Securing Multi-Tenant Offices

Office SpaceWe have all seen an office building, whether it’s the 104 floor World Trade Center in New York City or the 5 floor office you work in.  Many of these buildings house a multitude of different businesses.  This begs the question, how do you protect your business when you share a space with multiple tenants?  You don’t know their clientele or who is coming and going on a regular basis, just as they don’t know yours.

The security challenges that face business owners in a multi-tenant office space are diverse as each tenant is providing a different service with individualized needs.  At Perfect Connections, Inc. we have been providing security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for over 25 years.  Our experts understand the security complexities business owners and facility managers encounter on a daily basis, and we can provide an individualized plan specific to your company’s needs.

What security challenges do companies face in a multi-tenant space, and how can they be overcome?

A major challenge for tenants and facilities managers is communication.  As each business within a shared space operates differently, they’re likely going to have different security needs.  These needs should be clearly communicated with the building owner, facilities manager, and security systems provider.  If you’re a business that requires a higher level of secured access into the main building, and your office space, that should be discussed up front.

Often times in a shared building there are already security features in the entrance or lobby.  These areas serve as an initial means of access control, but different business owners may have different desired security restrictions.  For example, the company next door to you might not require a sign-in or check-in with security upon arrival, but maybe your company does.  Why does this matter?  It may affect how you secure your individual office space within the building.  You may not want another company’s client or employee accidentally wandering into your space.  A building owner or manager may have their own set of restrictions for each tenant as well, so having that conversation up front is imperative.  By having your own security in place you lessen the chances of workplace violence and employee theft from unauthorized entrants as well as within your own business.

Providing your employees with an emergency plan or protocol is important.  The buildings facilities manager will likely already have a plan for the entire building that includes alarm testing, drills, and escape routes.  You may be the type of company that wants to run your own emergency drills.  Running emergency drills is a great way to ensure your employees are prepared.  However, when running preparatory drills be sure to inform your neighbors and the facilities personnel to avoid confusion and unneeded chaos.  It might be beneficial to hold a meeting about emergency procedures with the building manager and neighboring company owners to come up with a cohesive plan.  That way you reduce the risk of complete panic if everyone is on the same page.

Construction and renovation within multi-tenant office buildings is not uncommon.  Redistributing space or accumulating office space can pose a security challenge for tenants.  During a renovation your building becomes a host to a multitude of people that you aren’t used to seeing on a daily basis.  This includes construction workers, architects, inspectors etc.  While these people are likely respectable individuals, you don’t know them, and you may not want them accidentally entering your space.

While most would agree a comprehensive security system is better to install during the initial stages of building construction, it doesn’t always happen that way.  In some buildings you may have tenants that opt for an individualized security system after moving in.  When acquiring space, you may run into old or inefficient security systems that do not align with what you might have in your current space.  To ensure your security system is cohesive and efficient you should involve your security systems provider during the initial design phase for the new space.  This will help make sure your current space is protected during the construction phase, and that all components will work seamlessly once completed.  According to Sean Ahrens, a senior security consultant with Schirmer Engineering (in regards to access control and alarm monitoring), “The only way to address those issues is with communication during the design process.”  He’s right, and this concept applies to all security issues a tenant may have.

While securing your business within a multi-tenant space can be complex, the technical side would be covered by your security systems provider.  It’s up to you as the owner to communicate your desired outcome, get the right professionals involved from the start, and to have a vision for how you want your company protected.  Here at Perfect Connections, Inc. we’ve been providing comprehensive security system solutions to companies throughout central and northern New Jersey since 1992.  We provide everything from access controls to video surveillance and so much more.  Our team can assess the risks specific to your business and provide a customized system to help 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.

View Your Cameras From Anywhere

laptop monitor-Intel Free PressWhen you picture a surveillance monitoring station what do you see?  Is it a half awake guard staring blankly at multiple monitors?  If that’s the case you can scratch that image from your mind.  The future of monitoring services is quickly shifting and adapting to our society’s need for streamlined and efficient processes.  As surveillance systems migrate from analog to IP with megapixel network cameras, and our world becomes more and more connected through the IoT (Internet of Things), the desire to access and monitor footage from anywhere increases.  This is where the idea of remote monitoring comes into play.

