Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Top 10 Things to Look for in Home Security Companies

Home security companies are an excellent idea if you have or wish to implement a home security system. Home security companies, along with a home security solution, can protect your home, possessions, and family. You should look for several different things in home security companies when looking to hire one.
  1. Extra Services: All home security companies offer similar services, such as the installation of a home security system, home security system testing, and device maintenance, but the extra services that home security companies offer are generally the most important. Be sure to contact the home security companies in your area to find out their available services.
  2. Maintenance Options: If you hire a home security company to install a home security system in your home, check to see if their staff offers any device maintenance options. Invariably, whether you choose indoor, outdoor, wired, or wireless devices, the devices will need upkeep at some point. Having a professional security company to do this can be of great benefit.
  3. Warranty: A company that stands behind its products and services is always a good sign. Be sure to know all applicable information regarding any available warranties that home security companies offer so you know the responsibilities of both parties and can properly protect your home and family.
  4. Security Packages: Home security companies that can bundle their services into convenient and cost-effective packages make it easier for you to decide which services to buy. Security packages usually come with extra services and are generally a good idea.
  5. Alarm Monitoring: A home security company that can monitor the alarms that its staff provides for you is an excellent way to ensure the safety of your family. Alarm monitoring offers 24-hour coverage for your entire home and may give you a discount on homeowner’s insurance premiums.
  6. Alarm Monitoring Contract: If the home security company offers monitoring, see if a contract is available. Contracts guarantee service over a period and can drastically reduce the month-to-month cost, as you typically pay yearly.
  7. Positive Reviews: Searching online or in trade journals for the specific home security companies that you are looking to hire should reveal an overwhelming amount of positive reviews. A home security company that treats its customers right is invaluable.
  8. Word of Mouth: Asking your friends, family, or coworkers which local home security company they have had positive experiences with is an excellent method to gauge the value of a specific home security company.
  9. History: If a particular home security company exists for many years, you can be sure it is a successful one.
  10. Reputation: Reputation is a combination of positive reviews, word of mouth, and history. Reputation is the overall opinion of the home security company, the services it offers, and its customer service. Reputation often makes or breaks a home security company.
You need to look for several key things when picking a home security company to keep your home and family safe. The best home security companies have the best reputations, and as such are extremely reliable in keeping your family safe. For more information about things to look for in home security companies, you should contact a professional for assistance.
Article originally published by

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

XTL Plus Residential Control Panel

The XTLplus Wireless Burglary Control Panel sets a new standard for fast installation, reliable security, and ease of operation. The XTLplus includes all the features and benefits you need in a Residential or Small Commercial panel, in a single small footprint; 48 zones of 900Mhz 2-way wireless, cellular AND Wi-Fi communication and Z-Wave Plus™ all in one.

For customers who also want to the convenience and power of mobile control via the Virtual Keypad App™ Wi-Fi is a great option, but you want to also include Cellular backup as communication to the Central Station.  To learn more click here.

For a short video on the XTL Plus click here.

Article originally published by

XR550 Panel for Businesses

DMP has released its latest new panels, the XR150/550 Series. Their 32-bit processors operate at 20 times the speed the DMP XR500 panel; with 10/100 Ethernet auto-sensing that always ensures the fastest-possible network connection. The new panels deliver powerful access control capabilities, and provide dealers with additional options for each installation.

The XR550 panel includes built-in LX buses, so there is no need to purchase or install additional cards for panel expansion.  In addition to faster speeds, all three panels offer enhanced access control features, including 99 programmable schedules for areas, doors, profiles, outputs and Z-Wave® favorites. For systems equipped with Z-Wave control of lights, locks, thermostats, etc., the panel offers up to 20 favorites, which incorporate commands up to 25 Z-Wave devices each. To read more click here.

