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by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I received some emails lately that remind me of the importance of converged verification technologies in security. I'm talking about verification, of course, something about which I've written plenty.

Of course, avid readers of my blog and stories are familiar with Keith Jentoft and his company RSI Video Technologies whose Videofied has been delivering verification, apprehensions and deterrence and securing priority response from increasing numbers of PDs everywhere. There's more than one way to verify an alarm, however. Sonitrol Pacific is tweeting out success stories pretty regularly, too. Of course, not everyone's down with verification and I've looked at that too. And of course, not all the verification/priority response legwork is coming from the Videofied camp.

Recently, I got an email from David Smith over at C.O.P.S. He wanted to let me know how thrilled they were to catch some bad guys in the act, report to the local PD and be an active part in apprehending some perps. Dave said C.O.P.S. couldn't be happier.

"I thought you might like to know that we caught a burglar in the act!" Dave told me. Dave shared a link with me of the verified crime in progress and the apprehension. Nice work guys.

I also recently got an email from Minu Seshasayee with Interprose PR. She was letting me know about a new gig for March Networks helping to protect, via video, a large solar farm in Italy. I met Minu at ISC West recently. I always appreciate hearing what's going on in the world of video surveillance.

I've written about similar situations here in the U.S. where expensive equipment like solar panels, and of course copper piping are at constant risk of theft.

Seems like a no brainer to me. Verification is a value add.

by: Daniel Gelinas - Thursday, July 21, 2011

I was going through my email this morning and I have to say, I'm digging what the associaitons are doing these days with outreach.

I enjoyed reading my latest edition of Signals last week where I learned that Major General Aharon Zeevi Farkash, founder, chairman and president of award-winning biometrics-based access control company FST21, will present the Keynote Address at CSAA’s Annual Meeting in Venice this October.

I've met with and interviewed General Farkash a couple different times, at ISC West and at ESX. Talk about a guy with a presence. If you have the travel budget to go to Venice, that will be a talk not to be missed.

When I talked with Farkash in Charlotte, he explained to me that the real-life, political setting in Israel and his experience in the Israeli military helped to forge a company and solution that had to work, and had to work quickly and well.

Farkash explained the impetus for the SafeRise solution to me in Charlotte.

"Every day there are 40,000 Palestinians who come to work in Israel," Farkash told me. "How do you find the one suicide bomber without making everyone feel they're not welcome to come and work?"

I've written about FST21's smart building solution SafeRise a number of times and even took the ssnTVnews cameras on the road to visit and installation. It's a slick solution.

Here's a little bit from Signals:

 

Farkash has held numerous prominent positions with the Israel Defense Forces in his distinguished 40-year career of public service. From 1990-1993, he headed the prestigious Israel SIGINT National Unit (8200), after which he held senior positions in the Planning Branch for five years. Promoted to the rank of general in 1998, he subsequently served as head of the Technology & Logistics Branch until 2001. He was then appointed to lead the Directorate of Military Intelligence (Aman), where he served until retiring from the IDF in 2006.

I also liked looking through ESA's Integrator, the current edition of which has a legislative focus. The first item on that mailing is the State Legislative Report, brought to us by ESA's director of government relations John Chwat. I had a chance to sit down one-on-one with John at ESX recently, and he told me about one of his primary foci as of late.

"We have a primary federal bill that would permit ESA members ... to access the FBI database for criminal background for licensing ... we have a bill--HR1331--that would allow non-state governmental bodies, or non-law enforcement entities--in other words the security industry, which would normally need to go through congress to gain access to the FBI database--to gain access ... We have nine cosponsors so far and it's bipartisan ... My main concern was I wanted to secure initiall support from the FBI to gain acess, and we got that."

Here's a little bit from the Integrator on what the 2011 State Legislative Report covers:

The June 1 - July 1, 2011 State Legislative Report, researched and compiled by the ESA Government Relations department, is now available online. You can access the report at www.ESAweb.org from the Members Only Resource Center. To access the report, you will be required to log in using your member user login and password.

