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by: Rich Miller - Monday, March 26, 2012

Morgan Hertel has been named vice president of operations at Rapid Response Monitoring.

That information, courtesy of a new posting on his LinkedIn profile, greeted me today as I packed up my laptop and headed out the door to ISC West. It marks a quick turnaround for Hertel, who just two weeks ago stepped down as vice president and general manager for Mace CS.

In a March 12 news release from Mace Security International, the company said Hertel’s departure was “for personal reasons” and that he would be “working closely with Mace CS in a consulting role over the next several months.” Hertel took over as director of operations at the company’s wholesale central station in Anaheim, Calif., shortly after the CSSS acquisition in 2009.

As for what lies ahead at Rapid, the 30-year industry veteran states on LinkedIn that he’s working on “several high-level projects and initiatives. … At Rapid Response I have many resources, some of which include a complete software development team, a huge IT and technical staff and one of the most educated and talented operations and finance groups consisting of almost 400 staff members.”

Hertel will be a panelist at ISC West at an educational session titled “NFPA 72: Are You Ready for the Changes?” If I can’t catch up with him before I get on the plane, hopefully I’ll get a chance to do so at the show. It will be interesting to see how his expertise comes into play at Rapid.  

by: Rich Miller - Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Calling all alarm companies …

Are you robocalling into the void in an attempt to land new business, or to sell new products and services to existing customers? There are new rules that will soon affect you.

Under provisions of an order adopted Feb. 15 by the Federal Communications Commission, express written consent will be required from consumers before a company can place a marketing robocall to a residential or wireless number. The FCC also will require telemarketers to provide an automated “opt out” mechanism during each robocall, and it is sunsetting an important exemption for businesses placing such calls.

The bottom line for the alarm industry is that companies using robocalls to market products and services will no longer be able to do so under the “established business relationship” exception, according to Lou Fiore, chairman of the Alarm Industry Communications Committee. Instead, companies will have to obtain prior customer approval.

The good news for alarm companies is that the AICC petitioned regulators to protect certain industry uses of robocalling, and Fiore said the FCC adopted final rules that did just that.

“Alarm companies that use robocalls to try to reach customers to verify an alarm [after initial attempts by a live operator] should be able to continue such practice because it would appear to qualify as a call made for emergency purposes, and not a call made for a commercial purpose,” Fiore wrote in an online AICC missive. Calls to verify service appointments and to collect debt also will not require prior consent.

Implementation of the new rules is pending publication of approval by the Office of Management and Budget in the Federal Register. The exact time frame for that is uncertain, but it will happen. To determine the extent that it will affect the industry, the AICC is asking companies that use robocalling for marketing purposes to contact Fiore at ltfiore@aol.com by Friday, March 23.

And those political robocalls that we all know and love? They’ll still be allowed. Only seven months till November …

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by: Rich Miller - Monday, March 12, 2012

Morgan Hertel, VP and general manager of Mace CS, has stepped down for personal reasons, Mace Security International announced today. A replacement wasn’t named, but a Mace news release said Hertel “will be working closely with Mace CS in a consulting role over the next several months.”

Hertel, who was named director of operations at Mace shortly after the CSSS acquisition in 2009, could not be reached for comment. “Our clients remain in the very capable hands of the Mace CS professionals who have a high degree of technical expertise and training for the positions they hold,” he said in the company’s statement.

Hertel is a well-known figure in the monitoring world, with more than 30 years of experience and active service on many industry committees. He was a panelist for a discussion on cloud security at the recent TechSec conference in Delray Beach, Fla., and is scheduled to speak at ISC West at a session titled “NFPA 72: Are You Ready for the Changes?”

As for professional changes for Hertel, I hope to learn more soon.

 

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by: Rich Miller - Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How did the wholesale monitoring industry hold up in 2011? Michael Barnes knows.

Barnes, founding partner of Barnes Associates, a consulting and advisory firm specializing in the security alarm industry, recently completed a joint survey with Security Systems News that involved the biggest players in the industry. It was the second year that Barnes has conducted the survey with SSN, and it provided some interesting insights.

Without completely tipping Barnes’ hand, let’s just say that the industry grew. I had a chance to find out more about it this week in conversations with two leaders of the monitoring world, Russ MacDonnell of Rapid Response and Don Maden of COPS Monitoring. They both confirmed what the Barnes/SSN survey found, and that bodes well for the industry.

