Four Flaws in Access Control Systems

access control systemsSecurity is foremost on the minds of many, and there are many new products that are meant to make your facility safer than ever through smart technology. Streamline Telecom offers a wide variety of products created specifically to help you lock down your home or business. However, even the most advanced security system can be circumvented with a not-so-cutting-edge methodology. Let’s explore some of the flaws in access control systems and how to avoid them.

Flaw #1— Door Propping or Levering

Say, for example, that a delivery driver is dropping off a shipment of supplies. He’s going to be making multiple trips with his hands full, so he props the door open to avoid having to dig out his key card or enter the code time after time. While he steps into his truck to grab some more boxes, an intruder slips in the door.  Additionally, doors can be easily levered open with a tool as simple as a screwdriver. A determined criminal could easily gain access into your building without bringing attention to himself. One way that technology could assist with this issue is to invest in an access control system that could detect open doors and notify security personnel, who would then investigate and shut the door or deter the criminal.

Flaw #2— Tailgating

An employee comes back to the office after lunch, and they open the side entrance door. As they walk through, someone approaches behind them. Their natural courtesy kicks in, and they hold the door for this person and the person enters the building without entering a key code or swiping a card. Unwittingly, the employee has allowed an unauthorized person to enter the building, exposing everyone within to risk. How can this behavior be curbed? Training is key. Conduct an intensive training session for every credentialed employee, ensuring that they understand the importance of security. Another option is to introduce a technique to restrict entry into the building to one person at a time, such as a turnstile or mantrap. Should more than one person attempt to enter, an alarm will sound, bringing security to investigate.

Flaw #3— Lost or Stolen Keys and Access Cards

Unfortunately, lost or stolen keys are unavoidable; humans make mistakes, and crimes happen. Sometimes, people loan their keys or access cards to friends and fail to get them back, or the keys are simply misplaced or stolen, never to be found again. When people are accustomed to tailgating to get in, they might not notice that they’re missing their key or card for days. However, it’s vital that you’re alerted as soon as the resident or employee realizes that the key or card is missing. If your access control system has the capability to electronically track keys or cards, this could be a tremendous money-saving option. Otherwise, you’d need to pay to have locks on a number of doors re-cored, which can really add up over time. With access cards, if you make them double as photo identification, it’s less likely that they would be loaned out, and employees would potentially remember to bring them more frequently.

Flaw #4— Hacking

When your system becomes more high-tech, it becomes exposed to the risk of hacking. Some organizations might think that simply because they remotely control their location via phone or computer, their data is protected; unfortunately, this is not the case. A determined thief could install malware into the device, getting instant access to a location without needing to make any direct contact. How can you protect your access control system? Encryption is a must. It will help to ensure that any user has the appropriate authentication and verification, and it will help to limit the inappropriate access to a location.

When your business or residence is subjected to unauthorized access, it can result in serious danger. The best way to combat this is to carefully consider which access control system will best reduce your risk. Streamline Telecom can help you choose the system that would be most suitable for your particular needs; contact us today to learn more!

Three Ways Cloud-Based Phone Systems Can Make Your Business More Professional

cloud based phone systemsAny small business knows it’s true – competition in the marketplace can be fierce. While it may drive you crazy sometimes and take you out of your comfort zone, it helps you stay sharp and forces you to seek out new technologies for better products and services.

One of those new technologies that could augment your business is a cloud based phone system. As a small business owner, installing such a communication system can enhance your professional image to customers. Its myriad of features and flexibilities can enable a business with only a few employees to operate like the big guys and seem larger and more professional to clients.

After all, when it comes to defining professionalism…It’s NOT the job you do; It’s HOW you do the job!

Cloud based phone systems, also called VoIP, uses the internet to make phone calls. Subscribers connect to it for a monthly fee. Cost-savings on local and long distance calls can be up to 90% and hosted platforms don’t require you to purchase expensive hardware that needs maintenance and installation.

