Sunday, December 17, 2017

Question You Should Ask Before Getting a
Home Security System For Christmas

Is a home security system on your wish list from Santa?  If so, here are a couple of things you need to ask before Santa puts your system in his bag.
The first two questions to ask yourself are, “What am I going to protect by buying this type of system?" Then, "Will it do what I want it to do?”  These sound like no-brainers don’t they?  Most of us would say, “I want it to catch the bad guy”.  Well, not really, because it won’t catch a bad guy.  It will let you know when there is behavior inside of your house or when your perimeter is breached. But it won’t tell you if the behavior is good or bad.  YOU have to do that.  YOU have to assess the behavior and determine if it's good or bad.  So, you want to be able to analyze the behavior, like your kids coming home from school or the mailman delivering a package and determine if it is friend or foe.  Which brings us to the next question, which is, “Who will monitor what the system 'sees' and who will respond when there is unwanted behavior?”
If you are relying on your local 911 or a police department response, then you need to find out what the local policy is for home invasion.  Some departments don’t respond immediately for a variety of reasons; sometimes due to competing priorities and sometimes because they don’t want to get there when the bad guy is still on the premises which may cause a “stand-off”.  They don’t want that and neither do you.
If you are relying on a service provider for response, you need to ask, “What is the guaranteed respond time?”  If it’s less than seven minutes the good guys will catch the bad guys.  If it’s more than that, the bad guy will get away with your stuff.  Actually you don’t want the good guys to get there while the bad guy is still there, as it increases the likelihood that someone is going to get hurt.
The National Institute of Justice reported a couple years ago that perpetrators of housebreaking/ burglary usually stay on site less than seven minutes.   I doubt it’s changed much in the last couple of years.
Many professional installers will swear up and down that home owners cannot do this alone.  But let’s face it.  Just about anybody can do just about anything, given the right tools and knowledge.  Most home kits include instructions, so they’re pretty simple.  Tab A goes into Slot B.  If you can put together IKEA furniture you certainly can install a couple of cameras and sensors around your house.  That’s the tools part.  Now for the knowledge part – where to put cameras and where to put sensors?  Think of your house as an onion.  Start on the outer skin (property line) and work your way in.  Use a combination of sensors and camera that overlap so that all areas are covered by at least two components of your system.  Say a sensor and camera, or two cameras.  By using a combination of different technologies and creating an overlapping system you will, in all likelihood, get notified that something’s going on.  The chances of both systems failing simultaneously is very low.  Make sure you get "real time" notification.  The ability to talk into the system and tell the perpetrator that you're watching him or her (sorry ladies) is a plus.  However, it also let's the bad guy or gal know you are not at home.  So make sure you system covers the perimeter and you can engage before they ever get to the house.
When Amazon recently announced that they would place your parcels just inside your front door if you signed up for this service many security folks cried “foul”.  They cited this service as basically allowing an intruder to enter your house.   Well, not really.  Amazon vets their delivery folks/employees during the hiring process.  If Amazon trusts them then why shouldn’t you?  Sure, there are always a few bad apples, but I see the risk of the delivery person rummaging through your house as a very low possibility since they don’t know if you’re going to come home suddenly and find them in the bedroom.  That just doesn’t make sense.  There are really two factors that are in play here that make this a good idea.  First, Amazon vets their employees and secondly the door lock and code is specific to your home. Additionally, the kit comes with a closed circuit television camera that you can set up to see if the person does more than deliver the package(s).   Plus there’s an electronic record of when the lock opened and when it closed.  Anything more than a minute or two, the amount of time to place the packages inside, would be cause for alarm and indicate something out of the ordinary happened.
If I ordered stuff on line and wasn’t home all day I’d use this service.
Just remember that no system no matter how sophisticated is fool proof or offers one hundred percent protection one hundred percent of the time.  There will always be some risks involved.  The goal is to reduce the risks as much as possible and accept some risk.   

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