How To Spot A Scam

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you live in Central or Northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE. Beware of scammers and make sure you’re relying on a trusted and proven security company by calling us today.

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

Protection During Network Outages -How It Works

No Internet-Marcelo GraciolliDoes your security system, or part of it, rely on your company’s internet network? Or are you considering a system that is at least partially dependent on network connectivity? If so, what happens if that network fails or is compromised? Fortunately nowadays the chances of your network dropping or losing connection is pretty slim, in fact the probability of most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) experiencing an outage is about 1%. But in the rare case that it does become inactive there are methods to keep security features active, in particular network attached surveillance or IP (Internet Protocol) cameras. Maintaining an operating surveillance system is crucial to the overall effectiveness of a comprehensive security system. Surveillance footage can aid in police investigations and the mere presence of cameras can help deter criminals. Fortunately there are methods of streaming and recording footage even when your local area network (LAN) is down.

Our licensed integrators at Perfect Connections, Inc. understand the importance of security system continuity and one that functions with minimal incident. We have been providing comprehensive security solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for over 25 years. We specialize in surveillance systems, fire and burglar alarms, and access control solutions. There is no perfect system, but by installing redundancies and planning with prevention in mind, system issues will be few and far between.

Traditionally recorded surveillance footage would be stored on an external digital video recorder (DVR), but thanks to progressing technology and the desire to streamline everything, virtual and network storage options are becoming more popular. The cloud is becoming a popular virtual storage method that is cost effective and has seemingly limitless real estate. To find out more about the cloud, check out our post here. Whether you’re using the cloud or an external device like a DVR, it’s not a bad idea to have a back-up in the unlikely event your network goes down. Two common types of redundancies are Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices and SD memory cards.

NAS devices are installed on the same network as your security cameras. If your network were to suddenly go out or someone accidentally caused an outage, the NAS would continue recording. If you were using the cloud as your main storage and the network drops, the NAS device could be setup to automatically upload recorded data to the cloud once the network is repaired. It’s also a cost effective method as multiple network cameras can be setup to stream to the same NAS device.

SD memory cards are exactly what they sound like. They’re storage cards within the actual camera, essentially the same as memory cards used in digital cameras and other devices. This type of technology is also sometimes referred to as “edge storage.” SD cards are typically programmed one of two ways. Either they are constantly recording regardless of the network status, or they are programmed to kick-in when network connection is lost. According to Fredrik Nilsson, General Manager of the Americas for Axis Communications, using SD cards as a redundancy works best in smaller applications where there are minimal cameras. The main reason being they cost more per gigabyte of storage in comparison to NAS devices that can accommodate multiple cameras on a single device.

While the likelihood of your network failing or dropping out is pretty low it’s always best to plan for the worst case scenario. There is no perfect security system, but there are measures that can be implemented to ensure coverage when you need it most. When it comes to surveillance, it’s imperative to have continuity, therefore it couldn’t hurt to have redundancies installed when using network cameras. NAS devices and SD memory cards are two effective back-up storage methods that will help retain critical information that can later be accessed if need be. To find out which type of backup is best for your facility always consult a licensed security system integrator. Our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992. We understand no two businesses are exactly the same and that they should be treated with an individualized approach that suits 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.

Image Credit: Image by Marcelo Graciolli-Flickr-Creative Commons

Is It Time To Upgrade Your 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.

Video Surveillance-Christian Schnettelker

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.

Planning For Emergency 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

5G And The Connected Home – Preventing Attacks

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. With the upcoming launch of 5G, it is extremely important this year to protect anything connected to your home network.

“Attackers used an army of hijacked security cameras and video recorders to launch several massive internet attacks” said a 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 You Need A Licensed Installer

There are many reasons to make sure the person you hire to do a job is qualified. When it comes to installing camera systems, it’s the law.Video Surveillance-Christian Schnettelker

In New Jersey, a professional surveillance system installer needs to be licensed by the Fire Alarm, Burglar Alarm, and Locksmith Advisory Committee. According to Eric Marcy at Wilentz Attorneys at Law, “many local Informational Technology Companies have begun to dabble in installing CCTV monitoring as part of their product/service offerings.” While it may make initial sense to hire an IT professional to install network-based cameras, they may lack many of the qualifications that a licensed surveillance system installer has due to the training required to obtain the proper license.

