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by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Smart Home 360 report, which comes out today from the market research company Argus Insights, provides a snapshot of what is out there in the smart home market today. The study looks at changes in the market from March to April, as well as overall trends Argus researchers are seeing within the quickly emerging and maturing market.

I caught up with Argus Insights CEO John Feland, who pointed that because the smart home market is changing so fast, “we are continuously pulling data around the marketplace from consumers on what is working and what is not.”

Overall, Feland said that Argus is seeing “year-over-year growth" within the smart home market, and equally important, the data is showing that security is still vitally important with consumers when it comes to taking that first plunge into smart home offerings.

“Home security is top of mind,” said Feland. “For those who are in the ‘do it for me’ category, the gateway use-case is security, so that is still what is selling and driving [smart home] adoption.”

And there is even more good news for traditional security dealers: For the ‘do it for me’ group, which is professional-installer based, the data is showing that when consumers try to do it themselves “they have been frustrated,” said Feland. When they work with a local dealer/installer, the “outcomes have been much better,” he noted.

From an installer’s standpoint, Feland said the key to getting someone to start on that smart home journey is simplifying the initial process for customers while providing a system that can seamlessly integrate smart home connectivity and capabilities without any headaches for the end user.

In the area of home automation, “If they [dealers] are not talking to their customers about Amazon Echo, they are not doing their job,” said Feland. “Amazon Echo is still a leader, and Alexa is still the voice in people’s homes, but we will see what happens when Google launches its product.”

In the DIY space, Feland noted that dealers should pay close attention to consumers’ frustration with the lack of support they are getting on the retail side. “If you look at where they [retailers] are failing right now, that presents an opportunity for traditional dealers to be that second date that leads to marriage.”

The report, which Argus released a sample section of today, is also available for purchase.
 

 

Topic:
by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, May 11, 2016

As one of the biggest tourist destinations in the nation, Orlando, Florida represents a unique challenge for security professionals throughout the area. That is why the ASIS Media Tour provided an exciting opportunity to see what the host city for the ASIS 2016 Conference, Sept. 12-15, is doing to secure some of the major commercial buildings and facilities within Orange County.

Day One

The ASIS Media Tour started at the Orange County Convention Center, where we were able to talk with Orange County Convention Center Security director Timothy J. Wood, who shared some of the key security management strategies for the second largest convention center in North America with 2.1 million square feet of area to secure. Wood and his security staff work closely with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to create a plan for the more than 200 events that are held at the conference center each year.

“We do a full security plan 21 days out,” he said, looking at the history of the event, attendees expected, guest speakers invited, as well as any high profile attendees, such as military, government or dignitaries.

Wood noted that “although we can’t harden all areas, the goal is to minimize any soft spots” that a criminal or terrorist, for example, might be looking at, and “deter them by disrupting that cycle of planning and surveillance,” as well as being proactive in addressing any suspicious activity. He said it is also vitally important “to have a plan in advance of each event that addresses crowd management,” especially for a big shows like Megacon, which has doubled in size over the past few years.

One thing that struck me is the sense of community that is present throughout the Orlando area, from police and fire personnel to security professionals working at these high-profile facilities, who many times are former police, as is the case with Wood. “We have been working for decades with law enforcement and have a great working relationship,” which he noted includes sharing information and identifying security trends and issues.

Wood attends monthly “tourist crime intelligence meetings” with local law enforcement, FBI, SWAT, Secret Service, and bomb squad and fire personnel, to look at upcoming events, and address concerns or trends in security or for Orange County.

He also emphasized the importance of having security staff trained in hospitality, as well as working closely with Orange County Convention Center public relations, marketing and communications to coordinated efforts, such as with mass notifications, messages, news releases, etc.

For all of its security management efforts, the OCCC won the ASIS Matthew Simeone Award for Public Private Partnership Excellence two years ago.

The next stop on the tour was The Mall at Millenia in Orlando, which comprises 1.2 million square feet over several levels. Greg Moore, security director, said that because of their location in Orlando, “we have a much higher emphasis on security than you will see in other malls,” from training for security and other staff to the technology and services that they employ.

