Video Analytics: Residential and Business Solutions made simple!

Do you want to know when important events happen, while ignoring routine movement around your house or business?  Then video analytics is for you!  Video analytics is a highly intelligent security feature that has the capability of distinguishing between people, vehicles and animals, as well as determine the direction of movement and the duration of activity, thereby alerting you when something beyond the norm is happening.  Combined with new virtual tripwires and activity zones, you can customize and control your video surveillance notifications!

Once a person, vehicle or animal is detected, you receive an enhanced alert with an image showing what was caught on camera. You only receive video alerts on what matters most to YOU. For example, when:

  • Vehicle Awareness: Know when a vehicle stops outside your home or business during the daytime. If a vehicle leaves unexpectedly overnight, ie from your business parking lot or from your home. Know when a car actually pulls into your driveway at night, not when it drives past your home.
  • Loitering: Get a video alert if someone lingers by your front or back door, but not when the mail is delivered.
  • Animals: Know when your neighbor’s dog has been visiting your lawn, Deer are eating your lilies or fox are roaming your property at night. Know immediately if your own pet is napping on the couch, but not when he is walking around the room.
  • Criminal Deterrence: When a potential criminal is casing your home at night and you’re either asleep or away, have your system automatically turn an INTERIOR light on instead of an exterior flood light, which most perpetrators would expect. Watch how fast they run from your property by fooling them into believing you are home and awake, even if you are not.

Take control of the security in your home or business with the latest technology.

Whether you are a first time or seasoned parent sending your child off to college in the near future, There are surely things you are nervous about.  Among the many important things to discuss with your  child staying safe while away from home should top the list.

1 in every 22 college students will experience a crime during their time at school, and 1 in 5 college women will be sexually assaulted. 

 (https://behavioralscientist.org/what-the-origins-of-the-1-in-5-statistic-teaches-us-about-sexual-assault-policy/

It is important to help prepare your student with guidelines to keep themselves safe.   Although your child may seem uninterested in the conversation, it is important to stress some basic safety tips with them. https://www.bestcolleges.com/resources/campus-safety-guide

  • Heads up cell phone down, be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Do not walk alone at night, there is safety in numbers. Take advantage of your school’s escort program if walking alone is your only option, some schools offer a free shuttle service.
  • Set up ICE (in case of emergency contacts) in your phone.
  • Look into smart safety apps like: circle of 6 – connects with your closest contacts when you are on your own. https://www.circleof6app.com/  Bsafe– an SOS button sends an alarm to your emergency contacts with your Location with audio and video.  https://getbsafe.com/
  • Be careful what you post online, posting your whereabouts also shares your exact location with people you do not know.
  • Know where your campuses emergency phones are located (normally under a blue light)
  • Sign up for your school’s emergency updates.
  • Know your limits and be true to yourself.
  • NEVER leave a drink unattended or turn your back on it.
  • Never accept a drink from a stranger …. Even water- the two most common date rape drugs are colorless, tasteless, and odorless.  These drugs have been used on both sexes so do not think you are immune if you are male.
  • Know how to protect yourself while using ride share apps
  • Carry a form of self-defense with you when walking at night (pepper spray or whistle)
  • See something say something – report suspicious behavior
  • Make sure you cover your webcam camera when you are not using the camera function on your PC or Laptop.  Recommended by the FBI, covering your webcam protects your privacy and ensures that nobody is able to record you without your knowledge.  
  • If something happens to you, make sure you report it right away!
  • Ask for help if you are feeling overwhelmed – nearly 1 in 5 college students are affected by anxiety or depression. 
  • It is perfectly normal to feel homesick at times- talk about it. – best cure for that… call your parent, rest assured they are missing you too.
  • The best advice for parents with students going off to college is to keep the lines of communication open.

The end of summer and Back to school comes with increased congestion and changes in driving patterns on the road, especially in school zones and neighborhoods.    It is never more important for drivers to slow down and pay attention than when kids are present, especially before and after school.  You can make sure you do your part in keeping the roads safe by following these tips.

  • Be aware of pedestrians.
  • Avoid distraction (phone, breakfast, coffee, makeup) one moment of distraction could mean the life of a child.
  • Leave 10 Minutes early so you will not be rushing.
  • Obey School bus laws.
  • Be aware of decreased speed limits in school zones.
  • Come to a complete stop at stop signs.
  • Check for children before backing out of your driveway.
  • Obey Crossing guards at all times.
  • Turn on Do Not Disturb on your Phone while Driving!

