Subsidized by Failure...

The Industry's “Greedy Little Secret”

 

A number of years ago I started to notice an increase in the failure rate of certain security alarm / CCTV components. Not surprisingly, this increased failure rate coincided with a massive drop in wholesale cost. Yes, we've all heard the old saying “Good stuff no cheap, cheap stuff no good” but this problem goes beyond simple cost of manufacturing.

I was speaking with a number of manufacturers and manufacturer reps at the recent CANASA show in Richmond and my long held suspicions were verified. Many top manufacturers who outsource their product manufacturing to 2nd and 3rd world countries are relying on equipment failure to increase their bottom line.

Nowhere is this more evident in the omnipresent wireless closed architecture security alarm / home automation systems. Yes, many of these systems may appear as open architecture, in that they integrate with 3rd party products such as door locks, thermostats and light switches, this, however, is a very short term façade as the “Big Three” either already own or are working towards taking over these other “manufacturers”. In fact, some of these integrating products are manufactured by the same off-shore factories responsible for the equipment failures in the first place. This is especially true when the government of said countries actually own, control and financially benefit from all activity within their country.

Beyond Security alarm panels is the growing IP surveillance market. I remember a time when it was easy to determine the quality of the CCTV equipment based on the reputation and longevity of the manufacturer. Unfortunately, global competition along with less than reputable off-shore manufacturing processes, have changed the roles of the key players. Where previously reputable CCTV companies controlled the entire manufacturing process, from components to consumer product, many of these manufacturers now rely on private labelled OEM products from second world countries more interested in volume than the security of the end users on the other side of the world. Although many “manufacturers” may “claim” they own the factory in... lets say Mainland China... simple politics states private ownership is a façade when it comes to a totalitarian regime with a long history of many manufacturing shortfalls from lead paint on Children's toys to the seemingly constant “Capacitor failure” in modern electronics.

When one examines the actual manufacturers of most of the electronics on the market today, it becomes very apparent there is a decreasing number of actual key players in the Manufacturing sector. Many actual manufacturers make products for many competing companies. Most security alarm and CCTV / IP Video “manufacturers” rely on cookie cutter solutions from the very same off shore factories used by their competitors, so even if the consumer was to switch brands, chances are they would end up with the same crap equipment from the same crap manufacturer who don't give a crap about the reliability of the security or well being of the end consumer on the other side of the world.

Personally, I take the security of KeepSafe Systems Clients along with reputation of KeepSafe Systems VERY seriously. I, personally, closely examine the manufacturing process as well as the actual source of all the equipment KeepSafe Systems sells and installs. Although there is always a certain lack of direct control in the manufacturing process, I can control which equipment manufacturer I trust. I know this may not directly effect the corporate decisions of the “big players” in the Security alarm and IP Video Surveillance market, however it does have a positive effect the end result for KeepSafe Systems clients, and that is all that matters to me.

The above comments are the personal opinions of Heinz Kreutz and do not necessarily represent those of anyone else in the industry. Some may actually feel my opinions are crap... this is their prerogative in a free world. Some may even be angry with me. To those I say, I did not mention your name, so why are you angry? Is there an inner feeling of guilt? If so, perhaps you need to examine your business model. Have a great day :)

 

SP&T News Features KeepSafe Systems

 

I have to say, trying to be as modest as I possibly can, I am truly proud of this recent development.

I was on my way back from a job in Whistler when I received a phone call from Peter at SP&T News, a Canadian Security Alarm Industry Magazine. Right away Peter said, "Don't worry, I'm not trying to sell you anything." I don't know if that was reassuring or whether it caused me to really start to wonder what this "Peter guy" was wanting from me.

As it turns out, Peter had stumbled across my website and quite liked my article The Holistic Approach To Home Security (see below) and he wanted to do a feature article on KeepSafe Systems.

 

I have to be honest, I was kind of baffled and a little bit suspiscious, I have no idea why, as to why an industry magazine would be interested in lil' ol' me. After all, KeepSafe Systems has been around for about 15 years, and aside from showing up at local industry events and picking apart manufacturers who try to fool me into thinking wireless security alarms are the best thing since the 80" LCD TV, I really kind of stick to myself around Industry folk.

 

Regardless, KeepSafe Systems is now featured in the February March 2012 issue of SP&T Magazine. You can read the whole story here. Hopefully this gets the word out to other industry people that Quality service should be their top priority.... One can dream, no???

