Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Standalone DVR Myth

The Standalone DVR MythA few days ago I took a call from a nice fellow with the Secretary of State’s office from one of my favorite, but unnamed, western states. To my surprise the caller had an amazing application for a security camera system. Each system was to be a four camera setup with a limited but critical need to save video at certain times of the year. The project called for each county in the state to have one security camera system of this type and a quote was needed immediately for a high level meeting the next day.

I explained to the caller that our primary security camera system was a PC based solution using a combination of Dell systems matched with the GeoVision DVR card and software that we preinstall. I explained the benefits of a PC based system and it appeared to be a perfect fit for the application. Making the fit even more complete was that our PC based DVR’s, being ready to go out of the box, could easily be installed by the state’s IT staff present at each county office needing the equipment. Again during the entire call, as I was explaining that a PC based solution using Windows XP Pro offered an amazing variety of remote access options for both the local offices and my caller, whose office is in the state’s capitol, everything appeared to be a perfect fit. From iPhone/Blackberry remote viewing to the fact that this system was as secure, if not more so, than any PC in use by the state now the conversation went wonderfully and ended with a request for a quote ASAP.

As luck would have it, this fine state had a little e-mail problem that day and not a single e-mail I sent with the quote went through. I tried sending the quote from my office account, my Yahoo account, my Gmail account, all to no avail. Any message I sent from any mail service with even a single PDF attachment was being blocked do to what was at the time an unknown problem with the state’s e-mail. Finally, around 7:00 PM Eastern I sent the quote as text only in an e-mail from my main office account and the caller was very grateful that at least he had the numbers for his meeting the next day.

By the next morning the problem with state’s e-mail service had been corrected and every vendor who had reported the same issue the day before was now able to sent attachments with no problems.

But to get to the “Myth” I mentioned in the title: My afternoon follow-up call the next day took an unexpected turn when the nice fellow from the Secretary of State’s office used the term “Standalone DVR”. Not being able to keep quiet I politely mentioned that that term was used to describe non PC based DVR solutions and I described them as a set top box more like the DVR unit you might have at home from Direct TV or your cable company. To my surprise I received the reply: “Yes, exactly, that’s what we want!” . I was beside myself. I instantly thought of our talks the day before, I thought of the time spent explaining the benefits of a PC based solution to which every tidbit of feedback from the caller was positive. I recalled working late from home to make sure the caller had the quote in time for his meeting.... and now I am told they want a standalone solution?

Of course, I had to ask what features of the standalone product the caller was interested in? Was it the myth of the lower price? (Which, as I explained, is only realized when looking at the absolute lowest end of the standalone product line.) Was it the myth of ease of use? (And I would agree with this if you think it’s easier to navigate a cell phone menu using only 4 directional arrow buttons than it is to use a mouse and a keyboard.) But before I could go any further the nice fellow from the Secretary of State’s office interrupted and said “No it’s just that we don’t need all those features of a PC bases DVR and we don’t want anything that can get a virus or be hacked into.” And there you have it right there at the end of that statement. The great myth that makes perfectly intelligent people drop about 100 points off their IQ in seconds.

Though, I did not get into this at the time, it’s worth mentioning the absurdity of this belief. For starters, and of course correct me if I am wrong, but I’m thinking that every critical application of any business or government agency in the last 15 years is run on a computer. The belief that computers should be avoided because they can get a virus or be hacked would not prevent the same customer from using his PC based e-mail to conduct all manner of critical and confidential business. It would not prevent the Government from keeping all manner of data stored on them, from our tax returns to the tracking of terrorists. It would not prevent those same callers from going home and doing their Christmas shopping online. But yet somehow the fear that someone could hack into your DVR system and watch video of your parking lot is enough to prevent using the most flexible and feature rich DVR solution on the market?

Keep in mind that anything can be hacked. So you are left with two choices. Put your trust in a PC based DVR solution whose core technology is a known entity to your IT staff and whose security is constantly improved by one of the world’s leading software development companies. Or put your trust in a standalone product whose security is an unknown factor that your IT staff will have virtually no knowledge of or ability to improve. To me choosing the second option is no more than putting your head in the sand and pretending that you are safe.

