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SimpliSafe home security system review: I strongly recommend it

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  • According to the FBI, property crimes rates have steadily decreased over the last 15 years, but burglaries still account for more than $15 billion in losses per year.
  • A good home security system will not stop a determined burglar, but it does an excellent job of scaring away the vast majority of thieves.
  • SimpliSafe is considered one of the best home security systems by experts and buyers alike because of its easy installation, endless customization options, and 24/7 professional monitoring.
  • Starting at $229.99 on Amazon for the home protection system plus $14.99 per month for monitoring and police dispatch, SimpliSafe is relatively inexpensive and doesn’t require you to sign a contract.

I live in Lansing, Michigan. My city has some of the highest violent and property crime rates in the United States. And, my neighborhood is among the worst in town. All of my neighbors have a story or three of someone breaking into their house and stealing whatever valuables they could grab quickly. In fact, a neighbor tells me that before I moved in, there were several burglaries in my house.

So, when I came to town five months ago, I knew I’d need to take some protective measures to scare off ne’er-do-wells. Fortunately, SimpliSafe was game to send me a review unit of their all-new third-generation home security system to test out. Below are my experiences with it.

My first experiences with SimpliSafe

SimpliSafe’s system uses Wi-Fi and cellular connections to send alerts. Each of the devices is also powered by batteries. This means that if the power is knocked out or your landline is cut, the monitoring stations will still get your signal. They have even made the keypad and base station “smash safe.”

The review set included 10 pieces of security equipment:

  • Base station — This is the brains of the operation. It also features the on-location siren that will hopefully chase off intruders. The base station communicates with all of the sensors, your smartphone, and the professional monitoring. SimpliSafe recommends installing this in a central spot in your home.
  • Keypad — The keypad is installed next to your main entrance so you can easily enter your PIN to turn it off when you get home. It also tells you if the alarm has been triggered and if there are any software updates.
  • Entry sensors (3) — These two-piece units go on doors and windows. They let you know when a potential point of entry is opened or closed.
  • Motion sensor — This uses infrared technology to tell if someone enters a room.
  • Glassbreak sensor — Installed on a wall or shelf within 30 feet of windows that are most likely to be broken into, the glassbreak sensor is triggered when it “hears” the specific frequency of glass breaking.
  • Panic button — I put this by my bed — you just push it if there is a threat that the other sensors didn’t pick up.
  • Freeze sensor — This sensor monitors the temperature in your house and sends an alert if it gets too cold or too hot.
  • Water sensor — If your basement is flooding, you want to know right away. The water sensor will alert you.

Installation of these units took a total of 45 minutes. This included reading the manual, installing the app, installing the sensors, and testing. There were no tools needed. All of the devices have adhesives on them that make it easy to stick them to the walls. They also come with screws if you want to mount them that way.

Read more: The best security cameras you can buy for your home

With SimpliSafe, you can self-monitor or pay $14.99 per month (no contract required) for 24/7 professional monitoring. If you choose to self-monitor, the onus is on you to assess the threat and contact the police when you receive an alert. Self-monitoring fails when you are in a compromised position and cannot contact the police.

With SimpliSafe’s professional monitoring and police dispatch, they call you when the alarm is triggered. If you don’t answer, they contact the backup number. If the secondary contact doesn’t answer, then a SimpliSafe representative calls 911. Because of false alarms tying up police resources, different municipalities have different processes for these calls. For instance, in order for a third-party to contact police on your behalf, some cities require you to register your security system and also provide some sort of audio or video proof of a crime in progress.

I set off the alarm a couple of times. Within about 10 minutes of leaving the house after first arming the system, I got a call from SimpliSafe asking if I had an emergency event because the motion sensor had been triggered by my dog. I gave the representative my safe word, and there was no need for a police dispatch.

The setup guide directs you on how to place the motion sensor if you have cats or dogs but not both. I have two cats and a dog. I emailed SimpliSafe’s customer service on a Sunday evening for help on the correct placement of the motion sensor, and they got back to me the next morning. The service rep recommended installing the motion sensor upside down about four feet above the floor. This is because the sensor doesn’t monitor upwards. So, people four feet tall and taller will set it off. Four-legged creatures will not. Once I resolved this, I didn’t have any other false alarms from the motion sensor.

The app is incredibly easy to use and makes it effortless to customize your experience. You can choose to get push notifications, SMS texts, or emails when any of your sensors are triggered. There is also an option to instantly sound the alarm. I set this up for when the glassbreak sensor is triggered.

