If You’ve Ever Been Burgled, You Never Forget The Feeling

home security, break in, burglary, robbery
Home Looks Secure At First, But Is It?

As soon as you walk through the door you realise there’s something amiss. It just doesn’t feel right. There’s an odd draft and it’s much colder than it normally is.

That’s your first clue. Then you notice the sound. Outdoor sounds are a little too loud and the hairs on the back of your neck and on your arms start to prickle.

If you’ve ever been the victim of a break in, you’ll know the feeling. You just know when someone’s been in your house. Even before you see the missing items and the mess they left after ransacking your property you get a feeling. And that feeling doesn’t go away quickly, it’s only added to by the feeling of violation you have knowing some stranger has had their hands all over your things. Selecting the goods they think they’ll be able to flog on quickly; electronics, jewellery, cash and cards, keys, tools, and whatever else they can carry away quickly.

Once It’s Happened To You, You Don’t Want To Get Burgled Again

Knowing that your life has been evaluated, and that there’s every chance that the burglar will be back if they saw something they liked that they couldn’t carry off, or that they will wait for you to replace your things and come back for a second sweep makes it hard to sleep at night, and hard to relax the rest of the time. So what can you do to improve your security measures, and stop them coming back if they’ve invaded your home before?

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CCTV And Its Place In Keeping A Community Safer

briant communications office neighbours break inThis week the cafe next door to our office was broken into. Hundreds of pounds worth of damage was done to steal a computer also worth a couple of hundred, which will have garnered the thief a few measly pounds on the black market.

Not only does a large piece of glass, a computer and stock need to be replaced, the café couldn’t open while the broken glass was removed, the wooden frame repaired and made safe, and once opened again, business is affected as the temporary board over the window looks unattractive. Unfortunately our security CCTV cameras were trained on our property, however, the bizarre and suspicious behaviour of a member of public was caught on that night. The individual can be seen walking around and around, shining a torch through the windows of our neighbours’ shops and then apparently concealing something in his clothing as he takes flight.

Clearly Identifiable Criminals Caught On CCTV

The café owner came to look at the footage that our cameras filmed and was able to identify, by name, the person who was captured on camera. Somebody was arrested for the crime, but subsequently released by police thanks to lack of evidence.

However, the police didn’t ask us or any of our neighbours if we had CCTV footage of the night, or whether there were any eye witnesses to the break in. As well as having plenty of circumstantial evidence against the suspect the owner of the shop opposite can be seen coming to the door of his premises, speaking to the suspect, and going back inside. Shortly after the man can be seen shining his torch into the windows of the shop again, apparently to see if he was still on site. Read more

Integrating Digital Into Every Aspect Of Home And Lifestyle

smart technology, lightingLife and work change along with the accessibility of technology people make use of. When you like using something, you find ways to use it in your everyday life. Ease of use and advances in functionality make things more useful, and the more useful they are, the faster and more deeply they are adopted.

Working From Home Will Make Your Home Work Differently

Technological advances, like evolution itself, are a part of a creeping change, and only occasionally manifests itself as a identifiable leap. If you look at home-working, there has been a natural progression which allowed this to come about. Home working was often considered as skiving for most people until relatively recently. Today, with the reliability of digital communications, the ubiquity of laptops, tablets etc. and the problems people have commuting remote working is now a practical solution, and it’s been found that people are actually more productive working from home than from the office.

Because our lifestyles, workstyles, living and working spaces are evolving and merging with one another the space where that takes place needs to change and evolve too. A lifestyle ecosystem will develop around individuals which will include home, work, leisure, and relaxation, all taking place in one unified space. Smart technology will play an increasingly large part in that. Read more

Integrating Smart Technology into Architecture

One day, well, numerous times over several years, everything went digital. In the 90s mobile phones switched from analogue to digital, TV went digital a few years ago, and many radio stations are now internet (digital) and DAB only.

