Archive for April, 2011

What do you want, what do you want, what do you want from me?

Often times security systems are designed around a specific goal; “I want to keep everyone out of this IT room except for the following people . . . ” or “I need to capture the license plate at this entry point”  As a customer, it is your right to force your integrator get as specific as possible throughout the design. You are most likely going to spend tens of thousands of dollars on an initial install of an intrusion, fire monitoring, access control or surveillance system, you want it to look the way you want in the end.

A good integrator, or provider, will be able to unequivocally quantify the end result for you.  If you tell your integrator you want to see a face through a door, that integrator should be able to provide the pixels per foot needed to get a usable face shot. If you want to restrict people into an area, your integrator should be able to put together an access control solution that will restrict those points of entry.

If your design / integrator / sales contact is vague, how precise will your end system then be?  Get Specific, Get Results!

Avigilon Resolution Chart


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Are you getting the most out of your maintenance program?

This past December we were fortunate enough to land a MAJOR video customer thanks to our implementation of HD Megapixel Video.  This particular customer had an existing analog CCTV system in place with 20 fixed full body and domes cameras and 12 PTZs running to two DVRs in their guard shack.  This customer was about to announce some difficult staff changes to their facility and felt that they would need increased surveillance on some of the business crucial applications and employee parking.  On top of their existing 32 cameras, we installed (19) 5.0 Megapixel cameras, (1) 3.0 Megapixel camera, (2) 2.0 Megapixel cameras, (2) 1.o Megapixel cameras and an HD NVR.  It is a very impressive system, one of the most sophisticated non-gaming systems in the state.

Recently they called us in to  quote replacing the head end of the analog system.  They had been having video and data loss on six of their PTZs. The installing company had a service contract and had come out to run new wire to the PTZs.  After the new wire had been run, they concluded that the customer needed new DVRs because the DVRs weren’t “strong enough” to receive the video signal.   I had never heard of this and this immediately raised a red flag.  I discussed the very real possibility that they would buy a new DVR and still have problems if the cameras were faulty.

I offered to provide a loaner DVR for 1 week.  My scope of work was to hook the faulty cameras into that DVR to see if it eliminated the video loss.  If so, we’d sell them new cameras, if not, we’d sell them a new DVR, either way we would be sure that the customer would purchase the correct replacement product.  One of our awesome techs, Barry, opened up the existing DVRS (that we did not install, and that were under a service and maintenance contract with another vendor) they were caked with dust and overheating.  Barry blew out and cleaned out the insides of the DVRs. When he was done  he hooked the cameras up to the exiting DVR and the video signal returned. No problem.

This customer had a service contract in place with the installing  company (under our service contract, all visits to fix the faulty PTZs would have been non-chargeable), still a $190 service call from USA Security saved them from  unnecessarily purchasing $15,000 + of new equipment.  USA Security offers customers once or twice a year full maintenance inspections and cleanings.  This drastically extends the life of your system.  When it comes to a service provider, make sure you are getting exactly what you pay for.  If you feel you’re not, give USA Security a call, we’ll pick up the ball and run with it.

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Quick Tip to Avoid Home Invasions

As I walk through my neighborhood at night, I am amazed by the glows of 40+ inch flat screen TVs I can see from the street.  During the day, this may seem like no big deal, but in the evening, the HD glow from that TV is very eye catching.  On my 1 1/2 mile walk alone, I can “scope out” at least a dozen flat screen TVs.  Less than half of them are mounted to the wall.   It would be very simple for a would be criminal to stake out a residential neighborhood in the evening and go in door to door during the day when the residents are at work.  TVs are easy prey for criminals to sell with quick turnaround

There are some very simple tips to reduce your risk:

1) Move the TV to a room that is not viewable from the living room

2) If that is not possible, draw the shades .  Your TV won’t be noticeable from the street if the glow doesn’t make it through the window

3) Install a home intrusion system.  A basic alarm system coupled with IP cameras and Total Connect will alert you to the activity in your home while you are not there.  Aside from home security, the Total Connect feature will allow you to get alerts to your home’s status.  Get an alert when the babysitter disarms the system.  Working late, and your teenagers are the only one home?  Get an alert when the liquor cabinet door opens.  No home phone? No Problem!  Total Connects works by communicating your alarm system out over your internet connection or over a cellular dial.

The future of home security is here.  USA Security can bring it to you.

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You Keep Your Entire Inventory OUTSIDE?!

Auto dealers and heavy equipment manufacturer’s face similar obstacles in securing their inventory.  Often times they have millions of dollars of inventory outside with little to no fencing.  While insurance covers theft and vandalism, to a point, wouldn’t stopping these activities from happening be the ideal solution?

