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Access Control 101: What You Need to Know About Security

Security, in your home or business, is about controlling access. Defined as the selective restriction to a place or resource, giving someone access control assumes authorization to use, consume or otherwise control the protected good. Whether you are trying to protect your intellectual property from would-be counterfeiters or you are trying to protect your belongings from thieves, every security system begins with how you control access to your home, shop, business, or another environment.

Types of Access Control Systems

It is easy to assume access control systems are high-tech gadgets that prevent would-be intruders from entering an area of a property. In reality, these systems can be divided into one of two categories, physical access control systems, and technological access control systems.

card entry access control

An example of card access

Physical access control systems were a fancy term for locks, guards, or other physical barriers to access. Once upon a time, only those with a set of keys were able to open doors that contained important information, goods or property. The only problem with such physical control systems was that they were operated by humans. Keys are lost and remade or unaccounted for in personnel changes. Salaries for security are costly, especially for small businesses and private homeowners.

Technological access control systems have augmented and in some cases replaced physical systems. Homeowners and businesses no longer must rely on keys and guards for security but can manage control points electronically. Access cards and card readers, control access keypads, biometric locks, key fobs, and electric lock hardware is becoming more commonplace in businesses and homes. The ability to control access remotely via a central location or even smartphone app has added to the complexity and security offered by technological access control systems.

Access Control Devices

The number and type of access control devices vary based on the complexity of the system. For our purposes, we will focus on the three basic types of readers that are available in security systems.

  1. Basic readers. Users gain access by inputting a PIN into a keypad which then triggers a locking mechanism to unlock the door. The system does not make decisions about who is permitted to enter but simply gives access to anyone with a code.
  2. Semi-intelligent readers. These readers have everything necessary to control a door (access to a lock, a magnetic door contact, and an exit button) but do not make access decisions based on who is trying to get in. If a person presents a card or enters a pin, the reader relays information to the main controller and awaits a response. These systems can be adjusted to allow certain people access to certain places, but always requires a person to input that access into the controller.
  3. Intelligent readers. Controlling access points like semi-intelligent readers, intelligent readers take the technology a step further by connecting directly to a PC that can fully integrate access information, track a person’s whereabouts, time signatures and activities and provide an owner with an overall picture of what is happening while they are gone. Intelligent readers are especially useful in home security systems where people can check up on their home, kids or pets remotely from their smartphone.
access control systems

Manage your entire staff’s access control from one central location or from individual devices

Whether you are searching for a way to secure your home or make your business safer, HS Tech Group offers personalized solutions for every environment. Call today for a free consultation.

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Case Study: Apartment Community Receives Video Analytics Security Upgrade

HS Tech Group was contacted in late 2013 by a property management company searching for a security solution for one of their existing apartment communities. The Anne Arundel County property was upscale and hosted a variety of luxurious amenities. While the property currently employed security guards and some security cameras, both were unable to deter or prevent the theft that was occurring.

After visiting the property and conducting a thorough site analysis, HS Tech Group learned that automobiles were being vandalized and people were gaining access to restricted areas within the clubhouse.

With the information we obtained, HS Tech Group was able to determine the type of system that could potentially eliminate or greatly reduce these occurrences. HS Tech Group introduced a video surveillance system that employs video analytics. The software allows us to create rules for the cameras, such as when an individual approaches a door or a vehicle enters the property. This type of system can detect when movement occurs within the perimeter and transmit the live video instantly to the security guard and property manager.

This cutting edge technology allows us to design and engineer systems that are unique to each project.  Schedules can be configured; offsite monitoring can alert authorities and even communicate with the trespassers through a speaker. This type of system often leads to fewer cameras and can reduce or even eliminate the need for a security guard. Since the deployment of this system, there has not been another undetected or unresolved incident on the property.

For more information about video analytics or improving the safety and security of your property, please contact Mark Recene at 1-888-947-8476 or markrecene@hst-group.com

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Marketplace Apartments: Historic Waterfront District of Fells Point

Welcome to Marketplace ApartmentsWhere Modern Luxury meets the Historic Waterfront District of Fells Point

When The Dolben Company teamed up with HS Tech Group, their goal was to offer unique spaces in the main building where residents could escape the daily grind and enjoy the property’s upscale amenities.

Crestron Automation System

Designed with simplicity in mind, HS Tech Group provided a Crestron automation system to manage a schedule for the building’s audio and video systems.  When staff arrives in the morning, they no longer have to navigate throughout the building to power up their entertainment systems. HS Tech Group programmed the assortment of TV’s and speakers to turn on and off at specific times. To help conserve energy; occupancy sensors were also installed. If one of the residents leaves a TV or music playing after business hours and doesn’t return for a period, the TV and music will power off. This is a relatively low-cost solution to save energy and extend the life of the components throughout the property.

