20 Top Resources for Facilities Managers

ResourcesFrom the smallest office building to the biggest schools, every facility has ongoing maintenance and management needs. Here’s a helpful list of the top 20 resources to check when your next issue comes up.

1- Buildings.com

Buildings.com bills itself as a site for smarter facilities management, and it comes through on that promise. Don’t miss the free educational courses for brushing up on maintenance issues.

2- The SMRP Library

Need facts or metrics? The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals has a terrific library of research, ebooks, whitepapers, and more. When you need to justify the cost of new equipment or training, start here for background research.

3- Buildium.com

With a focus on property management, Buildium is an alliance of current and former renters who are devoted to working hand-in-hand with property managers. The site is full of insights, from a customer’s perspective.

4- OSHA

No list of resources would be complete without a connection to OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Their site is packed with information about workplace safety and best practices for hazard reduction at your facility.

5- ADA Standards

Is your facility totally compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act? Use this site to make sure, and to plan for future upgrades that are ADA compliant.

6- Facilities Manager Magazine

This nonprofit magazine is devoted to educating facility managers about the latest news in operations, solutions, and creative strategies in the field. It’s a must-read for anyone who’s interested in the bigger picture of operations management.

7- Cleaning and Maintenance Management Magazine

Stay ahead of green and sustainable cleaning methods with this helpful online magazine. It also addresses management issues like technology, hiring, and continuing education.

8- International Facility Management Association

Learn from a worldwide group of facility management professionals. IFMA hosts events around the globe and is always on the cutting edge of new methods, like technology-assisted facility management.

9- Building Owners and Managers Association

BOMA International is an educational and advocacy organization for commercial real estate. Their site is a great place to learn about building codes, legislation, trends, and other big issues that affect building management.

10- SMRP Conference

It’s consistently ranked as one of the top conferences in the world for facilities managers. Learn from experts and try hands-on activities that enhance your knowledge. If you can’t attend the big event, SMRP also has online educational offerings.

11- RELIABILITY Conference

This is a next-level conference for building owners who want to learn more about asset management and tech solutions.

12- Maintenance Manager App

If you haven’t tried an app for maintenance management, here’s one to check out. Available for free in iTunes, it allows you to assign work orders, track issues, and interact with your service team. It’s a great productivity booster.

13- Capterra Ranking Tool

It can be hard to find reliable reviews for maintenance software. Capterra offers a free list, with rankings from real maintenance professionals. The site includes paid listings too, but they’re not ranked more highly than the rest, according to Capterra.

14- BOMA Awards

These awards are truly something to strive for. Companies that have BOMA 360 designation are preferred partners for many superstar companies in industries like hotels, healthcare, construction, and design.

15- Green/LEED Certification

Pursue LEED certification as a green business by connecting with GBCI, the certifying organization. Their site is a great resource for sustainable facility management methods and information about earth-friendly choices.

16- NFPA Certification

The National Fire Protection Association offers certification for various critical issues related to fire, power, and building safety.

17- Facility Management Innovator Podcast

This information-packed podcast discusses trends in the industry and interviews well-known people in facility management. If you’re interested in innovation, it’s a great resource.

18- Inc. Uncensored

Prefer your business management news in a short, catchy format? Try Inc. Uncensored. It focuses on surprising facts and business trends that affect industries around the world.

19- Facility Management Handbook

This book is an all-in-one guide to facility management. Make sure your building supervisor has a copy and put it in the hands of new employees to help them hit the ground running.

20- Sustainable Facility Management: Optimizing Building Performance

Technology is reshaping how buildings are managed, and this book explains the changes in detail. Use it to help your operation evolve to a new level.

Want more resources like these? Click here for a longer list of facilities management resources from ServiceMaster.

Opportunity Makes A Thief: What Causes Employees To Steal (And How To Keep It From Happening To You)

Although we know it’s wrong, statistics show that there are some people who can’t seem to resist the urge to steal. It’s easy to assume that those who commit crimes like these couldn’t possibly be people you know, but the truth is that they could be individuals you’ve personally hired — or even ones you implicitly trust. That can have huge implications for your business, from inventory and revenue loss to bankruptcy filings.

Think this couldn’t possibly happen to your organization? Think again. Data shows that it’s far more common than you’d think, and virtually every business is at risk for employee theft. Even your definition of what employee theft is might be skewed; it’s possible that you may have once committed employee theft without even knowing it! In order to adequately protect your business, you need to first understand the massive scope of the problem, what’s actually involved, and what pushes an employee to commit theft.

Let’s Start With Some Startling Employee Theft Facts:

 

  • 75% of all employees have stolen from their employer at least once and half of those workers steal repeatedly

 

  • Every year, employees steal $50 billion from U.S. businesses
  • Businesses lose approximately 7% of their total revenue to theft or fraud
  • One-third of business failures and bankruptcies are caused by employee theft
  • An employee is 15 times more likely to steal from a business than an outsider is
  • Three-quarters of employee crimes go undetected, and many are never reported — even when employees are caught
  • According to the American Society of Employers, 20% of workers are aware of fraud that’s taken place at their companies and 44% say their employers could do more to reduce fraud

What Does Employee Theft Entail?

You can probably guess that employee theft involves stealing something from a business in some shape or form. But this crime actually covers more than you might have thought. In addition to outright stealing, an employee can also be guilty of theft if they use or misuse assets without permission. The “assets” component is key, as this implies an employee theft can take place even if there isn’t any missing money or product involved.

Yes, employee theft can cover missing intake from the cash drawer or purloined inventory. Money is the most common asset that employees steal, of course, but there are other possibilities too. It might seem rather innocuous to take office supplies or food from your place of employment, but that counts as employee theft. Taking merchandise or company property that could be sold also counts for obvious reasons.

