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by: Rich Miller - Monday, January 9, 2012

 

“Dice Claims Against Bold Dismissed”

That was the headline on a media release today from Richard Hahn & Associates, detailing developments in the six-month legal dispute between the two providers of central station automation platforms.

So that’s it. Case closed, right?

Apparently not.

According to court documents, a federal judge did dismiss three claims that Dice filed against Bold in an amended complaint in the trade secrets case: for unjust enrichment, conversion (civil as opposed to criminal theft), and a request for statutory damages, costs and attorney’s fees related to a copyright infringement claim.

But according to Craig Horn, an attorney representing Dice, the Nov. 29 court development was procedural and “the meat of the argument” between the two companies hasn’t changed. In other words, the legal battle is far from over.

The case in a nutshell: Dice filed suit against Bold in federal court in August, alleging that Bold unlawfully accessed Dice’s proprietary software with the help of a former Dice engineer hired by Bold. Dice, which is seeking damages and compensation, says it spent more than $5 million developing the software that it claims Bold misappropriated.

A boatload of legal briefs, claims and counterclaims have been filed since then, but Dice is holding to four points of its argument: that Bold violated the Michigan Uniform Trade Secret Act, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and that it infringed on Dice’s copyrights by creating unauthorized derivative works.

Bold has contested the validity of Dice’s claims, calling the lawsuit “baseless” and “a misguided attempt to level the playing field.” David McDaniel, an attorney representing Bold, declined to comment on the case today to Security Systems News.

Horn said depositions have been scheduled for the next couple of weeks and “we should know a lot more in a month than we do now.”

“Apparently, Bold is still taking the position that they haven’t done anything wrong,” he said. “It’s kind of an all-or-nothing proposition. Either we’re right or Bold’s right, and I guess that still remains to be seen.”

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by: Rich Miller - Wednesday, January 4, 2012

 

The private equity firm Generation3 Capital is getting into the PERS game, announcing this week that it has acquired LogicMark, a Virginia-based designer and manufacturer of medical alarm systems. Generation3 was joined in the deal by Promus Equity Partners LLC, according to a Gen3 statement. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Adding to the news is the fact that LogicMark is bringing aboard former Honeywell execs Ben Cornett, who will be the new CEO, and Kevin O’Connor, who will serve as president. Both formerly worked at Honeywell Security Group, as president and vice president of global sales, respectively. Most recently they have been involved with EZ Watch, another company in Chicago-based Gen3's portfolio. Cornett is still serving as CEO, while O'Connor has moved on full time to LogicMark.

“The PERS market is growing rapidly in both the durable medical equipment and security channels,” O’Connor said. “We are excited to be involved with LogicMark and have the opportunity to work with some new customers in the DME market, as well as working with some old friends in the security market.”

What are Cornett’s views on the PERS world? I’ll learn more in an interview with him this week, with a story to follow.

CSAA webinar: For anyone with a hole in his (or her) dance card Jan. 18, the CSAA has announced that it will be the new date for a webinar on “Social Media Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).” The online session will feature panelists Yvonne Grahovac of Alarm.com, and Richard Hahn of Bold Technologies. Register at https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/164912682.  

by: Rich Miller - Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Next Generation 911 is on hold, but don’t blink. It will return, if not tomorrow or next week, then when Congress reconvenes in 2012.

The provision, which was attached to H.R. 3630—“The Middle Class Tax Relief, Job Creation and Let’s Beat Santa Home Act of 2011”—was removed from the version of the legislation that made it through the Senate last weekend.

But it wasn’t removed because senators didn’t like it, according to Bob Bonifas, who has lobbied on Capitol Hill in an effort to change language in the bill that could harm the alarm industry. It was removed to simplify the bill so that extending the Social Security payroll tax cut could make it through both houses.

“They didn’t even bring it up,” Bonifas said. “Rather than deal with it, they just cut the NG 911 … out of it and sent the raw part back to the House.”

The raw part still awaits cooking as I write this, since the GOP leadership in House has refused to bring the Senate-approved bill to a vote. Will 160 million Americans get to keep their payroll tax break, or will it expire? There’s more to the standoff than that, but I won’t get into the particulars. Life’s short and besides, there’s still holiday shopping to do.