Since connectivity was an important element, HS Tech Group chose to install a Ruckus Wi-Fi network. Recognized for its dependability, this system is designed to mitigate neighboring interference and improve the quality of the internet connection. Streaming audio and video sources to multiple devices can easily be achieved at any given time.

For more information on HS Tech Group and what we can do for your clubhouse or commercial property – please contact Mark Recene at 1-888-947-8476 X 1108 or mr@hst-group.com

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Case Study: The Towns at Mill Run

The Towns at Mill Run – Where Contemporary Style Blends with Crestron Automation

When asked by the team from Klein Enterprises to create a fun and entertaining environment for their new clubhouse at The Towns at Mill Run in Owings Mills, HS Technology Group knew exactly what to do.

Entering the great room, it’s clear that the space was designed as a haven for residents to unwind and relax.

The sleek commercial grade Samsung 65” HDTV mounted above the fireplace sets an ideal stage to enjoy an O’s or Ravens game.  In-ceiling speakers by Sonance balance peak performance with design for an unparalleled surround sound system, making you feel like you’re at the game.  Additional TVs in the billiards and fitness center assure you don’t miss a moment of the action.

To make selecting TV channels, radio stations or watching a movie easier than ever, HS Technology Group chose Crestron automation. Easy to overlook at 1st glance, the elegant 7” touch screen remote with ultra-bright, high-resolution graphics seamlessly controls the assortment of Audio, Video and Security components functioning behind the scenes.

From customized rules that wake up and turn off the TV’s at certain times to setting volume limits– the system enhances enjoyment while not disturbing residents in other areas of the clubhouse.  The system offers the ability to expand if the needs for spaces ever change and additional services like lighting, motorized shades and HVAC can all be easily added to the Crestron platform as well.

For more information on HS Technology Group and what we can do for your clubhouse or commercial property – please contact Mark Recene at 1-888-947-8476 X1108 or mr@hst-group.com

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Howard County Welcomes First of its Kind, LEED Platinum – Certified Apartment Community

While the community invites residents to experience green living, in no way does it compromise on luxury.

We knew all eyes would be on us when general contractor “The Dolben Company,” contacted technology partner, HS Tech Group about this unique community. HS Tech Group was able to incorporate a stylish audio system that adds comfort throughout the amenity rich clubhouse.  Sonance architectural speakers were selected for two reasons.  Compared to traditional loudspeakers, Sonance delivers superior sound coverage and unparallel audio performance.  Sonance also incorporates the very best design for blending in with the rooms’ aesthetics – which was an essential request.

Connectivity is more important than ever these days, so to deliver even faster internet connections, HS Tech Group installed a network in the clubhouse that included a robust Wi-FI platform.  Whether it’s for work or play, residents will have no trouble downloading files or surfing the net.

A variety of wall mounted TV’s were installed to compliment the space as well.  However, to maintain a refined appearance, HS Tech Group centrally located all of the cable boxes back to one convenient location.  This prevents those unsightly “exposed” wires and the need to incorporate furniture to store cable boxes and DVD players.

For more information on HS Tech Group and what we can do for your clubhouse or commercial property – please contact Mark Recene at 1-888-947-8476 X1108 or mr@hst-group.com

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Lutron Lighting Control

Lutron® has been the world’s leading manufacturer of lighting controls and systems for 1/2 a century.  Claiming over 90% of the lighting control market, they offer shading solutions and have opened a new world of possibilities by seamlessly integrating electric and daylight control with a focus on innovation, world-class engineering, and customer service. Lutron blends technology with design and environmental sensitivity to provide the ideal solution for total light control.

Integration & Home Automation

Seamlessly integrate technology into your home. Lutron light control systems can combine with audio, video, security, and HVAC. From simple incorporation with a single system to sophisticated high-level integration, Lutron designs its controls to work reliably and intuitively with other systems in your home.
home automation lighting control

Commercial Lighting Control & Automation

Enhance your room’s aesthetics, reduce energy, increase productivity and save money.

The right lighting control system can help set the stage for a productive business. It can reduce overall energy costs, and studies show that a well-designed system can increase an individual’s concentration, reduce stress, and have a positive effect on overall behavior. HS Tech Group can design a Lutron lighting system and Lutron Shade solution that takes all these elements into consideration.

In most commercial facilities, lighting accounts for more than 40% of annual electricity usage. The usage is even higher for other industries such as healthcare and hospitality—and most of the excess costs can be attributed to inappropriate lighting levels, fixtures (especially now that Lutron LED lighting is available), or design. Our design focuses on increasing visual comfort and efficiency wherever possible.

