Burglary Rise among Indian Households in Overland Park

We have seen a number of news reports and have heard from many of our clients, that there has been an increase in burglaries and home invasions with members of the Indian community as the victims.  This is clearly a disturbing trend and the goal of this posting is to provide some ideas to help everyone be a little safer, especially as the holidays approach.  As is always the case, be mindful of your surroundings and anything or anyone that seems out of place.  Safety usually starts with what we refer to as the three-D’s, Deterrence, Denial, and Detection.

Deterrence means to make yourself a less desirable target:

  • Make it look like you are home, even when you aren’t
  • Have security signs and decals posted so would-be intruders know the house is protected
  • Keep home well lit and keep doors and windows clearly visible
  • Keep valuables out of sight

Denial means making it harder to break in:

  • Always keep doors and windows locked
  • Put deadbolts on exterior doors
  • Put sticks in tracks of sliding doors and windows

Detection:

  • Consider an monitored security system to rapidly alert you and police in the event of a break-in
  • Consider a video camera as a deterrent and an aid to apprehension and prosecution
  • Also keep an eye on neighbors houses for unusual activity

For more ideas, you can request a free copy of our home security checklist or contact us for a free in home security assessment.

Article by Tony Thurnam g+

Burglar cut phoneline, but security system had cellular backup!

Recently, our central station received an alert that an alarm had been tripped.  They followed their standard protocol of dispatching the police and contacting the business owners.  Now security system alarms and subsequent police dispatches are fairly common, but what makes this story different is that this client was broken into one month earlier and took then extra precaution of adding a cellular back-up communicator, in case the phone lines were cut again. In fact, we went one step further, we put an additional battery in the communicator so that even if the security panel was destroyed, the radio could send an alarm signal by itself.

Home owners that are concerned about their security can learn from this as well.  While traditional phone lines do a good job of economically sending us signals, they do have one vulnerability.  They are usually unprotected and can be cut.

Today, the majority of our clients no longer have a traditional phone line any more, and we receive calls every week from clients that want to get rid of their land-line service.  Those getting rid of land-line all together will need to opt for either internet or cellular monitoring.  Others who convert to a bundled voice over IP (VoIP) service do have a choice.

VoIP from major providers in the Kansas City area, such as AT&T, TWC, Comcast, SureWest and others can often transmit the alarm signals fairly reliably, but most security system manufacturers don’t guarantee compatibility.  The next issue is that of VoIP service in the event of a power loss.  You will want to know how long the phones will continue to work without any power, if at all. Finally, these VoIP services are still vulnerable to wire cuts, as were the traditional phone lines.

We recommend, multiple communication paths to help mitigate the risk of intentional or natural loss of communication.  Almost every security system manufactured in the last 15 years can be converted to cellular communication.

 

Burglars Caught and Arrested using Leading Edge Video System

This month, one of our new customers got a call in the middle of the night, that intruders were trespassing at his business.  Well, in the alarm business, that is unfortunately nothing new, but how the thieves were caught is new.

An innovative new high-definition Security Camera system had been installed just eight days earlier.  This system has a sophisticated motion detection processor that determines the size of the object and then sends an alert to the owner and our central station whenever there is motion detected outside normal hours.  Not only that though, it actually sends a video clip that they can watch from their computer or smart phone! Well at about midnight, our central station called the client to inform him that they were watching three men burglarizing his business.  The central station dispatched the police who arrived on the scene and took the men into custody.

Systems such as this can help small businesses protect themselves without the expense of a dedicated security guard.  Security guard services could also use this technology to dispatch their officers.

Mega-Pixel Security Cameras

Video surveillance has made tremendous advances in the last five years.  One of the significant advances is in IP video surveillance.  IP or internet prootcol has revolutionized video surveillance in several different respects.

  1. Quality.  IP cameras are able to achieve resolutions of 8 mega-pixels or more.  That is higher than high-definition TV and 100 times the standard resolution (320×200) that many CCTV systems support.  This resolution is extremely valuable for two types of applications.  First, any application where detail is important, like point of sale, facial recognition and licence plate recognition will benefit from the ultra high resolution.  Second, One IP camera can provide the same coverage as more than 10 traditional cctv cameras in applications where large areas are to me monitored like warehouses and factories.
  2. Simplicity.  IP cameras can utilize existing IT infrastructure for connectivity.  This reduces the expense and speeds installation.  Many can also utilize POE or Power over ethernet so that separate power is not even required by the cameras.
  3. Analytics.  IP cameras also benefit from advanced analytics.  That means that complex processing can be done like tying cash register transactions to video, tracking people and vehicles, reading license plates, and much more.
  4. Evolution to IP.  There are several products that are helping client migrate to IP.  Hybrid DVRs can terminate a combination of IP and analog security cameras so that you can leverage your existing investment and tailor the system to leverage the benefits of both technologies.  Cat 5 transmission is now possible on analog cctv cameras which means that you can use ethernet cabling for analog cameras today and then reuse it for IP cameras in the future.
  5. Cost.  The cost Of mega pixel systems continues to drop and is now between 2 and three times the cost of traditional systems, but with far greater performance, depending on the application.