The action and inaction effectively kick the can down the road to 2012, unless something changes soon and the House decides to put NG 911 back into play before Jan. 1. But it will be back, eventually. And when it returns, Bonifas wanted to make something clear: The alarm industry supports it. It just wants language in the bill changed to prevent an unintended consequence: permitting unverified data—automated burglar, fire and PERS alarms—to flow into PSAPs.

“We’re not trying to oppose anything that would jeopardize (NG 911),” he said. “We’re not trying to blow up this bill; we’re trying to tweak a minor error in it.”

 
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by: Rich Miller - Thursday, December 15, 2011

 

The U.S. House did the alarm industry no favors Tuesday night.

By passing H.R. 3630, “The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2011,” House members said yes to extending the Social Security payroll tax deduction and sent the contentious bill to the Senate. While you’d be hard-pressed to find a central operator who opposes tax relief or job creation, the bill is laden with a stealth bomb: Next Generation 911, which in its present form would allow emergency calls from alarm systems to be sent directly to PSAPs without verification.

Bypassing centrals is obviously a non-starter for the industry, which has now shifted its lobbying effort to the Senate. That’s where members of the Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) were laboring at week’s end, proposing new language in the bill to safeguard centrals and prevent the inundation of 911 centers with unscreened sensor-generated calls.

Lou Fiore, chairman of the AICC, provided Security Systems News with an update this morning and sounded cautiously optimistic about turning the tide. He said six key senators, including Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, and Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., had been receptive to the industry’s concerns.

“They listened very attentively to our proposals,” Fiore said. “They totally understand our issue. Tomorrow we have a conference call with (Democratic Rep. Anna) Eshoo on the House side, who’s on the committee that drafted the original bill.”

That’s important, Fiore said, because when things finally get hashed out in the Senate, a new version of the bill will head back to the House for approval. If lawmakers there didn’t get the industry’s message the first time around, this time “they’ll know what our issues are,” he said.

The timing is a little dicey because of all of the partisan grandstanding, but the smart money says sooner rather than later. “I know these people want to go home for the holidays,” Fiore said. “It’s down to crunch time.”

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by: Rich Miller - Friday, December 9, 2011

How could the alarm industry have gotten caught up in the partisan bickering over extending the Social Security payroll tax cut? It’s a long story, but here’s the quick pitch:

A bill proposed in February by Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.—the Broadband for First Responders Act of 2011— contained provisions that threatened the alarm industry, namely an FCC auction of bands of spectrum used by centrals. The revenue would help offset the reallocation of the “D-Block” of spectrum in the 700 MHz range for a public safety broadband network, a byproduct of the communication problems experienced during the Sept. 11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina.

Auctioning spectrum used by centrals would be hugely problematic for the industry on many fronts, a fact not lost on the Alarm Industry Communications Committee. The AICC, working with police and fire protection groups from around the nation, has been lobbying the FCC about the potential problems, and surprise—apparently the frequency provisions have been dropped from the latest version of the bill. There are other messy details, of course, but you don’t need to hear about how sausage is made, at least not from me.

So this is good news, right? Well, I just got off the phone with Lou Fiore, chairman of the AICC, and it seems that another beast has raised its head: Next Generation 911. This addition to the House bill would allow alarm signals to be sent directly to PSAPs, including signals from PERS devices. The alarm industry currently screens these calls, 99 percent of which don’t require the dispatch of emergency services, according to Fiore. Removing third-party monitoring would have an obvious consequence, he said: “It would bring 911 centers to their knees.”

In the grand tradition of lawmaking, the Next Generation 911 provision is now tied in with the legislation to extend the Social Security payroll tax cut—again, think sausage—on which Democrats and Republicans have not exactly been seeing eye to eye. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has vowed that lawmakers will not go home for Christmas until the deal is done, so that means the AICC’s work isn’t done. There likely will be more developments next week, and probably more down the line on other measures that could undercut centrals. “It’s like weeds popping up in the garden,” Fiore said. “You have to keep looking.”

