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by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, July 18, 2018

ASIS International recently announced changes for this year’s Global Security Exchange, to be held Sept 23-27 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, including new stages on the exhibit floor as well as career development opportunities.

“We have completely re-engineered GSX to provide more opportunities for security practitioners, solution providers, students, military and first responders. From Career HQ and the International Trade Center to our three unique theaters of education and live demos, attendees and exhibitors will find tremendous value in our immersive, engaging, and informative expo hall,” Richard E. Chase, CPP, PCI, PSP, 2018 president, ASIS International, said in the announcement.

The exhibit floor at GSX will now include three new “X Learning Theaters.” The “X Stage” will feature technologies and their impacts across the industry; such as blockchain and cryptocurrencies, AI, drones and robotics, social media and the digital self. The “Xcelerated Exchange Stage,” will provide a forum for discussions between practitioners and solution providers to proactively address the current and future security landscape. Lastly, the “Xperience Stage” at GSX will showcase case studies and other best practices that address security challenges practitioners face across all industry sectors, including active shooter scenarios, bullying in the healthcare industry, and the risks associated with hosting a public event at cultural institutions.

The new “Career HQ” will have a career fair and enhanced career center, according to ASIS. “Job seekers will have access to resume reviews, a headshot studio, career coaching, professional development sessions and networking opportunities with employers and peers—all free. The new career fair will have top companies looking to hire talent, such as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Apple,” the announcement read.

ASIS also announced the “D3 Xperience.” This event, supported by Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), will educate attendees on the impact of unmanned systems on the security industry. Education and demos will showcase the emerging technology around the use of drones, droids and counter-UAV defense systems.

Lastly, the Innovative Product Awards Showcase will highlight new products and services on the GSX show floor that are poised to disrupt the security marketplace. The submission deadline for the IPAs is Aug. 3.

“In addition to these features, the exhibit floor will house an International Trade Center and the ASIS Hub, which includes access to ASIS Council representatives, live streaming interviews, and fireside chats,” ASIS said in its announcement.

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Mission 500 recently sent out a save the date announcement for its annual security industry softball game fundraiser, which will take place on Aug. 26. The game will be from noon to 3 PM at Overpeck County Park, located at 199 Challenger Road in Ridgefield Park, New Jersey.

This will be the fourth annual softball game hosted by Mission 500, with the first occurring in 2015. “Our biggest growth, and where it’s kind of exciting, has been—in addition to raising more funds and supporting more programs—engaging the industry, both professionally and even on a personal level,” Jeff Eichenlaub, director of strategic partnerships for Mission, told Security Systems News. “Last year some of our partners actually brought out clients, families to be part of the event and it was really exciting to see the industry come together.”  

In 2017, individuals from 20 companies (along with their children) participated and helped raise over $45,000.

Mission 500 will also be hosting a Back to School Care Pack event at the game with a goal of assembling 200 book bags filled with school supplies. Every $27 donated fills one backpack for donation to local children in need. “We’ve made that a tradition,” Eichenlaub said. “That’s important because it’s an opportunity for us as an organization to inspire other folks to do things. Part of the goal of mission 500 is to not just do our own events, but to really be a catalyst in the industry.”

Sponsorships are available between $500 and $5,000. Companies contributing over $1,500 will have the option to designate one or two players to a team.

This year’s sponsors include: ADI, Altronix, Anixter, Axis Communications, Brooklyn Voltage Supply, Commercial Architecture Magazine, Dahua USA, DMP, ESA New Jersey Chapter, Hanwha Techwin America, ISC Events, Ken Gould Consulting, LRG Marketing Communications, Napco StarLink, NYFAA, PSA Security Network, Rapid Response, ScanSource, SD&I, Security Sales & Integration, Security Systems News, and Security Today.

by: Spencer Ives - Tuesday, July 3, 2018

We’ve been receiving a lot of great submissions for our “20 under 40” awards but we’d like to give companies more time to submit their best and brightest professionals under the age of 40.

The new deadline is July 20, 2018. Please have all of your nominations submitted by this date.

This award is a great way to recognize up-and-coming professionals—from either the integrator side or the end user side—and those eligible can certainly nominate themselves.

As a reminder, we do have two classes in our annual “20 under 40” awards, each class containing 20 professionals. We have our Integrator class, which includes integrators, installers, dealers or monitoring center professionals. We also have our End User class, which encompasses security directors and professionals that protect non-security companies.

Unfortunately, manufacturers and consultants are not eligible for this award.

If you—or a professional you know—stand out in either of these categories, click here to enter a nomination.

