Schaumburg is a well-known northwestern suburb of Chicago of about 75,000 residents and has been ranked as one of the best places to live in Illinois. Below is a case study written by Robert D. Grossman of Security Sales & Integration Magazine about the video security system installations taking place across the Village of Schaumburg. This was a multi-phase project to add video cameras to various properties in the village with a goal of creating an “enterprise platform for video security.” Mr. Grossman outlines the difficultly and uniqueness of the project and how Pentegra earned “high praise” for their multicollaboration with village departments and personnel throughout Phase 1. He also details how Pentegra “went the extra mile” to solve problems as they arose and ensured the equipment blended in with surroundings. The project started with Phase 1 in 2016 and wrapped up in 2017. Phase 2 was completed in 2018 and Phase 3 is set to begin in summer of 2019.

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Below is an article written by Chuck Fieldman of the Chicago Tribune about the new security upgrades for entry into 9 Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills District 181 schools. Mr. Fieldman details Pentegra Systems’ integrated security solution, which District 181 refers to as “double buzzer systems.” Visitors to the schools will still walk into an unlocked door and into a vestibule where he or she will then have to be buzzed in by a school employee. However, an additional layer of security is being added where he or she will then have to be buzzed in from inside the office to then gain access into the school itself. This project will be completed over winter break and be up and running by the time the students return in January.

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Workers from Pentegra Systems work on installation of the new double-buzzer entry system at Oak School. (Chuck Fieldman/Pioneer Press)

 

Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Elementary District 181 is adding a layer of security for entry into its nine school buildings.

“We’ve been calling it a double-buzzer system,” said Bridget McGuiggan, the district’s communications director and chairman of the district’s Safety & Crisis Committee.

Visitors to district school buildings now may enter an unlocked door into a vestibule, but must be buzzed into the office by a secretary or another school employee.

That protocol will remain. However, the new system also will require an office staff member to buzz visitors out of the office in order to get into other parts of the building.

“In some cases, parents may be coming to drop something off, a lunch or musical instrument, for example,” McGuiggan said. “In those cases, they can drop those items off in the vestibule and don’t need to enter the rest of the building.”

The committee considered requiring a staff member to buzz visitors from outside into the vestibules, McGuiggan said.

“We don’t want to make parents stand out in the elements, and I don’t know it would add substantially to the security when they already aren’t able to get into the office without being buzzed in,” she said. “Safety is the priority, and we are being proactive with that, but we want to be as welcoming as we can be, too.”

Representatives from the Hinsdale, Clarendon Hills and Burr Ridge police departments served on the committee.

Along with the additional hardware needed for the new buzzer system, main entrance cameras and intercoms are being replaced in all schools with equipment that provides a clearer view of visitors for staff.

The security work was started Monday, was to continue Tuesday and be completed over winter break.

“The idea was to have this work done while students are not in the buildings,” McGuiggan said. “Everything should be working when students return from winter break.”

Cost of the new security cameras, intercoms, ID card reader and buzzer system is $12,000 to $16,000 per school, said Mike Duggan, director of facilities. The system won’t be installed at Hinsdale Middle School, but will be included in the new HMS, which is under construction, Duggan said.

District 181 plans to implement an additional security measure some time in early 2018, similar to one being used at Hinsdale Central.

That system requires visitors to schools to provide identification, which will be scanned before they are allowed beyond the school office with a badge sticker printed by the system.

“This change will support consistency in district visitor procedures, ensure appropriate background checks have been completed, and allow us to maintain a digital log of our guests, all while integrating with our student information system,” superintendent Don White said.

McGuiggan said the Visitor Management System has a total cost of about $9,400 for all schools, which includes the ID scanner, badge printer, badge stickers and one-time setup costs, as well as an annual fee for software. There also is annual recurring cost of about $3,600, she said.

cfieldman@pioneerlocal.com

Twitter @chuckwriting

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For more information on how Pentegra Systems can help with all of your school’s security needs, head on over to www.pentegrasystems.com/security or give us a call at (630) 941-6000!

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Below is an article written by Blair Kamin of the Chicago Tribune about the restoration of Oak Park’s historic Unity Temple. Blair gives a great summary of the Unity Temple restoration project and a brief history of the temple itself. Pentegra Systems began an audiovisual, security and data network design build installation at the historic Unity Temple in Oak Park, IL last year. To find out more about the integrated solution Pentegra Systems installed at Unity Temple, head on over to our Unity Temple Success Story page.