Eric Marcy also states that “While Information Technology businesses may find the installation of CCTV and surveillance systems a natural extension of the services the business may offer, failure to have a proper license for such services will result in legal exposure and penalties. Prior to any Information Technology firm from offering, marketing or providing such services it should fully investigate the requirements necessary to allow it to provide such services. IT companies would be well served to consult with counsel to review the proposed services and proposed marketing to insure that the IT firm is not in violation of State law. ”

If you’re not sure if the person or company you are hiring is licensed, you can verify on the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs website.

If you live in Central or Northern New Jersey and are considering installing cameras in your home or business, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE. Our licensed integrators at Perfect Connections, Inc. have been providing custom and comprehensive security system solutions since 1992.

Custom Security and Complete Protection

Installing a security sy9677247879_a39e3e702c_zstem can be one of the best ways to protect your business from unpredictable threats like fires and burglars.  Did you know that not all systems are the same?  That’s right there really isn’t a “one size fits all” solution when it comes to securing your workplace, nor should there be.  Why?  Because no two businesses are exactly the same.  Therefore, doesn’t it make sense that a security system should be custom and tailored to a facility’s individual needs?  A healthcare facility wouldn’t have all the same security needs as a retail store, right?  Right.  So how do you go about finding the right system for your business?  Your best option is to hire a licensed professional in the security system field who has extensive knowledge and experience.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. our team has been customizing security system solutions for businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for over 25 years.  We understand your business is unique and requires personal attention versus a one-stop solution.

As every home is different and each family has different security needs, the same is true for every business.  There are many factors that go into creating the right system for your facility.  For example the location and demographics, local fire codes and regulations, facility size and type, building/facility access, number of employees, local restrictions, and more.  A business in the middle of a city is going to need a different security system than one located in an industrial park in the suburbs.  This is why it is vital to have a security systems expert do an in person assessment of your facility’s needs before pricing becomes part of the equation.  Don’t fall for the security system company that says they can give you a quote without ever having stepped foot in your facility.

What are the main ingredients for a security system?  At Perfect Connections, Inc. it is our belief that any comprehensive security system includes fire alarms, burglar alarms, access control, surveillance, a monitoring service, and carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.  There are variations on how some of these components are installed and what products are used.  For example there are many different forms of access control.  Access control can be anything from biometrics-which typically analyzes physical human traits like a fingerprint-to smart card readers that require a swipe or tap of a programmed card or fob.

Again, the type of access control that would suit your business best, really depends on what your specific needs are.  Maybe you run a healthcare facility where only certain employees are allowed to access medication supply rooms.  Maybe the best solution in that situation is issuing swipe cards to those specific individuals, or maybe a coded lock would work better.  These are the types of things you want to discuss with your security systems expert.  They will be able to advise you on what system would work best.

Monitoring your alarm system can be varied as well.  While it’s pretty standard to sign a contract with a monitoring service, there is the option to self-monitor as well.  Self-monitoring works by allowing you to access your security system via a smartphone or mobile device.  This type of monitoring could be set up to alert you directly if there is any activity detected at your facility.  The disadvantage to a solely self-monitored system is a slower reaction time and having to constantly be vigilant.  Imagine you don’t have your phone on you and an alarm is triggered at your facility, who’s going to contact the local authorities?  Fortunately, with a monitoring service you don’t have to worry about reaction time because someone is constantly keeping watch.  Even if you opt for a monitoring service often times you can still have the ability to self-monitor at your convenience.  The combination of both gives you the advantage of not having to worry about checking in constantly and the convenience of doing so when you need/want it.

Surveillance is a key component to protecting any business.  How surveillance equipment is set up will vary business to business.  Some facilities may require more or less coverage than others.  Some businesses may be at a higher risk for crime or theft than others as well.  For example Plato’s Closet in Des Moines, IA is susceptible to shrinkage due to clothing, shoe, and accessory theft.  This particular location of Plato’s Closet had a shrink rate of a little over 1 percent, but after they installed 19 IP (Internet Protocol) cameras that rate fell to .8 percent.  The quantity, type, and location of surveillance cameras will depend on an individual business’s needs.