All of our winners of these two classes will be recognized at a special reception at Security Systems News’ 2019 TechSec Solutions conference. This event will be held in Delray Beach, Fla., at the Delray Beach Marriott, Feb. 25 and 26, 2019.

by: Spencer Ives - Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Friday, June 22

There have been several natural disasters in the past year, including Hurricanes Harvey and Maria. Companies need to know what to do in the event of a natural or manmade disaster. In “Monitoring Center Down! How to Improve Recovery Time when Natural Disasters Strike,” a group of speakers discussed how disaster recovery works in the security industry and more specifically within monitoring centers.

Steve Butkovich, CTO at CPI Security, led the conversation, with Matt Narowski, VP of operations at Bold Technologies, Cliff Dice, president and CEO of DICE, and Roberto Morales, CFO and COO of Genesis Security Services. 

Instead of focusing on recovering after a disaster, companies should look at business continuity, how to keep a business moving forward in the event of a disaster, Narowski said, and that starts with putting a plan in place that encompasses potential disasters and how to deal with them. 

Monitoring centers can be impacted by more than just weather events, Narowski noted, such as man made accidents, IT mishaps, loss of utilities, or phishing attempts to name a few. 

Narowski outlined the soft and hard costs in setting up a business continuity plan; soft costs are the research and information gathering to set up the plan, yards costs include items like back up facilities and networking equipment. 

Cliff presented a case study, of a medical alert company utilizing DICE for its disaster recovery during a hurricane. He discussed that the set up can look right, but other factors can impede roll over to the DR site, like errors in accounting or the company trying to utilize numbers that were no longer connected. Though, DICE was able to iron things out. 
 
Drawing on recent experience, Morales discussed what it was like to operate a monitoring center in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria. Maintaining power was  one challenge, he said; Genesis utilized a diesel generator 24/7 for about 4 months, which meant procuring that much fuel. During the emergency, the company kept a stock of food, water and beds for its workers. 

Morales also pointed out some of the measures Genesis has built in post-hurricane, such as a 1,300 gallon diesel tank for its generator and a contract with a main fuel provider, implementing solar panels for additional energy and increasing internet redundancies.

As I’ve seen throughout the industry in recent years, cybersecurity is certainly a growing concern. The session I next went to handled how this threat applies to monitoring centers. “HACKED! Important Steps to Protect your Company (and Yourself) AFTER a Cyberattack,” featured the moderator Sascha Kylau, vice president of central station solutions and services for OneTel Security, and panelists Jay Grant, senior systems engineer with Symantec, and Joshua Grecko, senior vice president of engineering.

Grecko opened the session with a brief overview of UL 2900, the new cyber standard from UL, and some of its iterations. He also covered coming changes to UL 827, such as the inclusion of more NIST standards.

Grant asked the audience: What do you do after you’ve been hacked? At that point it’s too late. “Grab a coworker and have a good cry,” because it’s going to be a bad day, he said. Companies should focus on what they have in place for detection, instead of waiting until you’ve been hacked, and recognize the most valuable assets in their company—the ones that absolutely need to be protected.

At the end of the day, hackers will probably get in, Grant said, but companies can stop hackers from getting everything and kick them out of the system with next to nothing for their effort. That’s the goal, he said.

There are a variety of tactics and technologies that can help with false alarms, and the session “Plagued by False Alarms? Audio/Video Alarm Verification Best Practices” brought up quite a few of them. Steve Walker, VP of Stanley Convergent Security Solutions, Mike Tupy, director of monitoring technology for Vivint, David Snyder, VP of security operations for Eyewitness Surveillance, and Tom Nakatani, IT VP—customer monitoring technology and product for ADT Security, were on the panel, with Larry Folsom, president of I-View Now, as the session’s moderator.

Ninety-eight percent of alarms are false, Folsom said, citing the number from the Texas Police Chiefs Association. In addition to that, outbound calls made during an alarm are often going unanswered, as people don’t often pick up their phone if they don’t recognize the number, Folsom said. False alarms are expensive, and they take up law enforcement resources. “I believe the answer is better information,” Folsom said.

Each of the panelists presented on one technology that they were familiar with. First, Walker presented on video verification. While this technology results in a better decision on alarms, it takes time to review video clips. Verification also requires operators to judge the intent of people on cameras at a location; all in all, while it’s beneficial, the technology can be taxing for the operators, Walker said.

Tupy took on two-way audio verification. What is two way audio? It is when an alarm trips and the panel initiates two-way audio capabilities, allowing alarm operators to interact with the people on site. Being able to reach people—who might not be on the alarm’s call list—as soon as an alarm is triggered helps reduces false alarm dispatches, he said. Though, you miss what you can’t hear, Tupy said, as sometimes the people on site can be to far from the system to hear or there can be ambient sounds.

