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by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, December 9, 2009
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. 'We’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.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Monday, December 7, 2009
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.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Friday, December 4, 2009
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.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, December 2, 2009
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. 'It’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.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Monday, November 30, 2009
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.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Monday, November 23, 2009
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.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Monday, November 23, 2009
Stealth Monitoring of Dallas was luckily watching recently when a pickup truck crashed through the front of a strip mall doughnut shop in Grand Prairie, Texas. I recently posted a story about Stealth and Safeguard getting cozy. Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt. And thankfully, I have that Stealth surveillance footage to watch all day... one more reason to give up doughnuts!
by: Daniel Gelinas - Monday, November 23, 2009
A recent story out of San Diego bothers me on a couple different levels. I mean, personally, I don't live in San Diego (I live way up in Maine, near the Arctic Circle), but on a professional level, there are just too many things wrong with the picture painted in the abovelinked story. First of all the title, "Stupid Alarm," does not set the scene for a warm, glowing, right-response kind of feeling. We're told that a fire alarm starts going off in the afternoon and that about a dozen residents of a condo complex evacuate. We're told that it is soon discovered the alarm was false, but that the maintenance person couldn't figure out how to reset the system. Okay, so we don't know what caused the alarm, but we do know that one of the building's employees did not know how to operate the system... Or is the system faulty? We're told the fire department soon (and when I say soon, I mean 20 minutes (20 minutes?) after the alarm began going off) showed up and couldn't figure it out either. They soon drove away shrugging their shoulders. This, of course, leaves all the business owners and residents in the area to bathe in the droning decibels of the alarm. And they weren't happy about it:
Although it was discovered to be a false alarm, the building maintenance person was unable to disarm the system. Soon afterward, homeowners as well as ground-floor retailers became annoyed. 'This is really loud and irritating,' said a retailer who had the alarm blaring in his store. 'It is turning my customers away. I was concerned at first, but now I just want them to fix it.'
See at this point, in the minds of the end-user, it's not the maintenance guy's fault for not knowing how to shut it off, nor is it the toast-burning resident's fault. It isn't the fire department's fault. It's the "stupid alarm's" fault. The real pariah here is the industry, who in this story is the nameless alarm company that took over an hour to show up and give everyone relief. That's a problem... the alarm company here is the bad guy... they're not protecting lives and preventing losses, they're making everyone sit around listening to ear splitting sirens. It's all about public perception.
A fireman was seen trying to assist but then was overheard saying, “That’s out of our league.” Firefighters then cleared the area and left within a few minutes. However, the sound of the alarm was not silenced until almost 4 p.m., when an alarm company support team arrived to turn it off.
The alarm started going off at 2:45, so that's over an hour that residents had to wrestle with a malfunctioning system and listen to the alarm. Business owners were angry, residents were angry. People who dealt with the alarm going off don't care how busy the unnamed "alarm company support team" was... said team just comes off as having not done its job right, which is too bad. What's worse of all, however, is the final woman interviewed--a resident of the building with the malfunctioning alarm--maybe she's the one who burned the toast...? Her demeanor, her statements demonstrate the ultimate danger in false and malfunctioning alarms.
A lady standing outside of her second-floor balcony to avoid the noise inside her home said, 'Good thing I didn’t bother coming downstairs. It wasn’t a real fire, anyway. I didn’t want to bother with packing my things and getting my cat.'"
That's not a good thing. It's not good that she's been trained to assume that the alarm was false. In the life safety business, if your solutions annoy and cause the "boy-who-cried-wolf" syndrome, they're probably worse than no alarm at all.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Thursday, November 19, 2009
Allow me to clarify the headline and set the mood... Anyone who watched TV in the '80s (and who doesn't watch tv--except for my colleague, Martha?) remembers this exciting, if somewhat turgid, opening-scene narration:
Ten years ago, a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn't commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as soldiers of fortune. If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire the A-Team.
I'll admit, I loved the show. And there is just something about Attrition Busters and their logo that reminds me of the A-Team. Let's compare: attritionbusters ateamshrunk3 Anyway, the reason I bring all this up is because Attrition Busters president Bob Harris sent a shout out to me today to let me know he would be delivering a seminar titled "From Satisfied to Delighted" at the upcoming BICSI Winter Conference in Orlando, Fla. in January. I sat in on Bob's CSAA-hosted webinar on October 8, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The feedback from attendee exit polls was very positive for that webinar, and I would recommend anyone to check out Harris' presentation. The slides from that webinar are available at the CSAA's site here. The session promises to be less of a talk/presentation and more of an interactive learning experience. From Bob's press release on the session:
BICSI attendees will have the opportunity to attend Harris' most in demand seminar and hands on workshop session. This exciting, high-energy seminar will solicit significant audience participation and will convey vibrant and creative tools for a host of customer and company culture issues designed specifically to save customers wanting to 'jump ship' from one company to another because of the state of our economy. Topics covered in this seminar will include ways to measurably reduce competitive attrition, understanding the six basic customer needs, increasing perceived value, added value sales in a lousy economy, methods of dealing with angry customers, teamwork, growth and emotionally bonding customers.
Interested in checking out BICSI's Winter Conference? You can register here at the site or use this .pdf version. You could do worse than to check this guy out. In fact some would argue that status quo as modus operandi in a rocky and unsure economy is a guaranteed route to extinction. And you could do worse than to spend a few days in Orlando in January.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Got an email from ESA recently. Time is slipping away if you're interested in joining in their 2010 Leadership Summit for free (that's right: FREE). If you miss the early registration deadline of Dec. 14, a $125 registration fee applies... If you are a leader (or want to be), don't waffle; now's the time to make a command decision to attend and save $125. Good leaders don't spend $125 when they could spend $0 to get the same result. According to ESA's email, one of the benefits of participating in the Leadership Summit is that attending will earn you CEUs. The National Training School will issue .1 CEU per workshop and you'll get your certificate at the end of each session. SSN has been reporting on CEUs a lot lately. Workshops being offered this year include: The future of communication and attention in the age of social media Megatrends 2010: Trends that will impact how you conduct business Achieving board excellence Innovative income--looking beyond membership dues The Summit takes place from Jan. 12-14 in Fort Worth, Texas. There are worse places to spend a couple days in January than Fort Worth. You can register here.

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