Read more: The best home security products you can buy

Some concerns about the home security system

At 95 decibels, the alarm is quite loud, but it may not reach all parts of your home. SimpliSafe instructs you to install the base station in a central location in your home. At first, we figured that would be the second floor of our three-story home. But, from the first floor, where intruders will likely enter, the sound of the siren was not as intense as we would have liked. So, we moved the siren to the first floor. It would be nice if SimpliSafe offered a few sirens throughout the home. For $60, SimpliSafe offer an extra-loud 105-decibel siren that can be used inside the home or outside to alert neighbors.

I wanted to keep the key fob on my keychain for easy access, but I accidentally armed the system while it was in my pocket. At the time, I was next door talking to my neighbor and didn’t have my phone on me. I faintly heard an alarm-like sound, but I assumed it was coming from elsewhere. Well, it turns out it was our system and my wife got a call from the SimpliSafe rep. Now, I just keep the key fob next to my bed to arm the system when I go to bed. I use the keypad when leaving the house.

Lastly, there’s a reported hack that can disarm the second-generation SimpliSafe system. The signals for the new third-gen system are encrypted and should protect against this hack. If you are concerned about this, I recommend not advertising that you are using a SimpliSafe system. Instead, consider purchasing generic signs off Amazon or elsewhere. Either way, it’s important that you advertise that you have a security system. That should be enough to deter most scofflaws.

Bottom line

Even the best security system won’t stop a determined burglar. But, when it comes to opportunistic crimes, a security system should be enough to ward off most criminals. In the five months we’ve lived here, we haven’t had any security issues. And, my wife and I sleep easier at night knowing that our home is being monitored 24/7.

Based on my experience, the third-generation of SimpliSafe’s wireless home security system is everything it claims to be. I strongly recommend it for safeguarding your home.

Buy the SimpliSafe Wireless Home Security System starting at $229.99 on Amazon

Update 10/30/18: After this review was published, SimpliSafe contacted us to let us know about their video alarm verification. If you have the SimpliSafe Camera, the monitoring center will receive a short clip of what triggered the alarm and use it to verify the alarm for the police. They never have access to your camera so your privacy is protected. SimpliSafe says this reduces false alarms and often leads to faster dispatch and higher arrest rates.

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The 3 Best Canadian Tech Stocks I Would Buy With $3,000 for 2021

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The majority of the Canadian tech stocks went through the roof in 2020 and delivered outsized returns. However, tech stocks witnessed sharp selling in the past 10 days, reflecting valuation concerns and expected normalization in demand. 

As these high-growth tech stocks shed some of their gains, I believe it’s time to accumulate them at current price levels to outperform the broader markets by a significant margin in 2021. Let’s dive into three tech stocks that have witnessed a pullback and are looking attractive bets. 

Lightspeed POS

Lightspeed POS (TSX:LSPD)(NYSE:LSPD) stock witnessed strong selling and is down about 33% in the last 10 days. I believe the selloff in Lightspeed presents an excellent opportunity for investors to invest in a high-growth and fundamentally strong company. 

Lightspeed witnessed an acceleration in demand for its digital products and services amid the pandemic. However, with the easing of lockdown measures and economic reopening, the demand for its products and services could normalize. Further, it faces tough year-over-year comparisons. 

Despite the normalization in demand, I believe the ongoing shift toward the omnichannel payment platform could continue to drive Lightspeed’s revenues and customer base. Besides, its accretive acquisitions, growing scale, and geographic expansion are likely to accelerate its growth and support the uptrend in its stock. Lightspeed stock is also expected to benefit from its growing average revenue per user, innovation, and up-selling initiatives.     

Shopify 

Like Lightspeed, Shopify (TSX:SHOP)(NYSE:SHOP) stock has also witnessed increased selling and has corrected by about 22% in the past 10 days. Notably, during the most recent quarter, Shopify said that it expects the vaccination and reopening of the economy to drive some of the consumer spending back to offline retail and services. Further, Shopify expects the pace of shift toward the e-commerce platform to return to the normal levels in 2021, which accelerated in 2020.

Despite the normalization in the pace of growth, a strong secular shift towards online commerce could continue to bring ample growth opportunities for Shopify, and the recent correction in its stock can be seen as a good buying opportunity. 

Shopify’s initiatives to ramp up its fulfillment network, international expansion and growing adoption of its payment platform are likely to drive strong growth in revenues and GMVs. Moreover, its strong new sales and marketing channels bode well for future growth. I remain upbeat on Shopify’s growth prospects and expect the company to continue to multiply investors’ wealth with each passing year. 