In conclusion, IP cameras are a remarkable tool for many applicaitons, but traditional analog cameras are rugged, reliable, and cost effective, so they’ll likely be around for years to come.

Home Security Cameras

Kansas City homeowners are becoming evermore proactive about protecting their homes and families.  One step in this evolution is the use of video surveillance.  There are 4 main reasons that people choose video surveillance:

  1. Deterrent: Security cameras are an excellent deterrent.  Most trespassers and would-be intruders want to avoid being seen at all cost.  The presence of security cameras sends a strong signal that security is taken seriously at that home and that the cameras are probably just the first line of defense.  The risk of being apprehended is certainly enough of a deterrent to discourage many intruders.
  2. Apprehension: Security cameras are also an important tool in apprehending wrong-doers.  Some clients who have an ongoing problem with crime prefer to use covert cameras to catch the perpetrator in the act so that they can be prosecuted.  This is often a case in stalking scenarios, or ongoing disputes.  In the latter case, often vandalism is being done at night and the home owner wants to prove who is doing it.
  3. Peace of mind:  Being able to check in on your home while you are away offers a great deal of comfort to some.  Perhaps making sure their pets are OK or just to make sure that everything is normal.  A camera outdoors even gives one the ability to watch the kids playing in the yard from a TV, computer or smartphone.

Part of the reason for the surge in popularity is the dramatic drop in prices as well as the introduction of smart-phone and internet access to these systems.  A traditional system will be composed of a digital video recorder (DVR), a power supply, and cameras.  The DVR will normally have 4, 8, or 16 inputs on it where the camera cables are to be connected.  It then has a hard drive, just like a computer, on which the video is stored.  There is usually an ethernet port so that the video can be viewed over the internet as well.

Selection and installation of the security cameras is what determines the value of the surveillance system.  There are many different factors that influence the selection of security cameras. Some of the factors that effect camera selection include the lighting, resolution, distance, mounting conditions, temperature, and vandalism risk.

Security camera selection and installation are where the complexity lies and often relying on a video surveillance consultant and a professional installer can help produce the desired results.

A new security camera solution that is gaining popularity is called hosted video.   With hosted video surveillance, there is no need for the DVR.  Instead, the video clips are stored on the internet (Cloud) each time a selected event, such as motion is triggered.  The recording can also be triggered by security system events such as opening a door or disarming the system.  Such a feature would be valuable for making sure that latch key kids arrived home safely.  You could have a video clip emailed to you each time the door was opened while you were away to know who was coming and going.  This video/security integration is also available on the traditional DVR based systems described above, but require outputs from the security panel to be wired to the DVR to trigger.

The video clips are stored on the internet and can even be automatically emailed.  For small systems, this is very economical because the home owner avoids the expense of the DVR.  Many of these cameras also can be connected via ethernet or Wi-Fi, to make installation even easier.

Wireless Security Systems versus Cellular: Which is better?

In our many conversations with home owners, it is apparent that there are a lot of confusing and conflicting terms out there used to describe wireless technologies used in todays security systems.  The purpose of this post is to help clarify the terminology to help people better research their security needs.  There are four common wireless uses within todays security systems.  I will describe each below:

  1. Wireless devices: When installing a home security system, we often find that it is too difficult to get a wire run between the security system and particular location within the home.  In these cases, there is usually a version of the contact that is capable of wirelessly transmitting signals bach to the security system.  These devices are then battery operated and can last up to 7 years between battery changes.  When the battery starts to get low, many security systems will inform you.
  2. Cellular monitoring: Cellular monitoring is a wireless network that has been put in place to allow security systems communicate with central monitoring stations, even when a traditional phone line is not available.  These are often used when no land-line service is available at a property or when the owner would like additional protection in the event that a phone line was cut during an intrusion.  These systems require a cellular communicator that is attached to the security system.
  3. Z-wave wireless control: You may start to here of a security system being able to control light, thermostats, garage door, and door locks.  One of the more new technologies used to accomplish this is call Z-Wave.  Z-Wave is a wireless technology used for home automation and has been integrated into several brands of security systems.  With this technology in place, you can program events such as turning on the lights and turning up the thermostat when you return home.  Or to even have those lights on a timer.  To implement this, you need a z-wave communicator in your security panel and you need some z-wave light switches or outlets installed within your home.
  4. Smart-phone apps (Cell phone control):  Many people ask for cell phone control and by that they are referring to apps made for most popular smart phones that can communicate with their security systems.  These apps basically give the user access to most of the functions of their home security system, even while they are far away.  Most of these apps require that either cellular or internet monitoring be installed on the security panel.

Security System Apps for Android and iPhone

Have you ever gotten to work and wondered if the garage door was closed?  Have you ever gotten to the airport and wondered is you remembered to arm the security system?

Honeywell’s  makes it easy to find out this and much more.  In fact, if you did forget to arm the security system or close the garage door, it could let you do it from your smart phone as well.  In this post, I’m simply going to describe a few of the Total Connect applications that we have done.  While I’m using Total Connect as an example, Alarm.com offers similar features. 

Case 1:  Rex had sensors installed on his overhead garage doors and gets an email alert everytime the garage door is opened or closed.  He now needs olny glance at his smart phone to determine if the garage door is closed.

Case 2: Jennifer wanted to get an email alert each time her daughter got home from school and wanted a video clip attached so she would have the peace of mind of knowing she got home OK.  Total Connect was configured to send a 20 second video clip from a security camera near alarm keypad each time the system was armed or disarmed. 

Case 3: Nick has a system configured to send updates as door way sensors are tripped so that he knows when his elderly parent moves from one room to another.  This way, he doesn’t have to worry about the scenario like we hear about where someone needs help and can’t get to a phone to call for help.  If no activity is reported, Nick can have someone check on his parent. This is service is called In Home Activity Tracking

Case 4: Gina has a vacant house that she wants to be able to monitor, and when service people or realtors are going to be there, she can disarm the system.  She also gets an alert when the door opens so that she will know when the people came and left.

The are but a few of the possibilities that exist.  We haven’t even touched on the light control, electric locks and thermostat control options that also exist.  These capabilities represent the next wave in home security.  You can now monitor and control your home from anywhere with internet access and with powerful iPhone and Android apps.

Security Monitoring: You shouldn’t have to worry

As I talk to multitudes of people about security, I occasionally run into those who’ll say that a monitored security system won’t prevent an intrusion.  Actually the last person to say that was a close friend.  I think that statement is wonderful, in that it shows that he was trying to think like a criminal in order to protect himself.

First of all, I guess I would have to agree with my friend, since the yard sign and the window decals are really the only portion of the system that is designed to deter the intrusion.  The siren is the next line of defense in that it may discourage entry in the case of a glass break detector, or at least prompt a rapid departure once the intruder determines that the police are being dispatched.  There are a multitude of other critical benefits that security system monitoring provides though.

Probably the easiest way to describe the value of monitoring is with some of the questions that a monitored security system would answer.  I will include some questions that would also be answered when email alerting is added to a modern security system.  Adding video surveillance would answer even more questions, but will be saved for a later discussion.

  1. If a fire starts in your home while your are away, how long will it take before your neighbors see it and call the fire department?
  2. If a fire started in your home while you are away, who will rescue your pets?
  3. If your basement starts flooding while you are away, or even asleep, will someone contact you?
  4. When you come home, is there a chance that you will be walking in on a burglar that had kicked in your back door?
  5. Is everything OK at your vacation home when you are away for the winter?
  6. What time did your child come home from school and disarm the security system?
  7. Did you remember to close the garage door when you left?
  8. Did you remember to arm the security system when you left on your trip?
  9. Are your senior parents able to summon help when they need it?
  10. If a relative with Alzheimer’s was to wander off, do you have a way to locate them?
  11. If your mother wasn’t moving around her home as she normally would, could you tell?
  12. If carbon monoxide levels rose in a home where the inhabitants couldn’t hear the siren or couldn’t get out of the house alone, how would help be summoned?

The technology exists today to monitor all of these conditions and allow you to not worry about them.  The benefit of monitoring is two fold, first it gets help summoned sooner, and second, you don’t have to wonder if everything is OK.

It is only natural to worry about our families, homes, and businesses when we can’t be there, but electronic monitoring can go along way to reduce the worry.