Article Originally Published by

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Smart CCTV and the Internet of Things: 2016 trends and Predictions

We are entering an era where billions of devices will be able to collect and transmit data via the internet, so much so that Gartner recently forecasted that there will be 6.4 billion connected ‘things’ used worldwide in 2016.
The hype around the IOT (Internet of Things) and smart technologies is building at a phenomenal pace, it has become the buzzword of all buzzwords within the t media and the bandwagon is set to keep on rolling, with everyone from car makers to home appliance companies hoping to ride on its success.
Despite its hype, smart, connected products do represent a very real and practical step forward in how to connect disparate machines and widely dispersed data. As companies begin to understand the value of IoT, the focus will increasingly shift towards evaluating IoT technology via the underlying principles that guide most businesses today, focusing on improving productivity and efficiency and generating a return on investment. Commercial IoT solutions in the enterprise space will gain traction and businesses will be start to monetise the mass of data that IoT devices can provide.
As the evolution of the physical security industry has shown us, consumer and IT technology has had a profound effect on driving innovation and change with the security industry, HDTV, H264 compression and Power over Ethernet being notable examples. With this in mind the Internet of Things is also set to have profound ramifications on the security and video surveillance industry.
In 1996 Axis Communications introduced what many consider a pioneering IoT device (long before the term existed) when we launched the security industry’s first network camera. Little did we know it would ultimately spawn a tidal wave far beyond security.
What we can be certain of is that the concept of network cameras has come a long way in 20 years. Yet if we were to rank the top emerging trends for 2016, connected systems would still have to be at the top.
Why? Because the capabilities of IP-based systems are constantly evolving and suppliers of all types are still discovering new ways to leverage the power, flexibility and reach of connectivity.
As more IP-based security devices inevitably replace aging analog systems, we will see wider use of security products that integrate the growing wealth of information generated by the IoT into not just information for security purposes, but a range of other applications and uses.
IoT will allow network cameras to think independently and make smart decisions on their own. Imagine a mesh of network cameras that correspond between each other to alert the next camera of a person or object entering shortly from the left of a given scene. IoT-enabled cameras may also be able to cover up for one of their peers being damaged or obstructed.
From cool features to useful solutions
As enthralled as we are with the individual capabilities of IoT devices, in the security world the more important aspect of this trend is how all the components work together to solve a tangible challenge. First of all, IoT-based systems must be easy to design, install, maintain and use. And one size does not fit all.
To maximise the potential of IoT, it requires an in-depth knowledge by suppliers who 1) understand how each feature or component works together, 2) can design a solution that can be used to solve specific challenges, and 3) are able deliver it as an integrated offering whose long-term value has more value than just the sum of its parts.
This is especially true as security solutions move well beyond their roots in cameras. Indeed, largely because of IoT, the security sector’s traditional boundaries continue to blur. For example, network cameras can be used for Building Information Management (BIM), Business Intelligence (BI) in retail and even leaping into scientific research with real-time analysis of traffic patterns and crowd movements. IoT will allow for combined systems integrating previously disparate devices such as video surveillance cameras, smoke detectors,  access control panels and loudspeakers into a common management console providing a ‘single pane of glass’ overview across entire buildings and sites.
The result is a huge opportunity for security solutions that are purpose-built to share useful data with other connected devices, all of which can be monitored remotely. This connectivity between devices will provide end users with more complete situational awareness across multiple locations.
Axis Communications itself is branching out and has introduced IP-based loudspeakers and door controllers, for example, enabling not just an Internet of Things, but a step towards truly smart buildings.
With the increasing amount of data being generated, shared over the network, and, in many cases, stored and accessed through cloud computing models (see below), there is a growing need to focus on the protection of all this data and assets that exist ‘virtually.’
New technologies and methods for enhancing cyber security specifically for networked and cloud-based security systems are emerging. This is critical to protect against vulnerabilities, such as hacking, and will be an important aspect of how physical security and surveillance solutions are designed and implemented.