There is also a big emphasis on prevention or deterring crime. “It starts with the tone we set when you pull into the parking lot, with our police and security presence, to when you walk into the building.” He noted that the image that you create and the initial impression create a “big deterrent” to someone who might be thinking of doing something bad.

He and his security staff, including assistant security director Justin Messenger, also examine incidents that have happened at other malls, such as the shooting that happened at a Maryland mall two years ago, to look at “best and worst practices,” which can then be applied during training for their staff, whether it is active shooter training or workplace violence training.

Security guards are also proactive in identifying and dealing with suspicious behavior. “We tell our security officers to control their environment and don’t let it control you,” which can be something as simple as security guards asking someone who is looking at a map, for example, if they can help them find something.

Messenger, who oversees much of the technology employed at the mall, noted that the mall has “state-of-the-art cameras with video analytics capability,” including the ability to record all activity in the mall. A command center has full access to video and can notify security of any suspicious activity so they can be proactive in mitigating any possible problems.

Moving on from the mall, our last stop on day one of the tour was at the University of Central Florida, which at more than 60,000 students represents one of the largest campuses in the nation. To secure such a large campus with so many schools and buildings, UCF has its own Police HQ, an emergency operations center and mobile command vehicle with satellite capability.

UCF Police chief Richard Beary, who has nearly 40 years in law enforcement, noted that a university of this size presents unique challenges, including continued growth, as the campus is about to embark on a project that will add a downtown campus in Orlando.

He noted that creating a campus that is designed to address current security concerns is of the utmost priority. “The biggest challenge with new facilities is what we call ‘value engineering’ where they engineer the value right of a building,” he said. “With the new campus, we can’t afford to do it the wrong way, and then retrofit it after the fact,” which he said has been a challenge with some of the more than 200 existing buildings at UCF.

With Florida a concealed carry state, Beary is concerned about current campus efforts to allow concealed weapons on campus, as he feels the training to get a permit “only requires a 45-minute class, which is not adequate enough training and does not even involve teaching them how to handle the weapon or even fire it.”

Jeff Morgan, UCF director of the department of security and emergency management, noted that the UCF Crisis Intervention Group “is a huge program that is very beneficial” as the group is trained to deal with the many issues that occur on campus, including sexual assault and other violent crimes.

Managing a campus with 11,276 doors with locks creates its own safety and security challenges, and Morgan noted that the campus is researching adding some more capability to the more than 2,000 cameras on campus. “We have had vendors come in and there are future plans to add that analytics capability.”

In addition to a fully functioning Police department, the EOC was activated in 2013, providing a state-of-the-art facility (with a backup generator) that allows security to monitor all facilities, host training of all kinds, leverage the latest technology, and to connect, coordinate and talk with law enforcement, security, fire and hospital personnel while pushing important and relevant security info to all parties in real time.

The EOC is also used as a backup for federal marshals, as well as by FEMA and DHS for training.

Days Two and Three

Our first tour stop on day two was at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, which recently brought on Chris Savard to fill a newly created position of director of security. Savard works closely with Annette DuBose, account manager for Andy Frain Services, a security management company that oversees the Phillips Center, to provide comprehensive security management protocols for a facility that is within sight of town hall and very much a part of the fabric of the community.

Savard, who is recently retired from law enforcement, said he wanted to begin to “change the culture and mindset” at the theater, with a stronger emphasis on security while still maintaining an “inviting and welcoming environment” for theatergoers.

One of the first things Savard did was start bag checks to better enforce a strict no weapons policy at the theater. “I was amazed and shocked at what they were trying to bring into the building,” he said, noting that items found during newly instituted bag checks included guns, knives, pepper spray and bullets, to name just a few.

Changing the culture at the theater is challenging, as bag checks or the use of wands, for example, is not something that is being done yet in New York’s theater district, for example. “Here in Orlando bag checks and the use of wands is becoming more of the norm, as you see it being done at Disney and other theme parks, so people are starting to get used to it,” said Savard, who noted that the theater is also considering starting checks for weapons using a wand, which would be done on a random basis. “After Paris, people want to see an increased police presence and focus on security.”

