<![CDATA[WATCHDOG - Security Cameras - Security Blog]]>Tue, 05 Jun 2018 13:51:40 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[Review of Shaw's SmartSurveillance System]]>Mon, 04 Jun 2018 21:11:42 GMThttp://watchdogloss.com/news/review-of-shaws-smartsurveillance-systemPicture

This is intended as a brief review of Shaw’s SmartSureveillance Security Camera offering VS a system provided by Watchdog Loss Prevention Inc.
We cannot comment on the installation quality, the quality of the equipment or the user friendliness of the system provided by Shaw as we have not actually seen or worked with an installed Shaw SmartSureveillance system.
We can however comment based on a review of their public documentation of their offering.  This comparison was originally done to as a sales tool for talking to an existing customer who was considering the Shaw offer.  For the purposes of this article I am going to use the comparison developed for this customer.

1. Cost Comparison:
Shaw is offering their system for 24.95 per month per camera for 60 months or $29.95 per camera for 36 months.
This is basically a rental agreement, so you never own anything and their price does not include installation which will vary depending on your site.   As of the date of this article, Shaw is offering an installation saving of $49.95 per camera if you sign up for 5 years, which may or may not be a good deal depending on what they charge you for installation.
In the case of our existing customer, the installation savings will not be a benefit because Shaw will need to rewire for the IP cameras.  Watchdog can install HD cameras of higher resolution without running any new cable.
Below is my comparison of an 8-camera installation comparing eight of Shaw’s cameras recording to their cloud based system and 8 of our HD cameras recording on an 8 channel recorder with two Terabytes of memory.

So even over 36 months you are spending nearly $3000 more for the Shaw system than the Watchdog system.  Remember the Shaw system is a rental so you will never own the equipment and it does not include installation.  Note that on the Watchdog system you may require an additional monitor and/or UPS power supply if you do not have existing compatible equipment.
 
Unfortunately for Shaw it gets worse, the Shaw system does not include installation and in this case the Watchdog system does.  Please keep in mind that installation costs will vary. In this case we are installing HD cameras on the existing cable; having to run new cable will increase the costs. 

2. Camera Comparison:
 Shaw is installing cameras that record at slightly less than 1-megapixel of resolution.  Our quoted cameras are 2.1 megapixels of resolution.  I believe Shaw is likely offering such poor cameras to more effectively store the video on their cloud storage.
The cameras provided by Shaw have their widest field of view at 80 degrees.  You will require two Shaw cameras to monitor a full room.  With our cameras you have a widest field of view of 90 degrees, so if 1 Watchdog camera is installed in a corner of the room, you will monitor the whole room at a higher resolution than 2 Shaw cameras.

3. Recording Comparison:
Shaw has a possible advantage in that they are cloud recording so that if someone were to break into your business they could not steal the recorder.  I cannot say that this never happens however I can think of only a couple of times that a recorder has been stolen from one of our customers in my nearly 30 years in the industry.  If this is a concern, Watchdog can install a recorder lock box for further protection.
According to information provided by Shaw they will record full time for 72 hours and then break out just the recording with motion for longer term storage.  My interpretation of this would be that Shaw would provide roughly 15 days of recording based on 25% motion activity in your business.
I anticipate that using higher resolution cameras and a 2 Terabyte hard drive should provide about 1 month to 6 weeks of recording on a Watchdog system under the same conditions.  Additional storage is available on our recorders. It is not clear on Shaw’s website if they can offer more storage.

It is also important to note that you must have Shaw Internet in order to take advantage of their camera cameras systems and with if you have more than 8 cameras they require you to upgrade your internet at an additional cost of approximately $21 per month.

Shaw appears to have a “one solution fits all” approach to their installations.  Watchdog has many options available at a competitive price and you will not automatically need to upgrade your whole system.

In conclusion the CCTV package offered by Shaw is not competitive financially and offers you limited choice in terms of equipment offered.

For a free no cost no obligation evaluation of your security camera needs, please contact us at 604-515-1001.


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<![CDATA[HIKVISION BANNED FROM US GOVERNMENT]]>Wed, 30 May 2018 16:37:03 GMThttp://watchdogloss.com/news/hikvision-banned-from-us-government 
Every Security professional has heard of Hikvision and if you are in the market for a security camera system, the chance that you will receive estimates including Hikvision or Hikvision-based OEM products is more likely than not.

