Why Your Business Needs a Security System

Today’s Security System are not just Bells and Whistles.

It’s a new age for Security Systems and Technology, with today’s systems employing many different kinds of technology. Technology like, Surveillance Cameras, Access Control, devices for the Networking of building systems, Fire Alarms, and Monitoring.

Access Control

Security

Any mechanism or system that manages access through the authorization or revocation of rights to physical or logical assets within an organization is considered access control. Great definition right! But why do I need access control? Well, there can be many different reasons why a company or property owner could need access control. Here are just a few.

  • Who is in the Building.  Know who is in your facility, manage their level of access and meet regulatory compliance objectives.
  • A safe environment for tenants, employees, visitors, and contractors. Protect people, facilities, networks, and assets.
  • Control access to highly secure areas.  Solutions can be designed to protect your facilities that require a higher level security. Areas with sensitive data, networks, and critical or high-value information.
  • Commercial fleet fueling stations. RFID enabled fueling automation system to monitor and control commercial fleet fuel access, cost, and billing.

Cameras

The cameras are most often used for security, but they can also be used for building management. If there’s a broken window, trash left in the hallways (like a couch or old bed), tenants walking pets around the buildings social areas and leaving a mess (you can guess what kind), all of these and more can be monitored with Security Cameras to better help the property manager/owner manage the property or properties if you have more than one location.

Tenants who engage in any kind of misbehavior are caught on camera, identified and can be warned or fined for their actions. Once tenants and their visitors realize they can’t get away with the inappropriate behavior, it will stop. This translates to significant savings in operational costs for the property owners and justifies the cost of the cameras.

Fire Alarms and Monitoring

If there is a fire, a break-in, or if someone pushes a panic button, an alarm monitoring team is aware of it the moment it happens. Emergency agencies can be called into action immediately – police, fire, ambulance, or any necessary support services are filled in on the details about your home or business, and the designated contact is called. All of this happens within minutes of the alarm.

So, Why?

There are many reasons to have a Security System, and security companies try to plan for your needs. But it’s the things in life that happen that you least except that generate the need for a Security System.

So, Why do you need a Security System? Put simply, a Security System is your plan to handle the worst of what life throws at you.

By: Lance Roberts

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Home Automation: A Beginner’s Guide

What if all the devices in your life could connect to the Internet? Not just computers and smartphones, but everything: clocks, garage doors, speakers, lights, doors, windows, window blinds, door bells, hot water heaters, appliances, you name it. And what if those devices could all communicate, send you information, and take your commands? It’s not science fiction; it’s the Internet of Things (IoT), and it’s a key component of home automation.

Home automation is what it sounds like: automating the ability to control items around the house—from window shades to pet feeders—with a simple push of a button (or a voice command). Some activities, like setting up a lamp to turn on and off at your whim, are simple and relatively inexpensive. Others, like advanced surveillance cameras, may require a more serious investment of time and money.

Still, imagine monitoring your home using an interface on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, or even panels mounted around the house. It’s like going from using the Clapper to beaming up to the U.S.S. Enterprise.

Home automation is going mainstream. Your house is going to get smart, no matter what. Get in on the ground floor and become the family home automation expert. Here’s how to get started.

Home-Automation Technologies

Before you buy a bunch of home-automation products, it helps to understand the technologies involved in setting up and using them. These products use many different communication protocols. Some are wired, some wireless, and some are a combination. Try to stick with one protocol when buying products, or get a hub/gateway that supports multiple protocols.

X10
x10This granddaddy of home automation protocols dates back to the 1970s and has gone from power line-based to wireless. X10 is not known for robust speed or great communication between units on the home automation network. It is, however, typically inexpensive.


ZigBee
ZigBee is a wireless 802 standard from the IEEE, which is to say, a bunch of gearheads came up with it before an outside group (the ZigBee Alliance) made up of vendors created products that use it. One of the key elements in IEEE 802.15.4 (its real name) is that it makes a mesh network so that most of the devices communicate equally. It’s also very low power. (You may also hear about Thread, a new wireless protocol that uses the same radio chips and frequency at ZigBee, and connects up to 250 devices in a home to the cloud.)


Z-Wave
Another wireless home automation protocol, Z-Wave is owned by one company, Sigma Designs, which makes all the chips for other vendors to make Z-Wave-capable products, known as the Z-Wave Alliance.


Insteon
This may be the best of all protocols because it combines a wired power line-based protocol with wireless. Both work as a mesh; all nodes on an Insteon home automation network are peers that can communicate when in proximity. If one fails, the other mesh can take over. You can buy Insteon devices at Smarthome.com, which is run by SmartLabs, the developers of Insteon. It’s compatible with X10.


