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by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, September 1, 2010

gmssunsetIn the age of an imminent POTS sunset, Security Systems News has looked at communications pathway alternatives. We’ve looked at broadband and we’ve looked at GSM. We’ve looked at alternatives. In our rooting around and scooping we uncovered some possible disturbing truths about the current GSM communications standard. We wrote about it and we conducted a well-participated-in poll about it back in the August issue.

Over the past couple months, I’ve noticed a real discussion going on through the social media outlet LinkedIn (if you’re still sitting there thinking social media is just MySpace and for teenie-boppers to post drunken party pics and posters of their favorite hip-hop stars… well, you’re only partly right… but seriously, catch up and start taking advantage of this multifaceted business intelligence tool). The Alarm Monitoring Group, of which I’m a member has hosted a lengthy discussion of a possible GSM sunset.

Following is a rundown of the chatter.

It all started two months ago when Bold Technologies president Rod Coles asked if anyone knew anything about the possible sunset of GSM.

I have heard that GSM is going to be phased out, has anyone else heard about this. Does anyone know the time-line and how it might affect our industry?

This simple question has elicited a string of 22 responses. This is obviously an important discussion and one people care bout.

Mace CSSS’ Morgan Hertel spoke up next.

There is no defined time line but those closely connected seem to think that 2G and 2.5G will likely phase out in the next 5-7 years with 3G and 4G continuing on.

Clearly this will effect the industry to a point, but the industry needs to understand that technology is moving fast and there is no forever when it comes to communication methods, eventually we will be using IPV6, so we will have to replace the legacy ethernet, POT’s will be gone or unusable in the next 5-7 years as well.

Morgan raises a valid point about technology. We’re entering into a period where technological advances will probably outpace our marketing departments’ abilities to wring maximum ROI out of each new permutation. In geeky science fiction circles (such as the ones I inhabit in my free time), this point of exponentially increasing technological advancement is sometimes known as the singularity.

Rod came back with a valid response.

So how do you avoid paralysis? There is no wide scale alternative to GSM right now, but customers will be concerned about installing technology that will be replaced. Alarm systems have traditionally been installed and then left for decades!

I assume CDMA is going the same way?

Part of the problem here is that the security industry has grown up with a pretty much five nines dependable communications medium that hasn’t changed much till now: the PSTN and POTS service. With the communications technology continually advancing, the industry will have to develop a new business model based on upgraded tech whenever it becomes available. It means more homework for the integrator, but ultimately more contact and opportunity to prove value, as well.

Morgan responded to Rod’s concerns and addressed the quickening technological advances and the need to adapt:

Not sure how an industry evolves… We know that cell phone providers have the entire handset base change in 6 years or less, no one has a cell phone for more then a few years, in fact not many people have a TV more then that now.

The alarm industry has enjoyed a much longer time in the field, but that has to change and in many cases it has, control panels today are 25% of what they were in the 70’s and many now have modular communicators that will be field replaceable when the time comes.

Right now 2G and 2.5G GSM modules are really inexpensive but 3G modules cost more than most control panels do in the $100 range, 4G modules are over $300 even in bulk, dealers are not going to pay for these today, over time they will be cheaper because of the volume.

CDMA will move to WiMax for Sprint and LTE (Long Term Evolution) for Verizon, the good new is that these platforms will share the same hardware but will only have different software so that panel manufacturers will only have to stock 2 types of hardware.

The only other way to deal with not having to replace communication platforms will be to either invest in systems like AES or for the alarm industry to invest in satellite systems that will be up for a much longer period in time because if we continue to ride on the back of other technologies then we will have to deal with the changes and evolution that are thrown our way.

In the mean time dealers, central stations and automation vendors need to be aware of the upcoming changes and plan accordingly.

Well put, Morgan. I actually spoke with AES‘ Mike Sherman a while back and we discussed the communications pathway at length. I was actually speaking with my colleague, Martha and UP publisher Tim Purpura the other day and I was speculating that the development of a communications pathway owned and controlled by the industry and used specifically for alarm signal transmission and associated data (video, two-way voice, etc…) would maybe be the next big thing, maybe with the birth of a new association.

Monitor This! regular commenter Steve Nutt then threw in some input:

It’s strange to think that the hundreds of thousands of 2G cellular devices being installed today may have to be replaced in 5-7 years time. I’m sure a lot of customers would think twice about installing 2/2.5G cellular equipment if they knew about the looming sunset.

It’s hard to imagine that the 2G sunset will be upon us before the POTS sunset, so it’s certainly something that the security industry should be made aware of. Thanks for the Heads Up Rod - I have to admit that this was the first I had heard of it.

Roger Kay from the UK’s Northern Monitoring Services chimed in next.

