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Video Surveillance Troubleshooting

Problems that may arise with security camera systems are sometimes related to powering issues or even factory defects. However, more often than not, these problems are usually attributed to improper cabling and connections, which boils down to the installation.

Prior to security camera system installation, technicians must be mindful of the features, functions, and especially the limitations of the actual hardware. While all installations are different, an understanding of the specific system and the customer’s expectation is crucial for a quality job.

Here are some common installation problems you may come across along with helpful trouble shooting tips.

Rolling Lines On The Screen
Whether they are white or multi-colored, these rolling lines or ghosting over the camera’s video are often caused by video cables that run close to high-voltage power sources.

To prevent this, cameras should be tested at another location prior to installation in order to eliminate any hardware defects as a cause to any future issues. Also, keep wires away from sources that supply high-voltage electrical charges at any point of the run. Improperly grounded electrical circuits can also cause video disturbances, which is why high quality camera cables are crucial.

Infrared Glare/”White Out”
The most common causes of IR glare are reflective surfaces and large, lightly colored areas. “White out” (unrecognizable white silhouettes on screen) is often caused by objects that are too close to the camera. Also, if you install infrared security cameras under eaves, the beams of the IR LEDs may hit parts of the structure and bounce back, causing the reflection to blind the camera.

To combat these potential problems, install your cameras in areas clear of any objects that may cause glare or obstruct the camera’s view. Also, be sure that the user keeps these areas clear (at least three feet). You should also test daytime and low-light conditions before completing installation. Cameras with “Smart IRs” that have dynamic IR strengths can help to alleviate these problems as well and ensure high-quality night time images.

IR Cameras Unable To See In The Dark
In order to employ IR cameras properly, a surface is necessary for the IP light beams to bounce off. For example, when you point a flashlight into the night sky it remains dark because there is nothing allowing the light beams to bounce back.

Choose cameras that have sufficient IR distance capabilities. During installation, point the cameras at an angle facing a surface (ex. ground, wall) and test them under low-light conditions before proceeding.

Extreme Glare During Daylight
If your property has lots of glass doors and windows, you may have an issue with extreme glare. Glare from the sun does not mix well with security cameras, which means a special alternative is necessary.

In these situations, you want to invest in cameras with mechanical Wide Dynamic Range (WDR). These are designed to prevail in extreme lighting conditions. While “digital WDR” does it exist and can be helpful in these situations, it does not work as well as true, mechanical WDR.

Insufficient Power Causing Cameras To Drop Out
Without the proper power source, security cameras will not perform properly, causing them to drop out or lose power. While spec sheets may specify the camera’s power needs, they may not factor in the added power necessary for IR/low-light applications. For example, the system may work fine during the day, but drop out at night when the IR kicks in.

It is advised that you use a power supply which supports twice the voltage requirements of all your cameras combined.

When it comes to power, distance may play a role as well. Voltage drops can occur due to poor quality cables and long distances. To avoid this issue, AC voltage is recommended for runs greater than 250ft.

Inadequate Coverage
With great features and functions come limitations as well. For maximum coverage of your property, first map out your installation to identify areas that need surveillance. Based on the locations, you can determine which specific features you need for certain areas. For example, focal lengths and angles of view should be considered (longer lenses for closer view, shorter lenses for wide-angle shots). In general, license plate cameras should be installed no more than five feet from vehicles and valuable points of interest (such as cash registers, entrances and exits) should have a camera dedicated solely to monitoring that area.

Have you come across any issues not mentioned here? How did you resolve it? Share your stories and advice with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Choose SecurityCamExpert.com for quality security cameras along with professional installation and support services. Visit us online or call 888-203-6294 to learn more!

Building A Smart Home

Smart Homes have quickly transitioned from a novelty idea to reality. With more smart products on the market than ever before, most consumers are investing in this new technology to keep their homes and loved ones safe.

If you are considering transforming your living space into a smart home, you may want to start slowly as the process can be quite overwhelming. Follow these steps to ease your way into turning your smart home dream into reality.

