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Intercoms are everywhere

Think of all the places where intercoms are used:  at the drive-through for lunch, "buzzing" a friend's apartment or listening to the specials while you shop at the market.

Pictured above is an Aiphone brand intercom with a video function

We may not always equate intercom with security, but it sure plays a vital role in making our premises safer.

How about outside the doors of an elementary school?  In the "sallyport" of a prison?  Or at the security desk of a governmental office?  Now that sounds more like security.

Have you ever been "buzzed in" by a guard or other professional and considered how important that function is to the security of a building or did you just proceed without much thought?  Don't worry, many of us have.

Getting the most of your intercom system

To achieve maximum security effect, intercoms can be combined with other functions such as video surveillance, for instance.

In fact, security integration makes it possible for a "pan, tilt and zoom" camera (often wide angle) to swivel and focus in on a person who wants to enter a building after they press the button to speak outside the door.  This, in turn, makes it possible for the person inside the building to verify the person's identity, and just as importantly, it records their image for future use if necessary.

Video also allows for the employee granting access inside to make sure that an additional unauthorized entrant isn't "piggy backing" and entering with the original person.

IP-based video, combined with intercom, allows the image to be placed onto the network.  So if a security or reception desk isn't manned, a person as far away as another city can grant access by being able to see the video via the network.

Parlay the prevalence of cell / mobile phones into efficiency

Not only can intercom be integrated with other security platforms such as video, it can be used more effectively with phones.

For instance, with a cell phone instead of a call box receiver, a security guard doesn't have to be in one fixed place at all times.  He or she can grant access while on a mobile patrol.

And with video integrated into this security guard scenario, he could also allow access to an individual without having to dispatch personnel to do so, thereby saving time and resources--especially on larger premises.

Intercoms have many ancillary yet important functions as well

Companies like Aiphone manufacture devices that have intercoms with built-in card access readers and access control keypads.  This reduces space required on the same wall outside a door, for instance, and allows each system to operate independently.

Another security function for intercom is for public address purposes -- in an emergency situation.  People need to be warned, directed where to proceed and given vital information en masse.  And zones can be created to broadcast a message which is directed to a specific location.

Nurse call stations at hospitals, retirement communities and more are yet another use for intercoms.  Just think of the vital role they play when a patient needs urgent care or when one station needs to request meds or charts immediately from another.

So we hope you can see the important role intercoms play in security, not just to order lunch at a drive-through.  So whom do you contact if you have questions or would like an intercom system installed?  How about your security company?

 

Thanks for spending some time with us today.

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We've posted previous blog articles about access control that explained how beneficial it is versus simply using lock and key.  For instance, you would be able to establish "audit trails" and track who in your company entered what areas.

Pictured above is a biometric access control reader (card and finger combination)

You would also be able to restrict certain areas of your building to certain levels of employees, while allowing access to others...and have your doors unlock and lock automatically in the morning and evening respectively.

We've also written about the different types of access cards and fobs.

Today, we'd like to get into a little bit of the "in's and out's" of access control--how it actually works...what it actually is.

We hear the term all the time.  "Access Control".  One Source Security & Automation has been installing and servicing access control systems in New Hampshire, Massachusetts and beyond since the early 90's. 

But what is access control?  Some may classify it as a fence with a gate or a lock and key on a door, while others may determine it to be a more advanced biometric (fingerprint or retina-reading) system at a high-security government office.

With most access control systems that a security integrator installs, at a minimum three main components must exist:  a credential, a reader and an electrified lock.

The credential is typically a card or fob that you either swipe or hold in proximity to the reader.  With biometrics, it would be your fingerprints or retina that is presented, for example, sometimes in combination with a card.

The reader is often a black square or rectangle box, made mostly of plastic, attached to the wall located next to the doorframe.  The reader is connected to the electrified lock which is released when the credential is presented at the reader--a light will illuminate in most cases.

The electrified lock is often referred to as a strike.  Security integrators, electricians and locksmiths will install it in doorframes.

But when there is a set of glass doors with no frames, a magnetic lock, or "mag" lock, can be used.  This will typically be located at the top of the door, as opposed to where the door handle is located when an electric strike is used.

Sometimes, such as with a storefront, there will be a glass door with a frame and the owner will want to provide extra security.  He or she will want to prevent a thief from "bowing" the middle of the door and frame to gain entry (while the top is secured by the mag lock). 

In this case, they will also have their security company install an electric strike in the middle of the door's span to provide double protection.

If power goes out, not only will the electric strikes not function properly, but also the magnetic locks won't secure.  Battery back up is a must.  Since some outages outlast the life of batteries, it is strongly recommended to have a physical lock and key to use.

We hope this article on the ABC's of access control helped a little.  Thanks for spending some time with us today.

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You've seen it in the movies, and hopefully that's the only place.  A scary film where a frantic babysitter is about to fall victim to a villain who has cut the phone lines to the house.  She continuously slams the phone receiver to no avail while trying to call the police as she quivers in the corner awaiting her fait.

Well it happens when thieves want to get around your security system as well.  It doesn't take the most keen sleuth in the world to locate your phone lines and doesn't just happen in the movies.  If it were to occur, it would most likely happen when you're not at home, but of course you could be home and this could turn into a real and serious scenario.

Since most people invest in a quality alarm system with monitoring they can count on, it simply makes sense to protect against it being rendered ineffective by a simple cutting of lines.  You wouldn't want to waste an entire system by not taking any preventative steps.

3 Ways to protect against getting your phone lines cut

1.  Fit your line with conduit.  Have a qualified professional fit your lines with hard plastic or metal pipe so they can't be cut.