Snyder addressed interactive monitoring. This is where analytics in a camera trigger alarm clips to be reviewed, independent of an intrusion alarm. It works well outside, he mentioned. The can be cheaper than guards, provides improved situational awareness, and works with audio, he continued. Some situations are very clear, such as people in ski masks carrying things around a warehouse at night, but the gray area situations are a bit more difficult, Snyder said.

Nakatani spoke about the future of verification. For video verification, he noted on inexpensive devices getting better and the increase in popularity of outdoor cameras. He also connected the trend of two-way audio and more smart speakers throughout a home.

The closing keynote luncheon featured a conversation about school security, moderated by Louisiana State Fire MarshalH. "Butch" Browning, with Guy Grace, director of security and emergency planning for Littleton Public Schools and director of the Partner Alliance for Safer Schools, and Ryan Petty, SVP of business solutions with Liberty Latin America’s Cable & Wireless subsidiary and founder of The WalkUp Foundation.

This presentation is also personal for Petty, as he lost his daughter Alaina in the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School that occurred February in Parkland, Fla.

Key themes that the speakers highlighted was that there is often information about potential threats—among students, teachers, parents or other authorities—that isn’t being shared. “There are signs along the way,” Petty said, and that information needs to be shared.

From a security standpoint, one thing that can be done is to get a better idea of who should and shouldn’t be on the school campus, and reducing entry points into the school can help with that, Petty said.

Grace highlighted one new technology that has helped, an app that lets school children report suspicious behavior anonymously.

Ryan encouraged people to be engaged, and look into how their district deals with security issues and threats.

Thursday, June 21

My first session of the second day was “Improving the Customer Interaction Experience: Strategies to Consider Before Implementing IVR in the Monitoring Center.” Here, Peter Giacalone, president of Giacalone Associates, and Morgan Hertel, VP of technology and innovation for Rapid Response Monitoring, presented on interactive voice response technologies, or IVR, and the benefits for the companies that implement them and their users.

The main benefit of IVR is not its reduction of labor for a company like a monitoring, but instead providing a better user experience, and it can be utilized to achieve both, Giacalone said.

Hertel used Rapid Response’s relationship with Connect America, a PERS company, as an example for the benefits of IVR, though he said the technology benefits other companies in the space as well. One observation about senior users of PERS systems is that they often don’t want to bother people or be a burden, Hertel said, and that can be a difficulty when asking them to test their systems frequently. With IVR their test signals are handled quickly, and through automation. He also highlighted the reduced work load for test signals by handling those with IVR.

The rollout process for IVR should be a careful consideration, Hertel said, not something that goes on overnight but rolled out in phases with different groups. 

For a few years now I’ve been hearing about the concept and potential for on demand or pay-as-you-go monitoring models. A panel tackled exactly this topic in “Next Gen Monitoring—Do Monitoring on Demand or Pay-as-you-Use Models Really Work?” Morgan Hertel served as moderator, leading panelists Caroline Brown, EVP form Security Central, Mark Matlock, SVP of UCC, and Thomas Nakatani, IT VP—customer monitoring technology and product, ADT Security.

Customers understand that, with the MIY model, they do need to eventually sleep or go on vacation, Hertel said to open the conversation, and when they don’t want to they’ll seek a professional monitoring options.

UCC does some work with DIY installed systems, such as Lowe’s’ Iris offering. Matlock said that, overall, the company has seen a good adoption rate from MIY set ups to on demand customers.

Asked about the typical usage for monitoring from on demand customers, Matlock and Brown estimated about 10 days. Nakatani mentioned that ADT is a little different in its model, offering one month at a time.

Hertel brought up a key question: while there is an opportunity for new business from offering pay-as-you-go monitoring, will it take revenue out of existing customers who then want to downgrade their system? Each panelist seemed to portray it as more of an opportunity than a risk. Brown said that it’s important to offer the dealers different options, Matlock said that he doesn’t foresee losing many customers to DIY, and Nakatani sees tremendous opportunity for DIY and monitoring on demand.

Don Yaeger, associate editor, Sports Illustrated, NY Times best seller, presented the Thursday general session titled, “Great Teams Understand ‘Why.’”

When Yaeger started looking at what makes great teams great, he said he looked at two types of teams: those that make up exceptional sports teams, and those that make up outstanding companies.

One of the things Yaeger noted on in his presentation was that companies should look for the signs and clues of success from successes in the industry. “The truly great ones are always studying each other,” he said.