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Frank Lloyd Wright was never one to fret about meeting deadlines, sticking to budgets or roofs that leaked. So there is something fitting about the delayed, but altogether triumphant, restoration of Wright’s Unity Temple, the Oak Park landmark that is the finest public building of Wright’s Chicago years and home to one of the most beautiful rooms in America.

Instead of finishing on schedule last fall, the $25 million project is wrapping up just in time for the 150th anniversary of Wright’s birthday, June 8. The building’s Unitarian Universalist congregation will return for services June 11. A formal ribbon-cutting and open house are scheduled for June 17. It’s as though Wright himself had willed the timing to demonstrate afresh his genius at the very moment when public attention will be riveted on his legacy.

For decades, scholars and critics have remarked upon the striking contrast between Unity Temple’s exterior and interior: The former, made of exposed concrete, is monumental, monochromatic and seemingly impenetrable. The latter, a skylit room with multiple seating tiers, is grand yet human-scaled, enlivened by a rich palette of earth-toned colors, and as airy as the concrete cube is heavy.

Yet the restoration breaks down this dichotomy, revealing a strong aesthetic connection between the radically severe exterior and the warm, intimate interior — a new unity, if you will, for Unity Temple. The key step involves the return of robust interior finishes that once wove a thread of nature-inspired continuity between inside and outside. Without them, we now know, Unity Temple was simply not whole.

The practically-minded will be delighted to know that the restoration also delivers creature comforts like air conditioning that will prevent the heavenly interior from turning hellishly hot come summer. The exterior is even said to be leak-free. We’ll have to see about that, given Wright’s infamous track record of leaky flat-roofed buildings that forced their occupants to haul out drip buckets for what they referred to as “one-bucket,” “two-bucket” and “three-bucket” rains.

Success, it’s often said, has many fathers, and so it is with here: A team of consultants led by Chicago’s Harboe Architects has lavished exacting care on every aspect of this project, from the restoration of jewel-like art glass to the recreation of textured plaster walls. This high level of quality was made possible by $10 million lead grant from Chicago’s Alphawood Foundation, $1.75 million from the congregation and the rest from private donors.

Yet there’s a catch, as there always seems to be with Wright, who frequently lived beyond his means: The nonprofit that spearheaded the project, Unity Temple Restoration Foundation, still must raise roughly half the project’s budget. For now, a bridge loan covers those costs. The restoration itself offers the best advertisement for foundations and individuals to make up the balance.

From the first, financial constraints have shaped Unity Temple, which sits amid Oak Park’s thriving downtown at 875 Lake St. After the congregation’s Gothic Revival church burned in 1905, its leaders asked Wright, who was born into a Unitarian family in 1867, to design a new building on a prominent site along Lake Street’s noisy streetcar line. The budget, a mere $45,000, did not allow for expensive materials or elaborate ornament. So Wright, ever the innovator, fashioned his design from inexpensive poured-in-place concrete.

Victorians accustomed to embroidered surfaces must have been shocked by the monolithic abstraction of the completed 1908 building: A high-walled house of worship along Lake Street, joined by a foyer to a social hall and classroom building called Unity House. The passages to, and through, the sanctuary were equally radical. A circuitous route — the classic Wright trope known as the “path of discovery” — led from Lake Street to the entrance on a quiet side street. Inside, more turns took the worshipper from dark, tightly-confined ground-floor spaces that Wright labeled “cloisters” on upward and into the sanctuary’s spectacular explosion of space and light.

It was — and is — an extraordinary gathering place, in which space flows freely, liberated from the convention of the box. Yet there’s a profound sense of order and repose, as if one had come upon a light-dappled glade. The intimacy is palpable, courtesy of tiered balconies which ensure that no seat is more than 45 feet from the pulpit. Sunlight filters down from a grid of skylights, creating an effect that Wright compared to a “happy cloudless day.” Instead of turning its back on the minister to exit, congregation members pass through doors cut into walls on either side of the pulpit. In theory, at least, one enters as an individual and leaves as a member of a community

“Unity Temple is where you will find the first real expression of the idea that the space within the building is the reality of that building,” Wright remarked in 1952, seven years before his death.

But like many Wright buildings, Unity Temple challenged the patience and finances of its occupants. Even after a 1973 renovation covered the failing original exterior with a layer of “shotcrete,” a pneumatically-applied concrete, cracks and chipping persisted. Naturally, the building’s many roofs leaked. Seepage from the building’s internal drains, which were concealed in interior columns, weakened its concrete bones. When a large chunk of the ceiling fell in the middle of the night nine years ago, “it was a wake-up call about the instability of the building,” recalled the Rev. Alan Taylor, Unity Temple’s senior minister.