 

KeepSafe Systems and Mobotix AG

 

I just returned from a 2 day seminar in Seattle on Mobotix, the best kept secret in the Video Surveillance industry. Aside from the obvious advantage of being engineered AND manufactured in Germany, Mobotix IP camera's are by far the most technologically advanced security alarm surveillance IP camera on the market today.

 

Equipped with onboard storage (SD Card) as well as a powerful processor with edge processing, these camera's have the widest view and best depth of field I have EVER seen. And I have been in the security alarm industry for.... well let's just say a long time.

 

For more information on the Mobotix line of IP camera's check out http://www.mobotixtech.com

 

KeepSafe Systems is now a Listed HAI Dealer

 

So what does this mean for you, the KeepSafe Systems customer... There is no change in the way KeepSafe Systems is being run, KeepSafe Systems clients will always receive the best possible service in the Security Alarm Industry. Being a listed HAI dealer simply means that KeepSafe Systems now has access to more information faster on new inovations by the leader in Home Automation, since 1985.

 

HAI is known as one of the pioneers of modern Home Automation. Based in New Orleans, Louisiana, HAI was formed in 1985 to provide automation product to the newly emerging automation and controls market. HAI's founders, Tom Pickral, Brian Yokum, and Jay McLellan worked together in the commercial automation industry and sought to apply this expertise to the home automation market.

 

KeepSafe Systems is proud to be a HAI Listed dealer you can trust with all your Home & Business Security and Automation requirements.

 

For more information on the KeepSafe Systems approach to Home Automation, check out our Home Automation section HERE

Yes, we have an App for that...

 

More and more, there seems to be a worldwide shift to automating our lives and integrating everything possible with the Internet. It all started with Home Automation and remote telephone control of security systems via Touchtone commands (Not much unlike remotely retrieving your messages from an answering machine.)

 

Since the answering machine, we have moved into remote Video Monitoring, PC control of our security, lighting and appliances. The advent of the Iphone and the ever popular Iphone Applications, or Apps as they are known, have brought Security and Automation to a whole new level.

 

We can now log-in to our home or business and control any number of features with the simple touch of a button on your Iphone, Android, or Blackberry. remote access and home automation is no longer a simple matter of convenience, it has now almost become a staple component of every security system on the market.

 

In addition to being able to verify if you alarm is actually armed, many automation systems also allow for the ability to lock / unlock doors, control lights, temperature and various other electrical appliances from anywhere in the world. Features such as these are not only convenient, they also enhance your security by giving your home the "lived in look" and save energy by giving you the ability to adjust your temperature when you are away and prior to your arrival home. After all, why would you want to heat or cool an empty home.

 

Not to be outdone, Shmuel and the gang over at Paradox have just come out with an Iphone app for the Spectra and Magellan line of products, with a version for the EVO and Imperial panels arriving shortly.

 

 

So, yes, "We Do Have An App For That"

 

 

 

Because it Matters

April 30, 2011

 

For quite some time now, I have been painfully aware I do things slightly differently than the norm. This is something I learned from my Dad who was always telling me to do things a certain way, never to take shortcuts and for gods sakes use the right tool for the right job. Although I still do use a flat blade screwdriver as a chisel, my Dad's life lessons did not fall on deaf ears.

Some call it "anal", some picky, while some have a few choice words I will not mention here. Personally, I like to think of it as the right way to do things. When it comes to installing Security Alarm Systems, there are several points which I am very adamant anyone who works for me follow. When I tell many other people in the industry about "My way" of doing things, some wonder how I can make any money, and newbies question the legitimacy behind doing things the "Long way" (Particularly when it comes to my refusal to install wireless security alarm systems.) Yes, taking short-cuts and installing wireless security alarm systems is easier. Yes, I could definitely make more money if I were to do business this way... But I won't. Why? Because it Matters.

The same holds true for the KeepSafe Systems' Security Alarm Installation Standards. Among the highest in the industry, KeepSafe Systems goes beyond "ULC" and Electrical Safety Branch standards insisting all wires be home-run, all connections be soldered with a minimum of 1" splice, rare earth magnets are used on all door/window contacts, and all devices are tested. This is far from a complete list of the KeepSafe Systems Installation standards but it does illustrate my personal dedication to doing things the right way...

Because it Matters.

Beyond our strict installations Standards, on a business level, I also like to keep things different. This is evident in the multiple window sticker sizes and layout to what I must say is the best looking and best made lawn sign in the security alarm industry. In addition, at KeepSafe Systems, we strive to use equipment made in Canada, or at the very least North America or Europe. Once again, this is all, Because it Matters.