There are two examples of employee theft that may really surprise you. Information theft — stealing product designs, formulas, trade secrets, confidential data, and other proprietary information — can be a huge problem for many businesses, especially in the digital age. Employees don’t have to figure out a way to steal a physical document anymore; they simply need to access a computer file or network with a few clicks of a mouse. And time theft can also be a substantial issue. If an employee has falsified their timekeeping records or simply doesn’t do their work while clocked in, this also falls under the category of employee theft. While this last example can be difficult to prove, especially if your business operates under any kind of honor system, the bottom line is that it still costs a company money in some way.

Why Do Employees Steal In The First Place?

We’ve covered the fact that employees do steal, as well as the assets they can potentially take. But what would cause an employee to do this at all? While some circumstances — like a compulsion, revenge for a perceived slight, or dire financial straits — could push an employee over the edge, the simplest answer to this question is because they can.

Whether an employee feels they aren’t being compensated fairly for their efforts, they have debts to pay, or they simply want to see what they can get away with, the specific reasons don’t necessarily matter. Here’s what does matter: if you have vulnerabilities within your organization, you’ll likely have employees who will try to take advantage. This may sound pessimistic, but that harsh dose of reality should motivate you to protect your business from employee fraud.

How Businesses Can Prevent Employee Theft

Regardless of industry or size, all businesses need to take precautions to prevent employee theft. But knowing where to start can be difficult. It’s also important to note that your prevention efforts must be ongoing. Not only do you need to establish these practices, but you’ll need to remain vigilant in your evaluation and enforcement. To dissuade employees from theft, consider the following tips:

Restrict Access To Assets

A common mistake made by countless business owners is a failure to safeguard information and property. Forgetting to ask for that extra set of office keys back or neglecting regular password changes can have astronomical consequences for your business. Of course, it’s important to restrict access to inventory or an on-site safe, but don’t forget about digital crime. Limiting your employees’ access to your network and/or specific files based on the time of day or their job position can be helpful. Don’t forget to remove their permissions if their employment status changes in any way. Passwords should be changed on a frequent basis to ensure compliance. (As an added bonus, this will thwart outside hackers, too!)

Invest in Surveillance and Security

Let’s face it: you can’t have eyes on your employees all the time. That’s why it’s important to use surveillance cameras and alarm systems. These tools can offer you peace of mind in spots you can’t normally monitor or during times that don’t require your physical presence. Whether you run a retail store, a restaurant, a healthcare facility, or a corporate office, even the threat of security footage can be enough to convince employees to not commit a crime. Plus, if and when employee theft ever occurs, you’ll be able to know exactly what occurred and when. It should go without saying that you’ll need to restrict access to your security systems to prevent possible tampering.

Conduct Risk Assessments and Train Employees

In many cases, businesses may not even be aware of the vulnerabilities within their own organization. After all, if you don’t know where the weaknesses are, it can be tough to address them. That’s why conducting risk assessments can be extremely beneficial. By hiring an expert to perform an assessment of the areas in which your business is lacking — be it in your network infrastructure or your physical inventory warehouses — you’ll get a much clearer idea of what you need to fix. You can then review recommendations made by those conducting the risk assessment and train your employees accordingly. Increased training opportunities have been shown to decrease an individual’s motive to commit fraud. Not only will you show employees that you’re serious about your policies, but you’ll also make them part of the solution and foster a better culture.

Consider Inventory Tracking Software

If you’re still keeping track of your business’s inventory with a spreadsheet, you’re already in trouble. No doubt, that information is outdated at best and dangerously inaccurate at worst. Fortunately, we live in the age of tech — so there are now much better alternatives than a written account or an Excel spreadsheet. Inventory tracking software is used for everything from retail stores to government organizations. Because these programs track products in real time, everything will be accounted for. Whether your inventory is damaged due to unavoidable conditions or pure accidents or it’s stolen in an employee scheme, you’ll always know exactly what’s missing. Remember to keep track of both your supply inventory and your product inventory, if applicable, since both are prone to employee theft.

Reassess Your Hiring Practices

It’s important to remember that virtually any employee has the capability to steal. That said, your hiring practices could make the potential for employee theft more likely than it needs to be. A failure to conduct thorough background checks for job candidates can lead to costly mistakes later on. You’ll want to search for an employee’s criminal history and may want to consider conducting a drug test before extending an offer. Many employers will even check a candidate’s social media profiles to get a more complete idea of their personality and regular activities. While you should never let stereotypes cloud your judgment, you should be cautious about who you hire. One rash decision could result in thousands of dollars in losses for your business.

Set Up an Anonymous Tip Line

Remember that statistic about employees who know there’s something shady going on at work? You can make it safe and easy for these employees to speak up by setting up a confidential tip line to report possible instances of crime. Although you don’t want to encourage employees to turn on each other without merit, a phone tip line, an email address, or even a special suggestion box can encourage workers to do right by your company and report suspicious activity. Some businesses incentivize people to speak out against employee theft, but that may not be appropriate in every case. Keep in mind that even if you don’t receive many tips at all, the existence of the tip line itself can convince would-be thieves not to go through with their plan; if they know their coworkers are on the lookout, they might realize it’s too big a risk to take.

Monitor Employee Breaks and Tasks

Micromanaging your employees can definitely backfire. After all, no one wants to feel like they’re being treated like a child while at work. But that doesn’t mean you should trust your employees to follow the rules. While one person might think it’s harmless to clock back in while they’re still eating their lunch or take more smoke breaks than they’re allowed, that time theft ultimately harms your business. All employees should have a clear idea of what is and isn’t allowed in terms of their work breaks. That way, ignorance is absolutely no excuse.

In addition, you might not think it’s a big deal for an employee to take a private phone call in the back of your store or take out the garbage. But there are some workers who will take advantage of your trust and use these opportunities to commit crimes. For example, a retail employee may disguise merchandise as trash, hide it in the garbage dumpster, and retrieve it later unnoticed. In this situation, businesses should utilize clear garbage bags, lock all dumpsters, and restrict access for employees. The “buddy system” can also be of help here, particularly where inventory and financial transactions are involved. Two employees should work opening and closing shifts to limit opportunities for theft, and all refunds should be witnessed by a manager. This may not be enough stop higher-level employees from committing theft — they may think they’re above these procedures — but these policies can make a huge difference, especially when they’re used in conjunction with the other tips outlined here.