Wi-Fi
This is the networking protocol we’re all used to for sharing an Internet connection among laptops, game consoles, and so much more. It’s super-fast and ubiquitous. So, of course, it’s inevitable that some vendors would make home automation products to take advantage of it. The other protocols use less power and bandwidth but Wi-Fi’s reach can’t be understated, even if it is overkill to use it to turn a lamp on and off.


Bluetooth
A staple of every PC, smartphone, and tablet, Bluetooth is better known for connecting items at a short range like keyboards, mice, headphones, and earbuds. But a lot of new products use the Bluetooth 4.0, aka Bluetooth Low Energy, aka Bluetooth Smart. It doesn’t require purposeful re-connection all the time, making it a good solution for select IoT items.


Top-Rated Home Automation Products

Just as there are many home automation protocols, there are many product categories, so you can control everything from lights and temperature to locks and security in your home. Here’s a quick rundown of our favorites.

 

Hubs

Samsung SmartThings Hub

Samsung SmartThings Hub / Home Automation


Our current Editors’ Choice for home automation hubs, the Samsung SmartThings Hub$99.00 at Amazon box works with devices that use Z-Wave, Zigbee, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. It got major improvements after Samsung bought SmartThings, including support for video surveillance cameras. Get it as a standalone box or as a $249 starter kit with monitors for temperature and vibration. There are 200 products that work with SmartThings.

 


 

Surveillance Cameras

Icontrol Networks Piper nv

Icontrol Networks Piper nv Security Camera

Piper nv$272.98 at Amazon is surveillance camera you can watch remotely from an iOS or Android device, perfect for keeping an eye on the house, the pets, even as a baby monitor. But it’s a lot more than that. It’s also a Z-Wave controller, monitoring all sorts of sensors to give you household control no matter where you are. The camera is excellent, with pan, tilt, and zoom functions plus sharp night vision and two-way audio.

 


 

Controllers

Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo

Is this Bluetooth speaker really all that when it comes to home automation or controls? It can be, and will only get better. Echo$179.99 at Amazon, Amazon’s voice-controlled audio concierge, pair with Web automation service IFTTT to control home devices like a thermostat or lights, via recipes you can create yourself. It might take a little work, but soon your house could be entirely controlled by the sound of your voice.

 

Logitech Harmony Ultimate Home

Harmony Ultimate Home

Don’t like talking and prefer to push buttons? Our review calls the Logitech Harmony Ultimate Home$215.99 at Amazon the “ultimate universal remote” for a reason. It controls a lot more than just TV and stereo. The pricey unit connects with the included Harmony Home Hub that talks via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or infrared (you pay a little more to add ZigBee and Z-Wave connectivity).

 


 

Heating and Cooling

Nest Learning Thermostat

Nest Thermostat

The Nest Learning Thermostat $195.99 at Amazon is like a piece of digital art that controls your temperature. It was, after all, designed by the guys who created the iPod. It has built-in Wi-Fi so you can remotely control the temperature from phone, tablet, or PC. It’s not cheap, but Nest will look right at home in any smart house. Plus, Nest Labs (owned by Alphabet, parent company of Google), also makes networkable smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detectors$99.99 at Best Buy that talk to you rather than blare alarms.

 

Ecobee3 Smart WiFi Thermostat

Nice as the Nest is, it’s not our top pick. The Editors’ Choice goes to theEcobee3$249.00 at Amazon. It’s a stylish device you can control remotely. Best of all, it’s not dependent on just monitoring home temperature from one spot—it checks multiple sensors in multiple rooms.

 


 

Lighting

Philips Hue Connected Bulb

Philips Hue Lux

Want complete wireless supremacy over the lights in your home? Philips Hue $154.99 at Amazon delivers with bulbs that you control not only the intensity of the light, but also the color. It’s expensive to be sure, but the Hue ecosystem has been around long enough that it works with just about every other system out there, from Amazon Echo to IFTTT (If This Then That) to Siri (using the Philips Hue Bridge 2.0). If you want a cheaper price of entry, try the off-white-light only Philips Hue Lux Starter Kit $79.99 at Dell for half the price. The Hue apps can even control third-party smart bulbs. Philips sells a number of other Hue products, including table lamps, a suspension lamp, and the interest Philips Hue Go portable smart light.

 


Locks and Home Security Systems

Schlage Sense

Schlage Sense

There are a lot of smart locks/deadbolts on the market now, but our favorite is the newSense$209.99 at Amazon from longtime lock maker Schlage. It’s pricey, but easy to install, works with iPhones (via Siri voice control), and will let in only who you specify. You can also just use the touchpad on the front to unlock the door.