Stay tuned …

 
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by: Rich Miller - Wednesday, December 7, 2011

At first it just looked like a big bowl of alphabet soup, but as the “new guy” at Security Systems News, I’m starting to get my head around it. In the first few weeks at my post I’ve had a chance to hear from some of the organizational leaders in the industry—Ed Bonifas, Stan Martin, Bob Bean—as well as many others who have helped me get my feet wet. There’s long list of folks who I haven’t talked with, though, and a long list of companies that I’d like to know more about, so I have some work to do.

This blog is part of that process, and it would be great to hear from those in the know if I don’t dial you up first. Any industry developments, large or small, count me in: rmiller@securitysystemsnews.com, or 207-846-0600, Ext. 254. I look forward to getting to know everyone.

On the email front: There was a real gem circulating among CSAA members recently about Hedy Lamarr, the Hollywood siren and screen legend. It turns out she was also quite the inventor, co-patenting spread spectrum radio, a technology that would eventually lead to today’s cellphones, Wi-Fi and GPS. And did I mention her torpedo guidance system for the U.S. Navy?

L.A. Times writer Adam Tschorn said it would be like crediting Farrah Fawcett for developing Google’s proprietary search algorithm. But truth is stranger than fiction. Richard Rhodes chronicles Lamarr’s little-known work in his new book, “Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World.”

And that’s Hedy, not Hedley, “Blazing Saddles” fans …

 
by: Daniel Gelinas - Friday, October 7, 2011

C.O.P.S.' vice president special projects Maria Malice recently won the 2011 Arizona Alarm Company Person of the Year honor for an unprecedented fourth straight year. I've spoken with Maria before when she won the honor in 2009 and spotlighted her seemingly bottomless well of energy when it comes to working for the industry in her home state of Arizona.

First of all, congrats to you Maria--again.

I had a chance to chat with Maria via email about her fourth year being honored. Maria found out about the win on Wednesday, September 28th at the AzAA (for those of you who read my last blog post, that's Arizona Alarm Association) Annual Convention, Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner. I corresponded with her just a few days later

Please find that interview below.
 

Maria, what do you think won you the honor this year?
I think it is because of all the work I do with the cities when they are looking at their ordinances and considering making a change or starting a new ordinance. We try to find a happy medium that works for all involved. The police department, the end user, and the alarm industry. I work with the departments through the writing process if possible and then toward the end before the send it to council in checking it over. Also when they go to city council I come to the meetings and speak on behalf of the AzAA as to our thoughts on the new ordinance.
 
In starting to work with a city it is important to know their goal in writing or changing an ordinance. Then when I read through an ordinance I keep their goal in mind, then I look for everything from typos, to conflicts within the ordinance, to what's fair and reasonable to all and make the appropriate suggestions to the city. The ordinance has to be good for all three parties involved, the end user, the PD, and the industry. I work very hard to keep an open mind and consider all the parties involved.
 
Also, when they have issues that come up, I work as a resource to assist them in finding a resolution.

Well it certainly sounds like it keeps you busy. Where have you been busy lately?
This past year, Mesa, Tucson, Avondale, Glendale, and now Peoria. Tucson and Avondale being the highest profile Cities.

What is there still to do (in other words, where are you focusing your energy right now)?
Right now Tucson is struggling with reworking their ordinance and there are some conflicts between the different companies in Tucson. Everything from licensing requirements, to permit fees is creating the dissention between the companies. So working with the companies and the police dept in their efforts to find a solution that all can live with before going back to City Council.
 
In Avondale I am working with them on the ordinance they passed to fine the alarm company for all false alarms. We are making progress in effecting a change in that ordinance.
 
I'm also gearing up for once again submitting a bill for statewide alarm licensing.

Do you think a fifth year as Arizona's top security person is in the cards?
Anything is possible, but I am really hoping that others within the Association will step up and take a more active role in working with the Cities. Too many times people are complacent and let others do the work that everyone benefits from. It is important that we all understand that we have to work together toward the betterment of our communications with the police departments we work with daily, and the betterment of our industry and the communities we live and work in.  
 
I would love to see someone else win because that means they get it and will have taken an active role in their industry and community. When that happens we all win!!