Pick A Room
Your first step should be choosing one room. As with any process, it is easier to break your ultimate goal down into smaller steps, making the project a little less intimidating. By tackling one room at a time, you are allowing yourself the ability to see what works best for you and perfecting it before moving on.

Room Inspiration
Let the room guide you toward which function you should attempt to automate first. For example, in a living room, you could begin with a smart speaker, or in a bedroom, maybe begin with lighting. What automated function would be most convenient or the top priority for you?

Solve A Problem
For a smart home that really serves a purpose, try solving a problem within your home. Is there an aspect in your daily life that could be improved with automation? For example, a smart garage door opener can provide keyless entry for your kids and can alert you when the door has mistakenly been left open. By tackling these problems, you create smart solutions that truly benefit you.

Smart Solutions
Let your smart devices provide smart solutions. If you’re worried about home security, use security cameras with motion sensors and push notifications, or invest in a smart lock in case of forgotten or lost keys. Home automation should help put your worries at ease.

Pick A Product
Once you’ve decided on a function you would like to automate, you need to pick a product. Don’t just choose one based on hearsay, choose a product you find will benefit your smart home.

If your budget limits you to one product, experts recommend starting with a smart speaker. This will give you a sense of how to interact with smart devices as well as set the tone for the ecosystem that controls your entire smart home.

Starter Pack
What would make your transition to a smart home even easier? A starter pack filled with the essentials. Amazon and Nest smart home products are compatible with a wide range of other smart home products and devices (they will often be marked clearly with which system they are compatible with), allowing you to build from there.

Do you have a smart home? Share your tips, tricks and advice with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

For home and business security solutions, visit SecurityCamExpert.com. To learn more about our products, inquire about installation services, or request a free* site survey, please call 888-203-6294.

Prevent Home Accidents

When it comes to home safety, it is easy to overlook some potential hazards which can cause serious and sometimes fatal accidents. Luckily, some of these can be prevented with simple and relatively cost-effective measures. Take action and prevent these mishaps with these tips.

Alarms
With the surprising number of deaths resulting from fires in homes/buildings with absent or non-functioning smoke alarms (an average of 1450 deaths from 2009-2013), please make sure that you have working smoke alarms on every level of your home (including the attic and the basement).

To ensure that all fires are detected, invest in one which utilizes both a photoelectric sensor for smoldering fires, and an ionization sensor for fast-flaming fires. Those alarms with an ionization sensor should be kept away from the kitchen and baths. Also, invest in interconnected alarms so that if a fire starts in one area of your home, the entire home is alerted.

If your house has a gas dryer, range, other fuel burning equipment, or an attached garage, it is advised to install a carbon monoxide (CO) alarm. These should be present on each living level, as well as in the basement and near the garage (follow manufacturer’s instructions on placement).

Test your alarms at least monthly, and vacuum them to prevent dust from interfering with their sensors every so often. Follow the guidelines on when to replace batteries and the devices themselves based on life expectancy of sensors.

Trips & Falls
Did you know that every year, more than 10,000 people die after falling at home? Even more sustain injuries. We all can be a little clumsy sometimes, but there are ways to prevent these types of accidents in your home.

Make sure that your furniture is arranged in a way that does not disrupt your typical routine (ex. a clear path between your bed and your bedroom door). Keep any pet bowls and electrical cords along the walls rather than across any pathways. Avoid storing piles of paper on the ground, and eliminate any throw rugs as they may skid. If you decide to keep the throw rug, use carpet tacks or double-sided carpet tape to keep it in place. In the bath tub, consider installing a rubber mat or non slip strips and grab bars. Lastly, if you’re remodeling, you may want to choose anti-slip flooring material whenever possible.

Burns
According to the National Safety Council, an estimated 486,000 people were treated for burn injuries (many were children) in the United States in 2011. While lowering the maximum temperature on your water heater to 120°F can help prevent scalds, it also provides an ideal environment for opportunistic bacteria to breed.