So, in my opinion, if you need a full featured DVR, take a deep breath, look around at the world we live in, decide if you need a serious and full featured DVR solutions, and stop obsessing over the security of a PC bases solution. That is, of course, unless you just trashed all your PC’s and bought everyone in your accounting office an abacus .

For more opinions on the Myth of the Standalone DVR contact 877-422-1907

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cameras Combat Crime in Amish Country

Located in the heart of Dutch country, Lancaster, Pennsylvania may have the image as one of the tranquil places in the country. But in reality, it's one of the most crime-laden cities in the country. In 2008, Lancaster ranked 9th among cities its size in violent crimes rates. For this reason, city officials took a step to protect their citizens by installing 160 cameras across four square miles within Lancaster. According to CBS, that's more cameras than major cities such as Boston or San Francisco.

The cameras are monitored 24 hours a day, seven days a week by paid employees, who can zoom in and out when they see something suspicious. According to Lancaster Police Chief, Keith Sadler, the camera monitors are to call 911 when they see unusual activity and the police are immediately notified. As a matter of fact, live video feeds can be sent right to police dispatchers.

So far, the cameras have captured a number of crimes, such as DUI accidents, an illegal gun sale, and an assault on an elderly victim by a group of teenagers. The cameras also helped catch a murderer. According to the victim's mother, Freda Brown, the jury was able to watch everything that happened via camera footage of her 19 year old son's violent death.

But as with anything, the camera experiment is not without controversy. One Lancaster citizen says the camera captures him walking down his street or sitting on his front porch. His complaint is not that the cameras are in place, but who is behind the monitors watching them. While the cameras are funded partially by the city, they are also funded by private individuals, individuals who some citizens say have an agenda.

Joe Morales, the head of the security coalition that operates the cameras says he understands that the monitoring system is a touchy subject, "We understand how serious this is, the very serious nature of the work we're doing. And we know that it wouldn't take very much to damage the trust and integrity we've earned up to this point."

And the debate continues. Over the last seven years, since the cameras began being implemented, some citizens point out that the crime rate has held steady. But for Freda Brown, the cameras were an instrumental tool in bringing her son's murderer to justice.

According to CBS, at least four more cities in the United States are considering implementing the same program.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Florida Officers Caught On Security Camera Playing Wii

Wii video games are gaining popularity all over the world, they're so easy to play they're almost ideal even for non-gammers. Well that was never proven more true than during a Florida drug task force raid in September.

Polk County Sheriff's Drug Task Force raided a home near Lakeland, FL. Instead of acting like professional police officers, they were distracted by a video game, Wii Bowling, to be exact. Unfortunately for the officers, the whole day was caught on a security camera connected to the homeowners computer. (Video.)

Various members of the task force are seen on video playing a game of Wii Bowling for more than an hour. While the whole raid lasted roughly nine hours and cost the tax payers of Polk Country nearly $4,000. In all, 11 members of the team were found to be at fault in an internal investigation. They all received 2 hours of retraining and their supervising sergeants are to complete 4 hours of retraining.

"We are learning from our mistakes," said sheriff's Chief of Staff Gary Hester. "I'm absolutely convinced these folks will never do that again. I think we handled (the investigation) appropriately."

Looking for a DVR or NVR Security Camera System? If so call today at 877-422-1907 x226 for a free phone consultation.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cameras Coming to Coral Springs, FL

Cameras Coming to Coral Springs, FL
The city of Coral Springs, Florida will be installing security cameras at the intersection of University Drive and Atlantic Boulevard soon. If all goes according to planned, the cameras will help catch criminals and prevent would-be criminals from committing crimes.

"I want this at every intersection so if we're looking for somebody, we are able to follow their progress and stay on top of them. What I envision: there is a robbery, we pull up the camera in that area, you can follow [the car] in a system of cameras, and say 'he passed through this intersection and took a right.' And on DVD is that suspect at the bank driving away which is a beautiful piece of evidence to go to court with," said City Commissioner Tom Powers.

