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FAQs

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Frequently Asked Questions, Building Division

Here is a list of questions our clients often ask us. If you don't see your question in the list below, please send it to us.

  1. I already have the data from the cash registers. I don't need to count people.
  2. My business is doing well. I am doing my best. I would act the same, even with more information
  3. How reliable is the system?
  4. How can I gather all the data generated in all the stores of my chain in one central location?
  5. Is it expensive?
  6. Can you estimate the number of passers-by in front of a store?
  7. Do you count in corridors?
  8. How does your product solution create a competitive advantage for us?
  9. What is the return on investment (ROI) for this system?


    Other Measurements
  10. What else can we plug into the DL-10 data loggers?
  11. How can we relate human traffic measurements to weather data?


    Installation
  12. How is the system installed?
  13. Who will install it?
  14. Can one of my technicians understand and modify the system?
  15. What happens if he makes an error in a connection?
  16. Do I have to wire my whole installation?
  17. What power is required by the system?
  18. What is your integration strategy?
  19. How are IP addresses given to Infodev's traffic counting devices? DHCP or Statically assigned?
  20. How would an installer validate a successful installation?


    Maintenance
  21. How are your traffic counters maintained once they are deployed in the field?
  22. Do you provide any diagnostic and/or alert capabilities if a traffic counter malfunctions?


    After Sales / Support
  23. What support will you offer us after installation?
  24. What is your support strategy for counting devices?
  25. How will I be billed when I ask you questions?
  26. What do we do if something stops working properly?
  27. What is covered by the service contract?
  28. What can you do via telecommunications link?
  29. What hours is your help desk open?
  30. What languages do you support on your help desk?
  31. Document escalation procedures and response times to problems.
  32. Where is your support desk located?
  33. When moving away from supporting an existing product, what is your usual transition time to continue support?


    Accuracy
  34. What is the accuracy of your technology and what supporting evidence can you provide?
  35. What is the difference between counting and estimating?
  36. When is estimating enough?
  37. When should we be counting precisely?
  38. Under which conditions will the system have problems counting?
  39. How do Infodev's traffic sensors react to a large inanimate object passing through the field of vision (e.g. someone moving a fridge)?


    Other Technologies
  40. Why not install an interruptible beam?
  41. I could install alarm system infrared sensors.


    Direction
  42. Why do we need the direction?
  43. I don't need the direction. All I have to do is to divide by two.


    Data Security and Integrity
  44. What self-checking functions can the system perform?
  45. Can someone else with a data collector read the data in my data loggers?
  46. How would your traffic counting devices react to power failures & power surges? (i.e., data loss/retention, etc).
  47. Can the system lose data?
  48. Can I lose data when transferring it between the data loggers and the data collector?
  49. How often do I need to retrieve the data?


    Software
  50. What software comes with the system?
  51. Is each sensor logged independently?
  52. Will I have enormous quantities of data?
  53. How frequently can traffic data be polled and how is the frequency configured?
  54. Can the traffic data be polled in real-time?
  55. Are there any security risks related to viruses, worms, or other malicious code that could impact your system?
  • What type of sensor is normally provided? (Please indicate if the sensor is of the IR type, whether it is active or passive, and provide a general description of its operation).
    Sensors are active infrared, designed and manufactured by Infodev specifically to count passengers entering and exiting public transit vehicles. The technology is proprietary, therefore detailed technical information is not provided.

    In general, the sensor detects the presence or absence of passengers, along with their direction. It solves the problem caused by passengers pausing for various reasons under the sensor before definitely moving across the detection zone. For example, a passenger slightly popping in to ask if the driver goes to a certain bus stop and popping back out once he receives the answer will not be counted.
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  • I already have the data from the cash registers. I don't need to count people.
    The cash registers will tell you how many customers have bought from you and how much they spent, but they will not tell you how many potential customers did not buy, nor will they tell you how many people passed in front of your store and didn't come in.
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  • My business is doing well. I am doing my best. I would act the same, even with more information.
    The measure of human traffic gives you two new indexes: the attraction rate and the conversion rate. The attraction rate is the percentage of people passing in front of the store who choose to enter. The conversion rate is the percentage of people who have entered your store and choose to buy.

