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.

Most people feel confident in their security systems until something goes terribly wrong. Whether it is an outdated system that doesn’t work all the time (and you don’t arm the system all of the time), the neighborhood watch drops the ball, or you have a flood in the home or worse a fire, you are less likely protected than you think.  Therefore, an upgrade may be needed in your near future.

An upgrade to your security system not only protects you from those who wish to do you harm, but they also offer your family or business several additional benefits.

Download our Business Video Surveillance Preliminary Design Checklist for FREE, HERE!

Real-Time Alerts

Today’s security systems are interactive. They are designed to notify you for various types of reasons. These notifications can be based on an event occurring or not occurring. For example, if your child is supposed to come home and turn the alarm off at 3 PM, but it’s 3:30 PM and the alarm hasn’t been turned off, your system can be set to notify you by sending a text message to your cell phone. Conversely, you can receive alerts every time your front door opens, or every time your system is armed or disarmed.

If you’re running a business and can’t always open the store, it would be nice to know that your staff disarmed the system and who disarmed the system and at what time. What if you had a power outage and were away from home? Wouldn’t it be nice to know? You could make arrangements to preserve the food in the freezer as well as make other preparations before you return home to no power.

real time alerts security system

Get real-time alerts on your smartphone!

Whether these alerts are emails, text messages, or automated phone calls, they can be generated at specific times of the day or based on an event to allow you to see who is entering your facility and what is happening. Additionally, real-time feedback allows you to set alerts for when a particular event happens, such as when a medicine cabinet, gun cabinet, or safe is opened. The same sensors that monitor gun safes and medicine cabinets can also be placed on laptops, desk drawers, and other valuable items. The system can be disarmed, but it can be programmed with our interactive model to allow you to receive an alert when your mechanical room door opens or the liquor cabinet opens in your home while the kids are home and you are out on the town.

Cellular Communication

All conventional systems installed up and through the early 2000’s utilized a POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) telephone line. The copper phone line was connected to your home, usually from a telephone pole close by or underground with burial grade cabling. The issue is that a majority of these lines still exist today and they are blatantly exposed on the outside of your home. They are mounted on the outside of the house in a box called a NID (Network Interface Device), which for years has been the property of the phone company. If you have a problem with your phone line, the phone company will test the service to the NID. Furthermore, if it works at the NID, then the problem is inside the home with the wiring, which most companies will excessively charge you once they enter your home to fix the wiring. Having the NID outside allowed the phone companies to service your system without entering your home. The major issue with this setup is it’s effortless for the common criminal to snip the line outside your home with a pair of scissors, cutting your main line of communication for making that call for help to the central monitoring station.

The more sophisticated earlier systems would realize that the phone line had been tampered with and would sound an internal alarm in the home notifying the owners that there is a problem. This technology was called phone line monitoring and could be added to most systems for a nominal charge. The newer systems have this feature built into the main control unit. As an added step, they also have the ability to have multiple ways to communicate to the central station, in case an exterior line was cut.

cellular communication security

Keep reading to see why 2 forms of communication for your security system are better than 1.

Communications include, but are not limited to the following:

  • IP (through the Internet)
  • Cellular (over the cellular network)
    • via Radio such as a local Radio network (AES Intellinet) or
    • via a phone line, which may not be a traditional POTS line, but may still be a land line that works through Verizon or Comcast.

With the cellular industry delivering faster speeds and newer technologies, the cost to monitor your system using a cellular communicator has dropped in price dramatically. You will need to continually replace the cellular radio as the FCC sunsets the technology being used at the time (meaning shutters the network until it is no more. For example, AT&T sunsetted 2G network in December of 2016. If you had a 2G cellular radio or cell phone and didn’t replace it back in 2016, it will no longer work. Currently, the carriers are supporting 3G, 4G, and 4G-LTE platforms. 3G devices will cease to work sometime around 2020. The official sunset date for 3G has not been formally released.

In summary, it is much better to have two forms of communication for your security system in case one of them is unavailable – one wired and one wireless connection would be optimal.

Mobile Control

Upgraded security systems often come with mobile control capability. Between web portals and smartphone apps, users can control their security system from a simple-to-use Android or IOS app. Instead of using a cumbersome wall keypad, imagine being able to arm or disarm your system, check alerts, and monitor your home from your mobile device! No more worrying if someone is home, or if you didn’t close the garage door. It’s all there for you to control from your mobile device.

Auto-Arm and Temperature Control

Some new security systems come with auto-arm and disarm optional feature that takes the guesswork out of whether you set the alarm or not. This feature allows you to set arming and disarming schedules, so you don’t have to worry if someone will forget to turn the alarm on or off. The system does it automatically for you, on a schedule that you set.

auto arm temperature control

Many systems are also equipped to monitor the temperature inside of a home or office. Not only does temperature control allow you to keep your home or office comfortable, but it also saves money on heating and cooling costs when no one is in the office. Most thermostats these days have scheduling built into them. However, the scheduling is only that. It doesn’t know when you are home or not. It just follows its schedule. When you integrate a smart thermostat with your security system and arm the system to “away,” you are in fact also telling the thermostat to forget the preprogrammed schedule and now do something else. This is because everyone has now left and it doesn’t need to abide by the regularly set schedule.