Included in this state legislative report are the following key issues being monitored:

19 bills related to Licensing

19 bills related to Fire Sprinklers/Suppression Systems

13 bills related to Alarms

8 bills related to Automatic Contract Renewal

4 bills related to CCTV

5 bills related to Taxes

3 bills related to State Regulations

2 bills related to Contracts

1 bill related to Electronic Monitoring Devices

1 bill related to Lighting 1 bill related to Exit Doors

1 bill related to Fire Districts

1 bill related to Emergency Communications

1 bill related to Private Security Companies

That's a lot of information! Sign up for the Integrator and Signals and don't get left out.

I also have been enjoying reading through SIA's Daily Update, which while not original reporting, sure does collate and centralize some pretty cool and topical security-related news stories. One in particular caught my attention today:

 

Police Deaths Up 14% This Year

For the second year in a row, law enforcement fatalities rose sharply nationwide during the first half of 2011, including 40 officers killed by gunfire—the highest number in two decades, according to a release.

It's always concerning to hear (in this case the SIA blurb is from a USA today story) about an uptick in crime, particularly violent crime towards police officers. No wonder PDs are so willing to throw their support behind solutions that are fortified with video or audio verification. It could be the difference between life and death. I got an email from RSI's Keith Jentoft recently in which Keith forwarded on a notice from the Washoe County, Nevada Sheriff's Dept. The notice concerns a change in response policy to alarms. Here's a bit from the notice:

Because the vast majority of intrusion alarm responses are for false alarms, Patrol Deputies will no longer respond to residential or commercial alarms unless there is additional information from a responsible party that indicates an actual crime may be in progress or have occurred.

I asked SIAC executive director Stan Martin what he thought and here's what he told me:

Sheriffs have much more flexibility with how they run things ... so this type of significant change is unlikely in a municipal or city setting ... City councils/managers are more demanding and chiefs work for them who in turn represent the citizens ... However, I do believe we will be seeing more departments moving in this direction, more subtle--a bit at a time ... budgets are tight, resources diminishing--all of them are asked to maintain services with less ... you can only divide a pie into so many slices ... This is why it is imperative that dealers do everything they can to reduce alarm dispatches ... top three 1) 2-call verification 2) Use ANSI SIA CP-01 approved control panels 3) Train all users of the alarm system properly

I've also talked with the guys over at SIAC recently who have been busy in California lately. Look for that story on our site today.

 

by: Daniel Gelinas - Tuesday, July 12, 2011

So I was reading through my SIA Update dated 7/7/2011 and came across an entry on biometrics. I thought it looked pretty cool, so I checked it out. I've been writing about biometrics for a while, covering smart building company FST21's solution SafeRise, which took awards at both ISC West and ESX for its converged use of facial recognition (See our upcoming source book on access control and biometrics), voice recognition and other technologies. I also wrote a while back about biometrics company Hoyos, which was speculating about the imminent arrival of facial recognition analytics built into smart phones. I even speculated about about whether or not biometrics would have any place in the future of the security industry.

Interestingly, I just picked up a tweet from GCC, Inc. president George Cohen pushing a story in the Wall Street Journal about police forces being outfitted with smartphone-based facial recognition apps.

The entry from SIA references a report from the Homeland Security Newswire, which itself if referencing a report from Goode Intelligence. The report says that the market for biometrics-based access control technology on smartphones and other smart mobile devices is set to see some growth over the next four years, growing from $131 million to $161 million by 2015.

The story talks about onboard fingerprint sensors and voice recognition software. That's pretty cool and I have to assume a whole lot more secure than simply dragging the little "locked" icon up to the top of my touchscreen.

I have to admit I found a some aspects of the math in the Homeland Security Newswire story a little wonky... That report claims in the headline that the market will grow 500% by 2015... I'm not sure how growing from $131 to $161 million is 500% growth, but arithmetic was never my strong suit.

The Homeland Security Newswire story does reference another story from June from infosecurity.com, which doesn't mention anything about 500% growth. Nor does Good Intelligence's site say anything about percentages.

Regardless, biometrics on my phone would be pretty nifty.

by: Daniel Gelinas - Thursday, July 7, 2011

I was watching the tweets roll down my Twitter page the other day when I picked up on a tweet from Mike Jagger, president of Vancouver-based Provident Security. He was touting some verification work his company was doing and showing how verifying alarms can improve response times and lead to more arrests, which can increase a security company's value proposition and certainly improve relations with the local police.

