Home Security – The Cost of Keeping Your Home Safe

Home SecurityWhat’s your home security plan?

A hundred years ago, people were worried about home security, just like today. “Perhaps a burglar or a fire has not invaded your home, but if they should, they would get all of your money and valuables,” warned a 1913 newspaper ad, touting the benefits of using the Merchants & Farmers Bank in Spartanburg, S.C. What has changed over the last 100 years, of course, is how people protect their homes. If you’re wondering what’s out there and available, and how much these options cost, here’s a sampling of what protections you may want to try.

If you’re a traditionalist. You can always get a gun and a watch dog. You can buy a gun (not necessarily a good one) for less than $100, but it’s more likely you’ll shell out several hundred dollars. The average annual cost of a large dog just in the first year alone is $1,843, according to the animal welfare organization ASPCA.

Something else to think about. But why spend all of that money and risk a tragic gun accident? You could just look like you own a gun, or lots of them, and instead buy a yard sign that alerts visitors that you have weaponry waiting for burglars – CafePress.com has signs for $19.50. For instance, one reads: “Nothing Inside Worth Dying For – We embrace the Second Amendment!”

As for a dog, if you just want a guard and not a furry companion, you could buy something like the Home Safe EWD-1 Electronic Watchdog, by Safety Technology International, which sells for about $80 on Amazon. When an intruder crosses the electronic radar waves, the alarm starts barking – which should send any criminal scurrying for safety.

You could get a home security system. If you’ve been thinking about getting one, you aren’t alone. Chad Laurens, the CEO of SimpliSafe, a company based in Cambridge, Mass., which sells wireless home security systems, says in the aftermath of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. last December, his security system sales spiked 60 percent higher than normal.

Overall, Americans spent about $20.64 billion on home security systems in 2011, the most recent figures available, according to the business research firm MarketsandMarkets. And the industry is expected to continue to grow to $34.46 billion by 2017.

As for how much of those billions you’re likely to pay? Most companies will offer installation specials as low as $99, but start-up costs for all the equipment could run between $600 to $1,200 says Robert Siciliano, a Boston-based personal security consultant and spokesperson for BestHomeSecurityCompanys.com, a home security review. After buying the security system equipment, you’ll have to pay for monthly monitoring, which can run from $15 to $100, but the average price is $30. Most home security systems require one to three-year contracts, although some companies, like SimpliSafe, don’t require any.

“Just make sure you always keep your alarm on. Always,” Siciliano stresses. “When you are home, away, during the day and night. Otherwise, what’s the point?”

On the plus side, you may save money on your insurance by buying a home security system; some industry experts say you’ll save anywhere from 20 to 45 percent.

Something else to think about. If a home security system is outside of your budget, there are outdoor fake security cameras that look like real ones with blinking lights. Loftek and UniquExceptional are two companies that make them, and the cameras usually cost less than 10 bucks.

Article Provided by: U.S. News

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Trust Me!

Would I Lie To You?


An Alarm Should Sound On Deals

Alarm - Security vs MoneyAlarms

An electronic home security system can be the source of great peace of mind or great financial headache. That’s because buying a system, and the alarm monitoring that often goes along with it, can be a thorny purchase, fraught with such perils as wildly differing prices, high-pressure sales tactics and unfriendly contracts.

Basic home security systems, or burglar alarms, are typically wired to a central control panel in the home that will activate when windows or doors are opened while the system is armed. More advanced systems add fire and carbon monoxide alarms, motion sensors, glass-break detectors and, increasingly, home automation options such as controlling home lighting and temperature.

The good news is that almost 80 percent of homeowners with alarms rated their systems as effective in protecting their homes, according to a survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center.

But consumers shopping for systems often report hassles, said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List, which collects customer ratings for various categories.

“Home alarms is one of the categories where we hear complaints about high-pressure sale and scare tactics,” she said. Some companies insist on long-term monitoring contracts.

And prices can be all over the place, said Robert Krughoff, president of Consumers’ Checkbook, which rates home security companies and recently published an extensive report on the topic to its members.

“We see a lot of variation in price and no real relationship between quality and price,” he said. “We found some of the lower-cost places rated very high in terms of quality, and some of the high-priced places don’t rate particularly high.”

Here are some basic questions and answers to help you shop.

Do I need a home security system? “I think the most important advice is to think twice before even bothering with a system,” Krughoff said. “There are a lot of things you can do that would probably be more powerful than any home security system.”

Burglars usually aren’t sophisticated. They often take advantage of unlocked doors or windows that are easily jarred open.

“Most of the time they get in through very unartful means,” said Kevin Brasler, executive editor of Consumers’ Checkbook.

Cheap and effective alternatives are quality deadbolts on doors, substantial window locks and motion-sensor lighting outside. You could get a dog, although its care might turn it into a pricey option. You could bluff by posting a Beware of Dog sign or the window stickers from alarm companies.

Habits matter too. Always lock you doors when you’re away. And when you’re on vacation, put lights on timers and have someone pick up newspapers or place newspapers on vacation hold.

“Those things really matter,” Krughoff said.

The Consumer Reports survey found that 19 percent of respondents said they at least occasionally leave doors at home unlocked when they’re out, and 26 percent said they at least occasionally leave windows unlocked when they’re not at home.

Consider that owning an alarm can be a hassle. You have to turn it on when you leave and rush to turn it off when your arrive home. Children, house guests and pets can accidentally trip the alarm, potentially leading to local fines for false alarms. And you’re supposed to test your system monthly to make sure it is communicating with the monitoring service, according to the Electronic Security Association. Maybe those hassles are why 43 percent of people who have an alarm say they occasionally don’t turn it on when not at home, according to the Consumer Reports survey.

