4 Reasons Healthcare Facilities Should Consult a Security Corporation

Healthcare facilities have equipment and documents that aren’t nearly as important as the health of those they care for, but it’s still imperative that the owners of these facilities take the appropriate measures to safeguard equipment and the wellbeing of their patients, visitors and staff. By increasing the overall security of these locations, healthcare facilities will assure others that they facilitate a safe environment for medical care and will, therefore, help to protect themselves from debilitating liabilities. Below are five reasons for a healthcare facility owner to consult a credible security corporation such as Access Security Corporation, which is located in Warminster, PA.

 Expensive medical equipment includes all of the instrumental assets that are essential to the
care provided by hospitals, clinics and other healthcare centers. Since the medical field is so incredibly invested in the benefits associated with modern day technology, it’s imperative that these devices and machines are securely safeguarded. Don’t jeopardize the success of your healthcare facility or the wellbeing of your patients by disregarding the protection of crucial and
expensive medical equipment. CCTV and surveillance cameras, for example, as
well as electronic access control will work towards preventing the damage or
thievery of these valuables.

Patients, visitors and staff shouldn’t have to worry about the possibility of their medical records and other personal information being stolen by a healthcare facility intruder. Healthcare facilities are expected to have the integrity to defend important documents against one’s accessibility—which is so often requested by patients. Without investing in the most accommodating security systems, healthcare facilities risk having their vulnerability exploited. Integrated security systems will help to eliminate the risk and make health facility owners more confident about their protection.

Perimeter security must be taken into account while considering healthcare security systems in Philadelphia, PA. The close areas surrounding your healthcare facility should be monitored at all times with eyes in the sky. Surveillance cameras will not only deter burglars but will also help facility experts realize when a potential security breach is about to occur. The possibility of an ill-intended visitor penetrating the interior of a building will decrease tremendously through the implementation of security devices. Whether a healthcare location is searching for intrusion alarm systems in Bucks County, PA or electronic access control in Philadelphia, PA, the protection of their perimeter helps to eliminate possible security breaches.

Life safety issues must be taken care of appropriately or else healthcare facilities will risk the health-related consequences of their patients, visitors and staff that are associated with buildings that do not honor the mandatory applications of safety codes. By simply miscalculating or wrongly installing the devices associated with the Life Safety Code, health care facilities risk being held responsible for the injuries and complications related to a fire or other emergency. Assure that fire prevention and building codes are respected by installing fire alarms and other fire prevention devices. This will help your facility avoid having to deal with liabilities and other problems that come along with an emergency.

Through a consultation with security experts such as Access Security Corporation, healthcare facility owners will assure the protection of their expensive medical equipment as well as that of their patients, visitors and staff. Healthcare facilities are encouraged to address perimeter security and life safety issues to avoid detrimental liabilities. Naturally—healthcare facilities should be expected to protect the health of everybody working at and visiting their location. Learn more about how to protect your health care facility by visiting Access Security Corporation’s website.

5 Security Systems Implemented by Security Experts

Education, government, healthcare and corporate facilities always run the risk of having their protection jeopardized when they don’t implement safeguarding systems. In order to provide an optimum level of protection for their facilities, property owners must seek the security system designs, installations and support of security system experts, such as Access Security Corporation in Warminster, PA. Below are five protective systems that can be implemented to shield your facility from potential intruders.

 Video surveillance systems will provide your facility with an incredible level of customized perimeter security. With eyes in the sky—your education, corporate or healthcare building will always have protection from potential intruders.

Card access control systems give property owners the necessary peach-of-mind about who exactly enters their facility. Unless individuals have permission to enter your facility, they won’t be granted access from security card access systems in Philadelphia, PA.

Intrusion systems are easy to use and understand. Your staff will receive standardized training on exactly how to use a new burglar alarm system. The cost-effective setups will promptly warn individuals within your facility if and when there’s ever a security breach.

Fire alarm systems include devices such as smoke detectors, heat detectors, fire pull stations, sprinkler systems and sprinkler system activation valves, which protect businesses and their assets through a high-quality, detection design. With these devices, a consolidated and centralized control system will notify individuals if a fire were to occur.

Physical identify and access management (PIAM) systems deal with employees, staff, students, contractors, consultants and visitors to grant physical access privileges within an organization. PIAM systems deal with the interaction of various database systems to manage access control and to ensure that only the correct people are able to gain access where needed and the wrong people are kept out.        

Education, government, healthcare and corporate locations should never compromise the security of their facility.  Security system experts such as Access Security Corporation in Warminster, PA will provide protective systems that will shield your facility from ill-intended individuals. Whether your company is in need of a security access system in Horsham, PA or an access control system Philadelphia, PA— Access Security Corporation in Warminster, PA is more than prepared for your security system project.


