Sunday, November 22, 2015

8 Tips for Do-It-Yourself
Home and Small Business Security Alarm Systems

There are lots of alarm companies that will tell you, that you need their alarm system in order to monitor activity in and around your house or business.  They will sell you an “all-inclusive package” of X number of cameras and sensors.  The reality is, whatever X represents is in most cases not going to be enough the cover your entire building or home.  They make their money when they sell you additional equipment.  They include X but what you really need is X more to provide complete coverage. 

New alarm systems allow the homeowner/business owner to monitor activity via an IP connection.  So you can monitor your system from anywhere there’s an internet signal.  With that in mind, alarm companies now have the owner monitor the activity and notify them instead of the old way where they would monitor and notify the owner when sometime seemed amiss.  In either case, if the responding patrol car doesn’t get there within 10 minutes chances are very high that the perps will be gone and all you will have is evidence on film that they stole something.  Don’t be fooled by what you see played out by Hollywood and on TV shows – Fact: 98% of crime captured by video surveillance does not result in an apprehension.

Now that you’ve been warned, here’s the other side.  Nowadays, relatively inexpensive systems are available for do-it-yourselfers.  Eventhough surveillance cameras are an assessment tool they can provide some deterrence, if there’ visible and especially if there’s a warning sign in the yard or at the front entrance.  Actually, the sign is the deterrent not the cameras or sensors, but you get the idea.  Additionally, if properly placed, electronic security along with an appropriately equipped and trained response force can be effective.  Here are ten things you can do to make sure your alarm system benefits you and provides the protection you seek.

  • Place outside cameras so that they view avenues of approach and can detect people as they come up to the front door or entrance.
  • Placement of cameras internal to structures is a little trickier.  They have to be able to capture the entire room and high enough so that the bad guy can’t knock it down or spray paint the lens.  Discreetly placed “nanny cams” can help but it seems they are always pointing in the wrong direction or covered up by something.
  • Perform regular maintenance by cleaning the lenses and housings.  Nothing worse than getting burglarized and find out that your camera system captured Charlotte building her web.
  • Test the system regularly.  Find out from the monitoring company how often you’re allowed to test the system without a charge.  I would recommend, at least twice a year.  More often if necessary.  Find out the priority for response.  If you live in a high crime neighborhood guess what, they’re not coming – unless the perps still there and in that case you shouldn’t be.  Police departments maintain these types of stats.
  • Check the cameras field of view.  Is it viewing what you want viewed?  Sounds pretty stupid doesn’t it, but how often have the camera angles changed because of high winds or by being bumped by a cat or other critter.
  • Insure you have the latest software available.  If password enabled, make sure you change the factory installed password once you start using it.
  • Get an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) that is capable of running your security system until the power can come back on.  The UPS should be able to maintain the system for at least a day.
  • Don’t rely solely on one type of electronic security equipment, if you have cameras augment them with sensors and vice versa.  Chances of both systems failing at the same time is pretty slim.
  • Place volumetric sensors so that the beams shoot out across a room and not directly at the door or windows.  These sensors work by detecting variations in the beam, so as a person walks between one beam and another they get detected.  Think of it like your hand with the fingers being the beams radiating across a room.

Don’t forget that just because you have an alarm system it doesn’t make you invincible.  If the rest of your security posture sucks, they’re gonna get you.  It’s just matter of time!

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