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by: Daniel Gelinas - Friday, June 4, 2010

onthego3

Well, let me preface this by saying this will be, initially, just a bare-bones post. I’ll flesh it out with more art, more specifics and more Texas-sized hijinks with associate publisher Gregg Shapiro in the morning.

The headline for this particular post doesn’t really mean anything… Just that it’s been a very long, but productive and enjoyable day. I’ve managed to go over all my notes and get them separated out and filed according to topic and potential story. Gregg and I had dinner this evening with Michael Lagow and SGI Director of marketing Brian Cates. We talked a lot about their nascent plans for expanding their portfolio of services as well as the future of video.

I’ve gone through a LOT of pics from a combination of my cell phone, my camera and security execs’ phones & cameras.

Here’s the command center SGI built for their technology partner Stealth Monitoring. Nice place.

cmdctr

I have to go to bed because I have a big day tomorrow with the folks at NMC. However, today was devoted to SGI Protective Services, Stealth Monitoring and Monitronics.

Michael Lagow et al over at SGI really started things off right today. I showed up at their new digs (I wrote about their big move last year) and noticed the digital sign board behind the reception desk sported a big, flashy welcome message specifically for me. “Welcome, Security Systems News!” It said… Hey man, that was pretty neat… I mean, as a trade journalist, I’m pretty used to the rock star reception I get everywhere I go (please note the air of tongue-in-cheek), but it’s still nice to receive that kind of welcome!

I signed in and was welcomed to sit in the comfy reception area while the receptionist got me a cup of coffee and I checked my laptop, notepad and voice recorder. The first thing I noticed was that these new digs were fly. I mean they are beautiful… I’ve been to a number of security companies and central stations and command centers, and the new space (they’re actually still finishing up the 2nd floor walk-throughs to the Stealth Monitoring side) at SGI combined a lot of different little elements… It’s just industrial enough–with muted earth tones and grays and blacks and clean lines and lots of glass and metal–in concert with organic touches from furniture, art and spaces that invite sitting and lounging… I found out later the recently occupied space–once gutted–was placed in the capable hands of SGI director of marketing Brian Cates (who also runs his own architectural/interior design business). Brian beamed as he showed us around the facility, which felt like it was all business, all home, all high-tech… “I wanted to make it feel like a day-home,” Brian said as he showed us the sitting area outside Michael’s office.

I met with many of the executives at SGI including Michael, Brian, VP of ops Shelly Anderson, VP of engineering Max Cook, and former Dallas Police Chief Bill Rathburn who is the spokesman for SGI’s background check division PBS. Rathburn teleconferenced in from the road and discussed the importance of being a one-stop shop and offering a total, tailored solution.

I also met Jim Gang who heads up 21st Century, an engineering company that R&Ds and produces armored vehicles for military deployment and personal protection. Jim and Michael are in the process of working out a partnership which will allow SGI to further the complexity of solutions it can tailor and offer clients. I won’t do Jim the disservice of trying to explain the technology that guy’s cooking up in his Dallas facility. I’m not an engineer. The armored Ford pickup he showed me, however was impressive. Trucks just like it have been saving lives in war situations. In fact, Jim’s product has an impeccable track record with zero fatalities. I read an email from a grateful soldier who walked away from an IED (improvised explosive device) detonation at 12 feet from his vehicle with a couple scratches. Impressive stuff.

 Me and Jim Gang with one of Safeguard's guards in front of the armored vehicle, which can withstand a 50 Cal armor piercing round from point blank range.  
Me and Jim Gang with one of Safeguard's security officers in front of the armored vehicle, which can withstand a 50 Cal armor piercing round from point blank range.  

While with Michael earlier in the day, I got to tour one of their security officer training sessions, which was cool. We were pressed for time, otherwise I think I would have offered myself up for taser training. We WERE pressed for time, however, so I watched a little of the “how to cuff and stuff” action and we moved on. We were slated to tour the production facility where Jim Gang develops and tests (read blows up) his composite armor materials. I was really looking forward to seeing some stuff blown up.

Gregg and I caught up with Michael again later that day for dinner, which was also excellent. Jasper’s had an amazing appetizer that was basically homemade potato chips with blue cheese… fantastic. I got the surf and turf with goat cheese potatoes and Butterfinger creme brule for dessert. Again, I say, fantastic.