I’ll have more about the survey soon, both on the SSN website and in the April issue.

CSAA webinars: The Central Station Alarm Association has two sessions on tap that promise to be of interest to members and nonmembers alike.

“Building a Partnership with Insurers,” scheduled for 1 to 2 p.m. March 14, will focus on how insurers are resurrecting the insurance/alarm industry/law enforcement triad for lower losses and greater profits. “Social Media in the Central Station,” set for April 18 from 1 to 2 p.m., will examine the benefits and hazards of Facebook and Twitter in the monitoring workplace.

For more information on either webinar, contact Stephanie Morgan at smorgan@csaaintl.org or call 703-242-4670, Ext. 15.

by: Rich Miller - Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Make it three out of four for Monitronics.

The Dallas-based alarm monitoring firm was recently named Frost & Sullivan’s North American Company of the Year for 2011, adding to similar awards the company won in 2008 and 2010.

Frost & Sullivan praised Monitronics for maximizing value to clients by expanding its customer service operations and streamlining internal processes, resulting in record-low attrition for the year. The market researchers also cited the company’s “concerted efforts” to expand its dealer network, a point that wasn’t lost on Bruce Mungiguerra, VP of sales and dealer development for Monitronics.

“The biggest part for us, for our company and our dealers, is the way our program is modeled as a 100 percent dealer environment,” he told Security Systems News. “All of our business comes through our dealer network, and we really promote a high level of branding for our dealers to promote themselves and be their own local company.”

Mungiguerra said the award gives Monitronics’ dealers a big boost when it comes to marketing their services.

“Being able to have been recognized as the North American alarm provider of the year now for three years, it really helps give credibility to the dealers,” he said. “They can use those logos and that information on their branding to show what a great central station we are. … At the end of the day, our bread and butter is the ability to provide great monitoring services to retain our customers for a long time.”

Tweets for SIAC: Social media and the Security Industry Alarm Coalition? It might not sound like a match made in heaven, but SIAC sees the value of Tweets and blogs and is taking advantage of the new tools. Since launching its initiative a year ago, the group has attracted more than 100 followers on Twitter and 40 to 50 blog readers a week.

“While we have overcome many challenges, our industry continues to face significant issues in many communities,” said Stan Martin, SIAC’s executive director. “Social media helps us keep industry leaders informed on key issues in real time so that we can engage law enforcement and elected officials early in the decision-making process.”

SIAC’s weekly blog can be found at www.siacinc.wordpress.com, with Tweets at @SIACINC.

“It’s a long-term growth process to get more people involved in improving alarm management practices across the country,” said Dave Simon, SIAC’s communications director. “The first step is sending relevant, consistent information, and we believe these tools are effectively serving that purpose.”

by: Rich Miller - Wednesday, February 22, 2012

At more than 100 pages, the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012—H.R. 3630, the so-called "payroll tax" bill that passed Congress last week—is a daunting read for just about anyone outside the Capitol. There's a lot in it that doesn't pertain to tax relief or job creation, including items of great interest to the alarm industry, and now it is law.

A lot was changed during the months-long process of getting the bill through the partisan morass, but one item of concern to the alarm industry survived intact: language defining "Next Generation 911 services" and the possibility of unverified PERS calls going directly to PSAPs. Despite the efforts of Alarm Industry Communications Committee, which worked with the National Emergency Number Association on revisions to the language, H.R. 3630 passed without the requested changes as the bill accelerated through a congressional conference committee.

There is a silver lining, though. The AICC was told by congressmen that the NG 911 provision would only authorize a limited number of demonstration projects, and that it did not authorize the Federal Communications Commission to permit automated unverified calls to go directly to PSAPs.

I'll have more details soon, along with a look at the proposed auction of frequency spectrum that could affect the monitoring industry.

by: Rich Miller - Wednesday, February 15, 2012

“Guards, gates and guns.”

That was the standard for the security industry 20 years ago, as cited by Edward Levy, VP and global head of security for Thomson Reuters, during his keynote address at last week’s TechSec conference in Delray Beach, Fla. But while technology has clearly raised the bar since then, allowing many companies to reduce the number of boots on the ground, a contradictory fact remains: The age of the guard is not over.