How do I choose an equipment installer? Get several price quotes for both system installation and monitoring, perhaps starting with companies rated highly by Consumers’ Checkbook or Angie’s List. Check for complaints against individual companies with the Better Business Bureau. Salespeople who try to intimidate or pressure you into a quick decision, sometimes pointing to recent spate of burglaries in the area, are ones to avoid, according to tips at Angieslist.com. The inability of salespeople to explain how the system works is another red flag. In a recent report, Consumers’ Checkbook found prices vary widely. Prices for installation and three years of monitoring ranged from less than $2,000 to more than $3,300 for the same job.

Do I need monitoring? Central system monitoring can automatically notify an alarm company that there’s a problem by sending a signal over a landline or wireless connection. They can, in turn, notify police or fire departments. Monitoring typically costs $20 to $50 a month, depending on what’s included, but your alarm system will work without it. If your home is usually occupied or you have neighbors who will notify authorities that an alarm is sounding, central station monitoring provides only limited additional protection, according to the report in Consumers’ Checkbook.

Article Provided by: Chicago Tribune

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Access Control Systems


7 Benefits of Migrating to IP Video Surveillance

7 Benefits of Migrating to IP Video Surveillance

IP video surveillance has long since graduated to a mainstream technology in the security industry – but if you’re still sitting on the fence as to whether or not it’s right for your application, the following list of IP video surveillance benefits may help you to decide:

Improved Performance– Today’s IP cameras have significantly improved performance over earlier models thanks to breakthrough imaging technologies. High performance features such as advanced digital signal processing, optical zoom lenses, wide dynamic range, on-board analytics and auto image stabilizers provide more options to help security professionals meet their specific surveillance needs more efficiently.

In addition, the high resolution of megapixel cameras affords coverage of a larger area with fewer cameras, while the forensic zooming capability of megapixel cameras can reduce the need for traditional pan/tilt/zoom appliances. The detailed images are available in live or archived format at any time to any point along the network. This enables more and better identification of individuals and events to help deter, detect and prosecute in the case of an incident.

Unlimited Scalability– One of the key benefits of IP video surveillance systems is the ease with which the system can be configured for current requirements and just as easily expanded or re-configured as needs change. Cameras can be added to the network in increments of one or more with no additional cabling or power requirements, and industry standard storage can be added as needed. Most important, these changes can be made without losing the investment in the original system.

System Configuration Versatility– Cost efficiencies can be readily gained with the system configuration versatility of IP video surveillance implementations. Video can be recorded and viewed by authorized individuals from anywhere on the network and control of multiple locations can be centralized at one location. This eliminates the need to duplicate staff or equipment at each location with potential savings of thousands of dollars in salaries and equipment cost. Cameras can be re-located or temporarily installed anywhere on the network with minimal disruption. Maintenance and service expenses can also be reduced because IP-based systems can be adjusted, checked or even re-configured remotely without the need for on-site service.

Advanced Analytics– Commonly featured in both IP video surveillance edge devices (i.e. cameras, NVRs, etc.) and at the central server, interpretive vision or analytic intelligence can be used to monitor, record, interpret, archive, retrieve and verify image data to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of the security staff. Intelligent devices can improve the abilities of control room personnel by performing automated responses such as zooming in to an object which is creating an alarm or by only transmitting video that contains specifically identified activity, making it easier to search the recorded material. Advanced analytics such as face detection, license plate recognition or people counting/tracking technologies can also be used to help improve the security of a facility.

System Integration – The ability to tie together related physical security applications such as access control, alarm/intrusion, visitor management and so on, within the organization, makes economic as well as operational sense. IP video surveillance systems provide users with a common view that can be sourced and/or managed from a central control room, an office cubicle or even from a mobile device – simultaneously by multiple users. Additionally, IP video surveillance systems enable organizations to collaborate across different functional workgroups. For example, it is possible to verify abnormalities in POS transactions by coordinating data with IP surveillance images. It is also possible to integrate entry/exit access control data with maintenance and facilities information to improve building environmental operations.

Future Proofing– IP surveillance is a very flexible technology in that it can be implemented at any stage of a deployment. Existing analog systems can be upgraded to a hybrid configuration and either maintained as such or eventually configured to a fully networked system. Cameras can be added at any time, anywhere there is network capability, or as wireless technology develops, network cameras can be deployed virtually anywhere. Another important aspect of IP surveillance is adherence to industry standards. As technology develops, software/firmware upgrades can be implemented to keep the system current.

ROI and TCO– IP surveillance deployments can improve Return on Investment (ROI) and also help to lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). For example, megapixel cameras used for risk management in retail can help minimize incidents of theft or fraud because of the improved image detail; or, individual devices can take advantage of increases in computer power and improvements in network speed without having to be replaced. By making a clear positive impact on the bottom line, IP surveillance systems have more than proven their worth as tomorrow’s surveillance technology of choice.

Article Provided By Security Magazine

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5 Benefits of Video Management Software for Safer Schools

Video Management Software - In Schools

Video Management Software

Parents take a double leap of faith every day when they turn their children over to the nation’s public and private schools. They believe that a good education will enable children to function more successfully in the world, and they believe that their children will be safe and protected throughout the day.

However, with the overall greater focus on school security accelerated by a number of tragic headlines in the past few years, parents are looking to school districts for assurance that appropriate steps are being taken to keep children safe. One well-established and proven tool to enable educators and administrators to provide safer learning environments is video surveillance, viewed and managed via a robust video management system.

Video management systems (VMS) are a central component of surveillance that maximize the ability of video cameras located throughout an education campus to keep students and facilities safe. Here are five ways an effective VMS can facilitate management of video surveillance to ensure a safer school:


1. Watching student activity.Video cameras provide school administrators extra sets of eyes to watch what’s happening all over the campus. Thanks to video management software, simple-to-use access to those camera views is as close as the nearest computer, or they can even be viewed on hand-held devices such as smartphones. Multiple users can view the same camera, or one user can “push” video to another user to call attention to a situation. With concerns such as loss prevention or vandalism, the ability of administrators to closely monitor student activity and respond appropriately is more valuable than ever.

