What’s So Great About Proactive Video Monitoring?

We hear a lot of questions about how to go about monitoring video feeds. While there are products that let you see your home security cameras on your phone, many of you want better security for your businesses. If you need more than a way to check in on your cameras manually, Proactive Video Monitoring could be right for you.

What is Proactive Video Monitoring?

Proactive Video Monitoring is a way to have our operator alerted if someone is somewhere they shouldn’t be.

How Does it Work?

The cameras are equipped with a system that uses software analytics to know if someone is where they shouldn’t be. If triggered, the cameras connect to our operator who can dispatch authorities and talk to the people onsite immediately and in great detail. They watch what happens and can even help direct authorities to anyone hiding at the location.

Let’s bring in a real-life scenario to better illustrate this.

Jeff’s Tire Company

Suppose Jeff’s Tire Company has had an issue with thieves that break in around 1-3AM and steal their inventory. So far, the culprits have managed to avoid the security guard on staff and have made off with over $10,000 worth of product. As a result, Jeff has a new Proactive Video Monitoring system installed.

As the system is set to look for intruders in the warehouse area from 9PM-6AM, the hours without staff, the thieves walk in front of the cameras. The camera’s algorithm sees movement where there shouldn’t be any and immediately connects our dispatcher. Over the speakers, the thieves hear,

“Hey you in the red shirt! The authorities are on their way! Leave immediately!”

The intruders are dumbstruck and shaken. Two run off, but one stays. He hides behind a cluster of tire stacks just as the police arrive. Once again, the voice comes over the speakers,

“In the far-left corner, officers! He’s hiding in the far-left corner behind the stacks next to the first aid kit!”

The thief is apprehended and no product is stolen. The recording is kept for a set amount of time in case it is relevant to a court case and can be saved by the owners of Jeff’s  Tire Company any time they want.

Will Police Treat My Calls Differently if I Use This?

Police take video-verified threats very seriously and are eager to stop the crime as soon as they can. Because of this, the response times for video-verified calls are only second to the calls for “shots fired!” You are one of the police department’s top priorities when you have Proactive Video Monitoring.

Why Would I Need This?

Security guards are expensive to employ and can have a number of shortcomings. They can fall asleep on the job, miss work, or miss something on the video feed entirely.

Regular video verification lets you verify whether a triggered alarm is valid or not, but that also requires you to look at it and verify it. If you miss the notification, precious minutes could be wasted and your business could be vandalized, burgled, or your employees could be injured by intruders. With Proactive Video Monitoring, our operator is connected the moment something enters an area that should be closed off and no time is wasted.

Who Needs This?

Good uses for Proactive Video Monitoring include any location that has vandal-prone or sensitive areas that are off-limits, even if just for certain windows of time. Some examples could be a campus, a government facility, a museum, an industrial cannabis facility, or a car dealership.

How Can I Learn More?

For more information about Proactive Video Monitoring, contact us today!

Vacation: Are you Ready?

Summer is around the corner and so are summer vacations! Before you head off to relax, though, are you truly ready? Take our quiz to find out.

You made it to the airport parking lot before you realize that you forgot to turn off the lights in your bedroom. What do you do?

https://www.pexels.com/photo/brown-and-gray-painted-house-in-front-of-road-1396122/

Just as the airlock closes and the crew gets ready for takeoff, your eyes snap open and you realize that your garage door is almost certainly wide-open, and you took a ride share so your new car wouldn't spend the next month racking up parking rent at the airport. What do you do?

https://pixabay.com/photos/auto-vehicle-convertible-leather-3209449/

Since you're thinking about your garage door, what about your front door? Did you close that? You're having trouble remembering for sure...

https://pixabay.com/photos/door-open-wooden-the-next-doorway-1089638/

You deplane in your tropical destination and the hot, humid breeze makes you long for some sweet air conditioning. Uh...you did turn off your air conditioning before you went on vacation, right?

Photo by Ibrahim Asad from Pexels

On the beach, a cute puppy plays in the surf, which reminds you of your pets at home. Being a responsible pet owner, you arranged for someone to take care of them when you were enjoying your vacation. You're certain that they'll be around to check on your animals and feed them, but do you know for sure?

https://pixabay.com/photos/puppy-coast-sand-waves-blue-white-739827/

On your last day in paradise, a news alert from home pops up on your phone: it looks like a burglar has been hitting up houses in your hometown. What do you do?

https://pixabay.com/photos/thief-burglary-break-into-balaclava-1562699/

Ready for Vacation?
You're Ready for a Vacation!