Instead, set domestic water heaters to 140°F and employ anti-scald devices at each faucet. For example, thermostatic mixing valves mix hot and cold water to a safe temperature before sending through the faucet. These have become increasingly common in new homes and are often built in to newer fixtures. A licensed plumber can examine your system and install them as needed, or you can save money by installing a single anti-scald valve for your entire house.

Do you have any other home safety tips to share? Connect with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Secure your home with our quality security camera systems today! Browse online at SecurityCamExpert.com or call 888-203-6294 to schedule a site survey or learn more about our products and installation services.

California Surveillance Laws

When it comes to surveillance, there is a fine line between privacy and public safety. Because of this, surveillance laws are often scrutinized by both sides. A new bill was introduced at the end of 2016 which requires any local law enforcement agency in California that uses surveillance technology to submit a plan to local officials on how it uses equipment and information collected. This would need to include surveillance plans for any facial recognition software, drones, and even social media monitoring, and would be presented at an open hearing.

While this disclosure from law enforcement may put some worries at ease, others may want more. Privacy advocates believe that this is still not enough to cover spying equipment and technology that is continuing to evolve and expand. On the other side, law enforcement officials argue that creating plans and policies for each device may be unfeasible and interfere with investigations.

But state Senator Jerry Hill (D-San Mateo) says that it was introduced “to create transparency and a check and balance.” Without regulations on these devices and technology, they can easily be abused and infringe on our privacy rights.

With fairly comprehensive digital privacy laws, California has been actively working toward disclosure when it comes to law enforcement surveillance. State laws require a probable cause warrant for access to digital content and devices (ex. cell phones) and law enforcement must catalog information and make it publicly available.

The new bill gives agencies until July 1, 2018 to draft policies detailing all the types of surveillance technology used and the authorized reasons for using them, along with the types of data collected, who can access them, and a description of their training. It also prohibits an agency from acquiring new technology unless approved by local officials at a regularly scheduled public meeting.

Last year, two surveillance laws went into effect, one of which requires to draft and publicly post privacy and usage policies for operating automated license-plate recognition software. The other requires the same for the use of cell-site simulators (“Stingrays” or “Dirtboxes”). These are powerful tracking devices that function as fake cellphone towers to collect information. However, their ability to collect information from innocent people not under investigation has sparked outrage and court battles.

Despite current surveillance laws, privacy advocates believe that not all agencies are complying and that not enough is being done to ensure that they do. To evade the disclosure requirements, agencies could borrow technology from other federal agencies, which is not subject to state law.

In an effort to check compliance, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other nonprofits and watchdog groups searched through numerous California government websites to make sure surveillance policies were posted. While many were easily located, policies for at least 90 agencies (which, based on public records, were believed to use surveillance technology) could not be found. Since this task in April 2016, more agencies have posted their policies online.

While the new bill is meant to be inclusive and comprehensive, concerns remain. Some worry that criminals may figure out how they are being tracked, others bring up issues of time sensitivity when it comes to buying or borrowing new technology, and privacy advocates are still skeptical about the cost, risks, and enforcement.

There are obviously mixed feelings about this new bill, and other surveillance laws. What are your views? Share your thoughts and opinions with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Keep an eye on your home or business with quality CCTV surveillance systems. Find a great selection at SecurityCamExpert.com or call 888-203-6294 to speak with a representative.

2017 Video Surveillance Trends

We have seen the video surveillance industry change over the years. With improvements in quality and accessibility, surveillance camera popularity among businesses and consumers has grown.  As we embark on this New Year, we look ahead to what new surveillance trends are on the horizon.

Developments
According to industry experts, aside from working on image quality and cost-efficiency, we will see an increasing focus on software developments. Things like built-in intelligence, deep learning, and other advances in video management are sure to surface this year.

New vendors and product lines with new configurations are likely to emerge this year as well, expanding upon multi-sensor and multi-directional cameras. The advanced technologies will soon make their way to the market for home and private use, forcing others to provide alternate offerings.

