How Many Megapixels Do I Need?

If you’re in the market for a security system a major component you’re probably considering is video surveillance.  While doing a little research you’ve likely come across a plethora of surveillance options with various technological features.  It may seem like a daunting task to choose the cameras that suit your needs, which is why you should always consult a licensed security systems professional.  They’ll be able to assess the security risks associated with your facility and provide optimal solutions.  Our team at Perfect Connections, Inc. has been providing comprehensive security systems to businesses throughout northern and central New Jersey for the past 23 years.  We understand the process and can help you protect what matters most.  Our experts are knowledgeable in all aspects of security system integration including surveillance.  Whether or not you’ve done your own research it’s likely you’ve heard or come across the term megapixel.  What does that mean in regards to surveillance systems, and what are the advantages/disadvantages?

640px-Definitions_of_TV_standards To understand the relationship between megapixels and video surveillance let’s first figure out what megapixel means.  A pixel is a “picture element residing on the image sensor (in a camera).”  The quantity of pixels helps determine the resolution of an image.  All megapixel cameras have a minimum of 1,000,000 pixels which means the image is comprised horizontally and vertically 1,000 x 1,000 pixels.  In recent years there has been an increased demand for megapixel surveillance cameras over the standard definition cameras widely used in the past.  Standard resolution cameras typically have a resolution of approximately 400,000 pixels.

To get an idea of the difference between image resolutions the picture above shows three variations.  The front image shows a standard resolution of 576 pixels, the middle shows an HD (High Definition) resolution of 720 pixels, and the last image shows an HD 1080 pixel resolution.  While most consider all HD cameras to fall under the megapixel category Raul Calderon, senior vice president of marketing for Arecont Vision, says that HD cameras with a 720 pixel resolution are not technically a megapixel camera as the resolution only adds up to 921,600 pixels.  A major difference between HD and megapixel cameras is HD cameras have to comply with set standards whereas megapixel cameras simply refer to the number of pixels.

A major advantage to investing in megapixel camera technology is the ability to use less cameras to cover larger areas.  With standard definition IP (Internet Protocol) or network cameras coverage is significantly limited and typically requires more cameras and cabling.  Megapixel cameras require less cabling and therefore the cost of labor and cabling is typically less than installing standard resolution cameras.  The ability to digitally zoom-in on an image without losing clarity is another benefit of utilizing megapixel cameras.  Megapixel recordings are clearer than standard resolution cameras therefore more consumers are storing footage for longer periods of time, which can be helpful in solving crimes.  They decrease the need for constant live monitoring as the footage can be revisited with ease.  Other benefits include a long lifespan, they conserve energy, and they are low maintenance.

Megapixel cameras not only benefit the owner but different industries as well.  With more quality recorded footage being stored the more the recording and storage industries will grow.  As megapixel cameras become more ubiquitous, technologies used in conjunction with them will grow and change.  For example the types of video displays and lenses will likely become more developed.  While there are many benefits to megapixel cameras the potential drawbacks include initial cost of installation and the challenge of keeping up with the fast paced technological changes.  Fortunately, as these types of cameras become more widely used their pricing will be driven down.  As far as technological advancements are concerned there will always be changes and improvements it’s a matter of security system experts providing ease of integration and updates.

While you now have a little background on megapixel cameras and their advantages/disadvantages, it’s still imperative to contact a licensed professional for your security needs.  They’ll be able to assess the specific security risks associated with your facility and which products will work best.  Our team of experts at Perfect Connections, Inc. have been providing professional service to businesses and facilities throughout northern and central New Jersey since 1992.  We understand the complexities involved in creating a comprehensive security system that is tailored to your 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 Raskoolish at ru.wikipedia-Google-Creative Commons “Definitions of TV standards” by Raskoolish at ru.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Definitions_of_TV_standards.jpg#/media/File:Definitions_of_TV_standards.jpg

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

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

Are Security Guards Better Than An Alarm System?

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

Pros & Cons: Security Guards

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image Credit: Image by Garry Knight-Flickr-Creative Commons

Can I Keep My Camera System On My Office Network?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How 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

Hybrid Surveillance

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How To Properly Store Surveillance 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

Protect Your Alarm System As Well

Who Watches The Watchmen?System Lock-Yuri Samoilov-Creative Commons

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

But in today’s day and age, just about everything is connected to the internet. In many cases, this includes our alarm system. And like any device that is connected to the internet, if not taken care of properly, it can be at risk of attack from hackers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video Surveillance For Your Business

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

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

Security Camera

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

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

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

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

Image credit: Ricco Security