I got an email today from the Security Industry Association. Apparently they're getting ready to compile a study of security project management and are asking for help from anyone in the security industry (not just SIA members) engaged in overseeing security projects and managing people. Interested participants should check out SIA's release at their website. Join in and help SIA protect and advance its members' interests by advocating pro-industry policies and legislation on Capitol Hill and throughout the 50 states. I think it's important for the security industry to take part in initiatives like this and like the recent study conducted by CSAA, in order to assure that the industry shares best practices and grows through education and communication.
I was reading through my Google Alerts this morning and came across a story from NorthJersey.com about the false alarm ordinance in Englewood, N.J. There are some interesting points addressed in the story. One resident complains that just because there is no damage to her window or door, does not mean someone didn't try to break in. That's true. The same resident also said that every time she attempted to take the educational, online alarm course offered by her municipality at the police department website, the site was down. This problem continued, she said, until the the full fine she could have avoided through taking the course was finally levied. I think it's probably normal as an end user to get angry with the police for not showing up at your property after you've had too many "false" alarms. I think it's probably also pretty normal to get angry with your town or city when they bill you for excessive "falses." Industry attorney Ken Kirschenbaum, Esq of Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC recently pointed in his industry-related email newsletter to an online essay on what he thinks of the false alarm problem. Some interesting thoughts there. What really caught my eye, however, was the comment on the story. A comment from someone calling him/herself (probably the former, though it's hard to tell when people use aliases online...) Popeye points out the truth that the alarm industry is a private industry, and not a division of publicly-funded law enforcement. Popeye warns people to blame their alarm companies and not the police. I really liked where he said:
don't blame the cops, blame your alarm suppliers. Remember, alarm systems are private contracts for private service from a private firm. Police are not part of the contract. Nearly all calls for help from alarm monitoring firms simply mean they want help to complete their monitoring process with a free site inspection to determine IF it is an emergency, not because of an emergency. Said differently, the alarm industry technology is so outdated and sloppy that nearly all site inspections (police response) are unnecessary.Just more proof the industry needs to be proactive in working with municipalities and law enforcement agencies, and support associations like SIAC and FARA in order to assure it's not perceived as a nuisance.
Just got my latest edition of CSAA's Signals and see that they're conducting a survey on social media like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn in the security industry (I'm going to take it as soon as I blog about it, tweet about it, and post it to my Facebook page). There are a lot of tools out there for spreading the word, reaching out to existing and potential customers, and sharing thoughts and best practices with your peers. Drop Celia a line and ask about filling out that survey and pitching in. Of course, those of you who read this post earlier, know that I originally had link posted here to the survey. That link was actually tailored to me, and there were some problems reported by people trying to follow it and participate. The actual link is here.
Got my Alarm/Security Industry Legal Newsletter from Ken Kirschenbaum yesterday. Seems another municipality may be on the path to use its alarm ordinance as a revenue generator rather than as a means to curtail wasteful false alarms. Ken is raising the alarm and urging concerned alarm companies who do business in the Oakland area to attend. Here's a little of what Ken had to say about the situation:
They can call it false alarm reduction, better protection for the public or anything else they want--but it's revenue raising for the city and that's about it. It also appears that at least one private company will benefit, ATB Services--engaged to administer the new program.The included invitation to the meeting urges industry participation:
The City of Oakland's Police Department invites members of the alarm industry to attend an important meeting to discuss the implementation of the City's revised alarm ordinance. If you plan to operate any type of Alarm Company Installation or Monitoring activity within the city limits of Oakland, Calif., you should plan to have a representative attend this meeting.Questions, comments and concerns regarding the agenda can be forwarded to ATB's Janie Morin at 800-861-5944 ext. 101. The meeting is set to take place tomorrow (Dec. 16) at the OPD auditorium, located at 455 Seventh Street in Oakland. The new ordinance can be found here. And what's interesting is to read what Ken really thinks of false alarm laws and the false alarm problem in general. Ken asks some valid questions. Security Systems News will continue to follow this story.