Blue-tinted sunglasses above a beach

Congratulations, you're ready for your vacation! Sit back and relax: nothing gets past you! Just in case, though, you can always reach out to us to help make your house vacation-ready. Shoot us an email here.
Close, but Needs Work

Four people clinking glasses over a meal.

Friends, neighbors, and family are great to have as a support network, but you never know what might come up. It's best to have another option, just in case. To go over your security options, get in touch here. We're always happy to help!
You Have Lots of Planning Left

Hand with a pen writing a checklist.

It sounds like you have a ways to go before you're ready to jet set around the world, but that's okay! We can help you make sure that you're well-prepared to have peace of mind throughout your journey, wherever it takes you. To get started, get in touch with us here. We're always happy to help!

Share your Results:

FAQ: What Does the 3G Sunset Mean for You?

3G Sympathy Card. A blue card with "Almost Gone But Not Forgotten" written in embossed gold font over a cloud with an orange 3G and a halo.
Forever in our hearts, soon to be phased out of wireless communications everywhere.

We’ve been getting a lot of questions lately about the switch from 3G to LTE systems, so we compiled them here. If you have any questions that weren’t answered in this FAQ, please ask us here and we’ll do our best to provide you with answers.

What is 3G?

Per Wikipedia: “3G, short for 3rd Generation, is the third generation of wireless mobile telecommunications technology. It is the upgrade for 2G and 2.5G GPRS networks, for faster internet speed.” The first 3G networks were launched in 1998.

What is LTE?

Long Term Evolution, or LTE, is the fourth generation of wireless mobile communications technology. LTE uses a different radio interface and core network to provide better capacity and speed than 3G does.

You mentioned that 3G is being discontinued. Is everybody doing this?

Yes: all cellular carriers are discontinuing support for 3G systems (or sunsetting them.)

When does 3G go away? I heard that we have until December 31st to do this: why are you emailing me now? How much time do I have?

Not all 3G sunsets are happening at the same time: support for these systems is ending in batches. That means the support for 3G is being discontinued tower by tower every week and there’s no way to know when your area in particular will be affected. Your system could be communicating today and unable to communicate tomorrow. This is why we recommend that customers upgrade their system as soon as possible to avoid any lapses in service.

What happens if I don’t upgrade?

In short, your system won’t be able to communicate with us: it will become a local alarm only. This means that we won’t be able to know when your alarm is going off and that we won’t know to dispatch authorities.

I have more questions. Where can I go?

If you have more questions, feel free to ask us here. We’re always happy to help.

Mudslide Guide

Read our Mudslide Guide to learn about keeping yourself safe during a mudslide.

Torrential rain is sweeping through Southern California, and mudslide warnings are everywhere. Areas destabilized by wildfires are some of the most at-risk, and as we asked in our wildfire guide: If you find yourself in the midst of a mudslide without time to prepare, what should you prioritize?

1) Follow Mudslide Evacuation Orders

Exit Sign - Evacuate if Possible during a Mudslide

IF YOU HAVE BEEN INSTRUCTED BY AUTHORITIES TO EVACUATE, DO SO. DO NOT HESITATE.

If you have not been instructed to evacuate, be ready to do so even before you get the notice. Evacuate as soon as possible.

If you wait to evacuate, the roads could be clogged with traffic by the time you leave. Be ready to leave as soon as you can.

OR – Shelter in Place

If it isn’t safe to evacuate, you may need to shelter in place. According to Los Angeles County, if you are ordered to shelter in place, you should:

• Stay inside wherever you are.
• Turn off air-conditioner and fan units, if needed.
• Use duct tape or similar material to seal gaps around vents, windows, and doors if needed.
• Do not leave wherever you are until authorities say it is safe to leave.
• Listen to radio/television and the Emergency Alert System to stay informed.

And on that last note…

2) Stay Informed

National Weather Service (NWS) Logo (from www.weather.gov) - Check the NWS for information on mudslides in your area.