Security as a service: The cloud emerges

Cloud-based computing has touched just about every industry and it will continue to reshape the security and surveillance sector as well. Security can now be offered as a service that is managed remotely, freeing up valuable human and capital resources that no longer need to be on site at every location that requires monitoring. Secure remote access to security systems will increase in use, including by end users who want the convenience and real-time benefits of being able to monitor property and events without having to be physically present.
Cloud storage is another important aspect of how systems are becoming more efficient in this model. Much larger volumes of data can be stored, cost-effectively and securely, at dedicated server facilities, allowing users to archive video and associated data for longer periods of time and improve its accessibility as well.
More cameras mean Big Data
According to market researchers, video is now the fastest growing type of data in the world, and video generated by security and surveillance systems is no small reason. While this vast amount of video data is largely being used for security purposes, as mentioned above, it is increasingly valuable as a source of business intelligence.
However, there still remains a significant challenge to effectively manage and use the endless amounts of video data being generated, so-called big data.
Big data is difficult to process through traditional data processing applications. We expect to see more investment in tools and other resources that can effectively mine and derive actionable intelligence from the big data that security systems are producing.
This technology can put structure around vast amounts of unstructured video data, helping better understand significant patterns and trends.
In the coming years, look for improvements in and greater use of video management systems (VMS) to search big data in order to pull up relevant events, people, locations, times, colors and keywords. Such tools will assist business operators to turn big data into critical information that aids in loss prevention, marketing, operations, and customer service.
Cutting the cords
Wireless technology has transformed our lives in many ways, from mobile phones, to WiFi connectivity. We have already seen the benefit and convenience of remote security monitoring via smartphones and tablets. Video surveillance systems of up to ten network cameras can be managed entirely via mobile devices, no longer requiring a desktop PC to run video management software. Especially for SMBs, this significantly lowers the technology hurdle as users are more open to using a smartphone app than having to overlook a more comprehensive and detailed video management software on a desktop PC. It also reduces overall system and maintenance costs.
Expect to see more use of wireless technology in security and video surveillance, particularly as an enhancement to business optimisation and improvement of the customer experience.

The never-ending quest for more detail

Security operators have an insatiable appetite for more clarity and detail in the images produced by their video surveillance systems. This is especially true as the adoption of intelligent video analytics continues to grow.
So continued improvement in megapixel technology is certainly in our future. Enhanced techniques to handle challenging low-lighting conditions in new ways are coming to market, making cameras even more useful in a wider array of applications and use cases. These improvements, largely focused on expanding the wide dynamic range (WDR) capability of cameras, also provide enhanced detail for analytics to help decipher information. Look for continued adoption of 4K Ultra HD, which enables network cameras to see more details. With an HDTV or megapixel network camera, the resolution is at least three times better than an analog CCTV camera. And 4K Ultra HD offers four times the resolution of HDTV 1080p.
However, higher and higher resolutions also result in increasing storage consumption. Intelligent video compression algorithms such as Axis’ Zipstream technology allow for a reduction in storage needs by an average 50% or more.
This is achieved by analysing and optimising a network camera’s video stream in real-time. Scenes containing interesting details are recorded in full image quality and resolution while other areas are filtered out to optimally use available storage. Important forensic details like faces, tattoos or license plates are isolated and preserved, while irrelevant areas such as white walls, lawns and vegetation are sacrificed by smoothing in order to achieve better storage savings.