2.  Run your phone line inside your house.  Have the portion of the line that continues after it meets your house run indoors so a thief can't cut it.

3.  Add radio back up.  The radio back up, sometimes referred to as cellular back up or cell/radio back up, will be mounted in your house near your security panel, or wherever it gets the best reception, such as in the attic.

Due to cell phone dominance, it is becoming common for people to not even use their home phone and to rely on their cell phones primarily at their residence.

In this case, the cell / radio option could be the primary communication out of the security system panel to notify a central station of any alarm event.  However, security companies would not be able to "dial in" to the customer's security system panel if a radio back up is the only form being used.

Also, if radio communication is the primary source, then the customer would not be able to "remote" into his or her own system for functions such as watching a family pet on a smart phone (remote video monitoring).  So it is wise to have radio back up be just that ... back up.

If you don't use your phone lines, than you can use your internet connection, mostly provided by cable nowadays, as your primary connection--this can be dialed into by your security company.  This makes it possible for them to make programming changes remotely to your panel instead of having to make service visits each time.  Radio back up can still be added in this case for safety.

It requires only a low monthly payment to add radio back up to your security system.  You may want to consider this after taking the effort and resources to install a system which you rely on to protect your family and belongings. 

Thank you for spending some time with us today. 

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1. Have a locksmith do a free survey of your doors and door hardware

Ask your locksmith if they do free surveys (inspections) of your doors and door hardware.  It only makes sense that you’d want to first ensure that the doors you’re about to invest in are structurally sound.

Pictured above is a Yale 51 Series door closer.

Some may just need a hinge replaced or you may decide you want to install a door closer on a door (or have a closer replaced).  Safety issues may also exist such panic bars not working properly on other doors.

2. Making the decision to move away from keys

Are you still using keys?  Save time by no longer needing an employee to unlock and lock all doors at the beginning and end of each day, and to be called throughout the day for let-ins.  Have the doors auto-unlock and lock at certain times.

Also, when you convert to a card access system from keys, you save on cost of re-keying and lock changes every time an employee loses his or her key.

Speaking of saving money, if you are currently using badging for employee identification, you can use the badges for access control also.  It is possible switch to an HID format badge, for instance, and print the necessary employee and company information on the card.

3. Choose a provider who can accommodate potential growth

If you’re at a site with only a few doors and you only want to install a reader on one for now, you can take that course and still have the capacity to install another card reader in the future on additional door(s) without having to purchase another panel. 

Or a larger company may have not only several doors, but several locations—nationwide…all on the same system.  And it can all be streamlined in terms of the software. 

For example, the administrator may be located in California while the corporate server is located in Boston, MA.  With sites all across the country, he only needs access to the Raleigh, NC office, so he simply accesses that site directly on the software instead of having to deal with a nationwide tree.

Make sure your security integrator can accommodate the particular part of this spectrum that your company happens to be on.

4.  Learning about features that suit your needs

You most likely need to create areas of your premises that are accessible to certain levels of staff and administration, but not to others.  This is easily achieved using software or web-based programming that comes along with access control systems.

You’ll also need to set time zones—specific times each day when a door or set of doors automatically lock and unlock.  Having the ability to set holiday access parameters is a must also.

And very important is the ability to remove access, sometimes immediately, of an employee who may have just been terminated and is disgruntled.

Of course the inherent benefit of a constant audit trail exists if an event occurs anywhere, since you’ll be able to determine who gained access to that area and at what time.

5.  Is biometrics right for you?

Biometrics is gaining in popularity and can be an effective part of your overall access control system.

For instance, your company could be predominately outfitted with traditional card readers, yet certain areas of high importance could have biometric readers applied to them.

The benefit?  No one else can gain access except for the designated person so there is no need to worry about someone else using your card to gain entry to these areas if were misplaced. 

This is because biometrics reads your fingerprints, iris, etc. and removes the above possibility.

So don’t just think about possible expansion of the building your in, but your company’s potential multi-site growth.  There are plenty of security integrators who can walk hand in hand with your company along the way to a more secure facility.

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With the challenging economy, damage from a security breach can be debilitating.

While there is some overlap between residential security systems design and that of commercial security systems, to ensure that a business has a sound foundation of security, it needs to take a few different approaches in design and implementation.

Below are eight areas where business owners could concentrate when considering commercial security systems.

1) Protect your perimeter.  This can be done in several ways.  First and foremost, you can have a locksmith survey conducted.  It makes sense to ensure all doors and door hardware are secure before you begin to add security measures to them.

Continuing with the perimeter, you can add contacts to the windows and doors.  They will set the alarm off when anyone separates the contacts by opening a door or a window.

Motion detectors can also be installed on the exterior.  This is a difficult choice for many business owners since they don’t want alarms tripping simply because a random person was walking through the property innocently.

But if it’s a highly contained area where no one should be, then motion detectors are suitable and you’ll want to be warned of any activity. 

2) Video makes a huge impact in the commercial marketplace—not only on potential thieves, but on customers with bad intentions and on dishonest employees also. 

Businesses specifically benefit from license plate recognition cameras.  Infrared cameras and low light security cameras (which work differently than infrared) are important also since often there are no employees present at night. 

Specialization such as megapixel technology for greater clarity, and in many cases the need for fewer overall cameras, should be taken advantage of.  For instance, for coverage of a parking lot, a 180 degree megapixel camera can be placed up against a building to cover the adjacent lot.  It can take the place of up to four analog cameras and provide more clarity.

