Author Archives: Ron Bergthold

VoIP Phone Service May Cause Problems with Your Alarm

voip

This article outlines weaknesses associated with Voice over IP (VoIP), or Digital Phone Service, and how it can affect security and fire alarm system communication. These services are provided by cable companies, telecommunications companies and, in some cases, independent providers that rely on the Internet connections that are already present in a home or business. Cable-based systems, using a cable provider’s existing cable network decoder, for instance, then connect your calls to the conventional telephone network at the cable head end. While the various VoIP technologies provide a form of telephone service, they vary widely in their range of features and reliability. VoIP service is much different than classic Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) telephone lines in that it routes all phone traffic through a digital converter, then over the internet. When compared with a POTS line, new concerns are introduced that could affect the stability and dependability of burglar or fire alarm system communication. A quote from a major Internet Service Provider regarding their VoIP service sums up one major problem; “VoIP services traverse the WAN (Wide Area Network, or Internet) and are subject to overall WAN bandwidth. If adequate WAN resources are not available, call quality degradation can result.” Since VoIP is a relatively new technology, the information provided here may help reduce the possibilities of communication failure by educating the end user and presenting possible solutions.

The primary concerns of whether an alarm can communicate reliably over any VoIP phone service, or not, come down to bandwidth, as stated above, and the codec used. Codec is short for code/decode, and it is the method used to convert audible analogue information (sound) into digital data for transmission, and back again at the receiving end. Different codecs may compress the digital data in varying amounts for efficienct use of the available bandwidth, then decompress it on the other end. This process is where an alarm signal may be altered, losing it’s ability to correctly communicate the desired message. Whereas a voice transmission may sound slightly garbled, or cuts out for a split second, the listener can usually still understand what is being said, but when just one digit of an alarm communication is missing, the receiver must reject the entire message as erroneous. So, it is possible to send traditional alarm signals over a VoIP service, but to do so reliably requires substantially more bandwidth than that needed simply for voice transmission. And, even if the alarm system is checked and operating properly after conversion to VoIP phone service, the provider may change the codec that they use at any time without warning, rendering the alarm system unable to communicate with the monitoring center.

Assuming that the alarm system is working properly with a VoIP service, there are still several areas of concern that many subscribers fail to address, jeopardizing reliable alarm communications. First, power–The VoIP modem can come as a stand-alone network device, or a combination broadband modem/router/and VoIP converter. Where regular phone lines are powered from the TelCo company, the cable equipment is not. If the power fails during a storm, blackout, or local electrical problem, the security system will be unable to communicate due to no internet or phone service. A backup battery solution must be in place so that the modem can operate under power failure situations. An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) should be installed, and all network equipment connected to it. This includes any routers, modems, any facilities required to be on for the network to function, and the VoIP device itself. Then, all hardware should be checked for operation constantly, and, to minimize the chance of loss of alarm monitoring, should be replaced as soon as possible in the event of failure. All cables should be carefully protected when installed, checked and inspected to verify proper internet and digital phone service operation. And, programming the alarm for a daily communicator test to the monitoring center is imperative.

Although out of control of the digital phone customer, it should be noted that the dependability of internet-based phone service can be down for minutes, or hours, resulting in no alarm (or 911 phone) communication. A backup communication route should, therefore, always be explored. Since we at Jade Alarm Co. pride ourselves on our excellent service, and providing for our customers safety and security is our top priority, maintaining a secure line of communication between them and our monitoring center is paramount. That’s why we’ve installed , and maintain two backup radio networks (KP and AES), both of which are independent of any phone or cable company, as well as offering internet and cellular monitoring solutions. One of our security sales consultants should be able to recommend an alternative communications solution for most customers that will free them from conventional or VoIP phone service altogether, and maintain reliable alarm transmission.

Tips for Securing a Sliding Glass Door

While sliding glass doors are the ideal option for allowing natural light into your home and they offer architectural appeal to a structure, they can also present serious security risks. These risks are extremely different than the ones present with traditional steel or wood doors.

There are some homeowners who are well-aware of the risks related to these sliders, and as a result, they do not install them at all. However, there are a number of simple steps that can be taken to help ensure a sliding glass door is safe and secure.

There are three primary ways that a potential burglar gains entry through a sliding glass door, including:

  • By forcing or breaking the lock
  • Lifting the door from its track
  • Smashing the glass

Now that you know the potential weak spots, it is important to know what you can do to prevent a break in.