So why choose KeepSafe Systems???? Simple,

Because You Matter.

And to my Parents, thank you for all you have done to make me who I am today. :) I say this,

Because They Matter.

 

LED Strip Lights Home Security & Home Automation

So here's the story. I was at a local electronics store helping Victor look for a decent butaine soldering iron since the last Security Alarm Installation company he worked for did not seem to believe in soldering... Go figure. Anyways, that is not the point of this story.

So, while talking to the clerk about the latest gadgets and home automation, I saw this bright display of LED strips. I have been using LED's for quite some time as an indicator of alarm status on clients' security alarm system. In the past, the main problem with LED's was always the lack of brightness and limited angle of view. This was not the case with these LED light strips. These things were so bright you could see them from outside the store.

So instantly my brain started churning. I knew there was a use for these in the Security Alarm Industry, well aside from alarm status indicators. So I forked out the 40 bucks and bought a couple of them to play around with... Yes, I'm a gadget geek.

After the initial novelty wore off, the LED strip lights sat on the kitchen table alongside my gas bill until just the other day. You see, I was working on a job where I was installing a Home Automation system and the customer had mentioned the light in his shower and how he was not all too pleased with the look. Bamm! a thought sprung to mind. Since the LED strips are waterproof, what better way to light up a shower than to hide these behind glass tiles. Being low voltage, they would not draw much power and they could also be backed up by the alarm systems' battery, in the case of a power failure.

From there, the idea's started to flow. As soon as I showed the client the LED strip, he fell in love with the idea. So now, we are putting them in various places throughout the house to provide emergency and ambient activity based lighting.

Floor sensors connected to the Security Alarm System will activate LED strips in the bedrooms, bathrooms, hallways and stairwell (If it is dark out.) Strips of LED's will replace Christmas lights, these lights will then be connected to the Home Automation/security alarm system to activate after dusk during the Christmas season. A fire alarm will activate a series of high intensity LED strip lights guiding everyone to safety through the dense smoke.

Best of all, since these LED strip lights are operated by 12 VDC... again, they can be backed up by the Security Alarm Systems' battery. This will ensure nobody is left in the dark. No more unsafe candles or digging for the flashlight under the light of a cellphone. Cool eh!

 

GPS / SATELLITE ASSET TRACKING

An affordable solution for vehicle tracking is now here. We have all heard of GPS Vehicle tracking being used to track and control stolen vehicles. This technology is becoming more common place and in addition to security, a properly deployed and managed GPS Vehicle tracking system can save companies who rely on vehicles to make them money. From couriers to trades, GPS Vehicle tracking services have been used to manage fleets and make more money.

  • By tracking the locations of your fleet, your service manager can effectively plan routes and quickly adjust for emergency situations.
  • Parents can rest comfortably knowing they can actively track their child's vehicle and speed in order to help keep them safe.
  • Car enthusiasts can protect their baby.
  • Service companies can reduce time wasting and track job expenses by knowing exactly where their service vehicles were and how long they spent at a particular location

Speaking from the point of view of a service industry, I see the value of GPS vehicle tracking for both security and management purposes. When you deal with KeepSafe Systems for your GPS Vehicle tracking requirements, you will have access to expertise in both worlds.

Contact KeepSafe Systems to fulfill your GPS Asset tracking requirements. Unlike most GPS Vehicle tracking companies, KeepSafe Systems offers unlimited vehicle pings; "real-time" live map view of your fleet locations; historical vehicle locations; and more... All the above is included in the standard GPS Vehicle Tracking service.

Bundle your security with KeepSafe Systems. Customers who have their Security Alarm System monitored through KeepSafe Systems receive a discount on their KeepSafe Systems GPS Vehicle Tracking / GPS Fleet Management services.

 

The Holistic Approach To Home Security

My wife was out last night so that gave me a chance to watch "Dirk Gently' Anyone familiar with Douglas Adams will know exactly what I mean when I refer to a Holistic Approach. Although Dirk's approach to the whole Holistic arena was verging more on taking advantage of opportunities, there was a mention of a break-in or two during the episode. Not really the reason for this article, nor am I attempting at promoting myself as some new-age healer of security concerns in your home. I guess I just wanted to be a little creative in my writing this beautiful sunny Sunday morning in Vancouver.

In Medicine, Holistic (or Holism) is defined as "relating to or concerned with wholes or with complete systems rather than with the analysis of, treatment of, or dissection into parts." For the purpose of this article and the tie in to KeepSafe Systems as Security Alarm Systems, I like that definition as it relates to what I like to do when I look at a clients' home or business for the first time.

