New & Noteworthy

CAN I STILL GET A HOME SECURITY SYSTEM IF I HAVE PETS?

One question I have learnt to ask at every residential sales call is “Do you have pets?”  That’s because pets can drastically affect the way a security system works, and therefore should be a huge factor in deciding what your alarm system should look like.  Similarly, an existing system might work perfectly for years, only to have false alarms start when a new pet is introduced to the house.   It can certainly be a challenge, but one that can be overcome with careful consideration and planning.

Motion Detectors - The most obvious culprits for false alarms in the presence of pets are motion detectors.  Many motion detectors are “pet friendly”, and many even give a weight (between 40-80lb on average) under which a pet can essentially be ignored.  However, there are some limitations to these devices, and improper placement or setup can still result in false alarms.

A standard PIR (Passive Infra-Red) motion detector shoots out beams in a sort of three-dimensional grid, and is triggered by objects big enough to cross 2-3 beams at once.  “Pet friendly” motion detectors work by having reduced sensitivity for the grid slices in the lower half of the field of view, making it less responsive to objects that stay low on the ground.  And that is the key; height.  Pointing a pet-friendly motion detector at a flight of stairs will inevitably give you false alarms, as will pointing it right at your cats’ favourite jumping spot.  I have seen more 6lb cats set off false alarms than 40lb dogs, because they love to jump on things when no one is around (even when the owner swears that they don’t!).

Glass-break Sensors - If you have a cat that loves to jump or a dog that enjoys getting rowdy when no one is home, a better alternative might be to strategically cover windows with audio glass-break detection.  These sensors have a microphone in them, and listen for the high-pitched frequency of breaking glass.  Your pets can move around freely without any worry of setting the alarm off.  However, dogs with very high-pitched barks, or pet birds, have been known to set these off too.  One just has to think ahead: does your dog sit at the front window and bark at every car that drives past?  Then maybe the glass break detector should be covering the back windows only.

Placement - The last thing we need to talk about is the general placement of sensors.  I have seen many door contacts, window sensors, and even one glass-break detector damaged by pets because they were placed too close to the ground.  A puppy will chew on just about anything it can get its teeth on, as anyone who has owned one will know.  There are few circumstances where a sensor would have to mounted low (wiring a sliding patio door in a finished house might be one), so these cases can usually be avoided before they happen.  But if you’re system was already setup before you got your pet, it might be worth getting a security professional in to evaluate the existing equipment and its placement.

To sum up, here are the important things to consider:

-          YES, you can definitely have pets and still have a reliable alarm system

-          If you have pets and are getting a new security systemPLEASE bring it up with your salesperson (if they don’t bring it up themselves) and plan around the pets

-          If you have an existing alarm system and then get a pet, CALL your Calgary alarm installation company to discuss how this might affect you and how to minimize false alarms

-          NO, you should not have to live with false alarms just because you have pets.  It may take some effort to get things setup for your pets, but don’t let that dissuade you from having an alarm system altogether; it’s there for your safety AND that of your pets.

Dave Schlegel
Owner, Calgary Security Expert
Oxford Security Systems
Reed Security Authorized Dealer  


Contact Us online today to book your No Obligation, Free Security Evaluation.

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WHAT CAN AN ACCESS CONTROL SYSTEM DO FOR MY BUSINESS?


Managing a business’ accessibility via the use of swipe cards or keyfobs is a practice that is on the rise in today's marketplace.  Systems are becoming more affordable and easier to use.  Here are some key reasons why more and more Calgary businesses are investing in these state-of-the-art access control security systems:

1. Key Replacement

One of the primary reasons many business owners choose to implement a card access system in their workplace is to eliminate keys.  A large business might have tens, if not hundreds, of locked doors spread across multiple work sites, and as such, the number of keys floating around between employees can be staggering, and incredibly difficult to track.  Keys get misplaced all the time, and it can be days or weeks before an employee either realizes they’ve lost it, or gets around to telling the boss.  During that time, your business is vulnerable to theft, and then there’s the expensive and often time-consuming process of re-keying locks.

With an access control system, a lost card can be disabled with the click of a button.  Not only that, but a “trace” can be put on the card, so that if anyone attempts to gain access to your building using that card, you can be notified, or an integrated CCTV system can take a picture of the door in question.  If the employee then finds it again, you just re-enable it in the software, and you haven’t lost a thing.  And because employees have one “key” that opens every door, they are much more likely to realize that they have lost it and report it to a supervisor in a timely fashion.