Insurance Savings

Newer security systems that not only monitor for intruders and theft but also include smoke and flood detectors can trigger a discount in homeowners or business insurance premiums. While most companies offer a discount of 5% for a smoke detector, burglar alarm, or dead-bolt locks, many companies will cut your premium by as much as 20% if you install a sophisticated security system that is connected to police, fire, or other monitoring systems. Many insurance companies are now requesting a complete house water shut off system, which uses water sensors placed throughout your home at sinks, showers, toilets, tubs, and other appliances that have a water connection. Once water is detected, these devices can send an electronic signal to the main water control valve to shut off the “Main” water valve to the house, thus tremendously reducing the cost to repair the water damage. Some of these types of systems are expensive to install, but most do qualify for insurance premium discounts. It is always important to contact your insurer for their recommendations and premium discounts before installing a new system.

outdated alarm pad

If you have an alarm pad that looks like this, call us immediately!

Most of all, outdated security systems convey an unspoken message to family members and employees that their safety is not a priority. Installing an upgraded security system can have the unintended benefit of higher levels of productivity in business once employees feel safer in their workspace. Likewise, new equipment offers your family an unparalleled peace of mind in the face of potential dangers.

For more information on how to upgrade your outdated home or business security system or to find out which system is right for you, contact HS Tech Group for a consultation.

Additional Information:

business video surveillance checklist cta

Business security is not something that can be taken lightly. From various electronic systems to managing the physical aspects of your building’s security, simple upgrades to both the interior and the exterior portions of your security system can protect your investment and your staff for many years.

Improve your interior and exterior business security system sooner than later. Call us, today!

Basic Security Systems – Do they need to be checked?

Many businesses rely on basic systems to protect their building, inventory, equipment, and technology found in their brick and mortar business. These simple systems are usually comprised of at least one or two of the following; deadbolt locks, simple “3 doors and a motion” type electronic security systems or possibly a small camera system. In reality, this may not be enough to ward off would-be threats. Something as simple as improving the exterior lighting can eliminate blind spots and ward off potential thieves. Remote camera monitoring can also provide clear real-time images to an offsite video guard service for visual monitoring of fenced-in areas. Even new signage offers the appearance of having updated your security systems, even if you have made only minor changes. Additionally, regular inspections of your surveillance system can reveal problems that would leave your business vulnerable.

commercial exterior lighting

Adding exterior lighting can eliminate blinds spots and deter potential burglars

While occasionally reviewing the recorded video, may give you some peace of mind, it is our recommendation that you perform an annual electronic and physical safety inspection to assess your current risks. From locks to doors to windows to changes in the crime rate in the area, these safety checks can reveal vulnerabilities you may have overlooked in the past.

Technological Advancements in Security, Surveillance, and Access Control

If your surveillance system is more than five years old, it may be time to upgrade it to take advantage of the technological advancements that have occurred. Updating cameras from analog to IP will offer clearer picture quality and a potentially more coverage of the areas. 24/7 cellular monitoring combined with immediate text and push notifications through a connected security app can not only alert you to the presence of intruders but can also provide you with detailed alerts of when employees arrive and depart from your business. New technology even eliminates the need for keys in secure or sensitive areas. Unlike physical keys, access control credentials cannot be copied as easily as a key, and they also restrict access to important technology and equipment, proprietary information or private offices.

access control business security

Access control credentials are more secure than regular keys

In the past, users would need to “swipe” their card, but advancements in technology have now made the cards just one type of credential that can be used. Key Fobs that go on your key ring or even dime sized wafers can be attached to the back of your cell phone for an easy and convenient way to carry your access credentials. Near Field Communication (NFC) may be coming in the future as well, which will allow you to carry your cell phone as the credential to gain access. Long term, as thieves become more sophisticated, you will most likely begin to see two-step verification (your phone as well as a credential or your fingerprint and your phone to gain access). Biometrics have come a long way and will begin to replace many conventional type readers because it’s one less credential you will need to carry.

Don’t Forget the People Part

The security of most businesses is only as good as the people who work there. It is important to not only encourage employees to look for potential threats but also to enforce visitor management to keep less trustworthy visitors from gaining access to sensitive areas. While your staff may provide an added level of security, it is also important to protect the employees. Conducting regularly coordinated exit drills (fire/threat) or stay in place drills for situations where there is an imminent threat allows employees to think through critical situations. Having these plans written and available as emergency plans are very helpful as well. By addressing the security of your employees you are not only sending the message that their safety is important, but you are also protecting your business from liability should the unthinkable happen.

exit drill office emergency preparedness

“REMAIN CALM!!!!!!!”

From basic upgrades to taking advantage of technological advances to managing your employees’ safety, improving the interior and exterior of your business security system may seem like a daunting task. Let the professionals at HS Tech Group walk you through your risks and help you improve your security system. Call today for a consultation.

business video surveillance checklist cta

Most companies that are successful in business are at risk for some loss. Whether it’s proprietary information, company property, employee/customer relations or loss of retail merchandise, businesses should be concerned about protecting themselves. Listed below are some of the more popular reasons a business should consider the installation of a video surveillance system.

