Proper Maintenance For Functional Fire Alarms

Fire Strobe-Alfonso PierantonioFire is an unpredictable force that can wreak havoc on any business. It is imperative as a business owner, facility manager, or building owner that the proper precautions are in place to help prevent catastrophe. The NFPA (National Fire Protection Association) is a leading advocate in fire prevention and safety. They’ve written numerous codes and standards that have been implemented nationwide. These standards are designed to help reduce the risk and effects of fire. In combination with local regulations, NFPA codes and regulations are what system integrators and contractors have to follow in order to pass inspection from local authorities.

While you no doubt have some sort of fire detection and/or suppression system in operation it’s important to maintain it in accordance with national and local requirements. As a security systems integrator, our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been installing fire alarm systems in business facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 25 years. We specialize in comprehensive security systems that include fire alarms as a major component to a fully functioning system. We do offer maintenance and service contracts helping you preserve a system that will continue to pass annual inspections and work efficiently in the event of a fire.

What goes into fire alarm maintenance? First off, unless you or your staff is trained and licensed, you must hire a licensed technician. This will help avoid accidentally setting off any false alarms which can result in substantial fines. A common starting point, whether the system is fairly new or if you moved into a space with an existing system, is to find out the systems age and maintenance history. The age of a fire alarm system will help determine whether or not components need to be replaced and what type of maintenance might be required.

According to Mike Lohr, director of service marketing for SimplexGrinnell LP, “Systems between five and ten years old may experience component breakdown caused by harsh, but normal, environmental factors. Voltage fluctuations, temperature, and humidity may cause system failure or nuisance alarm problems.” He notes that systems between 5-10 and 10-15 years can provide adequate “life-safety” responses, but those within the 10-15 year marks should be watched carefully. This is even more important if you have a shoddy record of maintenance history as it could have been poorly taken care of in the past.

Aside from knowing the age of your system you have to take any specific regulations the local authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) might have into consideration. While the NFPA provides codes and standards for the nation, the AHJ will likely have their own set of rules that are specific to the area they preside. This means that even if your system meets NFPA standards it may not pass local inspection because of AHJ specifications. For this reason it is imperative to hire experts that are licensed and educated not only in maintenance specific to your system, but national and local requirements as well.

In most cases fire alarm systems must be inspected at least once a year. Some may require a more frequent assessment. It really all depends on the type of business. During an inspection all components of the system will be tested so if something is not functioning properly, it will likely be taken care of at that time. Before an inspection you should notify the building occupants as the alarms will be tested and it gets noisy. Your alarm system company is the one who should contact the alarm monitoring station and local authorities in advance to avoid false emergencies.

Maintaining a functional fire alarm system is key to preventing potential catastrophe. It helps protect not only the physicality of your business, but everything that goes into running your business, i.e. you, your employees, company records, and equipment. If you ever consider cutting corners when it comes to fire alarm maintenance carefully consider the extent of what it might cost you if you do.

While as a business owner you may not need to know all the fine details of what goes into fire alarm maintenance, it is important to have a basic understanding of what you can expect when the time comes. For further information on fire alarm maintenance and inspections check out our related blog post HERE. If you run a business in northern or central New Jersey do not hesitate to call on our licensed technicians at Perfect Connections, Inc.. We have been providing comprehensive security system solutions including fire alarm installation and maintenance since 1992.

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 Alfonso Pierantonio-Flickr-Creative Commons

5G And The Connected Home – Preventing Attacks

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

But in today’s day and age, just about everything is connected to the internet. In many cases, this includes our alarm system. And like any device that is connected to the internet, if not taken care of properly, it can be at risk of attack from hackers. With the upcoming launch of 5G, it is extremely important this year to protect anything connected to your home network.

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Year’s Resolution – Maintain Your Alarm System

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why You Need A Licensed Installer

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

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

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

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

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

Crystal Clear Camera Footage 24/7

When it comes to surveillance cameras, visibility is key.  Some of the obstacles surrounding a camera’s capability to retain clear images such as lighting, camera installation, and type of camera are somewhat within our control, others are not.  Uncontrollable issues of extreme brightness, like light produced from headlights and the sun, or extreme darkness are not necessarily easily overcome.  However, as with anything, technological progression helps change these harrowing limitations.  As industry professionals our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing security system solutions, including surveillance, to organizations throughout northern and central New Jersey for over 25 years.  We’ve seen the impact changing technology has on the equipment we install and how it can be beneficial to our customers.

