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by: Daniel Gelinas - Friday, February 5, 2010
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 – Westec Intelligent Surveillance, the nation’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, “ said Ron Lemke, Lead Auditor for Intertek. "Westec’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 – Installation and Classification of Burglar and Holdup-Alarm Systems UL 827 – 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,” said Kelby Hagar, CEO of Westec. “We’re proud the Westec video-monitoring facility, training and video response services were superior to others that had been evaluated.”
I also wrote about Westec last year and their efforts at expansion into the quick-serve restaurant market.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Thursday, February 4, 2010
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) – whose membership is comprised of representatives from ESA, the Central Station Alarm Association, the Security Industry Association and several national companies – submitted comments to the Federal Communications Commission in response to AT&T’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), “Due 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.” Read AT&T’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 – 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.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, February 3, 2010
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 didn’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. It’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.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Monday, February 1, 2010
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?
by: Daniel Gelinas - Friday, January 29, 2010
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.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, January 27, 2010
How topical and timely! The Central Station Alarm Association held it's first free webinar last year to positive response. That first webinar was moderated by Bob Harris of Attrition Busters and provided useful information on battling attrition and getting out of the trap of competing by price alone. Now CSAA is gearing up for the their second free webinar, the first of 2010. CSAA is holding the next installment on Feb. 17 from 2:00-3:00 p.m. Eastern, and this time they're focusing on social media tools including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and CSAA's wikis. From the latest edition of CSAA's Signals:
Sign-up to our First Free Webinar of 2010 CSAA Webinar: Social Media Networking: Help or Hype Five Ways to Boost your Company Image You are invited to participate in the first CSAA webinar of 2010 on February 17, 2010 2:00pm-3:00pm ET! Find out why CSAA is involved in Social Media, whether your business should use these social networking / collaborative tools, and more.
I spoke with CSAA's VP of marketing and programs Celia Besore and she said the webinar furthered CSAA's misison. "Part of CSAA's mission is to help our members become better and better-known," she said. "This is part of that." Celia said now was the time to address social media and attempt to educate CSAA members on the potential benefit to their business of learning about and embracing social media tools. "This is not just for the media or just for teenagers," she said. "Corporations are using these tools seriously every day. They have entire divisions and legal departments dedicated to running their social media programs." Celia sent me another mailing with more specifics on the webinar:
Find out how Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Wikis are being successfully used by companies outside and inside the alarm industry. Find out how you and your company can take advantage of these tools to increase your company's visibility in the marketplace and improve performance. The panelists are: Moderator: Wanda Valenteen, Central Station Manager, The Protection Bureau Presenters: Cheryl Perez, Director of Marketing, Alarm Detection Systems, Inc. (LinkedIn) Melissa M. Courville, Client Services & Head of Marketing, Dice Corporation (Facebook) Jennifer Bruce, Account Executive, The Bold Group (Twitter) Celia Besore, Vice President of Marketing & Programs, Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) (Wikis)
Interested in attending? I'll be there doing coverage for SSN, and if you want to participate, you can reserve your free seat here or by contacting Celia Besore, CSAA VP of marketing & programs at 703-242-4670, Ext. 16. This kind of education is extremely important as social media becomes more popular. One certainly wants to avoid certain social media faux pases (is that the plural of faux pas?) such as these gaffs addressed by my fearless leader, Sam in a recent post.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Monday, January 25, 2010
I just got an email from ESA (I'm not sure how long I'm going to do these little parenthetical reminders, but... for those of you who've been living under a rock, that's the new and improved, evolved NBFAA), and it seems their annual Leadership Summit came off really well. I blogged earlier in the year about the upcoming summit and what it hoped to accomplish. Did they succeed in their mission this year? According to the release, yes.
At their first event since voting for a name change, Electronic Security Association (ESA) members from across the nation enthusiastically supported the 2010 ESA Leadership Summit in Fort Worth, Texas, Jan. 12 – 14. Three days of meetings, seminars, networking receptions and an awards dinner were planned for more than double the number of attendees over last year’s event.
