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by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Electronic Security Association recently announced that Dr. Joseph Kuhns, a professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of North Carolina, will be the keynote speaker for the 2017 ESA Leadership Summit, to be held Feb. 12 through Feb. 15 in Tampa, Fla.

“Dr. Kuhns brings extensive experience and knowledge from the world of criminology that will provide attendees with helpful data that can be applied to how they approach the market and work with their customers,” Merlin Guilbeau, CEO of the Electronic Security Association, told Security Systems News in an email interview.

Kuhns will present the general session, entitled “Burglary Victim Adaptations & What Security Businesses Should Know,” on Monday, February 13 at 12:45 p.m.

Security businesses will be given statistics and information that they will be able to use when training employees, marketing their businesses and advising customers on the best methods to secure their premises,” Guilbeau said. “Attendees will also be able to understand the change of mindset post-burglary to better serve the segment of the market that has experienced a break in.”

In ESA’s announcement, Dr. Kuhns said, “Residential burglary victims should know that their chances of being victimized again, following a successful burglary, are frequently high. Therefore, improving their home safety and security, in multiple ways, is highly recommended.”

There will be new features at the upcoming summit, according to Guilbeau, such as a new app for the event’s schedule, details, sponsor information and for communication between attendees. “We are also introducing an attendee engagement tool, so that the audience can interact live with speakers at the Summit,” he said.

“Education and networking are the two key components of the Summit’s program, and we fully expect that this topic and the findings shared by Dr. Kuhns will provide attendees with a lot to discuss with one another during all of the social events,” Guilbeau said.

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, October 19, 2016

COPS Monitoring recently announced that it was able to achieve a 12.4 second average response time during Hurricane Matthew—quicker than the company’s 13.9 second average for priority response in the past 12 months. COPS gave credit to its team for the achievement.

“Achieving a 13.9 second response time is difficult enough. When a situation like severe weather causes alarm traffic to increase 20 to 30 percent, it’s not uncommon for many central stations to have response times that are much higher; sometimes minutes, rather than seconds,” David Smith, COPS’ VP of marketing & business development, told Security Systems News via email. “So, the fact that we were able to reduce an already fast response time by more than 10 percent for five straight days despite a significant increase in alarm traffic is truly a remarkable feat.”

 “The 12.4 second response time was for all priority alarms nationwide; including the alarms in the areas that were affected,” Smith continued. “Luckily, the eye of the storm stayed off the coast and we only experienced a lot of rain and wind from the outer storm bands.”

COPS had a disaster preparedness plan in place, including having its Boca Raton, Fla., monitoring center built to stand up to a hurricane. “The extensive planning is what gave us the flexibility to allow us to reduce our staff in Florida so they could focus on their own homes and families. Because all the hard work had already been done, planning for Hurricane Matthew involved over-staffing our other central stations to compensate.  We have a great team at COPS and there is never a shortage of volunteers – including from our Florida central station.”

In the announcement, Jim McMullen, president and COO of COPS Monitoring, said that the company was planning to reduce the staff in the Boca Raton monitoring center to “just a few essential technical support members. … However, after ensuring their families were safe, several dispatchers committed to working through the storm to help protect our dealers and their subscribers,” McMullen said in a prepared statement.

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, October 5, 2016

CALHOUN, Ga.—Owen Security Solutions, based in Calhoun, Ga., announced today that it has acquired Tight Security Systems.

Justin Owen, company president, told Security Systems News that the company will continue to grow by acquisitions in the future. “Financially speaking, it just makes too much sense to not go down that road.” The company isn’t looking to complete any before December, he added.

The 600 account addition brings Owen Security's total customer base over the 5000 account mark. Owen said that the company started 2016 with about 3000 accounts.  

This is the third acquisition, both this year and in the company's history, for Owen. The company acquired the accounts of Davis Security Services in September, and Medley Systems in July. 

Scott Bishop, the owner of Tight Security, will join Owen Security to help the transition.  “He’s staying on with us as a hybrid position, [responsible for] business development, service technician, technician trainer,” Owen said.

“Extends our footprint a little bit, geographically speaking. But, for the most part, we’re already overlapping that area with plenty of customers,” Owen said.

Tight Security’s business, based out of Ellijay, Ga., was about 95 percent residential, Owen estimated, with some small retail accounts. Owen Security is about 60 percent residential.