He also addressed culture, specifically that a team’s culture will form either through design or default, Yaeger said. And a key part of a culture is understanding why the team is there, who it is that they working for—whether that is friends, family or a certain cause or group of people.

According to Yaeger, culture can influence behavior, behavior brings about habits, and habits can lead to success.

Getting the right people is important for every organization, and several speakers that I’ve heard in the past few years have addressed the challenge with different approaches—and I’ve been interested to hear the variety and universal focus on the matter. That’s why, for the last session of the day, I attended “The Perfect Fit: New Strategies for Attracting and Retaining the Right Operators.” This session featured Michelle Lindus, central station manager for Vivint Smart Home, Steve Crist, director of monitoring, ADS Security, and Bill Kasko, president and CEO, Frontline Source Group.

There are now more job openings than people looking to work, Kasko pointed out, which means that companies are going to have to find individuals in new and ingenious ways. While before companies looked at college recruiting, now some are getting involved at the high school level, to get their brand out to potential employees even earlier, he said.

Lindus brought up that Vivint has programs that event engage parents and children in elementary school.

One thing Kasko recommended was a instituting a referral program, where current employees can recommend their friends for open positions. “Great people know great people,” Kasko said.

Lindus added to that, saying about 30 to 35 percent of new hires come through a referral program. Crist said that 50 percent of new hires that he sees are coming from referral programs.

Crist also stressed that job applicants of all ages ask about possibilities for advancement or developing their careers.

Wednesday, June 20

I started my day with this year’s OpenXchange breakfast. Held on the main stage, Michael Simmons, CEO of Driveway, Mike Soucie, senior product marketing manager for Google, and Jeremy Warren, chief technology officer for Vivint Smart Home gathered for a discussion, moderated by ESX chairman George De Marco.

In large letters projected onto a screen, De Marco highlighted the idea of disruption and some key questions around that topic, such as whether a company is changing as fast as the world around them, or if there are factors blinding a company to change. 

Each of the speakers was given the opportunity to introduce themselves, their company, and their perspective.

Simmons outlined the mission for his company, Driveway, as wanting to cure car crashes. The Driveway app utilizes mobile phone sensors to keep track of driving habits and keep users safer. It can let a parent know if their child is not available to talk or text due to driving and it can alert authorities in the event of a crash, among other functions. “We’re all in the peace of mind business in one way or another,” he told the audience.

Soucie define his role with Google as seeing how Google, Nest and partners work together. He addressed his reason for being—as a company with a primarily DIY product offering—at a professional security conference: “We actually believe there is a tremendous market opportunity for your, for this channel.”

Warren stood up and posed some considerations to the audience around changes in the market place, such as what to do if new companies enter the market with different ideas of profit margins for similar offerings.

Among a variety of questions, De Marco asked was about how to make sure that dealers and integrators remain the preferred home providers.

According to Warren, it’s about finding out where it is that companies are really providing differentiated value.

Soucie brought up making business models around reducing complexity for consumers, as well as hearing from consumers what is important to them.

From Simmons’ perspective, it will be important to have great customer experience, but also around a profitable business model.

The first educational session I attended for ESX 2018 was, “The Monitoring Center of the Future is Here Now! – Technology You Must Leverage to Thrive,” featuring Mike Tupy, director of central station technology at Vivint Smart Home, Ken Green, CEO of ItsPayd, and Justin Bailey, president and COO of AvantGuard.

Tupy opened the session with an overview of several topics. He started with the alarm panel, saying that he hopes attending companies aren’t installing any more systems on POTS lines. Keeping users upgraded is important, he noted, and even if it comes at a fee. His comparison: people will pay to upgrade their cell phones, so why not their security system?

Monitoring companies can also look at their receivers, he said, as a way to increase more accounts coming in or help with redundancy.

Green brought up the changes in paths of communication and how to best reach customers, specifically hitting upon the value of text messages. He offered several reasons for why companies should look into offering text messages: it can provide a competitive edge, it can improve customer experience, it offers flexibility, and it can help reach new younger customers—the millennials.

Bailey covered uses for analytics and other data analysis tools. Staffing is one problem that affects a lot of monitoring centers, he noted. The right analytic tools can provide a better picture of where the best operators are coming from and metrics can show how and why a great operator is a great operator.

Certain tools can also look into alarm traffic and whether the number of operators on staff is perhaps too light or too much.

Tupy added that looking into historical data can also help, such as with knowing roughly what to expect on the Fourth of July as opposed to a more typical Wednesday.

Younger generations that are entering the work force now can be accustomed to plenty of feedback, Bailey said, and the right dashboards can provide information on how an employee has been doing or how they’ve improved.