2. Monitoring building access. Keeping students safe requires total control of who comes and goes on a campus. Video management software unifies the camera views throughout a campus and makes it easy for administrators to manage those views to monitor entrances and exits. When integrated with an access control system, video can be pushed to a monitor whenever someone is denied access to the building. Schools should also control access to rooms and keep an eye on hallways and cafeterias – video enables them to do just that.

3. Providing after-hours surveillance. Sometimes schools are used by outside organizations after school hours, and video surveillance can help to monitor those activities. When schools are closed for the night, video motion detection can provide an alarm if something moves in an empty hallway, for example, and video software can provide immediate views of cameras in the vicinity. Used as a forensic tool, video surveillance software can make it easy for administrators to determine the source of weekend vandalism or to solve a break-in or theft.

4. Aiding first responders in case of an emergency. When a school emergency happens, it is absolutely critical that first responders know immediately what is happening so they can respond appropriately. IP video management systems enable access to a school’s cameras remotely from a handheld device or a laptop computer in a police car. Such access aids swift response to school violence by enabling police responders to know immediately the conditions inside the school and the location of the perpetrator and possible victims before entering the premises. They can then adapt their response accordingly. In case of a severe emergency, the school’s central office can monitor evacuation response remotely.

5. Saving resources that could be used elsewhere. The recent economic downturn has been a challenge for many school districts with dwindling tax money creating budget shortfalls that often require tough economic choices. Student safety is obviously the last thing anyone would want to compromise to save costs. Fortunately, the cost of video management software is reasonable, and significant discounts for schools, universities and other educational institutions often make it even more so. Ensuring the affordability of this important component of school safety enables school districts to prioritize security while minimizing the investment and avoiding more severe economic cuts in other parts of the budget.

Views from cameras located throughout a school can provide important everyday safety information, presented in a usable format thanks to video management software. Video surveillance can ensure school discipline policies are firmly and fairly enforced and provide live views of possible trouble spots on campus. Surveillance can also protect school property from theft and vandalism, during the school day and after hours, inside and outside school buildings. In the unlikely event of school violence or other tragedy, cameras directed by video management software can provide eyes inside the building to guide a more effective, and safer, response.

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The Top Three Selling Factors With Today’s Access Control Systems

Access Control

Access Control Systems

End user customers today expect more — not a little more, but a lot more.Secure, integrated, future-proofed and convenient are buzzwords that have substance behind them, and users look for those characteristics in the systems and services they purchase for their business. Users also want the latest technology(Access Control) they use in other areas of their life; they don’t want to manage it themselves; and they want best of breed in everything.

“Features themselves haven’t changed that much,” says John Fenske, vice president of product marketing, HID Global, Austin, Texas. “The things users seem to be focused on are making sure the system continues to be interoperable on into the future so that any changes they make won’t disrupt the overall system.”

This “global” view is a running theme among customers both large and small, he adds. “When we talk to end users, most of the conversations are about how the pain that they have is managing change in their architecture. They are looking for consistency; and those products that leverage standards and allow them to manage that architecture and keep it functioning are what they want.

“They are also looking for products that are high quality. They want to get it when they need it and have it work over the long run,” Fenske says.

The positive aspect of this thinking is that along with more demanding wish lists comes the understanding that they will have to pay for it.

“Often it isn’t an inside-the-box solution,” says integrator Jeff Houpt, president/CEO, Automation Integrated, Oklahoma City, Okla. “It is solving a problem. They have looked at access control for the past 20 years as a ‘beep/click’ product, where the reader goes ‘beep’ and the door ‘clicks’ open. Now when they start looking at it as the place where people meet buildings and systems, and begin to mine that data to get insight into how they run their enterprise, that is when they get excited. They are willing to pay for a custom integration when they have a problem nobody else could solve.”

End users today are future focused, adds Bruce Stewart, business development manager for access control, U.S., Axis Communications Inc., Chelmsford, Mass. “Most are very educated on products and solutions and have a good understanding of which way they want to go in the future.”

There is a crossover between consumer life and business expectations, adds Rob Martens, futurist and director of connectivity platforms, Allegion, Carmel, Ind. “People want innovation and expect changes at a different pace than the industry has seen before. They expect a smart device. It shouldn’t be a burden but a simple addition. That is easy to say but sometimes difficult to do.”

Martens has a good analogy: “I group things into three buckets. In this space those now either fall into security, energy [building] management, or convenience. Those are the three most important factors.”

When a product or solution falls into one or more of these three buckets, it is more likely to be attractive to end users today.

Security-related Features

Security features have to do with the card, the integration between different security components and how access control systems are designed, installed and used.

High profile events from the Target and Home Depot breaches to workplace violence, have shown users the possible consequences of not having up-to-date access control and secure cards.

“Customers in general have a more acute understanding of the security of the card,” Fenske says. “The issues with Target made it very real and highlighted the importance of security of the cards we use on a daily basis. That is a big change. It has always been a challenge to talk to customers about upgrading from legacy systems like magnetic stripe and proximity to help them understand that what they have today is probably not what they want in the future. That challenge has improved dramatically over the past 18 months. People are beginning to think about technology refresh differently and the idea that you don’t just upgrade to upgrade. You upgrade to get new value, even if the system is not falling off the wall yet.”

There is still an education process, however, says integrator Bill Hogan, president, D/A Central Inc., Detroit, Mich. “As insiders we understand the vulnerability of proximity and the reasons for new, higher technology cards. But a lot of our clients aren’t quite there yet. We are seeing a lot more rebadging of entire locations than in the past. But we still have a job to do to make sure we educate them properly about those things.”

The way access control systems are architected is also changing, he adds. “We are beginning to see smaller, edge-deployed, embedded-Web-server products. Access control is filtering away from the big headquarters to smaller edge-device-based systems.”

