By Neil Cotiaux
Photo by Don Bensman
Increasingly sophisticated technology and a post-9/11 environment have business leaders and homeowners casting a wary eye on individuals and assessing what they might do on their premises, Alan Lewis, the founder and managing general partner of Cleveland security firm AFP, says.
The 31-year-old firm is increasingly called upon to help buyers make sense of an ever-wider menu of security options. Lewis doesn’t pull any punches, foregoing prospects who comparison-shop solely on price and pointing out the pros and cons of newer technologies.
For one, “I’m not a very big fan of wireless,” Lewis says bluntly, preferring to recommend the installation of hard-wired surveillance cameras.
Wireless cameras can fall prey to signal disruptions due to satellite links and carry a higher risk of failing to capture images, he says. “It’s just so many things that can go wrong for a split-second,” he cautions. With video security, “I just think you’re safer with hard-wire.”
But when renting an apartment instead of buying a home, Lewis believes that a wireless security alarm is the way to go, simply because it’s portable.
It’s that kind of no-nonsense advice that Lewis, a College of Wooster graduate who worked part-time on campus assisting the security department, shares with new and existing clients.
The foundation of a solid security plan remains an alarm system that informs third parties of a fire, break-in, medical emergency or panic-inducing situation, he says. “9-1-1 works 82 percent of the time,” he cautions.
Lewis believes that surveillance cameras should be considered only after an alarm system is installed.
Cameras make sense for businesses that desire to monitor productivity or safety, possible internal theft, shoplifting by customers or domestic disturbances, which Lewis says has become the most prevalent form of workplace disruption.
He recommends cloud storage with greater image-retention capacity for businesses that hold large volumes of cash or higher-end merchandise because some thieves will destroy digital video recorders during break-ins.
Lewis is fond of recalling television coverage of an incident in which Advanced Federated Protection’s cameras caught a criminal hauling a safe out of a client’s business. The thief was apprehended because the video captured two digits of the suspect’s license plate.
For either business or personal reasons, real-time surveillance images can be viewed remotely via the Internet or smartphone for greater peace of mind. During a recent family vacation in the Dominican Republic, Lewis monitored his company’s work stations, parking lot, and inventory. He also uses cameras to keep an eye on his parents’ residence and a sister’s home when she travels.
One newer technology that Lewis is embracing is body cameras.
While most of the buzz about body-cams relates to their use by law enforcement, Lewis says body-cams also make sense in companies seeking to validate a variety of quality-control issues and ensure that salespeople properly explain products and contracts — all in an effort to reduce potential liability and enhance staff performance.
Lewis is now working with two body-cam suppliers. He views the devices as supplements to surveillance cameras. “I think that’s going to be a huge area,” he says.
The devices are also becoming popular with parents who want family members to have a record of their interactions with law enforcement if they’re pulled over while driving.
Other AFP products and services include intercoms and locksmithing. The firm’s two central operating centers monitor customer alarms around the clock, every day of the year.
For more information: afpsecurity.net
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