Another effective use for video with businesses is remote video monitoring.  Managers and owners are able to train employees, have an impact on customer service, etc.—all from any distance away…and it saves valuable fuel costs and driving time. 

3) Beware of environmental threats.  Server rooms can become overheated and valuable equipment can be affected.  Temperature monitors can solve this problem.

Use water detection devices to protect equipment and files from floods and leakages.  Speaking of leaks, in warehouses, use moisture detection to prevent oil and chemicals from becoming large-scale spills from tanks—catch it while it begins to drip.

4) In terms of access control, for one thing, you may want to make sure you’ve evolved from the traditional hard key.  If you haven’t, no worries, you’re not alone.  Talk to a security integrator about the benefits of keyless entry.

These benefits include being able to identify which employee entered a certain area at a certain time—to create audit trails.  You can also restrict certain areas of the facility to certain levels of employees.  Software or web-based operation also allows you to immediately lock out an employee if he or she becomes disgruntled, for instance.

Also with access control comes biometrics.  Instead of using a key card or fob as in the instances above, the credential used is a feature of one’s own body—such as a fingerprint.  Financial and bioscience firms, as well as government agencies are among the entities that use biometrics.  One benefit is that no one else can use a lost access card to enter and have it appear as if it were someone else.

5) Intercom is often placed on the outskirts of a security system in terms of the major components, but it is truly essential.  A gatekeeper can prevent trouble from occurring with the use of a video phone intercom system by asking for proper ID, for example.

6) Duress buttons are sometimes overlooked with commercial security systems.  But with reception desks at hotels and hospitals, and with tellers at banks for example, it is easy to see how having a button under a desk that has a direct connection to the police could literally be a life saver.

7) Other devices that are not always installed but have great importance are Glass break detectors.  They especially apply in commercial security systems because so many office buildings have much glass making up their exterior.  Glass runs from corner to corner and there are glass foyers and glass doors. 

These alarms are designed to trip upon the sound of breaking glass.  So if the window or door isn’t opened, then the contacts will never come into play—you’d need to rely on glass breaks (or motion detectors of course).

8) We saved integration for last—by definition, it ties things together.  It’s not necessarily a component, but a quality commercial security system uses integration.

For instance, a company can integrate its access control system and video surveillance.  To save time and resources, when you need to find an event on the DVR of a certain person entering the building, you would quickly find him via his access card entry instead of having to search the DVR recording visually which would take much time.

These are just eight components of a quality business security system—not the only eight—but each has great importance.  We hope this adds value to your situation and provides talking points for you when you have discussions with your security systems integrator.

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As security integrators, we often deal with issues such as selecting and installing license plate recognition cameras that are specific to that function, instead of those that are more common security cameras which happen to also “see” license plates.

Some may think that since a security camera is high resolution that it is automatically ideal for license plate recognition, but there are specific functions built into a camera that make LPR possible.

Pictured above is a police license plate recognition camera.

Law enforcement officials also deal with a subject where many have a certain sentiment about license plate recognition, albeit much more controversial.

At heart is the debate over whether or not license plate recognition cameras used by police are an invasion of privacy.

It is clear that they benefit the public at large by keeping the streets safer.  They do this by scanning the streets and detecting stolen cars, serious criminals, expired registrations and more.

In fact, they can handle hundreds of license plates a minute with vehicles traveling at highway speeds.  The plates are fed back into a database, usually state and federal, as well as local of course.

Then what’s the down side?  Why are groups like the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) up-in-arms about people’s right to privacy?

Much of it has to do with uncertainty.  Uncertainty causes stress in many situations and when it is removed, things tend to become more reasonable.

The uncertainty in the case of license plate recognition stems from questions such as: What are law enforcement agencies doing with the license plates and information of the innocent, law-abiding citizens they gather, and how long is the information kept?

One specific concern, brought to light in a piece by Vermont Public Radio this past May 31st, was the possibility that an estranged spouse could file a Freedom of Information request and get vital information on a completely innocent person that otherwise wouldn’t have been available.

So it’s not just “on principle” that opponents of license plate recognition voice their opinion—there are practical applications.

And there are practical applications, cited above, that help law enforcement keep our streets safer.  So you may be able to see why this is such a divisive issue. 

In fact, police say that they already perform the functions of license place recognition, even without the equipment—just at a slower rate.  They’ve always taken down license plate numbers and run them through a database.  License plates are in fact a public piece of information and are not private.

So if the uncertainty could be removed in terms of what is done with the information, then those against LPR may possibly come around little by little. 

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Years ago, you had no choice…you’d be driving home in your vehicle with the key firmly planted in the ignition, no cell phone and no GPS.

When you got home, if you had an alarm system, you had to insert your house key into the door, shuffle to the keypad and disarm your system (which had devices that were hard wired throughout your house.)

Pictured above is a keyless entry door lock for your home.

It was obviously all perfectly functional and worked wonderfully, but more convenience was soon to come.

Now we could go with completely keyless entry and wireless security with our alarm systems, cars and doors to our houses.

Put back in that same situation today, you could be driving in your car having a key fob in your pocket that simply has to be in proximity to your ignition.  You’d able to open your car’s door to get in and press a button on your dashboard to start the car—all without inserting a key.

Your GPS would guide you home from a restaurant in a far off location.

When you pull into your driveway, you could either use your remote keypad function on your smart phone or use a wireless transmitter fob on your key chain to disarm your security system.

When you approach your door, you could either punch in a security code on an aesthetic combination keypad or hold your fingertip in place for a biometric reading to unlock the door.  And think, if you don’t have to worry about losing your key and having to pay for a rekey or lock change.