Security Systems move into the CLOUD

Are you aware that many security systems are now available in the Cloud?  By utilizing the cloud you no longer have to buy an expensive security server, constantly backup the database, waste time installing service packs to keep the software up to date, and always having to make sure you have the latest virus protection on the server.  All of these expenses can be provided to you with no upfront cost.  Simply utilize the cloud and pay a small monthly charge for what is known as SaaS or Software as a Service.   Basically SaaS is software that is hosted on a robust secure server somewhere in the cloud.  You get all the benefits but pay only for the portion that you use.  Your SaaS agreement provides you with everything listed above plus your security software is easily accessed via a secure website.  To give you an idea, a standard four (4) reader access control system will cost about $55 per month.  That is only $660 per year.  A security server would cost more than that by itself and you would still need everything else listed above, not to mention your time or the time of your IT staff to manage the system.

The cost savings of utilizing the Cloud are well known throughout the IT industry.  Since many IT departments have been given smaller budgets while still tasked with maintaining the same network size and security many have turned to the cloud as their savior.  The cloud allows IT staff to still have a secure, robust server for storage or applications while eliminating many of the traditional IT costs.  The same holds true for using Cloud services for security systems – All of the same security features, just at a much smaller cost.

Cloud security services are not just for electronic access control.  Security cloud services are available for camera systems as well.  Using the cloud means there is no need to buy an onsite Digital Video Recorder or DVR.  This drastically reduces your up-front investment costs for a camera surveillance system.  You also gain a reliable storage solution.  You will never have a hard drive fail and potentially lose days, weeks, or even months of video when using a cloud based system.

When using the cloud for surveillance cameras you need to make sure there is sufficient network speed or bandwidth.  High speed internet access has become increasingly more affordable and broadband speeds continue to increase.  Make sure the broadband connection is scaled to the size and type of system you are looking for.

Cloud services are an affordable solution that can deliver enterprise security features to organizations of any size.  Before making your next security purchase ask about moving your security into the clouds.

Migrating from Analog to IP Cameras

Many people are left with the notion that if they want to upgrade or use IP cameras that the existing analog cameras and cable infrastructure can no longer be used.  This couldn’t be farther from the truth.  It would be a terrible waste of money to start from scratch especially if you have a large camera system currently in place.  Below are a few products that can help you migrate from analog to IP without breaking the bank.

 1. Hybrid Digital Video Recorders (HDVR)

 A “Hybrid” Digital Video Recorder or HDVR are becoming even more popular as companies begin the process of migrating to IP camera systems.  These are recorders that have a video compression card built directly into the unit.  The compression card is so that standard coaxial cable cameras can be directly connected to the recorder.  On the back of the recorder there typically can be anywhere from 4 to 64 coaxial cable inputs for existing cameras.  The advantage of a “Hybrid” recorder is that it can also accept IP video streams through its network connection.  Depending on the system the “Hybrid” recorder can accept from 1 to sometimes as many as 128 IP cameras.  These “Hybrid” recorders can provide exceptional scalability and an easy migration path from existing analog cameras to network IP cameras.

 2. IP Video Encoders

 An IP video encoder converts standard analog cameras into digital IP video streams.  Using video encoders allows for a company to save the existing cameras and convert to a Network Video Recorder or NVR solution.  IP video encoders can convert a single camera or up to 16 cameras with a single unit.  These are very helpful devices for companies that have large systems but don’t have the budget to convert all the cameras over to network IP cameras in a single phase.

 3. Ethernet over Coaxial Cable Media Converter

 These devices can be a lifesaver or maybe better put a budget saver for companies with large analog systems or a large building.  These media converters utilize the existing coaxial cable infrastructure and IP cameras to be transmitted over the existing cable.  This solves two costly problems.  First, the labor cost of recabling numerous cameras can be very expensive.  Second, Ethernet cable has a distance limitation of approximately 300 feet.  Using a coaxial media converter at either end of a coax cable can extend the distance up to 5000 feet.

 These three devices make migrating from an analog camera system to a network IP camera system much more cost effective and allow for a project to be phased in.  A phased in approach can be much easier than a one time capital expense especially when budgets are tight.

Common Security Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

There are three common mistakes that companies make when looking to have a security project installed. Security systems can range from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars, so making the right choice for the company and which products to use is vital.

 1.  Picking the Wrong Security Company

It can sometimes be a difficult and daunting task to find qualified security companies. There can be literally hundreds of companies in a given metropolitan area. So how do you narrow down the field to just a few companies to get bids from? Then the problem is finding the time to check references and perform background checks on the companies you do select. These are important factors that will impact not only the initial project, but your company’s security for years to come.