A Few Important Points To Remember:

  • Trust no one.
    This isn’t to say you won’t have dependable, trustworthy employees. But it does mean that you shouldn’t make assumptions about human behavior. Just because an individual has been in your employ for years doesn’t mean they’re devoid of the temptation to steal. In many cases, an employee who steals is someone who’s also highly trusted. And often, these individuals are first-time offenders. Don’t assume that prior good behavior or company loyalty will discourage someone with unrestricted access to “do the right thing.” 
  • You’ve gotta walk the walk.
    It’s not enough to just put protective measures in place; you need to follow them to the letter in every single instance. If procedures are not followed 100% of the time, that leaves your business vulnerable to those who might take advantage. In the same vein, it’s important to follow a strict no-tolerance policy, regardless of who commits an infraction. Whether they’re an entry level employee or a top executive, they should be treated exactly the same if they are caught. In other words, set clear policies and always follow through. 
  • If you’re a small business owner, beware.
    While big corporations might seem like a more likely target for employee theft (more employees means more anonymity and perhaps more opportunities to steal), data suggests that small businesses are actually more vulnerable to it. Because small businesses have fewer workers, these workers often have higher autonomy levels within the company itself. That, coupled with the fact that most small businesses have increased financial constraints for combating theft and conducting audits, gives these employees more opportunities to commit a crime. In addition, employee fraud costs small businesses more than it does for larger businesses, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners — and because those costs matter more to small businesses than big corporations, they ultimately do more harm.  

Remember the 10-10-80 rule.
It’s believed that 10% of employees will never steal and 10% always will. That remaining 80% may be on the fence but will steal given the opportunity. That means it’s vital that you not give any employee — regardless of their standing within your company or what their behavior suggests — the chance to steal time, product, revenue, or information.

Employee Theft Is Common, But It Doesn’t Have To Happen

For businesses of all kinds, employee theft is a constant threat. But you can mitigate your risk by educating yourself and taking these important preventative steps. If your employees don’t have the chance to steal, most won’t even try to get away with it. Make sure that your business is protected with the proper tools, like security cameras and software, and that you do everything in your power to limit access — and therefore, opportunity to commit theft.

The Importance of Security Surveillance for Small Businesses

As a small business owner, your company or startup is the manifestation of your ideas, hard work, and monetary assets. You will likely do anything to protect your employees, customers, and merchandise from threats.

But sometimes these threats are impossible to predict.

For any sized business, burglaries and shoplifting can be devastating. According to a 2015 study, the average loss per shoplifting incident was $377. And these add up when a business falls victim to multiple shoplifting crimes

This is where commercial security systems come into play. With the right preparation and cameras in place, your business can stay ahead of robberies, shoplifting, and other safety concerns.

What Are The Risks Of Poor Security For Small Businesses?

One incident of shoplifting is generally not catastrophic for a small business; it may even be expected in some circumstances. It is the culmination of shoplifting, burglaries, employee crimes, and false alarms that add up to a significant financial blow.

Burglaries in particular are one of the top causes of revenue loss for businesses. According to 2016 data, there were 1.7 million burglaries in the U.S. in 2014. These incidents make up 13.6% of property crimes, but businesses are actually four times more likely than homes to be burglarized.

For your business, this means that your inventory assets are more at risk than you may realize. You not only risk losing merchandise, but property damage as well. By having eyes on your business even when you are not there, you can increase your chance of being compensated for these incidents.

While some of these burglaries happen while the business is closed, shoplifters pose a significant risk during business hours. Small businesses around the country lose between $25,000 and $33,000 per minute to shoplifters. And if your business has a weak security system, it can be nearly impossible to catch or identify these thieves.

It’s also important to remember that while businesses lose money to burglaries, they also lose money to false alarms. False alarms make up 10-20% of all calls to the police and 94-99% of all alarm calls. While false crime alarms may seem harmless, each incident can actually cost a business owner up to $125.

With all of these factors in mind, it’s essential that businesses take a critical look at their security preparedness. Not all businesses have the proper number of cameras in their businesses, and even more do not have them in the right places. The right systems and the right security practices can transform a business’s potential risk. And this applies to more than just theft prevention.

How Can Businesses Benefit From Strong Security?

A quality security system can protect a business from a range of risks — not just thieves. With the right preparatory measures, entrepreneurs can rely on their systems while they focus on the more important aspects of running a business. The following are just some of the perks of security systems.

  • Theft Control: As mentioned above, burglary and shoplifting prevention is one of the most important roles of security systems. But their function goes beyond that. If someone does steal from your business, you have a better means to identify them, leading to prosecution. You can also use your system to monitor employee theft. Data from the U.S. Department of Commerce found that about 75% of employees steal, and you should be able to identify them.
  • Safety: Having a set of security cameras around your business may also curb incidents of sexual harassment and workplace violence. If an incident does happen, you will have evidence to bring to the police. Your employees may also be more inclined to report harassment or violence if they know you have the means to prove it.
  • Insurance Benefits: In some cases, having an indoor and outdoor security system may reduce your business insurance premiums. This is because you have a lower risk of theft and property loss than if you did not have any security systems in place. When your business is less of a risk, you and the insurance company benefit.
  • Lawsuit Protection: If you are involved in a lawsuit and believe that your business is being wrongfully accused, you can use security camera footage to prove this. A common example is a fraudulent worker’s compensation case. If an employee forces or fakes an injury to get money, you might be able to prove that. The same principle can apply to the harassment and violence situations mentioned above.

Remember that while your business is central to you and your career, it does not need to be a liability. Once you amp up your security efforts, you can know that you are doing everything you can to prevent crimes and other incidents.