Teens and Distracted Driving

More and More teens are driving themselves to school each day. Due to the increased number of cars on the road during back to school and the inexperience of teen drivers it is extremely important to go over road safety with your teen over and over again.  Teenagers by nature feel they are invincible and may feel they are above these conversations, but have them anyway!

The fatal crash rate for teen drivers 16-19 years of age in the United States is three times the rate for drivers over 20.  Distracted driving is a huge factor – 56% of teens admit to talking on the phone while driving and 1 in 3 teens admit to texting while driving.  Setting ground rules with your teen driver just may save a life!

  • Go over the basic driving safety tips above but also stress the following:
  • Leave 10 Minutes early to avoid rushing.
  • Insist on seatbelts, although it is the law, 13% of teen drivers admit to not wearing their seatbelt.
  • No phone use/no texting EVER
  • Have your teen turn on DND on their phone while Driving -it will send a message that they are driving and cannot be reached at the moment.   (Choose settings on the phone then select Do not disturb and follow prompts)
  • Limit the number of passengers your teen can drive with; having friends in the car adds to distraction from the road.
  • Obey the posted speed limit especially in school zones- studies show that crash risk for teens increase incrementally with each mile per hour over the speed limit.
  • NO DRINKING NO DRUGS NO EXCEPTIONS
  • Use an APP that monitors a device that plugs into the diagnostic port in most modern cars

Note plans vary from a monthly purchase plan to outright purchase of device, and some actually can be purchased through your insurance company lowering your insurance costs if you will participate in the program for safe driving.

Depending upon the Interest, HST may begin to offer these services through our partner Alarm.com, please let us know if you have some interest in these options and we will add you to our list, for when it becomes available.

Ride Share Apps. – How to stay safe:

In 2018, 95 million people used the Uber app on a monthly basis, with 2/3rds of the users being between the ages of 16-34.  The ease of use of ride sharing apps continues to drive the market.  Ride Share companies provide safe, reliable and efficient transportation for millions of people every day.

With the continued growth of apps like Uber and Lyft and the unfortunate crimes committed by people posing as drivers, it is important to go over the safety tips for using Ride-Share apps. and to share the information with your friends and loved ones as well. https://www.uber.com/us/en/ride/safety/tips/

  • Limit the amount of time you wait outside for your ride, wait inside until the app lets you know your ride is here.      
  • Make sure you are getting in to the right car with the right driver.
  • Check the license plate, car make and model and driver photo provided to you by the app.
  • Have the driver confirm your name before you get in the car – ask “who are you here to pick up”. All drivers are provided with the name of the person they are picking up, if they do not know your name, DO NOT get in!
  • Sit in the back seat whenever possible, especially if you are riding alone – remember you are getting in the car with a stranger, it is always best to have a buffer zone.
  • ALWAYS wear your seat belt.
  • Do not share any of your personal information with the drive, everything he needs to know was already shared in the app.
  • Share your trip status in the app will send a friend or loved one your drivers name, photo, License plate, real time location and the ETA.
  • Trust your intuition, Uber now has an emergency button in the app that will send your real time location and details to 911 should you feel you are in danger in any way. 
  • Make sure you are picked up and dropped off in a well-lit area.

There are a multitude of benefits to having your children walk to school.  Among them are: building healthy habits, improved air quality, building a sense of community, decrease in expenses and walking to school has even been associated with improved academic performance, concentration and socialization.  It is our responsibility as parents to teach our children how to walk to school safely.  The majority of children struck by cars are hit near schools.  In fact, according to safe kids worldwide more than 15,000 children each year are injured by a vehicle while walking.  With a little bit of pre planning, we can ensure our kids have a safe passage to and from school. 

Visit  https://www.safekids.org/walkingsafelytips for more safety tips.