Large infrastructures with head ends and hardwired readers are not always the preferred path anymore. Wireless and Power over Ethernet (PoE) are two technologies that are helping to drive this. For example, “With our PoE controller we can power 12-volt locks, allowing them to become an edge device with shorter cables,” Stewart says.

“I think probably the feature pushing to the forefront the most lately involves wireless lock integrations,” adds Jason Ouellette, product line director of access control, Tyco Security Products, Westford, Mass. “With the improved reliability of wireless and the movement from offline to online locks, there has been a great advancement of optimization and performance. That is, for us, if not a daily request it is pretty close.”

Integrator Henry Olivares, president/CEO, APL Access and Security Inc., Gilbert, Ariz., agrees. “Our customers are asking for Wi-Fi and wireless locks. They want all virtual — no cabling, panels or power supply.”

Another security factor that is high on users’ priority lists is integration with things such as video and even Active Directory to provide greater security and functionality.

“Here in Oklahoma City we had a workplace beheading caused by a disgruntled former employee that made the national news,” Houpt says. “We are seeing customers shift from the old paradigm of getting rid of keys to really wanting to manage their access control and be able to turn cards on and off immediately. The other thing we are seeing with our customers is they really want to utilize their security operations staff more effectively.”

In order to do that, many end users just expect integration and interoperability. This can be accomplished in many ways, from the traditional access control platform, the video management system, or a unified approach that allows more of the features of both to be present in the integration.

“The feature sets that make a system attractive to an end user still fall into the mid to enterprise level looking for connectivity to third-party systems, be that VMS, intrusion detection or other systems,” says Christopher Sincock, vice president, DAQ Electronics, Piscataway, N.J. “The greater the number of other people’s systems it connects to, the more attractive it is, especially if they don’t have to rip and replace what is already in place.”


With so many features and functions both old and new, it can be difficult to know what is going to impress an end user.

Bill Hogan of D/A Central Inc. says to define the problems and solutions for clients. “The key is really working with a client and engaging the questions we want to talk to them about. Go beyond the surface of just saying they need access control and speak to the myriad of options.”

Henry Olivares of APL Access and Security Inc. brings road show kits to sales meetings. “We have kits with wireless locks that show them with laptops how they work. It makes us different from a lot of companies. They believe it when they see it.”

Differentiating yourself is important, says Jeff Houpt of Automation Integrated. “We go to market more like a professional service provider. We want to be looked at like an architectural or engineering firm, a CPA or a lawyer. We prefer to differentiate ourselves with that rather than price.”

Whole-building Features

The value proposition doesn’t stop at security. Increasingly, end customers want to do much more with their security platforms.

“Security is one of the only things that tends to be monitored 24/7 in a building,” Sincock says. “When you can do not only traditional security monitoring but also bring in other mission-critical systems it brings greater value to the customer.”

One of the first things an access control system has to do is control who comes in and out and the method for populating that database increasingly is integration with Active Directory. In fact, with certain sized customers, it is just expected. But beyond that is an even tighter integration to the building itself where an employee’s access can be tied to the HVAC and lighting controls in their office, saving energy as well.

“In terms of integrating with HVAC, access control is used all the time to tie in and conserve energy,” says Richard Goldsobel, vice president Continental Access, a division of Napco Security Technologies, Amityville, N.Y. “But now there are more interfaces. As Active Directory has come along, the system can run a little more automated.”

Another draw to integration between access and building systems is energy management or ‘green’ initiatives. It is becoming an increasingly important part of the conversation between integrators and their customers.

“Regardless of system size, an almost universal feature we are being asked about is PoE,” Sincock says. PoE by design relies on low-power products and systems, so the more that can be tied to it, the more ‘green’ it is.

“When you have security systems that by virtue of interoperability or connectivity with other systems allow end users to have cooperation between security and systems that consume power or electricity, that is becoming much more important,” he adds.

Houpt has a customer that is using the access control to override the HVAC system after hours, then track that usage so the building owner can bill the tenant back for after-hours usage. In addition, his customers are looking at security in a whole new way. “We are beginning to integrate into access systems the information that really matters to owners. After hours, a security guard may need to take building action but they are not a building engineer. We can integrate just the information that has value, such as the chiller failed or a motor is too hot. When we bring in that alarm, we have a script for the guard to follow step-by-step, similar to a PSIM approach.”

Convenience Factors

Often the appeal of an access control system comes down to the user level. No matter how secure, integrated or advanced it is, if it isn’t easy and convenient to use, it won’t be saleable.

Technology has helped greatly with this factor in recent years. Cloud, mobile computing, and the capability of smartphones to be involved in access control all are providing the “cool” factor as well as making life easier for users.

Probably the easiest of all is the increase in offerings in cloud, or hosted and/or managed access control. Cloud is still in its beginning stages in many aspects of security, but manufacturers and integrators see great potential of marrying it with other emerging trends to provide a much better security experience in the future.

“The days of main frames and dumb terminals are waning in favor of cloud-based solutions,” Ouellette says. “Technology today allows us to process and store data on the edge that can make that cloud-based connection much more optimized and powerful. That is absolutely the clear direction and growth area in the industry.”

Hogan agrees. “What we are seeing is with new clients where we have a blank slate they are much more open to cloud-based solutions and newer technology and allowing us to manage it. It saves them all of that training. When they can outsource that entirely as a managed service, it becomes a real savings to them.”

People want ease of use, whatever that translates to, says Lee Odess, general manager, Brivo Labs, Bethesda, Md. “What we are seeing as factors in decision making are a great user experience, technology architecture, a software-as-a-service model and mobility offerings,” he says.