When looking at protecting your home or business, it is important to look at all the factors involved in protecting you, your loved ones, your possessions and the building/property.

When it comes to protecting yourself, it is important to ensure the security alarm system you purchase is sufficient to make you feel comfortable. I have mentioned this in the past, a Security Alarm System is not only intended to protect your belongings, it also provides a certain level of comfort in knowing there is a level of defense helping to keep the criminal element out of your home or business.

Protecting your loved ones is not all that different from protecting yourself. In addition to humans, it is also important to consider the non-human companions. In my case, I take great care to ensure our pet Chinchilla's are healthy and happy. When it came to the security alarm, I made sure not to put the siren anywhere near their room (Yes, the KeepSafe Mascots have their own bedroom.) The reason being, they are nocturnal creatures and therefore very sensitive to sound.

In addition, life safety detectors such as Smoke Detectors and Carbon Monoxide detectors are an important addition to any home. With a hardwired security alarm system, it is easy to connect pretty much any brand of hardwired Carbon Monoxide or Smoke Detector to the system, providing the detector has the ability to trigger a separate alarm system. This feature is typically not available in over the counter hardware store models.

When it comes to life safety, electronic detection of life threatening occurrences only goes so far. You need to ensure there is a number of minimally impeded exits from your home in case of emergency. Window bars, although effective at keeping the criminal element out, are equally as effective at keeping you in. When installing security bars in your home, you need to be careful to ensure they give even the smallest member of your household (Children) the ability to escape in case of a fire. There have been instances where family members have died as a result of being locked into a home.

Now onto the protection of your belongings. Keeping the criminal element out of your home is very important, it is also equally important to consider both removing the temptation to break into your home or business as well as making it difficult for would be intruders to find and remove your valuables.

Deterring a break-in is something I covered in Protection 101, an article I wrote for a local paper back in 1997 to 1998. This topic is often referred to as "Target Hardening" which basically alludes to making your home or business less appealing to the criminal element. Removing temptation is a big part of this. If you leave the box of a recently purchased TV with your curbside recycling or station your computer in front of your living room window, you might as well stand at the end of a driveway with a sign telling potential burglars to please visit your house because you really don't like having belongings..

For the most part, break-in's are crimes of opportunity. Just like an empty box on your curb announces your most recent purchases, a laptop or computer monitor in front of any easily accessible window increases the viability of your home or business being broken into. Yes, a properly installed alarm system with a glassbreak detector will notify you of the break-in and reduce the chance of the criminal entering your home any further, your computer will already be in the pawn shop storage room by the time the Police arrive. This is not intended to scare you or deter you from installing a security alarm, just to illustrate how a complete, or Holistic, approach is required when looking at protecting your Home or Business.

In addition to hardening the exterior of your home or business, it is also important to consider valuable items within your home. Take a look throughout your home or business and think about what is valuable. I am not talking just in a pecuniary manner, also look at valuable keepsakes. In the instance of Jewelry and electronics, making these items either difficult to find or remove will go a long way to ensuring they do not end up being delivered to the local pawn shop by the local crack-head.

Antique wooden dressers with Skeleton key locks are NOT a secure place to store your valuables. These locks are about as effective at protecting your valuables as leaving them in a pillow case on your bed with a note thanking the criminal from saving you the hassle of spending the money yourself. When it comes to valuables such as money and Jewelry, a securely mounted fireproof safe is a great option. Some clients opt for hidden cabinets or safe rooms to keep their valuables out of view.

When it comes to electronics such as computers, flat screen TV's, stereo equipment and other items equally unfeasible or inconvenient to hide, physical protection is a great way to reduce the chances of them leaving your home in an untimely manner. With the reduced size and weight of flat screen TV's theft of these items has risen. When mounting your TV, try to secure it to the wall as tightly as possible. Use of long screws, security cables, locks and steel brackets can often reduce the ease of removal. Some clients have opted to build their TV into the actual wall. If done properly, the TV can be removed, however this would require several time consuming steps.

When Securing any electronics, it is also important to remember these electonics need airspace to cool down. While securing your flat screen TV or computer is an airtight steel and plexi-glass box may be the most secure method of keeping it from being stolen, you might as well leave it on your front porch because you will have to buy a new one once it overheats and burns out.

