Mass Notification And New Fire Alarm Systems

 mass notificationInstitutions looking to upgrade their fire alarm systems should be certain their old and new equipment can communicate with each other. New solutions should also include an mass notification so campus officials can convey important public safety information to building occupants.

Fire Systems and Mass Notification

Even during tough economic times, campuses seem to always be expanding, and this new construction often includes the installation of fire alarm systems that have come on the market recently. Those systems usually can identify a whole host of issues: from smoke detector activations to water flow from sprinklers. They can also pinpoint the location of an alarm, which is a particularly handy feature in a large facility.

But in addition to new construction and the latest technology that goes with it, most campuses also have buildings that were erected years earlier. Back then, fire alarm systems on the market didn’t provide very much information about the cause of an alarm. Also, the systems consisted of horns and strobes that communicated only one thing: “Everyone in the building must evacuate.”

“If you had talked to most school folks 15 years ago, they would have never thought they needed a procedure to lockdown a school,” says Greg Jakubowski, who is principal and chief engineer for Fire Planning Associates. “But now after these school shootings and other events, folks realize they need a procedure to lockdown the building. That requires a different type of alarm than the fire alarm box with all of the horns and strobes going off, which was all the systems were capable of doing when they were designed 20 years ago.”

Additionally, fire systems were installed on a piecemeal basis, and the equipment – often from different manufacturers – didn’t communicate with each other.

So how should university, school and hospital officials go about integrating their old fire alarm systems with their new ones so they can talk to each other? CS interviewed some of today’s top fire protection professionals for their sage advice on how institutions can tackle this troubling issue.

Combo Systems Cost Less, Provide Limited Data

Some campuses may choose to have minimal system interoperability. In these cases, probably the easiest and least expensive way of upgrading fire alarm equipment is to adopt a combined reporting solution that allows all brands of fire alarm systems to report basic fire alarm data, says Hughes Associates Inc.‘s Senior Engineer Michael J. Madden.

“A lot of campuses are just concerned about monitoring the fire alarm systems but not having a whole lot of interoperability between them,” he says. “In those instances, it’s not that big of an issue if you have fire alarm systems from different manufacturers because all of them have a method of sending a signal out to a receiving station.”

The downside of this type of solution, however, is that it doesn’t identify the specific type of problem that is causing the alarm, nor does it provide zones so the problem can be quickly located by first responders. Fortunately, campuses that wish to address these challenges and improve system interoperability have several options.

“There are proprietary systems out there where a manufacturer provides a whole suite of systems that can communicate with each other and take the place of each other in case there is a problem with the panels,” says J. Madden. “Certainly, there are a lot of advantages if a campus wants to lock itself into a single manufacturer and convert older panels to that manufacturer.”

Other advantages of proprietary systems and some third-party systems is that they can take in and process more information. The cost of training and upkeep can also be less expensive.

“It’s always best to standardize on a single line of equipment,” says Security Sales & Integrationmagazine Technical Writer Al Colombo. “Not only does this make service and maintenance easier and less costly, it also means that you only have to train personnel once, not a zillion times.”

J. Madden, however, offers a word of caution: “Sometimes you can set up future terms or purchasing arrangements. But then again, some manufacturers, once they sell you a system and put all of their equipment in, think they’ve got you over a barrel.”

For campuses that have many fire alarm systems from many different manufacturers, he recommends third-party network solutions as opposed to proprietary ones. That way, not every panel needs to be replaced during an upgrade.

Incorporate Audio Into New Fire Solutions

Most fire experts recommend campuses also include voice evacuation in their new fire alarm systems to provide mass notification capabilities.

“There is a movement to change all of the individual buildings into a voice-type system that can be managed individually,” says Cooper Notification Vice President of Marketing Ted Millburn. “It could be through the fire alarm system, or it could be a standalone solution involve voice evacuation.”

The reasons for including a mass notification are fairly straightforward: it’s no longer appropriate for a fire alarm system to only set off strobes and sirens indicating people in a building should evacuate. Now, these systems (mass notification) must be able to direct building occupants on what to do and where to go during a multitude of potential emergencies.