Where Should I Place My Security Cameras?

When it comes to protecting your business, simply having security cameras is not enough. You need to use them effectively. Industry data estimated that the video surveillance equipment market will grow to $4.56 billion by 2019 and will have captured 3.3 trillion hours of security footage daily. This leaves you with a wide range of camera options as security technology evolves. So, where should your cameras go to maximize security?

Points Of Transaction: It’s essential to have camera’s pointing at any place where money is processed or exchanged. This way, you have have a record of what is going on around cash registers or cash boxes. Point the camera low enough so you can see the torso, hands, and heads of customers and employees. Generally, it’s best to point the camera toward the customer, so you can see their face.

Exterior: Sometimes, knowing what is happening outside of your business is just important as what happens inside. Outdoor surveillance is especially important in the event of a burglary or break in. Cameras around your parking lot, walkways, and entrances can capture faces and license plate numbers.

Entrances And Exits: You want to be able to keep track of who is going in and out of your business. The timestamps on your footage also allow you to calculate how long customers stay in the building, proving that they were there during certain incidents. Place the camera so it is facing outward at a point that can capture the face of anyone going through the door.

Storage Areas: These cameras are especially important for retail stores. Place several cameras wherever you store your goods, as these areas can be targets for burglars and dishonest employees. Just be sure that storage areas and warehouses are well lit or have motion-sensing lights to allow the camera to capture what is going on.

Remote Areas: Take note of the areas of your business that are more isolated. These could be closets, break rooms, coolers, and in the garbage area. When an employee or customer is planning to steal, they might retreat to one of these areas to slip something into their bag or to stash away until they leave. With cameras, you can catch them in the act.

Reception Desks: Similar to points of transaction, reception desks see a high volume of customers. By monitoring these areas, you can revisit the footage and take note of a suspect customer’s behavior. These areas are also close to business entrances, so that adds another point of surveillance as customers and employees enter the building.

Improved Security: A Businesswide Effort

By installing security cameras and amplifying your business’ security initiatives, you are strengthening your commitment to your business. With the right system in place, you can prevent internal and external theft, and you will be able to address it if it does happen. This tangible evidence will be valuable evidence in the event of prosecution.  

But remember that security cameras are only part of the equation. To take your security a step further, train your employees on security best practices and emergency response protocol. This way, if you do have an incident of theft or violence in your organization, your staff can ensure their safety in the moment and later provide testimonials.

Your cameras, employee training, and assurance of best practices can protect your employees, merchandise, and property. This will make your business a safer place to be for everyone and can keep you out of the news for any shady activity. And for you personally , this means a more lucrative, sustainable business in the long term.

How to Prevent the Hacking of Security Cameras

You want your customers to feel safe and secure doing business with you. But hackers could be peeking into your store, office, finances, or credit card transactions. If you have cameras – including cell phones – anywhere in your business, someone could be watching you right at this moment.

Cyber crime has risen dramatically in the past several years, becoming the world’s latest epidemic, according to crime research. Hacking spreads quickly, like a disease, and it’s hard to prevent or cure. It’s considered a form of electronic eavesdropping and is forbidden by the Federal Wiretap Act, however, it’s extremely difficult for law enforcement to track down hackers.

How Hacking of Security Cameras Works

Hackers are tech-savvy criminals who look for holes in your security. Like a robber who looks for an open window, a hacker seeks an open network where something of value sits. Unlike a robber, a hacker doesn’t need physical access to your location.

The hacking of security cameras is mostly done through remote attacks from anywhere in the world. After finding a way to slip in, hackers can view your files, steal photos and video, launch viruses, find passwords, control your devices, and create massive chaos in your systems.

Some attacks are more sophisticated than others. Brute force attacks are a basic type of attack where a hacker makes repeated guesses at your password using automated software.

Data breaches expose sensitive data like bank account numbers, credit card information, and personal details. These attacks can make headlines and harm a company’s reputation. Yahoo and LinkedIn have had some of the largest data breaches of all time – but breaches aren’t limited to large or web-based businesses. All businesses are vulnerable, and settlements for class-action lawsuits can be millions of dollars.

Now, you may be wondering what data breaches have to do with the hacking of security cameras.  Well, if a company you do business with is hacked, the password you use to log in to your account with that company might be compromised.  If you also use that same password elsewhere (as is often the case), then those accounts could also be compromised–including the account you use to access and control your security camera remotely.

Data breaches are, in most cases, not something you can do much about because they mostly affect the companies you do business with rather than your company.  However, what you can do is make sure that you aren’t using the same password in multiple locations, and you can also sign up for an identity theft monitoring service that helps track if someone is using your information for nefarious purposes.

Why Do Hackers Attack Cameras?

You might be wondering why a criminal would want access to cameras in your business. Most of the footage obtained through the hacking of security cameras would just be uneventful day-to-day operations at your company. But for a moment, imagine viewing your business as a hacker does. Could they peek over shoulders and see credit card numbers? Could they monitor private conversations about company financial data? Could they observe when your employees come and go so they’ll know when your office sits empty?

How to Identify Hacked Cameras

It’s actually hard to know if cameras have been hacked. System slowness is a top indicator. Keep an eye out for alerts and codes, and report them to your security system provider. Watch the positioning of your cameras too. If you know your cameras are normally pointed at certain areas, check footage frequently to see if their angle is being manipulated. And if you suddenly lose connections, footage, or archived files, this could be an indication that a hacker has accessed your system.