Being able to remotely monitor surveillance footage from virtually anywhere is a convenience that, up until recently, hasn’t been a pervasive security feature.  It differs from alarm monitoring in the sense that a service representative isn’t necessarily waiting around for an alarm to go off, instead they are actively watching live recordings to catch potential disasters before they happen.  In the past a company would typically hire people to monitor cameras on site, which isn’t always the most economical or effective method.  Today, companies are using off-site monitoring services that have the ability to keep watch over multiple facilities 24/7.  In conjunction with that, business owners have the ability to download apps that allow them to access their surveillance footage at their convenience via a mobile device.

At Perfect Connections, Inc. our experts typically recommend a monitoring service as part of a comprehensive security system to help ensure its effectiveness.  Our team of licensed technicians have been providing security solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for over 25 years.  The technological climate is ever changing and we always do our best to stay on top of relevant trends that will benefit our customers.

Remote monitoring allows an individual or group of users to access surveillance footage through a secured network from virtually anywhere via a smartphone, tablet, computer, or mobile device.  Why is this beneficial?  It can help cut down, or eliminate entirely, the need to have an on-site staff staring at monitors, how effective can that be anyway?  According to Doug Marman, CTO of VideoIQ Inc. and founder of Remote Guarding Alliance, “…humans monitoring video screens grow fatigued to the point of ineffectiveness after only 20 minutes…”  Marman argues that the traditional method of monitoring surveillance is at best a practice in “hindsight” strategy.  Meaning by the time a reaction is made the damage is done or the perpetrator has already escaped.

Marman’s system of remote monitoring using a combination of video analytics and audio over IP, or voice over IP (VOIP), decreases response time and increases the ability to monitor a large quantity of cameras at once.  And in contrast to human attention span, video analytics are “100 percent vigilant.”  Marman illustrates the ability to interact with intruders instantly via audio over IP, citing how quick they are to abandon their criminal attempt when someone is calling them out over a speaker on site.  While audio interaction is an intriguing feature that allows for a virtual presence at all times, it may not be necessary depending on your type of business and your security needs.  What matters most is the ability to react instantly, reduce any lag time in response, and prevent false alarms as they typically result in fines and wasted essential resources.

With response time being one of the top benefits of remote monitoring it can also reduce overall monitoring costs, increase scalability options, and send notifications via e-mail or other media.  While the benefits of a remote monitoring system may eliminate the need to hire on-site staff, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should rely solely on self-monitoring.  If you were to take on the task of monitoring everything yourself, your business could be at risk.  Imagine you’re monitoring from a smartphone, it runs out of battery and you don’t have your charger handy.  What if you misplace your smartphone and miss an important notification?  Think about logistics too, as a business owner even you need to get sleep, you can’t be vigilant 24/7.

Having the ability to self-monitor and view your cameras from anywhere should be looked at as an added layer of security, not your only means of protection.  According to Jerry Cordasco, vice president of operations for G4S Video Monitoring Support and Data Center, “A better choice for remote video surveillance is the use of a professional monitoring facility.”  Having a remote monitoring service provides a virtual presence 24/7 that can access real time footage and initiate the appropriate response immediately.

Security systems can be an effective crime fighters, but what good are they if an alarms goes off and no one is notified or made aware?  What good is a surveillance system that no one is monitoring?  You might get lucky and capture a license plate number that could eventually lead you to the perpetrator after the fact, but by that point the damage has been done.  The goal of a remote monitoring service is to provide timely and accurate responses to disturbances on site.

As a security systems provider, our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. understands the importance of immediate action.  Mere seconds can be the difference between prevention and disaster.  We have been providing comprehensive security system solutions, which include monitoring services, to facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  Every business has different security risks, which is why we tailor our solutions to fit your 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 Intel Free Press-Flickr-Creative Commons

Forget About Keys – Using Smartphones To Unlock Doors

Access-ErvinWe use our smartphones and other mobile devices for many functions in our daily lives. It’s almost impossible to go through an entire day without seeing someone tapping, scrolling, or swiping through their phone, never mind using your own phone. We’ve created a mobile environment where convenience lies in the palm of our hands.