  • To Prevent Vandalism
  • To Reduce Thefts/Break-ins
  • To Deploy Cost Savings Measures
  • To Increase in Employee Productivity
  • For Video Documentation
  • To Enhance the Customer Experience
  • To Grant Customer and Employee Access
  • For General Peace of Mind

When designing a business video surveillance system, the components selected should be based upon the reason the system is being deployed, with giving consideration to how the system will be wired and not just based upon the price alone. This investment should fit the purpose and be designed accordingly. Below is a list of topics to be discussed with some personal insight. The list is not all-inclusive but is a good start for a discussion on your system’s design. While the terminology can be confusing, the simplest rule we can provide is most integrators will do demonstrations. Furthermore, you should minimally look at camera views at some of their other installations, view the software or web portal you will be using to view/playback, check their references and get pricing on support and maintenance, you will need it.

business video surveillance checklist cta

Types of Connectivity (Analog vs. IP/Digital)

Analog systems have been around since the middle of the 20th century. They were prevalent and became mainstream in the 1970s. The analog cameras required two separate cables, one for the transmission of the video or data signal and one for camera power. The wiring was installed in a “home run” fashion meaning each camera installed had to have its own wiring from the camera to the recording unit. If you were to draw a wiring diagram the recording unit would be in the center of the drawings and all the cameras would be drawn as nodes independently attached to the recorder.

An IP (Internet Protocol) or digital based system, which became more popular in the late 1980s utilized a different type of wiring, Category 5 wiring or twisted pair wiring and connected a recording unit to a digital camera. The digital cameras allowed for a higher resolution of the images being recorded. The wires didn’t need to be “home run” just connected utilizing a switch (or hub) so that all the wires were eventually connected in a network fashion back to the recording unit.

Digital Camera Technology

The most apparent advantages of this type of system were the ease of the installation. The cameras could be connected using one wire which would deliver power and data and the images were much clearer. The older analog images appeared grainy and when enlarged would get more grainy or pixilated. The digital images provided a sharper image and when enlarged, would provide a crisp image. As technology improved the digital cameras evolved from 1 megapixel to 20 megapixels (or even higher) and the quality of those images were dramatically enhanced as well. The megapixel quality continues to improve allowing cameras to focus on an image, record those images on large storage arrays and then enhance the playback for a crisp, “zoomed-in” close-up of a section of that image, which would have been impossible with an analog system.

DVRs vs VCRs

The older systems recorded images on a VCR (Video Cassette Recorder) and those units required the replacement of a video cassette tape on a daily basis. Playback was very cumbersome as you had to rewind tapes and fast forward to those portions of the video you wanted to review. The analog systems evolved in the late 80s and early 90s when hard drives became more affordable and the recording unit changed to a DVR (Digital Video Recorder).

vcr

As the local area network became popular for businesses, the NVR was born. The Network Video Recorder allowed IP cameras to be connected to a network utilizing special POE (Power over Ethernet) switches and be recorded on a server designed to accommodate 24/7 operation with large storage capabilities. The hard drives used for video surveillance are different than those used for regular storage. These devices are designed to be reading and writing 24/7.

Network Video Recorders vs. Digital Video Recorders vs. Hybrids

The biggest differences between network video recorders and digital video recorders are;

  • The price tag
  • The amount of cameras that can be connected to a single recorder
  • The method in which the video transmission is recorded
  • Where the NVR/DVR has to be located

A DVR will be limited to a specific number of channels (or cameras) were an NVR will require licenses and allow many more cameras to be connected, thus the reason an NVR will usually cost more. As an example, a DVR might have 8 channels and a 2 terabyte hard drive and you would not be able to connect any more than 8 cameras. A comparable NVR might come with 8 channels and 2 terabytes but will allow you to expand and connect another 8, 16 or even more cameras as well as allow you to add additional hard drive storage. NVRs have many storage options as well, like the ability to add a RAID (redundant array of independent disks) storage array in case a hard drive fails, your recordings would still be preserved. An NVR is, in fact, a server and not a stand-alone recording box. The NVR would require more software support and maintenance and would need to stay current with the network. Both DVR and NVRs can connect to analog and digital cameras if the recorder is a “hybrid” which incorporates analog and IP connections on the back of the same recorder. Lastly, the NVR can go almost anywhere on the network, where a DVR must be located so that each camera can connect directly to it.

What to Look for in an NVR or DVR

DVRs work fine for small single site installations. In situations where there is no expansion required, no need to keep video for more than a couple weeks, only 1 or 2 remote users accessing the footage from their iPhone and price is a major concern, and a DVR might be the right fit.