Check your county’s official websites and social media feeds for information and any major updates for area residents. Try to get information from sources and not third parties: look for websites that end in .gov or .org. On social media, look for accounts with a blue verification checkmark next to their name. Check your local news stations and stay tuned in case of rapid changes.

National Weather Service
Website for Southern California
Twitter
FacebookV

Ventura County Emergency Information
Website

Sign up for Emergency Alerts – LA County
Website
R

3) Important Documents

remember your passport important documents during wildfire

If you can, have a plastic, waterproof bag ready with your household’s:
•Birth certificates
•Social Security cards
•Photo ID, such as passports and driver’s licenses
•Vehicle and property titles/deeds
•Legal documents, like wills and marriage licenses
•Photo albums
•Hard drives, especially those with sensitive information

4) Safety in Numbers

Stick together. Remember, there’s safety in numbers.

5) Designate Point People During the Mudslide

Make sure that you have at least three people outside of the mudslide area who know where you are and if you’re okay. In the event that authorities ask you to limit cell phone usage, they can let others know that you’re all right and where you are. Social media sites like Facebook may also have the option to mark yourself as “safe,” which can also put loved ones at ease about your safety.

Flash floods and mudslides can happen in an instant. Stay informed on weather conditions in your area and stay safe. In the event that you are unable to check on your home or business, you could check on your phone to ensure that your system is armed. For more on smart security, click here.

Contact us for a free, no-obligation safety consultation.

Wildfire Safety

California’s fire season is now year-round. With wildfires liable to break out at any time, it’s more important than ever to be prepared for a fire. If you find yourself in the midst of a fire without time to prepare, though, what should you prioritize? Here are Valley Alarm’s top tips for wildfire safety:

1) Follow Evacuation Orders

evacuate during wildfire

IF YOU HAVE BEEN INSTRUCTED BY AUTHORITIES TO EVACUATE, DO SO. DO NOT HESITATE.

If you have not been instructed to evacuate, be ready to do so even before you get the notice. Evacuate as soon as possible.

If you wait to evacuate, the roads could be clogged with traffic by the time you leave. Be ready to leave as soon as you can.

2) Know Your Evacuation Centers/Stay Informed

Check your county’s official websites and social media feeds for information on official evacuation centers and any major updates for area residents. If checking websites, be sure to look for those that end in .gov or .org. If checking social media, look for accounts with a blue verification checkmark next to their name. Here is a partial list of resources in and around the LA and Ventura Counties:

CAL FIRE Statewide Fire Map
Website

Ventura County Fire Department
Website
Twitter
Facebook

Ventura County Emergency Information
Website

Los Angeles County Fire Department
Website
Twitter
Facebook

Orange County Fire Authority
Website
Twitter
Facebook

Riverside County Fire Department
Website
Twitter
Facebook

3) Important Documents

remember your passport important documents during wildfire

If you can grab them before you need to evacuate, remember your household’s:
•Birth certificates
•Social Security cards
•Photo ID, like passports and driver’s licenses
•Vehicle and property titles/deeds
•Legal documents, like wills and marriage licenses
•Photo albums
•Hard drives, especially those with sensitive information

4) Safety in Numbers

Stick together – no matter what, there’s safety in numbers.

5) Wear a Mask Rated N95 or N100

n95 n100 mask wildfire

Wildfires burn more than wood – you’re breathing in plastics, fibers, and other harmful chemicals that can make you sick. These particles can stick around in the air for long after the wildfire’s gone – check the FDA’s Air Quality Index for more information on the air quality in your area. To provide some protection from hazardous particles, wear a particulate mask rated N95 or N100 that has two straps around your head. Make sure that you have a good seal around the edges. You can find N95 and N100 masks at hardware stores.

6) Designate Point People

Make sure that you have at least three people outside of the wildfire area who know where you are and if you’re okay. In the event that authorities ask you to limit cell phone usage, they can let others know that you’re all right and where you are. Social media sites like Facebook may also have the option to mark yourself as “safe,” which can also put loved ones at ease about your safety.

Wildfires don’t give much warning – it’s important to be ready when one strikes. Stay safe, and see more about early fire detection here. To learn how we can help you prepare your house with fire alarm systems, contact us for a free, no-obligation fire safety consultation.

 

 

Halloween Safety

It’s Halloween!