Technological progression has taken us so far in a short amount of time; we can pay our bills on our phones, we can chat with someone a world away, we can make everyday purchases, and now they can be used as an extension of our security systems. In particular as a means of access control and authentication in commercial applications using near field communication (NFC). According to Jeremy Earles, Readers and Credentials Portfolio Manager for Allegion, NFC technology, “provides simplified transactions, data exchange and wireless connections between two devices that are in close proximity to each other…” This is essentially the same technology you may have seen advertised by Samsung where two phones can be tapped together to share information, see HERE.

At Perfect Connections, Inc. our team of licensed professionals provide comprehensive security system solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey. We have been helping a wide range of businesses secure their facilities for over 25 years. As with any technology, progression in the realm of security components shows no signs of slowing. At Perfect Connections we realize it is our responsibility to stay on top of these changes and provide our clients with solutions that are current but practical as well.

NFC technology is an exciting new venture in access control applications. However, it has yet to become as ubiquitous as traditional access controls like key fobs, swipe cards, and proximity readers. NFC access works by allowing your employees and authorized users to utilize their mobile device, likely their cellphone, as their access credential. The user’s phone would have an embedded NFC chip that would wirelessly receive an authorized credential from an administrative control. This process can be similar to how you would download an app or retrieve information stored in a cloud service; or it could be easily managed by plugging the phone into an administrative device via a USB cord. Once the phone has the proper credential it can be used in the same fashion as a fob or proximity card, simply tap the phone or be within range of a reader that will grant or deny access. Imagine the convenience!

With 5.9 billion, or 87% of the world’s population, being mobile subscribers it’s no wonder NFC technology is creating buzz among end users and security integrators alike. Of those mobile subscribers 91% keep their phone within and arm’s length throughout the day and night. It only makes sense that phones would become part of integrated security protocols. With younger generations the desire for new and streamlined processes is endless, especially for those now entering the workforce. They don’t want to be bothered with having to search through their pockets or purses for badges or fobs when their phone like an extension of their hand. While NFC technology may not be the universal method for access control yet, the case for it exists today.

One of the many benefits NFC technology offers is no longer having to print or buy new ID badges which can be costly and time consuming. It also allows you to change credentials on and as needed basis. This would be helpful if you have a contract or temp worker who needs provisional access. You would simply send or upload a temporary credential to their phone and when their job is done you can delete access from the administrative network.

According to Ron Oetjen, president of Intelligent Access Systems (IAS), NFC technology saves money by not having to replace lost or stolen card credentials. Oetjen argues that security may be even better when using smartphones than cards or fobs considering how obsessively people guard them, and the fact that in order to use it as a credential the phone first has to be unlocked using a PIN or biometric identification. So many companies already employ a BYOD (bring your own device) policy at work that the transition would be easy for the user. If a phone is lost or stolen it can be remotely tracked, disabled, and/or wiped preventing an unauthorized user from gaining access.

Like any other developing technology, NFC is not perfect and consumer perception is still evolving. There are some businesses that don’t want to lose the traditional ID badge that displays a photo of the user for security reasons. The issue of existing security infrastructure can be tricky too as it may require the removal and reinstallation of new system components which adds cost.

Aside from NFC, one of the easiest ways to integrate a smartphone with your access control system is with Brivo. Using Brivo’s OnAir pass, unlocking a door is as simple as opening an app and tapping a button.

The world of security systems is constantly evolving. This requires integrators and end users to be aware of changes that will affect and potentially enhance their systems. NFC technology is an exciting addition to the access control component of a security system that will likely become more ubiquitous in the coming years. It will provide a new level of security and convenience that has yet to be fully realized. At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed integrators are constantly educating themselves on changes in the industry and how they may benefit our clients. We provide comprehensive security systems that include access controls to businesses and facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey, and have been doing so since 1992. Our experts will help guide you through the process from an initial security assessment to final installation, implementing technologies that are not only effective but make sense for your specific situation.

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 Ervins Strauhmanis-Flickr-Creative Commons

Protection During Network Outages -How It Works

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where Is Your Footage Stored?