For example, during an active shooter incident, campus officials might need to use a mass notification system too tell occupants to shelter in place. For a tornado, the verbal instructions might be for students, staff, patients and visitors to move away from windows and into the building’s interior or basement. Additionally, instructions might vary from building to building.

Because of the need for campus fire systems to address more than just fires, many experts anticipate that in the near future, the majority of new systems deployed on campuses will include mass notification.

“I think in the next five years, we will have very few horn/strobe-type systems being installed,” says Michael T. Madden, who is national sales manager for Gamewell FCI. “I think we’re going to move over to voice just for the simple reason that it does so much more.”

If a campus does decide to incorporate mass notification or voice evacuation in its fire system, intelligibility becomes a key factor. After all, what’s the point of having an emergency public announcement system if building occupants can’t understand the information being conveyed?

The focus on intelligibility, both in practice, as well as in NFPA 72, 2010, means that the placement of fire system speakers will need to be revised.

“The days of spreading out your speakers to 75 feet and just cranking up the volume are behind us,” says T. Madden. “It’s more important now to design the system to be highly intelligible without rattling people’s ears. [Before,] fire alarms were very simple. We made a lot of noise to get people out of the building. But if we are going to use system to deal with more than just fire, the content of that message is the most important thing.”

Master Plans Guide the Procurement Process

The method of determining what should be installed or upgraded, however, should not be haphazard. An assessment and long-term plan are needed in order for a campus to select the most appropriate fire alarm system.

“They should take a step back and go through a process of master planning,” says J. Madden. “What do you want the system to do? What kind of information do you want? What do all of the other stakeholders in this process want?”

Jakubowski suggests that safety and security professionals use their most polished political skills when approaching administrators and other stakeholders about a new fire system.

“Don’t ram it down people’s throats saying, ‘This is terrible. We need to do something about it immediately,’” he says.

Instead, he recommends a measured approach incorporating the upgrade in the institution’s five- or 10-year plan.

“Otherwise, 20-30 years from now, you are going to be facing a very large bill to upgrade your system to the current technology,” Jakubowski says. “At some point, the systems you have right now are going to start failing.”

Article Provided By: Campus Safety

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Security Camera Reviews: Which Cameras Are Best?

Security Camera Reviews

Afraid of what might be lurking in or outside your home when you’€™re away? Fear for your family’€™s safety when you’re all home for the night? Installing security cameras around your property can do wonders to ease your mind, giving you the added protection you deserve and serving as a crucial deterrent to potential intruders. But with so many features and price points available, picking the right camera for your home security needs can be overwhelming. Our goal is to provide you with the best security camera options and point out the key features that differentiate them from one another to help you pick the right camera for your home. Note that many security systems can have cameras as part of the system, but this review is strictly for stand-alone security cameras.

Best Indoor Camera: Vimtag (Fujikam) 361 HD Review

Security Camera
The Vimtag (Fujikam) 361 HD indoor-only camera is a great solution for taking your home’s security to a new level. It is priced reasonably and overall customers are fairly please with their purchase. The camera is a true “plug and play” camera and is easy to setup. Many people use this camera as a doggy cam or nanny cam so it’s versatile and can be used for multiple things.



  • Great image quality
  • Records to an internal SD card
  • Two way audio allows you to talk to pets and people
  • App for Android and iOS
  • Easy to setup and use
  • No remote recording
  • Must be plugged into AC outlet
  • App could use some work

Pricing & Tech Specs

  • MSRP $99.99
  • 1 Year Warranty
  • Wireless
  • Pan/Tilt/Digital Zoom
  • HD 1280 X 720
  • Motion Detection
  • Two-Way Audio
  • Night Vision

Best Wireless Outdoor Camera: Foscam FI9803P Review

The Foscam camera (image not available) has one of the easiest connection setups. All you do is scan the camera’s QR code with your smartphone and it is connected. You have the option as to how you’d like to store your video footage: on a hard drive or using the Foscam Cloud service for remote storage. Included with your purchase is a free trial of Foscam Cloud so you can see if you like it before you pay for it. The camera is weatherproof making it a great fit for the outdoors.