On second thought, looking back at the pics, I can’t lie and say that I wish I’d let training director Rob Deanda man-handle me… it didn’t look like fun.\

Security officer training director Rob Deanda about to lay the smack down with the cuff and stuff.   And director Deanda actually laying the smack down.
Security officer training director Rob Deanda about to lay the smack down with the cuff and stuff.   And director Deanda actually laying the smack down.

Look for more news on Safeguard Security in the future.

In the middle of my Safeguard Security day, Gregg and I took some time to visit with Monitronics and get a tour of their grounds and central station. Mitch showed us around the new Monix dealer training center. It was nice and had a homey feel. Mitch said his intent was to make dealers feel at home, help them to enjoy the mandatory training and realize that THEY were the element that made the difference.

monix

Mitch hinted that there may be some exciting technology news from the the Monitronics camp come ESX. Stay tuned.

by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, June 2, 2010

texas-with-texas-flag

So I’m off in Dallas right now. SSN associate publisher Gregg Shapiro and I took a trip down here so we could each visit our different peeps. It has been an interesting trip so far, let me tell you.

Of course, we thought we’d beat the universe at it’s game, have our cake and eat it, too, so to speak and work a full day (a mostly full day) before heading over to the Portland International Jetport for a 6:45 p.m. flight out to Atlanta and a connection to DFW. No problem, right? Well, unfortunately, nothing ever goes as smoothly as we expect.

before the problems start popping up, I can say the trip started off nicely as I bumped into new up-and-coming MC Ryan Peters, AKA Spizzy Spose, on his way to Atlanta. We chatted a little bit at bag check in and he was originally slated to sit right behind me–we were going to talk rhymes and rhythms for the whole flight–but apparently they made a mistake and sat him in the wrong seat and he was displaced by some woman… oh well. He was a very polite and down-to-earth guy.

Anyway… Flight left Portland late, got into Atlanta late. We boarded the connecting flight at around midnight, sat there for a bit and then the copilot came over the speakers and was, like, “Two things: The captain’s not here yet and we came up with a discrepancy in the pre-flight check, so we may change planes.” Now, I’m not even really sure what it means that the captain isn’t at the plane yet: he’s a busy guy, I’m sure. And I’m not sure what a “discrepancy in the pre-flight check” is either, but neither bodes well, I’m sure… Oh, and as much as a pain in the neck as it is to change planes, please switch us if there’s even a chance there might be something wrong. So we deplane and replane at a different gate and by that time the captain has arrived and we can take off.

The flight to Dallas was actually pretty relaxing despite the fact that probably 45% of the passengers were toddlers. Once we get to Dallas we sit on the runway for a while waiting for our terminal to be cleared of a sitting plane… lots of sitting and waiting…

Thankfully, Gregg’s taken advantage of some awesome deal at Hertz where you check in ahead of time and your car’s waiting for you at the rental center and all we gotta do is hop in our Nissan Sentra and go… Unfortunately, they’ve never heard of Gregg and they certainly don’t know about any Nissan. Gregg handled the situation like the consummate gentleman, which is better than I would have handled it… Keep in mind that it’s like 2:45 in the morning…

Gregg filled out some paperwork and we were told to go to slot 42, where our Lincoln Navigator was parked… Lincoln Navigator? Keep in mind, I drive a little Japanese import and Gregg’s cruising the streets of Maine in a hybrid.

We stumble outside to parking space 42. No Navigator… We put the bright idea together that we should start looking around the lot for the specific license plate number of our behemoth. We do that for about 5 minutes before we realize, “Hey we could be out here all night.” Keep in mind it’s 2:45 a.m., which is really 3:45 a.m. Gregg went back in and I don’t know what happened, but when he came out he had the keys to a bright red 2010 Chevy Camero. Free upgrade to replace our Sentra-cum-Navigator. Nice.

2010camero

There was something surreal about driving around the industrial complexes surrounding DFW at 3 a.m. listening to the GPS tell us in a British accent where to turn, the snarky-toned direction floating through the dash-lit cockpit of our bitchin’ Camaro

We got to the hotel and checked in for a few hours sleep before the sun rose on our first day of meetings. And what a day it was.

