monitoring

Complete Monitoring for Complete Protection

Complete Monitoring of your Life Safety Systems

Remote monitoring provides complete protection of your people and asset. Whether you have a fire, break-in, or a medical emergency your alarm monitoring staff will know immediately and can dispatch the appropriate agencies – police, fire, ambulance or any necessary support services.

In addition to alerting the authorities, your designated contact is notified of the situation ensuring that management stays abreast of all events. All within minutes of any alarm. This quick response and communication is a critical part of your safety management program.

Most companies have remote monitoring for a security system and fire protection system. While this is now commonplace, it should also be standard to have your Life Safety Partner monitoring all systems for alerts about emerging or immediate system problems. Your system can be monitored for issues such as failing batteries, electrical issues, or other problems that may interfere with the proper function of your life safety systems.

You can also have alerts monitored for health and safety items such as your AED cabinet and carbon monoxide detector. This all-inclusive monitoring ensures that the proper authorities are notified during an emergency, and that system issues are addressed quickly in order to provide continued protection.

When selecting or reviewing your Monitoring partner, understand that your security relies on the staff of the monitoring station. This means it is important that your Monitoring station have highly trained staff, capable of responding to all situations appropriately and effectively. Your Monitoring station should be staffed 24/7/365 to ensure continuous monitoring of your systems.

Customized responses from your Monitoring partner are also important. With a variety of systems being monitored for maintenance alerts and emergency alarms, there is no one response that will work for all of them. Being able to customize the responses for your different systems will allow the correct person to be notified every time.

A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. To find out more information or to ask a question, click here or call us at 1-800-859-6198.

Greg Lane

Internet Speed and Mobile Security Access

Mobile access to your security assets, such as video surveillance, is an advantage and convenience for business owners. Mobile access can allow you to log into your CCTV system to view your security footage in real time. It also allows you to set up a remote security monitoring location for your surveillance system. Remote security monitoring can be an efficient means to providing security in your facility without the cost of in-house security professionals.

In order to have remote access to your security footage, it is necessary to have sufficient internet connection speed and bandwidth. One way to do this is to have a VPN (Virtual Private Network) which puts the camera on a separate network inside your own network.  If you do not have a VPN, then you need to ensure your connection speed/bandwidth is sufficient to handle both your business needs and your security cameras.

How much Internet Connection Speed/Bandwidth do you need for IP Cameras?

There are a number of factors involved in determining exactly how much connection speed or bandwidth you need for your IP cameras to provide a quality mobile connection. The main factors you need to consider are video recording resolution, video compression, number of cameras, and FPS (frame rate per second). Even if you are recording locally, you need to consider these items in planning your local network. There is no set amount of internet speed or bandwidth you will need to provide sufficient support for your IP cameras and video surveillance, instead your Life Safety Partner will utilize a formula based on the characteristics listed above to estimate how much you will need.

Do you have a high internet speed and your video surveillance is not running smoothly?

The high internet speed advertised to you for company use is generally the download speed – or the speed at which your company’s computers are downloading information from online. While this is great for your business, it is the upload speed that has more effect on the remote viewing of your video surveillance. Talk to your internet provider about your current upload speed, what you are utilizing it for, and what they have available for upgrading.

You can find out what your internet speed is through Google, click this link to run a speed test.

A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. To find out more information or to ask a question, click here or call us at 1-800-859-6198.

Jack Menke
Jack Menke

Why you need to upgrade that DVR

If your CCTV system uses a DVR, it may be time to consider upgrading to a Network Video Recorder (NVR). This newer technology is now available in a price range that makes better video surveillance accessible. Here we will review the changing technology that brought us to where we are in current CCTV systems, and the advantages we now have with this technology.

Original Analog Technology

Analog was the original technology for CCTV systems and it served a purpose, recording activity on the property for future access and review. It did not, however, broadcast live information which is how we now use CCTV for monitoring purposes. Analog picture quality was low and often unusable for identifying individuals; it also relied on staff changing the tapes regularly.

The Digital Difference

Digital systems revolutionized the way we use CCTV for security. A live broadcast is now available for monitoring from either an onsite or remote location. The footage is transferred to a computer or server for storage. Digital technology allows CCTV to be used for live security monitoring.

Digital provides faster retrieval, as you can rapidly search events by time, date, location and camera. You have options for archiving important information with your digital system, including HDD, CD-R, or DVD. You can also save space by setting your system to record only when motion or other pre-defined events are detected.