Analytics provides the brain for smarter systems
If IoT devices are the eyes and ears for increasingly interconnected systems, then analytics technology is the brain. We expect to see continued adoption of sophisticated video and audio analytics in the coming year, helping security systems evolve from passive monitoring to intelligent and adaptive recognition, situational awareness and analysis systems.
Analytics go far beyond security uses. Retailers, for example, are increasingly using video analytics to gain business intelligence insights that allow them to optimise shop floor plans, merchandise display or checkout queue management.
In our recent survey, ‘CCTV in Retail’, one third of retailers across Northern Europe want better customer insights such as age and gender analytics and other IP applications such as people counting, queue management and dwell time. This opens up entirely new user groups to video surveillance. For example, in-store traffic flow and behavior analysis can help guide advertising and promotion campaigns.
A growing concern for cyber security threats
While the vision of IoT is enticing for the convenience, capabilities and flexibility vast networks of connected devices offer, there is a growing risk for security threats and breaches as the number of entry points into a network dramatically increases. In a recent survey by Cisco, 73 percent of business decision makers said they expect the IoT to cause security threats to increase in severity over the next two years. More worrying, 78 percent of IT security professionals are either unsure about their capabilities, or believe they lack the visibility and management required to secure new kinds of network connected devices.
As a general rule of thumb, as you increase availability and access to any network device, it potentially increases exposure to cyber threats. Because security camera systems will become increasingly internet connected with the rise of the Internet of Security things, offering benefits such as remote access and third party integration, just as with other network connected devices, it is critical to do a risk assessment and implement security polices in the design and implementation of a network video system.
Risk assessments have been common practice in the design of physical security systems for years, particularly for enterprise installations. Integrators should apply the same thought process to the configuration of network video devices, even though unlike other devices on the networks such as laptops, desktop or mobile devices, a network camera is not exposed to the common threat of users visiting potentially harmful websites, opening malicious email attachments or installing untrusted applications.
However, as a network device, a camera or other connected physical security devices may expose risk. Consequently it is important to reduce the exposure area of these risks and minimising the attack surface area is a common cyber protection measure.  If devices, services and applications do not need to interact you should try to limit connectivity between them.  Additionally segmenting the video system from the core network is a good overall protection measure, thereby reducing risks of video resources and business resources adversely effecting each other.
The process of securing a video security system – or hardening it – is an increasingly necessary one for installers and IT personnel to understand. A good hardening guide provides a configuration strategy suited to specific user requirements to deal with the evolving threat landscape.
Axis uses the SANS Top 20 Critical Security Controls as a baseline for its hardening guide. A first step is an understanding and use of industry standard security protocols, including multi-level user authentication/authorisation, password protection, SSL/TLS encryption, 802.1X, IP-filtering and certificate management.
In addition, smart camera suppliers like Axis continuously update their cameras firmware with new features, bug fixes and security patches. To deal with the increasing risk, variety and volume of security risks, security systems users will need to stay on top of updates from their suppliers and take heed of best practices for preventing attacks through network camera-based systems.
Article originally published by IFSEC Global on 2/4/16.