  • Sends email alerts
  • App for Android and iOS
  • Easy setup process
  • Record footage to the hard drive or the cloud
  • Great picture quality
  • Good customer support
  • Says it’s “wireless” but you do need cords
  • No monitor included

Price & Tech Specs

  • MSRP $79.99
  • 1 Year Warranty
  • Wireless
  • Motion Detection
  • Night Vision Up To 65 Feet
  • 70° Viewing Angle
  • Weatherproof

Best 4 Channel Camera Package: Zmodo PKD-DK4216 Review

Security Camera
This is a great 4 channel camera package for homeowners and businesses. The cameras can be used inside or outside so you can keep tabs on all areas. Footage is kept on the hard drive and when there is an “incident” it is categorized so all you have to do is search for the date and time range to find it.



  • Can be used indoors and outdoors
  • App
  • 500GB hard drive pre-installed
  • Great video quality
  • No monitor included
  • Not the best distance for night vision

Price & Tech Specs

  • MSRP $149.99
  • 2 Year Warranty
  • Night Vision Up To 30 Feet
  • Weatherproof
  • Motion Detection

Best 8 Channel Camera Package: Best Vision Systems SK-DVR-DIY Review

Security Camera
This 8 channel surveillance system from Best Vision includes everything you need. No need to buy cords or a DVR, this is all included as well as other bonus items like a mouse and a remote. However it comes with four cameras so if you are wanting to maximize the space you’ll have to buy an additional four. This package is very affordable and great step up from having no security.



  • 500GB hard drive included
  • View remotely on smartphone or web browser
  • Quality footage
  • Easy to use
  • Instructions could be more clear

Price & Tech Specs

  • MSRP $279.99
  • 1 Year Warranty
  • Night Vision Up To 65 Feet
  • Weather Resistant
  • Motion Detection

Best 16 Channel Camera Package: Q-See QT5716-16E3-1 Review

Security Camera
This camera package includes everything you need including: 16 cameras, cords, DVR and more. This Q-See system is great for larger properties or even if you want surveillance on the inside and outside of your property. The video quality is astounding and it has a large hard drive so store your footage. The value of this system is amazing since it’s not outrageously priced and the quality and performance are great.



  • 1TB hard drive
  • App available
  • Indoor and outdoor use
  • Great video quality
  • Great support
  • Easy to setup
  • Great night vision distance
  • None found

Price & Tech Specs

  • MSRP $899.99
  • 2 Year Warranty
  • Night Vision Up To 100 Feet
  • Weatherproof
  • Motion Detection

Best Camera Package with LED Monitor: Lorex LW Series Review

Lorex LW Series
The Lorex LW series comes with a 7-inch LED Monitorand an SD card slot (up to 32GB). This is an all-in-one security camera system, with everything you need to get started. Considering the LED monitor is included, the entry price point is a reasonable deal. This product includes a night vision capability up to 65 feet and a host of other great features. The secure video signal covers up to 150 feet indoors and 450 feet outdoors.



  • All in one system (cameras, cable, LED screen and SD-card slot)
  • Users report better image quality than other security systems
  • If you start with a 2 camera package, you can easily expand to 4 camera’s later
  • Need to be fairly tech savvy to install yourself
  • DVR fans are loud when running
  • No remote access

Pricing & Tech Specs

  • MSRP $349.99 (2-Cameras) or $399.99 (4-Cameras)
  • 1 Year Warranty
  • Night Vision Up To 65 Feet
  • Weather Resistant
  • Motion Detection

Wired vs Wireless?

How do you know if wired or wireless security cameras are the way to go for your home or business? There are a lot of variables to consider, especially if you’re not tech savvy and are going down the DIY path. Watch this AmazonConnectedHome video to help jump-start your decision-making process. If you want more food for thought, check out eBay’s article on the pros and cons of wireless vs wired home security cameras.

Which Camera is right for you?

