Frequently Asked Questions

Alarm Systems

Video Cameras

Electronic Access Control

Do I need a phone line for my alarm system?
No, you don’t need a land-line phone. For many years that was the case, but the most secure and reliable way for your alarm to communicate with our central station is through a dedicated high-speed wireless cellular connection. These systems check in more frequently, cannot be cut from outside the home or business, and do not rely on utility companies to maintain them.
What's better, a hardwired or wireless alarm system?   
Hardwired is the preferred method if possible, the aesthetics and elimination of batteries are a value for some people, despite the additional investment. Modern wireless technology provides similar performance and reliability from hardwired, so it is a good alternative when hardwired is not an option or price prohibitive. Most wireless systems offer 3-5 year battery life and although the sensors cannot be hidden as well as hardwired, there are options to reduce their aesthetic impact. 
What are the most common options added to an alarm system?
Peace of mind is best put in place using layers, not just relying on a single element like an alarm system. For that reason, the most common options that are added to an alarm are:

Video Doorbell: Records video and audio to the cloud via Motion or Doorbell Activation
Monitored Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detectors: Notify the authorities immediately when fire or CO is detected, potentially saving lives and property especially when you are asleep or away.
Monitored Flood/Water Sensors: Although not associated with burglary or life/safety, flood and water damage are among the most common instances of property damage. Monitored sensors can give you early warning and even shut off the water in your absence.
What Smart Home/Business features can work with my alarm system? 
Many Smart Home and Business features can be added to provide remote access to manage, schedule, and automate various systems to save energy and add convenience and security. The best part is, they can all be controlled within a single-app that includes configurable notifications.  

Thermostats, Irrigation/Sprinkler controllers, Electronic Door Locks, Water Sensing and Auto-Shutoff, Indoor and Outdoor Lighting, Garage Doors and Gates
Where do you place motion sensors for the best coverage?  
Large common areas are the most popular because they provide greater coverage. We also look for areas of the property that bridge spaces that would be of security concern, covering more area with fewer devices. Master Bedrooms, Manager’s offices, and other rooms with higher security concerns are important if they can be entered from non-protected areas or the outside.

What happens if the power goes out or is cut?  
All of our alarm systems have backup batteries and depending on the system and usage they can provide up to 6-12 hours or more of standby battery life.
Where is the video camera footage stored?
For many years it has been stored on devices called Digital Video Recorders (DVRs) or Network Video Recorders (NVRs), installed somewhere onsite. In the past decade there has been a move to cloud recording because it is less likely to get compromised, allows simple and secure remote viewing, and supports ongoing feature and cyber security upgrades. Today, all of the systems we provide are managed from the cloud and record locally or in the cloud exclusively.
When will my video cameras be recording? 
Every camera system varies in the extent of it’s recording options, and with modern camera analytics they are getting very good at reducing false-positives. Here are a few common ways cameras are set to record:

Alarm Events: Cameras can be set to record to the cloud during a burglary or alarm event, nearly eliminating the possibility of the footage being compromised.
Motion: This is the most common setting for camera systems, and each one varies in how usable the motion settings features are. At its most basic function the camera records whenever there is motion in the scene. More sophisticated options for motion recording allow near infinite customization of the motion sense areas, sensitivity and object size.
Analytics: Analytics define very specific events that the camera system will look out for and respond to. This is a growing area of innovation where simple things like fence jumping, line cross, loitering, and people counting has grown into facial recognition, thermal sensing, and many other options. Analytics are the best way to make a camera system intelligent enough to capture what is intended and reduce the false positives that motion sensing alone can create.
24/7 recording: This is among the least popular options but is good for specific situations. The main challenge with 24/7 recording is finding the moments of interest among lots and lots of video.
Can cameras be stolen, damaged, or vandalized?  
If someone wants something bad enough it will be done, however, in most cases we follow these best practices to eliminate the threats:

Dome vs. Bullet vs. Turret: Some camera styles and types lend more to protecting against threats of damage, vandalism, or theft. A vandal-proof dome camera for example can be hit with a sledge hammer and continue to be fully functional. Bullet and Turret cameras provide other benefits but are not as protected against threats.
Installation considerations: How the cameras are installed can provide additional protection, including specific mounts, protecting the wires, security screws, and other methods.
Placement considerations: The height and location of the camera can deter would-be vandals, along with ensuring cameras cannot be compromised from the side or behind without another camera providing coverage.
Cloud recording: Recording to the cloud can help to provide footage in the case of theft, vandalism, or damage because you would have record of the incident in the cloud.
What happens if the power goes out or is cut?  
We recommend all camera hardware and power supplies to be connected to backup battery systems, commonly called UPS battery backup. These vary in size and capability and would be able to power the system in case of a power outage.
What happens if the internet goes down? 
Most of our cloud-based camera systems buffer video locally before sending to the cloud, so they will continue to record and once the internet is restored the video will be sent to the cloud. The entry-level cloud recorded cameras have a local recording option, but in absence of that option they are rendered useless when the internet goes down. This is something to consider for the best protection.
What are my options for unlocking doors with access control? 
The most common option for Electronic Access Control has been a keycard or keyfob, but that is rapidly changing. Additional options for secure access including mobile apps, numeric keypad, bluetooth, and biometrics (face, fingerprint, etc).
How will I know who is coming and going through a secured door? 
Our cloud-based Access Control systems offer a simple online management website that can be accessed from anywhere at any time, with varied levels of users. This portal can provide real-time views of what’s happening, along with strong reporting capabilities and email/mobile notifications. When integrated with a compatible video camera system, access events can automatically be associated with a video clip of that moment.
Can I remotely lock down a building during an emergency? 
This is one of many major benefits of a cyber secure cloud-based system, you can lock down the property from the web portal and/or mobile app for those property-wide or building-specific threats.
What happens to my system and doors if we lose power?
The included battery backup will kick in and keep the access control and lock system operational for a period of time that is based on usage and size of battery installed, typically 4-6 hours or more of normal activity. 
What happens to my cloud-based Access Control system if the internet goes down?
During an internet disruption, your system will run locally based on the last user update. When the internet is restored, events will update to the cloud account and any user changes made will be updated at that time.
Is the cloud secure?
A properly installed and cloud-connected system is generally more secure than most premise based systems. This is because cloud-connected systems are regularly being tested, monitored, and patched with the latest cyber security best practices. Brivo is our preferred provider for enterprise access control, and has continuously applied networking and application security best practices to our cloud-based access control system. More than ten years of SOC audits underscore Brivo’s commitment to protecting customer privacy and data security.
What do the monthly subscription services include and cover?  
SaaS (Software as a Service) uses a software “on-demand” approach as opposed to the old way of paying upfront for an entire software suite. Instead of paying for software components you may not need, the SaaS model allows you to decide what you want to use and subscribe to in order to protect your facility. Benefits include system flexibility and scalability, mobile conveniences, instant access to data and integrations with other systems you use every day. You also have easier access to technical support, reliable system maintenance and can minimize IT and server-related costs. See our white paper Top 6 Benefits of Cloud-Based Access Control for more information:
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