    The attraction rate gives you feedback on changes in the store's appearance (window, sign, layout). The conversion rate gives feedback on anything which can convert a visitor into a customer (variety, merchandise price or layout, customer service, number of cash registers, etc). These two indicators will help you concentrate your efforts on those aspects of your business which will have the most effect on sales.

    For example, if after changing the layout of a store's window sales stay the same, you might conclude that the change was useless. However, if you had been measuring human traffic before and after the change, you might have noticed a 20% rise in the attraction rate and a concomitant fall in the conversion rate. You now know that your changes have brought in more people but that you have to work on something else to convert these visitors into customers. Your action is different because of the measure of human circulation .
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  • How reliable is the system?
    If the past is any indication of the future, just think that we have networks of DLX-100 data loggers that have been running continuously over the last 7 years without any major breakdown in sites with harsh environmental conditions, such as mines and experimental farms.
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  • How can I gather all the data generated in all the stores of my chain in one central location?
    The periodical transfer of data (daily, weekly, or monthly) by modem is the preferred method. You can choose either to call each store's computer from the central point or to have the store's computers call the central point. There is no need to have a dedicated phone line.
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  • Is it expensive?
    You will install systems for measuring human traffic in order to gain something, for example to make better use of promotional and store layout budgets or to increase sales. Ask yourself the question: what proportion of my advertising and promotion budgets or gross profit does the cost of the proposed system represent ? Very often it represents a very small percentage. These small amounts can easily be recouped rapidly.

    Another reason to install counting systems is to have solid figures when leasing space in a shopping centre.
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  • Can you estimate the number of passers-by in front of a store?
    We have various approaches to this problem. This data is essential to calculate the attraction rate: the proportion of passers-by who choose to enter the store.
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  • Do you count in corridors?
    We have sensors for these situations. They count and determine the direction of passage.
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  • How does your product solution create a competitive advantage for us?
    By electronically counting traffic at the store entrances, you will be able to derive the solid information needed to manage each store more efficiently. For example, customer traffic analysis will be useful for improved staff management, promotional/weather impact assessment, high and low traffic period identification.
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  • What is the return on investment for this system?
    The system costs less than the doors it is installed in. Our very first customers are still using our technology after nearly 10 years of operation, and they give us more buildings to outfit every year. They obviously enjoy a great return on investment. Moreover, using our counting system enables you to optimize your deployment of sales personnel, which in turn improves your sales and profit margins.
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  • What else can we plug into the DL-10 Data-Loggers?
    We can control and log from almost any of the common sensors producing signals in the 0-5 V or 4-20 mA ranges. For example, we can work with sensors measuring temperature, humidity, static pressure, gas concentrations, presence detectors used in alarm systems, etc. It is one of our specialities.
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  • How can we relate human traffic measurements to weather data?
    There are two approaches. We can install temperature and ambient light sensors plugged into a DL-10, or extract data from your country's weather agency databases. This data can then be displayed along with traffic data.
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  • How is the system installed?
    The directional door sensors (DS-10) are solidly anchored to the door frame and the data loggers on a nearby wall. The wiring is a standard 4-conductor telephone cable. The loggers (DL-10 or DEL-10) can be linked together to form a network in any topology: line, star or a combination of both.