Surveillance systems are in the midst of a transition from using conventional analog equipment to IP (Internet Protocol).  Why? For one, image quality.  The tricky thing with IP cameras is not all are created equal.  There isn’t necessarily a defined industry standard that is accepted by all integrators and camera manufacturers when it comes to “best” image quality.  For example some might argue that the higher the megapixel count the better, but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee a better image.  At least with HD (high definition) cameras there are standards manufacturers must comply with in order to be considered HD.

Aside from pixel count, an IP camera’s display threshold in extreme conditions is critical, but limited.  This limit, specifically when referring to extreme brightness or darkness, is typically known as “dynamic range.”  Wide dynamic range (WDR), “allows cameras to capture much more detail in scenes where there are varying levels of light, much like the way the human eye ‘processes’ these types of scenes.”  You know the feeling of widening your eyes in the dark to try to see clearer because you’re eyes haven’t quite adjusted yet?  It’s sort of the same idea with WDR cameras and how they adapt in both light and dark conditions.  However, their adjustments aren’t a physical strain and transitions are typically quicker than ours.

WDR footageThe images above show the difference between a parking garage being monitored by a camera with no WDR or WDR turned off on the left, and on the right the same area monitored by a camera with WDR enabled.  The difference is clear as day.  Why do they differ so much?  The camera with the WDR enabled has two internal Charge-Coupled Devices (CCD).  The two devices, or sensors, scan an image at different speeds, one low and one high, the image processor then combines the separate images producing a clearer, more balanced picture with better contrast and lighting.  This process happens quickly enough to produce a stream of clear recorded footage.  There are many different manufacturers that produce these WDR cameras in the market today, and not all of them use the same type of sensor and image processing combinations.  The best way to ensure you are getting the best camera for your specific application is to hire a licensed security systems integrator who is educated in which camera specifications will work best in variant conditions.

WDR technology, like anything else, is not perfect.  Depending on the camera manufacturer, you could end up with a camera that takes up to 15 seconds to adjust with varying light levels.  That doesn’t sound like that long, but it could mean the difference between catching a perpetrator and them getting away.  Another issue you might run into are cameras that don’t have the ability to turn WDR settings on and off automatically.  Without the automation the transition becomes the responsibility of someone on site, which can be time consuming and ineffective in a time sensitive situation.  This is why it is vital to consult a professional security systems integrator who is educated in the differences between product specifications and their appropriate applications.

The clarity of recorded video footage is crucial to the security of any organization.  As a business owner you don’t want to be left wondering why your recordings are grainy, washed out, or so dark they become unusable.  No one can control the external factors that affect an organization, but you can be prepared for them by taking the proper precautions.  Licensed system integrators are there to help.  Our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We recognize the importance of utilizing quality security products that not only perform well but perform to their intended specifications.

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 IQinVision-Google-Creative Commons

Identifying Holes In Security

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

What’s lacking?

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

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

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

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

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

Custom Security and Complete Protection

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: Image by Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s photostream-Flickr-Creative Commons

Prevent A False Alarm, Save A Life

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

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

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

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

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

While false alarms aren’t completely avoidable, you can lessen the chances of them happening to you. Hiring a licensed security system integrator who is knowledgeable and has extensive installation experience is key. Installing a comprehensive security system that includes video surveillance, fire and burglar alarms, access control, and a monitoring service will provide complete coverage and reduce the risk of false dispatches and alarms. At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed professionals have been providing comprehensive security systems to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for over 25 years. Our technicians have the experience and expertise to install security devices and can help educate you on proper usage.

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

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

How Important Is Lighting?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do I Really Need Monitoring?