The restoration team has done meticulous work, beginning with the exterior, where portions of the 1973 shotcrete have been removed and replaced with new swaths of the material. Along with new roofs, restored art glass and enlarged internal drains, the new shotcrete is supposed to create that rarest of conditions in a Wright building — a structure that doesn’t leak like a sieve. “The system is good. It’s been tested,” said Gunny Harboe of Harboe Architects, who worked on the project with colleague Bob Score. (The building’s sagging eaves were fixed in 2002.)

Replacing the shotcrete also presented an aesthetic challenge. Unity Temple’s exterior is not a simple flat gray but a richly-textured aggregate of cement, sand and pebbles that range in color from white to brown to flint. Getting the right blend was like finding the elusive mix for a perfect cocktail. Contractors had to do some spots two or three times before the work was pronounced satisfactory.

The outcome largely avoids the pitfalls of a patchwork, although close inspection reveals slight variations in color. Yet time, weathering and the curing of the shotcrete should eventually blur those distinctions. And it will be no great sin if some of them remain. Unity Temple’s exterior has always had a certain mottled look. One of Wright’s prime tenets was to build “in the nature of materials,” which meant respecting their inherent properties. New in-ground night lighting will showcase the handsomely refurbished exterior and its decorative concrete columns.

The real revelations, though, are inside, where all interior surfaces have been returned to their 1908 appearance. That may not sound dramatic but it’s a major shift when you realize that multiple coats of paint, even modern latex paint, had been slathered onto the original walls. That rendered them flat and textureless, which was not what Wright intended.

Drawing on historic photographs and microscopic paint analysis, the architects and Philadelphia’s Building Conservation Associates re-created three types of textured plaster walls (rough, semi-rough and smooth) and Wright’s earth-toned color palette (pale yellow, green and brown). Contractors applied glazes over the plaster, giving them their color and a luminous sheen appropriate to a sacred space. The outcome is subtle but striking, especially within the sanctuary.

From the skylight to the ground floor, the freshly-remodeled interior walls have a new sense of texture and motion, restoring a lost layer of visual richness. Just as important, the interior now engages in a quiet but unmistakable dialogue with the building’s textured-concrete exterior. Inside and outside are opposites yet part of the same whole, a yin-yang relationship that makes tangible Wright’s elusive gospel of an “organic architecture.”

“No one’s seen it that way in a long time,” Harboe said.

To their credit, the team of designers has addressed a host of practical issues without aesthetic sacrifice.

Shallow trenches were dug in the concrete walls, then covered with plaster, to allow for the rewiring of electrical fixtures. LEDs were installed beneath the sanctuary’s skylights to give worshippers in the top seating tiers improved lighting as they read from prayer books. Mechanical systems were deftly inserted in the four hollow columns that support the building. Geothermal wells — nine of them, descending 500 feet beneath the front lawn — will provide the air conditioning the building has long lacked. New theater lights will improve Unity Temple’s ability to host performances.

A comparable assortment of formal and functional improvements are being made to Unity House, though they were not complete when I toured last week.

What a change has transpired since 2000, when the Landmarks Preservation Council of Illinois (now Landmarks Illinois) placed the deteriorating Unity Temple on its annual list of the state’s most endangered structures! Today, Unity Temple is a landmark renewed, an enduring statement of Wright’s genius and a vivid reminder that his brilliance extended far beyond the Prairie Style houses for which he is best known. There can be no better way to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Wright’s birth than to see and experience this revived masterpiece.

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Please visit www.pentegrasystems.com for all of your audio and video needs or give us a call at (630) 941-6000 for more information.

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6 AV Tech Upgrades To Pursue When Moving (Relocating)

When a business moves to a new location, it presents unique opportunities for the company to pursue AV upgrades that otherwise might not have been available. If your business is going to be moving soon, it makes sense to look into upgrading your audiovisual systems so that you can improve the efficiency of your operation once you are settled in your new location.

1. Invest In A Connected Communication System
Whether your organization primarily uses video conferencing or audio chats, it is important that your machines are all connected so that anyone can engage in communications internally or externally when they need to. Some platforms allow users to conduct video or audio conferences with anyone on the company network, which can reduce the amount of time spent on meetings and enhance individual productivity.

2. Utilize The Power Of Unified Communications
Unified communications refers to a company’s use of a single platform for communication across several channels, including audio, video, and instant message chats. When your company is moving you can upgrade your hardware systems to ensure that they are compatible with unified communications platforms that will contribute positively to collaboration within your company.