He said another important initial step to boost security was adding a police officer inside the building as well as a more strategic use of law enforcement officers outside. “We added a canine officer outside the theater to greet people as they drop-off and enter the valet area in front of the building, which we feel is a huge deterrent for a bad guy,” said Savard.

Security also brought in the Department of Homeland Security to do a complete assessment of the facility, looking for vulnerabilities and areas that can be hardened. “They found a few things that we were able to correct, such as varying our valet parking procedures,” noted Savard.

The assessment process included a 3D virtual analysis of the building that provided a comprehensive look at all of the access points and areas in the building, which can then be shared with and accessed by SWAT teams, for example, to aid them in getting in the building in the fastest and safest manner possible during an emergency situation.

In terms of video surveillance, cameras are located throughout the facility, especially “in high-value areas,” Savard noted, including five out in the front plaza area, as well as at all levels of the loading dock.

Security staff and employees are also given active-shooter and workplace-violence training. “This training is vitally important,” Savard said, as it teaches situational awareness, behavior assessment and counter surveillance, as well as how and when to engage someone who might be showing signs of suspicious behavior.

Savard also started offering a situational awareness and self-defense training class for female employees and their daughters, to teach them some basic techniques on how to neutralize someone and defend themselves better.

“Overall, we have increased security and taken it to the next level, so we are doing a lot better than we were,” said Savard.

Our next stop on day two was the Florida Hospital, where William S. Marcisz, senior director of security and a member of the ASIS Health Council, provided a comprehensive overview and guided tour of the hospital’s security program. With 10 hospitals over eight campuses, Marcisz relies on a large and highly trained security staff to manage buildings, including more than 1,000 access points and approximately 2,500 cameras.

When Marcisz arrived about three years ago, he suggested that the campus-based management structure be reorganized into one security department. “We designed it similar to a corporate security program but it is scalable,” said Marcisz, who noted that the program has five key elements, including operations (guard force management, for example), a communications division or dispatch, technology, including an IT department, a training division and investigations.

Marcisz explained that the training division is vitally important because it helps ensure that “communications and operations are synchronized and that we have everything standardized across the system.”

One area where the hospital sees “a lot of return on investment,” said Marcisz, is through investigations. “We investigate everything that is criminal in nature and we leverage our technology in our investigations, including our cameras, to help resolve many cases,” he explained.

Marcisz pointed out that through investigations, the hospital is able to get back hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in hospital assets, such as property that is either lost or stolen, as well as provide risk mitigation and defer litigation. “We did solve a case in 2015, for example, that saved us $15 million,” noted Marcisz. 

Another key part of training is to ensure that all head security positions have certifications attached to them, such as the Professional Certified Investigator (PCI) certification through ASIS.

The hospital also developed a workplace violence prevention program that is managed through security. “We do threat management and have put together training programs developed in-house, including computer-based learning modules on active shooter and workplace violence,” said Marcisz. “And we are in the process of developing additional training for our leadership on how to manage workplace violence.”

Because the hospital has a constant turnover of staff, there is an employee orientation program, and staff receives MOAB (management of aggressive behavior) and CPI (crisis prevention intervention) training.

“Our safety violence risk assessment was also developed in house, and we are in the process of implementing that, which allows our nursing staff to match up objective criteria, in terms of a patient’s behavior, based on a stoplight system—red, yellow and green—that provides responses and actions that need to be taken as behavior escalates,” said Marcisz.  

With close to 200 security personnel and growing, the hospital has a structured onboarding training process that consists of several different training modules an officer must complete once they finish orientation. “They must attain, and if applicable, get certified in certain skill sets (handcuffing, for example) before they can even interact with patients,” noted Marcisz. “A hospital is a very unique, high stress environment, so we have to be compassionate and customer service-oriented as well.”