Surveillance playSAN-Dennis van Zuijlekoms a vital role in any comprehensive security system. It helps authorities catch criminals and provides helpful insight into your business operations by collecting and analyzing data on a daily basis. Where and how is all of this visual and analytical data being “collected?” That is the ever pressing question for system integrators and end-users alike. Storing surveillance data can be as important to the efficiency of your security system as having the surveillance equipment itself. We are catapulting ourselves into the future with the constant evolution of technology in all aspects of life including security system components, and surveillance storage solutions are no exception, but not all are created equal.

At Perfect Connections, Inc. our licensed integrators are dedicated to providing comprehensive security system solutions that protect people and property. We have been installing security systems at business facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey for over 25 years. Our team designs system solutions that meet the needs specific to your organization. Surveillance storage is a security system component that will vary project to project and should be treated with an individualized approach.

In the not so distant past, video recordings weren’t as advanced as they are today in terms of image resolution, clarity, and noise distortion. Recordings would often be deemed unusable due to their lack of clarity and they would typically be discarded freeing up storage space for new recordings. Today, with the advent of IP cameras (internet protocol) and more advanced camera technology the recordings have become critical data sources that are considered valuable. This means more and more end-users are interested in keeping recorded data for longer periods of time. The obvious consequence is the need for more storage space.

There are many factors that affect what kind of surveillance storage solutions can and should be implemented at a facility. The size of the project, existing infrastructure, and client budget are all critical determinants as to what type of storage should be implemented. The camera type, camera quantity, compression standards, frame rates, motion detection, desired length of storage, and overall estimate of desired resolution all should be taken into account as well.

When it comes to storing surveillance data it is paramount that the integrity of the footage is not lost. Traditionally surveillance footage would be stored on a DVR (digital video recorder), but it’s limitations within a networked system make it less than ideal. With so much of the surveillance world developing around IP and network solutions it’s only natural that network storage solutions should arise. NAS (network attached storage), SAN (storage area network), and DAS (direct attached storage) are all potential methods for storing surveillance data. All have different installation requirements. Some may call for extensive cabling and a large closet to store servers, but it all depends on the size and type of project. According to Justin Schorn, vice president of product management for Aimetis, “The critical decision is choosing between a storage area networks (SAN) and network attached storage (NAS).”

The different storage devices vary in how they present information to the user and how data is accessed. The NAS devices present data in a “file system” same with DAS, whereas SAN is presented in what is referred to as “block storage.” DAS and NAS either attach directly to an existing network or the NVR (network video recorder). SAN is essentially an extension of a DAS, but provides a higher storage capacity.

DAS is typically implemented in situations when expansion is not an option, the system performance requisites are static, and shared access is not necessary. The reason being is DAS devices are limited to singular DVR or NVR applications. SAN solutions are typically used in larger camera applications that may later require scalable options. According to Lee Caswell, founder and chief marketing officer at Pivot3, “Many archivers can share the storage and the SAN platform introduces more reliability over NVR/DVR systems because there is no single point of failure.” Common applications for SAN storage include airports, casinos, and prisons.

NAS devices are typically used in smaller surveillance applications as its performance isn’t as robust as SAN. One of the advantages to NAS solutions is data can be easily accessed by anyone on the same protected network. Lee says, “The advantage of the file system on the NAS platform is that it is easier to support a hybrid storage case as some storage occurs locally on self-contained NVRs/DVRs and extended storage is sent to a specific file on the NAS.”

Keeping high quality recorded data for longer periods of time can help local authorities with investigations and it can provide insight into your business that you otherwise wouldn’t observe. While storing recorded footage from your surveillance system is critical to your overall security, it’s important to remember that the type of storage necessary will vary depending on the project parameters. It is imperative to work with a licensed security system integrator to help evaluate security risks, the quantity of cameras needed, and how a surveillance storage system can be implemented to meet your requirements. At Perfect Connections, Inc. we are committed to providing security systems that suit your specific needs. We have been designing and installing comprehensive security systems at businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey 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 Dennis van Zuijlekom-Flickr-Creative Commons