NVRs are a different animal. They are designed for expansion, multiple remote users, months of storage at very high picture quality and designed for a specific purpose. When deploying an NVR they can be designed to handle analytics which allows the video to be “analyzed” as its being stored. This means you would be able to set rules or flags when there is a specific occurrence of the video. For example, if there is a group of individuals standing by a fence for more than 30 seconds, video analytics would be able to alert you. This can be very helpful if you have many, say hundreds of cameras to watch and need the assistance of software to help you analyze any issues that may occur that need to be acted upon instantly. Casinos, airports, water treatment facilities, shipping yards and enterprise businesses are just a few of the many facilities where an NVR with analytics would be the right choice.

Frame Rates

There are also limitations on frame rates on DVRs that an NVR may not be subject to. Typically NVRs can capture higher frame rates on more cameras simultaneously than a DVR can. This allows for a higher quality playback when you review the footage. If it’s important to see every action or you are looking at items that travel very quickly, then you’ll need a higher frame rate. Vehicles moving should be recorded at high frame rates at least 24 frames per second or more. Most NVRs offer 30 frames per second per camera standard. Remember when you lower the frame rate to 10 or below the images you view will start to get a little choppy.

Motion Recording

Most DVRs/NVRs will allow you to program a camera to only record video when there is movement (or motion). Motion recording will save you hard drive space. This option allows you to record a few seconds before and a set amount after the scene detects movement. If you want to see the entire scene, motion recording may not be the best answer as it may not record the entire scene.

burglar motion sensor camera

An intruder trying to slip past motion sensors

Compression Types

DVRs and NVRs have various options when it comes to recording compressions. At the time of this blog, H.264 had been the standard in video compression. If you are purchasing a DVR or NVR and it’s not recording at H.264 compression than you should reconsider the purchase. With the advancement in digital imaging with 4k and 8k cameras, the latest compression is H.265. The best compression technology will cost a little bit more, but it will also allow you to stream your video faster because it requires smaller bandwidth. H.265 (or HEVC) will also require less space to store the same video, therefore, conserve storage space.

Health Monitoring

Some DVRs and NVRs offer health monitoring which should be considered as an option. If you are concerned that the video will be there when you need it, then make sure to select this option. This can easily be handled if the unit deploys health monitoring. The health rules vary from manufacturer, but should minimally include, temperature alerts, loss of video from a camera, power outages, not recording, hard drive errors or possible malfunction and offer email alerts or the ability to have it supervised offsite by a third party monitoring company. There is usually an additional subscription cost to have this deployed correctly.

Concurrent Connections

Most clients like to be able to watch their cameras remotely. DVRs will limit the number of concurrent connections based upon the DVR. Typically the more cameras you have connected to the DVR will somewhat affect the number of connections. If you are concerned with how many people can access the live streams, consider installing an NVR which will allow many more connections. I have seen some DVRs that allow two concurrent connections while an NVR with the same number of cameras will allow 25 or more concurrent connections.

Camera Types and Terminology

When it comes to selecting the right cameras, you should speak with an expert. Various features should be considered based upon the purpose and the location of each camera you install. Cameras come in many different shapes and have different features which will ultimately determine the price you pay.

Indoor/Outdoor

Cameras are rated for indoor or outdoor use. If there is no exterior rating, then assume the camera is rated for indoor use only (away from moisture, dust and the elements). Ratings such as IP65/IP66 and IP67 will tell you where outside cameras can be installed. The first number in the rating refers to the level of protection against foreign objects such as dirt and dust with 6 being the highest level of protection (“6” completely dust tight). The second number refers to moisture with 8/9 being the highest (referring to immersion) which very few cameras will have this rating unless they are designed to be installed underwater. Most exterior cameras I have seen are rated IP66 or IP65.

WDR (Wide Dynamic Range)

Anyone installing a camera in the front of their store looking out towards daylight knows that as soon as the door opens, a burst of natural sunlight also comes in. This event will play havoc with the camera’s iris by washing out the subject. In this situation, a camera with WDR should be used, and this would enable objects in both bright and dark areas to be visible in the recordings.

arecont vision microbullet indoor outdoor camera

The new Arecont Vision compact MicroBullet Indoor/Outdoor Day/Night Megapixel WDR Camera

Varifocal vs Fixed Lens

Fixed focal lenses are the least expensive lens and come in preset focal points. The lens on the camera determines how wide and far the image will be viewed on the screen. For example, if you are placing a camera in the corner of a stairwell and it’s a very tight space but you would like to have a very wide field of view, you would need a lens with a 2.8mm setting. If you purchased cameras with a fixed focal lens of 6mm you would not get the best shot of the stairwell. Most varifocal lenses come with a 2.8 to 12mm setting. A varifocal lens will allow you to install the camera then adjust the viewing image so you see exactly what you want to see. A varifocal lens is a smart decision unless you know exactly what you want to see and have a lens calculator to determine the proper lens for each camera.

Motorized vs Manual Focus

With any camera, if it’s not focused, you’ll have a blurry image regardless of the quality of the camera. Once properly installed, the cameras are focused on a specific field of view. Over time, a camera may lose focus from the effects of Mother Nature, due to extreme temperatures and vibration of wind. Cameras with a motorized focus allow the operator to adjust the focus through the software of the camera. Motorized zoom lenses could offer significant savings over the life of the camera. Imagine what’s involved having to adjust a camera’s focus if the camera is on a bridge or on the second floor of your building.