It’s interesting that the big problem facing PSTN (POTS) in the UK - the BT 21 Century Network rollout - has been put on hold by BT basically because it’s too costly to implement. We’re actually seeing a small shift to Installers actually increasing their fitment of 2G GSM communicators because of the problems with round trip delay caused by Least Cost Routing and other issues on the PSTN network meaning that Digital Communicators are dialing multiple times (increasing end user telephony costs), or in some cases not connecting to the ARC’s RX’s.

To which Steve Nutt had a response…

Hi Roger,

Yes, 21CN was a flop - just like the England soccer team ;-)

Interesting how installers are using GSM as opposed to IP.

That is a good point… not about England’s soccer team, about which I know nothing, but about the tendancy toward GSM rather than IP… IP’s certainly the pathway that’s getting the most development dollars from the government.

Morgan had some things to say about the somewhat concurrent sunsetting of POTS and 2G GSM.

POT’s is already sunsetting, either by market forces or social habits but its alreay going away at 700,000 lines a month. 2G will sunset over the next 5-7 years only because as more mobile devices get out there carriers will need the spectrum to operate.

As long as manufacturers work on engineering repalceable and/or scaleable RF componants this will not be to difficult, it will be short truck roll to deal with it.

Steve came back with a question about VoIP, which many consumers are going to for phone service.

At 700,000 a month - why are we all still in the alarm business when we should be in the VoIP business?

How many landlines are still out there in the USA and how long will it take to remove them all at a rate of 700K a month?

Steve is, of course, referencing the numbers from AT&T’s report to the FCC concerning the POTS sunset timetable. Morgan raised a valid point next:

Not sure, that’s AT&T’s published number, keep in mind that this includes things like Verizon selling off residential service on the east side, and AT&T moving millions of customers to U-Verse etc.

POTS may not have an official sunset but like platform shoes its going out of style quickly.

What’s wrong with platform shoes? I’m only 5 feet 6-and-a-half inches… I need every edge I can get. Basically, though, none of us has a crystal ball. However, we can be sure that people nowadays want the “next big thing,” especially when it comes to tech.

Steve threw down next with some speculation.

As I have had more time to digest the fact that both POTS & 2G are definitely on their way out, it has started too sink in that this is HUGE for the security industry. Luckily, Dan Gelinas from Security Systems News is already onto it and I’m confident that he will not let this news drop too far from the headlines.

There are two ways that this news will be handled by the industry. Firstly, there will be people like myself, Rod, Dan, Morgan and others that will not sit comfortably with promoting a technology that is expected to sunset in 5-7 years. Then there are the ones who will see this as a money making opportunity whereby they can upgrade POTS systems with 2G systems knowing full well that they will have to upgrade them again in the not too distant future.

This is where bodies like the CSAA and others can justify their existence and educate the industry - just like they did with the AMPS sunset and when VoIP appeared on the scene.

Good points, Steve. Now is the time for all members of the industry to get informed and educated. The associations are a great place to start, as is SSN, your best bet for real news.

Morgan came back with his opinion on using soon-to-be-obsolete communications pathways and reiterated some of what I’ve already said: The industry is using someone else’s ideal communications pathway… there are going to be problems and there is going to be evolution. What the industry needs to do is get educated and communicate with the end users and take advantage of the opportunity for more contact. He also makes clear that everyone has a part to play.

I am not apposed to using 2g devices knowing they will sunset in 5-7 years, I think that would be an unfair statement, what I do think is that the alarm industry as long as they are knowingly going to be riding on someone else’s communication platform will have to understand that technology is moving quickly.

2g is evolving to 3g, 3g will evolve to 4g, IPv4 is evolving to IPv6, its all changing all time, there is no forever.

The industry enjoyed 20+ years of dialers, but the next round won’t go for 20 years, probably 10, which is why everyone needs to understand this.

Most of the manufacturers have gone back to modular communicators, so next round you will just swap that out.

Consumers are starting to understand this, that’s why they get new phones ever few years, this will just extend to the alarm communications platform.

What our industry needs to do is tell consumers the facts, that they can expect to have to upgrade the platform every 7-10 years, smart marketers will start to build this into monthly fees and loyalty programs just like the phone carriers.

Where we run into trouble as group is that many sit back and say this will never happen, they don’t plan, they don’t train and when it finally gets to the 11th hour it’s panic time.

Central stations play a big part in this but so do manufacturers, reps and other vendors.

Yours truly chimed in briefly to let the discussion contributors know SSN was, in fact on the case.

Hey guys,

interesting discussion here. (Thanks for the vote of confidence, Steve! :-)) You’ll be glad to know SSN is doing a market trends piece for the August issue on the GSM sunset, SSN/SDN executive editor Sam Pfeifle’s working tirelessly on it now.

