SP&T News Features KeepSafe Systems
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"
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.
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.
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.