All digital surveillance technology provides higher resolution than analog. Within digital, there is also a difference in resolution. DVR’s provide a digital resolution of 1080, which we are all familiar with from our TVs. While this is an improvement from the pixilated analog video previously used, NVR-based systems have megapixel cameras which provide much clearer images which can show detail and have the ability to zoom in on facial details.

Technology End of Life

Low-definition analog systems are reaching the end of their lifespan due to competitively priced, better quality digital systems. It’s not just the camera quality either, digital systems provide better system back-up options and less maintenance.

Digital CCTV also have a longer lifespan as most systems have upgradeable software. However, DVR is being phased out for IP based systems. NVR systems have much higher resolution cameras and are now competitively priced with older cameras.

Don’t keep your security system in the past. Secure your people and assets with the most current technology available.

A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. To find out more information or to ask a question, click here or call us at 1-800-859-6198.

Jack Menke
Jack Menke

Better Video Surveillance: Upgrading is easier than you thought

Video surveillance is an integral part of any security plan.

It can be intimidating to upgrade technology, but upgrading your CCTV system is easier than you may think.  Network-based IP CCTV systems have become more affordable as the technology has become more common, so that now better quality video surveillance is cost-effective. If you haven’t upgraded your system to a Network-based IP CCTV system now may be the time.

Traditional CCTV Set-up

Traditional systems are arranged with cameras with a separate power source, and stored on a DVR. A DVR then converts the images to digital and broadcasts them on a monitor for instant viewing. The digital footage can also be sent out from the DVR, through a firewall/router and modem over the internet to remote devices for viewing.

Network-based IP CCTV Set-up

Unlike early digital cameras, IP cameras do not need a separate power source, they may derive their power from the same cable that transmits the video images. The signal is sent to a POE Switch (Power over Ethernet), and from their it can be delivered to multiple devices including a network video recorder (NVR) which does not have to be housed on-site and transmits the signal to monitors for immediate viewing, a local PC, and out, through a router/switch, and over the internet to remote devices for viewing.

The main differences here are: 1. the single cabling for power and video to the IP cameras, instead of separate cables required for power and video; and 2. No need to have an onsite storage device. This may not seem like much of a difference, but if your system is still based on older technology and you are worried about making the switch to newer and better technology, below are a few items to think about.

  1. Ease of Installation

A common misconception is that Network Video Recording-based installations are much more complex than DVR-based. While that may have been true in the past, advances in technology have included features like plug-and-play camera recognition which make NVR installations as simple as possible. New IP cameras also have ease of installation as a primary feature.

  1. Existing Infrastructure Use During Upgrade

If you have a CCTV system already in place, then you might want to transition your system slowly. There are solutions for this that will allow a slower migration so that you can replace components one at a time, either when they start to fail or have reached their end of life. This transition allows you to maximize your initial investments and provides the flexibility of funding your video surveillance upgrade over time.

  1. Cost-Effectiveness

As technology advances, IP cameras and NVR deployments are becoming more cost effective. The price of IP cameras continues to drop, and they provide significantly improved capabilities. The DVR is no longer cheaper to purchase, and the NVR operates as more than just storage – it can manage the video surveillance requirements while also operating as the foundation for the overall storage and data management needs for a work group, remote location, or stand-alone business.

  1. Scalability

If you are expanding your current CCTV system, utilizing IP cameras is the most logical choice to cover new areas. Network-IP cameras can be added to an installation that uses existing cameras. If you are expanding and ready to move away from the outdated technology of a DVR system, then this is a good place to start your system migration.

  1. Reliability

IP video surveillance systems have proven to be faster, more reliable, and every bit as durable as the older systems which utilize DVRs and analog cameras. When you consider all the inherent advantages of NVRs, the move to NVRs combined with IP cameras makes even more sense.

A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. To find out more information or to ask a question, click here or call us at 1-800-859-6198.

Jack Menke
Jack Menke

Top 3 Reasons to Upgrade your CCTV System

CCTV systems are a critical part of your life safety system, they help to maintain a secure property and provide a safe working environment to your people. If you have an older system and cameras, you may not be getting very much value from your CCTV monitoring or footage. IP-based megapixel systems can greatly improve your security. Here are the top three reasons you should upgrade your CCTV System.