Steve went on to agree with Morgan that the best policy is honesty… especially when dealing with the end user who’s hopefully going to continue paying you your RMR. He also mentions the exponentially increasing importance of social connection as something that will drive a failure proof communications pathway so that everyone is always connected.

That’s good Dan. Just the exposure something like this needs.

Morgan is right in that our industry needs to tell consumers the facts so that they can expect to have to upgrade the platform every 7-10 years. As long as consumers are kept informed, then there are no nasty surprises when the sunset finally comes along.

We already have a dualpath IP/3G product but with 3G rates at their current level of around $30 per month, it is not affordable for the majority of the residential sector. We advise our Dealers that it is only really useful for commercial customers that must have a redundant Internet connection for business continuity purposes. In other words, the cost of the wired DSL connection and the wireless 3G connection are valid business operational expenses and the alarm transmission paths are considered free as they just piggy back on what is in place already.

I see the potential for two things to speed the demand for 3G. The first is widespread industry adoption of video verification. As video images become a more integral part of an overall security solution, the risk of images not being able to reach the CS will become unacceptable. 3G is the most suitable backup path.

The second is a strange one - Social Networking. It is so incredibly powerful, I have a suspicion that the younger generation will soon consider a loss of Internet connectivity unacceptable and many will start using combined DSL/3G modems/routers for fear of “social suicide” (my teenage kids taught me that one).

Telular’s Shawn Welsh had a lot to say about GSM communications.

I thought I’d add this small thought to this topic. The carriers are not commenting on this topic and it is somewhat alarmist to suggest that these networks are disappearing or “sunsetting” in the US in five years.

Yes, Gordon Hope (Honeywell’s Alarmnet), in the SSN article suggested this was his opinion, but read this link, do a little extra research and form your own.

Something else to consider, the telematics and energy sectors (longer product lives than security) have all committed to using GSM in their products. Carriers would have had a very hard time selling these systems if they were preparing to shut them down in 2015.

True enough Shawn. The longevity of the pathway will most likely depend on how much money is being spent on its maintenance.

Steve addressed the situation with a few future-looking questions. He makes the point that all of this at the end of the day will be consumer driven. If the people who pay for it, don’t want it or want something different, that’s what will mater. Where the dollar’s spent will make the decision.

Fair comment Shawn, you may very well be right and 2G may hang in there for a long time to come. The truth is, none of us really know for sure.

POTS may also stick around a lot longer than we think, but because VoIP provides consumers with a much richer experience, they are not waiting to find out. The days when a Telco can dictate the terms and tell consumers to “put up or shut up” are long gone. It’s easy to vote with your feet these days.

Getting back to the future of GSM - does anyone think Google, Apple and RIM are busy thinking up ground-breaking new ways to use SMS on their phones, or developing apps targeted at GPRS?

Does anyone think that today’s 18-year-old kids will have any interest in browser-less phones that only allow you to make calls and send SMS when they are setting up businesses and buying homes within the next 5 years?

I very much doubt it. 2G may still be around, but it will be of little interest to many. Forget terrorism, or world war III - if kids are still unable to watch YouTube videos on their phones within the next few years due to bandwidth constraints, we’re all in trouble!

Whether or not the rejection of 2G will spill over to the alarm monitoring industry is anyone’s guess. My personal view is that if we ever truly get out of this recession and video verification kicks in, then the days of unsupervised, 2G cellular alarm monitoring solutions will be numbered. They will cease to provide value to the consumer.

Finally, Simon Cross from the UK’s Becatech chimed in with a challenge to see this as an opportunity. How can security totally reinvent itself?

If you think the alarm industry will have problems with the demise of 2G think of all the M2M operators out there with thousands of SIM’s managing their machines. It’s interesting that they can see whats happening. I saw a coke machine a year ago that had an Internet access screen that was delivering media messages and adverts and was an internet terminal for people to use. Also it had voip telephony and a cash machine. Now that is smart. The whole technology change had been turned into a profit engine.

What value can one add to a 3G alarm SIM. Pico cell? Internet? CCTV ? Home Automation, Weather reporting, Fully monitored 24/7 system for freezers in retail etc etc etc …..Lets get our thinking caps on and take a grudge purchase alarm system that only brings you bad news into something useful that delivers benefits through adding value.

Come on guys ….what do you think!

Rod then jumped back in and questioned the validity of phasing GSM out.

I wonder if there is a valid reason for phasing it out, i realize everything has a life cycle, but supporting old “stuff” isn’t always a problem, if you don’t change it and it doesn’t fail then whats the big deal?