Whether you run a recycling, retail, or healthcare facility, protecting your business is a top priority that shouldn’t be left to just anyone.  You need a licensed security systems expert who will assess the risks associated with your business and customize an appropriate solution.  Our team of licensed professionals at Perfect Connections, Inc. understands you’ve worked hard for what you have and we want to help you keep it secure.  We have been providing customized security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992 helping you connect and 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 Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s photostream-Flickr-Creative Commons

How Important Is Lighting?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: Image by West Midlands Police-Flickr-Creative Commons

What Is Edge Technology And How Can It Protect Your Business

Todd Huffman-SurveillanceWhen it comes to security systems you may have heard the term “edge technology,” “edge analytics,” or “edge devices.”  What exactly do these terms mean and why are they important?  When talking about security systems “the edge” is typically used when referring to video surveillance components.  Every security system integrator and industry professional will likely have their own definition of what it means, but in summary “edge technology” refers to surveillance devices that operate, analyze, and record at their source versus transmitting all that information over a network to the system’s core.  In traditional surveillance systems there is a central server where recorded data from peripheral devices is stored and analyzed.  In an edge-based system cameras perform these functions locally.

Why is this pertinent information?  Depending on your specific situation, using edge-based technology can provide more efficient surveillance processes and enhance the overall effectiveness of your security system.  As every situation is subjective, a licensed security systems integrator should always be consulted when determining what type of components will serve your business best.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed security system integrators are committed to providing comprehensive security systems that exceed your expectations.  We have been installing comprehensive security systems at businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for over 25 years.  We know how to assess your security needs and implement relevant technologies that will help keep business running as usual.

Surveillance components that can be considered on “the edge” are IP cameras, video encoders, and network attached storage (NAS) devices.  These devices have recently become more advanced and their capabilities that were once unique to the central server of the security system continue to improve.  According to Steve Gorski, general manager at Mobotix, “Edge-based surveillance solves the bottleneck problem by using the camera to decentralize intelligence and video data.”  This means the cameras themselves are more intelligent and effective.

Edge-based technologies allow for higher image resolutions and the ability to compress them without the loss image quality.  Even with the use of high resolution IP cameras becoming more commonplace, in a traditional system, the images still have to travel to the central server to be stored and typically compressed; this is where image quality can be lost.   Edge technology helps reduce the need for exorbitant storage space on the central server as many edge devices are capable of storing data locally on SD memory cards or NAS devices.  Traditionally these types of storage options were primarily used as backups for the system, but they can now be implemented as the main recording devices in smaller applications.  Cutting down on the need for centralized storage will reduce the need for high bandwidth consumption, ultimately cutting costs.

According to Fredrik Nilsson, general manager for Axis Communications, “It’s estimated today that a staggering 99 percent of all recorded surveillance video is deleted before it’s ever seen.”  How does that make surveillance useful?  It really doesn’t except for use in forensic investigations or after the fact viewing, but with edge-technologies providing intelligence and analytics at the source, detection capabilities increase which creates a more effective system.  With smarter edge devices that can detect patterns, motion, facial recognition, license plates, camera tampering, and people count, you can avoid potential catastrophe that could be caused by deleting recordings to free up space.  These types of analytics provide a platform for real-time viewing that can even be streamed to mobile devices, which are also often considered part of “the edge” realm – the ultimate goal always being prevention and proactive approaches rather than delayed after the fact reactions.

With any technology, “the edge” is a work in progress and will continue to evolve.  It seems edge devices are primarily implemented in smaller applications where the camera need is less than 20.  One of the reasons being a server-based surveillance system can run more analytics per camera because of the CPU power, so the more cameras you have the more processing power you’ll likely need.  For smaller facilities and businesses with remote locations that need surveillance, edge devices are a viable option as they provide real-time analytics, can store footage locally, and don’t require a ton of bandwidth consumption.

At Perfect Connections, Inc. we are committed to providing security system solutions that fit your specific needs.  Our team of licensed integrators has been providing comprehensive security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We realize that just because a new technology is available that doesn’t mean it is the appropriate solution to every problem.  Our integrators work with you to learn your needs and will design a custom system that addresses your subjective security risks.

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 Todd Huffman-Flickr-Creative Commons

Do I Really Need Monitoring?

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 over 25 years. We understand the value our customers place on their business that they’ve worked so hard for; we work to provide the best solutions to fit their specific needs. If you live or run a business in central or northern New Jersey and would like information on any of the topics discussed above, please call 800-369-3962 or simply CLICK HERE.

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

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