 

Vivint

Vivint Line Up 2016

Vivint used to be APX Alarm Security Solutions, but now has a cool name to go along with expanding beyond security into home automation. We gave four stars to its Vivint Sky$49.99 at Vivint, which includes subscription-based remote monitoring by pros that costs from $50 to $70 per month and a panel in your home for controlling it yourself. It doesn’t beat our favorite self-installed home security system (the iSmartAlarm Premium $299.00 at Amazon), but if you want pro-installation and an extra set of eyes, Vivint is an excellent choice. It can even be controlled with the Amazon Echo.

 

SimpliSafe Home Security System

SimpliSafe Home Security System Keypad

If you prefer to stick to a DIY approach to smartening up the home, check out the SimpliSafe system $259.95 at Amazon. While it lacks a camera, it makes up for that with reasonable prices with monthly monitoring of a wide range of sensors. It comes in five different packages, so you can get exactly what’s right for your home.

 


Outdoors

Rachio Iro Smart Sprinkler Controller

Rachio Monitor

It’s not much to look at, but the Rachio Iro Smart Sprinkler Controller $249.00 at Home Depot can make sure you water your lawn only when needed—even if you’re not home. It works with IFTTT to make sure the droplets only come out when the weather calls for it.

Article Provided By: PC

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Central Monitoring Values Consistency

Central Monitoring

Central Monitoring Checklists Create Consistency For Customers

Judy Randle, president of Central Monitoring, gave alarm dealers advice on creating consistency through checklists and manuals at last year’s Honeywell CONNECT, in the session “Run your business like a franchise: Why policies, processes and procedures are important.”

The benefit is that franchises—Randle gave chain restaurants as an example—can make customers feel more comfortable because they’ll be getting the same products and service at any location. An alarm company can use checklists to achieve that consistency.

“The processes and procedures are important,” Randle told Security Systems News. “If everybody’s doing it differently, then the customer’s not getting that common, comforting experience,” she said.

“When a technician goes into someone’s home, we want them to check everything … but we also want to make sure that they cleaned up their work area, and they left information with the customer, and took the time to thank the customer.”

These steps can be forgotten sometimes, Randle said, especially when a technician is in a hurry. “Checklists don’t mean we don’t know how to do it, it just means that we have so much else going on,” she said. An attendee pointed out that the goal is to manage the processes, not the people.

Checklists and manuals “definitely” create accountability, Randle said, which is another key benefit. They present employees with written examples of what’s expected of them.

When first creating checklists, Randle advised companies to start by documenting tasks they do daily, as those are often the most important. After that, gradually move on to tasks that are less frequent—perhaps weekly, then monthly duties.

Central Monitoring started as a wholesale central station in 1984; Randle became a partner in 1991. Central Monitoring became a full-service alarm company in 2000.

The company has 15,000 accounts, she said—about two thirds are wholesale, the rest are Central Monitoring customers. The company monitors in 14 states in the Southeast.

Put simply, Written protocols, like checklists and manuals, help create accountability.

Article Provided By: Security System News

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Alarm Monitoring Service: On-Call Emergency Responders

Alarm MonitoringHome alarm monitoring is one of the most essential services of your home security setup. After all, even if you have the best home alarm system that catches every burglar, this won’t do you much good if no one responds in your time of need. This article discusses central monitoring stations, how they work, and things to ask your alarm provider before signing on the dotted line.

Central Alarm Monitoring Stations

Lots of the top alarm companies will go on and on about the number and quality of central monitoring stations (the station that take your alarm alert and pass it to local authorities), and the inferiority of central monitoring stations other companies use. The bottom line is that you want an alarm company that doesn’t simply use a good central monitoring station(s), but does a good job of installing your system to your needs (or in the case of a self-install, helps guide you through the process), answers your security questions, and makes you feel comfortable with the service you are buying. You want your alarm system setup correctly and with adequate security measures (i.e. doesn’t allow cut phone or internet lines) to begin with. And just because someone has multiple monitoring stations, does not mean those stations are as reliable as the one that the companies that choose one excellent one use. See below under Rapid Response and Criticom for more info on the choice in monitoring station made by Frontpoint and ProtectAmerica, our top two contenders for best security system.

How Important Is A Monitored Alarm System?

According to research studies, homes with a monitored security system are 2.2 times less likely to be burglarized, and business with a monitored security system are 4.5 times less likely to be burglarized. In addition, 85% of police chiefs recommend the installation of monitored security systems.