For example we have just shy of 400 customers on our Alarm monitoring software, about 350 are on our Windows Manitou platform but about 50-ish are on our old legacy Theos software. I have decided to continue to support the legacy software, it doesn’t ever change so it is very stable. Ultimately the hardware is more difficult to find for it, and as the user base decreases the cost per user gets higher, ultimately there will be a point it doesn’t make sense.

So I wonder why GSM is being phased out, is the decision for technical reasons or commercial, and who ultimately has the decision to make? It can’t be because of usage, as there are millions of units.

Morgan answers that question neatly, pointing out that the winner will be the one the people want. And they vote with their money.

GSM 2.0 and 2.5 will phase out because of demand, while M2M may have have 100’s of thousands of subscribers at $3 to $5 per month the real money is in the millions of handheld users averaging a $100 a month. its not complicated math.

But to Rod’s specific question is that unlike your example with Theos, the pipe or spectrum available in very finite.

Imagine a toll road with 6 lanes, the first 4 of the lanes are dirt and mud and have lots of holes and bogs and the only vehicles that can do down those roads are big heavy slow tractors, the last two lanes are freshly paved roads, fast enough to go a 100 mph.

The consumer wants to go faster down the road, they are parking the tractors that only go 10 mph and getting sports cars. The carriers need to pave all the lanes in order to make the consumer happy and since they only get paid by the vehicle the carrier is has to pave the roads to make everyone happy,

The other problem is that the tractors cant drive on the paved roads because they slow down everyone else so ultimately if you want to take that road you will have to do it in a sports car.

This is non technical comparison but spectrum costs billions of dollars, annually and there is only so much room, just like lanes, so carriers have to follow the money to keep the consumer and stockholders happy.

Shawn agreed with Morgan, but questioned the speed with which the phase out will occur.

Morgan, I love your analogy because I just used a very close variant of it a month ago at the Rapid Response Users Group to explain this very topic. You’re right the technology is going to phase out one day and the frequencies they occupy will be needed in the future.

I just disagree on the timing.

We have over 500,000 cellular customers and we are very concerned about planning for this specific issue. Our partner, AT&T, is working on a comprehensive technology road map for their plans on each deployment’s life cycle. I can only say that currently they don’t have an official comment, but they seem to suggest the the time frame is more like 10 plus years.

My earlier comments on the telematics and energy sectors providing some protection to a sunset is that I understand they have negotiated contractual obligations for these networks to remain in operation for a specific term.

Also, Steve, your are right that people love data hungry applications; however, SMS–though it isn’t sexy–is the most successful data application in the world and is a HUGE money maker for the industry. Every specification under consideration for deployment offers support for SMS, even LTE.

Compelling words Shawn, and compelling numbers.

Regardless of when it might happen, I think the important, repeated theme here is that technological change is not only imminent, but will be ongoing and probably exponential. The best thing anyone in the industry can do is stay educated, stay involved and stay fearless in the face of evolution.

The alternative is extinction.

by: Daniel Gelinas - Monday, August 30, 2010

siac_logo_new-300x144Just got an email (via my colleague Martha) from Shane Sumrow over at The Margulies Communications Group.

Looks like SIAC’s stepping up its social media networking endeavors in its efforts to combat false dispatches.

I can vouch for the veracity of the stepped up LinkedIn presence, as I just got linked to SIAC’s Stan Martin this morning. Well done guys.

From the SIAC release:

The Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC) is stepping up its efforts to reach law enforcement, citizens and companies in the security industry by adopting several new social media tools. As part of its outreach program, SIAC is now plugged into three social networking tools – Twitter, LinkedIn and WordPress. Short messages will be frequently delivered via Twitter. LinkedIn will connect users with SIAC services. At WordPress, SIAC will blog on successful alarm reduction techniques and invite discussion and comments from viewers.

I’ve sort of been doing that for SIAC, too, by the way. I’ve written numerous stories and blog posts about false alarm reduction efforts and about SIAC.

It’s nice to be connected to Stan, finally, I must admit.

Check out their efforts and keep up with important world of false alarm reduction.

“We’re tremendously excited about where we’re headed and the value we provide our sponsors, local communities and the security industry. These new social media tools will help us educate key individuals and organizations on alarm management issues, and increase our investment in proven solutions,” Stan said in the release.

Follow SIAC on Twitter!

Get connected to SIAC through LinkedIn!

Read about false alarm reduction efforts at SIAC’s blog!

by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, August 25, 2010

curtailedresponse1An Aug. 24 story from USA Today reports police nationwide are beginning to curtail response to certain types of calls they view as lower priority. The story doesn’t deal specifically with alarms or false alarms or the security industry, but it does list among the demoted call types burglary and theft.

