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by: Daniel Gelinas - Monday, May 3, 2010
associations So I got my May 3 edition of Ken Kirschenbaum's Alarm - Security Industry Legal Email Newsletter. Ken points to an April 30 article in the New York Times, which calls into question the value of the security industry and may prompt some end users (I assume some end users of security probably read the New York Times) to question the necessity of their security systems. After the Eli Lilly warehouse heist, my editor Sam and I began talking about the mainstream media coverage we saw. Most stories I read mentioned the fact that there was security in place at that warehouse. Our thought was that people (normal end user people, not us industry types who know the value of security) might start to wonder if criminals could get around (either through Hollywood-esque heist know-how or through an accomplice perpetrating an inside job) the security systems in their homes and businesses. We asked ourselves: "Should there be someone from the industry who gets up and does some PR to assure the public that security is good?" I pursued that story and got some interesting points of view from some industry leaders. We'd love to hear what you think. You can have your say on this question at SSN's current newspoll. I mean, BP's come forward and let us all know it's going to do what it has to do to clean up the oil rig leak... Oh, and that oil's still good. It is... Alternative energy sources have their downsides, too. The NYT article opens thusly:
PEOPLE may be surprised to learn that when they most need their security system to protect their house, they oftentimes cannot rely on it. Jackie Ostrander discovered that when a storm knocked out power to her home in Greenwich, Conn., for a week in March—too long for her backup battery to keep going. And it took her security company three weeks to restart her system.
Oh, that's just not pretty... If I made my living off of people's willingness to pay for the systems this article is talking about, I'd be a little antsy. And I'd want someone to stand up with a counterpoint. The NYT article also quotes Stan Martin (somewhat misleadingly, I feel) of SIAC--someone with whom I've spoken at length--as saying police response to alarms is bad because of all the false alarms. What they don't go on to say is what a proponent of proaction and municipality/industry cooperation Stan is. I embarked on a quest to speak with the leaders of the industry's associations on this matter. I did eventually get Mike Miller over at ESA and Ed Bonifas over at CSAA to speak with me on the record for a story. Both of them spoke to the point that with security, it's dangerous to try and spin any loss in a PR machine because to do so is akin to admitting fault. That's understandable, but when the NYT article kind of purports to reveal the "truth" about the much-touted Rutgers study (ie: that a single security system only has value if it's part of a broader, neighborhood-wide security-system blanket), maybe it's time for someone, some security industry guru to stand up in the public eye with a rebuttal? I mean, I grew up being inundated with commercials for dairy, beef and pork. I'm not talking ads for specific products, I'm talking about "Milk: It does the body good," "Got Milk?" "Beef: It's what's for dinner," and "Pork: the other white meat." And I'm a proud meat-eating, milk-drinking consumer today. What does this say? Other than the fact that I watched way too much TV... It says that despite the onslaught of soy milk, yummy flavored tofu and news stories about food-borne illnesses like mad cow disease, E. Coli and salmonella poisoning, the PR worked. The original NYT article also links to another article inviting readers to dish about their security systems, asking them the questions, "So how’s your system working for you? Or have you gotten rid of it after deciding that it was a waste of money?" That seems like a problem to me. Especially given some of the reader comments. Like this one complaining about police response:
How about 45 minutes for police to arrive after calling 911 to report a burglary in progress? Seriously. Not sure alarm performance is the issue, unless the companies can dispatch their own security forces.
Lack of police response is a problem. Remember, however, that police are not required to respond. To anything, really. What's needed is cooperation with police and municipalities, and above all a PROACTIVE approach. Verify your alarms, reach out to your customers. Or this one that seems to say, despite advances in technology, low-tech is more reliable:
1. Get a dog. 2. The name of the game is to not stop a burglary: it's to prevent it from starting. So make your place less inviting than your neighbor's. Have a fence. Have a light on. Don't have visible valuables. 3. Get a dog.
When readers read an article in the NYT that tells them they "oftentimes cannot rely on [their systems]," and then they start telling each other they'd be better off buying a dog and leaving a light on, that's a problem if you make your money selling security systems. This person only sees the value of the fire alarm:
I do have an alarm system, but mostly I think it helps should there be a fire. For burglary, I agree with Colin [the get-a-dog-guy]
and this one:
I agree with Colin (#4). I have an alarm system, but rarely turn it on. I am always concerned that it will go off by accident. There are few break-ins in our area and I've always felt that the sign that I have a protection system is worth as much as the actual system. I also have a dog who (although very small) sounds like a large nasty animal and barks whenever anyone comes close to the house ---and keeps barking!!