Analogue makes sense to us, it moves in waves like sound, and it’s something we understand. As the joke goes, there are 10 different types of people in the world, those who understand digital, and those who don’t. Yet, whether we can make sense of it or not, it’s faster, more energy efficient, more adaptive, and easier to make tiny devices which can then be used to control bigger devices. And it’s these IoT devices which we are now buying and introducing to our homes, in turn, making them a stand-alone internet of things. Read more

Approaching Your Landlord Or Property Manager About Satellite TV

Abseiling satellite Dish installation, maintenance, servicing
Professional Satellite Dish Installation

You might be struggling with a set top aerial or have an antenna in the loft because your letting agent or landlord won’t give you permission to have a satellite receiver installed. Their argument is that mounting the dish on the wall and putting a hole through a wall or window frame for the cable to come into the property will cause unnecessary damage to the masonry and woodwork or that there is a possibility that you will depart at the end of your tenancy with money owing which will impact the credit rating of the property, making it harder for subsequent tenants to get goods and services.

Most tenancy agreements will say that you can’t fit aerials or other structures to the property, however, it’s not unreasonable to ask if the landlord will give you permission as an exception. Under part a1 Landlords and Tenants Act 1985 your letting agent is required by law to tell you the name and address of your landlord, and you can then approach them for permission. However, be sure to get everything in writing as verbal agreements, understandings and even email can be disregarded in the event of a dispute.

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Making Everyday Life Easier Isn’t A Luxury For Those With Disability

Child watching television in a lounge filled with furniture.It’s thought that up to 1000,000,000 alive today have some form of disability, that’s 14.3% of the world’s population who have trouble performing tasks that the able bodied are able to do without much effort.

With that number of people struggling it makes sense that technology should be deployed to make life easier, which is why we need to stop thinking about Smart home solutions as a luxury for those who can afford it, but a necessity for those who need it.

Jaquelline Fuller of Google.org, Google’s charitable arm, said that “historically people living with a disability have relied on technologies that were often bulky, expensive and limited to assisting with one or two tasks. But that’s to change. Together we can create a better world, faster.” So, as we see further developments in connected home devices, the more we see how they can be deployed in such a way that helps those who have trouble seeing, hearing, reaching or even moving a great deal.

Lifestyle Isn’t Luxury

Many devices exist which are a welcome addition to the array of goods which people suffering from mobility and sensory disability will appreciate, yet they’re not marketed at these people because to get the best bang from the buck, marketing departments overlook people with disabilities because they are regarded as a low take-up group with too small a budget/income. Instead the obvious advantages they have for these people are sublimated to the convenience that the devices hold for cash rich time poor individuals for whom total automation and intuitive voice control are the holy grail. Gimmicky gadgets detract from the advances that Smart devices are making. Newspapers and magazine writers take delight in mocking the latest innovations, often because they solve a problem that the writers take for granted or don’t look at from any angle beside face value. Because of this Smart devices are considered luxury goods or needless developments that boffins come up with simply because they can. However, a lot of that ‘luxury’ technology is a godsend for people who know the limitations of living in a world which isn’t designed for them. Read more

What You Should Be Putting On Your Wireless Wishlist

With Christmas coming, what could be a better time to start thinking about your IoT and wireless enabled Smart home? With so many Internet of Things devices available, and your Christmas list still looking scant, maybe ‘new tech’ should be your standard answer whenever anyone asks what you want. Better to ask for a smart home hub and get a smart switch than saying ‘Oh, I don’t know, anything you get me would be lovely’ and ending up with another ugly Christmas jumper.

With Smart home technology you can take complete control of a vast range of different gadgets and consumer durables from anywhere on earth with an internet connection. Or you can sit in the comfort of your own front room and control everything from blinds, lights, air conditioning and heating, CCTV and an intercom, all by simply calling out and telling the house what you want it to do. (If you’re struggling to justify the cost of replacing perfectly good tech that you bought five minutes ago which isn’t Smart, offset the cost by selling your superannuated goods on Gumtree or eBay. You make a bit of the money back, save landfill and someone gets some lovely gadgets for a great price.) Read more

Installing Your Own CCTV Security Camera System

One of the greatest barriers to entry for home security cameras used to be the cabling. The fact that a security camera needed a cable to pass through a wall meant that location was limited, and not everyone was happy about drilling a hole thought the brickwork or rendering, especially in historic, rented or listed buildings. With Smart CCTV that’s no longer a problem.