Rapid Response

So who does our winner, Frontpoint, use? They use Rapid Response for their central monitoring service (the center that processes your alarm event and dispatches local authorities). With a 40,000 square foot headquarters facility in Central New York, Rapid Response Monitoring is listed by Underwriter Laboratories and certified by Factory Mutual. Rapid Response is one of fewer than two dozen Central Stations approved to monitor fire alarms in New York City. In addition to fire alarms, Rapid Response also monitors burglary, supervisory & medical signals, and offers GPS tracking/monitoring. Rapid Response performs monitoring of military, commercial, and residential accounts as well as provides answering service capability for its Dealers. Video, voice and data are processed by highly trained personnel to ensure error free handling of calls and signals. Check out the Rapid Response website for more information.

Do Alarm Companies Monitor The Communication Path?

A very common misunderstanding of alarm monitoring service contracts is that people think that alarm companies monitor the communication path between the alarm in the home or business and the actual Central Monitoring Station. This frustrates a lot of homeowners who assume, instead of reading their contract or asking the right questions.

Typically, you are paying your alarm service provider to process, treat and respond to alarm signals originating from your home that the Central Monitoring Station actually receives.

You are not paying for your alarm company to monitor the communication path, unless this is clearly stipulated in your contract with the associated fees necessary to perform this additional service for you.

Program Your Alarm To Send Self-Tests

Alarm panels can be programmed to send daily €œself-tests€ to the monitoring station once every 24 hours. There are some alarm companies who will notify their clients if their alarm panel €œmisses€ its daily self-test. However, some alarm panels which I have taken over were programmed for a self-test only once every 30 days.

Questions To Ask Your Alarm Provider

I suggest that you ask your alarm service provider to explain what happens if your alarm panel stops €œcalling€ your monitoring station and find out exactly when you will be notified (if at all).

If you have interactive services and your alarm panel is programmed for daily self-tests, you can receive a notification on your cell phone each time that your alarm panel calls the monitoring station, reassuring you once a day that a transmission test has been successfully made.

You should test your motion detectors, door and window contacts on a regular basis to ensure that your home is properly secured. I recommend activating the “door chime” feature so that your keypad(s) make a tone each time your doors and windows are opened and closed. If you open a door and don’t hear a chime, it’s time to verify the contact with your security system.

Alarms and Sensors vs Complete “Home Security”

First and foremost, I think I need to differentiate the term €œhome security system€ from the phrase €œsecurity alarm system€. An alarm system is just that, a system of sensors strategically located around the property designed to pick up motion or some other stimulus and trigger an alarm inside the home, alerting the residents and potentially the local authorities as well. A home security system goes much further than that, although it does include an alarm system within the whole panel of services.

Home Security Monitoring Is Key To Home Security Alarm Systems

Alarm Monitoring

Home security is primarily focused around the concept of €œhome monitoring€ now. Again, a system of sensors and possibly cameras are integrated into the home and then connected to a network that is logged into a central command center. This center is manned 24 hours a day and seven days a week by staff that are trained to respond to triggers in the system and react accordingly. This may include calling the fire department if a heat sensor or smoke alarm is triggered. It may include alerting the homeowner themselves if the temperature of the house drops below freezing and the residents are away so the homeowner can make arrangements to avoid having pipes burst and other problems. It also includes monitoring agents to contact ambulance services if they see a homeowner is injured in the home or an alert is sent via network. The constant watch of an all-time security blanket is a powerful tool and a huge selling point of modern home security systems.

Home Automation And Interactive Monitoring Are An Added Perk

More than just security is being sold by these home security companies. The ability to control your home remotely and have access to what is happening there in real time is extremely alluring for many Americans, especially those who travel frequently for work. They can be told via text message or email alert on their mobile device when a particular door has been opened and a code has been entered into the system, potentially indicating that one of their children has come home.  The possibilities available via home security systems with a networked home monitoring and management system are increasingly limitless as we become more and more connected everywhere we go.

Wireless Communication Signal To The Monitoring Station Is More Secure

Lastly, the technology side of things, many systems are switching to 100% wireless equipment, eliminating the need for extensive wiring and increasing the potential for securing and secluding the hardware required to make the system work. But, it is important to note that hard-wired with supervised wiring or a hybrid alarm system (which is a combination of both hard-wired and wireless components) are just as secure as a wireless alarm system so long as they are installed by a true security professional. But, a top priority no matter how your security system has been installed (hard-wired, wireless or a hybrid of the two) is a wireless communication signal to the monitoring station (such as a long-range radio or cellular communicator).

Article Provided By: A Secure Life

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