I've written a lot about verified alarms and priority response for alarms that use video or audio to verify suspicious activity.

RSI's Keith Jentoft has done a lot of PR for the idea of proactively verifying alarms to gain priority response and to help police out. Most recently, I sat down with Keith and Major Eddie Levins of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg PD. They giving props to companies that verify.

Very recently, analytics provider Cernium joined with Sprint (I'm pretty sure this is the first use of CDMA in the security industry) for a solution that Cernium says could garner priority response from police.

I asked Mike about whether or not Provident used the Videofied solution.

"Videofied is one of the products we use," Mike told me. "We've branded the service NightOwl and choose the hardware required depending on the client's requirements."

We've talked with Provident about their business model, which is a little different than the average alarm company, before, and recently, Provident  Operations Centre manager Jane Swinglehurst was spotlighted in SSN's annual 20 Under 40 listing. Jagger himself is an alumnus from the class of '08.

Nice work on the verification and apprehensions guys (and better luck next time you face off against the Bruins!)! Keep it up.

by: Daniel Gelinas - Thursday, June 23, 2011

I came across an interesting story in my Google Alerts this morning. Seems there's another security company--Texas-based Smith Monitoring--that's using social networking to both increase its brand awareness and help out those hard-hit by the recent tornadoes out in the mid-west. Specifically, Smith is donating money to victims of the Joplin, Mo. tornado that killed almost 200 people, injured many more and cost millions in damage. I wrote a story recently about another security company, Atlas Security, based in nearby Springfield, Mo. that's going above and beyond to help out as well.

We've written here at SSN before about social networking. I've covered webinars on how to use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in business. I read a blog post recently from JF Champagne of CANASA who said social media basically had no relevance in a business setting. Provident Security's Mike Jagger called him out, appropriately, in a following tweet ("Is CANASA trying to become even less relevant on purpose? The column on social media was embarrassingly ignorant," Mike tweeted to his 1,452 followers.)

People who want to help out can visit Smith Monitoring's Facebook page and click on the like button. When they do, Smith will donate $.50 to recovery efforts in Joplin. There's also an easy button you can click on to set up a "movement" by notifying your contacts of how they can help... the whole time, Smith is getting more clicks on their Facebook page, more "likes," more name recognition and positive press for their philanthropy. And the survivors in Joplin are getting much needed aid.

Here's a link to the story.

And here's a link to Smith's Facebook page.

They've got close to 1700 likes so far. Drop by today and give through a simple click.

 

by: Daniel Gelinas - Thursday, June 16, 2011

So I got my SIA Update email this morning and I have to say, I'm liking the work SIA's doing here. There's no reporting like what we do at SSN, but they're doing a really nice job of tracking important issues and trends and blasting them out in a daily email.

Anyway, today I noticed a particular entry on resi video monitoring. According to this story, residential video is on the rise. I've been writing about video—traditionally used more commonly in commercial and municipal applications—for quite a while, and it looks like video may be crossing over more into the resi market. I wrote a story recently about video, security and access control converging in a residential high-rise application that may just be evidence of a new trend. The story from the SIA email notes that the technology is accessable and the price points are coming down. Video pricepoints have been coming down according to many I've spoken with. My fearless editor Martha also recently blogged down in Charlotte at ESX that some security folks were forecasting a sizeable uptick in resi video over the coming years.

What have you noticed out there, avid readers? Are you installing or monitoring more residential video? I'm curious.

Of course, something to which I've paid a lot of journalistic attention is the ongoing movement of municipalities advocating a priority response for verified—either via video, audio, or dual zone, or eyewitness verification—alarms. Why, just recently at the ESX show in Charlotte, N.C. I sat down briefly with RSI Video Technologies' Keith Jentoft and Major Eddie Levins of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg PD. Levins affirmed that if there's event based video tied to an alarm, police respond faster… It just makes sense.

"We're much more excited about the captures and arrests than we do about going up to the same places and rattling the doors," Levins told me. "We get a lot of repeat offenders, too, so when we get the chance to actually apprehend these guys, it reduces our overall workload. We respond better when there's better information. Our policy's so strong now, that even with alarms that we've cut off due to excessive false alarms, when there's better information like video, we respond. A crime in progress, no matter where it is trumps everything."

