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

Would You Still Be Protected If Your Network Went Down?

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 and 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

Bridging The Gap From Analog to IP Cameras

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Emergency Preparations for Businesses

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

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

What is your plan and why do you need one?

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

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

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

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

How does having a security system affect emergency situations?

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: Image by Creative Commons

Custom Systems For Your Specific Needs

As we all know, every business is different. Each business has its own unique challenges when it comes to ensuring complete protection and safety. Unfortunately, we’ve seen numerous examples of people believing they were protected by “one size fits all” systems, when all they really do is provide a false sense of security. This year, one out three businesses will go bankrupt from theft. More than $3 billion dollars in damages will be assessed from business fires Are you able to take the risk that a cookie-cutter system will be able to defend against all the unique problems you face in your day-to-day business?

There are a number of factors that must be taken into account when designing a security system that works for your business. What are the local ordinances and laws that require compliance? How many employees do you have? What other types of buildings surround your business? Hospitals can require certain types of security systems, while manufacturing facilities will require a completely different system.

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Many larger security companies are willing to give you a quote on a security system sight unseen. We’ve seen so many problems arise because of this. Many times, these systems won’t work when you need them to – an incident won’t be recorded because a camera was not pointed the right way, or storage was full. Vulnerable entrances left unprotected. Valuable property not monitored properly. There is often fine print that will lock you in to high cost monitoring for extended periods of time, coupled with pricey charges if you need to end your contract early.

Surveillance systems are not the only part of a comprehensive security system though. At Perfect Connections, we believe a complete security system also includes fire protection, access control, burglar alarms, and carbon monoxide detectors, along with 24 hour monitoring. Fire alarm codes differ from town to town. Each company’s access control needs will be different. Burglar alarms and carbon monoxide detectors add important layers to any security system, protecting your property and employees.

With today’s technology, these systems can not only be monitoring 24 hours a day remotely, but can also be viewed with any smartphone or computer. Automatic notifications can be sent to alert you when something at your business happens. Climate controls can be set remote to help save costs on heating and cooling.

When you’re looking to install or upgrade a security system at your business, remember to make sure you’re getting a system that fits the needs and challenges your business faces on a day to day business. While a cookie cutter system may be a bit more affordable than a custom security system, the extra protection and peace of mind you get from knowing that your security system is tailor-made for your business is well worth the investment.

Protecting Your Business With Video Surveillance

Video surveillance systems can be beneficial for a number of reasons. They are often installed to prevent burglaries and vandalism, but can also be used to promote neighborhood or office safety, in addition to increasing peace of mind if used in a home environment. When installing a video surveillance system, whether it is for your home, your office, or for any other setting, there are a number of things to consider. First, you need to think about the area that you want to keep any eye on, as well as the type of surveillance system and cameras you want. All of these factors will help you to decide what kind of system is best for your situation.

The first question you want to consider is how many cameras do you think that you will need? Think about the size of the property you are looking to protect, and the perspective that a camera will you give you in various locations. Additionally, you need to consider what the areas are that you want to cover. If there are outdoor areas, you need cameras that can stand up to weather, whereas for an indoor setting you would not need to look for weatherproof options, which can often be more expensive. You also need to consider the time of day that you will be using your system: daytime, nighttime, or both. All of these factors play will play into your decision about what kind of camera you will need.

Security Camera

After deciding what types of cameras you need for your space, you will want to think about the specific places that you want to have your cameras to be that will give you the best and widest ranges of visibility. These places will likely be at entrances and exits to the building, near garage doors, and by exterior or unattached buildings. If the video surveillance system is for a place of business, you will likely want to consider what areas typically have high traffic, and target these areas for camera installation.

Something else to consider when thinking about a video surveillance system is how you want to set up your data storage system. There are many options where you can save video footage onto a hard drive, and other options that save to this data into a cloud for storage. Along with this you will want to consider how much storage you think you will need. This will depend on two factors that affect the amount of data your system will use: both the quality of videos, and how long you plan to save video footage for. One final thing to consider is whether you will want to have access to a camera’s live feed, or if you will only want to be able to go back and look at footage when necessary. This will also contribute to the amount of storage space you’ll need, as well as help you to determine if your system will need the capability to connect to the Internet. This will also help you to determine if you want to have an analog camera, or an IP camera.

Once you have thought through this criteria and made decisions about what you think will work best for you and your space, you will be ready to look for a video surveillance system!

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: Ricco Security

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.”

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

Using Edge Technology To Protect Your Home Or 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 the past 23 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