Now that wireless CCTV cameras are now available, that problem is eliminated. Because they’re wireless, they can be installed virtually anywhere, meaning that they can not only cover doors, windows and the access to your property, they can be put in and around garages, outbuildings and sheds. It’s common for burglars to break into sheds not only to steal tools, bikes and lawnmowers and the like, but to take your own ladders, using them to get further access to your home and its contents.

When planning where to put your new security camera, there are one or two issues to consider.

Coverage

Will it capture images of people as they approach the property? If you put the camera too high the angle will be too steep to get a good look at people’s faces. Is there anything obscuring the lens creating a blind spot which could be used to evade detection by a CCTV security camera’s motion detectors?

Access

You’ll probably want to tweak the angle that the camera is aimed once it’s installed and set up, and at some point you’ll need to either change the batteries or clean the solar panel, depending on how the unit works. You’ll undoubtedly need a ladder to reach the camera, so consider whether you can do that safely regularly before you set the CCTV camera up.

Network Security

Because the camera is wireless it needs to connect with your wireless home network. If the camera hasn’t been correctly secured it could get hacked, meaning that other people can turn the camera on and off or even use it to get access to other smart devices you have around the home. Change the product name and password from the default and use something innocuous as a name and a long, complex password. Calling it ‘security camera front door’ and using the default password, or the same password you use for all your devices makes it incredibly easy to hack if you have half a mind.

Extras

You can opt to have a mic and speaker on your security camera so you can talk to people who are wandering around your property, the motion detector can be tied to security lights so they flood the drive or garden when people are coming to your door, some come with infra red night vision, human detection (so they won’t activate every time a cat or fox walks up the garden path) and motion zones so you can identify areas in frame where people shouldn’t be going.

Now that we know what you need to be looking out for, which are the best products on the market?

Depending on where you plan to use them, the features and benefits will dictate which you will choose, but we’ve looked at the best CCTV and home access devices on the high street and run them down below.

nest cctv home security perimeter camera
Nest Cam IQ Outdoor & Indoor

Nest Cam IQ Outdoor & Indoor

While it is technically ‘wireless’ insomuch as the data is sent over your wifi network, the device still needs to be powered by a cable, which they helpfully suggest you pass through a window or drill a hole in the wall. So it’s wireless, however, it’s cable dependent. And running a cable through a window compromises not only the window, but can damage the cable too, and if the cable is cut…

The Nest Cam IQ sends 24 hour data so you don’t have to worry about motion detection, but that means it’s data heavy since they operate in full HD. They have facial recognition and night vision with close-up tracking, so if there is a break-in you can be sure to have incredibly good footage of your intruder. It has two way audio so you can talk to people on your property, not only unwelcome visitors, but deliveries, salespeople, and unexpected guests. To get all the features and the most out of the device you need a strong broadband router, and monthly subscription to Nest security services.

ario home security camera
Arlo Pro 2

Arlo Pro 2

The Arlo is indeed a wireless, motion controlled device which saves battery by only coming on when the motion detector is triggered. While the picture quality is an average 720p it has a 130 degree camera which gives a great field of vision. It’s a very small device which is easy to install and is robust, high and low temperatures and rain don’t bother it a bit. The data can be stored locally on a USB or onto the cloud so there is no immediate need to buy a monthly subscription. It also has night vision and adjustable sensitivity, so you can eliminate hedgehogs rootling around and only start filming when people are present.

logitec home security cctv
Logitech Circle 2

Logitech Circle 2

The Logitech Circle comes with a built in battery, but that battery life is limited to 12 hours standby, and less if the camera is activated, so you have to switch over the batteries quite regularly, and if you’re leaving the house from more than a day, you’ll need to find an alternative. You get a choice of video quality capture, 720p or 1080p HD and nigh vision. It has facial and motion detection. Facial recognition means that the camera won’t activate when it recognises you, your partner and kids, but will activate when anyone it doesn’t recognise appears before it. It has 24 hour free cloud space, and a subscription service is available to unlock other features and benefits. The Circle is really a more robust version of the same device designed for indoor use, to record activity and monitor what happens within the home, rather than being designed specifically to use outside. Essentially it works better if located indoors looking out of the window than it does outdoors as thick walls can interrupt the signal when operating wirelessly.