Docebo 

Docebo (TSX:DCBO)(NASDAQ:DCBO) stock is down about 21% in the last 10 days despite sustained momentum in its base business. The enterprise learning platform provider’s key performance metrics remain strong, implying that investors should capitalize on its low stock price and start accumulating its stock at the current levels. 

Docebo’s annual recurring revenue or ARR (a measure of future revenues) continues to grow at a brisk pace. Its ARR is expected to mark 55-57% growth in Q4. Meanwhile, its top line could increase by 48-52% during the same period. The company’s average contract value is growing at a healthy rate and is likely to increase by 22-24% during Q4. 

With the continued expansion of its customer base, geographical expansion, innovation, and opportunistic acquisitions, Docebo could deliver strong returns in 2021 and beyond.

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Manitoba to invest $6.5 million in new systems

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WINNIPEG – The province of Manitoba is investing $6.5 million over three years to replace technical systems used in healthcare facilities, including replacing current voice dictation and transcription services with more modern systems and upgrading the Provincial Health Contact Centre (PHCC)’s triage, call-recording and telephone systems, Health and Seniors Care Minister Heather Stefanson (pictured) announced.

“Our government is investing in the proper maintenance of information and communications technology to ensure digital health information can be safely stored and shared as needed,” said Stefanson. “These systems will ensure healthcare facilities can continue to provide high-quality services and allow Manitobans to get faster access to healthcare resources and information.”

Dictation, transcription and voice-recognition services are used by healthcare providers to write reports. There are currently approximately 80 healthcare sites across Manitoba using some combination of dictation, transcription and voice-recognition services. Many of these systems are nearing the end of their usable lifespans.

“Across our health system, radiologists and nuclear medicine physicians use voice-dictation services to help create diagnostic reports when reading imaging studies like ultrasound, nuclear medicine studies, X-rays, angiography, MRI and CT scans,” said Dr. Marco Essig, provincial specialty lead, diagnostic imaging, Shared Health. “Enhanced dictation and voice-recognition services will enable us to work more efficiently and provide healthcare providers with quicker access to these reports that support the diagnoses and treatment of Manitobans every day.”

The project will replace telephone-based dictation and transcription with voice-recognition functions, upgrade voice-recognition services for diagnostic imaging and enhance voice-recognition tools for mobile devices.

“Investing in more modern voice-transcription services will help our health-care workers do the administrative part of their jobs more quickly and effectively so they can get back to the most important part of their work – providing top-level healthcare and protecting Manitobans,” said Stefanson. “The transition to the new system will be made seamlessly so that services disruptions, which can lead to patient care safety risks, will not occur.”

The new systems will be compatible with other existing systems, will decrease turnaround times to improve patient care and will be standardized across the province to reduce ongoing costs and allow regional facilities to share resources as needed, Stefanson added.

The PHCC is a one-stop shop for incoming and outgoing citizen contact and supports programs such as Health Links–Info Santé, TeleCARE TeleSOINS and After-Hours Physician Access, as well as after-hours support services to public health, medical officers of health, home care and Manitoba Families.

The current vendor that supplies communications support to the PHCC is no longer providing service, making it an opportune time to invest in an upgraded system that will provide better service to Manitobans, the minister said, adding the project will provide the required systems and network infrastructure to continue providing essential services now and for the near future.

“The PHCC makes more than 650,000 customer service calls to Manitobans per year to a broad spectrum of clients with varied health issues. This reduces the need for people to visit a physician, urgent care or emergency departments,” said Stefanson. “The upgrade will also allow Manitobans in many communities to continue accessing the support they need from their home or local health centre, reducing the need for unnecessary travel.”

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Telus and UHN deliver services to the marginalized

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Telus’s Health for Good program has launched the latest of its specially equipped vans to provide medical services to the homeless and underserved, this time to the population of Toronto’s west end. The project relies not only on the hardware and software – the vans and technology – but on the care delivered by trained and socially sensitive medical professionals.

For the Toronto project, those professionals are working at the University Health Network’s Social Medicine program and the Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre. The city’s Parkdale community, in the west end, has a high concentration of homeless and marginalized people.

First launched in 2014, Telus’s Health for Good program has delivered mobile clinics to 13 Canadian cities, from Victoria to Halifax. Originally designed to deliver primary care, the program pivoted to meet the needs of patients in the COVID-19 pandemic, said Nimtaz Kanji, Calgary-based director of Telus Social Purpose Programs.