2. Grant Access on Your Terms

A card access system allows you to grant an employee access to any door at any time you choose.  Have an employee who should only be in Building A from Monday to Friday?  No problem.  Have a vendor who needs to drop off some equipment between 4AM and 6AM on a Saturday?  Easy.  What about an employee who has just been promoted and now needs access to a different set of rooms?  Just change their access level in the software, and you’re golden.

Unfortunately, one of the realities of running a business is that sometimes you need to let someone go, and not always on the best of terms.  Changing one setting in the software ensures that the employee can’t re-enter the building again, even if they haven’t given you their card back.

Access control can also effectively manage your visitors and clients; people who don’t have a card.  Having your front doors automatically unlock at opening time allows customers into your sales room, but keeping doors to offices and hallways locked means only your employees can access them.

3. Integrate Multiple Systems, Multiple Locations

One of the biggest advantages to implementing a card access system, particularly for large or multi-site businesses, is that many features can be controlled from one centralized computer.  Systems can be setup to control multiple sites across the city, province, country, or even other continents, in real time.  Not only is it easier to have one person or a small team managing the software, but now, when a manager travels to a distant branch of the company, their same card works there too.  Their pre-defined access level allows them access to whatever sites and whatever doors are deemed necessary.

Many card access systems can also interface with alarm systems and video surveillance systems.  Now your alarm system can disarm itself when the first card is swiped in the morning, and a video camera assigned to that door can take a picture for the archives.  You can even manage employee’s user codes directly from the access control interface

 

These are just some of the reasons why many Alberta businesses are implementing access control in their workplaces.  At Reed Security Calgary, every access control system is heavily customized to meet the needs to the building it is protecting. The highly scalable nature of the system means that whether you have one door to manage or 1000, there is always a solution that can keep your employees safe and improve your overall productivity.  Give us a call today to arrange for a free, no-obligation security evaluation; we’d love to meet you and show you how you can get the most out of your security!

Dave Schlegel
Owner, Calgary Security Expert
Oxford Security Systems
Reed Security Authorized Dealer  


Contact Us online today to book your No Obligation, Free Security Evaluation.

CALGARY SECURITY INQUIRIES...CALL 587.393.2800


7 TIPS TO KEEP YOUR ALARM SYSTEM RUNNING PROPERLY DURING RENOVATIONS

Renovating your house can be a challenging experience, both physically and mentally.  On top of that, many people inadvertently compromise their alarm system by making some very common mistakes.  Avoid adding stress to your renovation by following these precautions:

1. Call your alarm installation company before you start!  Almost every issue can be avoided by planning ahead.  It is also worth letting the monitoring station know the dates of your renovations, so they can respond appropriately if they get any unusual signals.

2. Be cognisant of wires.  While many modern alarm systems are primarily wireless, be aware that alarm wires may be hidden behind walls, baseboards, ceilings, and other pieces of the house you may be dismantling.  If you or your workmen see a wire you don’t recognize, find out what it is before you cut or damage it!  Failing to do so can be a costly mistake.

3. Be careful what you paint!  Many devices, such as door sensors and motion detectors, can be painted to match the décor of the house to some degree.  However, make sure to check with your Calgary alarm professional first.  Painting over the infra-red window on a motion sensor, for example, will render it useless, as will painting over the microphone on an audio glass-break detector.  Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors will also stop working if they are painted.

4. Don’t remove/remount anything you’re not sure about.  I’ve seen painters remove a motion detector to paint behind it, then put it back upside-down.  I’ve seen contractors remove alarm keypads and put the wires back in the wrong order.  If you or your renovation team are not 100% certain about something, consult a Calgary alarm professional first!

5. Replacing door sensors can be a tricky business.  If you’re getting a new door where there once was an alarm sensor, be very careful!  Some security sensors are wireless, and can be relocated to a new door with relative ease; however, I’ve seen contractors throw sensors out with the old door, so be aware of what and where they are.  Wired security sensors can be very difficult to manipulate in an old door frame, so call your Calgary alarm installation company to see if they can assist you.

6. Be aware of powered wires.  Almost everything in an alarm system runs on very low DC voltage, so there is not too much risk to your safety in dealing with alarm wires.  However, touching the wrong two wires together can seriously damage the equipment, leading to costly repairs or replacement parts.