The story mentions three municipalities (which, I guess, provide us with a large enough sampling to stand in for the whole country…?): Tulsa, Okla., Oakland, Calif. and Norton, Mass. Faithful readers of mine will recall I did a story on Oakland late last year.

The story quotes OPD media relations officer Holly Joshi expounding on Oakland’s new trimmed response guidelines:

If you come home to find your house burglarized and you call, we’re not coming.

… Well … that seems pretty clear. My question, though, is does this policy extend to any call that can not be verified to be reporting a crime in progress? I put out a call to Holly in the media relations office and also one to the OPD’s False Alarm Reduction Unit, headed up by Antone Hicks with whom I spoke last year.

Neither of those calls have yet been returned. I’ll follow up with an edit or a new post should I hear back.

To be fair I should mention the USA Today piece is not saying (and the police are not saying) that police are discontinuing response to higher priority calls:

Cutbacks in such places as Oakland, Tulsa and Norton, Mass. have forced police to tell residents to file their own reports — online or in writing — for break-ins and other lesser crimes.

The USA Today story addresses a problem I’ve heard from every police officer I’ve spoken to in the two years since I’ve been here: Police just don’t have the budgets to do everything they’re expected to do. So they’re looking at how they can cut costs, including layoffs and retirements (80 in Oakland and 110 in Tulsa just recently, according to USA Today), cutting services, and enforcing ordinances no matter what it takes.

Interesting times.

by: Daniel Gelinas - Monday, August 23, 2010
operatortime1I was going through my email this morning and came across a call for help from Mark Simpson, manager of central station alarm monitoring services at San Francisco-based RFI Security. RFI Security is a “diversified multi-systems integrator that has been designing, installing, servicing and monitoring, technology-driven security and fire/life safety solutions for over thirty years.”

Anyway, Mark posted a request to CSAA’s ACCENT listserv. Mark said he was looking for input from his fellows at central stations out there to help come up with and industry standard for operator response time.

One of the metrics we have started to grade our central station on this year is Operator Response Time. This is the average amount of time that elapses between an alarm first hitting the automation buffer and when it is actually retrieved by an operator for processing.

Seems to me that that would be a valuable piece of information for any central station to have.

We measure average response time for fire and burglar alarms separately, to account for the difference in priority, and we also look at response times averaged by the day of the week, and by hour of the day.

Again, useful information for a central station manager to have in order to assess performance and know where they stand compared to days, weeks, months and years past. It would help in gauging progress. But wouldn’t it be neat to know where your organization stood compared to the rest of the industry?

If your central station also measures operator response time, would you be willing to share your numbers (privately)? We have been measuring against ourselves, but we would like to determine if there is an industry baseline we can compare ourselves to. Obviously no two centrals are the same, and number of accounts vs number of dispatchers can swing the numbers one way or another, but the larger the data pool the better. I would like to compile as many responses as possible and then share the results amongst those who participate.

If you would like to participate, please let me know.


I like to see that… Folks in the industry reaching out to each other, comparing notes to generate useful metrics so that everyone can function better. Nice work Mark.

Anyone interested in participating in the Operator Response Time metrics project can contact Mark via email or phone at 408-882-4260 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting              408-882-4260      end_of_the_skype_highlighting.

If you’re interested in getting on the ACCENT listserv, reach out to Grace Fanzo over at CSAA.

by: Daniel Gelinas - Friday, August 20, 2010
verizon-logo-470x3101I blogged a little while ago about the possible entrance of Verizon into the security and PERS spaces. Granted, I’ve received no press from Verizon on the matter, but why else would they be co-sponsoring the upcoming mHealth summit? And why else would I have shared an ESX elevator and a cryptic conversation in Pittsburgh (”Hey there Ms. Verizon, what’re you guys doing at a security trade show?” … “Oh, we’re just seeing what’s up…”) with a member of Verizon’s Market Research & Strategy Development team?

It piqued my interest and I traded cards with Ms. Verizon. My first blogging on Verizon’s seeming security/PERS forays sparked some interest from readers in the form of comments and a LinkedIn Group discussion initiated by IPAlarmsSteve Nutt. After reading through those comments and the discussion I reached out to Alana again and heard back from her not too long after.

Hi Dan.  Not able to share any information with you right now unfortunately.  I’ll keep you in my Contacts though.  Thanks.

Hmmm… That sounds to me like when you ask someone if a rumor is true and they say they can’t comment… almost always means the rumor is true. Sounds like they’re definitely moving in. It only remains to be seen in what capacity.

Here’s some of what transpired in the LinkedIn discussion:

I just read about this on Security Systems News and although it is a big WAKE UP call, I feel more disappointment than surprise. Alarm & PERS dealers should have this sewn up so tight that outsiders looking in would see zero opportunity.