Outside, each campus has two security vehicles that are equipped with video and license plate identification technology, including a strict parking policy to keep employees from parking in unauthorized areas.

In addition to the security team, the hospital has a threat management team and works closely with law enforcement and fire personnel.

On day three, our final stop on the tour was at the Hyatt Regency Orlando, formerly the Peabody, where Fred Prassack, director of security, talked about the challenges of securing the largest Hyatt convention property in the U.S.

Located next to the Orange County Convention Center, the hotel has 1,639 rooms and 105 breakout rooms as well as numerous meeting rooms, the largest of which is the size of two football fields. The hotel is also getting set to add a $450 million new tower with a conference center that will have approximately 350,000 square feet of meeting space.

To secure such a large property, the hotel has a main security office, a video monitoring and dispatch center as well as a small conference room for security meetings and briefings.

Prassack said that one of the keys to their success is having a staff that is all on the same page. “We have an officer training program, as well as a new-hire orientation program,” he noted, which includes security, fire safety and other emergency preparedness training. “We also have training for managers in areas such as anti-terror, active shooter and workplace violence, which is done in cooperation with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.”

Prassack noted that he reminds security and other hotel staff that 9-11 “changed the way we live forever … many of our freedoms went away that day.” Staff is trained to look for suspicious activity and “be vigilant,” he said. “If you see something, say something. After orientation and training, I deputize them and have them sworn in, which makes them feel empowered to be able to do something, if needed.”
 
As a major convention hotel, Prassack speaks with other hotel security directors in the area and nationwide and participates in monthly sheriff’s crime intelligence breakfast meetings, which address current issues or concerns that security may need to address or be aware of, such as the Zika virus, which has been garnering a lot of attention lately in Florida. 

On the technology side, the hotel also utilizes more than 400 Panasonic cameras with IP addresses and a separate hard drive. Cameras have motion sensors and record activity, which is saved for 30 days. The video surveillance room is set up on an automated schedule that provides views of cameras in key areas at the hotel, while taking the feed off of areas that are not active, such as the bar area in the morning.

This attention to detail is paramount at such a busy and bustling hotel property, said Prassack.

 

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by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Talked about heavily at ISC West in April, cybersecurity is the buzzword in the industry right now, as manufacturers and dealers on the residential side try to figure out how to navigate through the potential minefield of new smart home products and devices that may leave their security systems vulnerable to hacking.

In a study unveiled this week, Cybersecurity researchers at the University of Michigan were able to hack into a leading "smart home" platform and essentially get the PIN code to a home's front door.

Their "lock-pick malware app" was one of four attacks that the cybersecurity researchers leveled at an experimental set-up of Samsung's SmartThings platform, and is believed to be the first platform-wide study of a connected home system. The researchers weren’t picking on Samsung, as the overall goal of the research was to show how vulnerable these new connected home devices and systems are to hacking.

The researchers found “significant design vulnerabilities from a security perspective," noting that hackers’ attacks can “expose a household to significant harm—break-ins, theft, misinformation and vandalism. The attack vectors are not specific to a particular device and are broadly applicable."

The findings will be presented on May 24 at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy in San Jose, in a paper titled "Security Analysis of Emerging Smart Home Applications."

At the very least, this study—as well as numerous stories of hackers finding their way into connected home devices, from smart TVs to baby monitors—raises important questions that manufacturers and dealers must ask themselves in this new world of advanced technology and interactivity.

As Samsung works out the kinks in its system, many other smart home companies can benefit from this study, as it sounds an alarm—no pun intended—of the importance of cybersecurity. While no system is completely immune from hacking, the research also underscores the fact that smart home companies and dealers need to make sure they are adhering to, at a minimum, the industry’s best practices and guidelines.

One resource is UL’s new Cybersecurity Assurance Program, a standard by which companies can have their products tested and verified by UL for guard against well-known cyber risks.

Having your products and systems third-party tested is a good first step in addressing any security flaws that may be present, as well as any potential fixes, and provides a measure of comfort for customers who are making their first forays into this bold new world of connected home technology.