At this year’s Opening Keynote Luncheon, Scott Stratten, president of UnMarketing, presented “The Age of Disruption: Everything Has Changed and Nothing is Different.”

Stratten said that the most effective marketing happens not through marketing campaigns but through interactions between employees and customers. “The front line affects your bottom line,” he said; companies often want good word of mouth but that means doing things that would be worth talking about. Creating stories that evoke an emotion makes them more likely to be shared, Stratten said.

Brands and how they are perceived can change, Stratten said. For instance, he asked the audience to shout what came to mind when they thought of The Ritz-Carlton. Some attendees said “expensive” or “luxury.”

Stratten told the story of a child losing their stuffed animal at a property of The Ritz-Carlton. The child’s parents said that the stuffed giraffe, named Joshie, was just on an extended vacation and would return. A laundry worker found Joshie, recognized its importance, and brought it to the attention of a front desk employee. Joshie was sent back to its family, along with pictures of the toy lounging at the beach or in the spa, working for The Ritz-Carlton—even with a new ID badge made for the giraffe.

Asked again how the audience would define the hotel brand, attendees used words like “caring.”

Tuesday, June 19

I landed late this afternoon in warm Nashville, Tenn., for this year's ESX. It was great to see some familiar faces at the opening reception. I'll be updating this blog with daily updates on the educational sessions I'm attending, the keynote sessions and some of my meetings from the show floor. Be sure to check back for more perspective on the show! 

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by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, June 13, 2018

This week, ASIS International announced that Fareed Zakaria, global thinker, columnist, and CNN host, and Scott Klososky, futurist and technology visionary, would be opening keynotes for Global Security Exchange (GSX).

ASIS announced the name change, from the ASIS Annual Seminar and Exhibits to GSX late last year. ASIS expects GSX to attract more than 20,000 operational and cyber security professionals to the Las Vegas Convention Center from Sept. 23-27 for the event.

“Between Fareed and Scott, attendees will receive a rounded, nuanced, and incisive overview of the trends—social, political, business, technological—informing the transformation of security and how professionals will have to adapt to thrive in the years ahead,” Peter J. O'Neil, CAE, chief executive officer for ASIS International, said in the announcement. “The presentations will lay the groundwork for a forward-looking enterprise security risk management approach to risk, setting up security to be a critical business partner.”

Zakaria, host of CNN’s Peabody Award-winning “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” is former editor-at-large of TIME magazine, a three-time bestselling author, and one of Foreign Policy magazine’s Top 100 Global Thinkers, the announcement noted.

At GSX, Zakaria will open the conference with an examination of important forces, developments, and risks affecting the global community. His remarks will address cyberthreats—espionage, ransomware and spear phishing. With an emphasis on international intelligence and security, Zakaria will explore what it means to live in a truly global era, ASIS said.

Klososky returns as the GSX Tuesday keynote following his popular 2017 presentation, “The Technology Integration of Man.” Building on his continued involvement with chief security officers and ASIS stakeholders in the past year, Klososky will address the impact of today’s rapid digital transformation on security management and leadership. He will build a compelling case for managing and using technology—and knowing when not to use it—to gain a competitive advantage and lead successfully into the future, ASIS said in the announcement.

“We are excited for these well-respected thought leaders to share their vital insights and set the stage for the conference education that follows,” Richard E. Chase, CPP, PCI, PSP, 2018 president of ASIS International, said in a prepared statement. “These keynotes reflect our commitment to bring diverse, forward-thinking speakers to our event to address vital issues impacting businesses and communities worldwide.”

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, June 6, 2018

BAY CITY, Mich.—DICE Corporation announced today that Jackie McCarthy is joining the company as its new chief financial officer and Jerry Corrion will now manage DICE’s telecom department, in addition to his current role as senior vice president of software development.

McCarthy will be responsible for overseeing accounting, managing company financial statements, reporting on key measurements, and budgeting and analysis, the announcement noted.

McCarthy comes to DICE with more than 30 years of experience as a CPA, with 15 of those years in public accounting. Before joining DICE, McCarthy worked for Ernst & Young, Nexteer Automotive and in local government. She also taught at Delta College and operated her own CPA firm for several years. McCarthy holds a BBA in accounting from Saginaw Valley State University.

Corrion, who has been with the company for more than 20 years, will oversee the telecom department at a time of rapid growth and advancements, according to the announcement.

“Telecom continues to be our fastest-growing department, and a lot of software is tied to telephony. Jerry is the perfect fit for leading this team,” DICE Corporation president and CEO Cliff Dice, said in the announcement.

“This is an exciting time at DICE Corporation and I’m pleased to have Jackie and Jerry on our team, leading us into a new era at the company,” said Dice.