Streamline Telecom can help you set up a new VoIP phone system, or help you transition from an analog system. The company we partner with to provide this service is 8X8, one of the most trusted cloud-based communications companies in the world. Their service is used by more than 47,000 businesses in over 40 countries across six continents.

A Cloud-based system from 8X8 offers many features. We’ve highlighted three of these below:

Ring Groups

Rings groups smoothly distribute incoming calls within various departments. You can have all phones in a group ring at once, or set up a “round robin” approach where the extensions in the group ring in a specific order until the call is answered. Nine ring groups are included with your Virtual Office account, but more can be added.

For example, if you are a small business with four employees, you can set up your ring group so all their phones ring at the same time. That way, whoever pick up first takes the call. Or, you can set it up to ring them in a certain order so they each get a turn answering incoming calls.

No more worrying about incoming calls being dropped by customers frustrated that their call was not answered right away. Ring groups can have any number assigned to it, such as a toll-free number. Calls can even be answered by Auto-Attendant or another extension.

Three ring patterns are available. Cyclic (rollover) allows for equal distribution of calls. Cyclic Repetitive allows for distribution among extensions based on a pre-set pattern. Simultaneous Ring ensures all extensions will ring on an incoming call, with the first person available answering the call.

Auto Attendant

Perfect for a small business that wants to appear larger, Auto Attendant answers the phone automatically for you. Instead of a receptionist, customers hear a message identifying your company and prompting them to select the department they desire by pressing or saying a number associated with that department.

Calls are routed quickly and efficiently to the right department. If your business has limited hours of operation, you can program Auto Attendant with different menus for business hours versus after-hours. You can record your own greetings, or use 8X8’s selection of professionally recorded greetings to enhance your image. Customers will be impressed by the professionalism of Auto Attendant.

Extension Dialing

Who doesn’t appreciate the ability to bypass a company’s VRU by directly dialing someone? Big companies offer this service, so why shouldn’t smaller ones? With 8X8 cloud-based service, this feature is available through our 4-digit model. It’s also available in 3-digit or 5-digit extension dialing.

Whether your business has 5 employees or 100, they all get their own direct phone number. Internal calling between employees only requires dialing those few digits. Transfers can be made quickly and you have the ability to tell the person at that extension about the call before completing the transfer.

If you have employees working in different locations, that’s no problem! Transfers are quick and seamless since they are only an extension away. Customers won’t even realize they are talking to someone at another location.

If all this sounds great, give us a call. Learn how YOUR business can add a touch of professionalism through installing an IP phone in New York.

Two High Profile Crimes Solved with Help from Security Camera Footage

Park your car. Walk into a store. Ride the subway. During all of these activities, it’s very likely that you are being recorded on security camera footage. In the western world, closed-circuit television or CCTV is used in the vast majority of public places to help prevent crime.

And since 9/11, security cameras seem to have sprouted on every building, parking garage, and traffic light. While some people have voiced concerns about civil liberties being compromised, it’s hard to argue with the statistics; crime dips as cameras roll.

Cities and businesses across the country are installing security cameras in public locations in an effort to deter crime. It’s estimated that a staggering 30 million security cameras are currently in use in the US alone. Chicago has about 10,000.  Here in New York City, 6,000 cameras gaze down on the city. While their primary purpose is to catch a video record of potential perpetrators, their very presence does seem to deter people from committing crimes.

Local and national news have covered multiple cases where criminals were apprehended as a direct result of surveillance cameras. Two recent high-profile crimes that occurred and were subsequently solved as a direct result of video surveillance involve the Boston Marathon bombing and the abduction of Carlesha Freeland-Gaither of Philadelphia, PA.

Security Camera Footage and the Boston Marathon Bombing

The Boston Marathon bombing perpetrators were identified and the lone survivor captured within a matter of hours following the bombing.

How was this accomplished,” you ask?