Those are just a couple of the reader comments. Shouldn't there be some security industry entity whose job it is to get on TV and talk about how security is supposed to work, what its value is and set everyone's mind at ease? What do you think?
by: Daniel Gelinas - Friday, April 30, 2010
csaasia Just got my most recent issue of CSAA's Signals. Looks like they'll be taking over administration of Alarm Call Center Education, Networking, and Training (ACCENT) listserver. ACCENT was launched by CSAA and SIA to facilitate the networking of their members. ACCENT has been managed and administered by SIA since it began over 10 years ago. From the entry in Signals:
'We would like to thank SIA and its CEO, Richard Chace, for making this great resource available to our industry so many years ago,' said Steve Doyle, executive vice president and CEO of CSAA. 'The time and effort spent in the management of this great resource by the SIA staff was remarkable. We have enjoyed our partnership with SIA and want to thank, in particular, Kimberly Roberts and Arminda Valles-Hall for their work these past few years.' CSAA President Ed Bonifas echoed Doyle’s comments. 'We are grateful for SIA’s generous commitment and assistance to our association and our industry,' said Bonifas. 'From providing the initial funding for the CSAA Central Station Operator Level I online training to partnering with us at the Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) and the Security Industry Standards Committee (SISC), SIA has always been willing to offer its support.'
More information on the ACCENT listserver can be found here at the CSAA's site.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, April 28, 2010
csaa2 So after receiving a few CSAA-directed comments of a bilious nature after I posted my APX gets Five Diamond certified blog post, I decided to consolidate said comments and rebuttals from the CSAA here for all y'all. Of course the news I blogged Monday was that APX, a summer-model company based in Provo, Utah, and one of the largest alarm companies in the country, had gone through the vetting process and had applied for and received Five Diamond certification from the CSAA. The blog post ran with a list of companies that have chosen to go out and spend the time and money on training in order to receive the certification. I love getting comments on my blog, and it wasn't long before a couple readers voiced their displeasure that APX (a company whose dealer base has employed the door-knocking sales method) had applied for a certification for their monitoring center and that CSAA had given it to them. Steve Nutt over at IP Alarms had this to say:
Pardon me for being controversial but… I’m curious CSAA…. when going through the certification process, do you deduct points, or award extra points for the methods that companies use to 'attract' subscribers? I suggest that you use some of the money you earned from the APX certification to setup a help line to council victims of the door knockers that are traumatized on their own doorstep. As for the damage caused to the rest of us trying to earn a living in the security industry, I guess we’ll have to earn our 'bragging rights' rather than pay for them. A sad day for the CSAA.
Gary D over at Scientific Security also disapproved of APX's monitoring center's achievement, displaying a seemingly misplaced anger toward door knockers or perhaps an amorphous disenchantment with the industry in general. "APX CSAA certified? looks like Brinks and Protection One aren’t the only things money can buy." Five Diamond certification is monitoring-focused, not dealer-focused. CSAA is the association for monitoring centers, not dealers. Please note, ESA has issued it's door-knocking code of ethics. They sorta got the whole ethical/non-ethical thing covered, I think. I mean, it's not really CSAA's business to penalize a monitoring center for the morals (or lack thereof) of the company's dealers, is it? Five Diamond certification is about vetting a monitoring center's compliance with UL standards, vetting its operators' understanding of communications technologies, alarm processing procedures and best practices, etc... I'm pretty sure it has nothing to do with anyone's sense of right and wrong. Celia Besore, CSAA VP of marketing and programs addressed the implication that a company can buy certification, that CSAA is selling monitoring cred.
There is no fee to be certified as a CSAA Five Diamond company. Most certifications, such as ETL, UL, etc. (and others outside our industry) require a submission fee. Obviously, CSAA is not in the certification for the money since we do not charge for it--rather it takes many staff hours to process and deal with the CSAA Five Diamond process. We are in it to raise the standards and the educational levels in our industry.
Besore did admit that there was a charge to take the online operator training course, but that does not mean a company is certified Five Diamond. Anyone can take the training. I did, but I don't have a monitoring center to bring into UL compliance, so I can't really get Five Diamond certified. Anyway, I'm pretty sure that one generally pays for most online training courses. Besore argued the value of the training was measurable, regardless of whether or not a company chose to go the extra mile and meet the other requirements for certification. "We’ve had hundreds of companies that have had their operators certified. The value of the training is that hundreds of companies (Five Diamond or not) have had their operators certified by it," Besore said. "Good training is good training no matter what the ultimate use." CSAA EVP Steve Doyle addressed the purview of the Five Diamond certification process.
There is no charge to become a Five Diamond Central Station if you meet the requirements which are, very basically, that you have a duly Listed UL Central Station, are a member in good standing of CSAA, have all operators trained through the CSAA on-Line Training program and agree to abide by the rules of Five Diamond Central Stations and CSAA membership policies. This only applies to the monitoring central station and does not include dealers. CSAA can and does set the standards. However, we stay away from individual company sales practices as this could have legal implications in the area of anti-trust.