3. Improve Physical AV Security
It goes without saying that security is a concern for companies. The widespread reporting and speculation about the recent hacking of the Community Health Systems hospital network proves that security is on the mind of many consumers and business professionals. While you take measures to improve your online security, don’t forget to physically secure your AV equipment when you move. This gives your company a well-rounded ability to safeguard your important information and devices.

4. Upgrade Display Technology
Moving is a good opportunity to improve the kinds of monitors and television screens that your organization currently uses in its AV strategy. With a better display you can receive higher resolution video and images, which will help you hold more effective presentations that better convey their intended message.

5. Integrate AV With Office Furniture
In the office furniture industry, integrating technology with furniture is a very popular trend. If you are looking to upgrade your AV during an office move, investing in conference tables, lounge seating, or other types of furniture that are integrated with company networks is a smart decision. This helps your entire office stay plugged into your network more effectively.

6. Obtain More Servers
If you are expanding to a new office, it often allows you to have more room for your company’s operation. More room means more space for additional servers, which allows you to improve your bandwidth and scale up your operation while you get more out of your company’s existing hardware and software.

Moving to a new office location requires attention to detail and the consideration of many different kinds of logistics. Fortunately, moving to a new office also affords companies the opportunity to upgrade their systems. These six AV upgrades will go a long way towards helping you maximize the use that you get out of your company hardware to better accomplish your organizational goals.

At Pentegra Systems, we work closely with our clients to provide them the right audio, video, low voltage and collaboration technologies that support their business goals. Serving customers throughout Chicagoland, Pentegra aspires to be the first company you call for your system integration needs. Ready to learn more, connect with us here. We are happy to help!

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Every School Needs a Systems Integrator

If you are reading this, chances are you went to school at a time when you were lucky to have an overhead projector in your classroom and really had it made when your teacher rolled in the TV cart to watch a movie. You’ve most likely been out of school for some time and might not realize just how large of a contributor education technology has become in the classroom today as opposed to ten years ago, let alone twenty or thirty. What was either considered a luxury back then or just extremely expensive is now a thing of the past. Schools are now depending on these technologies more than ever and actually use it as a selling point to make their school a more appealing option. If you’d walk into any given classroom in 2016, you might not see as many textbooks as you’d imagine. Instead, you’d see students with Chromebooks or iPads in their hands working on educational software or other educational apps. A school’s technology is sure a lot to keep track of and stay on top of that personnel at the school most likely aren’t capable of handling. This is where a systems integrator comes in.

 

Consultation

 

Whenever you are looking to purchase something, the best thing to do is talk to somebody. Independently researching only goes so far. If you are seriously looking to acquire or upgrade your technology, your best bet is to talk with someone who knows the industry, knows the products and pretty much has their finger on the pulse. You can’t expect your school’s Director of Technology or other IT personnel to know everything. What types of technology are available? What do I really need? What is best for the students? Working with a systems integrator will answer all of your questions. Teachers and faculty of the school know how day-to-day operations go and what areas need improving. A systems integrator can help identify these areas for improvement and suggest what the best solution would be based on their vast knowledge of systems integration.  Having a direct line to that source of knowledge is extremely beneficial.

 

Healthy Business Relationship

 

Consulting and doing business with are two different things, yet a trustworthy and reliable systems integrator has you covered in both aspects. Not only can they steer you in the right direction they also bring the vision both of you come up with together to life. Having a strong relationship with an integrator means you don’t need to go elsewhere. This saves you a lot of time and from the hassle of having to find someone else. Working with a systems integrator is more than just purchasing technology; it should be a partnership and a team effort to ensure not only the best working environment for teachers and faculty, but most importantly the best learning environment for students.  The benefit of finding a reliable, hard working, honest integrator is a luxury if you often make technology purchases and upgrades for your school. Repeat business not only benefits the integrator, but also the client by getting better deals and better pricing given the repeat business over an extended period of time. As in any sort of relationship, both sides need to benefit for the relationship to continue

 

Changing The Culture

 

Having a good systems integrator can single handedly change the culture of how students learn at your school. Sure, the technology itself is the real propeller of instituting change when it comes to learning, but the systems integrator is the means of transportation to get it there. A good systems integrator can be the one to bring in the very best and top-notch systems into the classroom, not only making the teachers jobs way easier, but bringing a new level of collaboration and interactivity among students that they might have no had previously.