I began with a trip to Texana and a sit down with Sean O’Keefe. We talked for a bit about this and a bit about that. I’m working on a market trends piece to which Sean contributed greatly. The two of us then headed to nearby Denton where we had lunch (blackened catfish, garlic mashed potatoes and fried okra with sweet tea) with Denton Police Chief Roy Minter.

07centralstationmtminter

Chief Minter also provided an interesting law enforcement perspective to my particular topic of verified alarms, false alarm reduction and industry/municipality relations.

Sean was hard at work when I arrived at the Dallas office of Texana Security.

Sean was hard at work when I arrived at the Dallas office of Texana Security.

 

After lunch with Sean and Chief Minter, it was back to the hotel where I met up with Gregg so the two of us could pay a visit to Southwest Dispatch.

Gregg and I compared notes about our meetings so far and Gregg revealed he also had a meeting with a law enforcement individual–though his was not planned beforehand and did not involve corn bread and fried okra… too bad… There may or may not have been hand cuffs involved. Keep in mind, Gregg WAS driving a pretty awesome Camaro… It was totally the car’s fault.

tix

I met Southwest VP Ty Davis back in November 2008 at CSAA’s Fall Ops Management meeting in Peabody, Mass. It was nice to see him again and meet another Southwest VP Brant Pierce. They also provided valuable input and source material. They gave us a tour of the center, as well–a pass time I always enjoy. I wrote about Southwest and their quest to become a completely paperless central station last month. Ty and Brant say the battle to go green is going well.

We were with Ty and Brant for a while during which time the conversation covered many topics of interest. We left that meeting with barely enough time to make it over to our next meeting: A dinner appointment with MonitronicsMitch Clarke, Leah Shafer and Renee Mallonee. I wrote about Monitronics quest to ‘create good citizens’ last year in the wake of all the door knocking hubbub. I also interviewed Mitch for ssnTVnews at ISC 09 and have had the opportunity to catch up with on the phone many times since then. It was really nice to catch up and talk about trends in the industry, where technology was (or was not) leading us, and what we could all do to stay relevant. Another good meeting characterized by valuable insight and good food. (the Seafood Angel Hair at Brunos was excellent!)

Tune in tomorrow to see how my meeting with Safeguard/Stealth goes… I’ve heard from Safeguard’s Michael Lagow, and he’s promised me meetings with a whole bevy of security execs. I most recently wrote about Safeguard & Stealth’s quest to bring stability to Mexican city of Hermosillo. Tomorrow promises to be another productive day!

by: Daniel Gelinas - Tuesday, June 1, 2010

westside1

It was like the opening sequence of West Side recently for one security industry exec–No, not singing and dancing… picture quick and dirty, blitzkrieg fisticuffs.

I Just got a shout out from my editor Sam. He picked up a tweet from from Iverify about their CEO Mike May (who is not pictured to the left in the cast of ruffians from Arlington Friends of the Drama’s 2006 production of West Side Story… so don’t waste too much time looking).

Apparently, May was shopping at a Detroit location of a large retail chain client when said locale ended up unwittingly hosting a knife fight between some agitated patrons (Sharks vs. Jets, I’m sure). May, having a law enforcement background (In Shrewsbury, Mass., which is kinda part of greater Worcester… for those of you who don’t know, Worcester’s a perfect fit for a knife fight (don’t get me wrong, I love Worcester… I went to college there, my parents are from there…)), not only broke up the fight as the situation fell apart, but also administered first aid to a victim who had been stabbed. If only Baby John and A-Rab had been as quick thinking, Riff might still be among us…

Wow.

I wonder if that’s part of the Iverify premium protection package? Personal response from ex-cop and Iverify president and CEO Mike May? I’d sign up for that. The Iverify blog on the event has still caps of the action, captured by the Iverify system in place, monitoring the location. May’s, like, tackling attackers and headlocking dudes… awesome. Now that’s dedication!

I have emails out to the folks at Iverify and hopefully will have a full length story done soon.

by: Daniel Gelinas - Friday, May 28, 2010

cyborg2

I recently blogged about advancements in PERS, mPERS, telehealth, telemedicine and security, in general, becoming more mobile, more personal and compact as technology improves. I came across a couple stories in the last few days that I found particularly interesting and topical to that previous post.