Hikvision has done a great job flooding the market with a wide variety of security products that come at a low cost with few technical/reliability problems. Their products offer tremendous value so they are an obvious choice for those individuals looking for decent system on a budget. One reason that Hikvision has had so much success at taking up such are large part of the security market is that they are more than 40% owned by the Chinese government and thus have unlimited resources to spend on marketing, and research and development.

Suspicions about the susceptibility of Hikvision products to hacking and their alleged ability to send sensitive recorded data directly to China were raised a couple of years ago. Holes were found in their firmware that made their products susceptible to hacking. The US Department of Homeland Security released an advisory in May of 2017 publishing the list of Hikvision products found to be vulnerable to exploitation. In their defence, Hikvision released patches within days of the published discovery. What isn’t clear is if the “holes” were intentionally put there by Hikvision and they only released patches when they were found and publicized or if it was just poor design to begin with.

No matter what the answer is to that question, it is usually the perception that matters: People became wary of using Hikvision products.  Back in January 2018 an Army base in Missouri removed 5 Hikvision cameras, not because they could be hacked (they were on a closed network) but merely because the perceived threat was good enough to justify their removal.

Last Thursday May 24, 2018 the US House passed bill HR 5515 banning the use of all Hikvision, as well as a major Chinese competitor, Dahua, products in all government facilities. Due to the ongoing concerns, this move makes sense for the US Government who needs to protect its national security. But what does this mean for Hikvision? Time will tell how this will affect the Brand and its reputation. Hikvision is rebranded by so many OEMs it would be nearly impossible for an end-user to know if they are getting Hikvision products or not, so it is unlikely they will ever disappear.

It is important to realize that there is little likelihood that the Chinese government would want images from your store, restaurant or business’ security camera system. But will the perceived threat sway you to purchase another brand or will the low cost and value provided by Hikvision products continue to drive its sales? The concern is real enough for the US government to pass a bill banning their use so the old adage still remains true; BUYER BEWARE.

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<![CDATA[SHOULD YOU PURCHASE SECURITY CAMERAS ONLINE OR LOCAL?]]>Wed, 11 Oct 2017 20:32:15 GMThttp://watchdogloss.com/news/should-you-purchase-security-cameras-online-or-localIt is true that you can find a wide variety of security cameras online and they should be less expensive than what your local installation company can offer. There are a number of reasons for this price difference. You will need to decide what is important to you and if the limitations are worth the potential savings.
Below is list of services that your ONLINE camera supplier will NOT provide. All these services come standard when purchasing through Watchdog Loss Prevention Inc. and many other local installation companies:
  • Internet sales companies don’t spend hours doing complementary site visits and preparing well-thought out proposals with a variety of options designed for your budgetary needs.
  • Internet companies don’t offer site-specific recommendations for camera types, lenses and positioning.
  • Internet companies don’t install, so they don’t require well paid technicians, service vehicles or spare parts.
  • If a camera or recorder quits under warranty, internet sales companies don’t come to your site and trouble shoot the equipment.  Internet sales companies certainly don’t install loaner equipment if your recorder or camera needs to be removed for repair.
  • Internet companies don’t train you or your staff on how to use the system.
  • Internet sales companies don’t ensure that you are using the latest firmware in fact the equipment they are selling is often out of date.
  • Internet sales companies often are not even authorized sales representatives for the equipment they are selling.
  • Internet companies don’t set up networking or work with your IT department to put the system on your phones or home computers.
  • Internet companies will never give you the pros and cons of the equipment; in fact because they operate basically on selling cheap instead of right; they won’t point out facts like you are being better off with dual voltage cameras then 12 VDC cameras.  24 VAC power is more reliable and will carry over longer distances than 12 VDC power.
All the above value-added services are included when purchasing from a local company like Watchdog. The services are provided by highly-trained and experienced technicians that are paid well above the minimum wage offered to the order pickers at the online suppliers.

If you decide that you want to take the chance of saving some money and order your equipment online, you will still need to have the system installed. There may be less experienced installers that offer installation for a reduced rate but you need to make sure that they are legally allowed to install security cameras systems. In our jurisdiction, they must be licensed by the safety authority, hold a valid security worker’s license and have a business license in the city they are performing the work in.  And don’t forget the Workers Compensation or what ever is required in your area.  If a worker hurts themselves on your property and is not covered by compensation you can be held liable.
 
Often installing equipment purchased online can take longer because the technician will need to familiarize themselves with the setup and operation. If the equipment does not work out of the box, the tech may have to spend additional hours trying to get support which many times is non-existent or extremely limited especially if the installers are not authorized. Often an issue that an experienced company is familiar with and can solve in minutes can takes hours of time or is never solved by a company unfamiliar with the equipment. Unless your installation company is authorized by the manufacturer, they may not even be able to get tech support.   