 

 Management All In One Place

 

Having your own integrator is not just beneficial to the school and all of its end-users, but also to the technology itself. All aspects of your technology both in AND out of the classroom can all be managed in one place. Your sound system, presentation system, phone system, data network, surveillance, etc. can all converge on the very same I/P network and going through the same systems integrator can make that all possible. Having all of your low-voltage integrated systems run on the same I/P network simplifies not just how it operates, but also adding new technology in the future.

 

 

Having a systems integrator that you can call your own can help your school in several ways. The only real question left is where you find a good systems integrator. For more information on what to look for when picking the right systems integrator, check out one of our recent blogs posts Picking The Right Integrator.

 

Are you looking for a systems integrator? Perhaps Pentegra can be of service.

Call us today at (630) 941-6000 or visit us online at www.pentegrasystems.com!

 

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Outdoor Security Cameras NEED Surge Protection

Video surveillance is designed to protect, but how do YOU protect your video surveillance? Accidents can happen that can affect your surveillance system both indoors and especially outdoors. You are putting your cutting edge technology outside and exposing it to the elements. Sure, outdoor cameras are designed differently than indoor cameras specifically to be able to function outdoors, but that doesn’t mean you still shouldn’t take extra precautions. Although designed to “weather the storms,” there are still parts within the cameras themselves that are susceptible to surges and transients (What are transients? Read more here). If your system experiences a power surge your signal will become disturbed and more than likely disable your equipment altogether. Bottom line is: your system needs surge protection.

You plug most of your household electronics into a power strip at home so they don’t get fried during a thunderstorm. You wouldn’t want to lose that expensive HD television you just bought. The same principle applies to your surveillance system which is a much, much larger investment.  Installing surge protection on your surveillance system is a little more complex than simply plugging your TV into a power strip. Typically, your surveillance system is connected to your building’s electrical service panel, whether that be directly or indirectly. AC power, data lines and coax cables are ALL equally vulnerable to surges and/or transients. If a bolt of lightning were to hit one of your cameras, that one surge can go from that one camera all the way into your building affecting your indoor equipment. Your entire system can be compromised without surge protection. Surge protection devices need to be installed on every component you have that is connected to any wiring entering or exiting your building.

The following components of your surveillance system require surge protection devices installed:

Surveillance Cameras

 

-Analog

-Network

 

Head-End Equipment Rack

-DVR

-NVR

-Switches

-Routers

 

Any type of surge that hits your surveillance equipment can not only damage said surveillance equipment, but any electrical equipment or device that is connected to your building’s main electrical service panel. It is best practice to also install surge protection devices on the electrical service panel itself in addition to any of your other equipment including indoor cameras, lighting, HVAC, etc. You can’t afford to have Mother Nature knock out your security, protection and peace of mind for an extended period of time. If you surveillance system is down it is not doing its intended job of monitoring for public safety, traffic, property loss and crime prevention.

 

Need help? Pentegra Systems is has got your back if you need assistance in determining the best surge protection devices for your current surveillance system.

For more information please visit us at

www.pentegrasystems.com

or give us a call at

(630) 941-6000

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Advantages of IP Video Surveillance Over Analog

If you want to protect your building, employees, assets, etc. (and why wouldn’t you?), video surveillance at your facility is a definite must-have. The majority of businesses and organizations out there already utilize CCTV surveillance systems to monitor everyday activity both during work hours and beyond, but the reality is many are still using analog camera systems.  IP (internet protocol) is the current trend when it comes to video surveillance. An IP surveillance system in the simplest terms is a digital video camera system that can both send and receive a signal through a computer network. An analog camera only sends its feed directly to a DVR (digital video recorder). There are several benefits to using a high definition IP camera system that analog cameras just do not offer.

 

Here are a few key advantages to using an IP camera system:

  • Accessibility: If you are connected to the internet, you can access your surveillance cameras anytime, anyplace. IP video surveillance allows users to views the feed from their cameras from any computer or mobile device that is connected to the web.
  • Resolution: Grainy and blurry videos are a thing of the past. High definition IP cameras allows for unbelievable zoom-in capabilities with cameras now topping 30 megapixel resolutions eclipsing even the most advanced analog camera. IP cameras also offer HD 1080p and even 4K resolution. When compared, any analog resolution basically looks out of focus.
  • Storage: No more disks or VHS tapes. With IP video surveillance, all footage is stored digitally. You can save and store as much footage as you wish if your hard drive permits it or you can store it in the cloud, which is becoming a more and more popular option.
  • Video Sharing: You can not only view your footage from any device, but you can also send that video to anyone anywhere in the world. This cuts down investigation time in crucial situations.
  • Low Maintenance: The digital age keeps doing away with excessive equipment. An IP video surveillance system cuts down the costs to the owner without the need of time-lapse video equipment, tapes, cataloging, etc.
  • Flexibility: Every analog camera needs to be connected directly to the DVR. Multiple IP cameras (that are in the same general area) can be connected to the same single switch which is connected to the NVR (network video recorder) by one cable. You can also connect switch to switch to further amplify your amount of cameras and area being monitored. This reduces the amount of cabling when installing the system and also allows for more cameras to be connected seamlessly.
  • PoE Switch: An IP video surveillance system that uses a PoE (power over Ethernet) switch enables your Category 5e or 6 cables to not only run the signal from your cameras, but also power the cameras as well. This eliminates the need for an additional power supply. Also, new IP cameras can reside on an already existing network.