Sadly that’s not the case and it is looking increasingly like many alarm dealers will sit back and watch as their customers unplug their landlines and send in their cancellation notices.

If you do the math, we are already at the stage where it is no longer possible for the number of technical people employed in our industry to migrate each and every analog system to IP/GSM before the telco’s pull the PSTN plug.

Interesting… You see where this is going… Telco’s control the old infrastructure and have branched out into the new infrastructure… The government ultimately will mandate when the PSTN no longer needs to be maintained, but the telcos have sway.

Steve continues, pointing out telco’s ability to neatly invade the space.

Approx 1 million new systems are installed each year in North America and the industry bases their number of employees around that figure. How then, if we allow 5 years for a POTS sunset, can these guys also upgrade 30 million analog systems at a rate of 6 million a year?

They can’t. Verizon know that. Other tech companies know that. The difference is, they have the people to carry out those upgrades, and unlike the alarm industry, they understand IP.

Steve discusses the amount of money we’re dealing with here and points out that there may not be time to sit around getting comfortable with IP.

I speak to Central Station staff every day of the week and I know for sure that less than 1% of today’s monitored subscriber base is using IP. It’s almost like IP just popped up a couple of months back and with it being so new, the industry is keeping an eye on it for a while before deciding whether or not they should use it.

The Geek Squad have no such fears of IP. Do you know how easy it is for those guys to go into a home, unplug the panel from the POTS line, plug an RJ11 cable into an IP Alarm device, plug into a router and walk away with your RMR?

They don’t even need to look at the alarm panel or concern themselves with what phone number it dials or what protocol it transmits. The IP device handles all of that and sends the signal to where it needs to go.

The way I see it (and apparently the way Verizon and others see it) is that even when you take existing lock-in contracts into account, there is US$600 million worth of alarm monitoring RMR up for grabs over the next five years ($20 average RMR times 30 million accounts). Even my wife doesn’t spend that much on her credit card, so it’s not to be sniffed at.

Steve’s initial post prompted a reply and a discussion was born.

Simon Cross from Becatech in the UK said the UK was already ahead of the IP curve. He points out that the industry’s main weakness is that they don’t own the entire communication path, don’t control the end-to-end-solution. I spoke with Mike Sherman over AES Intellinet about that very thing a while back.

We have gone down this route in the UK already. Seize the initiative and use a Webway, Chiron, Emizon or one of Steve’s devices to convert the existing panel to IP. Then do a deal with an ISP to resell network. Then you will manage the end to end solution and get recurring revenues, or at worst sit on the customers exisiting broadband line, which will be fine for an alarm but may be stretched if CCTV depending on the bandwidth required ie number of cameras on line at any one time. Remember CCTV is reliant on the upload speed not the download.

Steve replied, pointing out that there’s lots of opportunity there, if US security guys are willing to learn and embrace change.

Now there’s a good suggestion Simon. Rather than allow the IT guys to come in and pinch monitoring RMR, tech savvy Alarm Companies could expand on their knowledge of alarm and camera systems to go in and take part of the RMR for the Internet connection itself - and things that go with it like VoIP and IPTV.

Is anyone doing that in the UK ? - I’ve not heard of anyone doing it in the US.

Stay tuned.

by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I wrote in this blog a while back about cloud storage–a developing thing in the security industry–and what it is and is not. I’ve also written about other types of storage. Storage is a big thing in security, especially when you start talking about video monitoring firms and the massive amounts of cached video data with which they’re dealing.

I also am putting the finishing touches on a story about DICE’s new DICEWise Wiki, powered by eTouch’s SamePage. DICE’s Cliff Dice is all about the cloud and the vast advantages it offers just about anyone with storage or information-delivery needs.

“Cloud based computing environments are deployable anywhere. It’s what most people are trying to move to … If you think about this, the world has really changed,” Cliff told me in a recent interview. “Google really changed the way the world looks at things, but Apple then took it to the next level. Those two companies have really changed the way we deploy software today, as we move away from Microsoft-type products that are PC-based and move more to a browser-based, movable solution.’”


I recently came across another interesting nugget on the Internets about cloud storage. Natick, Mass.-based cloud storage company Nasuni created an entertaining dramatization illustrating some of the benefits of the cloud over traditional storage methods and I thought it was actually very well done. I come from a theater/performance background and appreciate production value. You’ll recall, I also highlighted some of Monitronicsforays into dramatization for their Monix dealer training program.

Enjoy the video from Nasuni.

by: Daniel Gelinas - Monday, August 16, 2010

davismontage1I got an email from my friend Ty Davis over at Southwest Dispatch recently. Apparently he’s moving from Southwest Dispatch, where he is a VP of operations, to Life Alert in California. Ty, who has been with Southwest since 1996, will be making his move west in September.

