Subscribe to Monitor This! RSS Feed

Monitor This!

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 Dallas' policy has since been repealed because "it just doesn't provide good policing," she said.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.

by: Rich Miller - Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Whether it’s informing members about best practices, the latest technology or training that can help their bottom lines, the Central Station Alarm Association has made it a mission to constantly raise the bar. That bar got a boost this month with the appointment of Stephanie S. Morgan, the CSAA’s first full-time director of education and training.

In her newly created position, Morgan will be responsible for expanding the CSAA’s technical and professional training, and for building on its foundation of courses, workshops and webinars. She joins the organization after 10 years in post-secondary education as an instructor and administrator.

“She brings a depth of understanding of the theoretical and practical applications of education and training not only to CSAA, but to the industry as well,” Steve Doyle, CSAA executive vice president and CEO, said in a prepared statement. “No industry succeeds in the long term without goals to continually educate and upgrade its work force. Stephanie will bring a fresh perspective to our programs and long-term educational goals.”

Morgan recently completed her doctorate in rhetoric and composition, with a concentration in technological literacy, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Five Diamond club: Congratulations also go out to the Crime Alert Monitoring Center of San Jose, Calif., which recently received Five Diamond certification from the CSAA. Crime Alert is one of fewer than 150 centrals nationwide to have earned the distinction.  

by: Rich Miller - Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The last time SSN caught up with Mary Jo Vance, in April 2011, she was contemplating taking the summer off to “ride cross-country on my Harley” after leaving CenterPoint Technologies. Vance, better known in the industry as MJ, recently let CSAA members know she is “alive and very well in Vegas” after landing a new gig: manager of 1 Time Inc.’s new central station in Henderson, Nev.

MJ says she’ll have more details soon about her latest endeavor, but the company is still building its website and sorting through “new ideas and new adventures. … Right now we can’t give you the full picture.”

MJ served as vice president of operations and business development for CenterPoint for three years before what she described as an amicable departure last spring. A well-known and respected leader in the industry, she received the CSAA’s Manager of the Year award in 2007 and the Presidential Award from the Fire Marshals’ Association of Missouri in 2010.

Five Diamonds for Johnson: Congratulations to Johnson Controls’ central station in Milwaukee, which recently joined an elite group by earning Five Diamond certification from the CSAA. The station is among 132 of roughly 2,700 centrals nationwide to have received the distinction, according to the CSAA’s website.

To qualify, all of Johnson Controls’ central operators had to pass a CSAA online training course, proving their proficiency in alarm verification, PSAP communications, knowledge of electronic communications equipment and the standards of Underwriters Laboratories, Factory Mutual, the National Fire Protection Association and other organizations.

“This prestigious certification reflects the dedication and determination our central station operators bring to the job to help protect the many corporate customers we monitor every day in the U.S.,” Paul Pisarski, manager of field support and remote operations for the company’s Building Efficiency unit, said in a prepared statement.

Calling all duffers: Looking to get into the swing at ISC West before everyone hits the show floor? Then this one’s for you: the ninth annual Alarm Research and Educational Foundation (AIREF) golf tournament, scheduled for Tuesday, March 27 at the Revere Golf Club in Las Vegas.

The Electronic Security Association created the nonprofit AIREF in 1977 as a way to help raise money for industry research. Funding for the foundation is derived almost solely from the golf tournament, which promises players “a casual golf outing” with other industry professionals while supporting AIREF in the process.

To register for the tournament, visit www.airef.org. For more information, call 203-762-2444 or email Pat Remes at premes@airef.org.

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.”

Topic:
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.”

 
Topic:
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.”

Tags:
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 …

 
Topic:
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!!

 

Pages