 

If you are one of those out there still using an analog system, don’t worry. Converting and/or phasing from an analog system to an IP system is easy to accomplish and it doesn’t involve you losing all of that expensive equipment your invested in several years ago. If you are interested in converting to an IP system or are interested in installing a brand new IP video surveillance system, please contact us at Pentegra Systems and one of our security sales engineers would be happy to discuss your current situation and devise a solution to solve your problems.

Visit us online today at

http://pentegrasystems.com/what-we-do/security/digital-video-surveillance

or give us a call at (630) 941-6000

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Picking the Right Integrator

Time flies. We have all heard that expression. You can’t stop the clock. Everyone and everything gets older, including your technology. Well, especially your technology. It seems like every day you look at your once “state-of-the art” presentation system complete with projector, ceiling speaker system and all of the bells and whistles that would and did impress people about 10 years ago. Now? Well you are looking for an upgrade. This goes for all sorts of technology. You want something completely brand new, but most of all you want it designed, engineered and installed by professionals. So, what do you do? You need to pick the right integrator.

Here are 5 things to look for when choosing the right integrator:

Compile a List of Integrators

Picking the right integrator is easy if you have the right options. Finding said options is a little tougher of a task. Give a general contractor or a consultant a call and ask some questions. These are the companies and individuals that work with integrators often and would have a solid knowledge base on the matter and can definitely point you in the right direction. Also, it goes without saying, the internet is your best friend. A simple Google search of local integrators should turn up some results. Pick some accurate keywords when searching online. For example: “CCTV” and “Access Control” when searching for potential security integrators, “sound masking” or “digital signage” if you are trying to find an AV specialist. Some names could be very familiar to you and some you may never have heard of and that’s okay.

Competency

By now you have a short list of a few integrators you’d like to explore working with. You now need to find out if these firms can even do the work and do the work properly. The firm you ultimately choose will need to be certified in the specific field. The target firm not only needs qualified individuals, but industry leaders when it comes to all facets of your potential project such as sales, engineering, project management, etc.) The firms’ websites are a primary destination to find out most of your answers and are a decent indicator of the firms’ abilities. The more information on a company’s website the better your perception of them will most likely be. Give each integrator on your list a call and let them help you find out what it is you really want and really need. There is nothing better than interacting with a potential future integrator early in the planning process. You can feel them out, ask questions, and test their knowledge. Have them help you identify your issues and aid you in finding the perfect solution. That is what an integrator does, identifies a problem and devises a solution. Have multiple conversations or have a representative come out to your site so they really get a good grasp of the situation. This will give you a much needed and accurate perception of the integrator and give you a pretty solid base to select the perfect one for you.

Firm Size

Dig deeper into the firm, more than the basic information. Is this firm the size of a firm that can make your project a reality? What is their annual revenue? You have already spoken to these companies and have a pretty good perception of how qualified their staff is (or not), but do they have a reasonably sized staff to execute such a project as yours? Is this firm too small to be taking on your project? Or is this firm actually too big to be taking on your project? For example: You’re a small business looking for a small telephone system for your office. The one firm you have an eye has contracts with companies that makes $50 Million dollars per year or higher. Will they even take time to work with you? Will they exhibit the same care they show for their high-end clients? These are just some things to think about.

Reputation & References

Being capable of doing something and actually having done something are two different things. You have a good idea that a couple firms can get the job done, but now you want to know their track record. To really get a good idea of what working with a certain firm is like you need to talk directly to some of their clients. Many firms have some of their notable clients listed on their websites that you can get in contact with and some firms will actually give you a client list with the proper information of who to contact, which is a very good and telling sign of how they go about their business. When making any decision, the more information you know the better off you’ll be.