They told me that the CMPD has an official policy to upgrade a situation in which video surveillance is a factor. Dispatchers in the municipality are advised to enter any calls where the alarm monitoring company has actual live streaming video of subjects in the premise or on the perimeter as a breaking and entering call to residence or business.

I'm interested to keep my eye on this and see whether video becomes a normal part of residential systems.

 

by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, June 8, 2011

CPI Security was started by company owner/president/CEO Ken Gill in 1976. The company's been in the Carolinas since the early '90s and today boasts around 90,000 accounts in a roughly 80/20 resi/commercial mix supported by over 300 employees. The company's footprint is all through the Carolinas and they just recently branched into Georgia.

I'm down here in Charlotte, N.C.—the heart of CPI territory—for the ESX show, which CPI co-hosted. I've never been down to the Carolinas… As a matter of fact the furthest south I've really ever been was a trip one time to visit my former in-laws down in Florida… Oh, and I've been to Rhode Island a few times… Needless to say, the heat, humidity and grits at breakfast have bowled me over.

The tour of CPI's headquarters started with a short bus ride from the Charlotte convention center. We were greeted at the door of CPI by polite, gracious employees and Ken Gill himself. Inside the awesomely air conditioned lobby guests picked up name tags and headed into an adjacent (it looked like it was probably a training room, but the folks at CPI truly transformed it) lounge, complete with excellent food, an open bar and a jazz duo in the corner.

So I haven't had a lot of experience being in the south, but I've been to a few awesome security companies and monitoring centers. CPI has an impressive operation in Charlotte, spread out throughout roughly 50,000 square feet. The monitoring center is CSAA Five Diamond-certified (a process about which I've written extensively and with which I am personally acquainted.), and UL-listed.

Everyone had a chance to mingle and meet, see old friends and colleagues. I had a chance to exchange cards with some industry folks I've spoken with in the past, but never met. Some fellowship, nosh and cold beverage were a nice way to start the tour.

I had a chance to speak briefly with CPI customer care manager John Shocknesse who filled me in on a little of CPI's philosophy.

"We like to put on a good face and be very active in the organizations, CSAA and ESA," Shocknesse told me. "And I think personally it's great to be as engaged as possible with other companies and share ideas and make the industry better."

CPI broke the sold-out group of tourists up into several groups and passed them off to different executive guides who led the separate groups to different areas of the headquarters. Groups passed each other in the halls but never bunched up, felt crowded or got in each others way, and everyone got to see every aspect of the organization, with everyone reconvening in the jazz lounge for another bite and cocktail before heading back to the convention center.

All-told a nice tour with knowledgeable and friendly people who were willing to answer tourist questions and satisfy our curiosity.

 

by: Daniel Gelinas - Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Charlotte-bound at altitude...So I'm sitting in my hotel right now down in Charlotte, N.C. for ESX. It was a good trip... Not as eventful as some of my other travel days, but I did have a security industry exec recognize in the airport in Charlotte, which was at once kind of weird and at the same time a little gratifying. I assume that means you guys are reading our blogs and watching our videos over at ssnTVnews. Feels good.

I'm ready to check out ESX tomorrow and am looking forward to the CSAA and ESA tracks as well as some of the meetings I have set up so far. Avid readers of my blog will recall that at last year's show in Pittsburgh, I shared an elevator with a Verizon exec checking out the show floor... I never did get any responses out of that telco rep, depsite numerous emails... There were certainly big telco announcements in the last year, however. I have a meeting set up this year with some security industry suppliers and another telco that promises some big news... Stay tuned for more.

Avid readers of this blog will also recall that just about this time last year, I was also on the road along with SSN associate publisher Gregg Shapiro. We were on a lightning tour of the Lonestar State's security heavy hitters...

Is it coincidence that Gregg and I again shared a flight? This time down to N.C.? Coincidence that we once again found ourselves schlepping over to a rental car counter and plugging in a vaguley Brittish-sounding GPS device to locate my hotel? I think not!

Now, if you check out the picture from this year, you'll see that we weren't quite riding in the same style as last year, but one can't be upgraded to a cherry-red Camaro every time, I suppose...