    The DEL-10 is the easiest to install because the sensor and logger are integrated in a single case. A few screws will anchor it to a wall.
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  • Who will install it?
    We train professional alarm system installers in major centres. They do a clean and guaranteed job with all required permits. If you ever need to link loggers directly to your office computer, they or any other qualified installer can do that part. The DEL-10's can easily be installed by your employees if you want. If your people have the necessary experience, they can do all or a part of the installation. It is up to you.
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  • Can one of my technicians understand and modify the system?
    Of course. The connections are simple and the system is self-checking. The person only needs basic knowledge of using communication software on a microcomputer. If necessary, in certain particular cases, he will use specialised diagnostic and calibration software on a laptop computer.
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  • What happens if he makes an error in a connection?
    The system is protected against polarity inversions and over-voltages. A wrong connection will damage nothing. The particular sensor will just not work. That's all.
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  • Do I have to wire my whole installation?
    No you don't. We have developed the data collector technology to avoid the expense and inflexibility of this type of installation. Most large buildings have employees passing regularly by the places where the data loggers are installed. It costs nothing to have them periodically collect the data with a DC-10 and check the system diagnosis. Another advantage of a distributed system is that it is easily reconfigurable.
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  • What power is required by the system?
    Normally, a simple AC adapter is enough to power the whole system. The DL-10 can be powered from any AC or DC source between 6 and 28 volts, for example a nearby alarm system. It can also function for periods of up to two years on batteries alone.
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  • What is your integration strategy for FTP networking?
    Once a day, at the time of your choice, the head office’s server will poll the data loggers of each of the stores for the files containing summarized counts and diagnostic information. From those files, count data will be placed in a database for further processing and reporting. Your existing systems can extract data directly from there via ODBC so that you can make any type of analysis beyond what is provided in our Trends software.

    Trends being a Web-based application, you will be able to monitor all the stores of your portfolio from anywhere in the world. Trends will graphically present your portfolio of stores with traffic reports such as people inside and days reports to see trends in human circulation over time and logger reports to let you compare traffic at different store locations.
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  • How are IP addresses given to Infodev's traffic counting devices? DHCP or Statically assigned?
    Any method can be used. We consider that machines providing services should have fixed IP addresses. It would initially be set-up at Infodev's facilities, but it can easily be remotely changed later.
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  • How are your traffic counters maintained once they are deployed in the field?
    Normal maintenance is minimal. Our sensors are insensitive to temperature and normal light intensity variations, as well as vibrations. They do not need to be re-calibrated. We recommend an inspection for dust or other materials once or twice a year.
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  • Do you provide any diagnostic and/or alert capabilities if a traffic counter malfunctions?
    Infodev's software runs an automatic system check every time data is retrieved from the loggers. If a counter is defective, the software sends an alert message to the user, asking him to verify that particular location. We can then immediately identify if there is a problem and correct it. Furthermore, the systems continuously gather diagnostic information (such as sensor levels) downloaded with the count data. Our service personnel uses this information to pinpoint possible problems.
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  • How would an installer validate a successful installation?
    The installer uses a laptop connected to the data logger. The logger is put in “Monit??? mode. All the IN counts and all the OUT counts are displayed on the laptop screen in real time. The installer then visually compares what he sees to what the people counting system reports. He can do this for any length of time until convinced of the precision of the system.
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  • What support will you offer us after installation?
    We offer complete service for the first year. The same service is available afterwards with a service contract. You can count on us to help you with data acquisition, result analysis and presentation and of course with your other software if necessary.

    We will help you use our software until you are getting the results you are looking for. Our objective is that you extract the most relevant information from the best data.
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  • What is your support strategy for counting devices?
    We have complete documentation for our hardware and software. We have a technical support team of 3 people dedicated to the buildings industry, as well as 4 experienced installers and a software developer dedicated to software applications in the buildings sector. We provide remote support by phone, fax and e-mail. In the case of hardware problems that require our expertise, on-site support can be done by one of our installers or an affiliated subcontractor. The technical support team will respond within the hour of the client's intervention.