Post Installation Support

When you are doing research about an integrator please do not forget to also look further into their post-installation methodologies. This includes their ability and reliability of servicing and maintaining your system to ensure it operates to its full potential. For more information about what to look for in a great service department, check out our previous blog here.

 

Much like a consumer buying a new car, businesses and organizations do their due diligence when it comes to purchasing new technology for their space. This is not a task that should be rushed. A worthwhile investment such as a new phone system or sound system requires investment from a financial standpoint, but also a time standpoint. Rome was not built in a day. If you follow the steps above and get serious about searching for the perfect integrator, you will find one and hopefully build a lasting business relationship with for several years.

 

Pentegra Systems is a low-voltage integrator specializing in audio, video, data, security and telecom solutions. Are you in the market to upgrade the technology in your business or organization? Visit our website for more information at www.pentegrasystems.com or give us a call at (630) 941-6000.

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Advantages of Leasing Technology

It is 2015 and let’s face it technology has become a necessity in almost every aspect of your life. This is a harsh truth to some people, but so is the fact that if you want the best technology it sure doesn’t come cheap. Is your business in need of network equipment? How about a video wall in your lobby? Chances are you can be looking at a substantial investment. What if you just don’t have that sort of money when you need it most? Leasing technology quickly becomes a pretty appealing option.

SAVING You Money

Let’s say you are the facilities manager at your company and you need to look into buying a video surveillance system to monitor the grounds. To acquire a proper system fitting both your needs and your wants, your system has a price tag of $60,000. Your company definitely needs this system, but just doesn’t have that money to spend right now. By leasing this surveillance system your company can get the exact system you want and need today and pay it off over a specific time frame with a pre-determined monthly cost. Plus, more than likely there will be no down payment to begin with. You can spend that total of $60,000 over the entire lifetime of you using it opposed to dropping that serious amount of money all at once. By leasing this technology, you conserve your capital. By not buying the system upfront, you free up that money you would have spent otherwise. This way, you not only get your video surveillance system, but now have additional money to spend in other areas that also need it.

Keeping You Up-to-Date

In today’s world your brand new cutting edge technology could become outdated by tomorrow. You buy a brand new phone and within months, or weeks now it seems, an even newer phone comes out with much better features that is miles ahead of the one you just purchased. We have all been there. Being stuck with outdated technology is just a common burden that cannot be avoided. Leasing technology gives the buyer the option to update their current equipment when their current lease is up giving them the freedom to periodically have the most up to date products on the market. When your lease agreement comes to an end you simply pick from the current options available and begin a new lease agreement. Plus, since the technology you are leasing will never be outdated, you are also saving yourself the expenses of necessary repairs. If you are stuck with technology that you bought up front, the longer times goes on the more and more that equipment will need to be repaired and maintained, thus saving you even more money.

Other Advantages

When tax time rolls around, the IRS lets you deduct the full cost of all newly purchased assets in the previous year. This does not only mean equipment you purchased upfront, but it also includes equipment you leased. Select lease structures are 100% tax deductible. The entire cost of you leasing your equipment can often be reported as an expense item when its income tax season and could potentially give you a larger tax deduction.  Also, when looking to take out a lease on equipment or technology, most financial services can turn your transaction around in one day’s time. Depending on the size, the much larger transactions are often given high priority. Financial Services not only make the transaction smoother, but also save time and resources making it as hassle-free as possible.  In addition, depending on your type of organization, you can qualify for additional benefits. For example, School Districts have an even greater advantage when leasing due to tax-exempt and flexible payment lease programs that lower the costs of ownership even further down. Schools have tight budgets as it is, they can’t afford to buy equipment upfront in most cases, so in addition to the money leasing will save them additional programs will also save them even more. Faculty, staff, students and parents can definitely appreciate a school with the most up to date technology without the large financial burden of paying for it all at once.

In the grand scheme of things, leasing technology makes the most sense, especially for education and government customers. Municipalities and schools definitely need up-to-date technology and just can’t consistently afford or be as efficient by purchasing that equipment outright when compared to leasing it. Leasing gives you more money to work with now which is crucial in today’s economy. The advantages of leasing become extremely beneficial not just when it comes to affording the equipment, but also using it given you will always be using current technology that will rarely need repairs, let alone replacing.