To prove the point, look no further than the streets of New York, where SecureWatch24 has announced plans to move aggressively into guard services. The company was recently awarded a contract to supply unarmed guards at an Ivy League alumni club in Manhattan, and it intends to continue to push into this segment with its own training program.

“We’re moving into the guard sector in a big way,” said Jay Stuck, VP of sales and chief marketing officer for SW24, which specializes in property surveillance and video monitoring. “We think it’s pretty compatible with the technology initiatives we have going right now. Our view is that the two can work hand in hand. … At the end of the day, you’re still going to need guys in navy blazers.”

While Stuck sees a bright future for the guard segment, what does the rest of the industry think? You can weigh at rmiller@securitysystemsnews.com.

by: Rich Miller - Wednesday, February 8, 2012

While sunny Florida hasn’t quite lived up to its billing—blue sky has been scarce, at least so far —the eighth annual TechSec, a two-day conference being held in Delray Beach, is definitely meeting expectations.

Many of the security industry’s top players are here, and the presentations and discussions have been lively. The monitoring world was well represented at Tuesday’s session, with Morgan Hertel, VP and general manager for Mace CS, and Jerry Cordasco, VP of operations for G4S Technology, among the presenters. Do video analytics really work? Is your cloud provider secure? Those were among the topics debated, with some energetic exchanges between the audience and the experts on the dais.

Day Two kicked off with William Rhodes, a market analyst for IMS Research, giving TechSec attendees a look at what to expect in video surveillance technology in 2012 and beyond. The rest of the day features sessions on implementing current vs. emerging technology in long-term projects; PIV (personal identity verification) being propelled into the private sector; and SaaS (software as a service) and ROI for the end user.

The conference wraps up with the next generation of security practitioners discussing new technology and how it will affect the industry. Four members of Security Directors News’ “20 Under 40” class of 2012 are on the panel, including Whit Chaiyabhat, director of emergency management and operational continuity at Georgetown University, and Christopher Chapeta, physical security specialist for Chevron.

I had the chance to talk with both of them yesterday, and for anyone in the security industry skeptical of those who have grown up with the Internet, cellphones and social media, I have good news: If these folks are typical of those who will guide the industry in the future, it’s in good hands.

For those who couldn’t join the TechSec this year, there’s always 2013. And you can get a taste of what you missed in the coming days in SSN. 

by: Rich Miller - Friday, February 3, 2012

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

That’s good advice for anyone who lets their hair down too far after the sun sets in Sin City, but it turns out central station managers attending ISC West can take something away from Vegas, too: certification as trainers.

Central Station University is offering the recently revised SIA-APCO Central Station Operator Instructor Course from March 25-28 at the Tuscany Suites and Casino. According to the CSU, the “Train the Trainer” course has been substantially updated to reflect changes in the industry.

“Central station technologies and procedures evolve constantly with the needs of our customers,” CSU President Dera DeRoche-Jolet said in a prepared statement. “We wanted to make sure the class reflects what current operator-trainees need to know.”

The course revisions cover newer monitoring systems, techniques for false alarm reduction, a more detailed explanation of alarm signal formats, and an expanded discussion of customer service.

For managers who can’t find the time to take the course in Vegas, a second session is scheduled in June in Orlando, Fla. Additional classes also will be offered later this year. For more information, call the CSU at 888-619-6970 or go to www.thecsu.org.

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by: Rich Miller - Friday, January 27, 2012

The alarm industry was caught off guard at the end of December when the San Jose (Calif.) Police Department implemented a non-response policy for unverified alarms. Now the California Alarm Association is regrouping and is rallying members to discuss what comes next.

To that end, the Silicon Valley Alarm Association, a CAA affiliate, will be holding a lunch meeting next week, with the San Jose situation at the top of the agenda. The meeting is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, Feb. 1, at the Silicon Valley Capital Club in San Jose. Anyone interested in attending is asked to RSVP by calling 800-437-7658, Ext. 3, or by emailing the SVAA/CAA office at info@caaonline.org.

Sharon Elder, a police liaison for the Orange County Alarm Association, told SSN earlier this month that San Jose's new policy is similar to one adopted in Dallas several years ago. Dallas' policy has since been repealed because "it just doesn't provide good policing," she said.

Industry officials are hoping San Jose comes to the same conclusion. Concerned alarm company owners and city residents can learn the latest at Wednesday's session.

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