    When replacement parts are required, Infodev can ship the material within 2 business days. If a counter is defective, we can see it with a system check. If a counter has a problem, we ask your handyman to replace it. No special knowledge is necessary: this task is usually completed within a few minutes. You send back the problem device and we ship you a new one. Upon system installation, the technician trains one of your persons on simple tasks such as replacing equipment.
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  • How will I be billed when I ask you questions?
    Your service contract entitles you to ask all the questions you need to get the most out of our systems. You are billed only for extra services outside the scope of the actual installation. We encourage our clients to call us and speak their mind. In fact, if you don't call, one of our engineers will call you periodically to get some news. Your comments are an important source of enhancements to our products.
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  • What do we do if something stops working properly?
    First, call us. Our technicians will determine the best course of action to find and solve the problem. The system has diagnostic programs which can often identify the problem. Our people can also access the system via phone and modem to update programs or to perform more detailed diagnostics. If a sensor needs to be replaced, you may either temporarily replace it with one that is less used or by one sent to you by 24 hour courier service.
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  • What is covered by the service contract?
    It includes all software updates, receiving answers to all your questions and having the sensors readjusted if necessary. The service contract covers all costs of parts and labour for repairs undertaken at our facilities.
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  • What can you do via telecommunications link?
    We can control a DL-10 almost as completely as if it were in our own lab. We can download logged data, install a new version of the software, modify configuration parameters, and perform a general system check. We can use remote control software to plug into one of your office computers to help you learn how to use the analysis software, to verify that it is working properly, to adjust it if necessary, and to help you with your own programs. It is almost exactly as if one of our people were sitting beside you in your office. We can also take charge of the downloading and analysis of your data, then print your reports and fax or send them to you through your preferred channel.
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  • What hours is your help desk open?
    8:30 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday.
    9:00AM to 12:00 Saturday, Eastern Standard Time
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  • What languages do you support on your help desk?
    English, French and Spanish
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  • Document escalation procedures and response times to problems.
    Infodev is committed to providing world-class technical support. We constantly strive to improve our processes and services. 90% of our callers are connected to a support specialist within 30 seconds. Most clients have their question answered on the initial contact. If the support specialist cannot resolve the problem immediately, a support manager will review the problem and initiate any necessary procedures to provide an expedient solution.
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  • Where is your support desk located?
    Our support/help desk is located at Infodev's headquarters in Quebec City, Quebec.
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  • When moving away from supporting an existing product, what is your usual transition time to continue support?
    We still support our very first installation and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Being subject to no fashion trends, our products have a long lifespan.
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  • What is the accuracy of your technology and what supporting evidence can you provide?
    When counting in buildings, clients rarely conduct formal accuracy tests because they are marketing- and operation-focused rather than engineering-driven. However, there are some for whom it is very important, for example the Montreal Casino which regularly attains its maximum allowed capacity. They periodically verify accuracy using video recordings. We have consistently attained 98% accuracy.

    Transit is a much more demanding environment than buildings. These clients are engineers and they always conduct comprehensive accuracy measurements. We are always above 95% and usually reach 98%-99%. Note that these numbers come from the clients’ own evaluations.
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  • What is the difference between counting and estimating?
    It is all a question of precision. Our directional sensor has a precision approaching the limits of the possible, regardless of traffic density or the environment layout. When using it, we say we are counting.

    We can also use other sensors that return less accurate results depending on traffic density and space layout. In this case we use the term estimating. Whenever you have to apply correction factors to data, you are estimating.
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  • When is estimating enough?
    Estimating is appropriate when we are interested in circulation profiles and general tendencies. It is sufficient when the traffic is relatively low. With a higher traffic density, only large or irregular variations may be identified.
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  • When should we be counting precisely?
    You should count with precision when you need to know exactly how many people have passed through the monitored space, especially if the circulation is heavy. Precision is also necessary when calculating conversion rates. In general, accuracy is paramount when important decisions must be taken.