Whether it is Near Field Communication (NFC) and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), “mobile is certainly the thing getting the most interest right now,” Fenske adds. “I think the wow factor is around the transaction and thinking it is ‘cool.’ But the real value will come from managing the credential differently and efficiently rather than buying, storing and printing cards.” (See related article, “BLE/NFC Update” online at www.SDMmag.com.)

“I think it will augment other credentials as in: card plus access through the cell phone,” Hogan predicts. “What everyone is anticipating is that as early adopters hit the market with this you will see ‘credential envy.’ People will want to know, ‘How can I have that on my phone, too?’”

The ultimate goal of these technologies and others is to make life easier in security, just as it does in other areas of our life. “Overall we strive to have a wonderful customer experience where people feel as though it was easy,” Martens says. “If that was easy, they might stretch out to other solutions and areas and be more comfortable with it. We are not seeing people push back on change anymore. We are seeing them push forward for new technology and wanting to leverage that. That is very exciting and makes us very enthusiastic about the future of our business and our partners’ businesses as well.”

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Creating New Benefits for Schools Through Advanced Surveillance and VMS

Creating New Benefits for K-12 Schools Through Advanced Surveillance and VMSCreating New Benefits for K-12 Schools Through Advanced Surveillance and VMS

Security continues to be a top priority in K-12 and higher education facilities across the country as school boards and administrations are looking for better and more cost-efficient means to protect students, personnel and assets. New developments in IP video surveillance and VMS security solutions are answering this call with systems that provide superior image quality, better integration, simple accessibility, network capabilities and expanded scalability. Within this framework, video management system (VMS) solutions are already delivering advantages and positive outcomes for safety and security.

The following are a few of the benefits of a VMS deployment within an educational environment:

Cost Efficiency 

A significant economic benefit of a VMS solution built on an open architecture platform is its contribution to system ROI (return on investment). The open architecture platform promotes flexibility in system design and protection of the original investment as systems are upgraded or new industry partners are added.

A school’s total physical security package can include video surveillance integrated with access control systems, license plate recognition systems, content analysis software, fire alarm, radiation detection and/or other network-based systems. This entire package can all be managed and controlled from a VMS solution – without the need for and additional cost of matrix switching systems and other expensive or proprietary hardware. The system can often run on standard IT servers, while adhering to and supporting recognized industry standards.

As total cost of ownership (TCO) is affected by the size of the system, a VMS solution can be effective in helping to reduce overall costs. When the VMS incorporates integration of multiple license types within one system, the user can save costs for less critical applications such as a closet surveillance system. New licensing models can accommodate any size school district with centralized or satellite/distributed system models.

Many manufacturers offer a number of different feature sets to match the budget and video surveillance needs of any college or university. The user should ensure that the system is scalable, so it can expand when further funding becomes available, or as surveillance needs grow and change.

Smart Technology

One of the key factors to effective security is situational awareness, which a complement of well-placed high-definition and megapixel cameras can provide. However, not every school has a dedicated network for transmission. A VMS addresses this by enabling standard-definition and HD/megapixel cameras to stream high-resolution video over a limited bandwidth network at full frame rates with the ability to control pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) functions.

Other advanced technologies available with VMS solutions affect performance control and system design. High Definition Interactive Streaming (HDIS) technology delivers full-motion playback of up to 16 live and recorded HD camera streams at full frame rate on any web browser or handheld device, even on 3G and 4G networks. Onboard de-warping functionality reduces the number of multi-head or panoramic cameras required in a system. Both centralized and distributed system architecture can be supported via CNVR (camera NVR) capabilities.

Pro-Active Security

Analysis capabilities found in VMS solutions are helping to drive video surveillance from a detection model to a prevention model. For instance, VMS can be programmed to create meaningful events based on a number of parameters and send alerts or push video to selected displays or devices. This enables schools to react to events and potential problems quickly and effectively, and prevent them from escalating.

This additional situational awareness provided by the pushed video stream, can help to broaden the potential incident response activity in venues that cover several acres, such as university campuses, and give security management actual “eyes at the scene.” It can also enhance the ability of management and staff to share/collaborate on different threat levels. And to help ensure the integrity of the system, a management server can be programmed on a granular level for information access and control.

Ease of Use

The intelligence, intuitiveness and ease of use of VMS available today make managing video data much more efficient and less cumbersome, regardless of the size of the system. With traditional record-and-review systems, there are often too few operators who have too little time and are trying to handle too many cameras all at once. With a VMS, operators have tools that provide them with full control over all parameters, including PTZ presets, joystick control, digital zoom and more. With these intuitive features built into the user interface, operators have the advantage they need to make the right decisions when an alert is sent.

Additionally, complex systems can be centrally managed with time saving tools like touch-screen technology, map-based interfaces, context-sensitive pop-up controls and time slice forensics.

Advanced IP video surveillance VMS solutions have given schools a tremendous advantage in meeting the challenges of safety and security. Add to this the extra benefits of cost efficiencies, smart technology, pro-active security and ease of use, and it becomes clear that VMS solutions are an educated choice.

Article Provided By Security Magazine

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Integrating Security Systems for Greater Business Value

New Fire Alarm Systems Offer More Options for Challenging Spaces Part 4

New Fire Alarm Systems Offer More Options for Challenging Spaces

New Fire Alarm Systems Offer More Options for Challenging Spaces

 In the past, requirements for detection in challenging environments often resulted in fire alarm system installations that were nearly impossible to properly maintain. New Fire Alarm Systems Offer More Options for Challenging Spaces Detectors were often installed too high or above obstructions, or were poorly or incorrectly spaced. Innovative detection technologies, as well as improvements in code guidance for the engineering community, have made challenging environments easier to address. Challenging environments often include large volume spaces (e.g., warehouses, industrial facilities and power generation facilities); architecturally sensitive spaces (e.g., historic structures); and highly sensitive electronic equipment spaces (e.g., data centers).