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Security Systems News is proud to announce that the program for our 2018 Cloud+ conference is now available! You can view the entire by clicking here, and there are a few highlights will be included below.

Cloud+ 2018 will be held at the Delray Beach Marriott in Delray Beach, Fla., on Sept. 5 and 6. This is a great location that has served SSN very well as the spot for its annual TechSec Solutions conference—and it’s right across from the beach. Registration is also open for the event and you can register through the Cloud+ website.

This year’s keynote speaker will be Rick Juarez, managing director of Imperial Capital, presenting “Finance and the Future for Cloud and Security.” Here, Juarez will cover the current M&A landscape within cyber- and physical security, particularly cloud-solution providers, and also take a look at what research says about key growth areas, challenges and opportunities.

Cloud+ 2018 will also feature a dynamic two-part session, looking at “How Can Cloud Help the Integrator,” with two separate panels, one from the perspective of integrators and another from the suppliers’ point of view.

The Day Two Keynote will be AJ Frazer, VP Sales, America, Agent Video Intelligence, presenting “How the Cloud Enables the Dream of AI.” Frazer will examine how cloud is helping realize artificial intelligence within the security industry.

We look forward to seeing you down in Delray Beach in early September!

by: Spencer Ives - Tuesday, May 22, 2018

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla.—I arrived Monday on Amelia Island, Fla., for Affiliated Monitoring’s third annual Catalyst conference, focused entirely on the sales and marketing aspects of the medical alert industry.

The first full day began with a welcome from, Mike Zydor, managing director for Affiliated Monitoring. He brought up the idea of “forced networking,” making sure that people are meeting and conversing with a multitude of different professionals, including ones they haven’t met before. To facilitate this, the conference has attendees in different groups throughout the event, such as with the table assignments or teams for networking events.

Zydor said that one of the valuable takeaways from the event will be the discussions and relationships made at Catalyst. Following this point, each attendee had the opportunity to stand and introduce themselves, their company, and where they’re from.

Next, Affiliated executive vice president Daniel Oppenheim presented “PERS: Today and the Future,” an overview of themes in the PERS industry and observations within Affiliated Monitoring. Oppenheim said how fortunate he is for what it is that the industry offers, “We offer a service that is vital to our customers, we save lives.”

The overall number of PERS signals that Affiliated received went up 45 percent last year, Oppenheim said.

“I feel very strongly in the future of our industry,” Oppenheim said. He pointed toward the baby boomer generation, the oldest of which are about 72 now, as a large opportunity—an entire generation that is about age into the typical PERS and mPERS demographics.

Related to that is one of the problems the industry will face in coming years, Oppeneheim said: that there are going to be more seniors, but there are projected to be fewer available caregivers. “There’s only one answer and it is our industry and technology that is going to solve this.”

An annual staple of the Catalyst program is the executive spotlight series, where Oppenheim has an on-stage conversation with leaders in the PERS industry, covering their perspective on the industry and the decisions that got them to where they are today. In 2016, Oppenheim sat down with Ritch Haselden of Essence USA, and in 2017, he spoke with Ken Gross of Connect America.

This year Oppenheim talked with Rob Flippo, CEO of MobileHelp, a provider of mPERS and health management solutions, which began in 2006.

“You bet big on mobile and you were right, what did you see that others in the market were not seeing at the time?” Oppenheim asked.

Flippo said that people weren’t using cellular in the home when he started, and he did his due diligence to figure out that there was no business reason for this and chose to take up the technology in his business. He noted that GPS technology was also in the early stages at that time.

Affiliated is now fully integrated with MobileHelp, Oppenheim announced on stage Tuesday. Through that process, Oppenheim met many members of Flippo’s team. He asked Flippo for his philosophies on putting together a team. 

Flippo first responded by agreeing with the phrase “The fish rots from the head down;” how management and ownership treat the people below them affects the entire business. Flippo also said that in assembling his team, he looked for people that would fit executive roles, before the company even had those positions.

Flippo provided an interesting perspective when asked to think about the future of the PERS industry, 10 years down the road. He said that the people buying PERS systems now, where about 65 when he started a little more than a decade ago. So, he challenged the audience to consider a 60 or 65 year-old now—that person will be a potential PERS user in 10 years. A 60 or 65 year-old now is more technological than in 2006, Flippo noted, and he predicted that PERS systems will come with more features and functionality that connects to other aspects of a user's life, much in the same way that the security ecosystem evolved to include more elements of home control.