Owen Security and Tight Security are both in small communities, Owen pointed out. “We feel like it's a good culture fit, and we can work with his customers really well,” he said.

Owen Security currently has about 30 employees, but is looking to add on between three and five more before the end of the year, Owen said. 

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, September 28, 2016

BOCA RATON, Fla.—ADT has joined PPVAR, the Partnership for Priority Verified Alarm Response, according to an announcement on Monday.

“As a full industry member, ADT is entitled to participate in the ongoing development of best practices between the alarm industry and law enforcement on many different levels,” Larry Folsom, president of PPVAR told Security Systems News in an email interview. “As members, PPVAR stakeholders are moving beyond the ‘wait and see’ of alarm verification evolution, and instead are part of the conversation that is shaping the future.”

Adding ADT assists the organization with its message. “Every voice that joins this conversation helps advance the PPVAR mission of promoting and prioritizing verified alarm response, but gaining the voice of ADT is particularly important,” Folsom said. “This is a company that represents millions of monitoring subscribers across almost every police jurisdiction in the land.”

ADT has a lot to offer in terms of relationships, ideas, time, and resources, Folsom added.

“ADT strongly believes in the process and the values of PPVAR and its members,” Don Young, chief information officer at ADT, said in a prepared statement. “The emergence of high-quality video and intrusion detection technology, and the resulting rise in efficiency of central monitoring practices, has been undeniable in the effectiveness of alarm verification for protecting the public and law enforcement alike.”

Folsom said that ADT has already become involved in the organization. “ADT has hit the ground running and has already expressed interest in helping with the refinement of our best practices and the development of operator training,” according to Folsom.

In mid-August, PPVAR put out a call for volunteers to aid the organization in forming online operator training related to alarm verification. “The first course module is expected to be completed before the end of the year,” Folsom said. “We expect the ADT team of professionals to participate and contribute to the development of each of these additional course modules along the way.”

PPVAR, established in 2012, currently has almost 80 member companies, according to Folsom. “In the long-term, the addition of ADT further stabilizes the organization and ensures its health and vitality well into the future,” he said. 

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, September 21, 2016

HAGERSTOWN, Md.—Dynamark announced in late September a new funding program for its alarm dealers, allowing dealers to get loans for their accounts.

Hank Groff, senior VP of sales and business development for Dynamark, told Security Systems News that the funding program is a new approach for the company. “It really is fulfilling a demand by security companies across the country of providing a financial solution for them to continue to be independent and working with a central station that provides them financial solutions,” he said.

The program will have two options, Groff explained. The first is its Account Loan Program, where a dealer will get a loan for each account they bring online. The second is the Credit Line Program, allowing dealers access to a line of credit.

“The first option is best utilized for someone who is either a start up, and doesn't have the reoccurring monthly revenue, or who has been a long-time security dealer, selling their paper through a funding program,” Groff said.

Dynamark is partnering with two financial institutions to provide the funding, Groff said.

Alongside this option, the company will also continue to buy accounts directly from dealers, it said in the announcement.

The option to sell accounts to Dynamark benefits dealers in the program, according to Groff. “The benefit is, if down the road they ever choose to sell any of these accounts, because they’re already with us … they can present the portfolio to us or any percentage [of their portfolio], we can look at it—we already know that it’s being monitored with us—and we can make an easy transaction.”

Before joining the program, dealers can get a consultation from one of Dynamark’s regional managers, without any commitment, the company said.

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, September 14, 2016

ARLINGTON, Mass.—American Alarm and Communications recently acquired Electralarm Security Systems, adding on 500 accounts. The deal brings American Alarm to about 25,000 accounts total, Lou Sampson, the company's CFO, told Security Systems News

"We were in discussions for about three or four months earlier in 2016. The discussions began when Paul D’Amato Sr. [Electralarm's founder] reached out to us (through his broker)," Sampson said via email. "Paul had known of American Alarm for years, and our family, and he knew of our business reputation and our commitment to quality service, which was very important for him."

Electralarm's account base was pretty evenly divided between residential and commercial, Sampson said, but "slightly weighted towards residential." American Alarm's account base also has a slight lean toward residential in terms of number of accounts, he said. "But in terms of scale of systems, our commercial portfolio is larger, and it is growing significantly."

Paul "Chip" D'Amato, Electralarm's lead technician, will join American alarm in a similar capacity, American Alarm said. 