As for the role of your Security Alarm System in protecting the building and property, Smoke detectors can be installed to alert the fire department of a fire; Gas sensors can detect gas leaks which could result in a total loss; Water sensors can notify you of a pipe leak, flood, or burst hot water tank. Aside from that, keeping flammable items away from sources of heat such as furnaces, hot water tanks, stoves and fireplaces go a long way to ensuring the safety of the structure.

In addition, there are certain criminal elements who take some sort of sick joy in destroying property. A properly designed security plan will help to limit an intruders' stay therefore  mitigating potential damage. In recent years, theft of copper has been on the rise, there have been instances where homeowners have come back from vacation to find their walls stripped of all the copper wiring and piping. In one case, I even remember a client having a very long decorative copper drain pipe stolen from the outside of their commercial building. A little bit of physical protection combined with an inexpensive recessed door contact could have reduced the chance of this loss.

At the end of the day, Securing your Home or Business is more than having a regular average alarm company install the typical packaged alarm system consisting of 2 door contacts and 1 motion detector.

KeepSafe Systems Installs, services and provides security alarm monitoring services for homes and businesses seeking a better level of security.

The KeepSafe Systems service area includes but is not limited to North Vancouver, West Vancouver, Richmond, Delta, Tsawassen, Ladner, Surrey, Cloverdale, Abbotsford, Mission, Aldergrove, Maple Ridge, Haney, Port Coquitlam, Coquitlam, Port Moody, Burnaby, New Westminster, Kamloops, Kelowna, Courtney, Comox, Nanaimo, Lions Bay, Squamish and pretty much everywhere in between.

The Floor Sensor

Pet proof motion detectors are not a new thing, in fact, there have been quite a number of attempts at differentiating a human vs a pet. Manufacturer claims range from PIR type sensors being able to determine whether the object is in fact the proper vertical height of a human (As if Criminals cannot crawl on the floor and pets do not jump off furniture) while others lay claims to be able to determine the actual weight of  the object by means of some calculation based on the amount of space occupied by the object combined with it's movement patterns blah blah blah.

Fact of the matter is, although some of these sensors work... well let's say occasionally. The reason I am so skeptical of PIR based "Pet Proof" motion detectors is because variables can change. While a simple change in the size of number of pets may adversely effect one sensor, location of furniture can drastically effect another. Combine with that, the reduced effective sensitivity of a "Pet Proof" motion detectors and you may well not be receiving the actual interior protection you expect and paid for.

So what can someone with a pet or a number of pets do to protect the interior of their home without having to deal with reduced coverage or false alarms? Well, there are a few options out there. In the past, I have spoken at length about glassbreak detectors. These are great audio sensors which are designed to detect the sound of breaking glass. When installed properly, glassbreak detectors will sound the alarm if someone attempts to gain access to your home or business by means of breaking a window. Since glassbreak detectors are not motion sensing devices, they are very pet proof. In some cases, a large dog barking right below the detector may cause a false alarm. Proper placement and installation, however, will alleviate most bark initiated false alarms.

So what about interior motion detection. Well, since we have determined standard PIR based "Pet Proof" motion detectors are a load of Bollocks, let move forward to a tried, proven and under utilized technology.. The Floor Sensor. This detector is designed to be installed on the under part of a floor joist. Once covered with drywall, the security alarm floor sensor is invisible, except for its' ability to detect activity on the floor above.

The Pulsar Security Alarm Floor Sensor works by detecting micro flex changes in the floor joist itself. Once installed, the Security Alarm Pulsar Floor Sensor can be adjusted for varying levels of sensitivity. This way, the movements of small pet can be ignored, while a much heavier human will trigger the alarm. As with any technology, Pulsar Security Alarm Floor Sensors do have a few inherent weaknesses, however, these can easily be overcome with proper installation, testing and maintenance. For example, moving a couch over a floor sensor will pre-stress the floor and reduce the Pulsar Security Alarm Floor Sensors' ability to detect activity.

Although the Pulsar Floor Sensor is designed to be installed during the construction phase, a knowledgeable Security Alarm Installation technician should be able to install the Pulsar Security Alarm Floor Sensor in most pre-existing home situations.

In addition to Security, the Pulsar Floor Sensor can be used for many home automation / convenience features such as lighting control, shower automation and even  in place of a doorbell on the front porch.