The last session of the day was a panel, titled “Ask the Experts: Product Mix and Planning the PERS Future.” Here, Pete West, VP, North American director for KORE, moderated a conversation with Yaniv Amir, president of Essence USA, Ryan Bangerter, business development director for Mytrex, and Scot McGehee, VP of operations and sales at Climax.

To kick things off, Ward asked Bangerter about the value of the cloud for PERS. Mytrex is leveraging the cloud with its new PERS product, the MXD LTE. Bangerter said that, historically, PERS systems are a local installation, but the cloud element allows for an easier integration process and it helps with different communication paths.

Ward asked McGehee about the usage of mobile PERS inside of the home, as opposed to a cellular PERS system. Seniors can be much more energetic and mobile, he noted, and Users need something for mobile use outside of the home as well as usage in the house. “We’ve got to be able to cover both bases going forward to take care of the aging population,” he said.

Essence does business outside of the US, Ward noted. He asked Amir about trends that are in international markets that might enter the U.S. market. Voice activation is one such trend, according to Amir. Specifically, Essence offers a voice panic alarm system, where emergency response sensors can be installed throughout a user’s house and—because it relies on voice—doesn’t require a wearable. This is a good solution when caregivers would like to see more protection in an elderly person’s home, but that user does not want to appear frail.

To open the second day of Catalyst 2018, Mike Zydor had an on-stage conversation with Mark Melendes, managing director and group head—specialized industries, CIBC Bank US, about what dealers need to know a head of looking for additional funding.

Borrowing from a bank can be a great way to grow a PERS business, Zydor noted. He asked Melendes for the first thing PERS dealer should do when thinking about additional funds.

Melendes said to think of alternatives to borrowing from a bank. Borrowing from a bank can be very involved, he said, and there are other options that a dealer could look into; for instance, finding a local lender or sometimes the seller in a transaction can partly help with financing.

According to Melendes, key considerations include: whether financial records in tact, does the company have good financial reporting and a history of financial reporting, is there a good CRM system, and are there the right people to support a banking relationship.

The first time that Melendes meets a company, it can be when there is an immediate acquisition opportunity, one that might want to close quickly, and unless they have the right information it can be a challenge.

Zydor asked: What do people looking to buy need to pay attention to in buying a competitor?

While CIBC focuses on the financial part of the transaction, it is also concerned with the strategic fit of the purchase and the legal due diligence, Melendes said. “Strategic fit is definitely one that we focus on,” he said.

Something new for Catalyst that was included this year was a session devoted to a variety of discussion groups. Through an event app, attendees were asked for the topic that most interested them out of nine options. Four topics were chosen for discussion groups: Medicaid and government programs, customer retention strategies, leveraging social media for your business, and building your team: the most essential roles to fill.

I sat in on the social media session, curious for business leaders’ opinions on leveraging social media for an offering geared toward the senior audience, which is currently noted as not being very technological.

This group was divided into two tables. The table I sat with discussed how the main audience is often not the user themselves, but instead the younger caregiver—an individual more likely to be on social media.

One idea was that messaging about PERS products has been often built off of fear, the fear of a fall. The industry could benefit from portraying PERS as more of a lifestyle product, a device that allows its user a certain lifestyle with more freedom.

From there, the discussion circled around to newer ideas of advertising that are mainly focused on showing a product and then showing a user having a better experience from using it. This is a concept in imaging that PERS products could use to showcase the offering as a lifestyle-focused device, as opposed to one driven by fear.

After about 20 minutes, each table in the room—about nine in total—chose a representative to present the ideas of their group.

The final presentation for this year was from the featured guest speaker, Erica Javellana, speaker of the house for Zappos, an online shoe and clothing retailer. Javellana joined the company in 2007 as a human resources generalist and quickly rose to be the employee relations manager. She took the stage to talk about Zappos’ focus on customer service and how to focus on company culture.

Javellana began by talking about what Zappos calls P.E.C.: personal, emotional connection. Zappos wants each employee to establish a connection with each person they interact with, she said.

Zappos is committed to the idea of company culture and that means hiring and firing by those principles, Javellana said.

Zappos has 10 core values, central to the company’s culture, and one of them is to “Build a Positive Team and Family spirit,” and the wrong person can ruin a team’s dynamic. “If you get the right people, you get the right culture,” she said.

Other tenets of Zappos’ culture included “Deliver WOW through service,” “Create fun and a little weirdness,” and “Be humble.”

To “wow” through service means to go above and beyond, Javellana said. She shared the story of sitting in on a customer service call where a woman called in to try to find a specific sweatshirt. This woman hadn’t ever shopped with Zappos, Javellana noted, but the Zappos employee helped her none-the-less, and got to know her while searching for the sweatshirt. He eventually learned that the woman’s son had died in a car accident wearing his favorite sweatshirt at the time, and her younger son wanted the same one to remember his brother. The customer service representative, finding that Zappos did not have it, purchased one through a competitor and told the caller he would sent it to her.

