Cameras and 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 the past 23 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

Complete Security Systems

CCTV-Wikipedia ImageIn an unpredictable world, one thing is certain, we all want to protect what’s ours.  Whether you’re a business owner or a homeowner, you want to keep safe that which you’ve worked so hard for.  One of the most effective ways to do that is to install a security system.  Well, what exactly is a security system and what makes it a complete security system? Security can be defined as, “the state of being protected or safe from harm,” and system can be defined as, “a group of related parts that move or work together.”  A security system is an assemblage of equipment that helps prevent imminent danger or damage.

As a licensed security systems provider, our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been helping protect homes and businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We believe that complete security systems should not only be a group of working parts, but that it should be comprehensive.  Comprehensive can be defined as, “complete; including all or nearly all elements or aspects of something.”  After decades of installing security equipment we’ve found that a truly comprehensive security system should include some form of access control, fire and burglar alarms, surveillance, and a monitoring service.

Access control is the means by which you limit admission to a specific point of entry.  It’s essentially your first line of defense against unauthorized entrants.  Probably the most conventional form of access control is a standard lock and key.  Today, the lock and key method is either being eliminated or used as a backup to more technologically advanced controls.  Traditional keys when lost or stolen can be easily replicated whereas using readers, fobs (tokens), and sometimes biometrics in combination with a password are more concrete and less susceptible to duplication.

Card and proximity readers are typically placed next to a point of entry and a fob or card that is programmed with the appropriate credentials is used.  The card or fob is either tapped or swiped on or near the reader to gain access. The benefit to using a swipe card or fob is if they are lost or stolen they can be deactivated in the operating system whereas you can’t deactivate a physical key unless you change out the entire lock.  Biometrics, which uses physical credentials like a fingerprint, is similar in the sense that access information isn’t as easily stolen or duplicated.  This type of access control isn’t as widely used today because they tend to be more complex and costly.  However, as technology progresses we may see a rise in biometric applications.

Fire and burglar alarms are critical alerts in potentially life-threatening situations.  Fire and burglary can strike at any given time without warning, wreaking havoc on your business or home.  With burglary occurring every 14.6 seconds and national fire departments responding to an estimated 1,240,000 fires a year (2013), it’s critical to the safety and security of any home or business to implement preventative measures.  Physical structural damage and property loss incurred by a fire or burglary is only part of the aftermath, the emotional and psychological damage is even harder to repair.

In conjunction with burglar alarms and access control, surveillance is essential.  When installed correctly surveillance equipment is not only a helpful crime deterrent, but a useful tool in solving crime.  In the wake of IP (Internet Protocol) and wireless technology, surveillance equipment is no longer limited to hardwired installations.  This increases scalability, flexibility, and ease of installation.  It also helps reduce the cost of installation by not having to pull as much cabling through walls.  Another benefit to having a surveillance system is the potential capability to access footage remotely.  With a plethora of mobile apps at your disposal, you can access your surveillance system to see what is going on at your facility or home when you can’t be there.  Being able to remotely access your security cameras adds a layer of monitoring and convenience that, up until recently, wasn’t widely used or available.

Lastly to complete the effectiveness of a security system you should have an alarm monitoring service.  Without a monitoring service who is going to respond to an active alarm?  If you’re lucky someone nearby will call the authorities, that’s assuming someone is actually near your facility or residence when the alarm goes off.  An alarm monitor can help save you, your family, or your business from potential disaster by decreasing the response time from local authorities and emergency responders.  When an alarm is triggered the monitoring station is instantly notified; they typically try to contact you first, and if they don’t get a response within a given amount of time authorities and emergency crews are dispatched.  This is a particularly beneficial service in the event that you’re out of town or unable to respond in an emergency.  Having an alarm monitoring service can mean the difference between catastrophe and a manageable situation.

A security system is so much more than the equipment that comprises it.  It helps provide protection and life safety in a volatile world. Remember, a system is only as effective as the parts that comprise it.  For a security system to be comprehensive it should include fire and burglar alarms, access control, surveillance, and a monitoring service, at least.  As a security systems expert, Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security solutions to homes and businesses in northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  We understand the importance of mitigating the unpredictable and what it takes to do so.

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 KRoock74-Google-Creative Commons

Are Security Guards Better Than An Alarm System?