Then you’d walk safely past all of your wireless security devices that had been disarmed already—no rushing to the keypad to enter your code.  These devices would have been originally installed without the need to invasively run wires through your walls and ceilings.  And today, more than ever, they are very reliable.

Both of these two scenarios offer you security; it’s just that the second is a bit more convenient.  So if you haven’t upgraded to wireless security or keyless entry, you’re as safe as anyone else.

But if you are considering keyless entry and wireless security, it is wise to contact a security integrator who does both locksmith work as well as security.  Therefore, when you have your system installed, their locksmith can also install a keyless entry system for your house door.

So whether you have a system that is hard wired or wireless, or a house (and car) with traditional or keyless entry, safety is not your issue, but convenience can certainly play a role.

Thanks for spending some time with us today.

 

 

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File this story under “I’ve heard of that happening, but what are the chances it would happen to me?”

Well, according to a report on NBC’s Today show this morning, thefts of packages left on front porches or doorsteps by delivery companies are experiencing an uptick this year.

Pictured above is a dome security camera positioned on the roof of a porch.

And just like with house break-ins, these crimes are often committed in broad daylight, in quiet neighborhoods, with neighbors carrying on in the meantime.

And thieves have more opportunity than ever this holiday season, since more and more people are doing a greater percentage (if not all) of their gift shopping online.  This could possibly explain the aforementioned uptick in thefts, but nonethesles, there has been an increase no matter how you look at it.

So what can you do about it?  Can you hold the delivery companies responsible?  Actually, they will not be held accountable for any theft after the package has been delivered.  Nor should they be.

But most do have the option for delivery confirmation.  They would require someone be present to sign for and accept your package if you choose that option when you purchase your product.  There may be fees associated with this this.

But since this is a security blog, let’s talk for a minute about video surveillance.  The report on the Today show indicated that many people use home security cameras. 

One woman interviewed even posted images of her thief online.  But at the time of the report there were no suspects.

Home video surveillance helps in a few ways.  Yes, you can also post clips of the thief online after the fact and provide the images to authorities—you are so far ahead of the game if you have these pieces of the puzzle than if you didn’t.

But if you have the home security cameras installed in plain view on your front porch or equivalent area, they certainly act as a deterrent to some degree.  They obviously don’t stop all brazen thieves, but they do more good than harm, many would say.

You can also set up remote video monitoring for your home.  You can at least see your package throughout the day.  As well as see when it arrives, then call a neighbor to go pick it up.  Some remote video monitoring allows you to transmit audio, so you could communicate a choice greeting to someone you saw snooping where they shouldn’t be.

In fact, driveway alert sensors can also transmit pre-recorded messages that warn potential package-stealers that they are on video or that they should think twice.  These can be set up in a variety of places.

Other actions you can take include having the package delivered to your place of work.  You could also have a trusted neighbor keep watch for the delivery and pick it up upon arrival, or have it delivered to him or her.

According to the report on Today, some companies are offering text alerts upon delivery, so be sure to ask for this.

 

Thanks for spending some time with us today.

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Two reports on the Today show this morning highlighted the fact that Grinches really do surface during the holidays—from a neighbor stealing Christmas decorations to professional thieves stabbing store personnel then fleeing via a high-speed chase.


Pictured above is a dome security camera used in business and home video surveillance.

One report calls them professional thieves who steal for a living.  What are they stealing?  These criminals are actually lining their jackets with many forms of red meat.  They’re also pilfering Axe deodorant, Prilosec, Oil of Olay and razor blades.

These items are being taken because they are easy to move once out of the store at low prices compared to their retail tag, and a lot can be taken at once.

The Today report showed one burglar actually entering the store as he burst through the ceiling, but most are not taking such drastic measures (nor are they stabbing employees as mentioned in the lead to this post).

In terms of removing merchandise from the stores, some are entering with empty handbags that have been lined with aluminum foil and duct tape to trick store security systems.

Today reporters also indicated that there were other more blatant methods.

Return fraud is one of these such methods.  Wrongdoers actually remove the item of value from the box, then fill it back up with useless contents and return it, usually for cash.  Then, the stolen goods are sold on the “black market”.

Under ringing, according to Today, is also employed.  The report showed surveillance video of a man at a register.  His cart was filled with power tools.  The clerk, with whom he was obviously in “cahoots”, only rang him up for a bottle of Gatorade.

A mother, with her child in tow, was captured on film switching the price tags of expensive toys with much less pricey items.  This behavior is of course known as sticker swapping.

To combat the heavy losses that stores suffer, which ultimately lead to higher prices for the consumer, Target is going high tech.  The Today piece called it something out of “CSI”, but it truly is a lab, based in Minnesota, designed to research and investigate.

Their goal is to work with law enforcement to capture thieves after doing such things as lifting fingerprints off of merchandise.  They also analyze and enhance video surveillance.

It this leads to a decrease in thefts, then not only is the lab itself worth it, but it can help keep prices of goods down at Target since thieves won’t be removing items from shelves at such a high rate.

Also on Today, was a report of a woman in Texas who was stealing Christmas decorations in surrounding neighborhoods. 

Home video surveillance led to her capture.  Local news outlets published pictures of the woman and soon after, authorities were able to apprehend her.

The video shown on Today depicted her bending over alongside a driveway and peeling away a string of Christmas lights.  Images also show her walking directly in front of a home security camera with a clear view of her face.