Protect Cameras From Hacking

Hacking is difficult to detect, but you can take preventive measures against it. Here are some tips for protecting your network and devices:

  • Never Purchase Used Equipment. Work only with a reputable security firm and don’t set up your system with used equipment. Any used device could have spying and hacking software built into it by a previous owner. In fact, it could be infected without the previous owner even realizing it.
  • Create a Password Policy. Require all employees to use passwords, and make sure passwords are changed frequently. Set policies that prevent holes in your security plan. For example, if a clerk puts the system password on a post-it note next to the computer, a camera hacker could see it and access the system.
  • Run Recommended Software Updates. Hire a professional to manage your security system and do all updates they recommend. Out-of-date software opens doors to thieves.
  • Secure Wireless Systems. Make sure your company’s wireless network is secure. WiFi access might need to be restricted to known devices and it should definitely be password-protected. If your system is large, consider dedicating a wireless network to it. You can also purchase the latest sophisticated equipment that resists jamming by spreading transmission across various channels. Some businesses opt not to use web-based cameras at all, preferring a closed system. Ask your security company for advice about locking down your network.
  • Monitor Your Users. Your employees are, unfortunately, a weakness in your security plan. They are capable of leaking sensitive data that can be used by criminals. Did you know that the biggest bank heist of all time wasn’t done in person, but by hackers? They used social engineering – psychological techniques – to carefully pull information out of bank employees to steal $81 million. Manage social engineering by keeping an eye on your system’s users and insisting that they abide by security rules.

Protecting Personal Cell Phone Cameras

Every cell phone is also vulnerable to hackers, including those for personal use. Imagine that an employee’s phone camera is hacked. As your employee checks texts throughout the day, a criminal could be looking through the camera at confidential forms, data, passwords, and areas of your building.

Cell phone developers work diligently to prevent hacking. The iPhone is known as the hardest phone to hack, but it can be done with money and patience. Some Android phones are more vulnerable than others due to a security flaw in out-of-date software. Virtually any mobile device can be hacked using instructions and software found on the internet. Google it. It’s a bit terrifying. So consider limiting employees’ use of personal cell phones in your business, and work with your security company to protect all company devices.

Click here to learn more about security cameras, including types and styles of cameras, popular manufacturers, and much more.

Top 25 Business Networking Groups in Queens, NY

Business Networking GroupsNetworking is an essential part of growing your business. Not only will you gain clients, you’ll gain credibility as you learn more about other area businesses, as well as learn from the successes of others.

Below you will find information on Chambers of Commerce, referral networking groups, special interest networking groups, and professional development and networking groups in Queens, NY.

We’ve done the legwork, finding the top networking groups in Queens, now it’s up to you to make the next move!

Chambers of Commerce and Business Development Centers

1. Queens Chamber of Commerce
Fostering connections, education, development and advocacy for members. Member benefits include on-going referral programs, business assistance with financial and legal referrals, advocacy regarding issues with government agencies, discounts on prescriptions, travel, energy, office supplies, and more. https://www.queenschamber.org

2. Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce
The Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce is the collective voice representing and advocating for our diverse business community.  We are dedicated to fostering economic growth, diversity, and prosperity of Greater Flushing through advocacy, networking, and education. http://flushingchamber.nyc

3. Chamber of Commerce of the Rockaways
The Rockaway Chamber of Commerce serves the beach community of Rockaway, Queens. https://www.facebook.com/Rockaway-Chamber-of-Commerce-200323140122994/

4. Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce
Forest Hills Chamber of Commerce offers monthly meetings, networking opportunities, area events, advocacy and representation in community affairs. https://www.foresthillschamberofcommerce.org

5. Business Outreach Center of Queens
Offering a wide range of services to the small business community in Queens, including education, information, and assistance with starting up, business planning, marketing, financial management, mentoring and networking. http://www.bocnet.org/boc/queens.html

6. Queens Economic Development Corporation
Creating and retaining jobs, revitalizing small business, and assisting entrepreneurs through workshops, business planning assistance, individual counseling, promotion and networking opportunities. https://www.queensny.org/qedc/

Special Interest Business Networking

7. Queens Women’s Business Center
Supports women business owners and entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses with workshops, training, one on one counseling, mentorships and networking. https://www.queensny.org/qedc/business/programs/wbc/

8. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Queens
The Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Queens supports the growth and development of Hispanic-owned businesses in Queens.  Benefits include low-cost advertising, networking opportunities, seminars, workshops and more. http://www.hccq.org

9. Ellevate, New York Chapter
Ellevate is a professional women’s network dedicated to helping women succeed professionally through connecting, continuing education, and investment. https://www.ellevatenetwork.com/chapters/55-us-new-york

10. Black Entrepreneurs and Business Owners of Northeast Queens
Black Entrepreneurs and Business Owners in Northeast Queens is a platform for idea exchange, networking, and support. Join in and let’s help each other grow. https://www.meetup.com/Black-Entrepreneurs-Business-Owners-of-Northeast-Queens/

11. New Horizons Young Professionals Group
The New Horizons Young Professionals Group is a dynamic group of young professionals committed to promoting the Queens Center for Progress to the local business community and creating networking opportunities for all members of the group. http://www.queenscp.org/2016/12/08/update-new-horizons-young-professional-group/

12. Women Entrepreneurs and Professionals Network
WEPN is a forum for positive, success-minded women entrepreneurs and professionals to connect and share ideas, with a commitment to fostering quality business relationships. https://www.meetup.com/wepn-com/

13. Out Professionals Networking Groups

Out Professionals is committed to networking within the LGBT community. Join other motivated professionals, entrepreneurs, and business owners for a friendly breakfast or lunch to network, swap ideas, and share experiences. It’s a terrific opportunity to connect with others who share your drive for success – and understand your challenges. http://www.outprofessionals.org/b2b-network-groups/

14. NYC Women Technpreneurs Group
A group dedicated to women in technology that are looking to start or have started their own technology company. Connect with other women in technology, showcase your startup to tech investors, find resources for female technology entrepreneurs, discuss top technology trends and hear from industry experts! https://www.meetup.com/NYCWTE/

15. Queens Business Networking Group
A leader in hosting business networking events in Queens. Business networking events are held each month to introduce you to the most dynamic LGBT business professionals. https://www.meetup.com/The-Queens-Business-Networking-Group