 So how do you get the right security company? Start by asking other companies that you have relationships with. Ask who they use for their security and how their experiences have been with their security provider. This should get you a good list of names while at the same time it checks company references. Next, make sure you check the certifications of the company. There are numerous industry and manufacturer certifications a company should have. Finally, check how long the company has been in business. A company that has been in business for less than 7 years can be risky since a typical security system will last for about that amount of time.

 2.  Implementation Strategy

A commonly overlooked aspect when installing a security system is the short and long-term strategy used to implement the system. You should have clear defined goals that you want the new security system to accomplish. Goals could include: decrease theft or vandalism, help with workman’s compensation claims, and/or restricting access to restricted or sensitive areas. Some of these goals may be long-term and others short. Once you have formulated all of your goals, you can make sure that the security products you select will accomplish those goals and the company installing the system clearly understands the expectations of the system.

 3.  Selecting the Wrong Equipment

Selecting a bad security company can be bad but selecting the wrong security products can be devastating from both a financial and from a time loss standpoint. When I say wrong equipment it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a bad product or manufacturer. This may be the case but it can also be that the security company sold you only cameras when what you really needed was access control. Or you have a guard service and the interface software isn’t user friendly and is difficult to learn. The decision to implement a security system, whether it’s cameras, access control, or an intrusion alarm, can be a large investment. Getting the right equipment the first time is essential. To make sure that you select the best equipment for the project ask for a demonstration at your location or request to see a system installed at another location. This simple step may take some time, but greatly improves your odds of installing a system that works well and solves your goals.

 These common mistakes can easily make or break your security project. More importantly, they can be the difference between receiving a system that will serve you well for years to come and becoming an aggravation that wasted too much of your company’s time and money.

Two Major Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Camera System – Part 1

Many times when looking at installation by other companies, I find two major issues with the camera system: the wrong camera is being used for the viewing application and the software chosen under-performs and is difficult to use. Both mistakes can easily be avoided simply by following some helpful tips when it comes to selecting your camera system. Today’s post will focus on mistake number one, using the wrong camera for the viewing application.

There are literally thousands of cameras on the market and prices can go from under a hundred to thousands of dollars. Does this mean the company selling a camera that costs thousands of dollars is a rip-off or simply that the camera performs differently? A good example I like to use is comparing cars. There are hundreds of different types of cars you can buy, some starting at under $10,000 dollars. Yet there are other cars that can sell for over one million dollars. Is the car for $10,000 the same as the car sold for one million dollars? They both have an engine, a transmission, steering wheel, and four wheels, yet the less expensive car many times will seat more people. So what makes one car worth far more than another? The answer is there are many things that make them different. Even though they both have an engine, they are different engines. The cars’ performance, ride, technology all go into the price of a car. You need to drive the car, sit behind the wheel and experience the car for yourself to truly know the difference.

The same holds true for cameras. Cameras all have different features such as wide dynamic, images per second, lines of resolution, and many more. The problem is how do you the consumer know what all these mean? Better yet, how do you know that one manufacturer’s wide dynamic feature is better than another, or any feature that they claim to have? In order to really know the difference between one camera and another you need to see the video. Having a live demonstration with the camera at your facility viewing the area that you want is a true test. Forget about all of the jargon and techno babble that salespeople throw around and simply say “show me”. Ask to see a live demonstration at your facility with the camera you are looking to buy. Take the camera for a “test drive” so that before you invest in a surveillance system you know exactly what you are going to get. Many camera systems cost as much as and many times more than a car, don’t you think it would be a wise choice to test drive the system before signing on the dotted line?

Two Major Mistakes to Avoid When Buying a Camera System – Part 2

In part 1 of this series I talked about how choosing the wrong type of camera for the viewing application can adversely affect the performance of your camera system. In part 2, I will discuss the importance of choosing the right Video Management Software, often times referred to as VMS for short.

Consider the VMS as the brains of the entire camera system. The software is responsible for archiving the video from the cameras and storing it on a hard drive system as well as allowing users to see both live and playback of the cameras. It is the central hub of the surveillance system so it only makes sense that this is an extremely important piece to the puzzle. So then the question is, what makes one VMS better than another?

There are two defining characteristics of a VMS system that distinguish the good VMS platform from the bad. The first characteristic is how easy the software is for you and company personnel (administrators, guards, etc…) to view live and retrieve recorded video. A good VMS platform will not only give you robust features, but will allow you to easily use them. A good rule of thumb is to remember that it may be months between instances that you want to retrieve and export those video clips. If this is a difficult process to remember or involves a lot of steps, the software is most likely one you should stay away from. A good VMS should be intuitive and have easy to remember steps to view live video, playback recorded video, and export video clips. Make sure to talk with other companies that use the software and find out what they like about it, how often they use it, and how easy it is for everyone to use.