The answer? The video footage obtained from the vast network of surveillance cameras keeping watch over downtown Boston played a pivotal part in nabbing the perpetrators.

While police urged the public to send in what they had recorded that day on their smartphones and cameras, it was the footage from the security camera mounted on the Lord & Taylor department store pointed onto Boylston Street that proved most valuable in identifying and apprehending the suspects.

The Abduction of Carlesha Freeland-Gaither

The abduction of Carlesha Freeland-Gaither occurred at night on a Philadelphia sidewalk.

Surveillance cameras in the Germantown section of the city captured the crime as an unidentified person grabbed 22-year-old Carlesha Freeland-Gaither and forced her into an old Ford Taurus car. The security camera footage of the abduction was released to the public in hopes that someone would recognize the car and come forward.

Amazingly, 300 hundred miles away, police in Virginia saw the video. They happened to be searching at that same time for a violent offender named Delvin Barnes, who was wanted in the abduction and assault on a local teenage girl.

Because of the similarities in the cases, local police showed the video to Barnes’ father, who identified the Taurus as his son’s. Barnes was ultimately located and apprehended. Freeland-Gaither, injured but alive, was found and returned to her family.

As you can see from the above examples, you never know when security camera footage from a key location might make the difference in solving a crime.  When you choose to make an investment in improving the security of your own business by installing cameras, you’re also contributing to increased public safety.

Our highly-trained technicians have years of experience installing security surveillance systems throughout the city. Rest assured, the cameras we install represent the highest quality equipment in the industry. With brands like Pelco, Axis, Bosch, Acti, Everfocus, Digital Watchdog, and Arecont, you can sleep peacefully knowing your property and employees are securely monitored against possible criminal acts.

Five Reasons to Switch to an IP Phone System

IP Phone SystemIf your business is still using an analog phone system, it’s time to consider moving into the 21st century with a cloud-based IP phone system. You might be asking yourself why you’d make the switch—your analog system has worked for years! If it’s not broken, why fix it? What can an IP phone system offer that you don’t already have with your current system?  Well, there are a number of advantages to upgrading your phones, and we’ve listed five of them below.

#1: Your costs will decrease if you switch to an IP phone system

We know you’re amazed — surely the new-fangled, fancy system will cost more than your old reliable analog system! Nope. As a matter of fact, switching to a IP phone system will cut your costs significantly, anywhere from 40 percent to 90 percent!

There are less up-front costs for equipment, in part due to the fact that you don’t need a switch for your phones in your IT room like you would with an analog or PBX phone system.

Additionally, your month-to-month costs are predictable. There are no more roller coaster phone bills, because an IP phone system has a fixed per-user cost structure. Your long distance and your local voice usage will be the same every month.  Finally, updates to the technology can be applied with free software upgrades vs expensive hardware upgrades.

How does that sound? We assume that you’re not interested in paying more money than necessary, so we bet it sounds pretty great.

#2: It’s easy to use

Sure, it’s capable of a number of pretty complicated processes, but it’s actually quite simple to use, and, more shockingly, simple to install.

When you switch to an IP phone system, it’s going to feel a whole lot like using your analog phone; you’ll still probably have a handset and you’ll talk into it. You can still check your voicemail, but you will now have new and interesting features such as your call activity history, the ability to track or alter your billing accounts at any time.

As for setup, the combination of your high-speed internet with your IP phone infrastructure means that you won’t have to do a tremendous amount of work to get your new system up and running. All of your devices, whether they’re the old school desktop phones or a sleek new mobile model, will now be connected to the cloud, saving you time and money in maintenance.

#3: You’ll have all the bells and whistles

You might not THINK you need anything other than voicemail, but that’s just because you haven’t explored all of the options that will be available when you switch to an IP phone system. And there are plenty of options. With IP phone service, you can enjoy features like call recording, auto attendants, call routing, call forwarding, a dial-by-name directory, hold music, and more.