Whether you’re considering one or multiple security cameras, wired or wireless, indoor and/or outdoor, our goal is to give you the information you need to help you decide what’s best for your home and your family. And if you don’t already have a home security system or you’re not satisfied with the one you have, see our comprehensive reviews of the most widely available systems. When it comes to home security, there are a number of great options on the market.

Article Provided By: A Secure Life

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The Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday

Martin Luther King

In January of 1983 the then President Ronald Reagan, signed into law the national Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday. The holiday is a celebration of Dr. King’s immeasurable contribution to the United States, and to mankind.

Martin Luther King Jr. The Man

Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Baptist minister, activist, humanitarian, and leader in the American Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using nonviolent civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs.

Martin Luther King became a civil rights activist early in his career. He led the 1955 Montgomery Bus Boycott and in 1957 helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). With the SCLC, King led an unsuccessful 1962 struggle against segregation in Albany, Georgia and helped organize the 1963 nonviolent protests in Birmingham, Alabama. King also helped to organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “I Have a Dream“ (click the link and view the speech) speech. This heartfelt and moving speech established his reputation as one of the greatest orators in American history.

Martin Luther King Jr. won the Nobel Peace Prize on October 14, 1964, for combating racial inequality through nonviolence. Then in 1965, with the help of others he organize the Selma to Montgomery marches. In the final years of his life, King expanded his focus to include poverty and speak against the Vietnam War, alienating many of his liberal allies with a 1967 speech titled “Beyond Vietnam”.

In 1968, King was planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C., later to be called the Poor People’s Campaign, when he was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4th. He was 39 years old at the time of his death.

In the years following his death, King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

The Holiday

The Martin Luther King Holiday would not have been possible without the tireless leadership of his wife Mrs. Coretta Scott King, founder and long-time president of the King Center in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Martin Luther King Holiday is celebrated on the third Monday of January. It is a time when the nation pauses to remember Dr. King’s life, work and to also honor his legacy by making the holiday a day of community service. Many organizations, nationwide, host annual Martin Luther King Day Collective Challenges called “a Day On, Not a Day Off”, where volunteers go out into local communities and help community partners with projects.

Article By: Lance Roberts

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Backup Software

Backup Software

Backup Software

Hard drives fail. Files become corrupted. Viruses hit. Laptops get dropped or stolen. And occasionally you just want to see an earlier version of a file you’re working on. If you’d rather keep, not lose, your photos, music, videos, documents, letters, and e-mail, then you need a backup program. You have several choices for this.

Local file-and-folder backup programs create copies on local drives or media, disk imaging software creates a snapshot of your entire drive, and online backup services automate uploading your data to secure off-site storage. In fact, you may want to use a combination of these. In this roundup, we present the two local software backup options—file and folder backup, and disk imaging utilities. For the third option, read Disaster-Proof Your Data with Online Backup.

The file-and-folder backup apps collected here protect only the files and folders that you specify, and typically give you the option of preserving one or more older versions every time it backs up the latest set of updated files. If you tell the backup program to keep multiple versions of MyNovel.doc or MySecretDiary.txt, you’ll be able to retrieve yesterday’s version if you decide you don’t like today’s version. With these programs, it’s a good idea to back up your whole Documents, Photos, Music, and Videos folders and all their subfolders. To this, you can add any other folders you consider valuable.

A drive-imaging program, by contrast, makes a complete backup of your entire hard drive or of one or more partitions. This backup is an “image” of the entire drive. When you want to recover a file—any file—from a backed-up image, you use the file-retrieval function in the drive-imaging program to pluck an older version of a file from the image and copy it to your hard drive. Since your image includes system files as well, if your system ever becomes unusable you simply run the drive-imaging program from a bootable emergency CD, and restore your entire drive from an image that you stored on a removable drive or a network storage unit. If you need a new hard drive, you simply install the blank drive, then restore your whole system from the backed-up image to the new drive. Obviously, a drive-imaging program requires lots of space for backups, because even a compressed image takes up almost as much space as the drive you back up.