Is it wrong for a dealer to use dishonest sales tactics? Absolutely. I don't think anyone denies that. The question is, into whose jurisdiction does policing the actions of dealers fall?
by: Daniel Gelinas - Monday, April 26, 2010
5diaapd1 My colleague Martha forwarded on an email to me about one of her resi companies achieving Five Diamond status at their central station. Utah-based APX Alarm announced the news April 26 that their first center (they recently opened another one at their corporate headquarters in Provo, Utah) in St. Paul, Minn. had gotten the Five Diamond certification. From their press release:
PROVO, Utah—APX Alarm Security Solutions, one of the nation’s largest residential security companies, announced April 26 that it had received the Central Station Alarm Association’s Five Diamond Certification for its St. Paul, Minn. central monitoring station. The certification recognizes that 100 percent of the operators at the St. Paul monitoring station have achieved proficiency and certification by passing the CSAA On-Line Operator Training Course. This course covers all phases of central station communications with customers, law enforcement, fire and emergency services. This critical area of communications is the life-saving link between the residential customers and emergency personnel in local areas. “We take great pride in providing an exceptional customer service experience. Our response time to an alarm event is one of the fastest in the residential security industry and we take response times extremely seriously,” Lindsay Grauling, APX Alarm vice president of operations said. “This certification signifies our resolve to provide our customers with the security and peace of mind that we are there for them in time of need.”
I took the CSAA On-Line Operator Training Course last year. It was quite an experience. The course, which costs $180 (CSAA member companies receive a 30 percent discount on all purchases. Go to the member area of CSAA's site to obtain a discount code to use when purchasing this course), can be demoed for free. CSAA director of marketing and communications Celia Besore 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. "In addition, being able to have a certification that speaks of their commitments to the highest standards gives them additional 'bragging' rights." As per the comment below, I decided to track down the list of Five Diamond Centrals, available at CSAA's site. Here they are:
List of Five Diamond Central Stations We are pleased to present the following list of central stations that are committed to the highest training standards (in order of receiving the designation). For detailed contact information about these companies, please visit the online Membership Directory. Acadian Command Central (since 05/2009) Baton Rouge, LA Acadian on Watch (since 01/2005) Lafayette, LA Ackerman Security Systems (since 09/2008) Atlanta, GA ADS Security (since 09/2003) Nashville, TN Affiliated Central Inc. (since 09/2005) Brooklyn, NY Alarm Center, Inc. (since 04/2007) Lacey, Washington Alarm Central LLC (since 03/2006) Kansas City, MO Alarm Detection Systems (since 08/2003) Aurora, IL Alarm Monitoring Services (since 06/2008) Monroe, LA Alarmco, Inc. (since 07/2008) Boise, ID Alarmco, Inc. (since 06/2006) Las Vegas, NV Alarm Tech Central Services (since 12/ 2009) Islandia, NY Alert Alarm of Hawaii (since 09/2004) Honolulu, HI All-Guard/Grand Central Station (since 11/2008) Hayward, CA Allstate Security Industries, Inc. (since 09/2006) Amarillo, TX American Alarm and Communications, Inc. (since 04/2004) Arlington, MA American Burglary & Fire, Inc. (since 11/2005) Fenton, MO Amherst Alarm Inc. (since 03/2004) Amherst, NY 14221 APS Security Ltd. (since 09/2005) Vancouver, B.C. Canada APX Alarm Security Solutions (Since 04/2010) South St. Paul, MN ASG Security (since 07/2009) McAllen, TX Atlantic Coast Alarm (12/2009) Mays Landing, NJ Atlas Security Services (since 03/2005) Springfield, MO AvantGuard Monitoring Centers (since 01/2007) Ogden, UT Barcom, Inc. (since 11/2007) Swansea, IL Bay Alarm Company (since 01/2006) Pacheco, CA www.bayalarm.com Centerpoint Technologies (since 06/2006) St. Louis, MO Centra-Larm Monitoring (since 06/2009) Manchester, NH CenturyTel Security (since 02/2005) Monroe, LA Checkpoint Systems (02/2010) Chanhassen, MN Cincinnati Bell/Complete Protection (since 11/2008) Cincinnati, OH CPI Security Systems (since 08/2009) Charlotte, NC Commercial Instrument & Alarm Systems (since 10/2008) Fishkill, NY ComSouth Monitoring Services (since 09/2009) Hawkinsville, GA C.O.P.S. Monitoring (since 02/2008) Scottsdale, Arizona Counterforce USA (since 07/2006) Houston, TX Devcon Security Services (since 12/2008) Hollywood, FL DGA Security Systems (since 02/2005) New York, NY Diebold, Inc. (since 12/2003) Honolulu, HI Diebold, Inc. (since 11/2003) Uniontown, OH DMC Security Services, Inc. (since 