It’s about the experience more than the transaction, Javellana stressed.

Creating a little fun and weirdness does not mean Zappos only hires extroverted people, Javellana said, it means they encourage employees to be their whole selves at work. Some people stress work-life balance, and are entirely different people outside of work. People could focus more on work-life integration, she said.

The last principle Zappos has in its culture is to be humble and the company has a small test for this. In hiring for any position, whether it be the COO or a department manager, they inform the candidate that all new hires are required to attend company-wide training followed by a period of answering phones, taking four weeks in total. If the applicant turns their nose up at the idea of answering phones, they are shown the door. One reason for this is that at busy times of the season, such as during the holidays, answering phones can mean all-hands-on-deck, Javellana said, including her and Zappos’ CEO, Tony Hsieh.

Javellana ended her presentation with this question: “How will you wow?"

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, May 16, 2018

I-View Now recently announced the launch of a new service: Police Alarm Portal. The process is powered by I-View Now’s Software as a Service Video Verification platform, and will send video directly to authorized emergency responders through the ASAP to PSAP program. Additionally, I-View Now will provide the service to law enforcement free of charge.

In the announcement, I-View Now said that Police Alarm Portal helps the entire electronic security industry by improving the path of communications flow from end users to the monitoring station and then to law enforcement. “It allows for a faster and safer response to alarms by authorized emergency responders, increases the value of the alarm provider's monitoring service, and improves customer retention,” the company said.

The new service will provide better information and collaboration to help keep communities safer, according to I-View Now.

"We're thrilled to be offering this revolutionary and patented service at no cost to law enforcement,” Larry Folsom, president of I-View Now, said in the announcement. “When an alarm goes off, you don’t always know what you’ll find. Using video verification with the Police Alarm Portal changes that unknown factor. Authorized emergency responders will have real-time information about what’s happening at the protected premises through live video and video clips. Police officers can respond appropriately and more safely to a verified alarm event.”

Police Alarm Portal is being tested at 911 Communications Centers across the nation, including in Richmond, Virginia, the first city to go live with ASAP to PSAP.

"The City of Richmond is honored to have been chosen to participate in a pilot of Police Alarm Portal with I-View Now,” Bill Hobgood, systems developer lead for City of Richmond, Department of Information Technology Public Safety Team, and recognized ASAP subject matter expert, said in a prepared statement. “The delivery of video sent via the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP) program sent by an alarm monitoring company when suspicious circumstances are present, is a value added for public safety. The video will enable dispatch staff in the emergency communications center as well as responding officers to easily navigate to the same video witnessed by the alarm operator adding another tool in the interest of officer safety and suspect apprehension."

“ADT is a founding member of the ASAP system, and also the nation’s largest user,” Don Young, ADT’s chief information officer, said in the announcement. “As our nationwide deployment of Video Verification with I-View Now is complete, making that same video content accessible to law enforcement is a natural extension of the services we currently provide our customers. ASAP is the premier standard for sending life safety information to PSAPs, and ADT is excited to further enhance our outstanding partnership with public safety officials.”

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, May 9, 2018

NEW HAVEN, Conn.—ASSA ABLOY recently announced agreements to purchase two U.S.-based door and frame manufacturers: Pioneer Industries, based in Carlstadt, N.J., and Concept Frames Inc., based in Newton, N.C.

"The addition of Pioneer allows us to fortify our steel door and frame offering in the US and in particular the Atlantic region," Lucas Boselli, executive vice president of ASSA ABLOY and head of the Americas division, said in a prepared statement.

Pioneer will continue to be led by its current management team. Pioneer was founded in 1930 and currently has about 100 employees. The head office and factory are located in Carlstadt, N.J.

The Pioneer acquisition is conditional upon satisfaction of customary closing conditions and is expected to close during the second quarter of 2018, ASSA ABLOY noted in its announcement.

Concept frames has a focus on custom-made steel doors and frames for commercial and industrial applications. "I am very pleased to welcome Concept Frames into the ASSA ABLOY Group,” Boselli said in a separate announcement. “Concept Frame is a complementary addition to ASSA ABLOY and adds to our leadership in the door and frame category in North America.”

Concept Frames has expertise in customer service, project specifications and quick delivery, primarily covering the southeast region of the US, ASSA ABLOY noted in its announcement. The company was founded in 1982 and has approximately 68 employees; its head office and factory are located in Newton, N.C.

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