How Backup Apps Work

The best file-and-folder backup programs work quietly in the background, making copies of your files either on a regular schedule or whenever a new version of a file is saved to disk. The apps can all back up files to a different folder on the same hard drive that contains the original file or, for greater safety (in case your hard drive fails), to a USB drive or a network location. Some can save to writable CDs or DVDs or even to remote FTP sites. Some can automatically stuff backed-up files into ZIP archives, and some can save encrypted backups so that other users on your network won’t be able to read your files.

All file-and-folder backup programs let you select any folder or a set of folders as a backup source. I especially liked the programs that also let me select additional prebuilt backup strategies—making it easy to back up my Windows desktop, or all of my Outlook Express or Windows Mail accounts and messages, or my Internet Explorer favorites. Genie Backup Manager Pro can even merge backed-up Windows Mail messages into my current mail store. It also comes with plug-ins that can back up and restore all your settings for common application programs.

Article Provided By: PC

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The best new technologies (probably) arriving in 2016

Predicting successful new technologies is a risky business – for every iPad or lightbulb, there’s also a portable travel hammock or an Apple Newton. With that caveat in mind, we’ve collected together a list of the technologies that we think will make a splash next year, and even, in a few cases, change the way we live.

New Technologies: Solar panel phone screens

New Technologies

I’ve been predicting that these will be A Big Deal for over a year, and have partly included them because I just think they’re really cool. But as with many new technologies, several sets of researchers are currently working to make transparent solar panels better and cheaper, which means that next year could be the year consumers finally get hold of them. Once on the market, they could invisibly collect solar power on phone and computer screens, and even on windows.

NEW TECHNOLOGIES: A robot to schedule your meetings

New Technologies

Artificial Intelligence still can’t have a totally convincing chat with us, but it’s now sophisticated enough to carry out online customer service, and, as it turns out, be your personal assistant. New app lets you email “Amy” about a meeting you want to set up, and she liases with you and the other person to find a time that works.

NEW TECHNOLOGIES: Control your computer using gestures

Earlier this year, Apple patented a motion-sensor technology that would let you control your computer by just moving your hands in the air. The technology has been around for a while – HP’s Leap Motion laptop was launched in 2012 – but as we spend more and more time in front of computers, it’s growing ever more appealling. RIP RSI.

NEW TECHNOLOGIES: A hotel in space

New Technologies

Russian company Orbital Technologiesreckons it’ll be sending tourists into space as early as next year. Guests would zoom up to the Commercial Space Station on a rocket, then spend their time in one of the station’s four cabins enjoying zero gravity and watching earth through the ship’s giant portholes. And this is only the beginning:Mashable has totted up nine commercial companies planning to send normal people into space over the next decade or so.

NEW TECHNOLOGIES: Self-driving cars

New Technologies


Yes, they’ve been around for ages, but now we have on-the-road testing and the beginnings of a legislative framework for the cars, they could soon be an everyday reality. Google has announced it’s teaming up with Ford to build self-driving vehicles, hinting at large-scale commercial production in the near future.

…and cars that make you better at driving


While self-driving cars are grabbing the headlines, ordinary cars are also stepping up their game. Tesla’s latest in-car software offers a hands-free autopilot mode, while Audi’s Q7 SUV will also brake on behalf of the driver and nudge you back into the correct lane. This type of gradual automation may make fully self-driving cars an easier sell in the long run.

NEW TECHNOLOGIES: The suncream pill

Fish and coral both excrete a compound that protects them from the sun, and for the past five years or so scientists have been working to use these substances in a pill which, when consumed by humans, would offer the same protection. If it works, it could cut rates of sunburn and skin cancer, and spare you from endless bouts of greasy reapplication.

Messaging and voice call service Skype recently released a live translation tool, Japan is trialling a live translation megaphone to use during the 2020 Olympics, and Google’s Translate app translates street signs and real-time conversations. It looks like technology may finally be breaking down the final barrier in worldwide communication.

NEW TECHNOLOGIES: Zero-carbon fuel made of carbon dioxide

Improbable as it sounds, a few different companies have developed working prototypes which turn carbon dioxide into a fuel. All rely on sucking CO2 out of the air, then converting it into a diesel fuel, which, amazingly, emits no carbon when burned.

Article Provided By: NewStatesman

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