 

Hopefully, these Grinches will have a change in heart and stop their bad behavior…just like the real Grinch did in the Christmas special.  That way, video surveillance, crime labs and police won’t need to intervene.  We can wish can’t we—it is Christmas afterall.

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Security for property managers takes many forms.  Of course we’re referring to electronic security as opposed to guard service.

Due to the very nature of the fact that property managers aren’t present at the properties they manage, security plays a vital role.

Video surveillance is an important aspect of security for property managers.

One of the primary reasons property management companies retain security integrators to bolster their properties is to keep up the value of their investment.  They want to maintain high occupancy rates, retain value for future sale possibilities and to continue to be able to charge ample rent.

To achieve this and to provide other conveniences and money saving opportunities, we’ve provided some areas below on which property managers can focus.

Prevent doors to condos, apartments and office buildings from being propped open.  Doors are not the only concern—gates to pool areas and other sensitive areas must be monitored as well.

Security cameras and digital video recording can identify those who are breaking these rules. 

It’s not just “rule-breaking” that you’re looking to prevent.  There’s a serious safety issue.  “Piggy backing” can occur at doors where a resident or employee who uses proper access doesn’t look behind them and someone with ill intent enters before the door shuts.

And sometimes this is done on purpose also.  People that otherwise are not supposed to gain access to a building can be let in.

Having video surveillance in conjunction with access control not only identifies people but can prevent them altogether by acting as a deterrent.

Speaking of identification and deterrence, video provides these aspects to help with vandalism also.

Vandals not only deface a property and make it look defective from an aesthetic standpoint, but in doing so they also affect the property’s investment value.

It simply looks bad if prospective tenants visit the building or those who may be interested in purchasing it see damage or spray paint.

Another concern, especially for residential property managers, is that money could be occasionally stolen from areas such as the laundry room.  The aforementioned video surveillance certainly helps here, but also access control is needed as well.

Having card readers on the office door of the laundry room where the money is kept establishes audit trails.  You will be able to know who accessed the area and at what time.

Access control is also an important issue for property managers when it comes to buildings with multiple tenants belonging to different entities.

For instance, three different businesses might occupy a building, but only one needs access control.  The property manager for that business needs to work with a security integrator to handle shared entries, setting time zones, etc.

Another benefit of access control comes when residential property managers don’t have to continually re-key locks or change locks when a tenant leaves on bad terms and keeps the key.  They would simply deactivate that person’s access card.

Buildings may be in need of fire system maintenance as well.  For instance, regular fire system tests and inspections may be required by local fire jurisdictions.  Contact a full service security systems integrator or fire alarm company for these tests.

Maintenance personnel who work at various properties often carry large amounts of keys.  This can become cumbersome and controlling the keys can become an issue. 

Also, it can be expensive to continually make copies of keys and to change locks due to misplacement of these keys.

Many property managers have locksmiths make a master key system to solve this issue.  Standardizing on one key solves all the above issues.

One last note before we finish.  Video surveillance can also prevent visitors and tenants from suing due to bogus slip and falls.  And even if falls are not bogus, video may show that it was no fault of management that it occurred. 

We hope you can see the various ways electronic security can prove beneficial to you as a property manager.

 

Thanks for spending some time with us today.

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Retail Video Surveillance captured images of a 67-year-old man inside local stores such as The Paper Store; he was not “toying around”.

A federal indictment says that the alleged toy thief has stolen over $600,000 worth of toys over a six-year period from the aforementioned The Paper Store and Barnes & Noble locations in the MA and NH area.

Pictured above is an IP / Megapixel dome security camera by Arecont Vision.

If you own or manage a retail business, this case is a clear message to have video surveillance installed or have your current system upgraded.  It seems these companies have stopped several thousands of dollars from walking out of their stores and they’ve got their potential culprit recorded.

According to a Channel 7 News report out of Boston, his merchandise of choice was Legos.  What puzzled a The Paper Store representative in Channel 7’s report, was how he routinely managed to get these larger-sized items out of the stores undetected.

But he succeeded. He is reported to have made as much as $1,000 per week by selling the toys he stole online.  He was even rated as a “great seller” online.  Great seller was not his only tag according to the report.  He was also referred to as “Santa Claus” by store employees due his white beard and other attributes.

Installing security cameras will help your retail outfit when push comes to shove in the court system.  And please consider IP / megapixel technology which offers more clarity.  Facial recognition is important to achieve prosecution in the court system and these security cameras provide this.

Prosecution is not the only process where retail video surveillance will prove beneficial.  If you have a chain like the two that were frequented by this alleged toy thief, then you can use your video system to share images of suspicious people throughout your store system.  This will keep employees on alert and can prevent more theft before it happens.

And of course you don’t need a chain for this sharing to be effective.  A single location will benefit from the suspected thief’s image being shown to all employees as well.

Also talk to your security provider about remote video monitoring.  This will allow you as a store owner or manager to view your store at all times from anywhere via your smart phone, tablet or PC.

Thanks for spending some time with us today.

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Should you look at the price tags when comparing security cameras, or should you consider total cost of ownership?

Pictured above is an Arecont Vision 180 degree IP security camera

If you believe in the former, then you'll most likely be choosing analog security cameras whenever you design a CCTV system for your home or business video surveillance solution.

For instance, many companies produce a quality line of economical analog video surveillance solutions.  Business and homeowners are able to, with the help of their security company consultant, design a more than adequate system at a very reasonable price.

But let's say a large parking lot needs camera coverage due to vehicle break ins.  Most of the time, any analog solution is going to require more units than if Megapixel / IP security cameras were employed. 