With a properly trained and experienced company, setup will be faster and cost you less money. At Watchdog, we only install equipment that we know has good customer service and technical support from the manufacturer.  

The online security camera supplier carries virtually no-risk; if their product fails, you need to remove it and ship it back to them and they return it to the manufacturer. If the local company installs equipment that fails, they will return and repair or replace it. The local company deals with the manufacturer technical support or RMA department.

If you want to buy your security cameras online, you should consider hiring an experienced consultant to make recommendations and custom design you security camera system. Once you have your system designed and spec’d you can easily get multiple quotes on only the best suited equipment. This way you are comparing “apples to apples”. You may find that the spec’d equipment is still cheaper online, so you will have to decide if the extra service provided by the local company adds the value that is important to you.

In our company we too can purchase cheaper from over seas manufacturers however we believe strongly that it is best to support local business.
 

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<![CDATA[THE PROBLEM WITH THE LOWEST BID]]>Wed, 03 May 2017 23:04:32 GMThttp://watchdogloss.com/news/the-problem-with-the-lowest-bidOne of the most common ways that people decide on a security camera system is by taking the lowest bid.  Unfortunately, the lowest bid is also often the worst value.  People often tell me that they are comparing apples to apples and when I see the actual comparison it is more like apples and crab-apples.  I once had a person tell me the other company had the same cameras I did, “They have domes too”.  The other company was quoting plastic 420-line resolution cameras with fixed lenses and we were quoting 700 line, wide dynamic range, armoured dome cameras with a vari-focal lenses and wide dynamic ranges.
Even when you have identical equipment you can end up with totally different systems.  If you give my wife and I the same ingredients, she will make something delicious, I would be doing well if the meal is edible.  On the other hand, I can design and install a better camera system than she can.
Unless the person doing the purchasing has specified the exact equipment including model numbers, the camera locations and how the system is to be wired, it is very difficult if not impossible to obtain an “apples to apples” quote.
A few years ago, we had provided an estimate for a system in a Vancouver low cost housing project.  The company that owned the building wanted us to do the installation however the funding agency insisted the installation go to the lowest bidder.  I was aware that the other estimate was $2750 lower than my bid however I was not willing to meet or beat the other bid because it would have been unprofitable. To the funder if the number of cameras was the same the bids were the same.
The other installer of course got the bid however they had not included everything I had and with change orders, their installation came out over $2000 higher than my bid.  Two years later the recorder died and the installation company was no longer answering their phones.  We were called in to replace the recorder and fix up the mess the other company had left.  Cheap cameras and poor wiring have since created expensive service calls that never should have been needed.  The lowest bid turned out at least 20% higher in the first three years than our initial bid.  To add insult to injury poor cameras and camera positions have greatly reduced the effectiveness of the system.
We recently came across an installation where the installing company had installed 16 cameras.  As well as using cheap 12 volt cameras they had saved themselves money by connecting 4 cameras to each of 4 power supplies.  Each of the power supplies was only adequate for one camera and of course the power supplies burned out.  The service call to install a proper multi channel power supply was more expensive than to do the job properly in the first place.
Too often the lowest bidder makes money by using cheaper cameras installing them in the easiest positions and cutting corners on wiring.
So how can you avoid these problems?
  1. The first thing to do is ask lots of questions of the installation companies you are considering.
Tell them what you wish to achieve and ask them how they would meet your needs.
Do not tell them where you would put the cameras.  Ask them where they would put the cameras and why.  If they ask you where you want the cameras and do not have suggestions, it is unlikely that they know what the are doing.
   2. Ask them why they are recommending the equipment they are and what their experience with that equipment is. Do not accept “no name” brand equipment especially for the recorder.  Ask them who else services the equipment and if they tell you they are they are the only ones who can service it, you shouldn’t invest in the equipment.  We are called on a regular basis to service “no name” brand recorders.  Usually we are unsuccessful because there is no way to get tech support.  If you have a brand name recorder there is a good chance you can find service for it.
    3. If your cameras are at risk of theft or vandalism find out how the installation company would secure them.  If they tell you the cameras are vandal proof, tell them thanks but no thanks.  There is no such thing. 
        4. Find out where they have done similar installations and ask for references. 
      5. Find out how easy the equipment is to operate, especially how to save snapshots and video or print pictures.  Most recorders will no longer let you print images directly from the recorder.  The easiest recorder to use we have worked with is the i3 DVR. It is Canadian manufacturer and easy to use and service.  We have installed around 700 of these recorders in the last 18 years.  The recorder is a premium cost but worth it if quality and ease of use is important to you.
       6. If you need multiple quotes, perhaps the best way is to determine which installation company you have the most faith in and ask them to provide a detailed quote complete with detailed specifications and camera positioning.  In fairness to the company doing the work, pay them for this service on the condition that they take it off your final bill if they are awarded the contract. You can then request true “apple to apples” quote.
Make sure you get a detailed broken down quote so that you can reconcile the final invoice and you can question any major difference in individual costs.  It may be the higher bidder is including more in the proposal.
In closing beware of the lowest bid, chances are good it is not the best bid.]]>
<![CDATA[Security Camera Installation – Choosing a Professional on a Budget]]>Wed, 03 May 2017 22:44:35 GMThttp://watchdogloss.com/news/security-camera-installation-choosing-a-professional-on-a-budgetIn today's economy, everyone wants to save money and it is possible to get a decent security camera system on a limited budget. However not all equipment is created equal and the most important factor in getting the results you want will be choosing the right professional installer. 