 

 

I-Pad Breathes New Life Into Home Automation and Distributed Audio

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love gadgets. From Media Servers to lighting control and talking alarm panels I have always been one to play around with technology. I even look back to when I decided to get into the Alarm Industry, I was 20 years old and interested in Robotics... Why? Because it seemed cool to have a machine do stuff for you. So why Alarms? Well, the Security Alarm Installation course information was on the reverse side of the Robotics brochure. At the time, I had no idea Security Alarm Systems would lead to Home Automation and Distributed Audio but I did find myself playing around with Relays and timers to make my own versions of Security and Lighting integration. (In the "Early days".... I'm only 40 and I'm sounding more like my parents every day, not really a bad thing.)

Now back to the topic at hand... The I-Pad and how it has opened up a whole new market in the Home Automation, Distributed Audio and Security marketplace. To start off, I will talk a little about the history of Home Automation.

Home Automation is not really a new concept, Automating Building functions has long been the mainstay of the HVAC and Production facility industries. Using electronics to perform various routine tasks by way of motors, relays, switches and photo beams is really not all to much different from the Modern Home Automation systems. Of course, installing a production facility grade automation system into the average home would be financially infeasible for most, so the Home Automation industry relied on consumer grade powerline lighting control systems such as X-10.

Anyone familiar with X-10 and the various other earlier versions of Line Carrier technology will know of the inherent weaknesses of the technology. Basically, the premise behind Line Carrier Technology was sending coded information down the powerline to control specialized light switches and modules. This way, lighting could be controlled without the need to run any additional wiring. Sounds great right? well not really. The problem with the old Line Carrier technology was the limitation in the number of codes combined with a lack of stability and sources of outside interference. Simply put, with the old technology, your lights may turn on completely on their own, or they may not turn on at all. Back then, the only other option would be to install low voltage relay's and run additional wiring in the home or install a high end building automation system which would not be financially feasible for the average new home construction and pretty much a non-option in a retro-fit situation.

Nowadays, new versions of lighting control such as UPB (A digital version of the original Powerline technology), Radio Ra, Lutron and many others offer various ways of automating your lighting. Even Canadian Security Alarm Manufacturer, Paradox has jumped into the Automation market with Shmuel and Gang's recent creation, the Paradox Imperial Security Alarm System. Much like building automation systems, the Paradox Imperial Security Alarm/Automation System relies on Low Voltage Communication Bus modules to control electrical devices in your home. When combined with a Security Alarm System which can monitor activity in certain rooms, The Paradox Imperial Controller ends up being sort of a Green Machine in that it conserves energy by controlling your home lighting based on whether you are at home, on vacation or even in the room in question.

Other systems, such as HAI, Elk and Colorado V-Net go one step further by integrating temperature control and Audio / Video Distribution into the equation (Control 4 also has a touch screen Automation system, however I prefer the more professional grade systems such as HAI, Elk, Colorado VNet, and Paradox Imperial - as the price point is generally better and they are usually built better.) So not only can your security alarm system protect your home from intruders, a properly integrated system can also control your lighting, temperature, Video Surveillance, Multi-room Audio, Garage door, hot tub and more through one interface allowing these systems to work together in "Seamless harmony." For more information on Home Automation check out the Home Automation section.

So what about the I-Pad, you ask. Well, the most expensive part to many home automation systems is the Touch Screen Keypads. Although you do not need to have a touch screen keypad to control your Home Automation system, depending in your system, standard keypads, telephone, smart phones, PDA's, universal remotes and your Home PC are some of the ways you can control and customize your Home Automation System. The problem with some of these, though,  is accessibility. Having to walk over to your keypad or computer often takes away from the convenience offered by Automating your Home.

Enter the I-Pad. At about half the price of your average Automation System Touchscreen Keypad, your I-Pad and the appropriate I-Pad Security / Automation Ap will provide you with a convenient user friendly interface to all your Home Automation Functions. From turning your Security Alarm System onto Night Mode or Unlocking your front door to Controlling your Temperature, Lighting and Home Audio Distribution the I-Pad and one of the many Home Automation Systems offered by KeepSafe Systems the control is now conveniently placed in your hands to take with you wherever you go. Yes, if you like, you can even access your Home Automation System from a remote location via the Internet or a Standard Touch Tone phone. With many systems, you can even call in and listen in to your home to either talk to your pets or verify an Alarm occurrence. So really, it is almost like having your own personal Robot Butler... Strange how things work out eh!

In addition to the I-Pad, I-Phone and Apple I-Touch, there are now several Android OS Aps available for many of the Home Automation Systems on the market. With the various other Touchscreen Tablet PC's coming into the market, there will be more choice for the consumer when it comes to controlling their Security / Home Automation Systems

 

 

Home Distribution Panels - Not all Systems are Created Equal

I recently received a referral from a long time client. The call came in and the client said, "I have one of those Home Distribution systems with wires going everywhere."