Most recently for us here at SSN, Ty was one of the nominees who got selected by the editors of SSN for inclusion in this year’s prestigious 20 under 40 listing. Good luck to you Ty.

I spoke with Ty this morning via email and he talked a little about the impending move. Of the move to Cali. and to a different industry, Ty was hopeful and a little sad.

I have been with Southwest Dispatch for 14 years and absolutely love my job and the company. Life Alert approached me with a once in a life time opportunity that I could not pass up. The decision was made easier since they are not a third party central station and I knew that I would not be in direct competition with Southwest Dispatch. I respected my boss (Chip Bird) way too much to go to a competitor … It truly has been a bitter-sweet moment.

Ty said part of what intrigued him about the move was the opportunity to work in a completely different industry like PERS, where he could still use many of the strengths he’s gained over the last 14 years at Southwest. A large portion of the time I recently spent at Southwest when Gregg and I were down there was devoted to looking at all the technological odds and ends Ty et al. had lying around. PERS is an industry Ty feels has its future in technology.

PERS is a different animal all together so the challenge definitely intrigues me. Now that the baby boomers have started to get into the mid-sixty age range, they are going to be looking for technology to assist them with their day to day activities. I think they will look at companies like Life Alert to help with that assistance.

Ty said he and his family are anxious and excited for the move.

My family is all on board since they love the beach and we are big into the outdoor sports life. My 11 year old is a nationally ranked track and field athlete and is heavily into tennis (although she was excited to have the opportunity to surf). The weather in California will give her the opportunity to train year round.

Again, good luck Ty.

I met Ty first in 2008 at the CSAA’s Fall Operations Management Seminar in Peabody, Mass. We ate lunch together with Pam Petrow, among others, and talked about best practices and how lunch differed from previous years… Interesting topic, there. ;-)

I met Ty again just this year when SSN/SDN associate publisher Gregg Shapiro and I spent a week down in Dallas, visiting security firms (one of them, Monitronics, is possibly up for sale right now, in case you missed it) and depleting Lake Texoma of its crappie population.

I also wrote a story on an initiative Ty and his Southwest brethren recently undertook to streamline operations and go green. (I’m currently working on a story about DICE moving in much the same direction… tune in for that story later this week.)

by: Daniel Gelinas - Friday, August 13, 2010

CSAA\'s VP of marketing and programs Celia Besore will be missed as she moves on to the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN).

CSAA's VP of marketing and programs Celia Besore will be missed as she moves on to the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN).

I got a call from CSAA VP of marketing and programs Celia Besore this morning. She called to say goodbye.

I was like, “huh?” See, I didn’t get the latest issue of Signals (for some reason), dated Aug. 10, in which Celia’s future plans were revealed. Anyway, I assured Celia that had I known I’d've called her right away. Celia has been an invaluable source of information and help to me during the last two years. She’s pointed in the direction of leads, given me a heads up when things were going on… Heck, my first security industry blog post was about my first call to Celia on my first day. My predecessor, Leischen Stelter (now managing editor of SSN sister pub. Security Director News) told me to reach out to Celia soon and often, to rely on her. I did so and have always been thankful for the resource.

Besore said CSAA has not yet chosen a replacement. “I’m sure you’ll work closely with whoever takes my place,” she told me. “I’ve been working and getting everything I could finished up. I was not able to finish everything I wanted, but I did finish the directory [ACCENT], which was a monster. So at least that’s done. I also am putting the two new webinars online that we have coming up.”

In case you missed the announcement, here’s the skinny from the most recent issue of signals:

After 11 years of service to the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA), Celia Trigo Besore is moving on to become the Executive Director & CEO of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN), a 1,200-member professional society, with chapters throughout the U. S.

Celia bid the industry farewell, letting us all know she enjoyed her tenure.

“I am honored to have served CSAA. I will greatly miss the wonderful people I met here—from co-workers, to Board members, committees and wiki workgroup members and all the other wonderful members with whom I was fortunate to work,” Celia said.

Other security industry association heavy hitters chimed in to bid Besore farewell. Vector COO Pam Petrow worked closely with Besore on many projects and in many capacities, including CSAA’s Marketing & Communications Committee.

“I have had the pleasure of working closely with Celia over the past several years and found her enthusiasm and commitment evident in every project she undertook. She has been a tremendous asset in many areas and I will miss her tenacity, organization and passion for excellence.”

CSAA EVP Steve Doyle lauded Celia’s dedication to keeping CSAA focused on new technology and on educating CSAA members.