Major advances in detection technology provide the facility manager with more solutions to challenging environments. If the detection systems are correctly applied, reliability, safety, and maintenance costs can be greatly improved.

Modern fire alarm systems can now integrate highly refined beam detection systems that use multiple wireless beam transmitter sources and only one receiver that requires being hard-wired. Beam detection is one solution for large volume and architecturally sensitive spaces. Many manufacturers now offer beam detection systems that only require a transmitter/receiver installed in one location with a reflector on the opposite end of the detection space, reducing installation complexity. Additionally, newer beam detectors are far less prone to false alarms caused by obstructions, sunlight, building movement and misalignment.

Video image detection is a unique technology that enables facility managers to combine security and fire detection into one system while installing the detectors in perimeter locations that are easy to access for maintenance. Video detection can easily be concealed on cornice ledges in architecturally sensitive areas, and some systems allow the use of combined security and fire alarm cameras.

Very Early Fire Detection

Air sampling-type smoke detection (ASSD) requires the installation of a pipe network over the space requiring detection, through which the detector continually draws in air that is monitored for the presence of particles of combustion using very precise laser light sources. ASSD offers a very flexible detection solution for areas where access to detectors for maintenance is difficult or impossible. For example, battery vaults often present a significant concern to maintenance personnel who must work over large battery banks to inspect and test spot-type smoke detectors. Once the ASSD pipe network has been installed, the network can be cleaned and tested without requiring maintenance staff to work over the batteries.

ASSD offers an extremely sensitive and reliable detection solution that can be applied in high-value and essential applications. As our world relies more and more heavily on data processing and cloud storage, large data centers and the associated support facilities are becoming prevalent and critical. The very early detection of fires or component failures as a result of overheating can help ensure data continuity. ASSD coupled with good operational procedures can provide the detection needed to keep these facilities operational.

Although it may seem that fire alarm systems are not advancing at the same rate as other systems, it is not acceptable to rush technology into use for an industry that has the important responsibility of protecting lives and property in a reliable manner. Even considering the controlled rate that technology is being introduced into the life safety industry, fire alarm systems are advancing at an impressive rate and have become diverse and reliable building protection systems.

Article Provided By Facilitiesnet

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New Surveillance Technology Can Track Everyone In An Area For Several Hours At A Time


Integrating Security Systems for Greater Business Value

Integrating Security Systems for Greater Business Value

Integrating Security Systems for Greater Business Value - Network

Security countermeasures, such as surveillance, address threats and if done effectively eliminate them; this is more likely the case when an integrated solution is deployed.  In looking at integrated security solutions, there exists an opportunity to move beyond a view of providing countermeasures to threats toward a new perspective of security as a means of delivering critical business value.
Security systems use multiple techniques in order to achieve this. The combination of access control, intrusion detection, perimeter and video into an integrated security solution provides the best opportunity to counter threats and add value.

Traditionally security systems have been seen as providing five “D”s. That is security systems deter, detect, deny, delay and defend against threats. And while these are important functions, the value of security needs to move beyond these traditional security concepts to one of delivering value to the enterprise. In some cases this is simply learning to describe security in new terms; in other cases it is learning to leverage systems to deliver new outcomes.

While standalone surveillance systems exist, more often than not they are part of integrated security solutions. In the case of integrated security solutions, the surveillance system is used in combination with access, perimeter and intrusion detection. The value of a security solution increases in relationship to the extent of its integration with other security and information technology components.

Access control, perimeter and intrusion detection allow surveillance solutions to be focused on specific security transactions. This improves operator performance while reducing screen fatigue. It also allows transaction information to be combined with visual data, and integrated perimeter solutions to be combined with pan-tilt-zoom features of surveillance cameras.

Integrated security solutions address governance, risk management and compliance (GRC) in addition to security. This cannot be addressed by surveillance alone, but it can provide additional return on investment to the CEO, CFO and CIO while addressing sector-specific compliance regimes. These systems can bake in security across transactions and provide value to stakeholders and shareholders.

These solutions allow coupling with information technology systems to increase the details available around security events. This can be combined with information from information technology systems such as security information and event management. Access control information, along with video, can place individuals at particular locations to help determine whether or not accounts have been compromised or if in fact an insider threat exists.

Integration also talks to important current trends in the enterprise: Physical security systems have extensive logging capabilities. These logs represent not only specific transactions but also metadata that can be used not only by physical and information security groups but also by marketing and other parts of the organization. As an example, surveillance video can not only be used to guard against physical breaches or theft but also to measure customer traffic and related buying behaviors. Surveillance cameras, in addition to the balance of an integrated security system’s components, represent the same kind of connected workplace that is driving the interest in the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data.

In looking for an integrated surveillance solution, remember that surveillance delivers its maximum value when it acts in combination with alarms, access, video, perimeter and command and control. Users should be careful not to break apart these capabilities particularly at the command and control level.

This is where the meaning of integrated security really comes into play. Video management systems provide important features in delivering surveillance solutions. Integration of these video features along with other security functions in the security operations center under the command and control function will deliver the most value and needs to be a strong factor in deploying an integrated solution.  Look for an integrated security system that maximizes surveillance value and in the process you will find you have also maximized the value of security.

Article provided by Security Magazine

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New Surveillance Technology Can Track Everyone In An Area For Several Hours At A Time

Some Home Security Systems May Be Scams

Some Home Security Systems May Be Scams

Some Home Security Systems May Be Scams - Trust Me!

Why Would I Lie To You?

Everyone wants to feel safe in their home, so when home security salespeople come knocking, their pitch can be convincing. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, and your state Attorney General urge you to use caution when you consider what security system sales agents have to offer.

During the spring and summer months, home security or alarm companies hire traveling sales agents to go door-to-door, making unsolicited “cold calls” on homeowners. In some cases, the salespeople use high-pressure or deceptive sales tactics to get potential customers to buy expensive, and sometimes substandard, systems or equipment they don’t need.

