Preventing False Alarms

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 the past 23 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

Understanding Wide Dynamic Range

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 the past 23 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

A Security System Customized For You

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 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 the past 23 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

Protecting Your Business In A Shared Building

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 the past 23 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 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.

Cameras and Lighting

West Midlands Police-Infrared FootageNot all surveillance cameras are created equally.  It may seem as simple as selecting a surveillance camera and popping it into place, but what about the external factors that affect the quality of recorded images?  One of the top concerns for industry professionals and end-users alike is a cameras ability to function in the dark or varied light conditions.  Whether you’re using interior or external cameras, their ability to function under varied light conditions is paramount.  Our experts at Perfect Connections, Inc. understand the importance of a surveillance system that doesn’t quit when the sun goes down.  We are a licensed security systems company that has been providing comprehensive security solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Complete Security Systems

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: Image by KRoock74-Google-Creative Commons

Surveillance Footage Monitoring

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 the past 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 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 that 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

Can I Keep My Camera System On My Office Network?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: Image by Norlando Pobre-Flickr-Creative Commons

How Does an Internet Outage Affect Security?

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

Our licensed integrators at Perfect Connections, Inc. understand the importance of security system continuity and one that functions with minimal incident. We have been providing comprehensive security solutions to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years. We specialize in surveillance systems, fire and burglar alarms, and access control solutions. There is no perfect system, but by installing redundancies and planning with prevention in mind, system issues will be few and far between.

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Do You Store Camera Footage?

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 the past 23 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