  1. Higher Image Quality

The best quality for a CCTV system will come with megapixel cameras. We’ve all seen the grainy footage from traditional cameras and CCTV systems. New, megapixel cameras far surpass this with better resolution, providing a clear picture. This new technology also gives security teams the ability to zoom in on facial details. This can be important when identifying individuals from past records or assisting law enforcement in an investigation.

  1. You shouldn’t rely on outdated technology

Keeping your analog cameras and VCR or DVR, is relying on technology that is outdated (or obsolete in the case of the VCR). Sticking with outmoded technology is not providing you with the best security. New CCTV technology have better quality images from the cameras, better storage, and easier viewing and retrieving of footage.

  1. Mobile Access

We rely on mobile technology as a part of our everyday lives. Updating your CCTV System will allow you to have mobile access to your security footage and view what’s happening in real time from your mobile device. This also allows you to have a remote monitoring site or connect your CCTV system to your monitoring partner. With access to your video feed, you can check in with your facility at any time. This can be particularly helpful when an alarm has been triggered or if suspicious activity is reported on your property.

Your CCTV system should provide you with reliable, usable video security. As technology continues to progress, options for upgrading your CCTV system become more cost-effective and easier to install. Upgrading your CCTV to an IP-based megapixel system will improve your overall security program.

A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. To find out more information or to ask a question, click here or call us at 1-800-859-6198.

Jack Menke
Jack Menke

Why you should be specifying cell dialers

Plain old telephone service (POTS) lines have served us well but are quickly coming to an end. As this technology becomes obsolete, communication systems that once relied on it – including alarm monitoring – are looking to cellular service as a replacement. There are many benefits to specifying cell dialers in your projects.

The end of analog lines is near. In December of 2009, AT&T reported to the FCC that is was seeing ways of phasing out ‘Relics of a By-Gone Era.’ Now, seven years later, analog lines have been replaced with digital or cellular devices for most industries. Alarm panels are one of the few remaining devices that regularly rely on analog lines for monitoring. Why though, are we allowing a vital part of our security and life safety systems to rely on outmoded technology? You should be specifying the latest proven technology, not outdated technology.

It’s not just that analog lines are outmoded, the replacement – cellular service – is significantly better. Single path cell systems report into the central station every 5 minutes, versus every 24 hours for a system connected via POTS lines. This dramatically increases the ability of the central monitoring station to discover a problem with the fire protection system. Consider this, if a system is on POTS lines it might check in at 2:00 a.m. If the system then experiences a problem and shuts down at 2:04 a.m., the central monitoring station will not know there is a problem until 2:00 a.m. the next morning. That’s almost a full 24 hours without protection!  However, if the system is on a cellular monitoring service the problem will be discovered at 2:05 a.m., allowing the Life Safety provider to notify property management almost immediately of a problem and decrease system downtime.

For more in-depth information about this topic, check out A1’s Lunch & Learns for architects and engineers.

A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. To find out more information or to ask a question, click here or call us at 1-800-859-6198.

Greg Lane

Prevent Fire Alarm Trouble Signals

Limit the inconvenience of trouble signals from your Fire Alarm system by being pro-active in replacing batteries.

Fire alarms are a system of multiple devices working together to detect and warn people through visual and audio appliances when smoke, fire, carbon monoxide or other emergencies are present. The fire alarm panel is the electrical panel that monitors all components of the system. It also sends trouble signals for problems found within the fire alarm system, problems which may cause the system to not work properly and put your people and assets at risk.  Fire alarm systems are prone to errors given the sheer number of devices involved so regular inspections and maintenance are key in keeping your system operating properly. Regular maintenance can also limit the number of trouble signals you receive each year as your Life Safety Partner will inspect and service the devices to keep them running properly.

Fire alarms need to be able to work during an emergency, and since emergencies can cause power outages a battery back-up to your system is an important component. When your battery power runs low, your fire alarm system will send a trouble signal to the central monitoring station, who will then call the system owner. The fire alarm panel will also beep locally at the panel and annunciator if one is present.

Trouble signals from your Fire Alarm system won’t wait for a convenient time; whether you are in a meeting, out of town, or sleeping at 2 a.m. you will be receiving the alert and need to address it immediately. By pro-actively replacing your system batteries every two years, you can limit both the number of trouble signals you receive and the increased costs of emergency service from your Life Safety Partner.

Parts of the Fire Alarm System:

Fire alarm control panel (FACP) – also known as the fire alarm control unit, is the hub of the system. It monitors inputs and system integrity, controls outputs and relays information.