Dome/Bullet/Eyeball

Cameras come in many different shapes and sizes again designed for a specific purpose. Depending upon the type of installation, you will determine the type of housing for your camera. A dome or eyeball camera is usually a self-contained device. The bullet camera is shaped like a long cylinder and can be self-contained or can be assembled in the field by using a box camera with a specific lens and placed in a protective housing. They make Dome cameras in many different options. Some manufacturers make a dome camera which when installed using a “tear-drop” bracket, can see 360 degrees. Dome cameras should be mounted so not to be affected by the bright sunlight or excessive rain or snow. It’s best to install these cameras using a bracket designed for the specific camera.

IR/Day/Night

Depending upon the amount of natural light you have during the day and at night, you should consider a camera designed for that purpose. It’s best to install cameras with 0 lux, low light or with IR when you are concerned about having very little or no lighting when you are trying to capture video. IR or Infrared cameras have the ability to capture video in low light. These are also referred to as “Night Vision” cameras. IR cameras also have a field of view rating for the IR emitters. In some cases, its 30 to 90 feet depending upon the number of IR emitters built into the camera. If the camera IR rating doesn’t cover the field of view you can always install stand-alone IR blasters which can go hundreds of feet for an additional cost. Some low lux cameras are designed to use a very little light to enhance the image.

Wired/Wireless

All cameras require some sort of power. Arlo recently released a complete wireless camera with a rechargeable battery that works on wifi. Most professional grade surveillance systems use wired cameras. It is possible to also transmit a wired video signal from one building to another with the use of powered beam technology. In essence, you are beaming the video signal from one building to the next and eventually to the network video recorded. Wireless cameras do have their place. They are relatively inexpensive and can be easily installed without mounting them permanently, they can be placed on a table, plugged into an outlet and then connected to your wifi and once enabled through an app, you’ll have the ability to view your home remotely. They are limited in image quality and bandwidth and will most likely not store months of video unless you purchase a separate storage plan.

Audio

Some cameras have the capability of audio. Would you like to stop someone from climbing in your fenced in yard? Or how about speaking to the delivery boy at your front door while you are not home? With advancement in technology you are now able to listen and or speak through the camera (not exactly), but through the device, if it’s enabled with audio.

quiet audio of burglar

Cloud Based Recording Options

In some installations, it’s important to preserve the video in case of a break-in. It’s very easy to locate a DVR if you know where to look. Furthermore, trying to playback a recording won’t work if your DVR has been stolen! Cloud-based recording or recording on a MicroSD card inside the camera are good options to help protect from video loss by theft, corruption of the hard drives in the DVR or NVR. A MicroSD card helps in case the camera loses its connection to the recorder as well, but still has power.

Viewing Options

It’s important to review how the app or software works to view the cameras while on and off site. Do you want certain cameras to be seen in a specific arrangement on your mobile device? How easy is it to search for footage and playback while off site and how long does it take to play? If you have concerns about watching live and recorded video offsite from a mobile device or computer, you should demo the software and review its functionality before making a decision. This will be very important since most likely you will be using your remote access much more than accessing the video while on site. Some systems allow for custom views which allow you to redesign the boxes on your portable device in any manner you choose. If you have multiple locations and would like to have all the cameras from the registers appear on one screen from multiple sites, make sure to request this option, it’s not available on every platform.

Analytics and Monitoring

Video verification is becoming more prevalent. Allowing a security system to send a signal to the central station when it detects an intrusion along with a video clip of what happened; say 15 seconds before the alarm and 15 seconds after the alarm can really help the monitoring station determine what the cause of the alarm was. This will reduce false alarms and allow the authorities to work more efficiently. Some video surveillance systems have the ability to be monitored through a central station designed for watching the video which is different than the central stations designed to monitor security systems. By using video analytics or a trip from a security system, the video guard station can actually watch what is happening in real-time, and speak to the individuals on site, almost like having a guard on site. Depending upon the situation the video guards can dispatch police or try and deter the person from committing a crime knowing they are being watched and spoken to usually gets them to leave very quickly.

In conclusion, it’s very important to determine the reasons for installing video surveillance and utilize an experienced integrator to help in the design. If you just attempt to get three quotes for a video surveillance system, you’re rolling the dice. Most systems can be custom designed regardless of whether you need two cameras at one site or if you plan to integrate one platform with hundreds of cameras at various sights, there’s a solution for almost every installation.

business video surveillance checklist cta

When considering a business video surveillance system, various factors should be considered. Each of these factors will aid in the design, acquisition, installation, and service of your system. We consult with many businesses throughout the year and find while one of the following factors drives the decision to purchase business security cameras, there are other reasons that will determine the final decision of what to install. In this post, we will address these reasons. Video surveillance is a tricky topic because there are so many reasons to install a system and the prices will greatly vary. It’s important to identify your top reasons before you begin the process of selecting a professionally installed system.

business video surveillance checklist cta

1. Prevent Vandalism

Vandalism or graffiti costs local governments and small businesses thousands of dollars to clean up, not to mention the downtime or loss of business during this period. Depending upon the location of your business, vandalism can be a big nuisance. Most vandalism is conducted in public areas in plain view, such as billboards, bus stops, subways, tunnels, train stops, or the like. Before installing surveillance, it is recommended to light the vulnerable areas well. Furthermore, if the vandals are breaking glass, use protective film or change the windows to unbreakable glass. Lastly, you should seriously consider the installation of video surveillance. Small businesses that have vandalism problems as the driving factor can invest in a “Talk Down” remote guard service utilizing video as a live means of protecting the property from vandalism.