 

by: Daniel Gelinas - Thursday, October 6, 2011

I read through Ken Kirschenbaum's security industry newsletter dated 10/4 with interest the other day. As most of you know, I've written about the worlds of central station monitoring, PERS, and false alarm reduction and ordinances for a while. It's easy for me to forget that not everyone--even people in the indusry--is familiar with some of the acronyms and terminology commonly used in the security industry. I'm no stranger to the confusion that can come from not knowing the references others are using. On my first day here at SSN in 2008, I realized I was going to be in trouble with all the three-letter acronomyms (and four-letter, and five-letter, and etc.) so I asked for help and got it from Celia Besore, who forwarded on to me a listing of Security Industry Acronyms pulled from CSAA's membership directory (page 65 of the 2008-2009 directory). All I had to do was ask. It's there as a resource. I just checked that list and it's interesting to note that ECV isn't on there... language is a growing, living thing and as intelligent animals we're blessed with the ability to ask questions.

It struck me as a little funny that there were some commenting in Ken's newsletter that they didn't know what "ECV" (used in an earlier posting in the newsletter from SIAC (oops, I did it myself... used an acronym without explaining what it means... SIAC is the Security Industry Alarm Coalition) director Ron Walters) meant, and further seemed to lack any sort of idea as to how to find out.

From the newsletter:


Hi Ken, I had to chuckle about Mr. Barlow's posting below. The reason for the chuckle is simple: I have no idea what "ECV" is either. So, I "Googled it" and low and behold it is a medical term acronym for turning a breach baby around. Wow, not sure how that applies in our business so I tried harder and added "security" to the Google search and came up with "Enhanced Call Verification". Now that made more sense.
I agree with Mr. Barlow; spell out the thought and ensure what we write is clear, especially in emails! I have heard that those that use acronyms are attempting to show they are smarter than others!
Thank you for your continued value to the industry!


Mark Ingram

President


Visonic, Inc

I've written about some of Mark's ventures before, and he's on the right track here, I think. If I don't understand something, I look. I ask a question of someone I think might have the answer. I don't necessarily assume someone who uses an acronym is trying to look smarter than others... I think that maybe it's a sign of someone striving for economy in language... Either way, the Internet's a pretty great resource and the security industry's associaions are there to help you learn and grow.

Again, from the newsletter:


Dear Ken:
 I know that you are committed to keep this forum fresh and relevant. I truly appreciate the time and space you have already dedicated to this issue and I ask that you post this one last reply.
 My apologies to both Tony Barlow and Lee Jones for not being more specific. ECV is Enhanced Call Verification and is a process that requires that at least two calls to two different phone numbers be made in an attempt to verify intrusion signals. ECV does not apply to any manually activated signal such as a hold up or panic, nor does it apply to fire. It is an approved American National Standard Institute (ANSI) standard. ANSI has no connection to our industry. They are an independent standards approval body. To have an ANSI Standard there must be an approved standards body that frets out the entire process under ANSI's supervision. In the case of ECV that was the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA). CSAA wrote the standard, opened it for public comment and were required to address all comments prior to submitting to ANSI for final approval. In this case the final document is ANSI/ CSAA-CS-V-01-xxxx. You can download the document for free by following [this] link ...  An important note is that you do not have to even be associated with the industry to comment on a pending standard that is open for comment and all comments must be addressed and replies sent as to the support or dismissal of all comments.


.

When law enforcement, under the International Association of Chief's of Police Private Sector Liaison Committee (IACP, PSLC), tasked the industry to find a solution(s) to the high incidence of user initiated false dispatches a series of tests were performed. First several central stations would take all unverified alarms during a random period of time and, prior to dispatching, call the premise phone number a second time. In 25% of the cases the second call was answered and no dispatch was required.


Next we sought to find out why the first call was not answered and the overwhelming cause was the call waiting feature on the premise line, the same line being used for the alarm to communicate on. The alarm goes off, the monitoring station receives the signal and attempts to verify. When the operator calls the premise they hear the phone ringing but in actuality the panel still has line seizure so anyone on site hears nothing and leaves. This can be addressed when programing the alarm panel.