09/2005) Midlothian, IL Doyle Security Systems, Inc. (since 02/2004) Rochester, NY E & J Gallo Winery (since 10/2004) Modesto, CA Electronic Security Corp. of America Security Alarm Corporation (since 05/2009) Woodlyn, PA Electronix Systems Central Station Alarms, Inc. (since 06/2005) Huntington Station, NY Engineered Protection Systems (since 06/2004) Grand Rapids, MI F. E. Moran, Inc. Alarm and Monitoring Services (since 12/2006) Champaign, IL Federal Response Center (since 01/2006) Springfield, MO Fifth Third Bank (since 10/2004) Cincinnati, OH Fire Monitoring of Canada (since 05/2009) St. Catharines, Ontario First Alarm (since 12/2007) Aptos, CA Fleenor Security Systems (since 07/2006) Knoxville, TN Gillmore Security Systems (since 01/2009) Cleveland, OH G4S Monitoring & Data Center (since 11/2009) Burlington, MA Guardian Protection Services, Inc. (since 09/2006) Warrendale, PA Interface Security Systems (since 08/2004) Earth City, MO InterTECH Security,LLC (since 02/2008) Warrendale, PA Island Electronics Security & Monitoring, Ltd. (since 10/2006) Georgetown, Grand Cayman, BWI iWatch Communications, Inc. (since 01/2008) Beaverton, OR 97005 LifeStation (since 02/2007) Brooklyn, NY Lowitt Alarms – Metrodial (since 11/2004) Hicksville, NY Marlin Central Monitoring (since 09/2009) Kissimmee, FL Matson Alarm (since 06/2008) Fresno, CA Merchants Burglar Alarm Systems (since 11/2007) Wallington, NJ Microsoft Global Security (since 03/2008) Redmond WA Monitoring America Alarm Co-Op (since 02/2009) Tulsa, OK Monitoring Partners (since 04/2009) Delray Beach, FL Monitronics International (since 02/2005) Dallas, TX Mutual Central Station Alarm Services (since 05/2009) New York, NY New York Merchants Protective Co., Inc. (since 04/2007) Freeport, NY NEXgeneration Central (since 07/2009) Providence, RI Pacific Alarm Systems, Inc. (since 05/2009) Culver City, CA Paladin Security Group, Ltd. (since 04/2008) British Columbia, Canada Panhandle Alarm & Telephone Co. (since 10/2008) Pensacola, FL Peak Alarm (since 02/2006) Salt Lake City , UT Per Mar Security Services (since 06/2005) Davenport, IA The Protection Bureau (since 11/2007) Exton, PA Quick Response Monitoring Alarm Center (since 10/2005) Cleveland, OH Reliance Protectron (since 03/10) St Leonard, Quebec, CANADA Reliance Protectron (Since04/2010) Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA RFI Security (since 10/2006) San Jose CA Rocky Mountain Security Services, Inc. (Integrated Systems, Inc.) (since 12/2006) Denver, CO Safe Systems (since 08/2004) Boulder, CO SDA Security Systems, Inc. (since 11/2005) San Diego, CA Sebastian Corp. (since 12/2008) Kerman, CA Security Equipment, Inc. (SEI) (since 06/2004) Omaha, NE Security Partners, llc (since 05/2007) Lancaster, PA SentryWatch (since 02/2008) Greensboro, NC Siemens Industry, Inc. (since 03/2004) Irving, TX State Farm Insurance (since 03/2004) Bloomington, IL 61791 Superior Central Station (since 06/2007) McAllen, Texas Supreme Security Systems Inc. (since 12/2004) Union, NJ SVI Systems, Inc. (since 05/2009) Stuart, FL Texana Security LLC (since 12/2008) San Angelo, TX Thrivent Financial for Lutherans-Appleton, WI (since 09/2005) Appleton, WI Thrivent Financial for Lutherans-Minneapolis, MN (since 08/2008) Minneapolis, MN TnT Security Services L.L.C. (since 10/2006) Tulsa, OK Trans-Alarm, Inc. (since 04/2007) Burnsville, MN United Central Control (since 07/2004) San Antonio, TX United Monitoring Services, Inc. (since 04/2004) Columbus, GA Universal Atlantic Systems, Inc. (since 03/2004) Broomall, PA Vector Security, Eastern District (since 08/2003) Plymouth Meeting, PA Vector Security - South Central Station (since 03/2006) Richmond, VA Vector Security, Western District (since 08/2003) Pittsburgh, PA VRI, Inc. (since 04/2006) Dayton, OH Washington Alarm, Inc. (since 12/2006) Seattle, WA Wayne Alarm Systems (since 12/2003) Lynn, MA Wegmans Food Market Inc. (since 04/2008) Rochester, NY WH International Response (since 12/2004) Rockford, MN WM Security Services, Inc. (since 02/2008) Houston, TX 77032
by: Daniel Gelinas - Thursday, April 22, 2010
dpdbadge1 Just got an email from Paramount Alarm's Chris Russell over at the North Texas Alarm Association. He passed on a mailing from Texas Burglar and Fire Alarm Association. Looks like the police in Dallas are cracking down on alarm system registration there and have instituted a strict policy of non-response to any unregistered alarm beginning on Monday, April 26. Here's Chris' email, short and not-so-sweet:
Important Notice! Dallas Police Effective Monday, April 26, 2010 the Dallas Police Department will resume its No Permit No Dispatch policy. This means they will not respond to burglar alarm activations unless a valid permit number is provided by the alarm company. As always, they will still respond to all panic alarm activations regardless of permit or permit status.