2. Reduction of Theft/Break-ins

For businesses that have experienced a theft or break-in, a properly installed video surveillance system can provide the video footage needed for the authorities to make an apprehension. By utilizing high-resolution images recorded at a very high frame rate, this high-quality footage would be used to view facial features or make identification of the individuals dress and identifying marks. Most correctly installed systems, along with the proper signage, will also act as a deterrent. Reduction in theft or the fear of break-ins is usually a huge concern with retail businesses that have a lot of expensive but small items and carry cash inside the location.

arecont vision surroundvideo omni series

HS Tech Group Installs Arecont Vision 20MP H.264 All-in-One Omni-Directional User-Configurable Multi-Sensor Day/Night Indoor/Outdoor Dome IP Cameras

3. Cost Savings Measures

Businesses that watch their bottom line are always looking for ways to cut costs. For some, identifying the amount of shrinkage or internal theft is just a part of doing business. Depending upon how much of this occurs; may make for any easy decision. For example, if you have a documented loss of $5,000 per month from the inventory on your trucks and in the warehouse, the installation of this small business video surveillance system will cost $20,000, and you can safely expect it to reduce this problem by 50%.

Your return on investment for this type of scenario would be just about ten months. Sure there will be upkeep, but you’ve reduced your losses to $2,500 a month, and once the system has been paid for, you have a much smaller annual investment for the upkeep and service. Most businesses would be able to make a decision to install a video surveillance system if there was a similar calculation performed.

For businesses that utilize on-site security guards, a properly design video surveillance system can be a good cost saving tool. A similar comparison in the actual costs of the guards to the capital expenditure and how many months until the return was realized would have to be performed. It may also make sense to utilize a monitored surveillance system as well, allowing the business to be able to deter or interrupt a crime in real-time, instead of just viewing footage the day after. Most integrators familiar with monitored video surveillance systems will be able to design a system for your particular purpose and in some cases may be able to cover more areas than a single guard could at any given time.

4. Increase in Employee Productivity

It’s a fact that when the boss is watching, the staff is working. Depending upon the type of business you operate, cameras on production lines or in manufacturing areas quickly help identify those who are not being as productive as others. When cameras are added to the workplace, there is a visible difference in the employee’s behavior. The thought of being watched also tends to keep staff working and punctual. Business security cameras can sometimes be used to settle disputes, reduce workplace violence, and resolve conflicts between employees. Proper placement of video cameras outside the building may also keep staff working later, or on a late shift since they know there is a video surveillance system incorporated into a “video escort“ service available for when they leave, all resulting in increased productivity. The overall installation of video surveillance cameras when properly designed can improve the working environment.

5. Video Documentation

Some businesses require video documentation of events that occur on site as part of the regulated business or for compliance purposes. With many states passing new laws regarding marijuana, there are special requirements for these video surveillance systems. Requirements will dictate the quality of the cameras based upon megapixel quality, along with the amount of storage retained, and that the storage is duplicated both on site and off site.

In cases in which a customer or employee claims a slip and fall or another job-related injury, video footage can be very helpful in determining the actual cause. Insurance companies utilize this footage to reduce casualty claims.

6. Customer Experience

If you have a retail location and want to provide the best experience for your customers; installation of a business video surveillance system can easily help you monitor your customer’s experience. Starting from the exterior of your location, you would be able to monitor remotely:

  • Is there trash or debris located on the parking lot?
  • What are the total number of available parking spaces?
  • Are the shopping carts kept in the proper containment areas?
  • Is the lot well lighted at night or are there lights that need to be replaced?

From the inside of your location, you would be able to monitor:

  • Is there someone at the register or is there a line forming?
  • Has the store been stocked appropriately?
  • Has the store opened on time and is it staffed accordingly?
  • Is there a customer looking for a sales associate?
  • Is the interior or the store clean and ready for business?
  • Are all the aisles clear or is there stock sitting to be shelved?

It’s all about the customer experience! Being able to view the store remotely will give you the full picture if something is out of order and allow you to manage to make the appropriate changes remotely.