One of the biggest problems today in the security camera industry is the proliferation of inferior CCTV equipment that is available online and even at big box stores. Saving money doesn’t sound like a problem, but unfortunately, business owners everywhere are being inundated with CHEAP camera deals. We often find the quotes we are up against are less money than our cost on the quality commercial grade equipment we are quoting. Don't get me wrong, there is a market for the cheap equipment sold at Costco and I have frequently referred homeowners there who just want to monitor their backyards. But if security is important to you and your business, and you require clear, identifiable images and evidence, then you need to consult a professional. 

Buying a CCTV security system in a big city like Vancouver, which is a port city, is especially challenging because of the overabundance of inferior equipment being imported into the region and the growing number of companies who sell them. Granted, high quality components also arrive from Asia, but they are incredibly difficult to identify unless you have considerable knowledge. Many times a potential client will insist the equipment we are quoting is the "same" as the other guy. A significant difference in price would be your first clue that the equipment is not the same. Many times different manufacturers buy their cases from the same place so they may even visibly look identical but the differences become evident when you see the picture, the functionality, the reliability and the most important factor: the installation technique. Only an experienced professional can explain the differences in the equipment and how those differences will impact your security camera system.

It is important to ASK QUESTIONS; you need to know what you are getting and that the company providing it to you will be there to support you when you need it. By law, a company that installs security camera systems needs to have a Business Security license as well as their workers need to hold their own Security Workers Licenses. If you do not check for this important qualification, you could have someone with a criminal record working on your system. In addition to the security license, they need to be a bonded and certified Electrical Contractor with a Field Safety Representative (FSR) on staff. Quality FSRs are hard to find and expensive to employ so many companies try to run without one. It is also very important to ensure that the company is covered by Work Safe BC and carries additional liability insurance. The person providing you a quote should be able to easily provide you with proof of all of the above requirements as soon as you ask. Don't assume that just because they say they can install security cameras for you that they are legally allowed to do so. 

You should also ask how long they have been in the business of installing security cameras. You will find many companies started out installing vacuums, setting up computer networks or installing alarms and they just start selling cameras as an "Add-on" service to their customers. It is simple to install a camera, but getting the best possible results from that camera depends on a number of different factors that only experience can teach. 

There will always be a cheaper option but it is important to determine why that option is cheaper before you decide to give them your money. If you find the quote does not fit into your budget, don't be afraid to talk to the salesperson. They should be able to tell you the best system they can provide within your budget. It may involve using some quality used/reconditioned equipment or reducing and re-positioning the number of cameras being installed. A quality security camera system can still be achieved on a limited budget as long as the company installing it has the experience and qualification to do so.  
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<![CDATA[Crime Watch – Richmond Vending Machine Vandalism]]>Thu, 06 Apr 2017 18:22:21 GMThttp://watchdogloss.com/news/crime-watch-richmond-vending-machine-vandalism
​Attention all Richmond business owners who have vending machines on your premises.  A suspect has been caught on camera vandalizing and stealing the contents of vending machines. The suspect was seen in a local hotel smashing a rock through the front of the vending machine glass and removing the contents of the vending machine.

The attached identifiable photo was recently captured on the CCTV System at a local Hotel provided by Watchdog Loss Prevention Inc. If you have any information on the suspect or if damage has already been caused on your premises, please contact the police.

If the person in the photos enters your business, you may want to ask them to leave.
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