Before you let anyone inside your home, ask for identification. Some state laws require door-to-door salespeople to tell you their name, the name of the business they represent, and the goods or services they wish to sell before asking you any questions or making any statements. Other states require salespeople to show you their “pocket card” license and a photo ID. Take a few minutes to look over their documentation.

Signs of a Security System Scam

Unscrupulous door-to-door sales agents use a variety of approaches and pitches to get you to buy an alarm system and monitoring services. Here’s what to look out for:

  • They may make a time-limited offer, and claim that you need to act now. For example, they may try to get you to sign a contract by telling you that the equipment is “free.” More than likely, strings are attached. For example, to get your “free” alarm, you may have to sign a long-term and expensive system monitoring contract.
  • They may pressure their way into your home and then refuse to leave. It is not impolite or rude to tell a salesperson you’re not interested. It’s much easier — and safer — to say “no” on the doorstep than to try to get the salesperson to leave once they’re inside. If a salesperson continues to pressure you after you’ve asked them to leave, call the police.
  • They may use scare tactics. For example, they may talk about a rash of supposed burglaries in your neighborhood.

Some door-to-door sales agents target homeowners who have signs on their properties for security systems with other companies. In these cases:

  • The sales agents may state or imply that they are from your existing security company and that they’re there to “upgrade” or “replace” your current security system. Once inside your home, however, they may install a new security system and have you sign papers that include a costly contract for the monitoring service.
  • They may claim your security company has gone out of business, that they’ve taken over the accounts, and that you have to buy new equipment and sign new contracts. If this happens, call your current monitoring company to confirm. Normally, you would be notified of a change like this by mail or telephone, not by an unannounced visit by a representative from another company.

Before you do business with anyone selling a home security or alarm system, whether they come to your door or you seek them out, the FTC and your state Attorney General urge you to ask potential contractors for the following information. Use it to check out the alarm company with the appropriate authorities: your state Attorney General, local consumer protection agency, Better Business Bureau, and state licensing officials. If the salesperson is reluctant to give you this information, consider it a red flag and find another company to consider.

  • Contractor’s name
  • Street address (no P.O. Box)
  • Telephone number
  • Contractor’s license number
  • State that issued the license
  • Name under which the license is filed

Buying a Home Security System

Home security systems are designed to protect you, your home, and your valuables. They vary in price and sophistication. Some systems not only can warn you of intruders, but also can notify authorities of a medical emergency, monitor smoke and carbon monoxide and water levels or pressures, and include video surveillance. Some systems also are linked into your home’s wiring, heating or lighting systems and use your mobile phone or computer to control them.

Most home security alarm installers can provide all-inclusive services that include equipment plus the installation and monitoring service.

If you’re thinking about buying a home security system, the FTC and your state Attorney General suggest that you:

Get references from your friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and from the company’s current clients. Find out whether the equipment was installed within the given time frame. Were any equipment problems dealt with promptly? Was the system explained to everyone living in the home? If there was an intrusion, were the police contacted immediately?

Check out the companies by entering their names in a search engine online. Read about other people’s experiences with the companies. Try to communicate offline if possible to clarify any details. In addition, contact your state Attorney General, local consumer protection agency, and the Better Business Bureau to see if any complaints are on file.

Verify that the contractor’s licenses are current and in good standing. Check with the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies for the appropriate agency in your state.

Get written estimates from several companies, and ask plenty of questions. A reputable company will not try to sell you anything before completing a professional assessment of your needs and the layout of your home. Find out:

  • Who will perform the installation and monitor the system? Some companies subcontract this work to a third party.
  • What is the contract period for monitoring? One year? More? Are there penalties for early termination? What happens if you move before the contract term is up?
  • How much does the monitoring cost? How often will you be billed?
  • Does the company call you before notifying the police?
  • How soon after the alarm sounds will you be notified?
  • What happens if the alarm company can’t reach you when the alarm is sounding? Is the alarm reset? Are the police called? Are alternate numbers called?
  • What happens if the power goes out? Is there a back-up battery system?
  • What does the warranty cover, and for how long? Is it from the manufacturer or their installer?
  • Who is responsible for repairs or upgrades to the system?
  • Does the company offer interactive services like smoke and fire detection, remote control, video surveillance, email notifications and special apps for smart phones?

Read the fine print. Once you’ve chosen a company, make sure the written contract includes all oral promises made by the salesperson. Your contract package should include:

  • Installation price
  • Monthly or quarterly monitoring fee
  • Contract period
  • Applicable discounts
  • A written warranty
  • The owner’s manual
  • An explanation of your right to cancel the deal
  • Cancellation forms

The contract also must be dated, and show the name and address of the seller.

Contact your police and fire departments. Ask whether you need to register your system, and if there are fines for responding to false alarms.

Understand that you can cancel the deal. The FTC’s Cooling-Off Rule gives you three business days to cancel the deal if you sign the contract in your home or at a location that is not the seller’s permanent place of business. You do not have to give a reason for canceling your purchase. You have a right to change your mind, even if the equipment has already been installed.

The salesperson must give you two copies of a cancellation form (one to keep and one to send back) and a copy of your contract. The contract must be dated, show the name and address of the seller, and explain your right to cancel. You may have additional consumer protections under state law. Check with your state Attorney General, local consumer protection agency, or the Better Business Bureau.


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The Future of Home Security

The future of home security: Get ready for sensors and pro-active systems

The future of home security: Get ready for sensors and pro-active systems

Today, home security is fairly straightforward. If you live in a home that has an “alarm” you’ve got a bevy of motion sensors dotted around your house, a central keypad by your front door with a standard keypad to disarm it and a box on the front of your house that says “look at me, I’m protecting something valuable inside”.