Angela Robertson of the Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre (CHC) asserted that marginalized people are particularly susceptible to the spread of COVID-19, as they don’t have access to the basic precautions that prevent its spread.

The clinic is located near a Pizza Pizza franchise; homeless people shelter under its overhang on the weekends, she said. Some have encampments under nearby bridges.

“The public health guidelines and requirements call for things that individuals who are homeless don’t have,” Robertson said. “If the response calls for isolation, that suggests people have places to isolate in.”

And in the shelter system, pre-COVID, the environment was very congregate, with many people in the same physical space, said Robertson. Some homeless persons, in order to keep themselves safe, have created encampments, and the city has opened up some hotel rooms across the city to create spaces for physical distancing.

Even proper hand-washing and hygiene becomes a challenge for the homeless.

“COVID calls for individuals to practice constant hand-washing. Oftentimes, individuals who are homeless use public washroom facilities that may be in restaurants or coffee shops, and many of those spaces are now closed. So there are limitations to accessing those facilities. It’s not like they’re in a community where there are public hand-washing facilities for people who are homeless.”

The mobile health clinic allows the CHC to take “pop-up testing” into communities where there is high positivity and where additional COVID testing is needed. The CHC can take testing into congregate sites and congregate housing to provide more testing, Robertson said.

“The other piece that we will use the van to do is, when the vaccine supply gets back online, and when the health system gets to doing community vaccinations … we hope that we can be part of that effort.”

COVID has contributed to a spike in cases of Toronto’s other pandemic: opioid overdoses. Some community members are reluctant to seek care because of the stigma attached to substance abuse; and COVID has a one-two punch for users.

The first rule of substance abuse is, don’t use alone; always be with someone who can respond to a potential overdose, ideally someone who can administer Nalaxone to reverse the effects of the overdose, Robertson said. “It’s substance abuse 101,” and the need for social distancing makes this impossible.

Secondly, COVID has affected the supply chain of street drugs. As a result, they’re being mixed increasingly with “toxic” impurities like Fentanyl that can be deadly.

The van itself is a Mercedes Sprinter, modified by architectural firm éKM architecture et aménagement and builder Zone Technologie, both based in Montréal. According to Car and Driver magazine, the Sprinter line – with 21 cargo models and 10 passenger versions – is “considered by many to be the king of cargo and passenger vans.”

Kanji said the platform was chosen for its reputation for reliability and robustness.

While the configuration is customized for each mobile clinic, it generally consists of two sections: A practitioner’s workstation and a more spacious and private examination room, so patients can receive treatment with privacy and dignity, Kanji said. The Parkdale clinic is 92 square feet.

“While the layouts vary across regions, they typically include an examination table and health practitioners’ workstation, including equipment necessary to provide primary healthcare,” the Telus vice-president of provider solutions wrote in an e-mail interview. The Parkdale Queen West mobile clinic is designed for primary medical services, including wound care, mobile COVID-19 testing and vaccination efforts, harm reduction services, mental healthcare and counseling.

The clinic equipped with an electronic medical record (EMR) from TELUS Health and TELUS LTE Wi-Fi network technology.

Practitioners will be able to collect and store patient data, examine a patient’s results over time, and provide better continuity of care to those marginalized citizens who often would have had undocumented medical histories.

The EMR system is Telus Health’s PS Suite (formerly Practice Solutions). It is an easy-to-use, customizable solution for general and specialty practices that captures, organizes, and displays patient information in a user-friendly way. The solution allows for the electronic management of patient charts and scheduling, receipt of labs and hospital reports directly into the EMR, and personalization of workflows with customizable templates, toolbars, and encounter assistants.

But like others tested for COVID, it’s a 24-48 hour wait for results. Pop-up or not, how does the mobile team get results to patients who have no fixed address?

The CHC set up a centre for testing in a tent at the Waterfront Community Centre. Swabs are sent to the lab. “We are responsible for connecting back with community members and their results,” Robertson said.

“This is the value of having Parkdale Queen West being in front of the testing, because many of the community members who are homeless we know through our other services, and there is some trust in folks either coming to us to make arrangements to collect their results, or we know where they are.”

This is a key element of the program, said Kanji – leveraging community trust. In Vancouver downtown east side, for example, where there is a high concentration of marginalized members of the indigenous community, nurse practitioners are accompanied by native elders in a partnership with the Kilala Lelum Health Centre.

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