When programming the receiver line first use the call waiting disabling prefix, usually *70. Now when the operator attempts to verify and the line is still seized the hear a busy signal and attempt to call again prior to dispatch. If you do this then you must also program the second receiver number into the panel without using the *70 prefix in the case that the call waiting feature is ever canceled.  If you are not comfortable with this then you MUST use ECV and the second call should be to a cellular number.


After proving the concept of ECV as being viable there needed to be a larger test. In Boulder Colorado the City had repealed their unenforced alarm ordinance in preparation to going to a non response policy. The Chief graciously allowed a period of time to test the process and in just 45 days dispatches were down over 30%. In the next 18 months with no other action being taken those reductions rose to over 60%. All that was needed to reach this level was that the Chief issued a policy and when an attempt was made to dispatch the caller was asked if at least two calls were made and to what numbers?


It is important to note that the second call to a second number is not an attempt to ask the alarm user to guess what is happening at the alarm site. In all cases where there results in no dispatch you will be reaching someone who is either still at the alarm site, has just left the alarm site or who knows exactly why the alarm is going off. If there is any doubt then a dispatch should be made.  This addresses Mr Jones in his statement that it can not be enforced. Enforcement is really simple and only requires a few months of asking if two calls were made.Once the monitoring stations know that a jurisdiction requires ECV they comply.

Even today with all of the acquisitions and mergers somewhere close to half of all monitored alarms are in the hands of small local company's. Unfortunately only 10% of these belong to an industry association. If this weren't dad enough, most don't read industry publications every month so a large percentage is in the dark as to what is happening legislatively in the industry. I would be remiss if I didn't encourage you join your state association and at least one of the national associations. These the Electronic Security Association (ESA) the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA), the Security Industry Association (SIA) and the Canadian Security Association (CANASA). Links to all of these are available at www.siacinc.org.


I would welcome anyone wanting more information on this and other related legislative initiatives to contact me at ronw@siacinc.or or call me at 954-347-4883.


Thank you all for your interest.


Ron Walters, Director


Security Industry Alarm Coalition

I've spoken with Ron at length in the past. He's a dedicated guy who obviously wants to help people understand and learn and grow.

I also like this following bit of commentary from Mark Matlock over at UCC. I've also spoken with Mark before and have followed his organization closely.

regarding Lee's comments


Neither Ron Walters or SIAC or any other industry source to my knowledge have touted Enhanced Call Verification (“ECV”) as “the ultimate false alarm solution” .  Rather, we in the alarm industry realize that ECV is a very important piece of the overall puzzle in addressing the important issue of false alarm dispatch reduction.  I will add that it is a very effective piece.  Our wholesale alarm monitoring company, United Central Control, adopted ECV across the board and we have reduced police dispatches for burglar alarms by close to 35%.  I would say that this is a significant accomplishment by anyone’s definition.


Is ECV the “end all, be all” solution to false alarms?  Of course not, but it does show diligence on behalf of the alarm industry to assist the police departments nationwide in reducing calls for service related to burglar alarms.  I applaud SIAC and many other Alarm Associations who are resolute in addressing this issue.  I don’t know the source of your pessimism, but your words tend to mitigate the hard work and significant accomplishments of the alarm industry and its affiliated Associations for the last ten plus years.  We have made huge strides in working with the police departments and reducing calls for service related to false alarms.  The statistics in major markets nationwide bear out that calls for service from burglar alarms have been significantly reduced while alarm installations continue to rise.

Good job alarm industry.


Mark Matlock


United Central Control, Inc.


Regardless of whether or not you agree with ECV, one must admit that the resources to succesfully translate a three-letter acronym are out there for anyone who's genuinely intersted in finding out, as I would assume someone involved in the industry would be.

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by: Daniel Gelinas - Thursday, September 29, 2011

I was going through my inbox the other day and I came across an email from RSI president Keith Jentoft. I've written beforeabout Keith's always-on-task, tireless promotion of video verification. He forwarded on a link to me of the security industry being spotlighted in a local news broadcast.

It's nice to see the security industry get some positive coverage in the mainstream media. I've also written before about the black eye the industry often receivessince news only seems to cover security when there's a loss.

