I actually came across this story a few weeks ago and it promptly got lost in the shuffle of other releases and leads upon which I regularly follow up. Apparently ADT dispatcher in training David Brown acted quickly, contacted all the appropriate contacts in the protocol hierarchy and managed to save a family's home, and their dog, Lucy. The dog accidentally turned on a gas burner trying to get at some sweet, sweet cake sitting, nestled between the burners on the stove top. Jeez, I think I've done that kind of thing myself of a late evening, trying--half asleep--to cook a snack. It's one of those stories that, while it may not be hard news, I really like to see. It's nice to see a dispatcher doing his or her job, doing it well and being recognized by an appreciative public. Brown confirmed that while most calls are false, a dispatcher or first responder must always assume it's the real deal and act quickly. Good thing he did. I especially like the homeowner's final quote in the story: "'It is the right thing to do to thank somebody for doing exactly what they are supposed to do and helping save our family, our house and our dog,' Chris Wardlow said." I agree. Just because the dispatcher was only doing his job, that's no reason not to say nice work, and keep it up for all our sakes.
I was on the phone with Jerry Cordasco, EVP of Ops at G4S' Boston-based video monitoring and data center the other day discussing a story I'm working on about video monitoring standards. Shooting the breeze with Jerry got me to wondering what was going on at G4S lately, so I decided to check their site. Of course, G4S is a mighty big animal (the biggest according to some, though not the biggest according to others...) with somewhere north of 580,000 employees in over 110 countries, so I was looking around their site for a while. One point of interest I came across was a peripheral site dedicated as a memorial to JÃ¸rgen Philip-SÃ¸rensen, founder of Group 4 Falck--one of G4S' parent companies, along with Securicor. SÃ¸rensen was born Sept. 23, 1938 and died of complications from cancer on Jan. 18, 2010. He was 71. The memorial site also links to a very informative obit from the Times Online (UK) about the life and times of this formative figure in the world of security. From the article:
JÃ¸rgen Philip-SÃ¸rensen earned the sobriquet 'the architect of the modern security industry' after he built up Group 4 into the worldâ€™s largest security firm, with more than half a million staff. Philip-SÃ¸rensen was a larger than life character who, through force of personality, expanded the company from a hilltop base in the Cotswolds into 110 countries. He was not afraid to court controversy, such as when Group 4 became the first private security company in the UK to win contracts for transporting prisoners, a development that was fiercely opposed by those who believed such services should remain in the public sector. And in his quest for tighter regulation that would make it easier to distinguish between the standards of his well-established operation and those of an industry awash with with cowboy operators and even criminals who set up as security companies in order to commit robbery, he lobbied the British Government hard, and ultimately effectively, for legislation.This guy was a real pioneer and a hard worker, from the sound of the Times obit. I like the sound of the work ethic and the fearlessness inherent in lines like, "JÃ¸rgen, known to his friends as Philip, did not prosper at school and left when he and the headmaster 'agreed not to waste each otherâ€™s time.' He went to work as a guard for his fatherâ€™s company in Sweden." The article also tells how SÃ¸rensen was sent to another country by his father to open a new branch of his father's security guard company.
Unable to speak French or Flemish, Philip-SÃ¸rensen got his first break when a factory owner in Brussels agreed to hire his new security company to protect his premises on condition that it would start the service immediately. Philip-SÃ¸rensen agreed, even though it was New Yearâ€™s Eve. That night the owner paid a surprise visit and was delighted to find a security officer dressed in a boiler suit shovelling coal into the furnace As the guard turned round he recognised him immediately: it was the salesman who had signed the contract. At this point Philip-SÃ¸rensen had only one employee, another salesman. The plan was to recruit and train officers as they won business. As a result he had to sell the service by day and work as a security guard at night until they could earn enough to employ some more staff. Today the Belgian company has more than 5,200 employees.A memorial service for SÃ¸rensen will take place on Friday 26 February at Worcester Cathedral, Worcester, UK WR1 2LA.