7. When you’re finished, test everything!  No one wants to find out three months after a renovation that the front door sensor wasn’t hooked back up properly.  Open and close every door, walk in front of every motion, and make sure all the alarm zones are registering on your keypad.  Again, if there’s any doubt, call your Calgary alarm company

Above all, don’t take risks with your personal safety or security!  Incorrect installation of alarm equipment can be very hard to detect, so if there’s any question, make sure to have a Calgary alarm system professional come out to verify correct operation before putting your trust back in the system.  That’s what we’re here for.

Dave Schlegel
Owner, Calgary Security Expert
Oxford Security Systems
Reed Security Authorized Dealer  

ARE SECURITY CAMERAS THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR YOUR BUSINESS?


Gone are the days of grainy black-and-white images on a 15” monitor!  Today’s surveillance cameras give you high-definition images in day, low-light and even night-time conditions.  They are vandal proof and can work in -50o C temperatures.  With the right security camera, installed the right way, you can catch a licence plate number from 75 feet away in a blizzard, follow an intruder across your yard, count how many people enter your store in a given period, even be alerted when unattended baggage appears in a pre-defined space.

However, many business owners are on the fence about whether to add a security camera system, or to upgrade a 15-year-old analog system.  Cost can seem prohibitive, and while they sure are nice toys to play with, are they really adding any value to your security system?  Most businesses already pay for a monitored alarm system; what will a security camera system do that’s worth the extra cost?

First off, I should point out that security cameras are not as expensive as they used to be.  In fact, a beautiful 1080P security camera with infra-red LEDs costs less now than an analog security camera did 5 years ago.  But it is still an investment, and you need to know that your investment is going to pay off. 

Here are some great points to consider, regarding adding video to your building’s security:

1. Internal Theft

A 2015 study showed that 75% of employees have stolen at least once from their employer.  A staggering 43% of shrinkage reported by retail outlets was due to internal theft, which is a higher figure than shoplifting (36%).  Not only that, but many people are installing cameras to catch their employees stealing time from them – showing up late and leaving early for shifts.  Putting security cameras in key areas, and letting your staff know they are there, can go a long way to eliminating this.

2. Safety

Incidents happen in the workplace every day, causing bodily injury, among other things.  Some incidents occur without any witnesses.  Having high-definition footage of an incident can help yourself and the Workers Compensation Board separate a fraudulent claim from a legitimate claim, offering safety for both you and your employees.  It can also answer the age-old question of who backed the truck into the loading dock.

3. Catching Criminals

In 2015, Saskatchewan had over 9,400 break-ins and Alberta had over 27,000 break-ins. In many, many cases it is impossible to determine who the perpetrator was; even if there is a suspicion, the courts need hard evidence in order for you to press charges.  While it is still possible for someone to avoid cameras or to disguise oneself during a break-in, HD video surveillance can provide that hard evidence in a high proportion of cases.  Even if your footage can’t solve your case now, the Police will keep it on file and it may help solve other cases in the future.

4. Deterrent

If your building has security cameras, and the one next door doesn’t, it’s a no-brainer for a criminal.  Most intruders are looking for a crime of opportunity, not a well-planned heist.  More often than not, just the presence of the security cameras themselves will reduce the amount of crime your business has to suffer through.

5. Save Money

Ultimately, the amount of money you can prevent from leaving your bank account due to internal theft, break-ins, and fraudulent claims can be enough to pay for a high-definition security camera system multiple times over.  Many businesses even notice an upsurge in employee productivity as a result of the added video surveillance.

So there are just a few reasons why video surveillance may be the right choice for your business.  I have seen clients save literally hundreds of thousands of dollars because they had the right equipment in the right place.  In most cases, the benefits are measurable almost instantly.  So be sure to take all this into consideration when making plans to increase your business’ security.

MONEY SAVER: Instead of purchasing a camera system or upgrades and tying up your capital, you should consider our new Business Bundles program. One low monthly fee covers it all.

Dave Schlegel
Owner, Calgary Security Expert
Oxford Security Systems
Reed Security Authorized Dealer

  


If you are having a problem with theft (or would like to avoid one) , We Can Help!

Contact Us today for a Free Security Evaluation.

SASKATOON SECURITY INQUIRIES...CALL 306.653.3200

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WHAT SENSORS ARE BETTER - WIRED OR WIRELESS?