Managed services and moving toward cloud computing will rise in demand. By utilizing managed services and the cloud, businesses can manage their cyber security risk by employing companies whose sole purpose is to maintain data security. This will then force manufacturers to provide end-users with more network-based solutions.

Cyber Security
With cyber security issues with surveillance cameras and devices making headlines last year, it has become a more prominent concern. This negative attention can drive down demand, which means manufacturers must address this issue immediately and proactively.

Things that will be considered include rigorous testing of products, increasing end-user and integrator education on how to use the system as well as a best practices guide. Firmware must be updated quickly and often, especially when new vulnerabilities are found.

Overall, cyber security must be approached as a team effort. Manufacturers should take all considerations into account when building and designing hardware and software, as well as strengthen password requirements and incorporate strong data encryption, and take lead when educating users and the industry of potential risks. In the same vein, customers should know what is insecure and how to best protect themselves for attacks.

Competition
Competition will be high throughout the year. Most manufacturers are working to improve image quality, frame rate, and low-light performance to please the consumer demand. As features and functions progress, so will the surveillance industry as a whole. Bottom line for customers is that they will be looking for the best solution with the best total cost of ownership.

What other trends do you foresee for 2017? Share with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

Shop our affordable selection of CCTV surveillance cameras and equipment online at SecurityCamExpert.com. To inquire about site surveys or installation services, please call 888-203-6294.

Happy New Year From SecurityCamExpert.com!

It’s been another great year providing you with the quality security cameras and surveillance systems you deserve. We have had the great pleasure of serving our fine customers, both old and new, and look forward to continuing this into the New Year.

What were your greatest achievements of 2016? What do you look forward to the most for 2017? Share with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

As a friendly reminder, we will be closed on Monday, January 2, 2017. We appreciate your understanding, and from everyone at SecurityCamExpert.com, we wish you a happy and prosperous 2017!

SecurityCamExpert.com Sends Warm Wishes For The Holiday Season!

The holiday season is here and everyone at SecurityCamExpert.com is grateful for another year filled with your loyalty and support. We value each and every one of you, which is why we are always working hard to provide you with the quality products and service you deserve.

As a reminder, we will be closed on Monday, December 26, 2016, in observance of the Christmas holiday. Our normal business hours will resume on Tuesday, December 27, 2016. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your understanding.

From the SecurityCamExpert.com family to yours, we wish you a happy and safe holiday season!

Residential Security Tips

Concerns about the security of your home and loved ones can be especially high during the holidays. With increased risk of thefts and burglaries, it is important to employ the proper security methods to put your mind at ease. Here are a few ways you can secure your home and protect your assets.

  • Perform an all-hazards residential risk assessment.

By completing this assessment, you can recognize any threats that may not be detected by even the best alarm system. Some things to consider include who may have access to your home, how prepared you are for a natural disaster or civil emergency, and whether there is any online or public record information that could possibly compromise your security.

  • Install a customized home security system and use it.

A home security system, complete with a backup power source, is a crucial component to protect your property. If you own any vacation homes, be sure to secure and monitor those as well.

If a security system came with your home, you may need to reevaluate how it suits your needs. If needed, invest in upgrades or a whole new system. Assess your risk points and go from there, but be sure that it is user-friendly as well, so that your family members can access and easily operate it.

Annual follow-ups with your security provider are recommended. Update contacts, information and make any adjustments as necessary.

  • Develop and practice an emergency response plan.

You should be prepared for a variety of emergency situations. While most commonly associated with natural disasters, emergency plans can also be implemented for other situations, such as home invasion, storm evacuations, and other crises.

In case of emergency, be sure to have secure locks and the proper emergency supplies. In the event of your home security being compromised, you should have a rapid response plan. Prepare a “grab-and-go” packed with essentials, including communication tools and meeting information.

Aside from having these plans in place, you will want to rehearse with all family members so that they know and understand their role in keeping everyone safe. Try to practice these at least once a year so that the appropriate steps stay fresh in their minds.