So I attended the CSAA's second free webinar. This one was on the social media tools LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and wikis. I found it informative and have herein rounded up some commentary, lovely pie charts I made myself, and some other observations. The full write up of the webinar can be found here at SSN. The first, possibly most interesting thing I noted was that the webinar was completely moderated by, administered by and paneled by security industry women. Rock on women of security! There were four Quick Polls that section headed each panelist's presentation. I found the stats interesting. Here's the chart for LinkedIn usage: Pretty much what you'd expect with most people using LinkedIn for professional reasons... No one ever seems to let all their LinkedIn connections know that it's Monday and they just bought a second cup of coffee. Facebook results looked like this: That's also pretty much what you'd expect: mostly personal usage. Here's where it's okay to tell all your friends how much you love coffee or the Muppets Wiki (and I DO love the Muppet Wiki). When asked if they used Twitter, the voters voted thusly: Frankly, I was surprised at the number of people not using twitter. I think Twitter moderator Jennifer Bruce's point about Twitter being an engine to drive traffic back to your company's site was spot on and hopefully one more security industry professionals will take to heart. The wiki Quick Poll asked a slightly different question of voters and allowed for more than one response. Here's the results: I guess it's not surprising that most of the voters had used Wikipedia. Heck I think I go there every day. I also got some feedback from one attendee. Safe Systems Inc. central station manager Ian Nelson said that although he had been familiar with the tools, he hadn't considered using them in the ways highlighted during the education event. "It was interesting all around, and although the concepts were not new the webinar prompted me to re-examine how I used what I considered professional resources, and made me change my mind on what I used to consider personal resources," Nelson said. "I did use all of the tools prior to the presentations, but now I am updating more often, and considering professional applications for Facebook, YouTube, and expanding what we do on Twitter. The idea of having demo video links on YouTube had never occurred to me, I considered it a source of entertainment only." We've been linking YouTube videos for a while in ssnTVnews and find it a valuable resource as well. Nelson continued:
I found myself expanding my use of current tools; I went into LinkedIn the next day, posted some recommendations, expanded my profile, and invited quite a few people to connect. A resource I used just because I thought I should have a presence became something that I value more--I see more possibilities for interaction and productivity due to the webinar. Overall, I have contributed more to our social media presence, and this prompted me to push for a corporate LinkedIn presence, so I have to applaud everyone's efforts and appreciate them greatly.The overheads and pre-webinar video will all be available at CSAA's site soon.
The latest issue of CSAA's Signals has some exciting news for those of us who've been too budget-constrained to travel to Greece. They're convening for their annual meeting this year in Marana, Ariz., just outside of beautiful Tucson (of which I'm a big fan--Sabino Canyon is lovely). From the most recent Signals blast:
2010 CSAA Annual Meeting Returns to U. S. The Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) is delighted to announce that the location of the 2010 CSAA Annual Meeting will be the Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain Resort in Marana, Arizona. The meeting will take place Oct. 1-6, 2010. The Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain Resort is a brand new resort located Northwest of Tucson. CSAA has been able to secure the amazing rate of $239.00 per night for a deluxe mountain room (other room types and suites will be available at higher rates). This is truly a magnificent resort and our dates avoid conflicts with other known industry meetings during October You will receive additional information soon so that you may plan your time and travel. We believe that you will thoroughly enjoy this new Ritz Carlton and the many opportunities for separate tours and excursions that will be offered. Please contact John McDonald , CSAA Vice President of Meetings and Conventions at 703-242-4670, Ext. 17 if you have any questions.Asked to comment on the change in location, Celia Besore, CSAA VP of marketing and programs said part of CSAA's mission was to serve it's members. "We want to get the word out, we do listen to our members," Besore said. "We do make changes ... We've had such amazing participation when we've had the meeting overseas, but with the economy now, and we did have people commenting, so Ed [Bonifas, CSAA president] looked at all the results and made the decision to switch." Looking forward to seeing all attendees in Arizona in October.
Got a press release from DGA Security Systems on last week. Seems they're the latest security company to go through the rigorous qualifying and vetting process to apply for and receive their UL 2050 designation. I've written about other companies in that select group before. Some other members of the UL 2050 club include Diebold, Acadian, and NMC to name a few. From the release:
DGA Security Systems, Inc, is pleased to announce that it has been UL 2050 certified, allowing it to install, service and monitor security systems for federal facilities including the U.S. Department of Defense. DGA becomes one of a select number of security companies in the nation to obtain this certification for both the installation and monitoring of systems. The UL 2050 listing confirms that DGA has met the stringent requirements for the protection of classified materials as certified by Underwriters Laboratories. When evaluating security companies, UL only certifies those that are staffed with highly skilled employees who have gone through extensive training, have appropriate backup procedures in place and follow UL-specific processes.In a 2009 interview with SSN, UL's Pete Tallman (who created the 2050 designation) said 2050 spoke to the caliber of the company in question. "It's a choice [a company makes] so that a service company in, say, Arizona knows they donâ€™t have to verify the knowledge of the company in question ... since they have the UL 2050," Tallman said. "[A company acquires] this listing so they can be readily identified by providers of national industrial security systems as a station that has the skill set to process signals in accordance with with the standard." Again from the DGA release:
'UL has confirmed that DGA can satisfy organizations that require the utmost protection,' said Stanley Oppenheim, DGAâ€™s founder and president. 'We maintain a steadfast commitment to provide our customers with superior service, operational excellence and the right security solutions to fit their needs.'Congrats to DGA and to all those in the process of attaining the designation.
