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Under a Watchful Eye

Paul Partyka |

TEMPLE CITY, Calif. — Laundry owners’ security needs haven’t really changed all that much over time. Owners still are looking for affordable and effective ways to reduce theft and vandalism. The good news is that technology has improved.“In terms of innovation, advancements in security systems have been huge in the past 15 years,” says Tony Secilia, a technician for E&E Electronic Research Inc. The company has been providing integrated alarm systems, specifically designed for coin laundries, and digital video surveillance systems for 15 years.“We have been able to match technology with the specific needs of the laundry and deal with other issues of protection,” Secilia adds.COVERING ALL BASESLaundry owners face a host of issues that cross over from being simply time-consuming problems to becoming important security concerns. Getting up at 2:00 a.m. to check on an alarm, for example, is never fun.E&E Electronic offers a system designed to open and close doors at the time you decide. In addition, the system is designed to arm the change/card machines automatically (and detect when someone is using a torch to gain access to the changers) and prevent 90 percent of false alarms through both hardware and software. A module supervises the entire system; no phone lines are needed because it communicates by high-security radio transmissions, not on regular phone lines.Whatever security system you decide on, keep a couple of things in mind, Secilia suggests. “The basic security functions are to eliminate keys to doors and codes to arm and disarm the systems that are utilized by unreliable employees.” Certain systems will also automate the lighting control, heating, air conditioning and outside signage, as well as the boiler.WE'LL BE WATCHING YOUDuring the past decade, surveillance systems have certainly become more prominent in the industry. The technology has changed and it’s easy to be overwhelmed if you go on a shopping trip.What do you want from a surveillance system? You might get 10 different answers from 10 operators. Some believe it’s important to let people know that you are watching them in order to deter vandalism or theft. Avoiding legal hassles, such as slip-and-fall claims, may be your main objective.“In a normal coin laundry of 1,500 to 2,500 square feet, four cameras, in strategic locations, should be cost-effective and do the job,” Secilia believes. “Install good equipment and keep updating it. Cheapest is not the best.”The video should be in digital form, he adds. “In a court of law, the video has to be in digital form or it’s not acceptable. Playback should also be easy.”Secilia says you should think about the following surveillance system features/usage:• Each individual camera should record at 30 frames a second.• A built-in server is desirable• Everything you do at the coin laundry, in terms of monitoring the coverage, should be able to be done at a remote location (many systems do not have this capability, he adds).• It’s essential to let people see the cameras. That alone can help decrease potential vandalism and theft. However, even if the cameras are placed high enough, people may attempt to damage the equipment. Ask about vandal-proof or vandal-resistant cameras.• The system should be designed to store up to 30 days of event history.Surveillance systems can also be expanded to feature eight or 16 cameras with additional hard drive space to provide more memory for whatever period the owner may need.Surveillance issues to discuss with your attorney include the need to inform customers that they are being filmed, hiding cameras, recording audio and even the use of dummy cameras.If you plan on doing any surveillance system shopping in the near future, Secilia says a complete four-camera system should cost about $2,300. 

About the author

Paul Partyka

American Coin-Op

Paul Partyka was editor of American Coin-Op from 1997 through May 2011.

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