Are WIRELESS Systems Better Than WIRED Ones? Part 3

So far in this blog series we have looked at the “brain” of your alarm system (the CPU), and the “mouth” of the alarm system (the Communicator), and seen how the right combination of wired and wireless in these can make for a good, secure system. Today we will be looking at the “eyes and fingers” of the alarm system – the actual sensors and zones. Without these “senses” reporting back to the brain, your system will just sit there idly whilst someone breaks into the property.

There are MANY different sorts of sensors which can work on an alarm system: door sensors, motion detectors, low temperate alarms, smoke detectors, pressure sensors, flood detectors…the possibilities are almost endless.  These come from many different brands, and have been designed with varying degrees of innovation and quality.  I’m not going to get into specific sensors and/or brands today, but what I do want to touch on is whether WIRELESS sensors can or should be used as opposed to WIRED ones.

Let’s take a look at some of the factors that should inform this decision:

     1. Installation

Obviously, a wired sensor requires a wire run from the CPU to each individual zone in the building. Whether it’s a house or a business, finished or new build, this will involve drilling holes. A professional installation company will do their best to ensure that these holes are never visible, but if you ever decide to remove your alarm system ten years down the road, behind each sensor and in every door will be a hole.

In addition to that, in a finished building, it can impossible to run wires to certain areas, or at least to hide them. You may end up with visible wires, or with an area that simply cannot be secured by wired devices.

This is where wireless devices really shine. Not only can they be mounted almost anywhere with minimal effort, they can often be mounted using double-sided tape, meaning that there are no screw holes beneath the device. These sensors can also be easily moved or re-purposed, eliminating the need to call your service company when you replace a door, for example.

Winner: Wireless

     2. Cost

Wired devices are invariably much cheaper than wireless ones, but require quite a bit of extra time to run cable and install, so it often evens out. For example, a wired motion sensor costs around $50, but might take 30 minutes of labour to install. A wireless motion sensor may be double the price, but takes 5 minutes to install. 

In addition to the cost of individual wireless sensors, many systems require a wireless receiver to be installed first. This is a one-time cost, however, and once its there, you can add wireless devices at will.

Winner: It’s a tie

     3. Reliability

A wireless device is essentially just a wired device with a battery and a wireless transmitter added to it; as such, there are simply more things that can potentially go wrong with a wireless device. Not only that, but wireless devices can potentially pick up interference from other strong RF sources in your house, such as Wi-Fi routers or cordless telephones. Although this is rare, I have had a number of cases where a device just won’t work properly, then we move it 2 feet over and it works like a charm; sort of like a dead spot for your cell phone.

Wired devices are renowned for being highly reliable. I have seen wired sensors 25 years old that still work day in and day out.  Obviously, it’s electronics, so literally anything can happen; but wired tends to be more stable.

Winner: Wired

     4. Maintenance

Wired devices should not require much in the way of maintenance, with the exception of life safety devices, such as smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors, which by design must be replaced every few years. Most wired devices are universally compatible, so if you upgrade your system in ten years’ time, you don’t necessarily have to upgrade every device.

Wireless, on the other hand, has the obvious limitation of being battery powered.  Every year or two you will have to do the rounds and replace all the batteries; although, to be fair, some newer devices are boasting 5 to 7 years’ battery life nowadays. Some manufacturers also have a tendency to bring out entire new product lines every 10 years, rendering the old wireless incompatible with the new systems. 

Winner: Wired

     Bottom Line

Many systems nowadays are hybrids of theses two schools, having a wired base and utilizing wireless for those hard-to-reach areas.  As always, do your research (or find an Alarm Company you can trust to have done it for you), and avoid cheap wireless – you always get what you pay for.  A good wireless manufacturer will have two-way communication between the CPU and devices, as well as frequency-hopping for extra security (NOTE: It’s very rare, but I have seen cases where smart criminals have used a Frequency Jammer to immobilize a wireless device, so this feature is a must!).

My recommendation for Calgary Alarm system designs: use wired devices whenever possible, but don’t be afraid of wireless. It can save you some serious headaches (and money) when used correctly!

Dave Schlegel
Owner, Calgary Security Expert
Oxford Security Systems
Reed Security Authorized Dealer

  


SASKATOON SECURITY INQUIRIES...CALL 306.653.3200

REGINA SECURITY INQUIRIES...CALL 306.206.0700

PRINCE ALBERT SECURITY INQUIRIES...CALL 306.922.7200

CALGARY SECURITY INQUIRIES...CALL 587.393.2800


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