I blogged last year on the great NRTL debate. There was a kind of a showdown brewing between the old standby nationally recognized testing labs UL & FM and the new kid on the block, ETL. Just got word that another security company has announced that it had passed an Alarm System Certification audit conducted by Intertek ETL. According to the release "the ETL Listing mark signifies Westec has been audited and met or exceeded industry-recognized specifications and rigorous safety standards." Well, congrats to Westec for the listing and to ETL for the additional cred. According to the PR person who sent this info along, Westec is one of the first video surveillance companies to go through ETL. Here's the press release:
Westec Awarded ETL Listing: One of the First Video-Based Alarm Services To Make the Mark DALLAS, TX, February 4, 2010 â€“ Westec Intelligent Surveillance, the nationâ€™s largest remote video monitoring company, announced today that it has passed an Alarm System Certification audit conducted by Intertek, an independent third-party testing lab and certification agency. The ETL Listing mark signifies Westec has been audited and met or exceeded industry-recognized specifications and rigorous safety standards "Westec is a cooperative, efficient, and compliant burglar alarm central station. In the field evaluation, we noted their employee management processes, training programs, and tracking tools exceeded our expectations, â€œ said Ron Lemke, Lead Auditor for Intertek. "Westecâ€™s staff had done their homework and any changes or needed contracts could be completed on the spot." The ETL certification of Westec Intelligent Surveillance signifies that Westec meets or exceeds industry operational and safety standards according to the following specifications: UL 681 â€“ Installation and Classification of Burglar and Holdup-Alarm Systems UL 827 â€“ Central Station Alarm Services "Receiving the ETL certification is yet another industry indication that our unique video-monitoring system is an excellent security solution which has been thoroughly tested and proven,â€ said Kelby Hagar, CEO of Westec. â€œWeâ€™re proud the Westec video-monitoring facility, training and video response services were superior to others that had been evaluated.â€I also wrote about Westec last year and their efforts at expansion into the quick-serve restaurant market.
Just got an email from ESA with their response to the FCC's recent public notice on a possible POTS sunset. You can download a PDF of Alarm Industry Communications Committee chairman Louis T. Fiore's official response to FCC here. The basic thrust is "We want to work with you and support IP, but need to be sure it reall WORKS..." Which IP doesn't a lot of the time when you're dealing with alarm panels. And that's kind of a big deal when you're dealing with people's lives and property. Here's the email from ESA in it's entirety:
ESA and Other Industry Groups File Comments with FCC on National Broadband Plan Recently, the Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) â€“ whose membership is comprised of representatives from ESA, the Central Station Alarm Association, the Security Industry Association and several national companies â€“ submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission in response to AT&Tâ€™s recent filing concerning the transition from the circuit-switched network to broadband and IP-based communications. As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Congress directed the FCC to create a national broadband plan by March 17, 2010 that seeks to ensure that all Americans have access to broadband capability. As part of their plan development, the commission, in December, sought comments on the transition from a circuit-switched network to an all-IP network. The FCC is trying to determine whether or not new policy should be considered and what relevant questions should be raised on how best to monitor and plan for such a transition. Read the FCC public notice. On December 21, AT&T filed a comment with the FCC that, among other things, explicitly called for the phasing out of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). In their filing AT&T states (emphasis added), â€œDue to technological advances, changes in consumer preference, and market forces, the question is when, not if, POTS service and the PSTN over which it is provided will become obsolete. In the meantime, however, the high costs associated with the maintenance and operation of the legacy network are diverting valuable resources, both public and private, that could be used to expand broadband access and to improve the quality of broadband service. It is for that reason that one of the most important steps the Commission can take to facilitate an orderly transition to an all-broadband communications infrastructure is to eliminate the regulatory requirements that prolong the life of POTS and the PSTN.â€ Read AT&Tâ€™s comments. Today, approximately one-third of Americans live in, work in and go to premises where security systems are utilized. Accordingly, many Americans would be impacted if the PSTN is retired before there is a thorough understanding of how it is relied upon everyday in security applications to protect them from harm. Therefore, the AICC in its filing has called on the FCC to consider a plan of orderly transition to broadband and IP-based communications â€“ one that ensures communications services to all Americans will operate with a high degree of reliability and compatibility with existing life safety services and equipment. Read the comments from AICC. ESA supports broadband development and IP-based communications. These developments carry great potential in connection with alarm services such as the ability to transmit more data at faster speeds from a protected premise to the monitoring station. However, the ability of the alarm industry to rely on broadband and IP-based communications will be hindered if all aspects of the communications path are not reliable. Further, ESA and other industry groups support a gradual transition to broadband and IP-based communications to ensure compatibility with existing services and equipment. As the FCC works on its National Broadband Plan, ESA, through its active involvement in the AICC, will continue to monitor, participate in and report back on the development and impact of the plan.