Integrating Electralarm's account base into American's has been "seamless," according to Sampson. "One of the most important parts of the successful transition has been Chip D’Amato’s efforts. He hasn’t missed a beat. He’s still working with the Electralarm customers, to help with the transition," Sampson added. 

The deal is the 27th acquisition American Alarm has completed, Sampson pointed out, and most of those purchases have been in the past 12 to 15 years. "We are always prepared to work with other companies and respond quickly when opportunities arise," he said.

Electralarm was based in Abington, Mass., approximately 20 miles south of Boston. The company handled its own monitoring, which will now be done through American Alarm's UL-listed, CSAA Five Diamond central station. 

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, September 7, 2016

At CSAA's upcoming annual meeting—to be held on Marco Island, Fla., Oct. 22 through 26—there will be a panel devoted to cybersecurity, which the association announced more about this week.

I spoke with Jay Hauhn, CSAA’s executive director, recently about the meeting as well as other focuses for the association.

Hauhn said that the annual meeting's cybersecurity panel was going to approach the subject in a new way, looking to focus on what companies should do about cybersecurity.

“We are not going to repeat what has been done ad-nauseum and have someone stand at the front of the room and scare everyone about cyber threats,” Hauhn told SSN. “We are going to focus on something actionable.  We are having experts talk about how to put a cyber protection program together.”

The panel, entitled “Cyber Security is a Business Risk (Not Just an IT Risk),” will include Justin Bailey, AvantGuard’s COO, Todd Neilson, president for Secuvant Security, Sascha Kylau, VP of central station solutions and service at Onetel, and Steve Butkovich, CPI Security Systems’ chief technology officer.

CSAA is going to be looking at cloud based central station automation platforms in a similar way at the meeting, Hauhn said. The panel will not only approach the features of the cloud, but what businesses’ cost savings could be and how they can get started with a cloud based platform. 

Currently, the association has an early bird rate for the meeting, which ends this Friday, Sept. 9.

CSAA is also keeping an eye on other emerging technological issues. Hauhn mentioned that the industry is changing, and standards are needed for newer technologies; CSAA recently put out the call for SMEs to assist with new technology standards.

“Monitoring life safety events in the traditional central station model remains our core business. That will not change. However, new innovative applications and services are being offered by our members. Best practices need to be created, that outline the actions monitoring centers take in this expanding environment,” said Hauhn.

“For example, when a service that monitors an asset in motion requires a dispatch of police or EMS, we have to be able to accommodate the asset traversing municipalities,” he said.   

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, August 31, 2016

In a recent SSN News Poll readers said that DIY offerings can add new streams of revenue to a traditional security business and open a company up to new customers. A couple of those respondents specifically pointed to the DragonFly offering from Honeywell, which pairs DIY installed equipment with professional monitoring.

Earlier this year, Bart Didden of USA Central Station started a new venture, Security Dealer Network, or SDN, to help dealers offer the DragonFly product with professional monitoring from USA Central.

This week, SDN announced that its heard some positive feedback from dealers.

“As a professional security dealer and installer, I’ve been concerned about the quick growth of DIY security products. The DragonFly Security System gives me the chance to get a piece of that business, along with the confidence that my customers are getting the quality of products that I would want to represent my name,” Kimberly Rescigno, director of sales and marketing for Security Specialists in Stamford, Conn., said in a prepared statement.

“This program gives us the ability to offer a tried and true product with a high performance rating as a DIY product. There is absolutely no risk for us to participate. And the upside—a new source of profits that could be substantial,” Patty Terada, president of Alarm & Access Control Technologies, Inc., located in West Linn, Ore., said in the announcement.

Joseph V. Bonafede, president of Technocality Inc. of Hamilton, N.J., said in a prepared statement. “Anyone on the front lines who is selling and installing security systems knows that DIY video and security products have become a main source of competition. As the old saying goes, ‘If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.’ That’s exactly what SDN allows dealers to do with its unique do-it-yourself video surveillance products and central station monitoring offering.

SSN spoke with Didden in Las Vegas at this year’s ISC West to hear about some of the initial responses to SDN and the DragonFly offering. Click here to watch the ssnTVnews interview.

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, August 24, 2016

In the past couple of weeks, Monitronics has announced new benefits for active members of AARP and AAA, offering benefits both to members signing up for services with Monitronics as well as members who are current customers.

