I had a chance to sit down with Alarm.com director of product management, Bob McCarthy today. Alarm.com officially launched its standalone video offering at ISC West this year. It offers all the same features as the integrated security solution (full managed video services and home or business management functions like thermostat and lighting control). The integrated security offering was released in November. I also had the opportunity to speak with Gary Slavin and Kari Brua about Micro Key and their recent name change. Micro Key is now known as Micro Key Solutions. According to Slavin, the name change makes sense. â€œWhat weâ€™ve done for years is help alarm companies find total solutions,â€ Slavin said. â€œWeâ€™re not just a software company.â€ Micro Key Solutions also has a new tag line, â€œManage, Control, Succeed.â€ The changes, according to Micro Key Solutions president Wayne Torrens, are appropriate. â€œOur customers have assisted us in becoming more than just a software company. We have and will continue to offer complete solutions for alarm dealers and central stations of any size as well as systems integrators,â€ Torrens said during his speech at the Micro Key press conference. â€œWe have, and will continue to offer best-in-class software and customer support for the entire security alarm industry.â€ I also met with Cliff Dice and Phil DuPont of Dice Corporation, and we talked about all things Quantum. Dice said that they have been getting very positive feedback for their Quantum Operator platform and expect more positive feedback when they release such Quantum branded offerings as Quantum Video. Phil was also nice enough to agree to transport a little something I put together for Melissa Roedel. Happy reading Melissa.
So this is my first ISC West show, and I have to say, I'm a little overwhelmed by the sheer size of it. I'm very much looking forward to visiting booths and interviewing Jim McMullen from C.O.P.S., Mitch Clarke from Monitronics, Ed Bonifas from the CSAA, and MJ Vance from CenterPoint Technologies. It promises to be a good show. I arrived early today (Tuesday), having left my Monday open so I could pay a visit to Viewpoint CRM down in Lowell, Mass. I met with Viewpoint CRM CEO Brad Gordon, and VP channel sales and marketing, Mike Hanlon. Nice couple of guys with one heck of an operation (stay tuned for more on that.) I've already partaken of one of the convention's many, many educational pieces, attending a talk given by Honeywell's John Smith on expanding the role of the central station through offering managed services, specifically access control. I've seen lots of really neat booths coming together, with lots of lights and dazzle, and a few SUVs, one of which was a giant, mobile surveillance solution, one of which is sitting pretty and yellow at the Spy Place's booth. You'll remember my cohort Martha blogged about them last week. Can't wait to stop by booth 5047. See you all on the floor.
I got an alert through Linkedin this morning through my NBFAA group membership from co-member Jason Smith, NBFAA communications specialist. It looks like the NBFAA has extended the deadline for entry in their First Line of Defense Awards competition. The old deadline was March 14, 2009. Interested entrants now have till April 10 to get their story considered. I wrote about the call for entries from the NBFAA back in our February issue. The original brief is below.
IRVING, Texasâ€”The National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association wants to know if your company's electronic security system helped save a life, avert property damage, or prevent a crime. The NBFAA is soliciting entries for its 2009 First Line of Defense Award, which recognizes a security companyâ€™s actions in a specific incident in which the right response saved a life, prevented property damage or loss, or otherwise prevented a crime. If your story is selected, you and your customer will win a free trip to the awards ceremony. Plus, your story will be featured in NBFAA publications and your company will receive a local and national publicity campaign. â€œThe First Line of Defense awards a company that represents what our security industry is all aboutâ€”protecting people and property,â€ said Brinkâ€™s Home Security spokesman Dave Simon, who is NBFAA public relations committee chairman, in an email interview. â€œThe winner each year is selected based on a number of factors, often for having saved the life of a homeowner.â€ Interested security companies can write their story and send it to the NBFAA for a chance to win the 2009 award to be given at the 2009 Electronic Security Expo (ESX) in Baltimore, Md. Applicants must be current NBFAA members in good standing, or apply for membership at the time of the award submission to qualify for the award. The incident must have occurred between October 1, 2007 and December 31, 2008. All entries must be postmarked by March 14, 2009. â€œIn a typical year, we tend to get five to ten entries,â€ Simon said. â€œWe'd love to see that number increase.â€ A copy of the complete rules, judging criteria, and additional required forms can be downloaded at the NBFAAâ€™s website www.alarm.org. Questions on the contest rules can be directed to Laurie Knox at (888) 447-1689 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I just got a press release from EMERgency24. They've got a brand new site up and running. The new site features all kinds of educational features and a lead generation function, which should be helpful for dealers. The site actual looks pretty cool, and could serve as a nexus for the many different aspects of the world of security, from end-users to dealers, to AHJs. It's good to see more and more education going on out there. I've blogged about it before a few times.
It looks like another big traditional alarm company has gotten into the medical alert monitoring business. I've blogged recently about traditional security companies getting into medical alert monitoring, and about other companies exploiting an under-served market. It just seems once you've got the equipment in place, medical monitoring, personal tracking--protecting people rather than locations--is a natural extension. Should more traditional alarm companies jump on the bandwagon? Should traditional medical alert monitoring companies like SafetyCare be worried? As Christopher Baskin of American Two-Way once said to me, "A rising tide floats all boats."