    An advertising campaign might produce a small increase in circulation. In this case we need precise counting systems or else the variation will be indistinguishable from the inaccuracy factor of the measurement.
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  • Under which conditions will the system have problems counting?
    Certain people can induce the system into error, for instance when carrying a large plant or a handful of balloons. These cases are not only rare, but also insignificant in a shopping centre population.
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  • How do Infodev's traffic sensors react to a large inanimate object passing through the field of vision (e.g. someone moving a fridge)?
    Large inanimate objects are usually counted as a person walking in or out of the establishment. Usually, these objects are not moved through the customer entrances but through the service exits. We assume that this situation does not happen frequently and therefore has no significant impact to the total traffic flow rate. A person exiting with a box in hand will be counted as one.
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  • Why not install an interruptible beam?
    Although reliable, interruptible beams give no indication on the direction of passage. This type of system is also easily blocked by a person standing in the beam. Finally, depending on the installation, this counting method is most often a tool for estimating traffic.
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  • I could install alarm system infrared sensors.
    Yes, but these sensors can't separate people standing close to each other. They also have problems with various environmental conditions such as temperature, light, hot and cold air currents, etc. These sensors are designed to detect the presence of people in a certain space, not to count people or to detect their direction of movement. We use infrared sensors to measure the time certain parts of a building (for example changing rooms) have been occupied.
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  • Why do we need the direction?
    You need to know direction of passage in the obvious case where you want to determine if an entrance is used more for entering or exiting at certain hours. However, the most interesting use of the information is to determine how many people are in the building at various times of the day.
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  • I don't need the direction. All I have to do is to divide by two.
    First of all, you cannot suppose that an equal number of people enter and leave through a door. In fact, our research shows that this is less common than expected. Dividing by two at the end of the day will usually not give you how many persons entered or exited the building through a particular entrance. Moreover, it will give a valid figure only for the whole building, all entrances considered, only if all doors are monitored independently and allow only one person through at a time.

    You will never know how many persons were in the store at any particular time, nor if the entrance was used mainly for entering or exiting. Our systems give you the direction. Why settle for less ?.
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  • What self-checking functions can the system perform?
    The system can signal many types of failures. It can check if each individual sensor is working or not. It will tell you the batteries' charge level if the system is so equipped. It will detect "strange" situations of abnormally high counting in a short period.
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  • Can someone else with a data collector read the data in my data loggers?
    No. Communications between loggers and collectors can be protected by passwords and encoded with keys.
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  • How would your traffic counting devices react to power failures & power surges? (i.e. data loss/retention, etc)
    Data is kept in flash memory, therefore it is retained in the event of power failure. The real time clock keeps on running using the lithium battery. When power is restored, the system comes back up without human intervention and continues operating as before.

    The system is protected from power surges and does not notice them.
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  • Can the system lose data?
    Our technology, perfected over many years, takes care of this potential problem. We use protected memory, non-volatile memory and temporary power from a lithium battery. Together, these measures ensure that the data stays in memory, whatever happens.
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  • Can I lose data when transferring it between the data loggers and the data collector?
    We transfer the data using auto-correcting protocols. Moreover, transferred data is not erased from the logger by the transfer, but by further data logging. It remains available for a few weeks depending on the logger's memory size.
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  • How often do I need to retrieve the data?
    The entry-level data logger can store data from 8 sensors, totalled every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day, for one month. With more memory, it can keep the same data for a one-year period. This provides you with sufficient time to collect your data.
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  • What software comes with the system?
    There are two levels of software: system software and application software. The system software has many components: communication between loggers, collectors, and office computers; sensor control and counting, and software to configure and check the equipment.

    The application software selects appropriate subsets from the millions of measurements acquired: which sensors, for what period of time, grouped in what way. Certain statistics are calculated (totals, averages, per day, week, month, etc...). Results are displayed or printed as tables or graphs. The data is also available for use in Excel.
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  • Is each sensor logged independently?
    The system keeps all the data produced sorted by sensor for security, reliability, and flexibility of analysis.
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  • Will I have enormous quantities of data?
    Yes, but you will never see the data as an unstructured mass. The application software will help you navigate easily through it.
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  • How frequently can traffic data be polled and how is the frequency configured?
    By default, the data logger is configured to save traffic data every 15 minutes. Saving means that the logger cumulates the “IN??? and “OUT??? counts and creates a data entry.

    However, configuring the interval at which data is saved can be modified to fit the customer's needs, but experience has shown that a 15 minutes increment is the optimal solution.

    In the case of an FTP network, the data is polled by the head office server from the stores once a day. Every day, the data is transported from the loggers to the FTP gateway, to the central office polling PC and saved in the database automatically. This frequency can be easily adjusted to customer requirements.
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  • Can the traffic data be polled in real-time?
    Yes, our product design allows for such a feature.
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  • Are there any security risks related to viruses, worms, or other malicious code that could impact your system?
    Because our FTP Gateway runs on Linux and is totally restricted to the small number of functions it must perform, there are no security risks related to worms, viruses or malicious code.
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