Garry Knight-Security GuardYou might think that hiring a security guard or team of security personnel is all you need to protect your business. On the other hand you might think that installing a comprehensive security system is all you need.  The two on their own are no doubt effective in different ways, but are even more beneficial when combined.  However, security guards on their own are limited to their singular entities whereas a security system provides full coverage of an entire specified area, lacking only the immediate physical response that a guard would possibly have.  No protection system is perfect, but there are certain advantages and disadvantages that are unique to each.  As a security system provider our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. believe a comprehensive security system can help businesses avoid potential catastrophes.  We have been securing business facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  Our systems have provided their owners with a peace of mind hard to obtain from anything else.

Pros & Cons: Security Guards

One of the most obvious pros to hiring security guards to watch over your business is their physical presence.  Being there in person allows for an immediate reaction if the need arises.  Having a security guard present at your business also creates a sense of security among employees and customers.  Their physical presence can also act as a crime deterrent making a targeted location less appealing to a thief or criminal.  As a business owner instead of hiring another individual or taking time out of your schedule, security guards can also be assigned to monitor surveillance footage.

What are some of the potential cons?  Unlike a surveillance camera that is constantly keeping watch because that’s its inherent function, humans are not guaranteed to be vigilant 100% of the time regardless of their pay.  To that point, the cost of hiring security personnel can sometimes be a financial burden for businesses.  Costs can vary depending on the type of security guard you’re looking for (i.e. armed or unarmed etc.).  The costs for a security guard can range anywhere from $10-100 per hour.  Knowing  that you hired a reputable guard can be tricky too.  Some guard service companies may not be licensed and this can affect the quality in training, background checks, and insurance of the guards they represent.  To be sure you’re hiring a professional that has a solid background it’s important to use a licensed and bonded guard service company.  Security guards are only human which means they can’t see absolutely everything.  On the other hand security cameras can be set up to cover an entire store or facility so if that shoplifter or thief isn’t caught red-handed, they can be caught on camera.

Overall, hiring a security guard seems to have more pros than cons for many businesses.  However, the human element shouldn’t be the only line of defense for a business.  Incorporating technology is an important and cost effective aspect to safeguarding any business facility.  In fact according to SecurityMagazine.com, “It is at the critical interface of manpower and technology that the greatest cost efficiencies related to security management can be gained.”  While the physical response of a guard is ultimately the desired outcome of any security situation their reaction time and effectiveness would be greatly enhanced with the technological aid of a comprehensive security system.

If a guard were able to monitor what surveillance cameras are capturing via a mobile device versus having to sit in a designated room, their reaction time to an issue would ultimately be quicker.  They would have the security info and alerts they need in the palm of their hand versus having to look or wait for it.  This holds true for an activated alarm, if it goes off, a notification will be sent directly to the guard’s mobile device.  Remote monitoring is a helpful security feature that is becoming commonplace in many comprehensive security systems nowadays.  It makes sense considering our “on the go” society lifestyle.

While no system is infallible a combination of customized security features will help protect any business facility.  Adding the human element of a security guard couldn’t hurt either, just be sure you’re hiring someone reputable.  You might consider combining the two, technology and guards, it really depends on the type of business you operate.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. we believe a customized comprehensive security system can greatly decrease the chances of catastrophe at any establishment.  Our team has been providing expert service to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  Security systems provide a peace of mind you can’t obtain from anything else and they let you get back to what is most important, running your business.

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 Garry Knight-Flickr-Creative Commons

Can I Keep My Camera System On My Office Network?

Network-Norlando PobreWhether you are installing a new surveillance system or changing an existing one you need to consider the type of system and the operating implications associated with it.  The desire for advanced image quality, video analytics, ease of integration, and remote access has ushered in the era of IP (Internet Protocol) surveillance systems.  IP surveillance systems have opened the door to a more integrated security system and they provide increased scalability which is important to company growth and future adaptation.  This type of surveillance system typically relies on an internet network, and as they say “therein lies the rub.”

Should your surveillance system operate on the same internet network as your office computers?  The answer is not a simple yes or no.  The short answer being it certainly is a viable option, but it could depend on the size and type of business you run.  It’s also possible to set up an IP surveillance system on its own network but it may not be cost effective or necessary.  For these reasons it is imperative to consult a licensed security system professional when altering or adding a surveillance system.

When it comes to a company’s network there seems to be some trepidation about how and what devices can and should be allowed on it.  It’s understandable, a company’s network is often a basis for its everyday functions, but where does the worry come from?  A lot of it usually has to do with a communication gap between security integrators and IT professionals or end users.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed experts are able to provide clear and understandable information about the surveillance equipment we implement and how it will affect your company’s network.  We have been providing comprehensive security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  Our team has witnessed and been a part of the migration from mainly analog surveillance to IP.