What is a Video Edge Device?

Each industry is guilty of creating terminology that may, or may not, add value to the end user’s understanding of what the product does.  In the perimeter video security, one such term is the “video edge device.” On its own, the term is not that descriptive.  It obviously has something to do with video, is either very thin or it is physically not located in the center.  All educated guesses, but let’s take a quick look at video edge devices…what are they and when might you need one? 
What is a Video Edge Device?
Although an edge device may indeed be small, and perhaps thin, the name piggybacks on the use of the same name in the IT world.  It is essentially a device that moves traditionally centralized video tasks away from the video surveillance command center and towards the “edge,” which in our case refers to pump stations, inlets, cell towers, generating stations, microwave links, transfer stations or any other type of unmanned, or temporarily manned location.  Most edge devices are small compact computers and somewhat rugged in nature. 
As the definition implies, you can think of an edge device as a full blown command and control / video management system.  It likely contains the capability to perform all the same tasks that an enterprise level video management can perform.  The difference is that it is serving a much smaller site.  So a smaller number of sensors or a smaller physical area, with the idea that it may take action and report data differently, given this reduced set of responsibilities. Video edge devices can record video, detect intrusionscontrol cameras, create alarms, activate remote devices, retrieve data and communicate status. The key to an edge device is that it plays a defined role in order to defer processing responsibilities from a central system.  So what are some of the key roles for which these devices are used?
What Functions do Video Edge Devices perform?
Challenging Environments – The first use of edge devices, and still a common use today, was merely environmental.  Often times remote facilities are environmentally challenging.  Edge devices typically come in a variety of ruggedized flavors to perform in extreme environments, such as, temperature extremes, high humidity, wet locations or sites with limited power or connectivity. This in turn drove the compactness factor, keeping the cost of ruggedizing a unit to only the size needed to perform the operations at that remote location.
Bandwidth Management – Remote locations often mean poor, or limited communications.  A common role of edge devices is to manage the communication pipe to ensure that important information is prioritized or buffered until it can be received.  Edge devices can typically operate in lower resolution mode, on-demand only or just alarm mode.  Some may normally operate in a low resolution mode, but replace the low resolution data with locally stored high resolution files as bandwidth becomes available in off hours.  With the advent of very high resolution cameras, the need for this type of bandwidth management has become more prevalent.   
Distributed Storage – Related to bandwidth management is the strategy to use the edge device to distribute the storage of video data.  There may be many reasons to do this from a security / data backup perspective, but from a practical standpoint, the central monitoring location is most likely only interested in the 15 minutes of footage showing the actual break in.  The 23 hours and 45 minutes of video of blowing leaves and cloud formations may not warrant transmission over the site’s microwave data link. This data is not lost, but remains at the remote location until such time that it is needed, or groomed from the device.
Increased Automation – By their very nature, unmanned, remote sites are …. unmanned and remote. So when an event does occur, it becomes a logistical challenge to react to the event in an effective or timely manner.  Today’s edge devices are expertly designed to accommodate a higher level of integration and intelligence to perform much of the leg work for you.  These devices can detect events, collect pertinent data and take proactive steps to deter a situation.
A typical example, might be a vandal at a cell tower.  An edge device could utilize a fixed camera to detect that the movement in the camera was a person and that they had come within a designated distance to the facility.  The device could then take control of a PTZ camera and lock on to the target for continuous following This alone could provide video evidence to either verify the safety of the location was not compromised or to aid in the apprehension and prosecution of the individual.  Better yet, many of these devices have the intelligence to actually take deterrent actions, by invoking situationally based audio commands or tracking the target with directional spotlights.  This type of automation typically requires quick reaction time from controlled sensors, which would not be available over a bandwidth limited, or intermittent, data line. These automated actions can either deter the event, or minimize its impact.
When to Consider Using an Edge Device
The decision to use one can vary greatly based on the situation and characteristics of your remote site.  Luckily, edge devices are affordable and designed to integrate into existing video infrastructure.  This makes the decision to utilize such as device a little easier to manage.  Some common reasons to consider using an edge device include:
Critical Locations:
If you have a site that is critical in nature, but cannot be manned, or is very remote, the automation available in today’s edge devices can be invaluable in either deterring a situation, or providing evidence that a site is secure after an event.  Target classification,behavior recognition, automated camera following and intelligent audio talk down are common features in today’s edge device and can be very helpful in the protection of these types of critical locations.
Budget Constrained Need for Advanced Capability:
As mentioned earlier, edge devices typically include all the capabilities of an enterprise level video management system, but only for a limited number of inputs.  So if you desire some of the latest technology features, but aren’t in a position to upgrade your entire security system, a video edge device is an excellent, low cost way, to introduce these features to a specific site or problem area.  This approach allows you to understand the capabilities of the device in a localized setting before expanding it to the rest of your operations.
Aging Infrastructure:
Locations with low bandwidth communication links, intermittent links or no means of communication are good candidates for edge devices.  The ability to manage the use of the limited data lines allows effective monitoring of these types of sites without an expensive communications infrastructure upgrade.  Even if you have a good communication infrastructure, but want to explore the use of bandwidth intensive devices, such as high resolution cameras, edge devices can provide a means to bring these devices into your system without impacting your current network loading.
Mobile or Temporary Installations
Mobile or temporary locations are a great opportunity to utilize a video edge device.  These sites often have unique requirements and may involve purchase of new equipment.  Based on the situation, they may be stand alone, or require integration with your main video management system, which is exactly the role an edge device fulfills.  It is also a great way to get exposure to the device’s capability and determine in what other fashion it may provide value in your overall video security infrastructure.
Although the name may be somewhat ambiguous at first, video edge devices can be a valuable addition to your video arsenal.  They also provide an affordable path to introduce capability into your existing system. Remote sites encounter a variety of constraints and issues when ensuring their safety and integrity. Understanding the capability of an edge device can aid in addressing these issues.
Article originally published by PureTech Systems on 3/4/2016 

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

10 More Things Burglars Don’t Want You to Know

In a previous post, Schlage and I revealed the 10 things burglars don’t want you to know, and guess what, there are 10 more!