The following are some tips to help prepare your children for the school year:

  • Plan a safe route for your child – Take the time before school starts to walk the route with your child at the times, they will be walking it.
    • Do not wear headphones while walking – it is important to hear what is going on around you at all times.                                              
    • Never text or talk on the phone while you are walking- head up cell phone down
    • Just as you should hear what is going on around you it is important to see what is going on around you.
    • Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
    • Avoid walking alone if possible- there is always safety in numbers.
    • Stay on the main well-traveled walking route, do not take shortcuts.
    • Walk on sidewalks, if there are no sidewalks walk at the edge of the road facing traffic.
    • Cross at crosswalks and look both ways before you cross.
    • Never assume a driver sees you, make sure to make eye contact with the driver prior to crossing the street.
    • Do not horse around with friends while walking near the street.
    • NEVER talk to strangers, approach cars of people you do not know or accept a ride from someone you do not know- talk to your kids about ways strangers can entice them (asking for directions, asking for help finding their “lost” pet, offering candy, or even saying “your mom asked me to pick you up” … always air on the side of caution, if your mom or dad didn’t tell you about it DON’T go!)
    • See something Say something -Report suspicious behavior- if something strange or abnormal happens on your walk to or from school make sure to discuss it with your parent or school official.
    • Walk directly to your destination unless already pre-arranged with a parent.

Do your children come home to an empty house?  Would you like to know when they get home safely, who they came home with?  We can help!  Our app can send you notifications if your child is running late, when they come in and can even be set to send a video of who they came home with and much more!

Want more information?  Call us today at 888.947.8476

Click Here for More information on Video Monitoring

Consumer Alert

Thinking about getting Simplisafe- Author recommends not displaying the Simplisafe yard sign

By now I am sure you have heard of Simplisafe, but if you haven’t, let me give you a little background.  Simplisafe was founded in 2006 and specializes in DIY wireless security systems that are shipped directly to the consumer ready to plug in.  The company has done very well and currently has over 200,000 subscribers.  The system packages run from $200 for their basic foundation unit to $489 for their top of the line package.  One of the big selling points to Simplisafe is there is no contractual obligation, the system is paid for upfront and the monitoring service is paid month to month.  Each system comes with a minimum of a Base unit, a key pad, entry sensors and a motion sensor.  At first glance, that sounds great but, IS YOUR HOME REALLY SAFE??? AND IS THERE REALLY NO CONTRACT?

All home security systems work on the same basic principle of securing entry points of the home which are monitored by the main control panel or “base unit” as is the case with Simplisafe. The base unit communicates with each installed component, sounds the alarm when a security zone is breached, and communicates with an alarm monitoring company.  Simplisafe’s base unit needs to be placed in a central location of the monitored space (for example the living room).   Simplisafe advertises that their keypad which communicates to the base station, is smash-safe (meaning if the keypad were destroyed in a break-in it would send an immediate alarm to the base unit which in turns sends the alarm to the monitoring station) … but what about the base- What would happen if the base unit were destroyed, smashed or just plain had the batteries removed?  That’s right, the system would be rendered useless and unable to send out an alarm to dispatch authorities, or fire department.  The easy accessibility to the base unit increases the likelihood for unit tampering, making Simplisafe’s system NOT smash-safe.

Another issue with SimpliSafe is that it broadcasts on a 433.92MHz frequency, this is the same frequency that many common household products use as well (Garage door openers, baby monitors, and headphones to name a few.) After researching reviews on the internet, it seems that many customers of Simplisafe are experiencing interference with their alarm system.  If the frequency is being interrupted the SimpliSafe system cannot maintain communication with devices, and could potentially never send an alarm signal to dispatch in an emergency.  Most Concerning is that this same frequency can easily be jammed or purposely interrupted making your security system fail.    Just the other day a you tube video shows how easy it is to get around the Simplisafe system.

Click here to watch the video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlNkQJzw4oA#menu

By spending less than $3.00 on amazon, you can render a Simplisafe system useless.  So, my advice to anyone who has the system is to take down your yard sign- do not advertise that your home is secured with a system that can be rendered useless by a $3.00 remote control unit,  and if you are thinking about getting the system lets talk, we are always hear to answer any questions you may have!

With regards to the NO Contract – that’s not actually true either. You do have to sign a monitoring agreement and if you ever cancel your service, the system CANNOT be monitored by another company.

Sounds kind of like a contract if you ask me.  The systems we install are not proprietary, meaning they CAN be monitored by many central stations.

By Helene Williams & Stuart Forchheimer

There are more than 25 million children transported by bus to and from school and school related activities every year.  According to the National Highway Traffic safety administration “ … your child is much safer taking a bus to school than traveling by car….. the greatest risk to your child is not riding a bus, but approaching or leaving one.” Before the school year begins, talking to your student about getting on and off the bus safely is critical.