Let’s discover the common concerns about network devices and how they can be dissolved, but first we’ll review some quick terminology when talking about networks.  LAN, MAN, and WAN are three basic types of networks you’ll likely hear about from integrators and IT professionals.  Local area networks (LANs) are typically found at most small to medium sized businesses as they cover a smaller more specific area.  In all likelihood your company operates on a LAN network.  Metropolitan area networks (MANs) cover a larger area and are usually present in cities and across large campuses.  Wide Area Networks (WANs) provide the most coverage, anything from expansive distances to the whole world.  According to Fredrik Nilsson, general manager for Axis Communications in North America, WANs are often comprised of multiple smaller networks including LANs and MANs.

All networks are comprised of some sort of cabling and equipment such as switches, servers, and hubs.  The most popular type of network configuration used with LANs is called star.  A star configuration allows all network devices to be connected to a central point where if one device crashes the rest will remain in operation.  However, redundancies are typically incorporated to account for the possibility of a central station crash.

Now that terminology is out of the way, what are some of the major concerns one might have when adding surveillance equipment to a company network?  One of the most common is bandwidth consumption.  This often stems from companies that have had to deal with employees streaming or downloading videos via company networks which eats into the available bandwidth.  According to James Marcella, director of technical services for Axis Communications, IP surveillance equipment is wrongly accused when it comes to bandwidth consumption.  He says most IP cameras today can be customized to fit a company’s network and storage guidelines.  To help limit their consumption surveillance can be setup on a Virtual LANs (VLANs) which Marcella says, “prevents video traffic from grabbing the lion’s share of bandwidth.”

Then there’s the ever-present question, “what about hacking?”  In our world where virtually everything is connected through the IoT (Internet of Things), it’s hard not to worry about who can access private information and how that information is being protected.  Having surveillance equipment on the same network as your company computers may seem scary, but in reality, more oft than not, there are procedures in place to prevent hacker access.

When it comes to adding network devices and keeping the network safe authentication protocol and data encryption are key.  According to Marcella authentication protocol protects the network at the physical port level.  If someone were to unplug a network camera and try to plug in their own device, all “traffic” to that port’s switch would automatically be shut down as the foreign device wouldn’t have the proper authorization.  Data encryption is essentially creating a password to your network whether it’s wired or wireless.  This prevents someone from getting into your network or freeloading on your company’s internet.  Encryptions can be highly effective as long as they are not something obvious or easily guessed.

Lastly, network storage is a top concern.  This is often directly linked to bandwidth consumption concerns.  Due to high image quality of IP camera recordings it’s not uncommon for businesses to store video footage for longer periods of time.  Fortunately, with IP surveillance systems you don’t necessarily have to store recordings directly on the network.  For smaller installations there is the option to utilize in-camera storage through internal SD cards (Secure Digital Cards).  Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices and cloud-based systems are other viable options.  In order to determine which method is best for your company an evaluation of camera quantity and storage needs should be conducted.

Whether you are adding a new surveillance system or updating an existing one it’s imperative to consider the impact it will have on your company’s network, if any at all.  Always consult a licensed security system professional as they can help guide you or your IT department through the process from initial assessment to final installation.  Our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  We can help break down the communication barrier that sometimes creates apprehension when installing network devices.

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 Norlando Pobre-Flickr-Creative Commons

How Does an Internet Outage Affect Security?

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 the past 23 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

Emergency Preparedness 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

Important Information for Verizon Customers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Avoid Security Scams

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lesson number one: do your research before signing anything. If you suspect someone of false representation or not having the proper licensing, report it to your local authorities. Be sure you find a security systems company that is not only reputable but knowledgeable. The sophistication and effectiveness of your system is only as good as the experts who provide and install it. For over 20 years Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing custom residential security systems to Northern and Central New Jersey. Our specialists are licensed and understand the complexities of a comprehensive system. We know how to guide you through the process from an initial on site assessment to final installation. Let us help you protect what matters most.

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

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

Hybrid Surveillance

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.

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

Moving To The Cloud

Pattys-photos-cloudsWe’ve all seen those puffy white, wondrous, water vapor creations up in the sky, commonly known as clouds. These natural wonders are not the clouds we’ll be investigating here. Instead we’ll be taking a look at what the “cloud” is in relation to business networks and their security infrastructure.