What do you want for Christmas this year? And you can't say world peace or a better economy... I already called those. How about a fully-integrated bundle of home services, including cable TV, digital phone, super-fast connection to the the Internets, home security, and home automation, allowing you to control your security system, heat, lights, cable-connected DVR and maybe even your access control through your laptop or smartphone and pay for it all on one bill? If you're an end user, that probably sounds pretty dang good (visions of super-teched-out sugarplums...). If you're a traditional security guy, maybe you're thinking "well, I got the security part covered." If you're a telco that's already in the home, you're probably saying "added services, added services, added services.... check, check and check." (Unless you're Comcast). The telcos are really coming, guys. I wrote a story earlier in the year about the bad economy and how it was creating a market where people were looking for and expecting more for the money they shelled out. At the time, Tricia Parks of Parks Associates, suggested that traditional security guys really should get into adding more services in order to compete with the telcos that would inevitably be looking at security as one more thing to offer and thereby differentiate themselves. Just last month I covered a rather involved partnership between NewWave, Comporium, uControl and SMC Networks (the manufacturer of the total solution's touchscreen control panel). NewWave and Comporium are telcos. Comporium has had a developed security division for a while, though. Now they're all working together to put telco provided and monitored security in a bundle with a whole bunch of other services and offer it to new and existing customers. Yikes. Just this morning I got a press release on another new telco/home automation mash-up going on across the pond, in the old world. Here's the headline: "Intamac to offer telcos and utilities home monitoring and energy management solutions." I don't have a link, but here's the some of the release:
Northampton, UK, December 9, 2009 - Intamac, a market leader in web-based device management, today announced the company has been working with D-Link, a global leader in network devices, to develop new turnkey product and service solutions for telcos and utilities that want to deploy new offerings to their consumer base as part of their quad play and smart grid strategies. Work on the project has been ongoing for some time but the companies will unveil new product solutions at CES in Las Vegas on January 7-10, 2010, including interactive devices for energy management, security, home automation, video surveillance and telecare. 'Weâ€™re excited to be working with D-Link,' said Kevin Meagher, CEO, Intamac. 'Between us, we offer service providers and utility companies low-cost, turnkey solutions that will enable them to quickly deploy a range of over-the-top services that complement their core offerings.' At the heart of the new ecosystem is a new low-cost IP hub capable of supporting smart grid, Zigbee or Z-Wave devices, giving consumers the ability to select from a broad range of products and interactive services to remotely monitor and control their home environment. There will also be options for mobile management with widget-based solutions downloadable to handsets or integrated Java solutions for the iPhone. Third-party vendors have the ability to exploit APIs on the platform to add their own devices into this ecosystem. New Black & Decker door locks with Zigbee control have already been embedded.I was speaking with Monitronics VP of marketing Mitch Clarke recently about their new dealer training program, MoniX. "If you'd asked me a year ago, I'd have said interactive services were neat, but weren't yet part of security," Clarke said when our conversation strayed to new interactive services coming into the security space. "Interactivity is forcing people to put in new levels of service and apply price points to all of this ... There's less and less to differentiate people now, so if you can't talk about another widget or another service, you're at a disadvantage." Maybe the Comporium/NewWave/uControl/SMC Networks mash-up is a sign... start finding content/solution/service provider partners with whom to dance. The music's starting and you don't want to find yourself standing alone.