I just came across this blog post this morning, and I have to say, I'm a little disappointed, if not surprised. In trying to gather information for existing stories and even to just say hello and see what's new, I've come across the same hang ups, and the same very short behavior. In the preceding, linked blog post, this poor person was met not only with rudeness from her central station operator, but an overwhelming display of nonchalant unconcern. You can almost see the operator shrugging and staring off into space while jawing on a wad of gum like cud, as if to say "not my problem." A central station operator is the most important facet of an alarm system owner's interaction with the security industry. The operator is the liaison between the end user and everyone else. Most likely, when an operator is dealing with an end user the end user is going to be scared, worked up, angry, confused... the list goes on and on. It's an operator's job to be calm, kind, helpful, knowledgeable and accommodating. Training, training, training. It's just too bad this end user now has bad feelings about not only the security industry, but humanity in general, due to one operator's specific handling of an incident. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
Just got this press release through my Google Alerts. Looks like the bad economy isn't hitting everyone. Well, there's some good news. And it's the first day of spring, so that's not so bad either. And if you're in the Wilkes-Barre region you've got free Italian Ice, which also rocks. Enjoy the day.
I was pleased to see get an email recently from John Sternal, proprietor of the Understanding Marketing website, concerning a new toolkit for small business owners, including security products professionals. According to the attached release:
Security products professionals need help promoting their services in this market but do not wish to hire a PR agency for increased media exposure. To help overcome this, Understanding Marketing [on March 17] launched the PR Toolkit, an affordable new e-Book that helps smaller firms generate their own public relations tactics to increase their client base. Authored by John Sternal, a seasoned PR professional of nearly 20 years, the new PR Toolkit provides insight to help small businesses leverage the power of media awareness to promote their companies and generate bigger profits. Understanding Marketing offers DIY marketing and PR information for small businesses and the PR Toolkit serves as an agency-in-a-box for any company looking to insource and get publicity on a shoestring budget.Well, any small business could use all the PR help they can get in this economy.
I love all the little extras you get with ISC West. Granted, this will be my first ISC West show, and I have no point of reference for how this one differs from years' past, but I'm just really wowed at all the promises of cool stuff there. I heard a while ago that Monitronics is going to have UFC champion Chuck Liddell on hand at their booth. I also just heard that Iveda Solutions will be sharing their ISC West booth with John Deere (yeah, the green-tractor people, or for those more into country music, the titular, colored tractor of the timeless Joe Diffie classic) and showing their proof-of-concept video of an impressive piece of hardware. I don't have a link for that one, but here's a bit of the news from Bryce Witcher at Iveda:
Our goal is to show off at ISC West and give people a taste of how their security applications will be facilitated in the future. (Actually, the future is now, as the data infrastructure that makes our solution so robust has already been built and is currently in use.) In addition to showing what we are doing, John Deere (the heavy equipment manufacturer) will be sharing space in our booth to show their latest proof-of-concept product, the R-Gator. It is a semi-autonomous vehicle designed for patrolling areas that might be dangerous or inefficient for people to patrol. This includes huge installations like wind farms and power plants, or even border patrol areas. It carries on-board cameras that can be connected to our data center via wireless broadband cellular or other connections to the Internet. This is a really cool application.My fearless editor Sam Pfeifle recently blogged on this same phenomenon. Cool stuff, cool stuff, cool stuff. For those a little less into action, less into ultimate fighting and cool, green, autonomous, border-patrol vehicles, Mission 500 will be there holding a silent auction to benefit needy children. There'll be lots there for everyone in the industry. I'm very much looking forward to it.
I came across this release from PRWeb in my google alerts this morning, and the first thing I want to say is kudos to Los Angeles-based S2-Security Solutions for being in the right place at the right time and helping make the world a better place through the cleaning up of our night time streets. I was interested in the headline of the press release: "Rising unemployment = rising crimes, mail thief caught red-handed in Sacramento." I blogged previously on this debate. Does a bad economy naturally force otherwise well-balanced and law abiding citizens into a life of crime? Or is it just that those who are going to steal are going to steal, and we're all more willing to look for and believe in bad news during tough times? Either way, fears of increased crime DO appear to drive the security industry, which can, especially in this case, be a good thing. My whole problem with the bad economy=more crime assumption is that the kind of guy who would break into an apartment complex mailbox bank and steal people's pension and social security checks, birthday cards, and mail order prescriptions is the kind of dirt bag who would do these things anyway, even if the economy was doing great. I mean, this guy wasn't any Jean Valjean , okay? He would stupidly steal people's mail (opening even one person's birthday card to fish for cash is a federal offense, by the way, Einstein) anyway, just like he would kick a box of puppies or kittens. Even if he were in a good mood. I suppose it doesn't matter whether the people perpetrating crimes are being forced into said moral backslide by the economy or by a drug habit. The important question is, do crimes go up in conjunction with unemployment and a bad economy. Hm... Well, in this case, it looks like they did. I'm just glad they caught this guy. Hurray for live video monitoring!