  1. If a burglar can hear your TV or sound system, chances are pretty good he’ll think someone’s home. Don’t rely only upon your state-of-the-art alarm system.
  2. An alternative to leaving a TV on while you’re on vacation is to use a device that generates a simulation of the flickering lights of a TV at timed intervals.
  3. Burglars don’t mind taking the entire safe with them if they’re too impatient to figure out how to crack it. Bolt it down.
  4. A barking dog really does deter break-ins. So do nosy neighbors.
  5. A one-time loud noise (like a window being broken) almost always doesn’t compel a neighbor to investigate. If it happens continuously or even just a second time, he usually will. However, a burglar is inside your house after just one window smash.
  6. Yes, a person casing your neighborhood for break-ins looks like the guy who would never do such a thing: clean-cut, maybe dressed in a workman’s uniform with a fake logo, carrying inspection equipment to make himself look legit.
  7. Never reveal your vacation or business tip plans on your Facebook page. Don’t assume nobody could figure out your address just because it’s not on your page.
  8. No errand is too short to leave the alarm system turned off. A burglar can invade your home and steal your valuables in a lot less time than it takes you to run the shortest errand. Products that you don’t have to arm, like the Schlage Touchscreen Deadbolt with a built-in alarm feature, can also help out when only stepping out for a short amount of time.
  9. Ignoring a knock or doorbell is a smart idea, but leaving the door unlocked—even when you’re home—isn’t. Many burglars will try the door if nobody responds. If it opens, they’ll enter.
  10. No matter how hot the day is, never leave a window open even a tiny bit when you’re away. Burglars can’t resist this.
Article originally published by on 1/30/2014.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Top 10 Reasons to Hire a Home Security Company

When deciding whether to hire a home security company to implement a security solution for your home, it can be helpful to know some of the main ways in which a home security company can protect your home from potential burglars. Following are some of the benefits a home security company offers you:
  1. Provides alarm monitoring: One of the biggest benefits to hiring a home security company is they provide alarm monitoring for your home. This connects your alarm system to a central monitoring center and enables the monitoring center staff to alert authorities if a break-in occurs.
  2. Protects your home from burglars: A home security company can install a state-of-the art alarm system in your home to protect it from burglars. Most alarm systems provide multiple protection points to ensure all areas of your home are safe.
  3. Deters burglars with window decals: A home security company can provide you with window decals indicating they are protecting your home and that you have a professional alarm system installed.
  4. Deters burglars with yard signs: Most monitored alarm systems come with yard signs you can display in front of your home. These signs deter burglars by letting them know your home has a professionally monitored alarm system.
  5. Professional alarm installation: A home security company professionally installs a state-of-the-art alarm system for you to ensure your home remains safe at all times. Such a system protects you 24 hours a day.
  6. Professional alarm maintenance: A home security company provides professional alarm maintenance for you regularly to ensure all components of your alarm system are working properly. This keeps your system up-to-date so it can protect against unauthorized entry.
  7. Discount on homeowners’ insurance: Most homeowners’ insurance companies offer you a discount on your insurance premiums if you have a monitored home security system, as they know your home is less likely to be a target for break-ins with such a system.
  8. Additional services: Many home security companies offer additional services such as carbon monoxide monitoring, fire alarms, and panic buttons to ensure your utmost safety.
  9. Peace of mind: A home security company can provide you with peace of mind in knowing your home is safe at all times, regardless of whether you are home or away.
  10. Increases your home’s resale value: Installing an alarm system in your home can increase its resale value, as future homeowners do not need to invest in an alarm system of their own.
A home security company ensures your home is safe at all times and gives you peace of mind in knowing someone is always watching out for your home. For more information about installing an alarm system in your home, you should contact a home security company.
Article reprinted from