Atlantic and University was chosen because it is the city's busiest intersection. Unlike nearby Pembroke Pines, the cameras will not be used to catch traffic violators.

Forfeiture money will be used to purchase the cameras, not tax dollars. What is forfeiture money? It's money collected by cities after arrests from suspects who are later convicted and it comes mostly from drug-related crimes. Powers said of the funding, "The beauty of this is the money will come from forfeiture money, so criminals are paying for technology to catch other criminals." On average, Coral Springs gets between $250,000 and $400,000 in forfeiture funds each year.

A number of other nearby cities are also looking to prevent crimes with cameras, but with more specific goals in mine. In Lighthouse Point, Florida, poles have been installed at the town's 26 entrances and exits. Eventually, each pole will have a camera. While Coral Springs is planning to use their surveillance system to prevent crime, Lighthouse Point Police Chief Ross Licata says their cameras will be used to monitor license plates, in order to find stolen cars and wanted felons. "We're not using it to track the general public to see them coming and going, we're not using this to write tickets," he told the Sun Sentinel.

Though they may have different goals and budgets with what they plan to do with their camera systems, all of the cities do have one thing in common, the hope that the cameras will deter crime. "If there's a chance of getting caught, [criminals] will think twice about it. Rudy Giuliani put more police officers on the street, and crime went down. It doesn't mean more people got caught they were afraid of being caught," Powers said of the camera system's desired outcome.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Dallas Security Cameras

Dallas Security Cameras

Located in North Texas and covering over 385 square miles, Dallas is the third largest city in the state and the eighth largest city in the United States. Its 12-county metropolitan area, known as Dallas-Ft. Worth-Arlington, is the fourth largest metropolitan area in the country and the number-one fastest growing metropolitan area in the country. Not only is the area home to over six million people, but it's home to thousands of businesses including 25 Fortune 500 companies, such as AT&T, Exxon Mobile, Southwest Airlines, and Blockbuster Inc. The Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport is one of the largest and busiest in the world and Dallas is the third most popular business travel destination in the country!

With so many people in and of the city, it's important to take all measures of precaution when it comes to security. That's why Dallas CCTV Security Camera Systems are popular products when it comes to protecting your business. Whether your company is part of the oil, telecommunications, banking and commerce, or transportation businesses or any part of Dallas's diverse economy, we can help you find the right surveillance system that's right for your company and your budget.

CCTV systems serve so many purposes. Protect your business, monitor your employees, deter crime, or in the event your company is subject to a criminal incident, provide law enforcement agencies with footage of the suspect. To learn more about how CCTV can help you and your business, or to get a fast quote, call 877-422-190 or visit today.

Granddad Bandit Caught on Camera

Granddad Bandit Caught on Camera
The "Granddad Bandit" is wanted in seven states and now the FBI is involved. A $10,000 reward is being offered for any information that will lead to an arrest in a string of bank robberies being committed by an older man. Since April 2009, the man has hit at least nine banks in Georgia, Florida, Virginia, Arkansas, Texas, Alabama, and New York.

Images of the man have been captured on each bank's surveillance system, showing exactly why the FBI nicknamed him the "Granddad Bandit." He looks like any other bank customer and doesn't attempt to cover his appearance. Atlanta FBI Special Agent Stephen Emmet says that while the man is not armed, he's a "nuisance" to the banking industry and needs to be removed from the streets, "He's going into the banks and being very subdued. He wants to fly under the radar and not draw attention to himself." Images from the various bank security cameras have been used to connect the robberies to the same man and have been released all over the country, in hopes that other law enforcement agencies will recognize him, maybe even connect him to other robberies, and help get information that will lead to his arrest.