MSNBC reported a researcher had recently run a test whereby he proved that telehealth technology was not without its own security risks. This guy apparently infected an implanted RFID chip (similar to ones used to track pets) in his hand with a computer virus and then used ordinary RFID readers to scan said chip. Just what you might think would happen, happened: his infection spread to the scanning equipment. In other words, he became the first non-infected human vector for an invasive computer virus… weird.

The MSNBC report says the researcher wanted to show that as telehealth solutions (pacemakers, for example, or insulin pumps) become more advanced (as in they will, as shown in this other story I came across about a new glucose-driven fuel cell technology that may eventually lead to very long-lived power supplies making it practical to implant more and more devices within the human body) the danger exists for new security threats to computer infrastructure—not to mention to the human bodies carrying the infected devices.

Sounds like science fiction, doesn’t it? Or real problems that might arise in the nascent field of bionics.

by: Daniel Gelinas - Tuesday, May 25, 2010

mpers4

I got a press release a few days back about a clinical study being done by Nyac Hospital in New York to measure the effectiveness of telemedicine monitoring. Then read a story along similar lines at Scientific American today that reminded me of said release.

PERS and telehealth are really making leaps and bounds, it would seem. Which is a good thing, given the aging population, increasing life spans and decreasing financial resources. In other words, the more care givers can do at home for their aging loved ones, the better.

SSN has given a lot of coverage to PERS lately.

I wrote recently about the Medical Alert Monitoring Association’s annual Spring meeting at which MAMA board member and American Two-Way president Christopher Baskin told me discussion on GSM PERS were heated and protracted. Other PERS companies have been growing despite the tough economy because of their IP PERS solutions.

I also wrote recently about a new PERS solution that is forthcoming from Lifecomm, a new company comprising American Medical Alert Corp., Hughes Telematics, Inc. and Qualcomm. The new solution promises to deliver wireless voice and data communication. It will be cellular two-way voice and have a GPS unit as well. Not all seniors want to be or need to be completely housebound. For that matter, maybe PERS is starting to move away from a strictly senior market. I wrote about such a trend last year in a story about SafetyCare and Sonitec.

I wrote a story back in 2009 about the need for mobile solutions, such as SafetyNet from LoJack. I also spoke on ssnTVnews about the need in relation to a story I was working on about GPS solution company WindTrac.

Seems like the trend of everything becoming more personalized and more mobile is extending to personal health and perhaps to personal security, which is good because it means more opportunity for all of you.

by: Daniel Gelinas - Tuesday, May 18, 2010

securtek5diam1

I got a press release from Canadian monitoring company SecurTek, based in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. I wrote about them last year when they partnered with OzVision to begin offering remote video services, and then again when SecurTek GM of marketing and dealer relations Leanne Woodhouse made SSN’s prestigious “20 Under 40″ list.

They’ve undergone the process and have applied for and received Five Diamond Certification from the CSAA.

We’ve had quite a bit of discussion here lately about the Five Diamond Certification. Check out these earlier posts.

From the SecurTek release:

The Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) has awarded SecurTek CSAA Five Diamond Certification for providing superior monitoring service in the North American security industry. SecurTek is just the fifth company in Canada to achieve CSAA Five Diamond Certification.

The other Canadian monitoring centers in the Five Diamond club are APS Security Ltd. of Vancouver, B.C., Fire Monitoring of Canada of St. Catharines, Ontario, Paladin Security Group, Ltd. of Burnaby, B.C., and Reliance Protectron of St. Leonard, Quebec.

by: Daniel Gelinas - Monday, May 17, 2010
airguitarbanner

So, as I promised in my earlier post that included Videofied’s new rock video for the song “Eye of the Motion Viewer,” further details on the air guitar and karaoke contests have been released. I was talking with Keith Jentoft on Friday and he sent me a copy of the entry form for both competitions, which will rock us all at ESX next month.

I wasn’t aware there were going to be cash prizes… I’m sending in my entry forms right away!

Feel free to contact Keith for more information or print out the JPEG of the entry form below and get signed up.