Equipment Cost.  One 180 degree Arecont Vision IP camera (www.arecontvision.com) could be mounted on the wall of a building, thereby providing full coverage of the adjacent parking lot, depending on the size of the target area. 

In this case, not only are fewer units required relative to analog, but many other factors surface that allow for lower overall cost of ownership in the long run.

Labor Cost.  It can cost less to install only one security camera vs. four, for instance.  Megapixel / IP cameras are often more easily installed due to their capacity to be plugged into the network in a "plug and play" fashion and many can be adjusted for zoom and focus remotely vs. needing personnel on site to do so. And from a maintenance standpoint going forward, again, there is one camera to repair vs. four.

Lower Bandwidth Usage.  Some cameras can be programmed to only transmit upon alarm, thereby reducing bandwidth consumption.

Loss of Goods.  Let's be frank.  Although some people use security cameras simply as a deterrent, most of us truly want them to be there for us in a time of crisis--to identify a burglar or other criminal and have stolen good returned or justice served.

With some analog security cameras, to begin with you're going to be looking at a less than clear image--making it difficult to identify the face of a criminal or a license plate.  And if you try and enlarge the image you'll end up with a very grainy version of the already unclear picture.

Imagine trying to present this footage in court while trying to prosecute the person you know committed the crime, and he actually gets off due to lack of visual evidence.  Now imagine that you used a high quality Megapixel / IP security camera with clear facial recognition and license plate recognition.  The jury would have much more to base their verdict on.

This blog post was not meant to persuade you to go with Megapixel / IP security cameras each time.  Sometimes analog is a great solution and the perfect fit.  It was simply meant to bring to light that although the actual "sticker price" of an IP camera may be higher than an analog security camera, there is more to consider.

Thanks for spending some time with us today.

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With all the things you can do with your smart phone nowadays, such as starting your car from the other side of the country, it just makes sense that you'd use it to secure your most valuable assets:  your family and your possessions.

Pictured above is Apple's iPhone which can be used for remote video monitoring and remote keypad.

As we've written about before, and will touch on briefly again, smart phones are ideal for remote video monitoring.

But there are also other vital functions at your fingertips when you're not near your home or business.  One such feature that can be used with your smart phone is remote keypad, offered by Napco Security.

As Napco states on its website, "Anything you can do on a real keypad, you can do on iRemote App. or online."

The remote keypad allows you to control your alarm system and reassures you of the status of your premises...such as if a child returned home from school or that a store opened on time.

And it's safe--it's securely password protected. 

In addition, your security company can do remote troubleshooting, thereby saving you money on service call visit charges.

To complete the circle, remote keypad seamlessly integrates with ISee Video remote video monitoring for what Napco calls a "Total Remote Package".

As detailed in previous blog posts, remote video monitoring allows you to view your home, vacation home or business via your smart phone (and via your computer as well--with an internet connection).

Make sure elderly relatives are safe, keep tabs on a nanny, watch your pets while you're at work.  Also, receive emails with video clips such as when your children arrive home from school.

Smart phones can be used for many other automated security functions;  we simply wanted to focus on remote video monitoring and "remoting" into your alarm system's keypad today.

Thanks for spending some time with us.

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When you leave your workplace’s secure setting, complete with access control systems, video surveillance, alarms and more, you may go home to a less secure domain.

You don’t always have to sacrifice, however.  Most folks know that they can have video surveillance in their homes—even remote video monitoring that they can view via their smartphones is an option.

And of course homeowners are aware that alarm and monitoring for burglary, fire and environmental hazards are available also.

Pictured above is a card access system in the workplace and similar types can also be used at home.

But what about access control?   What about those cards that people wear around their neck with a lanyard or those fobs that are attached to a key chain?  You know, the ones they swipe in front of the card readers next to the door frame.  And then there are keypads onto which you can punch personal codes.

Well these systems can be a part of your overall home security system as well.

You won’t have to worry about losing your keys and being vulnerable until you can get a locksmith there to either change or re-key the locks.

You will be able to set times when access is permitted, such as when everyone is home on a Saturday morning.

Codes will also be able to given to individual members of your family, so just like with a business, you can create an “audit trail”.  In other words, your children in school will have their own code to enter, or card, and you will know when they got home from school, the movies, etc.—all by checking the software that comes with the kit.

Speaking of “the kit”, here at One Source Security, our residential customers are able to purchase a relatively simple 1-door kit (that they can expand to more doors) and have it integrate with their existing Napco security panel.

It provides commercial-grade access control at a portion of the cost for similar number of doors.  The Gemini Access package comes with its own software which offers tremendous savings.

To achieve an even greater level of security in terms of residential access control, consider biometrics.  These fingerprint or iris/retina readers take access on step further than cards or fobs.

This is because if you loose you access card, don’t realize it and don’t have a chance to de-activate it on the software, then someone else could actually use it as if it were you and gain access (or if they knew your code, they could enter it).

With a biometric reader, it has to your actual fingerprints or other biometrics for access to be granted.

So the next time you’re at work and use access control, don’t forget that it’s possible for your home as well.

Thanks for spending some time with us today.

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Vital Protection During the Hurricane Season

We often hear the term "environmental monitoring" regarding the security of your home or business.  Many times it's associated with detecting unsafe levels of carbon monoxide.

There are several other types of environmental monitoring, many of which we encounter in in NH, MA and other New England states.  Since we're about halfway through the hurricane season, we thought we'd talk about water detection today--basement flooding is all too familiar.  Other environmental hazards include: propane & natural gas,  high/low temperature and power loss.