Came across this release on PRNewswire. Actually, my colleague Martha forwarded it on to me. Not sure if she's hinting that it might be something I should look into getting that special someone (of course I'm talking about you, Mom) in my life for the holidays or not. It's basically a PERS pendant from Alert Alarm designed to look like dressy piece of jewelry, which is pretty cool if you're concerned about people knowing you're wearing a personal emergency response system pendant... The device pictured in the release is dressed up with black crystal beads. I have calls out now to see if the dressy, crystal-beaded necklace can actually leave the house... I mean, it's nice to have a PERS pendant you could wear with an elegant black evening gown out to a dinner party or dinner and dancing... but what's the point if you can't wear it away from the solution's base unit? Unless, of course, you're throwing the dinner party at your house... In which case there would be plenty of guests around to call 911 or help you get up, should you fall... Sort of kills the need for the pendant--decorative or otherwise--in that case... In which case, why wouldn't you skip the incognito PERS pendant for the evening and just wear your best jewels... I think too much. Obviously, I'm not one who dresses up around my house... It's sweatpants, flip flops and a T-shirt for this guy when not at my SSN desk, so I don't really get the point of a decorative PERS pendant. But then, I'm not a woman.
It's that time of year again, when we all (hopefully) stop thinking of ourselves and start thinking about others... at least until the holidays are over. I thought it would be nice to highlight a few of the altruistic endeavors being carried out by industry peeps in a humble attempt to give props where props are due. I recently wrote about ADS stepping up to the plate with a hugely successful peanut butter drive to benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank. Their efforts will help feed many hungry, needy people in Tennessee. I also recently touched on Cothron's Security, who donated time and resources to a local, non-profit animal shelter in Texas, Animal Trustees of Austin. Today I got a press release from Monitronics about some holiday-spirit motivated donating they'd done. Apparently some expensive tools were stolen from a Habitat for Humanity worksite in North Collin County, Texas. The theft of equipment was going to delay the completion of the home--for a single mother and her two children--until after Christmas. With Monitronics' donation, hopes are high that the family will truly be able to be home for the holidays. And finally, the editorial staff at Security Systems News has been hard at work on conceiving of, organizing and publicizing a 5k road race, The Security 5k to benefit Mission 500. The Security 5k--sponsored by SSN, Security Director News, Reid Exhibitions, and deister electronic--will take place at ISC West 2010 in Las Vegas, so start training now! SSN will let you know when it's time to register.
Just got a tweet from ABI Research on the rise of complete home automation solutions that bundle together telco services, home automation, security, entertainment hubs, etc... Interesting stuff. I wrote about this trend earlier in the year and again just recently when a few telcos got together with a security manufacturer to offer a complete, bundled solution. It seems like there's opportunity here for the security industry as long as they're willing to take some chances, grow their offerings and add value to compete. The danger, of course, is that the telcos are starting to realize they're already in the home and are, therefore, in a position to begin adding security. From the ABI release:
'Managed home security usually represents good value for the consumer,' says ABI Research practice director Sam Lucero. 'Itâ€™s something of a "plain vanilla" offering, but it is packaged by the service provider in a way that is relatively easy to deliver. Standalone home automation and security systems pose a significant challenge to consumers, in both cost and complexity. When home automation functionality is included in an overall security alarm package, it is more seamless and less expensive for the consumer to acquire.'ABI's got a study showing the increasing intersection of home automation and home security. There's money to be made here if the industry adapts.
I was reading through my Google Alerts this morning and came across this somewhat humorous story out of the Outback. Not the steakhouse, but the Land Down Under. Usually I'm all for doing whatever it takes to curtail false alarms since they cost time and money, and strain resources and industry/emergency responder relations. I've certainly touched on the problem before. However, this story is just too funny and seems to be causing no outcry. Seems the false alarm culprit, the bogus bell-ringer to blame was really... well... a Bendigo-bound pig. It's nice to see the emergency responders involved took the whole thing with a light heart. Though in this case, a false alarm fine exacted in the form of a pound of flesh (some bacon or pork chops, perhaps), might prove mighty tasty.
I just got a press release from G4S. It looks like their new video monitoring and data center, located in beautiful Burlington, Mass. just achieved CSAA Five Diamond Certification. Good for them. I've got calls out to Jerry Cordasco and Celia Besore for comment and I'll continue to report on this story.