If you have accounts in the Dallas area, now would be the time to be sure your customers are all registered with the police. We here at SSN have written a lot about ordinances, the threat of non-response, and what the whole thing can look like when municipalities and the industry work together. As I write this blog post, my editor Sam is moderating the previously blogged Video Enhanced Alarms webcast with statistics, case studies and advice from leaders in a sort of movement in the industry that promotes enhancing all alarms with video (the movement's pushing audio as well (fret not, Sonitrol)), but the webcast is focusing on video). That webcast will be available on-demand at SSN soon. I wrote about this movement back when it was just forming. An interesting thing to note here, if not a very comforting thought for the industry, is that law enforcement is in no way legally obligated to respond to security alarms. They do it as a courtesy and really could stop at any time. Just one more reason, I suppose that the industry needs to be active and informed, willing to compromise and concede on occasion. I emailed SIAC director Ron Walters to see what he had to say about non/verified response to alarms. "Actually police have no obligation to respond to anything, including 9-1-1 calls. Pretty amazing huh?" Ron said. "The first alarms were flocks of geese used by the Romans to let them know when someone approached (this is true)." Ron went on to cite the Rutgers School of Criminal Justice study done in cooperation with the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation (AIREF) and the city of Newark, N.J. The study shows that security systems have a demonstrable effect on decreasing crime. "Alarms became a tool for police when society moved to the suburbs. Police as recently as today recommend alarms to help deter crime," Ron said. "If the alarm failed to deter the event then the alarm rings a siren and now calls the monitoring station. We believe that it is the threat of response by a well-trained law enforcement official with a gun and arrest powers that is the true value of alarms ... We fight the fight to maintain the value of having an alarm." Law enforcement agencies generally want to respond to security alarms in order to better protect lives and property. The security industry needs to try and help combat the false alarm problem and help to educate end-users. SIAC executive director Stan Martin agreed the threat of non response was there, but pointed out there were certain protections for the end user in place.
We do have an equal protection amendment to our U.S. Constitution that in theory keeps police from picking/choosing who or what they will respond to--in other words they should always make response decision based on the good of the community as whole... think about what would happen if they could choose to only respond to the wealthy people or intentionally choose not to go into minority neighborhoods? In fact this is an argument we use with police--private industry does not have that same obligation to respond to all areas & all people and in fact private guard services do pick and choose the areas that they can service profitably--that's a huge downside to private response--there is no guarantee a citizen can hire a guard to respond--there is no legal obligation.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Monday, April 19, 2010
untitled-1 The webcast is now available on-demand. If you couldn't attend it live, check it out now. Security Systems News will be conducting a free webcast on this hot new topic on Thursday at 1:00 p.m. I've been writing a lot of stories about enhanced alarms lately, and this webcast is your chance to find out what all the buzz is about from some of the experts in the emerging field. The webcast will be moderated by SSN/SDN executive editor and heck-of-a-nice guy Sam Pfeifle and will include contributions from Sandy Jones, president of security industry resource and consulting firm Sandra Jones & Company, Keith Jentoft, president of RSI Video Technologies and a veritable zealot for the enhanced alarm movement, Tony Wilson, president of CMS monitoring, and Rob Lucas, president of security company All Secure. From a recent SSN release:
Enhanced Video Alarm Systems are creating significant value for the companies that sell them. Hear new research that highlights the value of Enhanced Video Alarm Systems. Through reduced attrition, reduced operating costs, incremental RMR, increased cash flow, and greater account value, Enhanced Video Alarm Systems are proving to be a solid investment for your company. Sign up for this FREE webcast and discover: * How to calculate the increased value of your company when using Enhanced Video Alarms. * How 'Priority Response' is a productive alternative to non-response and increasing fines. * What you need to consider when adopting Enhanced Video Alarms. * And more! Watch this LIVE event from your computer, for FREE! Thursday, April 22, 2010 – 1PM EST Register Now
As I said before, verification of alarms is one of the hottest topics at SSN. Here’s some of what people are reading: “If You’re Not Offering Verified Alarms, Are You Missing the Boat?” “Emza, Bold Team for WiseEye Monitoring” “RSI Brings Verification to Mace CSS” “Amcest Launches Dealer Program with CheckVideo” Sign up for this free webcast today and learn how to start adding value to your business.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Friday, April 16, 2010