The second important characteristic is the scalability of the VMS platform. This includes both the number of cameras that the system can accommodate as well as the frequency of software updates and feature enhancements. A good VMS system is not stagnant. It continues to evolve and add new and improved features. It also allows you to grow the system as your company grows and expands.  Scalability of the software is vital. I have seen numerous systems that started with only a few cameras and then doubled, tripled and even quadrupled in size. The companies that selected the right VMS platform, from the beginning, were easily able to grow the system. This allowed them to avoid retraining of personnel and having to repurchase sometimes costly new software that fits their new system size.

Mistakes in purchasing a camera system can be costly, so taking a close look at the cameras and the VMS software in the beginning can save you not only money but time as well. Also, taking the time to talk with other companies that have similar systems is a good way to find out if your newly proposed cameras and software will perform the way you expect.

Schools Need a Trusted Security Provider…So How Do You Find One?

Schools, especially public schools, are under tremendous pressure today to have the highest level of security. Often times the staff in charge of security are provided with very limited budgets while being told to do more with less. This is a stressful position to be in if you’re in charge of the safety of a school or an entire district and have hundreds or even thousands of children to protect including staff and administration personnel.

 So how does a school safety and security director manage to keep everyone secure?

 One way is for the school to attempt to design a system themselves. This would mean reading about products on the internet and trying to determine which products and system are right for the school. Then put together a bid package with some basic part numbers and put the system out to bid. This process is a recipe for disaster (I have seen this time and time again with many costly mistakes made). Not only does the school waste potentially tens of thousands of dollars, but the end result is a poorly designed system.

A slightly better choice would be to hire a consulting or engineering firm to help with the design and due diligence of selecting the proper security products and a security company that can properly install a system. If you are planning on putting a system out to public bid this is the best choice. Hiring a professional to write a bid specification that accurately defines the scope of work can potentially save you thousands of dollars and it ultimately results in a faster, more complete implementation. However, there are two problems with this path. First, hiring a consultant or engineer can be costly, especially for a school or district already under budget constraints. Second, even the best bid specification cannot take everything into account, particularly the qualifications of a security system integrator. Consider how fast a security company will be able to provide their service. This can be requested in a bid spec, but how do you know the company will actually be able to come through? For example, say you want a four-hour response time on service calls. How do you know they will respond within four hours and what would happen if they didn’t respond in four hours or even at all? These qualifications are hard to ensure when bidding a project through a public bid specification.

The best possible choice is to find a few security companies that have been referred by other schools.  A good referral is an excellent first step to ensuring you will have a reputable company supporting you and your security system.  Second, ask the handful of companies that have been referred from other schools if they have a state or GSA contract.  You should be able to find 2 to 4 companies that meet these prerequisites.  Have these companies put together a solution and provide a proposal for the security system.  Make sure these are solutions that have been successfully used and tested in other school environments (you don’t want to be the guinea pig in someone else’s experiment).  Have each company make a presentation, including a demonstration of the system.  If possible, (especially in camera projects) ask for an on-site test (for more information on the importance of this step, see our previous post about it here).  This helps provide accurate knowledge of how the security system will perform in your specific school environment.  After going through these steps you should have an accurate conclusion as to the security company and security system that will best meet the needs of the school at the best price.

Securing a school or an entire school district is a difficult task at best.  Finding the right security company that can partner with the school and deliver a quality solution with years of support can be hard. Make sure the proper due diligence is invested during this selection process or large sums of money and time will have been wasted.

Transitioning from Analog to IP Cameras? Don’t Pull Your Hair Out, Here are 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Upgrading

Taking your legacy analog camera system to the next generation of IP video can have its pitfalls.  There are 5 mistakes to avoid when migrating your existing camera system to an IP solution.

The belief that you have to replace the entire system
Often I talk with people who believe in order to have an IP network video solution they have to start from scratch.  Most of the time this is simply not the case.  The existing cables and cameras can be re-purposed and used in the new IP network solution.

 Here’s how:

 1. By using specialized media converters the existing coaxial cable can be reused.  These media converters turn standard RG-59u coaxial cable into 100Mbps Ethernet connectivity.  These media converters also allow for increased distance limitation.  A standard CAT5e network cable is rated for only 328 feet where as a coaxial cable using media converters can go up to 5000 feet.  Using media converters saves you both time and labor of installing new cable (CAT5e and fiber) and easily allows you to replace the analog camera at the end with a new IP network camera.