“Celia has helped enormously to bring CSAA into the electronic age and developed our communications efforts to an exceptional degree. We will all miss not just a colleague, but a ‘family’ friend.”

CSAA president Ed Bonifas praised Besore’s willingness to help.

“Working with Celia is always a pleasure. I cannot recall ever asking for something from her that she did not accomplish with perfection. The list of her accomplishments is longer than this space would allow. CSAA will surely miss her enthusiasm. Abe Lincoln said `Whatever you are, be a good one.’ Celia has always been better than ‘good.’ Best of luck, madam Executive Director! Celia, we will miss you.”

Celia’s last day is today, Friday, August 13, 2010.

Best of luck in your new position at NAHN, Celia! Thank you for all your work.

by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, August 11, 2010

deterrenceI wrote a story recently on Sonitrol Security (AKA Kimberlite) and their impressive apprehension numbers for the month of July.

I got a comment on the story from Jose Chavarria (Iverify?). He asked the very good question what the true measure of success was: apprehending people or deterring crime in the first place. A very good question and insightful comment, and one I attempted to address in through the same medium (the comment box at the bottom of the story). Unfortunately for me, I tend to really bring the word count at times, and was told in no uncertain terms that my comment on Jose’s comment was too long. So I decided to take to the blog.

Jose writes:

“Is apprehension really the success or is deterrence the real measure?”

As I said, good question. Here’s the reply I’d prepared and was unable to upload through the comments section:

Hey Jose,

Thanks for the read and the comment. You bring up a valid point, and one that, I admit, I did not address overtly in the story. However, Tom, Marcos and I did discuss deterrence briefly in our interview. One of Tom’s points was that apprehensions lead to deterrence. From our talk:

“At the end of the day, the best way to deter crime is to arrest people, because word gets out,” Tom said. “2003, Modesto City schools had 49 campuses and we installed that and we apprehended 130 people the first year. They’d had another alarm company for 20 years prior to us that was not a verified alarm system company and they’d apprehended zero in 20 years. We apprehended 130 that first year and roughly a comparable number the second year and then it started falling off. And we find that whenever we go into a new school district, it takes a little while, but the word gets out and people stop trying. So apprehensions now at Modesto–we’re six years into that relationship–are down to half that number of apprehensions and I think that’s from the deterrence of having the Sonitrol system in there and the Sonitrol stickers in sight. So verification is the key to apprehension–and to deterrence.”

Again, Jose, thank you for continuing the discussion.

Where do you stand? Do you think verification makes the difference? Do you think the threat of apprehension (yard signs, stickers) is enough (As I addressed in an earlier blog post, many people DO argue that the system itself is unnecessary, or at least vaguely superfluous) or does it take more (like bustin’ some perp and hauling him away in a cruiser). Does Sonitrol’s Tom Patterson have a point? Does word get out… the record seems to say yes. However, a recent story from SSN shows that crime over all recently has been down… so who can say. I’m interested in your opinion.

by: Daniel Gelinas - Monday, August 9, 2010


Just got a press release announcing yet another enlistee in the CSAA Five Diamond club. Congrats to Woburn, Mass.-based Niscayah. I’ve written plenty about the Five Diamond process and, as you know, have even undergone some of the training required of operators at Five Diamond centrals.


There are approximately 2,700 U.S.-based central stations that interact with the law enforcement, fire and emergency services agencies. Of this group, less than five percent have achieved Five Diamond status. In order to be certified Five Diamond all operators at the applying central have to pass the course, as well as demonstrate: proficiency in alarm verification, which helps reduce false alarms; proficiency in communications with the Public Service Answering Points, such as the Emergency 911 centers; knowledge of electronic communications equipment, including radio; an understanding of the codes and standards of such organizations as Underwriters Laboratories, Factory Mutual, the National Fire Protection Association and others; proficiency in the area of emergency preparedness under a wide scenario of possibilities. Central station managers interested in putting their central through its paces can learn more about it here and demo the operator Level 1 training course for free here.

CSAA director of marketing and communications Celia Besore has said Five Diamond companies have demonstrated an exceptionally high degree of responsibility to their local community and their customers through the investment of time, money and commitment to 100 percent quality operator training. “Whether a small company or a large one, these [Five Diamond] companies are committed to being engaged and active. We believe their engagement exposes them to the best ideas in the industry and makes them better each day,” Besore said.

From the Niscayah release:

Kevin Keohane, director of Retail Services states, ‘Acquiring 5 Diamond Certification demonstrates Niscayah’s ongoing commitment to quality service and continuous improvement. Through investments in technology and our most important resource, our people, Niscayah constantly strives to provide service excellence in taking responsibility for the trust and confidence of our client’s life and safety concerns.’