Also, most IP phone systems can integrate with your smartphone or tablet using a mobile app, making it even easier to access from anywhere.

You’re probably wondering how much extra all of these awesome features will run you— good news! They’re typically included at no additional charge! Get ready to choose your hold music!

#4: Your old analog system is on life support

And the bad news is that there aren’t many technicians left who are willing to make house calls to help it limp along a little while longer. Ten years in phone system years is like a century in real time; it’s probable that your system’s parts aren’t being made any more, and the manufacturer probably isn’t willing to renew your expired service contract. Now is an excellent time to contact someone to discuss how an IP phone system can revolutionize the way you do business. (We here at Streamline Telecom would love to chat about your options.)

#5: You want to make it easier to telecommute

Face it— telecommuting is the wave of the future, and an IP phone system makes it much easier for your team to work collaboratively. If you force your employees to be tied to an outdated analog system, and therefore tied to the office, you’re essentially hamstringing them. Studies show that employees who telecommute are more productive than their office-bound counterparts; not only are they more effective, but they are more content, meaning that turnover becomes less of an issue. Yes, you’ll have to learn a new system, but it’s worth it to keep your team happy and busy.

Have we convinced you that it’s in your company’s best interest to switch to an IP phone system? We’d love to answer your questions. Contact us, and we can discuss more of the ways that an IP phone system will improve your productivity as well as that all-important bottom line.

Structured Cabling Challenges Posed by a Presidential Debate

Presidential SealAs the 2016 presidential election wound down, the presidential and vice presidential candidates squared off in a series of televised debates at various sites around the country.  Record numbers of Americans tuned in to watch the debates, either on TV or via live streaming online.  While viewers saw some pretty dramatic moments in the debates, what they didn’t see is the countless hours of work done by structured cabling contractors to prepare the debate sites for the big events.  Here are some unique challenges that contractors working at these events needed to overcome.

Event venues not purpose-built for multimedia events

The first challenge a data cabling contractor helping to prepare a location for a presidential or vice-presidential debate would face is that in many cases, the venues are not necessarily chosen because of their suitability for such events.

For example, the venue chosen for the 2016 vice presidential debate was actually the basketball stadium at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.  The “media center” for that debate, where hundreds of journalists from around the world set up camp during the event, was actually the student rec center (which was closed down for an entire semester to accommodate the event).

Needless to say, neither one of these buildings would be the first choice from the perspective of a data cabling contractor.  To say the least, it means that the contractor will have to think outside the box to come up with creative solutions.

Building temporary infrastructure from scratch

Contractors working to prepare an event site for a debate will basically need to create the type of infrastructure normally found in the offices of a large corporation from scratch—and then tear it all down after the event.  In order to prepare for the 2008 presidential debate at Belmont University, for example, the structured cabling contractor had to do the following:

  • Install 740 workstations with voice and data cabling and over 300 video outlets
  • Set up 750 single line telephones
  • Install 400,000 feet of fiber optic, cat 5e, and coaxial cable
  • Create circuit extensions to the satellite trucks and media platforms of all the major TV networks

Of course, everything had to work perfectly as a live television audience of 63.2 million people tuned in to the debate—so, no pressure.

Dealing with many different parties with competing demands

Any data cabling contactor will tell you that it’s hard enough meeting the demands of one client.  A contractor preparing an event venue for a presidential debate will need to please many stakeholders, including government agencies, media outlets, and of course the presidential campaigns themselves.  These stakeholders will each have their own agendas and lists of demands, which in some cases will likely be mutually exclusive.

In addition to all of the challenges mentioned above, the contractors preparing the debate sites will have limited time to plan, and will likely have to make many last-minute adjustments to plans as events unfold.

One has to wonder–for the structured cabling contractors involved, is the privilege of helping to put on a historical event worth the work, frustration, stress, and pressure?  Only they can answer that question, but one thing is for sure: they’ll know they were successful if, after the presidential debates are over, nobody is talking about them.