The man is calm and quiet, doesn't attract attention to himself, and generally leaves the bank without disrupting his surroundings. He does this by passing a note to the teller, demanding a certain amount of cash. He is thought to be between 50-60 years old, is between 6' and 6'4 and weighs between 220 and 250 pounds, with a stocky build. He's bald on top with short, gray hair on the sides and wears glasses. As Special Agent Emmet says, "He looks kind of like your father or your grandfather." If you have any information or recognize the man, please contact the Atlanta FBI.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

CCTV catches cross-dressing cage fighters being attacked

CCTV in the in Welsh city of Swansea caught an unusual street brawl earlier this month. Dean Gardener, 19, and Jason Fender, 22, both men were extremely drunk and had just finished a fight with other people in the street when they found what they thought to be two cross-dressing men and easy prey.

They went to attack the two men, dressed in women's clothes, and suddenly found themselves on the losing end of the fight, which lasted only a matter of a few seconds. The two men they attacked were cage fighters. After finishing the fight, the cage fighters picked up their purses and continued on their way. Leaving the would-be attackers laying on the sidewalk.

CCTV cameras follow the men as they get up and stagger down the street and seem to seek refuge in an alley way. A short time later they are seen being arrested by police officers. The police found out later that the two men were attacked by men in drag. Mark Davies, defending at Swansea Magistrates’ Court, said: “You know it cannot have been a good night when you get into a fight with two cross-dressing men."

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Security Cameras for Hospitals

Security Cameras for Hospitals
When people think of security cameras in businesses, hospitals aren't usually the first thing that comes to mind. Even so, a quality surveillance system placed in strategic spots on hospital grounds can not only serve safety and security purposes, but it can become a cost-effective way to prevent lawsuits, monitor staff and patients, and weed out dishonest medical claims.

Safety and Security - Cameras are used most often to prevent break-ins and deter crimes, which can occur anywhere, even in a hospital. With so many people coming and going, and so much commotion in emergency rooms and at hospital entrances, the wrong person could easily get inside and cause harm to hospital staff and patients. Properly placed cameras can help law enforcement officials identify these criminals in order to make an arrest. Also, when people are sick, they tend to act out of the ordinary. Sometimes patients who have waited for long periods of time or are unhappy with the care and service they are receiving have tendency to become violent. Security cameras can help staff keep an eye on busy waiting rooms and monitor patients and their families' demeanor.

Monitor Your Employees - Even in small hospitals, it's impossible for managers and supervisors to be everywhere at once. There are so many rooms and locations spread over such a large area that many employees often go unsupervised for long periods of times. Not only will security cameras help you keep a close watch on your employees when you suspect they aren't performing up to your standards, employees who suspect they are being watched will most likely work harder and make better decisions. Also, when there is a dispute between employees, a security camera could very well be the key to what actually happened.

Evidence for Preventing Claims and Lawsuits: Let's face it; not everyone is honest. Some people are just out to see who they can sue to make a buck and this sort of behavior is prevalent in the medical world. Thousands of fraudulent health insurance claims are filed each year. Hospital security cameras can be relied on in cases like this, to see how patients were acting when they weren't being watched by staff. In addition, false claims filed about on-site accidents and incidents might be handled by simply reviewing the video of the time the patient claims to have been on hospital grounds.

Real-time Monitoring: If a patient is awaiting care, becomes ill or passes out, and no one is around to see it or better yet, everyone around her is too busy to notice, her life could be at risk. Many security systems allow for real-time monitoring through personal computers. This allows front desk staff to keep an eye on their patients, even when they're busy filling out paperwork.

There are just so many reasons as to why having a proper security camera system in a hospital or health care setting is important. If you manage such a facility, you really can't afford not to have one in place.

Once you do make the decision to protect your hospital, staff and patients, it's important to make sure your cameras are properly placed. Here are a few tips about hospital camera set-up:

  • As with any business, you'll want to make sure you have cameras at all entrances to and exits from the building to make sure you see every single person who enters and leaves the building

  • Also, place camera in tight spaces that provide easy opportunities for bullies and criminals to corner and attack innocent people such as elevators, utility closets, stairwells and fire escapes.

  • Cameras placed in halls and waiting room keep a close watch on your patients and staff and allow you to monitor everything from behavior to how busy your facility is

  • You should also consider placing cameras outside your hospital or health care facility such as in parking lots, loading areas, and rest areas.