Keith said all registered attendees will receive entry forms in their registration bag as well.

airguitar1

by: Daniel Gelinas - Friday, May 14, 2010

I’ve been working on a story about the metro Phoenix area and how a number of municipalities there are all watching each other very closely, waiting to see who will be the first to go to verified response for alarms. Initially I blogged about Goodyear and now it’s Avondale making noise. I first blogged about this trend waiting to happen back at the end of March. At the time, I spoke with C.O.P.S. vice president of special projects Maria Malice who is president of the AzAA. She’s been working tirelessly to make sure things turn out in a mutually satisfactory way. “We really want to work with them,” Malice said. “With more and more cities waiting to see who’s going to be first to go verified response it’s critical that we be there working with them.”

In my reporting on the story, I also spoke with SIAC executive director Stan Martin, who also went down to Arizona to speak with the folks in Avondale (who ditched the verified response idea, by the way). He showed me some new stuff on the SIAC site.

There’s a link to a pretty impressive news video that convinced right away what a bad idea VR is. Check the video out:

Stan also mentioned that SIAC’s looking for funds. If you haven’t given in support of SIAC, check out the video they’ve put out, which highlights some of what they do. As Stan says, “Be part of the solution.”

by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, May 12, 2010
ssn_logo

The latest edition of Ken Kirschenbaum’s newsletter has some more viewpoints on the image of the security industry issue I addressed in earlier stories and blog posts.

John Elmore of Birmingham, Ala.-based Security By Elmore advocates vigilance in defending against false information and bad press. Speaking of bad press, I came across a rehashing, a repurposing of the SmartMoney article I blogged about before on Washington-based radio station WTOP FM’s website. Anyway, Elmore had some good things to say. From Kirschenbaum’s newsletter:

To all:

As an industry we should always remain vigilant against incorrect information being published. In most cases we can not prevent it or respond to it in the same media form as our bashers. However, we can continue to pay attention to refining procedures, equipment, installations and customer relations. An example of an industry policing itself, CP-01. Use of CP-01 panels can cut a major percent of customer false alarms, if used correctly by both the alarm company and the monitoring station. The new version will address certain programing features of the old version and enhance even further prevention of a false dispatch.

A great way to react to public opinion is through your state alarm association. Thru [sic] that association working with local authorities, State Fire Marshal, etc. a more favorable opinion about the reliability of alarm systems and usefulness can be put to the public. It may not have the flash of an article in the Times or some other large media, but the word does get out locally if not national. Sometimes we just have to be the turtle in the race toward equality in information.

Other programs are out there being used by other alarm companies so sharing other input toward good public relations could be helpful to all of us.

John Elmore

Security By Elmore Inc

Birmingham, Alabama

I have to assume that Elmore’s reference to the Times is in regard to their two articles that I blogged about earlier.

David Stewart of Louisville, Ky.-based Ace Monitoring discusses an article by Stealth Monitoring’s Rick Charney about the current state of the industry. Stewart advocates education, honesty and communication with the end user. Again, from Kirschenbaum’s newsletter:

To all:

There’s more going on in the security industry than meets the eye of the casual observer, Ken. A recent article by Rick Charney in Security Magazine is titled “Does Your Security System Actually Catch Intruders?” (http://j.mp/c07ar2 or the long version: http://www.securitymagazine.com/Articles/Online_Exclusives/BNP_GUID_9-5-...). I think the point is that the technology is out there. Those of us in the security business need to educate our customers to help them understand that we can make their homes and business safer. I believe that is called ’selling.’

David Stewart

Ace Monitoring

Louisville, KY

I’m glad to see this conversation continuing.

by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, May 12, 2010

First of all, thanks to John M for calling me on my poor bombastic 80s hair rock band recall skills… I had originally said it was a Journey cover. Eye of the Tiger was, of course, brought to us by equally mulleted power ballad band Survivor.k.

Keith Jentoft over at RSI has been hard at work.

Driven by his creative muse (the security industry and that rush you get from apprehending the bad guys), Jentoft has whipped up another video-verification-vaunting rock video.

If you loved “Video Killed the Blind PIR” (and who didn’t have it stuck in their heads for all of ISC?), you’re going to love the new installment.

Keith assures me there will be an air-guitar rock-out competition at ESX. So change up those air-strings, grow out the mullet, don your best leopard-print leotards and get ready to rock with security!

Enjoy “The Eye of the Motion Viewer.”

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