 
 

Topic:
by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, April 27, 2016

With the “smart home” taking over talk on the residential side of security, it is no surprise that research and studies continue to pop up in an effort to quantify and qualify what is going on in this growing connected-home market.

Results of a study conducted in March by August Home and Xfinity Home give some further insight into the relationship between home security and connected home devices.

When asked why they would consider adopting smart home technology, the study found that 63 percent of consumers said security or “keeping their family safe” is their top motivation.

In addition, in a Parks Associates’ survey of homeowners with broadband connections, those with a security system were more likely to say they intend to buy a smart home device in the next 12 months.  

So at a time when dealers are trying to emphasize the importance of security first in this new smart home world, it looks like consumers are heeding their message.

In terms of how many plan to add smart home technology, the August Home and Xfinity Home survey found that 18 percent of respondents said they’d likely buy a new smart home product over the next 12 months, including 56 percent of those who have already installed at least one connected device in their home.

What smart home devices are they planning on buying? Video is at the top of the list with 4 in 10 consumers (40 percent) saying a connected camera would be the product they’d most likely add to their home, followed by a video doorbell (26 percent), connected light bulb (19 percent) and smart lock (13 percent).

When asked which device they’d most like as part of a smart home-powered security system, over 63 percent of respondents chose a connected video camera inside or outside the home, while 61 percent of those with a smart home said that a video camera was the device they’d most like to access and control from their smartphone.

This is all good news for the residential security industry, and for dealers who are taking the time to reconnect with their customers who continue to find security in this emerging world of connected products.

 

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by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Keynote speakers for ESX 2016, June 8-10 at the Fort Worth Convention Center in Fort Worth, Texas, were announced and include author Nicholas Webb, Provident Security founder and CEO Michael Jagger, and ITR Economics president Dr. Alan Beaulieu. Security Systems News editors caught up with each keynote speaker to get a glimpse of what to expect at the show this year.

NICHOLAS WEBB
At the Opening Keynote Luncheon, world-renowned business futurist and innovation thought leader Nicholas Webb, author of Innovation Playbook and The Digital Innovation Playbook, will provide his perspective on what he said is “a very pivotal time in the security industry.”

He told me during our talk that there are three trends—disruptive innovation, consumerization and connective architecture—that have “hit the security industry hard and are going to hit them extremely hard over the next 24-36 months,” he said.

As a successful inventor with more than 48 patented technologies, Webb understands the power of a product or service that becomes a disruptive innovator, such as what Uber did in the taxi industry.

“With disruptive innovation you blow it up in a nuclear mushroom cloud and replace it with something that is a completely different model but significantly better to whoever your consumer is,” he said. “Uber is a good but overused example, and disrupters are out there and they are destroying everything by leveraging the fact that consumers are very consumerized—meaning that they have lots and lots of options available to them—and they are leveraging these connected devices to be able to research you in terms of looking at what better options there may be, including how well you currently serve your customers.”

One point that Webb wants to drive home during his keynote is that “you either become a hacker—a disruptive innovator—or you get hacked by a disruptive innovator.”  

He also wants ESX attendees to make the distinction between reactive intervention and proactive intervention. “Proactive innovation stops things from happening and reactive intervention, which has happened for the last 40 years in the security industry, just catalogs bad things that happen,” he said. “If there is going to be sea shift in security, it is going to be moving away from reacting to events to interacting prior to an event. And the Ring is a good example of this type of proactive innovation.” 

Webb said he also wants to stress the importance of the customer experience during his keynote, and pointed out that security companies “need to understand the five touch points of the customer journey, and how to invent better experiences across those five touch points.”

Ultimately, he said, security companies need to do a better job of knowing their customers. “After 36 months of research we saw how the best companies on the planet were using ‘customer typing’ as a way to deliver the most relevant and exquisite value to their customers.”

MICHAEL JAGGER
Michael Jagger, founder and CEO of Provident Security, flew to Tokyo specifically to go to Sukiyabashi Jiro, a three-star Michelin restaurant located in the basement of an office building.

