are portable, making moving less of an issue

Cons:

  • Can sometimes be interfered with by exterior electronic devices (baby monitors, microwaves etc.)
  • Can sometimes be more susceptible to interference than a hardwired system
  • Technology evolves quickly making installed devices obsolete quicker
  • Devices can sometimes have sensory issues
  • Structural interferences can be an issue (brick walls, old construction etc.)

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 by Winell Oskay-Flickr-Creative Commons

Investing In Safety

Burglar-JohnImplementing a home security system can seem like a daunting task, but it’s an investment you won’t regret. People typically visualize the home break-in scenario where the masked intruder breaks a window setting off an alarm, ultimately sending the perpetrator on the run. A home security system is so much more than a triggered alarm, it’s a potential life saver in a variety of situations. We all like to imagine our homes are impervious fortresses of safety, but the reality is there are too many uncontrollable factors that could affect our daily lives. Home security allows you to be more prepared for those unpredictable situations.

Our licensed integrators at Perfect Connections, Inc. design and install comprehensive home security systems. We have been providing custom security solutions to residents in northern and central New Jersey for the past 25 years. Our systems protect people and property, offering a peace of mind that can’t be obtained from anything else. It is our belief that a comprehensive home security system should include a burglar alarm, video surveillance, home automation, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, and a monitoring service.

Burglar alarms are likely the first thing that come to mind when thinking about home security. This is because they are a vital system component that helps keep you and your family safe from intruders. Not only do burglar alarms alert you and your monitoring station of a potential disturbance, they can deter would be thieves from even attempting a break-in or burglary. In a study by the Alarm Industry Research and Education Foundation (AIREF) 422 convicted burglars were asked about their decisions to burglarize. They found that approximately 60% would not make an attempt on a home or commercial property that they knew had and alarm system.

Having a surveillance system is an essential component of a comprehensive home security system. Cameras keep eyes on your property even while you can’t. The recordings can also help during an investigation after the fact if necessary. In the burglar study conducted by AIREF approximately 60% said cameras would be factor in their target selection with more than 40% reporting they would choose an alternative if cameras were present. Aside from being a deterrent and a forensics tool, home surveillance systems can often be remotely accessed via an app on your mobile device. This would allow you to check-in on specific parts of your home, see that your pets are okay during the day, or check-in on a loved one.

Remote access to your home security system is part of the abilities you are afforded when you have home automation. With home automation you can setup customized alerts so you receive notifications to your mobile device when your children arrive home from school, when an alarm is triggered, you receive a package, or there is a drastic temperature change in your home. Having remote access to your system helps you control certain parts of you home as well. Maybe you go on vacation and you forget to close your garage doors, if you have home automation it’s not a problem, you simply login to the app on your mobile device and close the doors. Depending on your system configuration you can arm or disarm your system, lock or unlock doors, control the temperature, turn lights on and off, and sometimes control appliances. Home automation offers convenience and connectivity you can’t get from anything else.

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are two of the most important life safety devices every home should have. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that every year more than 400 Americans die from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning unrelated to fires. Carbon monoxide is a “silent killer” that is colorless and odorless, that is why it is so important to have working detectors in the home. Based on past data, in 2014, The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) found that three out of five home fire deaths were caused by fires in homes that didn’t have working smoke alarms.

Statistics alone should be enough to convince any home owner to invest in these life saving devices. What makes them even more effective is if they are tied into your security system. That way when they go off or CO levels rise the central monitoring station will be alerted and if necessary they can send help right away. In situations where you might not be home or a loved one is home alone, it’s nice to know someone is still vigilant.

Monitoring services are the catalyst in security systems that initiate emergency responses. They are a key component that shouldn’t be passed up because of cost. You can’t put a cost on the lives of the ones you love or yourself for that matter. What good is an alarm if no one is alerted when it goes off? It might scare off an intruder, but do you really want to take that chance? During a fire or unpredictable disaster you want the fastest response you can get, right? That is where having a monitoring service proves its worth. It provides quick response times even when you are not home or incapable of responding.

Whether you’re new to the world of home security systems or have been considering one for a long time, it’s always a worthy investment. A comprehensive system will help protect not only your property but your life and the lives of your loved ones. Our team of licensed integrators at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security solutions to homes throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992. We realize no two homes are identical and each one has individual security risks and concerns, which is why we custom design our systems to fit your needs.

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

Image Credit: Image by John-Flickr-Creative Commons

Alarm System Maintenance

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.

Understanding 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

Protect Your Alarm System As Well

Who Watches The Watchmen?System Lock-Yuri Samoilov-Creative Commons

For those who own alarm systems, whether they be 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.”

Why Monitoring Is Important

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

Layers of Security

One of the most important techniques to protecting your home is creating layers of security. It’s not very difficult for a burglar to get past one line of defense.  The more difficult it is and the longer it takes a burglar to break into your home, the more likely they’ll run away. Neighbors are also more likely to spot someone breaking in if you are able to slow any potential thieves down. Adding additional layers of security can easily mean the difference between staying protected and a potential robbery.

House with lock-Ts_pasha

The first line of defense is your exterior. Make sure your exterior is well maintained and looks occupied, even if you’re away. Unmowed lawns, newspapers on the porch, and mail piling up are all signs that no one is watching the house. Motion detector lights and well trimmed bushes/hedges protect you from people sneaking onto your property.  If you need to leave a spare key outside, make sure it is well hidden and not in commonly checked places (under the mat, in the mailbox, under an out of place fake rock). For the most effective security, external weatherproofed security cameras with a 24 hour monitoring company can provide a high level of protection.

Your house itself is your next line of defense.  About 85% of burglaries take place with the thief entering through the front or back door.  About 60% of break ins are accomplished using force. Replace hollow doors with solid-core doors, add a dead-bolt, and reinforce the door jamb with metal. Adding a security film to windows will make them much more difficult to break. Most importantly, make sure all windows and doors are locked when you leave the house, even for a quick trip to the store. 30% of burglaries occur through an unlocked window or door.

Inside your house is the most critical line of defense. Use thick drapes and keep valuables out of view so burglars can’t see inside what you have inside your house. Electronics and jewelry are often the most sought-after items for criminals. Identify theft is also one of the fastest growing crimes. Make sure these valuable assets are protected – a large heavy Internal motion detectors, glassbreak detectors, and video cameras on an alarm system provide a comprehensive defense against potential burglaries.

While the physical barriers to a burglar getting in is extremely important,  another aspect  to remember is the psychological defenses. Signs and stickers that an alarm system is installed in the house are great deterrents. A dog is also a very large reason many potential burglars would avoid a house – even if you don’t have one, making it look like you do by posting a sign or leaving a leash outside can help. Audible alarm systems are not just to alert you or neighbors to a potential intruder, but also to scare away anyone that has made it into your house.