 

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Ways Video Surveillance Can SAVE You Money

Anything of real importance needs to be protected. Something of value cannot simply go unmonitored because anything bad can and most likely will happen, eventually. You wear a helmet to protect your head. Your money is protected by being put in a bank. Automotive insurance protects both you and your vehicle in case something goes wrong on the road. As little or as significant as these measures are, these measures need to be taken, but all these measures come with a price of their own. When it comes to security, sure it will cost you, but like making any other decisions in life, there are positives and then there are negatives. You make a substantial investment on a quality security system, a pretty large chunk of change, but just imagine how much money that system will save you down the stretch and in how many different ways. Here are the basic methods in which video surveillance can really become extremely valuable for your company very quickly and SAVE you money.

Obviously, the first method is loss prevention. A security system that utilizes cameras can monitor potential robberies, vandalism, etc. A fully functional video surveillance system can drastically lower the possibility of such crimes happening on your premises. If criminals are aware of the system in place, they are less likely to perpetrate the crimes. You may have a facility housing an extensive amount of extremely expensive equipment and items that you plan to use on six or seven-figure jobs. Can you possibly afford to have any of those items damaged or stolen, I don’t think so. How much would it cost to replace those items? What damages could be done to your facility alone during a break-in? Suddenly, the idea of purchasing an extensive security camera system isn’t that bad of an idea.

Another useful way to utilize your video surveillance system is for monitoring purposes. Sometimes instances and errors can happen in the workplace environment. To ensure the quality of your products and services, a video surveillance system can come in handy to record errors made during operations and be gone back to for reviewing purposes. Are your employees using the correct components on the assembly line? Is your outgoing product being packaged safely and securely? Take a minute and think of how much money these errors can cost you. How much would it cost to replace those components? How much money and resources would it take to ship the damaged products back to your facility and fix them or replace them altogether? The dollar amount adds up pretty quickly.

Video surveillance can not only record company procedures, but it can record employee conduct and behavior. For example, a restaurant can monitor whether employees are keeping up with sanitary regulations, such as washing their hands, with surveillance. A good video surveillance system can keep track of your employees at all times. What are they doing? Where are they going? Where have they been? An access control system uses access cards to gain entry into secure areas of your facility. A certain card can unlock a certain door. A video surveillance system can work with your current access control system by recording who actually is entering that door or gaining access to that specific area, all captured on video keeping an extra eye on your facility at all times. Not only can surveillance record criminals intruding your building, but it can also record potential criminals already inside of your building, such as your own employees. For example, you own a computer company and all of the high value components such as processors and memory are in a separate, more secure section of the warehouse where only select individuals can gain access to. One day, a few items went missing. The value of having surveillance in that area has just skyrocketed.

What if one of your employees had an accident? What if your employee slipped and fell off a ladder trying to get an item off the top shelf? Your company is liable for any accident that may happen. Video surveillance captures the entire accident for evidence purposes. More importantly, video surveillance can prevent false claims. An employee can claim they slipped on a newly washed warehouse floor and then say there were no signs to let he or she know the floor was wet. Video surveillance can prove whether or not the appropriate signage was displayed to let personnel know the floor was wet and use caution or if that employee actually did fall or not at all. Any employee could potentially try and pull a “fast one” on you and video surveillance provides the evidence that gives you an advantage to potentially avoid any legal fees or litigation that may come along with this sort of situation.

There are a slew of ways to utilize a video surveillance system in your facility. It won’t only save you money, but it can also save you time. For example, it’s 2:00 am and your phone rings waking you up at home notifying you that the alarm has gone off at your facility. Using your home computer, tablet or other device you can remote in and view all of your cameras at your own home and see what is going on. Sure, the alarm could still have been triggered by something serious, but in many cases it does in fact turn out to be a false alarm. If that is the case the surveillance system really came in handy. Do you have any security staff on payroll? Having a video surveillance system in place could eliminate the need of keeping actual security guards in house saving you even more money instantly and in a number of ways; a surveillance system could be more beneficial and catch happenings that an average security guard may just miss completely.

If you were to crunch some numbers real quick, the choice would be simple. If your business needs an extra set of eyes for whatever the reason may be, a quality video surveillance system should be in your future. There is far too much value in being able to see what is going on in and around your facility for you not to have one. The future is unpredictable and as the saying goes “anything can happen.” You need to be prepared for when anything does indeed happen.

To learn more about Video Surveillance visit

http://pentegrasystems.com/what-we-do/security/digital-video-surveillance

for more information.

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Unity Temple

Unity Temple

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What began as Unity Church in 1871, Unity Temple always called Oak Park, IL home. The original Unity Temple building was struck by lightning and destroyed in 1905. A young architect named Frank Lloyd Wright was then brought in to design the new Unity Temple building. Frank Lloyd Wright’s design ...

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