Smoke Detectors – smoke detectors have built in sensors, and when smoke is found in the atmosphere, they send information to the fire alarm panel. The two most common types of smoke detectors are ionization and photoelectric. The sensing chambers of these detectors operate differently to sense visible or invisible combustion particles from developing fires.

Primary power supply – commonly the non-switched 120 or 240 volt alternating current course supplied from a commercial power utility. In non-residential applications, a branch circuit is dedicated to the fire alarm system and its constituents. “Dedicated branch circuits” should not be confused with “Individual branch circuits” which supply energy to a single appliance.

Secondary (backup) power supplies – This component, commonly consisting of sealed lead-acid storage batteries or other emergency sources including generators, is used to supply energy in the event of a primary power failure.

Initiating devices: This component acts as an input to the fire alarm control unit and are either manually or automatically activated, such as pull stations, heat detectors, or smoke detectors. Heat and smoke detectors have different categories of both kinds. Some categories are beam, photoelectrical, aspiration, and duct.

Notification appliances: This component uses energy supplied from the fire alarm system or other stored energy source, to inform people of the need to take action, usually to evacuate. This is done by means of a flashing light, strobe light, electromechanical horn, “beeper horn”, chime, bell, speaker, or a combination of these devices.

Building safety interfaces: This interface allows the fire alarm system to control aspects of the building environment and to prepare the building for fire, and to control the spread of smoke fumes and fire by influencing air movement, lighting, process control, human transport and exit. Building safety interfaces include magnetic smoke door holders, duct mounted smoke detection, emergency elevator service, and public address rack.

Can you ensure each device in your fire alarm is being inspected and tested? You can if your Life Safety Partner uses a barcoded method of inspection, ensuring the inspector finds and tests each device efficiently. Your inspection report should list the results for each device, as well as the date/time stamp for when it was last inspected. These details will provide you with piece of mind and your AHJ inspector with full system information.

A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. To find out more information or to ask a question, click here or call us at 1-800-859-6198.

Jack Menke
Jack Menke

Cell Monitoring: Why you should upgrade your fire alarm panels now

Plain old telephone service (POTS) lines have served us well but are quickly coming to an end. As this technology becomes obsolete, communication systems that once relied on it – including alarm monitoring – are looking to cellular service as a replacement.

 

The end of analog lines is near. In December of 2009, AT&T reported to the FCC that is was seeing ways of phasing out ‘Relics of a By-Gone Era.’ Now, seven years later, analog lines have been replaced with digital or cellular devices for most industries. Alarm panels are one of the few remaining devices that regularly rely on analog lines for monitoring. Why though, are we allowing a vital part of our security and life safety systems to rely on outmoded technology?

It’s not just that analog lines are outmoded, the replacement – cellular service – is significantly better. Single path cell systems report into the central station every 5 minutes, versus every 24 hours for a system connected via POTS lines. This dramatically increases the ability of your central monitoring station to discover a problem with your system. Consider this, if your system is on POTS lines it might check in at 2:00 a.m. If your system then experiences a problem and shuts down at 2:04 a.m., your system monitoring station will not know there is a problem until 2:00 a.m. the next morning. That’s almost a full 24 hours that you are unprotected!  However, if your system is on a cellular monitoring service the problem will be discovered at 2:05 a.m., allowing your provider to notify you almost immediately of a problem and decrease system downtime.

In addition to better system monitoring, cellular monitoring also costs less than POTS lines monitoring. As you can see from the analysis below, cell monitoring provides better technology at a lower cost.

Traditional Monitoring Costs + Business Lines                                   Typical Savings with Cellular Monitoring 

2 Year Agreement Costs = $3,024.00                                                                    2 Year Agreement Savings = $1,101.00

3 Year Agreement Costs = $4,536.00                                                                     3 Year Agreement Savings = $1,953.00

4 Year Agreement Costs = $6,048.00                                                                    4 Year Agreement Savings = $2,817.00

5 Year Agreement Costs = $7,560.00                                                                     5 Year Agreement Savings = $3,705.00

6 Year Agreement Costs = $9,072.00                                                                     6 Year Agreement Savings = $4,653.00

Save money and improve your asset protection with cell monitoring.

A1 is a leading expert on the latest technology in life safety. To find out more information or to ask a question, click here or call us at 1-800-859-6198.

Greg Lane