Traditionally in any monitored security system, the individual security devices are installed by a systems integrator and when an alarm sounds or something looks suspicious a signal, and sometimes a video clip, is sent to a central monitoring station which then either contacts the end-user or the local authorities to initiate an emergency response. This system still exists today and is considered an effective means for preventing disaster and catching criminals. However, in light of recent technological advancement, the end user now has the capability to “monitor” their own property via their mobile device. One has to wonder, how effective can self-monitoring be and could it actually replace a central monitoring service?

Our licensed team of integrators at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992. We have seen how technology can affect not only individual security devices but the system as a whole. There are pluses and minuses to every situation, but its understanding which methods and devices provide the most benefits that make the difference, and monitoring services are no exception.

As a business owner it’s nice to feel in control of your facility and what goes on within it. This is where the idea of self-monitoring comes into play. If you have a security system installed at your facility, it can be set up to send notification directly to your mobile device. This means that when there is a disturbance, maybe an intruder walks in front of a motion sensitive video camera, a video clip can be sent directly to your smartphone or mobile device so you can act. The same is true of a tripped alarm. This all sounds great, right? However, it’s not without its limitations.

One of the major drawbacks of monitoring your own alarm system is failure to initiate an immediate and adequate response. This could happen for a number of reasons. One being your mobile device is turned off or not on your person. Another could be a missed notification. As a business owner you likely have enough on your plate to occupy the full 24 hours of the day, never mind trying to keep an eye on your facility at all times. It’s a feat not likely met by any independent business owner, you have to sleep at some point. Self-monitoring can also become a nuisance, receiving excessive notifications throughout the day. The constant interruption would be enough to drive anyone mad. It’s for these reasons central monitoring services continue to prevail.

The goal of monitoring an alarm system is to create a proactive response versus a reactive one. In the recent past, surveillance footage was primarily being utilized in “after the fact” scenarios where local authorities would try to catch a perpetrator or solve a crime based on recorded footage. Today, with real-time video verified notifications and improving communications, local authorities stand a better chance of catching someone red-handed.

There are essentially four different types of monitoring that can be implemented, including self-monitoring. There’s onsite monitoring which typically consists of paying someone to sit and stare at TVs or computer monitors. According to a study from Sandia National Laboratories the attention span of a person viewing surveillance footage for just 20 minutes will be “significantly diminished.” It’s not a very reliable or economical method to ensure the security of your facility.

Then you have remote monitoring where surveillance footage is monitored off site by streaming footage over the internet to a remote location. However, this doesn’t mean someone will be vigilant 24/7. This could mean streaming it to your home computer and that would only be effective if someone were there to monitor it. Lastly, there’s professional remote video monitoring. This type of monitoring typically employs operators that are trained on how to interact with local authorities and respond to different security scenarios. These types of monitoring stations are typically staffed 24/7.

Professional remote video monitoring is an advantageous service because the operator on duty can interpret live video footage and provide useful information to the local authorities. Information that isn’t necessarily transmitted to a mobile device in a 5-10 sec video clip; things like a perpetrator/s physical description, maybe the license plate or make and model of their getaway vehicle, what the suspect is doing, how many people are present, and whether or not the suspect/s is armed.

This type of monitoring can also help filter our false alarms and fees incurred by false dispatches by validating on site activity with the end user via real-time footage. As the end user you can also request that the operators perform occasional virtual tours throughout your facility or parts of it. These routine surveys of your property would help detect any disturbances but also help in general maintenance of your facility. An operator may notice things like loose wires or a piece of equipment that looks out of place. Depending on your facility’s capabilities, monitoring operators can sometimes interact with suspects or people on site through speakers on a VoIP (voice over internet protocol) system.

While new technology continues to usher in the desire for self-reliance it also fosters further development of security system components and the way monitoring services are able to interact with them. Many industry professionals agree that having a professional monitoring service is still the preferable method of watching over your facility. There’s simply too many holes in trying to self-monitor your own business. According to Simon Morgan, director of Technology, SureView Systems, “The central station remains the first line of defense.” Matthew Riccoboni, director of Marketing, OzVision, says, “There truly is a value in 24/7 monitoring by the central station. Customers like to know someone is keeping an eye on their assets whether they are awake or not.” With a central monitoring station you can rest easy knowing someone is always there to initiate a response.

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

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

Image Credit: Image by Bosch Service Solutions-Google-Creative Commons