Home Distribution panels are quickly becoming common place in all new construction. The premise being, with everything moving to IP, it only makes sense to have a central distribution point for all the communication in your home. Generally speaking, a home distribution panel consists of Cable, Telephone and Satellite services into the home, as well as Data, Telephone and Cable TV distribution to all room in the home. Many home distribution panels also have whole home audio distribution and security added to the system.

Home distribution panels are a wonderful concept in that they put everything to do with entertainment, communication and security in one location. This helps in reducing clutter (No more routers, modems and tangled wires under your computer desk.) As well, a properly installed Home Distribution panel also provides easy installation of a Home Automation and Multi room audio distribution systems. This may sound a little far fetched, however, Home Automation Systems have become increasingly popular with the introduction of the Ipad and other portable touch screen network devices. The thought of controlling your security, temperature, entertainment and lighting has almost become a mainstream necessity alongside high speed Internet and Satellite television.

With many telephone companies moving into the Television market, converting your home from standard Cable to an ADSL TV service is a simple matter of moving jumpers in a properly installed Home Distribution panel which includes Home Audio Distribution alongside Home Video Distribution and Data Distribution.

On the other side of the coin, an improperly or incomplete Home Distribution panel will provide you with nothing more than spaghetti wiring and headaches, like in the picture to the left. Along with a security system, this particular "Home Distribution panel" consists of telephone and cable in data, telephone cable out. Due to a lack of planning and a severely undersized Home Distribution Panel, this Home Distribution panel has become nothing more than a difficult to service mess of wires and electronics. Instead of being neatly tucked away in a can, the Modem, Router and Digital Phone Router (VOIP) are located outside the Home Distribution can. Forget about expanding this system to any sort of Home Automation / Home Audio Distribution system. There is barely enough room for the Security Alarm panel and battery. Well, that and there are no Audio Distribution wires to speak of. Sure, the home does have the typical centrally located theatre room, however there is no infrastructure for the installation of an Audio Distribution System (Aside from an IP based solution such as Colorado Vnet.)

I guess the long and short of it is, Not all Home Distribution Panels are created Equal. A properly installed Home Distribution system should provide enough space and wiring to accommodate future upgrades in technology. While a basic LAN will provide an avenue for many added feature, it is not the be all and end all. The infrastructure needs to be properly thought out and planned.

I have also included another picture of a different take-over. This particular "Home Distribution System" has enough wires for a small factory, however, the factory seems to be abandoned. We since cleaned up the system as much as possible and false alarms have been eliminated.

 

 

New Breed Medical Alert System

If you are anywhere close to my age, you probably remember those "I've fallen and I can't get up" commercials. Nowadays, it seems commercials for Medical Alert Systems are everywhere. Even the drug stores have stand-up displays for pay by the month medical alert systems.

The problem with these medical Alert systems, and the main reason I have not gotten into marketing them, until now, is the Two-Way-Voice portion has been... well kinda useless for the average home. You see, at the heart of every Medical Alert System is a base station. This is the main box, which usually sits next to the telephone, in the living room or in the bedroom, contains the speaker and microphone. So, when you press your wireless panic button, a live two way voice channel is opened up between you and the Central Monitoring Station. The thing is, that communication ends at the base station. So, if you are in the living room, bedroom or wherever the base station is located. You can communicate with the operator.

What if you are in the backyard? Well, in the case of the "Old Style" Medical Alert System, you will not be able to verbally communicate with the Monitoring Station Operator. As a result, important response information may be missed.

Not the case with the Life Sentry Medical Alert System. You see, the panic transmitter also contains the microphone and speaker. Now you can communicate with the KeepSafe Systems Monitoring Station operator, wherever you are within the reach of the Wireless signal to the base station. Much like a cordless phone, but smaller and easy to use in the case of an emergency.

Contact KeepSafe Systems at 604-874-8772 or 877-888-8772 for more information on this product.