  • Know who has access to your homes and properties.

Your biggest threat could be someone you know, who knows your residence and schedule. These people can include domestic staff such as housekeepers or child care providers. Be sure to follow best practices before hiring home employees.

Prescreening
For prospective domestic employees, be sure to do a professional background check – do not rely on a simple Google search. Ask trusted friends or an attorney to recommend a private investigator or third-party service that can pull up critical information using the candidate’s name and date of birth. If you are using a placement agency, be sure their background checks are comprehensive and legitimate.

When hiring, include a pre-employment application which authorizes criminal and credit checks, and always check references and conduct in-person interviews with potential candidates.

Employment Agreements
Firm employment agreements are important and can protect your security during (and after) a domestic employee’s service. Work with an attorney to draft a secure contract that encompasses, and include the following:

  • Nondisclosure language
  • Clear terms and expectations (including restrictions)
  • Provisions for transportation and expenses (use of car, credit card, phone, computer)
  • Provisions for periodic re-screening of credit and criminal records
  • Reasons and provisions for termination of employment

While there’s no obligation, be prepared to provide severance pay upon departure of a terminated employee. Thoughtful treatment at termination can go a long way toward preventing a disgruntled former employee from retribution.

Restrict Access To Bank Accounts
Despite the fact that most domestic employees often need money for home-related expenses, you should never give an employee your personal ATM car or password. Use a separate account for household expenses and designate the employee as an authorized cardholder, or consider using prepaid debit cards, which can put a limit to the amount spent. Both options allow limited access to your personal accounts while allowing you to track spending.

Contractors
Remember that anyone who has access to your property can present a security risk. This includes any building contractors, landscapers, electricians, and the like. Before proceeding with any services, speak with the principal of the company and find out if they are licensed and insured, whether they do background credit and criminal checks and periodic drug testing on employees, and ask for a roster of people who will be at the property on a regular basis. If any information seems questionable to you, look for services elsewhere.

  • Manage your public presence.

Despite your efforts to keep your personal information private, there is information about you that is publicly available. One piece of information about you may seem harmless, but when it is combined with other public information, it can be used to gain insight about you (ex. income, properties) which may attract criminals. Luckily, there are ways you can control your public presence.

Responsible Online Behavior
Enlisting an online security consultant should be the first step. They will evaluate your public “footprint” by doing a thorough search of the Internet and present you with the results. From there, you can work together to assess and manage any and all threats. Ensure that the whole family is on board, especially children who are active on social media. Everyone should understand how to engage in responsible online behavior.

Public Institutions, Private Information
Beware of whom you share your information. Your information can still end up online through reputable third parties (ex. charities, schools, civic groups).  These public entities often mean well, but most lack strict cyber security systems and protocols to keep your information secure.

If you are going to make a major donation or real estate purchase, use a trust account to protect your identity and any other sensitive information associated with it. Choose a trust name that is different from the family name and associate it with a nonresidential address such as a P.O. Box.

Inadvertent Footprint
Commercial and public sites can reveal details about your home you would rather keep private. For example, your realtor’s website may still contain photos of your home long after the close of the sale, while other sites may list pricing history of your property. Most of these sites will remove your information per request. You may want to discuss these issues with your real estate agent as they may have more insight on how to keep your information private.

While it is not ideal to think about the possibilities of something going wrong, it is beneficial to be prepared. Aside for the aforementioned measures, what else do you do to ensure your security? Share with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

To invest in quality CCTV surveillance cameras and security systems for your home, please visit SecurityCamExpert.com or call 1-888-203-6294. Inquire about a free quote, site survey or our installation services.

Beware Of Holiday Scams

While the holidays are a great time for deals, it is also a prime time for scams and fraud. To avoid falling victim to these deceptive offers, watch out for these common tricks.