In this economy, any trade event that got bigger since last year is doing something right. Some of the highlights of the Jan. 12-14 event were ESA committee and board of directors meetings (at which the recent FCC public notice on a possible POTS sunset was discussed) and the Young Security Professionals meeting. Educational seminars targeting social media, non-dues revenue and 2010 megatrends rounded out the three-day event. ESA also unveiled a brand-spanking new logo pictured in high res detail below... esalogo And announced a new educational video on YouTube. Here it is: Speaking of videos, I'm going to embed Keith Jentoft's "Video Killed the Blind PIR" video again, too, because it's so much fun. Here it is, and it was no easy feat (all kinds of copyright issues, I guess...) I guess Keith was on the phone with SSN's big cheese Sam Pfeifle today. Keith was apparently in Freeport, just right next door to SSN's global headquarters in Yarmouth. Please, Keith--or any security industry pro.--any time you're in the area, feel free to drop us a line and stop by.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Friday, January 22, 2010
Couldn't resist blogging about this interesting little item. Going through my Google Alerts this morning and came across this crisp little, lyrical moment captured in a pretty piece of poetry. A blogger going by the handle Feed Store Girl has created a haiku dedicated to the false alarm. As an English major, I'm fond of language, am wooed by words choreographed into associations of poetry and prose. So I was gratified to see someone address the violent juxtaposition to normal life of the false alarm (something to which I dedicate a large portion of my working, reporting life) in a tidy tidbit of verse. I love, especially, the last line, which captures the shifts in emotion that come from the scream of a siren in the middle of the night... shift... to the feelings of contrition for worrying everyone over nothing... shift... to the feeling of relief that nothing was wrong. I linked the haiku above, but here it is in all it's brevity and entirety:
Four a.m. Choteau Siren wailing, come, hurry! Sorry. No fire. Whew.
Not addressed in the haiku, but potentially there or imminent, are the feelings of irritation that the alarm went off without reason, yet again... and feelings of being raked for cash when the false alarm fine arrives in the mail.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, January 20, 2010
I noticed a sort of alarming trend in my Google Alerts the last few days. It seems there have been some false alarms at nuclear facilities recently, and I find this worrisome. The first false alarm I read about is perhaps the most upsetting to me. It was an actual false security alarm at a nuclear weapons assembly plant... That right there made me go "huh..." Apparently these two guys, who worked at this plant, putting nuclear weapons together thought it would be cool to get their guns and go duck hunting inside the security perimeter of the office. They make nuclear weapons there guys... don't go crouching around in the bushes outside with firearms. What's your security company supposed to think when they're checking the security camera footage on that one? I love this line from the report: "The men apparently decided to use their day off hunting ducks, a pastime in the area." Another popular pastime in the area is assembling weapons of mass destruction. Call me naive, but why do we have a factory where people are still putting together nuclear weapons? Aren't we (or maybe, "shouldn't we be" is more realistic) all about disarmament? Anyway... The other story just came across my desk today and spotlights a loud alarm going off at a nuclear power plant. Apparently, local residents were shaken and called local authorities for answers. No kidding. I hope there's some kind of false alarm fine for the that one. How do you do ECV on that alarm?
by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Just came across this story at the Orange County Register. Seems they've been having a real doozy of a time with false alarms lately over in Irvine, Calif. The IPD holds a quarterly alarm awareness class for interested residents and businesses with alarms. The class is not mandated for offenders, but is voluntary and offers incentives. The next class will be held from 9 to 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 19, at the Civic Center, 1 Civic Center Plaza. Sharon Elder VP of sales at NMC's Aliso Viejo central station will co-run the class with IPD personnel. I visited the (at-the-time) brand-spanking-new Texas center on the way to last year's TechSec. Nice center. There is a $15 registration fee, but attendees get a false alarm fee credit they can use at some point in the future. Interested in attending? Contact IPD regulatory affairs supervisor Cristine Gaiennie at 949-724-7066. Elder said it's important for the industry to participate in educational efforts like this. "The class is actually written into the ordinance. It started back in 1996. I've been the police liaison since then. Christine has been involved since then, as well. It's in the 'good and good for you' category. Clearly we need to work together with municipalities to be sure citizens are educated." Quesions for Sharon on alarm awareness education can be directed to her at 800-353-3031. Gaiennie agreed cooperation was the key ingredient to educating the public and curtailing the false alarm problem. "It's a real tag-team effort," Gaiennie said. "We've held this class for years, and Sharon has been teaching it for years." This is a good example of the municipality and the industry working together to help educate end-users and thereby save resources. Good work.

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