Enter off-site video monitoring.  By utilizing smart analytics, and setting time parameters, say 9:00pm-8:00am and Sundays (auto dealers are closed on Sundays in the state of MN), you would  have live eyes on anyone who enters your property.

Many business with large amounts of outdoor inventory use live guards to patrol their property at intervals.  This solution is prohibitive for two reasons: 1) Costly, it can cost thousands of dollars of month for a guard service 2) What happens when a crime is committed when the guard service is not there?  Remote Video Monitoring brings your cameras up live the second someone steps foot on your property. The operator observes the behavior and makes the call based on your expressed parameters (we wouldn’t want to call the cops on someone who is just browsing the lot).  Police respond quicker because the event has been verified by the monitoring station.

Why spend thousands of dollars per month on an unreliable guard service, or worse yet, have no one guarding your valuable inventory, when USA Security can install a video system that can do the same thing 24X7 (without having to use the bathroom, get a coffee, or call in sick) for a few hundred dollars a month?  Best yet, USA Security can provide you with a no-cost site analysis to specifically hone your needs.  Give USA Security a call today, you’ll be amazed at what we can do.

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Security Applications for Your Retail Tenants

One of the challenges of managing retail commercial space is the unique hours of the tenants as it relates to common space.   A recent walk through at one such mall resulted in the following scenario:

Two lower level tenants (one retail, one restaurant) maintain “normal business hours” from roughly 9:00 am – 9:00 pm while a third lower level tenant doesn’t open until 11:00 am and stays open until 1:00 am.  There are two tenants on the second floor; one fitness tenant keeps hours from 7:00 am -9:00 pm and one office tenant keeps roughly 8:00-5:00 hours.  There are two main entry points to the building on the first level and two stair ways and an elevator to the second level.

THE PROBLEM:  Tenants are occupying the space on their floor at times of the day when the opposite floor is not open for business.  While the fitness center is closed at 9:00pm the restaurant, and therefor the entire building, is open until 1:00 pm. While the three lower level tenants are closed until at least 9:00 am, the upper level tenants are open at 7:00 am.  This building has had problems with break-ins to the second floor business after their business hours, but during business hours of the first floor tenants.  This building also has a problem with vagrants sleeping in the halls of the second floor and urinating in the elevator.

THE SOLUTION:  By deploying cameras with sensitive analytics,  a building manager can set up specific time zones and activity paterns for specific cameras to alert to an off site video verification service.  That service can be your eyes and ears when you aren’t there.  Since every camera can be set to a unique time parameter, it is fully flexible to your individual tenants.  In this instance, the lower level cameras would be set to alert from 1:00 am to 9:00 am, the upper level cameras would be set to alert from 9:00pm to 7:00 am.  The verification service would notify the police or building manager based on predetermined critera.

This solution gives you constant eyes on the facility without the high cost of a live guard service.

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NVRs Provide Centralized Storage for School / Corporate Campuses

One of the great myths about IP cameras is you can plug one camera in anywhere in the world and have it record to anywhere in the world.  In theory this works, but in reality there are many obstacles you would encounter with this solution, two of the more prominent being connectivity issues and bandwidth constraints.

Many school and corporate campuses can overcome these obstacles through their existing fiber infrastructure and can create a LAN or VLAN to direct the camera network directly to the recorder until the video is requested by an operator.  As surveillance equipment standards migrate from analog cameras and DVR technology to IP / Megapixel cameras and NVR technology, so do the parties responsible for their upkeep.  More and more, these campuses look to their IT / IS staff to procure and manage their video.

USA Security has been able to work with these departments to significantly reduce their workload, and make their surveillance systems run far more efficiently.  Depending on video quality and motion settings, ONE locally stored 10.0TB video server paired with the correct VMS can record 128 analog cameras for 20 days.  This could reduce as many as 8 traditional DVRs.

Looking at a typical school district (although this could hold true for any campus setting) there could be a small DVR in each elementary school, a 16 channel DVR in each middle school, a DVR in the community center,  a DVR in the gym/ field house, and several (4+) DVRs in each High School. By replacing those DVRs with video encoders and pushing that video over existing fiber, an IT director could eliminate all satellite DVRs (at once or scalable) and replace them w/ 2 or 3 centralized servers.  This would greatly reduce the intracampus / intradistrict travel and hours needed to update, patch, and maintain individual servers.

USA Security has made this a reality in campus settings from schools, to corporate, to casinos.   Contact for more information or a system analysis and design.

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