 

Home Made Alarm System

A friend and neighbour of my Mom and Dad just sent me this joke this morning and I thought I would share it. Thanks Elli :)

HOW TO INSTALL A HOME SECURITY SYSTEM

1. Go to a second hand store and buy a pair of men's used size 14-16 work boots. 
2. Place them on your front porch, along with a copy of  Guns & Ammo MAGAZINE_. 
3. Put a few giant  dog dishes next to the boots and magazines. 
4. LEAVE A NOTE ON YOUR DOOR THAT READS: 
"Bubba, 
Bertha, Duke, Slim, & I went for more ammo and beer.  Be back in an hour. Don't 
mess with the pit  bulls; they attacked the mailman this morning and messed him 
up bad.  I don't think Killer took part, but it was hard to tell from all the 
blood.  Anyway, I  locked all four of 'em in the house. 
Better wait outside.  Be right back. 
Cooter"

Fact of the matter is, a little but of deterrent can go a long way in keeping your home or business safe, something which I touched on in my much reposted article "Protection 101" I wrote when I started KeepSafe Systems back in 2007. The way I look at it, you can have the most state of the art electronic security system available but if you make life easy for the would be criminal... I think you get my point. I hope this post added a little humour to a normally non-fun topic.

Monitoring More than Just the Bad Guys

It comes as a surprise to many of my clients that we are able to monitor more than just Intrusion and Fire. In fact, if it has a switch or detector, we can monitor it.

Take, for example, a sump pump; Many sump pumps have dry contact outputs which enable you to connect a buzzer to the sump to alert you in the case of failure. Ask anyone who has had a sump pump fail on them how much damage the rising water caused to their basement.

So they have a buzzer, that is great if you are home to hear it. In fact, most of these sump pump buzzers are located in the basement with the sump. So what if you have a large house and cannot hear the sump pump alarm, or even worse, if you are away on vacation when the sump fails? No worries, at KeepSafe Systems, we can connect the failure contacts on your sump pump to the security alarm. So now, if your sump pump fails our 24 hour monitoring station is there to let you or the people on your call list know... wherever you may be in the world.

OK, so now we have covered sump pump monitoring, what about the hot water tank? I'm sure most people have experienced at least one hot water tank burst in their lifetime... I know I have. It is not a pretty sight when a hot water tank bursts, if you are lucky, the leakage will be maintained to the drip pan and find its' way out the drain. Unfortunately, there are those cases where the leak is so bad the basement gets flooded. The damage can be even worse if the hot water tank is on the second floor.

The solution? a simple $20 sensor which monitors  for water. Yes, for a simple 20 bucks plus whatever it takes to connect the sensor to your alarm panel you can be rest assured our 24 hour monitoring station staff will know if there is a water leak around the water sensor. If you really want to get fancy, many panels will even enable you to activate an electronic water shut-off valve to limit the damage of the water. - Just like turning off the water main. What's more, all this protection is backed up by the alarm systems' back up battery supply, so even in the case of a short power failure, you are still protected.

So KeepSafe Systems can monitor your home or business for water, maybe you have other concerns. Since KeepSafe Systems offers a more customized approach to security alarm systems, some of our clients have come to us with some very interesting and unique area's and conditions to monitor. In addition to the obvious, Burglary, Fire, Smoke, and water, the simple installation of the appropriate sensor enables the KeepSafe Systems 24 hour security alarm monitoring station to monitor your home or business for high and low temperature (This is perfect for coolers, freezers, vacation homes, chicken farms, or in our case The KeepSafe Systems Chinchilla Family Mascots.) For those conditions which require either a dry or humid environment, there is also humidity sensors available to connect to your security alarm system. This is perfect for the cigar aficionado or the consummate wine collector.

So the long and short of it is, if there is a sensor or dry contact output, KeepSafe Systems can connect it to your home or business security system enabling you to rest easy in know our 24 hours security alarm station monitoring staff is on the job monitoring your most prized and valuable possessions from both criminal and environmental threats.

 

Credit Cards

I was speaking with a client yesterday and she had brought up a recent incident she had at a local department store. It isn't really related to anything I do, however I thought it should be mentioned as it does relate to security and identity theft.

She bought some items and one of them was rung up incorrectly ($99 instead of $ 9.99) Honest mistake, I would hope. After abit of confusion the transaction was fixed.

On her way away from the till, she decided to check for her Credit Card. realizing it was not in her wallet, she asked the clerk if she had left it behind. The Clerk insisted she had given my client back her credit card.

Of course, knowing she had just used the card, my client continued to search for the missing credit card at the checkout. After a few minutes of searching, the teller said. Oh, hold on, I must have "Accidentally" put it in my pocket.

I don't know about you, but I have worked retail, and I deal with retail businesses on a daily basis. There is no reason anyone behind the til would "Accidentally" put anything in their pocket. Oh did she accidentally slip the 100 bucks cash from the next customer in her pocket?

To add to the suspicion, this particular client has a very common surname. In the world of Credit Card theft, common name cards are very valuable.