iq-consumer-trifold3 The IQ Certification Board has created and is marketing a new educational tri-fold brochure for IQ-certified installers to provide potential customers to educate them on the difference certification makes. The IQ-certification process was founded in 1997 to set standards and provide consumers with a way to identify alarm companies that have undergone extensive training in best practices to ensure excellence through strict adherence to a code of ethics. IQ certification has been known to lead to fewer false alarms through better installation and maintenance practices. The new consumer tri-fold brochures are being sold at cost for $20 for 100 pieces and are customizable with a dealer's company logo and information. More info on the new brochure or on undergoing IQ certification can be found at the IQ site or by calling 866-833-8302. The IQ Certification Board is an independent panel of individuals from the alarm industry, public safety and regulatory sectors. Each Board Member is dedicated to the overall quality and false alarm control effectiveness of electronic security and life safety systems. The Board Members listed at IQ's site are:
IQ Board Member Michael Allen Director - 2010-2011 Southern Utah Alarm, LLC 620 W. Industrial Road Cedar City, UT 84721 P: 435-867-6412 F: 435-867-6412 E: mike@southernutahalarm.com IQ Board Member Joseph Benoit Public Safety Director - Fire Service 2010 Greenwich Fire Dept. 75 Holly Hill Lane Greenwich, CT 06830 P: 203-622-3950 F: 203-622-8062 E: jbenoit@greenwichct.org IQ Board Member Timothy Creenan Chairman / Director 2009-2010 Amherst Alarm, Inc. 435 Lawrence Bell Drive Amherst, NY 14221 P: 716-632-4600 F: 716-632-1156 E: timc@amherstalarm.com IQ Board Member Jackie Currier Secretary / Director 2010-2011 Rapid Response Monitoring Services 400 West Division Street Syracuse, NY 13204 P: 800-970-8871 F: 866-851-6347 E: jcurrier@rrms.com IQ Board Member Ronald Galippo Director 2009-2010 Total Watch Security, Inc. Dinah Shore Drive #404 Palm Desert, CA 92211 P: 760-770-6519 F: 760-770-9128 E: RJLW1998@aol.com IQ Board Member Steven Heggemann Public Safety Director - Law Enforcement 2010 Baltimore County Alarm Reduction Team Room 149 - 400 Washington Avenue Townson, MD 21204 P: 410-887-4951 F: 410-296-0931 E: sheggemann@baltimorecountymd.gov IQ Board Member Matt Schue Public Safety Director - State Regulator 2010 Oklahoma State Department of Health Alarm Division 10416 White Oak Canyon Road Oklahoma City, OK 73162 P: 405-271-5779 F: 405-271-5286 E: matts@health.ok.gov IQ Board Member Dave Simon Vice Chairman / Director 2009-2010 Broadview Home Security, Inc. 8880 Estres Blvd. Irving, TX 75063 P: 972-871-3778 E: dsimon@brinks.com IQ Board Member Deborah Sokol Treasurer / Director 2010-2011 Monitor Controls, Inc. 178-180 Center Street Wallingford, CT 06492 P: 203-269-3591 E: dsokol@monitorcontrols.com Non Voting - Committee Chair Gail Schreiner Non Voting - Committee Chair Membership Committee AlarmWATCH P.O. Box 81 Hunt Valley, MD 21030 P: 410-785-3300X211 F: 410-527-3915 E: GailSchreiner@alarmwatchinc.com Non Voting - Committee Chair Dave Currie Non Voting - Committee Chair Grievence Committee Chair Security Response Center 506 Christina St. N. Sarnia, Ontario N7T5W4 P: 519-704-1479 F: 519-336-7508 E: dcurrie@damar.net
by: Daniel Gelinas - Thursday, April 15, 2010
I was going through my most recent email newsletter from industry attorney Ken Kirschenbaum and thought the most recent item on proposed video surveillance legislation was pretty interesting. There's actually a lot of legislation news of interest to the security industry going on right now. My colleague Martha is following up on pending legislation in New York involving the limit of liability clause in most security contracts. My editor Sam has also touched on a federal rule that allows federal agencies to require that contractors working on jobs of $25 million or more be union shops. NYBFAA president Joseph Hayes cited a blog post from the New York Times that discussed recent news from Pennsylvania concerning a school that was secretly spying on students through their school-issued laptops' web cams. The school in question claimed they did this to be sure the equipment was not being misused. They claim they caught a student doing drugs. The student claims he was eating candy, not pills. Regardless of whether the school's intentions were noble and regardless of whether or not the student really was just eating Mike & Ikes and not ecstasy, the issue of import is the impact this incident may have on the security industry. Ken is pretty clear:
We are all familiar and concerned with audio interception. For the most part you know you can't install it. But video surveillance is not yet subject to widespread legislation. Other than statutes and case law that prohibits video surveillance in areas where privacy is expected restrictions are defined more by moral considerations than legal ones. By that I mean, you may be permitted to install a camera in your back yard that ends up also covering parts of your neighbor's yard, perhaps even your neighbors swimming pool or other recreational area. However, if that neighbor has a daughter who likes to swim naked that same camera may be prohibited. Legislation that prohibits video recording of another without his/her permission would without question affect the security industry. CCTV technology and the use of CCTV surveillance is one of the fastest growing areas in the alarm/security industry. Any legislation that restricts the use of CCTV will of course inhibit that growth and limit profit potential to security integrators.