Drop by SSN's booth #900 and see us. We'd love to say hi and catch up on what's going on and how your show's going.

And incidentally, if you haven't downloaded your ESX app yet, get going! That's one slick little app. Functional and useful!

 

by: Daniel Gelinas - Thursday, May 26, 2011

I got my most recent edition of CSAA's Signals (complete with it's new waveform promotional art) and was reminded that the CSAA Fall Operations Management Seminar is coming up in November.

It brings back fond memories...

(cue flashback music and scene-disolve visual effect)

I had just started at SSN in September of 2008 and was still trying to wrap my head around all the security industry's three-letter-acronyms and just exactly how the industry ecosystem worked... what it looks like... My head was spinning. And that's when my editor told me I was going to go on a roadtrip down to Peabody, Mass to attend the CSAA's Fall Operations Management Seminar. I enjoyed the experience, depsite being nervous. I got some good video footage and met some pretty cool people, including Vector's Pam Petrow, CSAA's Becky Lane, and Soutwest Dispatch's Ty Davis (now with Life Alert)

I got a lot out of my visit to the Ops Seminar in '08. I haven't been able to attend them all since then, but I've covered the goings on...

If you're not doing anything Nov. 13-15... heck, even if you are... if you're involved in the world of central station monitoring, you could do worse than spend a few days in Chicago sharing best practices with the best and brightest in your industry.

Give a shout out to CSAA director of marketing and communications Monique Silverio if you're interested in checking it out.

Here's the release from CSAA on the upcoming Fall Operations Management Seminar:

CSAA’s Fall Ops Management Seminar: Nov. 13-15

Looking for top-notch educational sessions geared specifically toward central station operators and managers? Then you won’t want to miss CSAA’s 2011 Fall Operations Management Seminar, which will be held Nov. 13-15, 2011 at the Embassy Suites Chicago Lombard/Oak Brook.

This two-day top-notch educational seminar will be loaded with up-to-the minute information; it also offers participants continuing educations credits (CEUs).

The CSAA Fall Operations Management Seminar will be hosted by Alarm Detection Systems, Inc. of Aurora, Ill., and will culminate in a tour of Alarm Detection Systems’ central station on Tuesday, Nov. 15. Detailed meeting and registration information will be made available soon.

 

by: Daniel Gelinas - Tuesday, May 17, 2011

SSN Managing Editor Dan Gelinas and DCRM vice president Tina Simolaris discuss the future of access control.I went on a road trip this past weekend. I've been on road trips before, down to the CSAA Fall Operations Management Seminar, down to G4S' Monitoring and Data Center, down to Viewpoint CRM, over to the Rapid Response Users' Group and last summer down to visit a whole bunch of security peeps in the Lonestar State.

This past weekend, I traveled down to Lynn, Mass. to check in on an ongoing deployment of FST21's SafeRise solution at a senior housing complex. It's not the first time I've been to Lynn... I visited Wayne Alarm and Ralph Sevinor's security industry museum back in 2008. It's also not the first time I've written about FST21. I first covered them when they came to the U.S. from Israel, and SSN covered them when Kent Security checked them out. I also wrote a blog post recently about ion247 monitoring the solution at a senior housing facility down south.

I met with them at ISC West, where they won product of the year in SIA's New Product Showcase. It was nice to sit down with the folks at FST21, the folks at Ocean Shores Apartments, the folks at DCRM (I'm pictured above with DCRM president Tina Simolaris), which worked in a consulting capacity with property management (with whom I aslo met). I also met, via conference call, with the folks from ion247, a monitoring center that's monitoring the SafeRise solution, and with the folks from Chubb who did the integration of the smart building system.

Dave Dearborn of consultants DCRM hosted the meeting and brought all the players together at Ocean Shores for a sit down discussion and demonstrations of the solution in action. Tune back in to SSN Videos in the coming days for a video of that visit.

One thing everyone agreed on was that this project exemplified where the future of security/access/surveillance might be headed. Solutions are becomming more complex conglomerations of what used to be disparate systems. It's all about offering more services, more uses for the infrastructure than just video or just intrusion or just mass notification or just access. It was a neat visit.

I'll provide more coverage of this and other FST21 projects going forward.

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