With the steady march of connected devices invading the home, and a number of companies looking to improve how we secure it, the future of home security is going to change drastically in the next couple of years, whether that is remotely controlling our lighting, seeing inside our house, or merely having sensors on our doors and windows detecting movement.

“Nothing concerns us more than the fear of someone breaking into our own home, yet very few homeowners heed the warnings until it’s too late,” explains Kris Hogg, chairman of CEDIA, the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association. “A lot of the time monitored alarm systems can be integrated with the very latest hi-tech lighting and automation facilities in order to provide even greater levels of security.”

Those systems include integrating the alarm system with an intelligent lighting system, such as the Lutron Homeworks system, so all the lights in your property will automatically switch on or flash incessantly when an intruder is detected, or setting your lights to randomly come on and off while you are on holiday to fool would-be burglars.

It is not just about integrating security systems with lighting however, although that is a start.

The Future of Home Security

Piper is a camera that monitors your home.

Home security is just one of the areas that connected devices in the home are likely to play a large part, but we are just at the start of the journey according to Jeremy Peterson, GM of Honeywell’s EMEA Home Comfort & Energy Systems division:

“It will become a much more consumer experience. Things like recognising you to disarm the security system will be possible too, and if you look at what’s available now like video monitoring, it will certainly have a place, and we will continue to see those things, but stepping away from the traditional way of looking at security.”

Video monitoring is certainly the rage at the moment with devices like BT’s HomeCam, and Belkin’s WeMo NetCam HD Wi-Fi Camera all offering homeowners the chance to see what’s happening in their house at any given time, as long as you have an internet connection.

If it’s not basic camera offerings, devices like Piper, the successful Indigogo campaign or Canary are products that once plugged in, you can monitor a number of different points of data like movement, temperature or sound, as well as connect to other devices to help you control your lighting through a singleservice.

Where Peterson sees things moving forwards however is sensors, be it cameras, motion detectors, or markers tracking your movement in your home via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or GPS. It will mean your home security system will be able to pro-actively work to help you out rather than you having to remember a series of codes.

“The system architectures are going to become a lot more pro-active in making more things possible. The key fob on the wall has a broad audience, but you will continue to see much more flexible and device level security solutions. Those certainly have a lot of room to grow.”

Honeywell, Tado, and Google’s Nest, are all actively using geofencing to help better control intelligent heating systems and Honeywell sees this as just one of the keys to success in improving security in the home too.

In an interview with Pocket-lint, Peterson outlines a future scenario in the home whereby your house will automatically know you are at the front door and unlock the door, or disable the alarm for you:

“What we are working towards is a pro-active approach, but allowing them to craft the system they desire,” said Paterson, before warning that although the company already offers similar solutions to some of its 1.5 million business customers around the world, there is a big difference between providing comfort over security.

The Future of Home Security - i-Bell

i-Bell is an intelligent Wi-Fi enabled doorbell that will call your phone when someone rings the bell

“When you start moving from comfort to security, there is less willingness by Honeywell and the consumers to compromise. With door locks, for example, it has to work every time instantly, there is no room for error.”

While many have wondered, including us here at Pocket-lint, why we still don’t have central locking for our house but we do our car, it is understandably, the notion that we could be locked out of our homes simply because the computer as encountered an error would be unforgivable.

“We will do it when are ready rather than trying to be first to market,” added Paterson.

In the meantime we should probably just get used to having intelligent doorbells instead.

i-Bell is one such product hoping to let you see who is at your front door by connecting to your smartphone. The successfully backed Kickstarter Wi-Fi doorbell will notify you when someone is at the door and then let you talk to them via your smartphone even if you aren’t at home. Anyone that does knock automatically gets their photo taken so you’ve got a record of who has visited your house and you can tell them you are in, out, or simply trapped under a large cupboard.

Inside the house and sensors and iBeacon-like technology will be able to help determine where we are and what we are doing.

The Future of Home Security - Lightpad

Lightpad is hoping to make the switches in your home do more than just turn on a light

Lightpad, is an intelligent light switch due to launch in 2015 and will featureBluetooth that can, if you want, track you around the house.

Created by a new company called Plum, the LightPad is packed full of tech and has a capacitive multi-touch interface controlled by a number of gestures, along with a coloured LED on it allowing it to notify you if you have a message, or if something is wrong.

Utz Baldwin, CEO at Plum explains that having Bluetooth in the Lightpad it would mean that when you walked up to your front door, for example, the Lightpad would know you are approaching and then automatically turn on the lights as you walked through the door.

Others are looking to increase the number of sensors in our homes too. Nest’s intelligent smoke detector, Nest Protect, might have received some flack for being recalled, but it too uses a plethora of sensors to better inform the wider system. If carbon monoxide is detected in the house, for example, it turns the boiler off, as long as you’ve also got the company’s thermostat.

Fibaro, takes things even further offering a central hub that numerous sensors can wirelessly connect to. It can track everything from water, smoke, temperature, light, and movement as long as you’ve installed the right sensor.

So should we be prepared to live in a home full of sensors monitoring our every move? We put that question to Paterson at Honeywell:

“Consumers have to make those choices. The knowledge that they are giving up something to benefit themselves will be something they have to weigh up. For systems to make pro-active decisions you will need sensors, there is no real other way around it.”

The Future of Home Security - Fibaro

Fibaro wants to offer dozens of sensors to know what your house is doing

It’s a belief that Russell Ure, founder of Piper also has:

“I think sensors in the home is only a matter of time,” said the Canadian founder. “To achieve the level of automation that we want, you will need to have technology there to make it all happen. It will be required. As all of this technology becomes more and more capable, we will need more sensors.”

Paterson and Honeywell, don’t see that as a major stumbling block believing that when consumers trust the brand, like he says they already do with the quick adoption of Honeywell’s intelligent heating systems, that they will be happy to accept that to get the new benefits these systems bring, there will have to be some give and take.

Article provided by Pocket-Lint

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