I've written a number of stories recently about the uptick in interest in video, not just as specialized surveillance, but as a regular aspect of intrusion alarms as well. So the question remains, will there be new federal law on video surveillance? According to the above referenced NYT blog post:
Senator Arlen Specter, a Democrat of Pennsylvania, is proposing to amend the federal wiretap statute to prohibit visual spying that is not approved by a court in advance. Congress should move quickly to make this change.
Ken advised the industry to keep an eye on the ongoing legislation, be informed and be active.
The alarm industry needs to keep an eye on this proposed legislation to ensure that any statute to emerge does not have the same impact as the audio legislation. Joe, thanks for bringing this to our attention. By the way you can read the audio / video statutes in your state at http://www.kirschenbaumesq.com/avstatutes.htm Let me know if your state law needs to be updated on my website.
I'm interested to hear any input any of you might have.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Friday, April 9, 2010
My editor Sam moderated a PERS webinar yesterday. The aim was to educate those already in the PERS marketplace on legal issues, as well as to educate those looking to jump in about what they need to know first. Industry attorney Eric Pritchard was the presenter. In preparation for the webinar and in its wake, the editors of SSN have compiled some interesting PERS-related trends and links for further reading and research. The webinar is available on-demand now. Drop by and check it out if you missed it earlier today. Here is Security Systems News’ 6 Trends in the PERS Industry: 1. Companies are diving into PERS at a quickened rate, with new dealer programs being developed: DigiKnox Security enters PERS market as MediPendant Authorized Dealer Rapid Response launches PERS initiative with MediPendant, EMT-staffed Life Safety Monitoring Bay Alarm launched a PERS initiative in 2009 Sonitec Corp, out of New York, launched a new PERS intitiative in 2009 Funded dealer program launched by American Two-Way 2. VC funding and investment is coming to PERS/Medical monitoring: WellAWARE gets $7.5 million in VC funding WellAWARE teaming with AMAC GE and Intel announced a major investment last year in the medical monitoring field 3. Medical monitoring may be as big as $34 billion by 2015, but is probably in the $3-4 billion range right now, according to a Forrester study (it’s a little old, but still): Brief explanation: As of yet, CMS, the portion of the government that decides what gets reimbursed by Medicare, has not decided telehealth and PERS is something that should be reimbursed. The theory is that should CMS be persuaded that this can save Medicare a great deal of money and they decide to reimburse, the market would explode into the $30 billion range. 4. Central stations are getting serious about training their people to be EMD certified: All Acadian's operators now EMD certified for PERS accounts 5. Manufacturers are making the investment, too. Visonic is training all of its dealers on PERS equipment: Visonic teams with NTC for PERS training Visonic’s PERS boot camps 6. Cities are also beginning to roll false medical alerts into their false alarm ordinances Here's some quotable wisdom from American Two-Way president and CEO Christopher Baskin, who is on the board of directors of the Medical Alert Monitoring Association. He feels false medical dispatches and attendant ordinances to control them will most likely increase:
“There are already many places in the country where paramedics do charge for false dispatches of paramedics. However, I believe in the years ahead that more and more municipalities will start charging for false alarms for paramedic dispatches. The PERS market has been in the past a very simple, straight-forward service, and generally two-way voice has prevented false dispatches from occurring. Now, however, with much more competition in the PERS industry and the rollout of telehealth and telemedicine service—like remote medication management and vital sign monitoring—more false dispatches will continue to occur.”
There does seem to be a lot going on in the world of PERS. Check out the SSN PERS webinar and find out how to get on board.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Monday, April 5, 2010
I've been following the POTS Sunset news as it's occurred, blogging and writing stories when the FCC asked for public comment, and when AT&T proposed POTS be phased out by 2014, and again when the FCC released its National Broadband Plan, which proposes a way to deliver broadband services to every American... Maybe the FCC should work on national health care, too... I've gotten a lot of comments on the blog and have had some really good phone interviews with some industry folks. Now those folks may not agree on who's got the best technology to solve the POTS Sunset problem, but they DO all agree that the time to act is now. I spoke with Lance Dean at 2GIG back when the FCC first sought public comment on the nascent Broadband Plan. He pointed out that the infrastructure, the PSTN and the POTS service it makes possible, was going away whether the industry wanted it to or not. "“There’s 700,000 lines going down a month. If you do the math, that’s 8 million a year," Dean said. "In a few more years there won’t be any more landlines.” I also spoke at length recently with Mike Sherman president and CEO of AES IntelliNet and Tom Reed VP of sales at NextAlarm. Both men seemed to feel the sunset of POTS was not only inevitable, but was also an opportunity to fix what has been wrong with the industry and take control. Sherman was emphatic that the big problem with which the industry has dealt from day one is the fact that it hasn't owned or controled the communications pathways upon which it relies for the delivery of it's alarms. Of course, his company provides a solution to that, providing an AES IntelliNet dealer with his or her own network of radio relays--an IntelliNet mesh system--that Sherman claims is the way to go.
