Does Your Security System Need An Oil Change?
By Michael Rosa
If you manage a large fleet of vehicles you know what a pain it can be to coordinate and provide maintenance for those vehicles. Heck, even if you just own your own car it can sometimes be overwhelming. Oil change every three months. 40,000 mile service. Wait, or is that 60,000 miles? And what about the seals and gaskets, when do those need to be replaced? But despite the work and the cost you do it anyway. Why? Because you know that the last thing you want is to be stranded along side the road with the hood of your car propped open and smoke pouring out.
You’ve made a decision to balance risk versus reward. You’ve decided that the risk of ruining your whole day (and possibly your car too) outweighs the reward of saving that time and money that service costs you. So why aren’t you making that same decision regarding your security systems?
You do know they need maintenance right? Cameras need to be cleaned and adjusted, system databases need to be archived and purged, even intrusion detection systems need the occasional check-up to make sure they are still working properly. But a vast majority of organizations don’t provide any sort of maintenance for their systems. Oh sure, they’ll fix something when it breaks – but that’s like waiting to service your car until you need it towed off the freeway.
So in an effort to help keep your organization running along smoothly (and tow truck free) here are some guidelines to know when you should provide your system some much needed maintenance.
Video cameras (both analog and digital) require very little maintenance overall. At the minimum, you should provide a thorough cleaning of the lenses once a year, as well as camera view adjustments to ensure that the camera is still in the proper focus and the field of view hasn’t shifted. Exterior cameras and some cameras in harsh environments may need more frequent repairs, check-ups on heating or cooling systems, or housing repairs or replacement (especially if they are prone to scratching or vandalism).
DVRs are the most maintenance heavy of the Surveillance System components, with the exception of the VCR. Your DVR will need continuous maintenance to ensure that the software and firmware are up to date, camera synchronization and network connections remain stable, hard-drive problems don’t occur, and equipment temperatures remain ideal. Depending on your system, you may also need to frequently archive, backup, or purge information stored on your DRV. Fortunately, most DVR manufacturers provide on-board tools to monitor the system and alert you to any maintenance needs.
Access Control Devices:
Most card readers and door equipment requires little maintenance, but scheduling a yearly check-up to test reader functionality can often identify reader malfunctions before they become major issues. IP and wireless devices may need more monitoring to ensure their network and wireless connections remain stable. More importantly, your access control software will need continuous monitoring and support. These types of software systems often receive numerous patches, updates, and upgrades over the course of a year and improper installation may cause communication or system errors. Additionally card holder data and alarm data needs to be managed on a continuous basis, often needing to be archived, backed up, and purged on a monthly or semi-monthly basis. The first sign of trouble on any access control system is a slowing down of the system in general, which may indicate problems at the door, in the software system, or on the network. We recommend a yearly system check-up and full software upgrade coupled with monthly database management (depending on the size of your system) to keep your access control system running smoothly.
Now I have a question for you: How many of you have a schedule for regular maintenance of your security equipment? Why or why not? Post your answers in the comments, I’d love to talk about what you’re doing to balance risk and reward.