I checked out some pretty cool vids yesterday. What's cool about them, as opposed to all the other online vids i regularly check out (I watch this one of my son probably 5 times a day) is that these ones were topical to my beat here at SSN. That's right they're security videos! Now, you've all seen Video Killed the Blind PIR from Keith Jentoft at RSI (and if you haven't I've linked it so you can see it again). But there are other companies doing some cool stuff out there as well. NMC's got some cool videos we've had in our ssnTVnews section, and the latest I came across yesterday were from Monitronics. There's a series of five homemade vids from the monitoring center that pimp its special, required MoniX dealer training program. I wrote about this new program back in December of 09 and at that time, Monitronics VP marketing Mitch Clarke said the MoniX program was about creating a better industry.
If you remember over the summer, we had the headlines about us suing sales reps. We realized that for us to be a premier dealer program, we realized that we didnâ€™t want any part of that funny business. So we had to say, 'How do we make our program the premier program?' We created the Monitronics Experience--MoniX. Itâ€™s focus is on how to be a good citizen and how to run a good business.Here're the MoniX vids... I like some better than others. The first one is kinda funny and cryptic. The second one is, in my humble opinion, the funniest... just seems really true to life. The third is pretty funny and attempts to capture some of the building tension. The fourth is cute... As an editor, I know how it feels to find a typo after the media has gone to print! And the final one is kinda nice, 'cuz it gets the whole office team in there. I say keep these inside looks seen through the camera coming. Nice work all.
So I don't know if anyone else is wondering, but I sure am. What did my boss' tweet from the floor of TechSec Solutions mean? Here it is: Around 10 a.m. Security Systems News' editor Sam_Pfeifle tweeted "From techsecsol: 'the proprietary central station is becoming redundant. If I was at barnes, I'd be looking to sell my accounts now.'" Huh? I have an email out to Sam looking for clarification and would love to get any commentary from any of my readers. What does this mean to you? If the proprietary central is on its way out, what's going to replace it? Any comments?
You know, there's a lot of news out there about false alarms and problems with the life safety industry. Lord knows (and you, for that matter, if you read my blog) I've written about problems caused by false alarms, and what some in the industry do to help combat the problem. I've also written about problems caused when PERS monitoring hasn't gone right. However, most times dispatchers for PERS and security systems do their jobs right, and the results are gratifying, with lives saved and property protected. I was going through my Google Alerts this morning and came across this story out of Pueblo, Colorado. While disheartening that someone--the perpetrator in this case, of course, was wearing all black--would attack, rob, attempt to murder (suffocation with a plastic bag) and then leave for dead this defenseless 94-year-old man, it makes me happy to read that the man was able to activate his Lifeline PERS system. The quick action of the dispatcher, who called the victim, Michael Lindvay, most likely saved the man's life. Upon receiving no answer at the victim's home, the Phillips Lifeline dispatcher immediately phoned emergency responders, who showed up quickly and brought Lindvay to the hospital where he's currently recovering. PPD has asked anyone with information on the attack or the cowardly perpetrator (apparently this guy didn't even have the gangsta-ish self-respect to actually break in--no, he asked if he could borrow a cup of sugar and then forced his way in when Lindvay turned away from the door to get the sugar and thereby by helpful) contact the Pueblo Crime Stoppers at 719-542-7867. Let's hear it for PERS, and let's hope they catch the guy who did this.