 2. Analog cameras don’t always have to be replaced.  These cameras can be encoded using a network camera encoder.  Encoders are available anywhere from 1 to 16 cameras.  The encoder takes the analog input from the camera and transmits the video back out on the network.  That video transmission can then be recorded by a network video recorder.

 Not ensuring compatibility with existing cameras

Although most analog cameras are pretty straight forward and can easily be encoded there are a few exceptions.  Cameras that have Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) or movable cameras can be tricky.  You need to make sure that the cameras will be controllable from the camera to the encoder and from the encoder to the network video recorder.  There are many types of communication protocols that are used to control Analog PTZ cameras.  So you need to verify that all of the components will work together in order to reuse the existing analog PTZ cameras.

 Loss of command center functionality when replacing a matrix switch

 For large systems that include a matrix switch, you want to make sure that guards and staff who directly interface with the system do not lose functionality.  Upgrading to a new IP network system and losing existing capabilities can be a major setback to any upgrade.  Make sure that you fully understand how the system is used on a daily basis and how video is viewed both live and in playback.  When designed properly, the new IP network system should be easier to use and add functionality for the users.

Sacrificing new camera resolution and images per second when you don’t have to

a common problem with older Digital Video Recorder (DVR) systems is the maximum resolution and the images per second the camera could record at.  Typically one or the other had to be sacrificed due to lack of processing power of the DVR.  Using quality IP video encoders can resolve that issue and provide full D1 (640 x 480) resolution and live video of 30 images per second.  Before selecting an encoder, make sure you do not have to choose one or the other.  With a good quality encoder you won’t have to make that sacrifice.

 Not properly compensating for additional storage

 With better resolution and more images per second comes the need for additional storage.  Make sure you calculate the additional amount of storage you will need when using full resolution and 30 images per second i.e. – if your old DVR was set at 2CIF (720 x 240) resolution and 7.5 images per second and you needed 1 Terabyte of storage for 30 days then at D1 (640 x 480) resolution and 30 images per second you will need 8 Terabytes of storage on the new system.

 There are many benefits for re-purposing the existing camera system when upgrading.  So there is no need to completely start from scratch.  See what can be reused and make the best of it.  Reducing the overall cost or being able to add additional coverage will help improve budgets and the overall quality of your security system.

Top 3 Factors to Look at During a Security Camera Demonstration

When evaluating a camera system you should always ask to see a demonstration of the system and products being quoted for the installation. Product specifications can be confusing and even misleading; luckily video is a visual medium so make sure you see a live demonstration. Below are 3 key areas to pay close attention to during the demonstration of the security camera system.

 1. Overall ease of use and intuitive software layout.

Take a look at the overall software layout. Ask if you and other people within the company can try out the software.  In other words can you and the other system users “drive the car”? Many sales presentations make software look easy because they have repeated the same demo over and over again. The real question is how intuitive is it for you and your staff? A lot of that will depend on your computer literacy and competence. If you are not going to be the only one using the software make sure you have the person with the least amount of computer knowledge try out the system. Are they able to easily layout the live camera views that they want to see, can they find recorded video and export it if needed? These are valuable insights into how well the surveillance software will perform for you and your company.

2. Ability to quickly retrieve video and easily export to CD, DVD or Flash Drive.

The ability to find stored video quickly and export it to an external device is essential. Finding stored video needs to be quick and easy. Say you are looking for video of an incident that took place between 7am and 8am on Monday morning. You need to know how easy is it to begin reviewing that specific time frame and how quickly you can find what you’re looking for. Ask about the number of steps necessary to perform this common and simple task. The more steps, the more complicated the software. A quality system will allow you to export video in 3 to 5 clicks of a mouse. If it takes more than that, the system most likely is too complex for standard users.

3. How fast can you find video?

The problem with most demonstrations is that they are canned sales presentation. They don’t represent real life situations in which you the user have to actually use the software. So how long does it take to find an incident? Obviously there are some variables. First, what is the time frame in which the incident occurred? If you are looking for something that happened in the last hour or two most systems are going to be able to find the video fairly quickly. But what if you had something happen over the weekend and now it’s Wednesday. Better yet, what if a valuable piece of equipment goes missing, let’s say sometime in the last three weeks? Find out what features during the demonstration the software does to enhance your searching efforts in this type of search. These are the searches that really matter and the ones that can really produce a return on your security system investment.

A camera surveillance system can be expensive so make sure you know what you’re getting before it’s installed. Paying careful attention to the above 3 key areas during a demonstration can save you a lot of money and frustration.