7. Customer and Employee Access

Some businesses may require video more for live interactions than for surveillance, but we included it in our reason for video cameras regardless. Therefore, it should be incorporated into the overall system. If your business requires admittance from a locked door, an audio intercom will not always suffice. Having audio incorporated with video will allow you to see if it’s just one individual trying to gain access or others attempting to rush the door once it’s unlocked. It is very helpful if you have a loading dock and would like to see who is at the bay door before opening the door into your loading area. It offers a higher level of security and can also be used in the situation where someone does gain access that shouldn’t have.

bosch license plate capture camera

Know who enters your property by capturing their license plate with this Bosch License Plate Capture Camera

8. Peace of Mind

Allowing the manager or owner of a business the ability to remotely view one or multiple sites from one viewing screen will give them a higher level of comfort, and that everything is as it should be. Peace of mind comes into play when the security system detects an alarm and the individual on call can visually verify the nature of the alarm utilizing the video surveillance system. This in itself can alleviate a false dispatch and save the company money from a false alarm fine.

Once you prioritize your reasoning for a video surveillance system, it will be much easier to determine the type of system and the requirements needed to accommodate your installation. There is a big difference between wanting to know how many trucks are in your yard at night and the license plate of the car parked just outside the yard’s fence.

For more information on business video surveillance systems, business security cameras, and the reason behind why you should install one, contact HS Tech Group and ask for our commercial division, at 1-888-947-8476.

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business video surveillance checklist cta

Do I really need a professionally installed video surveillance system?

By Laura McAndrew

It is imperative to know the differences between self and professionally installed surveillance systems.  Our homes are our castles, and every castle has something worth protecting.  Today police rely on video more than ever to help solve crimes.  This is why you need a professionally installed video surveillance system that will produce the proper image quality authorities will need.

Video Surveillance and how it’s changing in the wake of the Boston Marathon is a question that has opened many eyes over the past month.  It’s a pretty powerful example of the usefulness of a video surveillance system.  The key video clips that captured the suspects’ faces were not just because of the make or model of the camera; it was also because they were well-positioned cameras installed by a professional.  It’s time to be proactive and be educated on surveillance needsA tragedy like this makes you think of your loved ones and about what could have been prevented had the right security cameras been installed.

Now that the weather is nice, you’re more likely to leave your windows and doors open, even when you go out.  Remember, most break-ins and theft occur because of negligence, so securing your home and property is of the utmost importance.  The fact is, you always want your family safe, and we at HS Tech Group are the experts to reassure you that your video surveillance system is installed correctly.

HS Tech Group has trained design engineers who will come to your home or business and inspect the areas you want to keep a watchful eye on.  They’ll provide insight on other important tips to make your security camera system the best it can be.  For example; adding more outdoor lighting, cutting back the tree branches and posting a warning sign that tells intruders your home or business is protected by a 24-hour video surveillance system.  They’ll not only show you the differences between the cameras on the market but also recommend the ideal placement for capturing suspicious activity on your property.

Before you commit to security cameras or even a video surveillance system that records events, you should consider the following:  Technology is changing, and so are the cameras being used. A typical IP (internet protocol) camera can cost between $200-$850 and more.

That may sound like a lot to some people but things you should consider before making the wrong choices.

  • Establish a budget
  • Make sure your cameras and equipment have a good warranty
  • Be sure there is an option for cameras that can be viewed at night
  • Make sure you can adjust the view of the image
  • Do you want to view your cameras from your iPhone or an internet connection
  • You should probably plan on a system that can record for at least 30 days
  • Look for a company that offers a service plan

Be sure to use a company that has a proven track record.  They should have a state license and be knowledgeable when it comes to presenting solutions for your specific needs.  HS Tech Group was recently named one of the top (3) security installing companies in the United States.  For more information about home security, video surveillance and more, contact us today and one of our professional design engineers will assist you.

Your Children, Your Faculty, and Your Students

Mass notification provides real-time information and instructions to people in a building using voice communications along with text and visible signals.   The purpose of mass notification is to protect life by indicating the existence of an emergency situation and instructing people of the necessary action.

Mass notification solutions provide critical emergency communications for college campuses across the nation. From power outages to building evacuations, a notification system gives you the reliability and flexibility to effectively get the right message to the right people at the right time under all emergency circumstances.  In the event of an emergency, Mass Notification is designed to warn, alert, and inform students and faculty within seconds of what to do.  Via sirens, text, voice or desktop messages, and broadcast live and recorded voice messages.

Many universities are relying on Mass Notification such as Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia.  “Safety has become a top priority for dispersed campus environments, where rapid response and ease-of-use are essential for protecting lives and property,” said Dubhe Beinhorn, Vice President, public sector at AtHoc.  “We applaud Liberty University for recognizing how important it is to help safeguard personnel, students, and staff to keep families informed during emergencies in which their loved ones are involved.”

HS Tech Group provides a variety of safety and security systems and services for some schools and universities throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

1. Risk Avoidance

If the target can be removed, the risk can be avoided altogether.

Risk Avoidance is the most basic of concepts when thinking about risk management. Simply put, if you can remove the target from the equation, then the risk can be avoided.

For example, say a dry cleaner takes in approximately $5,000.00 in receipts each day and would like to practice Risk Avoidance. When the business closes at 6:00 p.m. each night, the owner takes the monies to the night repository at the bank on their way home. Thus the risk of a burglary at the business during the night, where the money would be the target, is avoided altogether when the receipts are removed from the premises and deposited into the bank.