The following are tips to go over with your child whether or not your child will be riding a bus daily to school. 

  • Parents of young children should walk children to the bus stop and wait with them until the bus arrives.
  • Arrive to the school bus at least 5 minutes before the scheduled pick up time.
  • Wait for the bus 6 feet from the curb (or at least three giant steps back).
  • The bus stop is not a place to run and play.
  • Wait for the bus to come to a complete stop before getting on or off the bus.
  • NEVER walk behind the bus, if you must cross the street do so in front of the bus and make sure to be 10 feet in front of the bus to avoid the drivers blind spot.
  • Remind children to follow ALL rules given by the bus driver.

Worried that your child will be caught fumbling with their key at the door when they get home or that they have forgotten their key? Why not get an electronic door lock? Click here for more info

Effective January 1, 2018, the “Maryland Smoke Alarm Law”, new House Bill 1413 (law) went into effect.  This Bill was actually approved back in 2013. As I read through the House Bill, it was very clear that the intent of the Bill is designed to save lives. Highlights of the State Law for Residential Smoke Alarms.

To have a smoke detector installed, contact us right away!

First, what is a smoke alarm?

A “Smoke Alarm” as defined by the new law is a single or multiple station device that detects visible or invisible products of combustion and includes a built-in internal alarm signal.
HS Tech group DOES NOT install “Smoke Alarms,” we install “Smoke Detectors,” so what’s the difference?

A “Smoke Detector” is a system connected smoke sensing device tied to a fire alarm control panel or household warning panel.

The difference is simple; the new law pertains to “Smoke Alarms” not “Smoke Detectors.” The devices HST installs (“Smoke Detectors”) connect to our security/fire system and are monitored 24/7. If there is an issue with one of our sensors, the keypad will notify you, and we will receive a trouble signal as well. When the device goes into alarm, it will notify the proper authorities, the Fire Department, regardless of whether your system is armed or disarmed.

A “Smoke Alarm” will typically just make noise and will not contact anyone for help, if you are not home, the noise will go unheard.

The intent of the law is simple; the State is mandating that you comply with the law.  Depending on when your home was built and what type of devices you currently have installed, you have several options. If you would like the specific definitions, please download the Bill and review the section that pertains to the year your home was constructed.

If your “Smoke Alarms” are older than ten years, you need to replace them.

There are several types of replacement devices available at your local hardware store, or we can recommend an electrician depending on what you have in your home. Types of “Smoke Alarms:”

  • Worry-Free 120-Volt Hardwired Inter-Connectable Smoke Alarm with 10-Year Battery Backup
  • Standalone ten years sealed battery-operated smoke detectors
  • Combination Devices – Smoke and carbon monoxide with 10-year sealed batteries
    Photo Electric or Ionization are two different types of Smoke Alarm Technologies

The requirement for a “Smoke Alarm” with sealed, tamper-resistant units incorporating a silence/hush button and using long-life batteries pertains to battery only smoke alarms.

Again, this law does not apply to smoke detectors as defined by the law above. The law gives Fire Prevention Commission responsibility. If you have questions, please contact your current security company or an electrician for more information.  Most powered smoke detectors that are connected to your home’s electrical system should be replaced by a licensed electrician.

I will add, that there is no harm in replacing smoke detectors that are ten years or older, it is a life safety device, but those used by HST are monitored by the main control for trouble, low batteries and alarms.

HS Tech Group is happy to announce that Alexander Santos of White Marsh, Maryland is the Winner of the Spring iPad Mini Contest.

When the Santo’s were in the process of building their new home; their builder informed them they would be meeting with HS Tech Group to review their security and technology options. Mr. Santo’s reminded me when posing for this photo that we’ve been securing his home since 2007, and his system is still going strong. We appreciate the feedback and his confidence in our service. It’s always a pleasure reconnecting with our customers and hearing how they’re doing.

Congratulations to Alex and his family!

HS Tech Group is happy to announce that Nancy Filsinger is the winner of our Fall/Winter iPad Mini Contest

Back in 2001, when building their new home in Perry Hall, Maryland, the Filsinger’s chose HS Tech Group for their home security needs. After fifteen years, the Filsinger’s are still in that same home and remain part of the HS Tech Group family. It’s been our pleasure, and we hope the Filsinger’s allow us this privilege for many more years to come.

Congratulations Nancy!