You may be using the cloud in some form already and not even know it. Think about your everyday, do you use an internet based e-mail account, like Gmail? If so, then you use a cloud based service. So what is the “cloud”? Basically, the cloud takes recorded information and stores it on internet servers. Instead of taking up space on your computer or on a physical storage device your information is accessible via the internet. In our physical world of limited space and the desire to streamline as much as possible, the cloud is helping achieve just that. While it is an exciting technology with seemingly endless applications, it is not without flaw. That being said, its benefits seem to outweigh its imperfections; and with non-stop progression in technology it can only improve with time.

Where does the cloud fit within the security system industry? In security applications today, cloud services are becoming a presence in business video surveillance and access control solutions. As security system components migrate towards a more cohesive integration the need for heavy wiring, cables, and hardware is dissipating making the cloud a more viable option for some. As a licensed security systems provider our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. strives to utilize current technologies that make sense within an organizations facility and their budget. We have been providing comprehensive security solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.

How is a cloud-based security network set up and what are the benefits? In many cases a comprehensive security system is comprised of multiple surveillance cameras, some form of physical access control, fire and burglar alarms, and an alarm monitoring service. Surveillance and access control are the areas where the cloud seems to have the most impact these days.

As end-users and integrators move away from analog and switch to IP surveillance systems the video cameras themselves are becoming more advanced. According to Steve Surfaro, an Axis Communications’ Security Industry Liaison, “Many of today’s network video cameras are actually platforms or small computers, complete with solid-state storage and room for onboard security and video content analysis ‘apps,’ as well as enhanced image processing.” Otherwise, in a cloud environment cameras are linked to a company’s network and record footage that is stored on encrypted internet servers. If you think about it, it’s doing the same thing as a traditional surveillance system would as far as recording data and storing it, it’s just the means of conveyance that differs.

When it comes to access control linked to the cloud the possibilities include, but are not limited to, being able to control door, elevator, and card access remotely from a mobile device. Being able to remotely access a system through a secured network in the cloud opens the door to a world of convenience and efficiency. As surveillance and access control continue to be further integrated through wireless and IP systems, managing them with the cloud will likely become commonplace.

The benefits of using the cloud include reduced infrastructure, low system maintenance, low energy consumption, flexibility, scalability, and almost unlimited storage capabilities (Griffin, Joel-Securityinfowatch.com). It helps eliminate the need to use multiple processes to operate a security system, potentially alleviating pressure on a company’s IT department. This could help cut down on unnecessary manpower costs. And the capability for remote software updates would eliminate the hassle on both the end-user and system integrator.

While there are many benefits to utilizing the cloud for video surveillance and access control, it is not a perfect system on its own; and it may take time before it becomes a pervasive technology. Systems that rely solely on the cloud for recording and storage face some obvious risks. For one, there is the potential for network outages.

According to Pierre Racz, president, CEO and founder of Genetec-a company focused on hybrid cloud solutions-it is likely that you will have network outages with the cloud. However, these outages are estimated to be no more than 4 hours per year. Fortunately there are inexpensive solutions to such an issue. To avoid losing any data a local recording device can be set up to operate for more than 4 hours. Implementing redundancies like NAS (Network Attached Storage) drives will also help eliminate any potential losses created by outages.

The initial cost of a cloud based system may also be a deterrent to end-users. However, Racz points out that the maintenance costs for a cloud-based system are far lower than maintaining the extensive hardware that comes with more traditional systems. Business size is also a factor in the cost. Cost will vary depending on how many cameras, how much bandwidth, and other equipment is required. So while a cloud-based system may not initially make sense for a high-rise office building, it may make sense for a singular business or a company with multiple small locations. Cloud access is another major concern for end-users. The question remains, what is stopping someone from hacking into my network? Industry experts believe this concern can be eliminated based on the high level of encryption used to authenticate users.

Even though there might be a few technical hitches with cloud integration in the security industry today, it promises to be more ubiquitous in the near future. The communication gap between end-users, integrators, and industry professionals on the best way to implement this exciting technology is shrinking. Once the dialogue becomes clearer the cloud has potential to become standard protocol. If you are considering making the switch to a cloud-based system or hybrid solution be sure to call on an industry professional. Our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. can guide you through the process from initial assessment to final installation. We have been providing comprehensive security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992. We’ve been able to adapt our services based on the ever changing technological climate, implementing what is best and makes sense for our clients.

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 Pattys-photos-Flickr-Creative Commons