"These partnerships are set up uniquely utilizing various co-marketing strategies to make their respective member aware of the value and benefits that Monitronics can provide,"  Frank Guido, Monitronics' CMO, told Security Systems News in an email interview.

"These initiatives were started many months ago, but has been a strategic focus to fuel growth opportunities with high quality, well recognized partners," Guido said. "We are targeting channels that are synergistic to our business and the potential partner’s business.  We are selectively targeting similarly partnerships that provide win-win-win opportunities for customers first, our partner and Monitronics.

The company announced its partnership with AAA on Aug. 23, which named Monitronics as “the AAA-branded provider for professionally installed residential security monitoring in the organization's Ohio valley and Mid-Atlantic regions, which covers 11 states, including OH, KY, KS, IN, VA, WV, MD, DE, CT, PA, NJ, plus Washington DC.”

"AAA Alliance is a large regional club for AAA with a member base of over 5.5 [million] members. These members also have excellent attributes and are similar to our base," Guido said.

Brian St. Leger, managing director, discount partnerships and business for AAA Club Alliance, said in a prepared statement, "We are excited to partner with Monitronics to provide a valuable service at an exclusive discounted rate to our members.

"We know our members are active, traveling and out enjoying the world and this will help bring them peace of mind while they're away from their home," St. Leger said in the announcement.

AAA members signing up with the company will get discounts on a specialized AAA package, while members who are already customers will be offered discounts on additional equipment.

AARP members who sign up with Monitronics will receive equipment and free activation “as well as $5 off their monthly monitoring fee,” the company said in an Aug. 11 announcement.  Existing customers who are also AARP members will be offered discounts when they add on equipment in the future.

"AARP has a 38M member base and is highly respected brand. Their member base has many positive attributes and similarities to our customer base," Guido said. "Monitronics felt that it could provide AARP members with the best value proposition and service for security and automation. This was affirmed by AARP in the selection of Monitronics in their extensive RFP process."

How much overlap exists between these organizations' memberships and Monitronics' current customer base? "While there may be some overlap, these organization are vast and provide different avenues to reach new subscribers," Guido said.

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, August 17, 2016

For the first time, PPVAR is looking to offer online operator training. Yesterday, the partnership put out the call for volunteers that would like to help write modules for this training.

The call was a "great success," with 47 total registrants, individuals had registered for it, PPVAR's immediate past president Steve Walker told SSN in an email interview.

Part of the call covered PPVAR's mission and approach, as well as its overall objective with the training. "The process of finding volunteers for any worthwhile initiative is difficult because qualified people have so many demands on their time," Walker said. "Therefore, we want our volunteers to understand the value of what we are trying to accomplish while also explaining how the process will ensure that we use their time respectfully, efficiently and effectively."

PPVAR has hired a professional training firm to do most of the "leg work," he said. "[O]ur volunteers will provide the creative oversight needed for ensuring a great final product that is creative, accurate, meaningful and effective."

"The ideal volunteers are people with experience in using verification technologies (audio and video) in monitoring centers today—people that can draw on their own experiences to know what works and doesn’t work in the real world. Owners, central station personnel (leaders and trainers) were all represented in the call," Walker said.  

"Our end goal is to develop seven different online training modules that will be useful for central station employees and PSAP employees, alike," Walker said. 

There are seven tracks that PPVAR is focusing on. According to PPVAR, the goal is to have the first module done in the next 30 to 60 days. 

“Crime in Progress Verification Monitoring – Introduction,” which focuses on audio and video verification as compared to other methods of reducing false alarms.

“Design of a Video Verified System,” which covers information on how verified systems are installed, as well as software platforms specifically for video verification.

The “PSAP Communications” module covers communication between operators and PSAPs regarding verification.

“Video Threat Levels and Flowchart” focuses on how operators should execute decision making within the Threat Level Flow Chart, as described in the Video Alarm Verification Best Practices.  

The “Design of an Audio Verified System” track will cover the installation of an audio verified system, as well as software platforms specifically for audio verification.

“Audio Threat Levels and Flowchart” looks at how operators should execute decision making within the Threat Level Flow Chart, as described in the Video Alarm Verification Best Practices.  

The final module, “Verification and Insurance Impacts,” is designed to make insurance agents able to better advise clients on options available in mitigating costs related to crime.