The Connected Home

Home Automation Image-PC websiteWhen it comes to home security systems, you may have heard the phrase “interactive services.” You may have even heard the terms “home automation,” “connected home,” and “smart house.” What do they all mean, and how are they related to home security? They’re meanings are essentially the same, and in relation to security, they describe the ability to remotely interact with, and access, devices in your home by means of a mobile device or computer. If you have a comprehensive home security system, you likely have cameras, motion detectors, door and window sensors, fire and carbon monoxide detectors that communicate with a central control panel located in your home. Being able to connect and interact with these security features from a remote location is beneficial for a multitude of reasons. Cameras and motion detectors aren’t the only devices you can access from afar. Imagine being able to adjust the temperature in your home before you get there, or turning lights on and off, even opening or closing your garage door. In partnering with Alarm.com, Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing these interactive service options to homes in Central and Northern New Jersey for years. Our team of licensed professionals can help you customize a security system that will connect you to the inner, and sometimes outer, workings of your home.

How Does It Work?

First, you have a home security system installed with all of the sensors, cameras, and detectors that you and your security systems specialist customized. In order to access the full functions of your remote services you must have an interactive service plan with a company like Alarm.com. After that, you simply download their app on your tablet, smartphone, computer, or other mobile device, and you’ll have total home control at the tips of your fingers.

There are basically two ways a home can become “connected.” Wireless or hardwired. The trends of our progressive society tend to make everything more technological, therefore, many security systems are being installed wirelessly with cellular backup. This eliminates the need to cut holes in walls and have dangling or exposed wires. Wireless technology is particularly favorable if you own an older home where breaking open walls isn’t an option. The same technology that works for our cellphones and Bluetooth devices can now be implemented in the home. More and more homeowners are leaving landlines in the past and switching to cellular devices anyway, making the connected home a smoother integration. A hardwired system does required cabling, however, it has been in use for a longer period of time, and proven to work. Some home automation systems use a combination of both wireless and hardwired technologies. To determine what type of system is right for your home, hiring a professional to perform a full assessment is your best bet.

What Are The Capabilities?

Home Automation-from our websiteDepending on how many, and what kind of devices are connected to your system, your operating choices are seemingly endless. By using the mobile app, you can gain access to the security cameras inside and outside your home to see what is happening throughout the day. Certain motion detectors can be set up to send you snap shots of specific areas and activity in your home. Your system can be set up to notify you when you kids arrive home from school, if you’re not able to be there. The ability to adjust your thermostat and turn lights on and off is a common feature. Check-in on loved ones and/or pets throughout the day. Having interactive services as part of your comprehensive security system will alert local authorities to any disturbances at your home while simultaneously alerting you on your mobile device.

Why Is It Beneficial?

Controlling and accessing various devices in your or a loved one’s home is advantageous for a multitude of reasons. One of the most obvious benefits is that it provides peace of mind on a constant basis, knowing you’ll instantly be notified of what matters most to you. Being able to remotely adjust your thermostat and turn lights on and off will lower your utilities bill and inadvertently help you waste less energy. Remote access is extremely convenient, you have control in the palm of your hand at all times, as long as your device is charged. Having remote capabilities will save you time by not having to rush home last minute to adjust appliances or unlock doors for pet sitters, family members, or scheduled visitors. With services provided by Alarm.com alerts and access don’t have to stop even when your system is unarmed. The functions of your home become more efficient.

Utilizing a connected home system is a great way to help your loved ones maintain their independence, but also ensure their safety. Specific features allow you to make sure a family member is moving throughout the day, not leaving potentially dangerous appliances on, and you can activate or deactivate their alarm system for them if they forget. Maybe a family member uses an emergency response pendant (like Life Alert) which requires them to take action. But what if they can’t? Services provided by Alarm.com simplify their life and yours by not requiring personal action in case of an emergency. It’s a non-invasive approach to protect your family.

Whether you’re considering the Connected Home for the first time or it has been on your to do list for a while, don’t hesitate, contact the security professionals at Perfect Connections, Inc. for an in home assessment. Our team knows the safety of your home is paramount in the protection of your family. We have been providing service to Northern and Central New Jersey for decades, so you can be confident in our security knowledge and expertise.

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.

Planning For Emergency For Businesses

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

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

What is your plan and why do you need one?

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

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

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

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

How does having a security system affect emergency situations?

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: Image by Creative Commons

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.