Residential Lighting Control & Automation

HS Tech Group’s lighting and shade designs enhance a room’s aesthetics, reduce energy consumption, and save money. We take pride in designing sustainable systems for new construction or existing spaces that maximize available daylight while minimizing electricity usage.

lighting shade design

Key Elements for Lighting Control Systems for both residential and commercial lighting control systems:

  • Green Efficiencies
  • Daylight Harvesting
  • Occupancy/Vacancy Sensors
  • Keypad Design and use of Scenes
  • Integration of Schedules
  • Enhanced Safety and Functionality
  • An App for Lighting!

Green Efficiencies: The More You Dim, the More You Save

Dimming your lights is a great way to begin saving energy. Simply dimming the lights a mere 10% can save you 10% in energy costs. The “green” philosophy we have adopted is “use less, save more.” This reduction in light will go unnoticed—but won’t go unnoticed when you review your utility statements. And you’ll extend the life of your bulbs.

dimming lights save energy

Since lighting generates heat, your cooling system must compensate for the rise in heat. A lighting and shade solution helps you manage this by simply reducing the amount of electric lighting or lowering shades during certain times of the day. In most cases the amount of light emitted while in use is far more than required, resulting in an increase in your utility bills. For those areas that still need some light, we offer a large variety of fabrics and materials and can customize the shade application to allow partial light or even darken the room.

Daylight Harvesting: Save More on Sunny Days

Daylight is another important consideration for any design. A key component that HS Tech Group can include in a lighting control system is called “Daylight Harvesting.” This concept is designed to automatically reduce the amount of energy being used to light a room when an ample supply of natural daylight is available. The more windows you have, the more you might save. Installing skylights and opening shades and blinds will help increase the amount of natural light, resulting in less need for overhead lighting. HS Tech Group can provide many alternative solutions to maximize natural light and incorporate the appropriate amount of light from the lighting control system as needed. Installing skylights and opening shades and blinds will help increase the amount of natural light, resulting in less need for overhead lighting.

Occupancy/Vacancy Sensors

Additional savings can be achieved by installing occupancy/vacancy sensors. This feature will assure that lights are turned off when a room is not occupied. They are designed to automatically turn lights off when someone leaves the room and doesn’t return for a period—or turn lights on automatically when someone enters a room.

Keypad Design: Managed Control

With the proper design, HS Tech Group can address strategic areas that allow control over lighting throughout the entire facility. From one convenient location, staff can control multiple lights that reside at multiple locations. An “All Off” button can be programmed at designated exits to ensure all “non-essential” lighting is not left on overnight. Through programming, we’re able to achieve a variety of additional commands that can reduce the amount of “wall acne” found in most buildings. This is an essential component of each design. With our customized keypads, we can consolidate the various light switches, security keypads, shade controls, ceiling fan controls and more. What’s best about an intelligent lighting control system is that it offers the flexibility to make changes later—it’s simply a matter of reprogramming that load.

control lighting throughout building

Integration of Schedules

HS Tech Group can incorporate a time-clock and astronomical clock feature that switches designated lights and shades on and off. This feature is based upon a preprogrammed schedule, so it knows when and where specific lighting is required. The astronomical clock is programmed to adjust for dusk and dawn. The system can be programmed to enhance energy savings during precise times of the day when areas of the building are not in use, or the facility is closed.

Enhanced Safety and Functionality

Lighting control systems can increase your facility’s level of safety by creating a safely lighted entry up to the building from the parking area. Our lighting systems can automatically come on as soon as you enter the building or while disarming the alarm system. The advantage is to provide a safe entry and allow people to feel comfortable when entering the building. Lighting is also a deterrent for potential intruders. HS Tech Group can program a scene that will provide the appearance that the building/space is occupied when it’s closed. This scene is programmed to randomly turn on, turn off and dim various lights throughout your entire facility.

Lighting Control App

With the convergence of computers and PDAs, most users of smartphones appreciate the additional control a smartphone app gives them. Lutron lighting control allows you to control your lighting from your mobile device. Just request this option when you inquire to make sure your application is designed with this feature in mind.

Good for the Environment – Good for Your Bottom Line

In a short period, your staff will not only enjoy their new lighting environment, but you’ll immediately begin to experience the savings your new system will bring. Be sure to research incentives you might be entitled to through state and federal rebate programs—as well as your utility company.

lighting environment

Case Study

Well-timed Lighting for a Baltimore County Restaurant

An HS Tech Group client was in the process of remodeling their restaurant. The client had utilized lighting control in the past and realized the long term benefits. After researching our Lutron Lighting Control system, he learned that he would be able to retrofit a lighting control system into his space by using a “hybrid” lighting system. The system was designed to offer all of the savings and control a standard lighting control system offers to utilize wireless technologies. The system utilized the astronomical clock as well as built-in timers to control the parking lot lights as it gets dark and interior lights for days when they are closed. The reduction in energy costs, the simplicity of having one switch at certain locations to turn off all the lights when they leave—along with interior dining scenes—really gave the owner more than what they expected.

Recommended Solutions

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