I think the bottom line on this is that the alarm industry has maybe four alternatives. One is POTS. We know it’s going away, we don’t know when, but it is going away, and that has always been reliable. You have the Internet, which has incredible problems, incredible delays. Try pinging a central station in Boston. Try it several times a day. The ping time will vary all over the place. That's not security-grade reliability. It's the same thing with GSM--which is cellular radio--it's patchy. The networks 'busy-out' ... Smartphones are sucking the life out of the GSM system because they use so much data. So the GSM system, like broadband, has finite bandwidth. Then there's IntelliNet. This is the dealer's network. The dealer owns it and controls it ... With IntelliNet, finally, the dealer owns and controls the communications piece. It’s always been owned by the phone company or the cellular company or the cable company. It’s the communications piece that makes the dealers’ service possible ... The other thing is that you can’t surf the web on it, you can't play games on it, you can’t shop on it, you can’t download stuff on it. It’s been designed specifically for the security industry. It's been optimized for security monitoring, so it meets the five nines reliability that the security industry relied on way back when it created itself and relied on POTS.
Sherman, in speaking about the "busy-out" problem GSM has, cited an article from BusinessWeek. Interesting read... Reed claimed NextAlarm's answer utilized the system the end-users were flocking to, the system in which the government is already heavily investing--broadband--and made that system more reliable.
We actually recognized four years ago as people started to move from POTS to VoIP and that's when we started developing our product... We've got one patent issued and a second patent granted ... Obviously, we believe that IP is the way to go. Our solution is agnostic to panel and agnostic to central station. We think that for legacy panels, that's the way to go. Many companies are looking to GSM, and there’s a couple challenges with that. One of them, obviously is congestion. If you’re in a congested downtown, urban area, it’s getting harder and harder to get a reliable GSM signal, particularly here in the US--you don't see it in Europe or Asia--we have such a good wired infrastructure that telcos have not put in as many towers. The problem is that the instant someone needs help--whether it's PERS or some other alarm--they need help. You can't hope and cross your fingers that you get a GSM signal. Another challenge is that most of GSM is metered. If you want something that's cost-effective for a customer who wants to do open/close reporting, wants to have two-way voice and those kinds of things, GSM can get very expensive. Most of the plans only have six or seven metered signals a month. If you're doing open/close you could have as many as 60 a month ... And finally, the GSM expense to add to a panel is pretty expensive. The device we're providing today is available for dealer purchase from ADI for $99. What are the advantages of IP? Very low cost for bandwidth. We've got a small fee per signal, but there's no metering, so you have the ability to do open/close, you have the ability to do two-way voice.
What about Sherman's critique of unreliable signal transmission with broadband? Reed provided a brief description of the NextAlarm solution. From Reed's info:
VoIPAlarm by NextAlarm.com was built to solve these problems. VoIPAlarm allows customers to enjoy the benefits and cost savings of Voice-over-IP service, while still allowing their alarm systems to accurately communicate with their monitoring centers. VoIPAlarm operates over your standard Cable Modem, DSL, or Terrestrial Wireless Broadband Internet connection, and works with any alarm system capable of sending signals using the Contact ID format (including the Abbra Professional Series by NextAlarm.com). VoIPAlarm requires no changes to your existing alarm system, other than a one-time purchase of a Broadband Alarm Adapter from NextAlarm.com. Simply plug the Broadband Alarm Adapter into your home network, and plug your alarm panel into the Adapter (rather than into your regular telephone line), and NextAlarm.com will immediately begin to monitor your security system over Broadband. VoIPAlarm even offers Line Security, a new security measure not available with standard telephone line hookups. Our servers are in constant communication with our Adapter installed at your home or business. If we should lose contact with the device, our E-Notify service can alert you in a matter of minutes. This extra security measure is only possible through the always-on, always-connected nature of VoIPAlarm.
Regardless of which technology you go with, it seems pretty clear that the time to make changes and talk with your customers is now. Sherman warned of potential consequences if the communications path is not made a top priority:
The industry is based on a recurring revenue business model, and if the communication is not there, or not reliable that threatens our business model. The security industry cannot—cannot—afford to sustain any newsworthy, bad releases. We have to deal with the reliability of the communications because if we don’t we’ll all be punished. You need to understand the importance of the decision when you opt for a technology—whether it’s IntelliNet or something else. Know what you’re getting. Look past the glossy brochure that the purveyor provides you.
Reed said there were definite, necessary steps ahead, and those steps would not get easier with time:
You've got start this conversation today--and it's not going to be an easy conversation ... It’s like with the kids who hide their bad grades, and forge mom's signature and pretend nothing's wrong for three months and then it’s worse when the truth comes out. The industry can’t hide from this. It's like a ticking time bomb. We need to go out now and talk with our customers and give them a communication solution that works. That’s what we’ve been pounding the drum for. With the POTS Sunset on the horizon, it makes the drum beat that much louder and faster. We can try and hold back the flood, but the industry’s not big enough to hold it back. We have to say, 'It’s going to happen, we may as well get ready for it.' We’ve got maybe a seven or eight year window.

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