Pictured above is a "Water Bug" water sensor

One piece of equipment used in the detection of water, many times found in basements, is a water sensor--one brand is a Water Bug.  But these devices are certainly not limited to basements.  Other areas of application are computer rooms, rooms where important documents are stored and areas with sprinkler systems.

These water sensors are designed to provide the same peace of mind that a smoke detector does.  They will create an alarm notification indicating that water has been detected before it becomes too late and allows you to catch things at the outset of any leakage.

The base unit of the water sensor can monitor many probes as much as several hundred feet away, for example.  The sensor probes have contacts on them and an alarm is not triggered until water spreads from one contact to the other--condensation alone will not cause an alarm.

This equipment is pertinent to both residential customers as well as commercial clients.  Virtually everyone can identify with protecting a basement, a storage room with valuables, an area of electronics, etc.

For more information on water sensors, please contact us.  And for a free security assessment of your security needs, please click the button below.

Thanks for spending some time with us today.

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You hear it all the time, "technology has come a long way."  Even with this phrase on the tip of our tongues nowadays, some of us are still reluctant to take the leap into more advanced technologies.  

Pictured Above is a Inovonics Wall Mount Motion Detector

We understand that there are many rational reasons why this is the case, especially with regard to wireless devices for your security system...specifically, motion detectors and window and door contacts.

In the past, people had legitimate concerns about the range, or more accurately, clarity of signal, that wireless devices such as these had.  They also did not want to be changing batteries too frequently either.

Well, these two valid concerns have basically gone by the wayside in recent years due to technological advances.  Today's wireless security devices provide a strong and reliable signal and lithium batteries are offering up to five years of battery life.

These are not the only areas that wireless security has advanced.  Two-way verification of device integrity is now also employed.  Basically, the panel sends a signal to the wireless devices and looks to receive an "I'm ok" message back from each device.

One final note on wireless security devices: Speaking of two-way communication, make sure you're being quoted "apples to apples" with regard key fob transmitters.

One company's wireless key fob transmitter may be more expensive, but for good reason--it may not only arm the system when you press a button, but it will also inform you that the system's been armed (gives you the system state).

One-way transmitters, which may be less expensive, may arm the system, but do not inform you that the system's been armed.  You basically have to "take it on faith" that it has done its job in this case.

So be sure to consult with your security company to take full advantage of all that wireless security devices have to offer.  Thanks for spending some time with us today.

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I found an interesting topic for our blog today after watching a piece on NBC’s Today show.  It highlighted “vacation squatting”.

A keypad as part of your security system to prevent break-ins. 

This occurs when homeowners go away for a period of time, such as when they go on vacation, and leave their home unoccupied.  People then break in, and instead of burglarizing the home by stealing its contents, they simply make themselves at home.

They “play house” (in your house) while you’re gone.  Meals are cooked, entertainment systems are used and laundry can even be done.

Things are typically not stolen, but this is not to convey that it’s something to be taken lightly.  There is typically damage from where the squatters broke in and leaving the residence spotless is not exactly their goal.

You not only return to some damage and a messy (sometimes destroyed) house, but the emotional toll of realizing strangers have been on your furniture, in your beds, in your fridge and throughout the rest of your house.

So what should you do to prevent this from happening to you?

In a phrase…talk to people.  Contact a security systems professional.  Contact your local police department.  Talk to your neighbors.  Here’s what to say:

Security Systems Professional:

Ask about having a home security system installed with monitoring by a UL-listed central station. 

Ask them about remote security.  This will be a great asset and will provide peace of mind instantly when you’re away on vacation.

With your mobile device, you can view your home, turn lights on and off, check the status of your alarm system and more (such as adjusting thermostat).

Local Police Department:

Ask your local police department if it provides patrols while you’re away.  Some jurisdictions even have formal programs and will contact you if they observe anything out of the ordinary.

Neighbors:

Inform your trusted neighbors (make sure you have a relationship of trust established with them) of your itinerary and give them your contact information.

Ask them to pick up newspapers, your mail, any pizza hangers on your front door, etc.

Action You Can Take at Home:

Have exterior lights with motion sensors installed.  Keep your shrubs trimmed well so as not to offer cover for a person looking to break in.  Keep ladders locked up or put away so they can’t access second floor windows.  Make sure you have lawn signs and window decals indicating you have a security system.

So communication and action is the key to keeping your home safe from not only vacation squatters, but from burglars who steal as well.

Make sure to investigate remote security and your ability to check in on your home from your mobile device.  You will enjoy more peace of mind while on your precious vacation.

Thanks for spending some time with us today.

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We’ve taken a step outside traditional security systems topics today to talk about another, very important, issue that still concerns security—security of another type. 

We’ll talk about something that most of us do on a regular basis which carries with it a potential danger that we should all be aware of.

It’s been around since last decade, but has picked up significant steam lately.

Many of us have heard about Phishing and other methods that cyber thieves use to gain our personal information over the internet.

Well, with the prevalence of texting nowadays, there’s a related form of information theft affecting large numbers of people every day. 

It’s called SmiShing.  Sounds sort of like Phishing, but the name came about due to the initials “SMS”, which stand for Short Message Service.  Basically, SMS is an acronym for your texting service on your cell phone.

Texting is known as a relatively quick way to communicate with one another.  When someone receives a text these days, they typically respond to it rather soon.

This is in comparison to say an email or voicemail that could sit for several hours, a day or more in someone’s inbox.

Due to this rapid response nature, people may not process and think thoroughly about all the texts they receive and their responses to them.

SmiShing thieves prey on this fact.