It’s a 10-seat sushi bar presided over by master chef Jiro Ono. The plane ticket was expensive as was the sushi, but Jagger said, “It turned out to be an exceptionally cheap trip” because of what he learned from the experience.

Jagger will deliver the keynote at the Industry Excellence Breakfast at ESX. He’ll talk about what he learned from Jiro specifically, and why he believes it’s essential to look outside of the security industry for inspiration for “how to set your business apart in your market.”

Jagger has been looking outside of the industry for a number of years. He’s spent time at companies such as Toyota, FedEx, Tesla.

“The consumer has too many choices,” he said. “We’re all in business to look after our customers. If you’re not remarkable, or perceived to be remarkable, your customers will go elsewhere,” Jagger said.

He’ll discuss how he took what he learned from different innovative companies and applied it to his company culture, processes and customer experience.

ALAN BEAULIEU
Economist Alan Beaulieu, who spoke at ESX last year, will return as the ESX closing keynote speaker this year.

Asked for a preview of where the economy is headed in 2016, Beaulieu told Security Systems News, “We’re in a different place than we were last year.”

Beaulieu plans to talk about leading economic indicators, consumer activity and business activity. Hint: Things look good.

A principal of ITR Economics, Beaulieu will share his economic forecast with an emphasis on how macrotrends are affecting the security industry in 2016.

He plans to touch on what has happened in states that produce oil and gas shale. “They face a different economy [from other states]. I’ll break out when oil prices will come back,” he said. Oil prices have a major effect on business and new home construction, and both of these obviously affect the physical security and alarm industry.

In general consumers are earning more money and there are more jobs available. “There’s a lot of good news for the essential client base for ESX attendees,” he said.

Want to know the implications for the security industry of the tight labor market, rising interest rates, the presidential election? Beaulieu will give his take on all of the above.

Beaulieu hopes the audience will come armed with questions. “I really enjoy questions during and after that presentation,” he said. “I want to maximize the takeaway value.”

Beaulieu is an editor of Industry Week and is the co-author of the book “Prosperity in the Age of Decline.” ESX chairman George De Marco said that several ESX attendees have told him that they read Beaulieu’s book after his keynote address last year, and one security company owner required all of his managers to read the book and rerouted his business plan as the result of listening to Beaulieu and reading his book.

SSN editor Martha Entwistle contributed to this report.
 

Topic:
by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, April 13, 2016

At this year’s ISC West, the big theme on the residential side was the connected home, and all of the possibilities now available to dealers who are looking to provide interactive services, including some DIY options, to the homeowner.

The DMP Owners Forum, a daylong training event for dealers, included the introduction of new products and services tailored to help dealers take advantage of the connected home and DIY.

The smart-home theme continued on the ISC West show floor, as I visited residential smart home providers including Icontrol One, Alarm.com, Qolsys, 2GIG and Honeywell Security & Fire—the biggest booth at ISC West 2016 this year.

As you will see in my ISC West Roundup, many of these companies unveiled new technology, and outlined the increased support and options now available for dealers looking to provide these options to their customers.
 
After the show, I caught up with David Paja, president, Honeywell Security & Fire, to see if he was hearing the same kind of buzz at this year’s show. 

“For us it was probably one of the busiest shows in the past few years,” Paja said. “ISC West was very exciting for us this year as there is a lot going on in the industry right now, and I had a lot of discussions about connected homes, connected buildings, and new technology and software development in those areas.”

At the booth, Paja said the company was excited to launch its Lyric Security offering, which he said he has been talking about for over a year, but is now officially in production. “We are bringing together with Lyric our connected home offering across Honeywell, which is a family of products that cover security, safety and comfort (energy management and thermostats, for example), and the response from the marketplace has been phenomenal and the orders that we are booking are more than we anticipated.”

Paja also noted that two recent company acquisitions—RSI and Xtralis—are helping to expand Honeywell’s offerings and position in 2016.