The Challenge: I believe that almost anthing can be electronically monitored.  Try to stump me with your toughest monitoring challenge.  I’ll post your question and my attempt to solve.  We’ll let a jury of your peers determine whether I’ve solved the challenge, come close, or crashed and burned.

Activating Existing Security Systems – What to Look Out for

As we continue to conduct numerous security inspections, we’ve noticed a disturbing practice, that we initially thought was an isolated event. The practice is to take a good comprehensive multi-zone hardwired system and turn it into a quick cheap system.  In this posting, I’ll discuss what to look out for and why.

Security Principle:  In general, the more zones in your security system, the better.  Multiple zones give responders more specific information as to the location of the intrusion.  More zones also gives you the ability to tailor the behavior of your security systems in different situations.  It is expected that all of the doors would be on different zones.  That way the central station could inform police as to which door of the house had gone into alarm.  Cleary information on where motion or glass breakage occured would be just as vital.

Dangerous Shortcut:  A number of companies, touting the benefits of an all wireless security systems, are actually doing it because of the time and money they save on installations.  These companies, in some cases, have gone into a home with eight hardwired zones of security and disconnected all the wires.  They then tie them together into two or three groups and attach each group to a wireless transmitter as a single zone.  This turned a high quality hardwired system into a two or three zone system that leaves the police guessing as to the part of the house where a break-in occurred.

The Solution:  Fortunately, in most cases, the situation can be reversed by putting a new panel where the original system was and reusing all of those valuable hardwired zones.  A wireless receiver is then added to the system so that additional detection equipment can easily be added to the home or business.  Such equipment includes wireless smoke detectors, wireless remotes, wireless carbon monoxide detectors, flood detectors, and more.

Final Note:  If a security sales person seems anxious for you to make a decision, its usually because they don’t want to give you time to make an informed decision.  You should always make a security investment on your terms and only when you are comfortable that you know the facts and are happy with your decision.

Seniors Monitoring Solutions help Loved Ones Stay in their Homes Longer

A topic you are going to see covered frequently here is that of “Aging in Place.”  There are many organizations that define this phrase, but to me it is the application of a variety of solutions with a goal of helping seniors live longer, happier, and safer lives within their own homes.  Home security systems can be extended to provide a great deal of support toward this goal.

Their are several considerations that infuence ones ability to stay at home.  Things like wellness and mobility are obvious factors in determining one’s independence, but many adaptations are possible with thoughtful design.

One area that needs to be addressed is making sure that the individual can get the help they need when they need it.  There are many different circumstance that can force one to need assistance and a monitoring system should be put in place that addresses as many of these as practical.  Regular home visits by trained caregivers is one valuable measure.  Modern technology can offer several powerful yet very affordable solutions as well.

Medical pagers that give the ability to summon help are another useful tool.  The Life Sentry pager is unique in that a push of a button can connect the user to a certified EMT that can access their situation and dispatch the appropriate help.  The advance here is that the conversation can take place right over the pendant which can be worn outdoors or in the shower.  The previous versions of such devices required that the individual be able to get all the way back to a centrally located base station in order to communicate with the central station.

In home activity tracking is an exciting new area that allows family members or caregivers to monitor the activity within the home to assess whether a departure from the norm warrants action or at least a phone call.  Email alerts can be sent as the individual moves from room to room, opens the medicine cabinet, or leaves the house.  This allows their loved ones to have peace of mind that things are normal and to determine when things might not be.  The monitoring doesn’t stop there though.  It can also alert authorities and family members of fire, carbon monoxide, or intrusion threats.

Video surveillance is another technology that has gained an enormous amount of momentum in the residential market lately.  Low prices and remote viewing over the internet and smart phones have made this a popular addition to a home’s electronic security.  Again, the value is one of providing the peace of mind that comes with knowing everything is OK.

Another important adaptation that allows individuals to stay at home longer is the removal of barriers to everyday living that may exist within the home.  These might be areas that are not wheel chair accessible.  I had the pleasure of speaking with experts at Lifewise Renovations  at their showroom, where they showed me how various remodelling techniques are helping individuals stay in their homes longer.  One of the things that struck me, was that many of these adaptations, while very functional, are practically invisible, so people can implement these universal design concepts at any time.

You can learn more about these concepts or request a consultation at Shield Security Systems.

SHIELD Security Systems | 7111 W. 151st Street, Suite 30 | Overland Park, KS 66223 | (913) 667-7500