Unfamiliar Sites Offering Steep Discounts
If you come across any of these, proceed with caution. Often times, these websites promise incredible deals on brand names or gift cards as a bonus for purchasing a product, but they don’t deliver. You submit your payment, but never receive your order, and there’s no way to contact the business. You are left giving away money, personal information, and potentially compromising your identity. In addition, you should always be careful with unsolicited emails promoting these too-good-to-be-true deals, which usually contain phishing links that put your information at risk.

And if you’re shopping online, never wire money for a purchase. Once a money transfer is received, it cannot be recovered. Also, be sure you are shopping on secure sites and use two-factor authentication and complex passwords for customer accounts. While online shopping and checking out, make sure that the URL remains at the same domain. If it changes, this may be a sign that you are being redirected to a fraudulent site. Bottom line: Err on the side of caution and stick with known retailers and manufacturers.

Fake Charities
During the holiday season, generosity is usually high and charities often reap these benefits. Scammers tend to prey on the kindness of others by creating fake charities or misusing the names of well-known charities.

Before you donate, do some research and verify that the charity and web address are valid. Also, use a check or credit card, rather than a wire transfer or cash, when you donate. In case the charity is fraudulent, it would be easier to recover your donation if a check or credit card was used.

Seasonal Employment Scams
Seasonal employment allows for workers to make some extra cash during the holidays. Scammers see this as an opportunity to offer fake jobs that require prospective employees to pay for “training” or a “start-up kit.” Consider these red flags, as well as job listings that state “no experience necessary” and “work from home” (especially if they are used in the same post).

Social Media Mishaps
Social media can be risky in many ways. Scammers may use social media to post deceptive links to install malware or viruses on computers. To cut down on your susceptibility to this, avoid accepting friend requests from people you don’t know well and refrain from clicking on suspicious posts.

You can also make yourself an easy target by sharing too much information on social media. You may enjoy checking in and posting your location on your profile, however, this can give thieves an upper hand by inadvertently promoting the fact that your home is vacant. Avoid posting concert tickets and trip accommodations as well, since they can be printed and sold to someone else. Tip: If you must share your tickets on social media, refrain from sharing the barcode and event date.

Smartphone App Scams
Be careful when downloading apps. Apps disguised as games and offered for free can be used to steal personal information from your device. Look for third-party reviews before downloading from an unknown source, and if anything seems suspicious, skip it.

Do you have any other advice or tips on avoiding holiday scams? Share with us on Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

To protect your home with quality CCTV security cameras and surveillance equipment, visit SecurityCamExpert.com. We also offer site surveys and installation services – call 1-888-203-6294 to learn more.

Package Theft Prevention Tips

Both convenient and easily accessible, online shopping has become a preferred method of shopping for most. The number of consumers who shop online only grows during the holiday season. The downside is that package thefts also tend to increase during the holidays. Protect your possessions with these smart delivery tips.

Require A Signature
Choose this option whenever it is available. If your package requires a signature and no one is home, the package cannot be left at your doorstep, thus, eliminating the risk of someone snatching your package.

Use Shipping Locations For Delivery
If you have a secondary mailbox at a shipping location, you can usually have your packages dropped off here for free. That way, your package will be waiting for you at a secure location.

Flaunt Your Home Security System
Install signs to make others aware that you have a security system. This poses an added challenge and will likely deter most thieves from targeting you. If someone does approach, you can enable push notifications and will have pertinent footage to capture the suspect.

Sign Up For Email Notifications
FedEx and UPS, along with other businesses including Amazon, send email notifications for tracking. This allows you to virtually monitor your package from shipment to delivery.

Deliver To Your Place Of Business
Before doing this, make sure that management approves. If they do, this will ensure that you are able to receive your package rather than leaving it at your front door all day.

Lastly, if you are shipping a package to a friend or relative, include a piece of paper with your address and the destination address inside the box. In case the shipping label is damaged or missing on the package, FedEx or UPS can open the package, find the address, and ship it.

Do you have any other delivery tips for your peers? Share with us on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Monitor your front door and your home property with our quality CCTV surveillance systems. Find affordable prices and great service when you shop SecurityCamExpert.com.

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