The second example pertains to homeowners. Many clients we see have stamp collections, old or valuable documents, baseball card collections, coin collections, heirloom or antique jewelry and many other prized possessions. A simple method of practicing Risk Avoidance would be to remove those articles from home and store them in a bank’s safe deposit box, thus removing the articles from the premise will avoid the risk.

2. Risk Reduction

When Risk Avoidance is impractical, seek to reduce the risk.

With Risk Reduction, as the principal suggests, we are reducing the risk. This is the most common approach. By reducing the risk, we are admittedly taking some risk. Once again, see the examples below to help understand the concept.

Risk Reduction Example

Let’s return to the dry cleaner mentioned in the Risk Avoidance example. With all of the previous day’s proceeds being deposited in the bank each night, the business’ opening the following day is dependent on the bank’s operating hours. In other words, the business cannot open until the bank does to obtain cash to begin operating for the day. A Risk Reduction Strategy would be to keep some small cash reserve in the store overnight to begin operations the following day, such as $250 instead of depositing all of the money in the bank overnight, some are kept at the store. Thus reducing some of the risks of losing all of the money.

Much like the proceeding business example, we return to the coin collection or card collection that may be kept at home. In Risk Reduction, we would not keep the collections at the bank’s safe depository all of the time, but only keep them there during extended out of town trips to allow the owner of the collection the ability to share these collections with his friends or to potentially offer to sell these collections without having to visit the bank. When the inconvenience is experienced going to the bank safe deposit box every time the owner wishes to show, sell or attempt to sell one of his cards or coins, they are forced to conform to banking hours versus their schedule limitations. By assessing security vulnerabilities, they end up deciding that the security risk at his home where the cards or coins will be kept is not that significant during hours of traditional residential burglary (day-time, business days while people are working or at school); and therefore decides to spread his risk by moving the cards/coins back home.

Safe deposits are a security tool that can be used for temporary as well as long-term security purposes. Anything small, valuable or important can be stored there.

3. Risk Spreading

When Risk Removal or Risk Reduction are not appropriate solutions consider Spreading the Risk.

Risk spreading includes physical, procedural, and electronic security modifications to help manage the risk. Again see some of our examples below.

Back to our ongoing business example, we present a simple example of Risk Spreading. Owing to the $250 (Risk Reduction) being kept on the premises overnight, the store owner decides to install an electronic business security system to alert him and the authorities should a criminal try to break-in to the store after hours, a form of Risk Spreading.

Another example of Spreading the Risk would be to take the $250.00 that is left overnight and locate it in 3 different areas in the store, but not in a cash register drawer.

And in our residential example, the homeowner also decides to have a home security system installed and connected to a central monitoring station as well to alert the authorities as well as himself should someone try to break into the home when he is not home. Again, another example of spreading the risk.

Examples of other measures both physical and procedural are as follows:

Electronic Systems

  • Access Control Systems
  • Surveillance Systems
  • Enhanced night time Lighting

Physical Systems

  • Locks
  • Inner Perimeter Doors
  • Windows
  • Walls
  • Fences
  • Security Personnel
  • Armored Car Services
  • Landscaping

Procedural Systems

  • Lock and Key Control
  • Opening and Closing Policies
  • Issuance of Access Control Cards
  • Access Codes for security system
  • Property Receipts
  • Sign-in/out Procedures

4. Risk Transference:

If the above risk reduction measures are not working, consider transferring the Risk.

When the valuables or assets being protected cannot be removed, risk cannot be reduced to an acceptable point, and risk spreading still does not bring about full security satisfaction, the next step is to transfer the risk. Examples follow:

Because it’s so basic, this time, we are going to pursue the residential example we have been utilizing throughout this article. In addition to all of the steps above being taken by the owner, he is going to transfer some of the risks by ensuring the collection, probably as a rider on his homeowner’s policy.

This is an easy concept to grasp. We all have an auto, home, renter, life or health insurance in one form or another. We pay insurance premiums based on calculated risk and the sharing of the cost with a larger group, thereby transferring our risk to the insurer. In all likelihood, the policy on the cards may be high owing to the portability of the item.

5. Risk Acceptance

In some situations, it is almost impossible to transfer or remove the risk, and in some cases, it is too costly as well.  In those cases, a certain amount of risk will have to be accepted.

Sometimes, the “system” requires us to accept some of the risks, and other times it is just the most cost-effective thing to do. The following examples should result in a quick grasp of the accepting risk.

Again about our homeowner that has a card collection or a coin collection…As you have followed the development of this section, you can likely guess what the example will be. For the owner of the baseball cards, it is likely that the insurance company will require a sizable deductible to add the cards to his policy, requiring the owner to assume some risk.

Deductibles are designed to get the subscriber to assume some of the risks as well as to deter fraudulent claims. Our owner will likely agree to a high deductible since he is so security conscious. It is likely too that the insurer will consider all of the other steps being taken by the card owner when determining what the premiums will be. By accepting the high deductible, the owner is now accepting some of the risks.