Some of the most common tools used for preventing sliding glass door break ins include:
Res_Safetybar

  • Safety bars: These extend from the rear edge of the slider to the frame’s edge. This prevents the door from sliding even a little, so there is no possibility of the intruder reaching or accessing the door’s locking mechanism.
  • Jimmy plates: These are long, flat plates that are installed over the frame of the door. This prevents the door from being lifted or rotated out of its proper position.

Some other security tips that you can add to your sliding glass door to make it more secure include adding a special film to the glass to make it harder to break, keep shrubs and other foliage at a minimum around the door, install motion lights and add an alarm that will go off if the sliding glass door is tampered with.

Implementing the safety and security tips here can help you prevent a break in through a sliding glass door in your home.

Benefits of Investing in Panic Bars for Your Office Building

If you have ever been in a shopping center, school or large office building, there is a good chance you have either entered or exited the facility through a door that has a panic bar installed. Panic bars can be a huge asset in emergency situations.

They consist of a spring loaded, metal bar and attached horizontally across the interior of the door. When pushed, the door is unlatched instantly, allowing fast and easy access out of the building with the door opening outward, rather than inward.

These are essential because in larger facilities or buildings if an emergency occurs, people tend to panic, running and crowding the exits. If the wrong type of doors are installed, it can actually do more harm in emergency situations, since a large group will be stopped from exiting, having to turn a knob or pull a door open.
Commercial_panicbar
This will reduce the speed of the evacuation and increase the chances of injuries due to falls, leading to a total, disorganized mess.

Some of the specific benefits offered by panic bars in your commercial space include the following:

  • A safer option
  • There are a large number of panic bar sizes and styles to choose from
  • They are an affordable option
  • Potential to reduce your insurance costs since building safety is enhanced

If your commercial facility does not currently have a panic bar installed at exits, it is a good idea to look into the benefits they offer now. This will make a building safer and easier to exit in an emergency situation.

Tips to Burglar-Proof Your Home’s Windows

Chances are you think of your home’s security on a regular basis. You have installed a high quality security system, have your lawn well-maintained to prevent hiding places and even have extra secure locks on your doors. However, have you considered the security of your home’s windows? Many homeowners now opt to not have window contacts put on their windows due to the extra cost incurred, but windows are a vulnerable point of entry for your home.

The good news is there are a number of ways you can enhance the security of your windows to better help “burglar-proof,” which are found here.

Install Reinforced GlassRes_Window
Impact resistant glass is extremely difficult for a would-be-intruder to break. When you install tempered glass it will minimize the ability to be smashed with regular burglar tools. You also have the option of installing Plexiglas that looks just like traditional glass but is actually a thick plastic, which is also very difficult to break.

Install Floodlights
The natural enemy of any burglar is light. This is the biggest risk that they will be seen. This means you should install floodlights over any vulnerable windows around you home. Also consider installing motion-activated bulbs, which will further deter would-be intruders.

Plant Thorny Bushes
You can use nature to your advantage. Plant a thorny bush, such as roses, around your home’s windows. While these look nice and can enhance your home’s curb appeal, they will also help to deter burglars from trying to gain access to your home via the windows.

When you implement the tips here, you will find that your home’s security has been further enhanced, which will better protect your home, belongings and family.

Window Contacts
Reconsider installing window contacts for full protection of your windows.

How to Evaluate Your Business’s Security System Provider

Com_EvaAs a business owner, you likely know the importance of evaluating what is and is not working for your company on a regular basis. However, a critical and often overlooked area for evaluation is your security system. You have to consider a number of things. For example, is the service you have in place offering adequate protection at a reasonable price? If not, it may be time to find a new security provider.

Some questions you should ask when trying to evaluate your current security provider are highlighted here.

What will you do next?
“Good enough” never lasts long. You need to ensure the provider you use fully understands the current security market and has plans to upgrade and enhance their systems as technology progresses. If they have no plans to upgrade your services, you are likely with the wrong provider.

Are you ready for mobile integration?
Most employees currently bring their phones to work. You may even use a number of apps to help enhance your business, such as document scanning and mobile credit card readers. The alarm and security company you use should not be any different. If they do not have a mobile app readily available, be sure you ask “why?” If they don’t have one being developed, you may want to seek services elsewhere. There are quite a few security providers that now offer apps that give you on-demand text alerts and live-streaming video monitoring.

Do you offer value-enhancement services?
An alarm system is only a single element of a bigger security package. When looking for a security system it is a good idea to find one that offers extra services to help ensure your business remains safe. Ask about pairing video cameras, access control and alarm systems.

Taking some time to consider the quality of your security provider will ensure you achieve the results you want from your system.