Referral Groups

16. The Business Breakfast Club of Queens & Long Island
Meet business peers in a relaxed atmosphere, and get to know their area of expertise, giving members confidence in any referral decisions they make. http://bbcqli.com/index.php

17. BNI – Advantages
BNI members on average increase their business by 20% in their first year of membership. We are a dynamic group with integrity and enthusiasm. Come for a meeting, stay for the referrals! http://bni-newyork.com/ny-queens-bni-advantages/

18. Jackson Heights Executive Breakfast
Small business owners can join in with other entrepreneurs, share strategies for business development in Northwest Queens over breakfast! https://www.meetup.com/Jackson-heights-Executive-Breakfast/events/239866024/

19. BNI – Cross Island Referral Network
BNI members on average increase their business by 20% in their first year of membership. Visitors are welcome. Join us for a morning meeting, and if your business category is open, join in on the referrals! http://bni-newyork.com/ny-queens-bni-cross-island-referral-network/

20. Gotham City Networking – Queens Chapter
Our goal is to fully reflect the diverse community that we serve, enabling us to do business in a wide variety of neighborhoods, reaching across the Queens area. We welcome new members and new friends. http://www.gothamnetworking.com/m/groups/view/Queens

21. BNI – Dream Team
BNI members on average increase their business by 20% in their first year of membership. BNI Dream Team meets on Tuesdays at 7 am at the Georgia Diner. Join us for a meeting, stay for the referrals! http://bni-newyork.com/ny-queens-bni-dream-team/

22. BNI – Elite Synergy
BNI members on average increase their business by 20% in their first year of membership. Just one person per professional specialty is allowed in each chapter, so see if your category is open and lock out the competition! http://bni-newyork.com/ny-queens-bni-elite-synergy/

23. BNI – Maximum Returns
BNI members on average increase their business by 20% in their first year of membership. Come for our meeting Wednesday mornings at 8 am at the Cross Bay Diner, join us for the referrals! http://bni-newyork.com/ny-queens-bni-maximum-returns/

Professional Development and Networking Groups

24. Marketing Mastermind Exchange
The marketing world is changing every day. Collaborate with other professionals; marketing pros, social media marketers, and others seeking help in marketing. You are welcome to our regular networking and educational events. RSVPing is highly encouraged. Join us for our next meeting! https://www.meetup.com/Marketing-Mastermind-Exchange/

25. Toast of Queens – Toastmasters Club
Improve your public speaking and leadership skills in a comfortable and supportive environment. Networking after the meeting. Join us, guests are welcome! http://www.toastofqueens.toastmastersclubs.org

What is Structured Cabling?

what is structured cablingYou may have heard the phrase “structured cabling” before, especially within the telecommunications world. This phrase is used in several different situations, including telephone system installation, the internet and network connectivity, and even computer data management.  As a structured cabling contractor, this term gets right to the heart of what Streamline Telecom does for our clients.

So what exactly is structured cabling, and why is it so important?

What Structured Cabling is Not

To understand what structured cabling is, we must first understand what it is not. When most people think of cabling and connectivity, they’re often thinking of a direct Point A to Point B connection. For example, this would be like connecting a cable internet cord directly from the wall and into a modem.

In large connected offices, buildings, or a collection of wired condominiums, Point A to Point B connections, or “point to point” connections, are rarely functional. Larger needs demand bigger solutions, and that’s where structured cabling comes in.

What is Structured Cabling

Unlike point to point connectivity, structured cabling functions as an infrastructure with separate important components that work together to form one complete and, of course, structured system.

Structured cabling begins with one central originating point which provides necessary connectivity. From there, other units are connected in a chain-like fashion, one after another after another. Any changes, moves, or additions to the infrastructure can be done at the point of origination versus having to change each receiving unit one by one.

Additionally, the point of original connectivity may have several different connection paths to connect to, such as a building-wide telephone system. But the key to structured cabling is having a base in which all changes and maintenance will be done while maintaining a steady connection to all necessary points.

Importance and Benefits of Structured Cabling

While point to point cabling may seem like the easiest and most efficient route when it comes to cable management systems, this is rarely the case. As mentioned above, the ability to control all connections within a heavily connected building or office via one central point is highly important.

Having one central operation area versus several offers many benefits, including quick and efficient changes and maintenance as well as less downtime in these connections. With fewer steps comes less potential for human error, and with fewer human mistakes comes far less downtime or data loss.

Additionally, structured cable management comes with a high level of flexibility that point to point cabling simply doesn’t allow. With a structured infrastructure, growth and the need for additional cabling can easily be accommodated in one place and with less hassle, compared to point to point in which both areas at either end will need to be accessed during any changes.

The last benefit of structured cabling is one that may seem trivial: aesthetics. With a structured system, cables can be easily organized stored away, allowing for easier access and a cleaner overall look. Because of this, the life of cables and hardware will be also preserved due to the operations being done out of a single point.

Is Structured Cabling Right for Your Needs?

If your cable management system is messy and unorganized, creates more problems than it solves, or is often the cause of service downtime, structured cabling would be perfect for your needs.

While the switch from point to point connectivity to a structured cabling infrastructure may sound daunting, we at Streamline Telecom make it easier and more efficient than ever. If you’re ready to take control of your cabling system and reap all the benefits of working with a structured cabling contractor, contact us today and we’ll help you get started.

Common Types of Security Cameras

Common Types of Security CamerasInstalling a new security camera or camera system may seem like an easy decision. After all, security cameras can improve safety, cut down on crime, and prove invaluable should an unfortunate incident take place.

While the decision to install security measures really is an easy one, selecting the right camera or monitoring system, however, is where the real challenge lies. With so many companies, options, and styles to choose from, it can be overwhelming to determine which best suits your needs.

In this article, we’ll guide you through the most common types of security cameras that we usually recommend as part of our security camera installation service, and explain what they’re best used for in order to help make your decision that much easier.