Anyway, the spot paints the industry in a positive, helpful light. It gives plenty of facetime to Videofied's MotionViewer (though, MotionViewer Man is conspicuously missing...) and I don't think they could have squeezed one more shot of the Acadian logo in there.

Nice work guys!

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by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, September 21, 2011

So I got back from ASIS International 2011 late last night and have been playing catch up at my desk all day. I'm just now getting around to going through my notes and putting together a little something to let all of you know how it went.

While I was there, I had the chance to sit down with a number of people and ask them how the show and their year was going as we approached the beginning of the fourth quarter.

It seemed like everyone was talking about the age of managed services. Integrators are no longer simply accepting them, but are beginning to expect them as well. According to some I with, the advent, proliferation and advancement of wireless technology has pushed the industry to a tipping point.

OzVision global director marketing Matt Riccoboni said smart phones had trained end users to expect more.

"Smartphones have changed the way we interact with data. It's no longer sufficient to say, 'I'll look it up later.' Smartphones have created an immediate need, an immediate thirst for data. So what we're doing is making services like video available that way," Matt told me. "And it can be for a lot of different things: an audit trail, for liability issues in the healthcare vertical … The channel partners, the integrators are really thinking of where this can be effective…. for example, with quick serve restaurants, integrators can offer access to video that shows a manager if people are consistently leaving because of long wait times. That's business intelligence that tells the manager they might want to bring on more staff to better server their customers."

I've talked with Matt before about the company's partnership with Sonitrol as well other issues.

It's all about choice and not getting stuck in the past, according to Telular vice president of marketing and business development Shawn Welsh.

"Our focus has been raising RMR. Cellular is now a trusted pathway, so now how do you leverage it to make more money?" Shawn asked. "One way is through offering interactive services, which we developed with the TG-1 express that work with older panels as well as new panels. You can offer an iPhone app to a panel from the '80s."

talked with Shawn last month about the new manufacturer-agnostic two-way voice capability Telular was touting at ASIS.

Diebold director of security solutions Jacky Grimm pointed out that managed services allowed integrators a way to offer a lower price point and a lower learning curve for getting in on the value managed services can offer.

"Technology is changing so fast. It's difficult for end users to have the money there to update, so what we're doing is packaging it in to leverage payment over time," to include things like training, oversight and hardware and software updates. "So you pay a flat fee up front, but the technology keeps pace with the world."

I've also spoken with Jacky recently about a number if things Diebold had going on, including their insight on managed access control, their move to pick up UL 2050 certification, and their addition of exta, managed services like targeted weather alerts.

I also met with Bruce Mungiguerra who is vice president sales and dealer development at Monitronics International. He told me their training program was performing nicely for them.

"We've enhanced MoniX a great deal," Bruce told me at the Monitronics booth. "It's like boot camp. It gives dealers a stronger relationahip with us ... We compared growth for new dealers and the average growth from month three to month 15 was 160 percent."

Bruce talked with me last year when Moni picked up a large dealer, Power Home Technologies, as an authorized dealer.

I also had a chance to sit down with Rob Tockarshewsky, Pete Tallman and Ken Modeste from UL. We talked about standards development, different UL listings, webinars, and UL's work with vetting hardware and software for Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 140-1 and FIPS 140-2 compaliace.

"FIPS 140 is a standard that's based around encryption and encryption technology in the federal space. It's been a requirement since 1995 ... Any kind of encryption has to go through this vetting process ... Any product, whether it's a USB stick, an alarm panel, a network router or printer--if it has any kind of encryption technology is required to go through this program for testing and evaluation," Ken told me.

"As more and more of these companies become more involved with the federal government, the need for FIPS testing becomes very important," Rob added.

I've spoken with Rob and Pete over at UL before on matters ranging from the competing NRTLs and UL 2050 listing and what it can mean for an alarm company.

I also had a chance to chat with former SDN editor Rhianna Daniels--now the principal at Compass PR--who dropped by SSN's booth with some of her clients from Next Level Security Systems who were due to sit down with SDN managing editor Whit Richardson for an on-camera interview. I interviewed Rhianna and NLSS' Amelia Hew earlier this year at ISC West in regards to their work with the Women's Security Council.

Over all, it was a fruitful trip to Orlando.

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