Goblins, ghouls, and mountains of candy abound. We at Valley Alarm hope you have a safe and spooktacular holiday. Here are our best tips to maximize your Halloween safety:

1) The Early Bird Gets the Gummy Worm
To get first pick of candy and to be home by bedtime, eat dinner early and hit the trick-or-treating trail before dark.

2) Be the Light
Who doesn’t love a flashy costume? Add some extra-visible pizazz with glow sticks and flashlights. Your home should be lit up as well; burglars often scout neighborhoods for empty homes during Halloween.

3) Stay on Track
For the safest trick-or-treating experience, only trick or treat at houses that you
know and trust. Steer clear of unlit and undecorated houses.

4) Skip the “Take One” Bowl
If you’re out and about, leaving a bowl of candy with a “Take One” note might seem like a courteous thing to do. However, it could signal to burglars that your house is empty.

5) Safety in Numbers
Kids should always stay within a group accompanied by a responsible adult.

6) Save your Pictures for November 1st
Someone watching your social media feed might see that you’re away if you post photos live. Lower your chance of a break-in by living in the moment: wait a day before posting those great costume party pictures.

 

We hope that you all have a fun night – we hope this helped improve your Halloween safety! For more on making your home a safer place, check out our free downloadable Emergency Contact List.

Contact us today!

Free Emergency Contact List

Do you have an emergency contact list?

School is officially back in session, which means busy nights. In all the hustle and bustle, it’s easy to forget a few precautions, like an emergency list. Download your free emergency contact list below and read on to see the 5 most important security skills that your child should have.

Emergency contact list
Click to download your free emergency contact list!

1) Lock Doors and Windows: Make sure that your child knows how to lock and unlock the doors and windows in your house, including deadbolts.

2) Know Who to Call in an Emergency: Print out the above emergency contact sheet and fill it out. Make sure that your child knows where it is and how to find it. Put it somewhere that they can easily access.

3) Know your Emergency Plan: The only thing worse than an emergency is not knowing what to do when one happens. Write out an emergency plan and make sure that your children know it well. Cover where to go in case of an emergency, who to call, and what to do.

4) Establish a Communication Routine: Set up communication guidelines with your child if you haven’t already, even if it’s just texting you when they get to a friend’s house.

5) Teach Caution: Your children should know to question the world around them. Only open the door for people they know, and if need be, have an identification question at the ready that both your child and a family member or friend would know the answer to.

 

Want to know more about keeping your house safe? Read on to learn about six ways that an interactive security system can make your life easier.

Be Cool: 101

How to Stay Safe in Record Heat

Warm, Spanish-style house in Los Angeles. Smart thermostats can help keep your home safe and cool.
Smart habits and technology can make for a truly cool house, inside and out.

At time of writing, July 2018 was the hottest month ever recorded in the state of California, and it looks like things aren’t about to cool down yet – especially not in Los Angeles County. It’s important to know how to stay safe during high temperatures in fire country. You’ve heard about ways to keep yourself safe in the heat — drink lots of water, wear sunscreen, and stay inside during the hottest parts of the day — what about your home? We’ve put together some helpful tips on how to keep your home cool, safe, and sound.

Inside

  • If your house is too hot for you, it’s too hot for your pets! Make your room temperature one that you and your furry friends can all enjoy.
  • Give your oven a rest; using your oven heats up the rest of your house, too. If you have to, save oven use for the morning or evening. Avoid baking during the hottest part of the day. Remember, many recipes can be adapted for the grill, even baked desserts!
  • Keep your home’s internal temperature to 76°F or warmer to avoid overtaxing the power grid.
  • Check to make sure that your thermostat is in working order. Consider installing a smart thermostat if you don’t have one already. The CDC says that air conditioning is the best way to prevent heat related illness and death. Smart thermostats can ensure that no matter where you are, your home’s temperature is under control.

Outside

  • Make sure that your home has 100 feet of defensible space. Clear away all brush within 30 feet of your residence.
  • Water plants in the evening or early morning to ensure maximum water absorption.
  • Exchange information with a friend or neighbor and check on each other if the temperature skyrockets. We’re stronger together.

Wherever you are, have a safe and fun August.

Want more information on how to keep your home cool with the latest smart thermostats? Contact one of our security specialists today!