Box Style Cameras

Our first option is one that pops into most people’s minds when they think “security camera.” The box-style camera is the most commonly used camera for security. These cameras function as any other recording camera will, and they allow a great deal of flexibility in terms of lens customization options. They’re not exactly beautiful, so box style cameras are best suited for outdoor areas, or indoor areas if aesthetics are unimportant.

Dome Security Cameras

Another popular choice is the dome-style camera. These cameras also function as a typical recording camera, but their appeal lies in their discreet shape and size. They can also be used indoors or outdoors, as they’re capable of handling poor weather with ease. Alternatively, dome security cameras are also available in extremely durable casings that are vandalism-resistant.

Pan Tilt Zoom Cameras

Pan, Tilt, and Zoom, or PTZ, cameras are a high-tech favorite for those who seek more control over their security cameras. With the capability for remote operating, these cameras can be changed for a closer viewing scope and adjusted to cover several angles or pan over an area. They can be controlled with a physical joystick or even via remote software and they are able to integrate with technologies like computer systems or smart phones.

Bullet Style Cameras

Meet the box-style camera’s sleek cousin, the bullet security camera. These cameras are far more aesthetically pleasing and also very discreet, particularly when compared to traditional box-style models. These cameras can even be outfitted with IR illuminators, making them viable choices for low-light indoor or outdoor areas.

Day and Night Security Cameras

Similar to the bullet camera, day/night security cameras also rely on infrared features to function well in low-light areas. Unlike the bullet variety, however, these day/night cameras auto-adjust their infrared illuminators to function at high quality during both day and night, eliminating the need for multiple types of camera in a single area.

Thermal Cameras

Thermal cameras are the most unique type of security camera. A viable solution for rough environments, these cameras record the heat patterns of people or animals and can be paired with regular cameras for added security. Though it may sound odd to choose a camera which captures heat patterns, these cameras are invaluable during storms or in dusty, hazy, smoky, or foggy conditions in which regular cameras would be rendered useless.

Selecting the proper security camera can help improve your area’s safety, security, and give you peace of mind, or even evidence, should an unfortunate event occur. While choosing the perfect security camera for your needs may not always be easy, we hope this guide to the most common types of security cameras has proven useful and helped to remove the headache from this difficult decision.

At Streamline Telecom, we pride ourselves on our professional security camera installation service and and are always here help. Our experienced professionals will add security to your area by installing four cameras, four hundred cameras, or anything in between. Contact us today and let’s get started!

Why Combining Cloud-Based Phone Systems with On-Premises Systems Is a Bad Idea

cloud-based phone systemsIf you’re comfortable with onsite communication systems in your workplace, switching over completely to cloud-based phone systems might seem risky, and maybe even a little daunting. Choosing a “hybrid” method to ease into a cloud-based phone system might seem like a good idea to start, but you might be signing yourself up for even more headaches than if you were to make a full migration from the beginning.

We’ve rounded up five misconceptions about combining the two systems in your office to help give you some peace of mind about making the jump to the cloud.

1. You Won’t See the Benefits of Either System by Trying to Maintain Both

While you may feel like you’re getting more out of your initial investment by trying the hybrid approach, you’ll spend most of your time trying to keep up with maintenance and updates rather than taking advantage of the positive features of either system.

Not convinced? Keeping your on-premises system will require you to:

  • Maintain multiple non-integrated systems (since your cloud system won’t integrate with your on-premises system)
  • Regularly update hardware and software, which can be costly
  • Manage complex licensing
  • Pay ongoing maintenance and consulting fees
  • Source outdated hardware parts

2. Maintaining Two Systems Will Ultimately Cost You More

Operating two completely different systems in your office will definitely be reflected in your monthly budget. You can reduce your total cost of ownership (TCO) by simplifying your setup to a single system (and one single bill). Choosing to go with a full cloud migration instead of trying to maintain both will simplify the management and troubleshooting of your phone system while also allowing you to integrate several business apps into one communication service.

In fact, one study showed a 3-year cloud-based system saved up to 39% in TCO compared to a 3-year on-premises upgrade.

3. Sticking With What You Know Isn’t Always Better

Your familiarity with your on-premises system isn’t reason enough to keep it around as you introduce a VOIP phone system to your office. In fact, moving everything to the cloud will greatly simplify your IT, rather than trying to synchronize an outdated onsite system with the cloud.

According to an infographic produced by 8×8, a leading provider of global cloud-based communications, a cloud-based system can simplify your IT with:

  • One system supporting multiple locations and workers
  • Integration of multiple communication features in one solution
  • Centralized administration with one management interface
  • Simple scalability as business needs change
  • Streamlined single billing that includes telephony, unified communications, and contact center costs
  • Automatic upgrades to the latest technology and features

4. Outdated On-Premises Systems Can Be Far Riskier Than Moving Everything to Cloud-based Phone Systems

Many who cling to their on-premises systems claim they do so for security reasons. People are skeptical of allowing sensitive information to live in the cloud rather than in their own offices where they feel they have more control over its safety. However, this simply isn’t the case. According to Jeff Blackey, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Broadview Networks, users are best protected with a 100% cloud-based system.

“On-premise solutions are installed locally, on a company’s own computers, phones, and servers, and are subject to local disasters, local thefts and local hacks in a typically insecure environment,” Blackey said. “Meanwhile, cloud-based systems are hosted on the vendor’s servers, accessible through an encrypted web browser leaving nothing on-site to be vulnerable to hacking, theft or even damage. By having your system hosted in the cloud, you get carrier-grade security out of the box,” he added.

5. A Full Migration to Cloud-based phone systems Doesn’t Require Any Expertise on Your Part

If your main concern about transitioning to a cloud-based system is a lack of knowledge on the subject, you can rest easy. You don’t need to understand how to operate or maintain a cloud-based communications system because your cloud service provider will handle all of that for you.

Streamline Telecom can help you make the switch from an on-premises system to cloud-based phone systems. Reach out today for more information or a quote!