SmiShing takes place when a live link or phone number is sent via text to you and asks you to act by providing sensitive information in return.  This could come in the form of account numbers, personal information, PINS, etc.

Also contributing to the success of these scams is that fact that they prey on your emotions.  They’re either giving something away or warning you that they’ll be taking negative action against you.

Beware of an offer for a free gift or a message informing you that if you don’t take action immediately, something will happen to your account such as a closing or a fee.

If you think about it, whenever you receive important information from your bank, it’s usually in the form of a letter or even a phone call.  But it is wise to review your bank’s policy on texting to discover if they do it and what information they send or ask for.

And that’s the insidious thing about SmiShing, and Phishing for that matter.  You are often being asked to take an action from someone you know.  It’s easier to not click on a link that comes from a source with whom you’re unfamiliar. 

But you may click on a link from someone or some institution that you do know.  And it can lead to your sensitive information being stolen because these criminals can make it appear as though the text is coming from your friend or your bank.

If you do receive a text from one of your financial institutions, for example, simply contact them.  You will find out if the text was legitimate because they either will or will not know about the request.

Beware of texts coming from numbers other than traditional telephone format.  SmiShers will try to hide their identity.

Texting has afforded us many conveniences and has made our communication more efficient and effective, but it has also carried with it potential dangers.

Please use common sense, take your time and research the request if it seems too threatening or too good to be true.

Thanks for spending some time with us today.

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Safe at home, but can you roam?

Most of us have seen the commercials for, or are otherwise aware of, emergency medical pendants which protect our senior relatives in times of crisis.

Peace of mind is achieved for seniors and their family members alike.  If they fall or have a medical emergency, and no one is around or they can’t get to a phone, then these devices come to the rescue.

They are relatively small pendants worn with lanyards around the neck, as bracelets, attached to wheelchairs, as well as other options.

Users of these pendants, which are also referred to as PERS (personal emergency response systems), simply need to stay within a certain range of the base station.  This unit is kept inside the house and remains in contact with the emergency central station.

A senior would simply press a button on the pendant if they had an incident and it would communicate through the base station with the emergency operators.  Some pendants even indicate if a fall has taken place, without the need a button to be pressed.

The pendant’s range most often allows for it to be worn outside, and certainly around the entirety of most houses, but doesn’t allow it to be taken with someone if they were to leave the premises—it doesn’t have that kind of range.

Take it on the road

This is where mobile security and GPS tracking enter the picture.  You can have all the benefits of a PERS pendant that is typically worn around the house, with the added benefit unlimited range.  Be safe whether you travel to the store, or to the other side of the country.

This mobile security benefit is not only for seniors.  All members of the family can use this pendant, as well as employees who work alone in an isolated area, Alzheimer patients of any age, and more.

There is also an opportunity to achieve GPS tracking and mobile security through your smart phone, without the need of a pendant, by downloading a mobile app.

To learn more about this, to ensure that you receive uniform service with your emergency central station and to enlist the help of experts in setting up your service, you can contact your local security company—especially if you already have emergency contact information set up with a central station for your home security system.

If an accident were to occur, such as a car crash, the emergency operators will be automatically notified and your medical and contact information will already be at their fingertips without you needing to say anything.  And of course, emergency personnel will be dispatched to your exact location immediately.

You will feel safe knowing your teen driver is obeying speed limits.  These pendants and apps have speed tracking features.  With GPS tracking, you can also make sure of where they are or where they went.

You can even learn of crime rates in certain areas, receive live weather and traffic updates and benefit from onboard vehicle diagnostics with some apps.

So be sure to contact your local or current security company to help you sort through the different options, whether it be a traditional PERS, a PERS with GPS tracking or a mobile security app.

Thanks for spending some time with us today.

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We’ve written about monitoring of your security cameras in a previous post, but we’d like to expand on some functionality if you’re interested in this capability.

Some people may want their security cameras to provide video monitoring, but may not want to receive unnecessary email alerts in the middle of the night, for example.

This is the way many remote video monitoring set ups work.  It can also be a bit more economical that the method we’ll talk about later.

Security cameras detect motion (without the need of a separate motion detector) and a video clip, often 10-seconds long, is emailed to your mobile device and/or PC. 

This is great.  You can actually see when your children arrive safely home from school.  You could even see if there were an unwanted person in your house when you weren’t there and alert the police.

But consider, any motion is going to cause this email to be sent to you, as long as it occurs within the lines that you’ve “drawn” on your software, or anywhere in the field of view if you’ve set the parameters as such.

Getting back to the notion of not wanting to be woken up in the middle of the night, you may not want to have that happen if the motion was caused by branches blowing, a deer, etc.

For instance, you may have exterior cameras set up to prevent local youth from entering your pool at night and possibly vandalizing it.  Or worse, harming themselves and possibly holding you liable.  This could apply to a business or a residence.

To prevent this, monitoring companies offer live monitoring services where a person actually receives the alert at the central station instead of the owner of the system.

He or she can then determine if the motion was caused by an inconsequential object or an actual human.

People who are in charge of monitoring these feeds do not try and distinguish if the person belongs there or not—if he’s a staff person or customer of the business, for instance.

They are trained to call the list of contacts (which may or may not begin with the police) that the customer provided to them at the opening of the account.

To facilitate this process for yourself, contact your local security systems integrator.  They will have a central station who in turn deals with companies who provide the equipment for video monitoring.

So if you want your premises to be monitored and do not want to be disturbed when unimportant motion occurs, you can have your cake and eat it too.

Thanks for spending some time with us today.

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