Briant Communications can help you with all your CCTV security camera requirements. From a free quote for installation to a full coverage review, location plan, supply and installation we offer a full service package. Get in touch today for a visit from one of our experienced engineers.

Don’t Give Thieves An Early Christmas Gift

Christmas can be a high old time for burglars and thieves. The nights are dark and cold, you’re buying lots of treats ready for wrapping and giving to your friends and family, and you’re preparing to be out of the house for much of the time. It’s perfect for people planning no good. Not giving them the upper hand is simple though. A few common-sense precautions, one or two deterrents, and your home is safe and secure.

Don’t make your home a target. Many thieves operate at this time of year because the dark afternoons mean that they get to enjoy the best of both worlds: people are out at work, out shopping or walking the dog, but the houses in the neighbourhood are shrouded in darkness. There’s every chance they will have been in your area earlier that day to see if you’re home, checked your security measures and possibly taken a look through the window to see what they’re going to steal when they come back once night has fallen.

Most burglars are opportunist, and by no means professional. They cause thousands of pounds worth of damage stealing goods worth a few hundred that they will only get a few pounds for when they sell them on. They don’t plan beyond looking at the security precautions you’ve on display, they don’t have housebreaking skills or specialist tools, generally they will only spend about a minute trying to force their way in. If they’re successful they will spend 10-12 minutes inside and then leave. They don’t spend time looking carefully at the kinds of door locks you have, whether they can bypass the circuit, or any of that, if they can force their way in without making too much noise, grab what they want and get away again before the police are likely to arrive then your house is good enough for them. Read more

DIY HiFi, How And Why?

DIY is one of the UK’s favourite pass-times. Last year the DIY industry was worth £36,000,000,0000 and caused 25,763 injuries requiring medical attention between 2014 and 2017.

I’m sure if you really looked into it you could find out how much of that £36bn was spent on repairing their own mistakes, and replacing stuff that they had broken. Look deeper still and you can probably find how much was spent getting a professional in after a disastrous weekend of failed home improvement.

DIY ranges from building a lean-to, putting together flat-pack furniture, decorating or installing home entertainment systems and the like. For the most part these kinds of jobs are easy enough, don’t require any specialist tools besides pliers, screwdrivers and a drill. I could write for ages about the guy who removed all the floors and load bearing walls out for reasons known only to himself, or the one who began burrowing under his home, then his neighbours’ eventually undermining several properties down his street over a period of years.

DIY Is Often More Expensive Than Hiring Professionals

Instead we’ll stick to covering the mistakes and mishaps that can happen when you’re installing your own home entertainment systems. These mistakes can prove costly, and incredibly inconvenient if you have to replace expensive TV or hi-fi equipment when you break it. Others, while not needing a pricey fix, can be really irritating if you get them wrong.

Cabling. Even speakers, routers, and other devices named ‘wireless’ still need power cables, so the cliché runs as true for them as it does for traditional cabled equipment, you can always cut it shorter, never longer. Always buy and fit more cable than you think you’re going to need because you’ll always want to move things around, change your mind about positioning, find the wire has to go around something, and no matter how good your wire is, it never ever stretches. Once your speaker is in position there’s nothing as irritating as pulling it out to adjust it and the cable comes out, and then slips back down behind the bookcase you’ve put it on!

On the subject of cabling; ID your ends! Once you start to get into a multichannel system with amps, DVD players, CD players, decoders, computers, HDTVs etc you’re going to find that you have A LOT of cable and they’re all going to start looking very similar. If you haven’t identified the ends of each cable you’re going to have to spend a lot of time and trouble tracing each line from one end to the other, scrabbling around behind furniture, untying and untwisting knotted wires… All you needed to do was stick a label made of masking tape to the end and all your woes would have been solved. Read more