 

Security Camera and Video Surveillance Trends for 2017

security camera installationWith ever-changing and advancing technology, there are many new security camera and video surveillance trends in 2017. The market is expected to reach $42.81 billion by 2019, according to a report from Transparency Market Research.

The study names increased security and safety concerns, and the need to monitor activities to detect intrusion, theft, and traffic surveillance as some reasons for this global growth. Current trends aim to meet the needs of this rising market, such as the major shift to IP-based systems, which produce video feeds with much higher resolution and video quality than that of analog.

What other video surveillance trends can the industry expect to see in 2017? We’ve outlined a few below.

Top Video Surveillance Trends

Software Developments  – According to industry experts, software developments will most likely lead the way in video surveillance trends in 2017. Jon Cropley, Principal Analyst of Video Surveillance at IHS Markit, believes the focus on software will extend beyond 2017. “Whether it be deep learning for video analytics or advances in video management, there seems to be a recognition that improvements in video surveillance system functionality will be driven by software,” he said in a roundtable discussion.

Expansion of the Multi-Sensor and Multi-Directional Cameras – This trend is the reason the industry is seeing an emergence of new vendors and product lines with new configurations. Primarily dominated by one vendor, this expansion will introduce new manufacturers to the market segment to deal with the increased demand for more product options.

A Shift From “Enterprise-Class” to Private Use – While video surveillance has traditionally been used most in commercial settings, the past few years have seen a continuous commoditization of the offerings, according to Ron Grinfeld, Global Vertical Marketing Manager at FLIR Security. Especially in the case of IP camera systems, more and more products are showing up in lower-tier markets, now widely offered for homes and private use. As mentioned above, this is a major drive in the addition of more vendors in the market, and why the leading vendors are now forced to expand their product offerings. This includes the multi-sensor and multi-directional cameras, security drones and robots, and smart wearable cameras.

Addressing Cybersecurity Threats to IP Systems

The major shift to IP systems has seen a dramatic increase in cybersecurity threats and attacks. Industry experts have always expressed concern over the dangers posed by unsecured camera systems, but these fears were realized in the fall of 2016 when separate cybersecurity incidents made headlines.

Better user education is a proactive approach to tighter cybersecurity that industry experts hope to see in 2017 and beyond. Video surveillance vendors will be expected to provide best practice guides, reference architectures, and certifications. Awareness and accountability are often the first steps to better security, and Francis Lachance, Director of the Video and Appliance Product Group, Genetec, hopes to see more of it in 2017. “We will need to inform customers on what is insecure, teach them how to avoid pitfalls and how to protect themselves, and show them how to better manage the risk of deploying non-secure security devices and systems.”

In addition to consumer education, managed services and a shift toward cloud computing are expected to see a rise in demand. According to SecurityCamExpert, “by utilizing managed services and the cloud, businesses can manage their cyber security risk by employing companies whose sole purpose is to maintain data security.” This will also allow consumers more network-based solutions.

Ensure Your Security

Is your surveillance system up-to-date and secure? Streamline Telecom experts can answer any questions you may have about your current camera system, or even provide security camera installation services. Contact us today for your greater New York City metro area security needs!

Best Places to Install Security Cameras in a Business

security camerasSecurity cameras are an important part of a business’s security plan. They’re known to deter theft by employees as well as customers, curb time-wasting behaviors, and can help identify suspects in the case of burglary. However, the placement of these cameras is key. If you have the camera pointed at the wrong place, why have the camera at all? Here are some of the best places to install security cameras for your business.

Exits and Entrances

Prominently featuring security cameras at the building’s entrances and exits will not just allow you to track who’s inside your building and how long they stay. The cameras can get a good look at anyone coming in and out and could act as a deterrent to anyone considering committing a crime. If you want to get a clear picture of a person’s face, it’s wise to place the camera near an item that will catch the eye, such as a TV monitor or prominent sign. When they turn to see the object, the camera will capture a full picture.

Points of Sale

Wherever there are cash registers, there should be cameras, of course. This will not only discourage customers from stealing but also employees. When you mount cameras at these spots, be sure that they’re pointed at the place where the customer would stand, and that the camera’s no more than seven feet high. If the camera is placed higher, you’ll get nothing more than an excellent view of the top of the customer’s head, which isn’t terribly helpful in identifying suspects.

Reception

In most businesses, the reception area is highly trafficked, so it should be covered by a security camera. You can do it subtly, if that’s your preference, as modern technology makes cameras so small they can easily be blended into your décor.

A security camera could be hidden in frames, smoke detectors, sprinkler heads, clocks, or anywhere else. However, keep in mind that there could be potential legal issues related to concealed cameras, so it might be wise to consult your state’s laws prior to utilizing such a camera.

Exterior

Of course, the average business’s assets aren’t kept outside of the building, but in many cases, crime starts outside. Not only would external security cameras protect the cars in the parking lot, but they would also keep tabs on employees when receiving shipments at loading docks. The cameras could record license plate numbers, assist law enforcement in the recovery of stolen goods, and provide employees who are burning the midnight oil with a sense of security as they enter the darkened parking lot.

Warehouses

Your warehouse is home to a great deal of valuable inventory and it can be a hotspot for theft, internal and external. How can you protect it? A security camera can be your eyes and ears when you’re not available to be on site. Mount them inside and outside to stop crime in its tracks. To get the best possible recording, keep your warehouse brightly lit at all times. If you can’t see the culprits, the camera’s presence is in vain.

Secluded Spots

While it might seem strange to put security cameras in places that are rarely visited, these spots are the places where crime is planned. One of the primary places that criminals use to put stolen goods is the dumpster— the employee will throw away the merchandise, and retrieve it later, or send an accomplice to retrieve it. This kind of activity will be curtailed if security cameras are present.

Installing security cameras will keep your business and your employees safe from harm. If you need assistance determining which cameras would best suit your needs, or if you need help installing them, contact us today for more information.