“Everything is going visual—that is what we believe in the industry,” said Paja. “Historically, alarm notifications were enough, but with visual video verification we are seeing a strong demand from end users, as well as law enforcement in an effort to manage and reduce the cost of false alarms, as well as for central monitoring stations. This big push toward visualizing the alarms and the events is a long-term trend in our view, and RSI has a unique and leading position in terms of video verification solutions, one that we did not have in the U.S.”

As these residential-focused companies reposition themselves to stay at the forefront of trends in the industry, dealers will be able to change with the times as well, and not let new technology pass them by.

 

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by: Paul Ragusa - Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Monday, April 4

I made it—Vegas, baby! But it wasn’t easy. Starting with a de-icing of my plane in Maine, followed by a gate change that added a few thousand extra steps to my airport stroll, a delay in Charlotte, and a long flight sitting next to some women who were more than excited to talk to me about going to Vegas without their husbands, and I finally touched down in Sin City.

Looking forward to a busy week of booth visits, forums, events, parties and meetings, and making face-to-face connections with people in the industry.

And don’t forget to stop by the SSN/ISC West Media Stage and say hello to the SSN team, as we will be doing video interviews for ssnTV as part of our coverage at ISC West.

Keep checking back each day for a report on each day’s happenings.

More to come …

Tuesday, April 5

My first full day at ISC West 2016 was spent with the good folks at DMP, who provided a great daylong ownership forum in support of its dealers.

DMP’s VP of product design Jeff Britton introduced the XTLplus Wireless Security Control Panel. He pointed out that DMP developers and engineers strove to create a panel for "fast installation, reliable security and ease of operation." The panel includes "all the features and benefits dealers will need in a residential or small commercial panel, in a single small footprint," including 48 zones of 900Mhz 2-way wireless, cellular and Wi-Fi communication and Z-Wave Plus all in one.

For customers who also want to the convenience and power of mobile control via the Virtual Keypad App Wi-Fi is a great option, and cellular backup as communication to the Central Station is also available.

Several dealers commented that they were happy to see that DMP is responding to the latest trends—DIY and home automation—while also providing a forum where they can give feedback about the direction DMP is taking with its products and services.

Many dealers had one, two and even six questions in one case, and were able to have these questions answered by DMP product designers in attendance who actually created the new panel.

Dealers were also able to ask questions about DMP’s new OnDemand Monitoring solution, which allows customers to purchase monitoring from a security company for however long they will need it—one day, three days, etc.

In addition to the introduction of new products to help dealers, the forum also provided two excellent keynote speakers, Rory Vaden and Mark Murphy.

Rory Vaden, who is author of the best-selling book Take the Stairs, is a self-discipline strategist and award-winning entrepreneur and business leader, who co-founded Southwestern Consulting, a multi-million dollar global consulting practice. Dealers in attendance seemed to get a lot out of Rory’s message about the habits and discipline required to be a “top performer” or “ultra performer,” which ultimately helps dealers "improve all aspects of the their lives and businesses," he said.

Mark Murphy, whose bestselling books include Hundred Percenters: Challenge Your People to Give It Their All and They’ll Give You Even More and Hiring for Attitude has created some of the biggest ideas in leadership. Mark did an excellent job of getting to the root of "what makes great leaders great," as he said, and the steps that are needed to be the best company owner or leader you can be.

More to come …

Wednesday, April 6

I started the day at the 9th annual Axis Communications breakfast, which turned out to be a great way to prepare for ISC West, while learning about the newest camera technology and solutions the company was unveiling. Using a Fairy Tale theme and the Goldilocks and the Three Bears story, Axis CEO Martin Gren pointed out how Axis has solutions to fit the needs of small, medium and enterprise locations.

During the presentation, Gren unveiled the Axis Companion Line, a comprehensive out-of-the-box solution to help small businesses address their security needs that also offers a focused support program for local installers called the Axis Companion Specialist initiative, as well as delivering quality benefits of IP-based video surveillance. The company also introduced three new mini-dome network cameras to its M30 Series, two multi-sensor panoramic cameras, and Perimeter Defender, a video analytics application for intrusion detection that is best suited for the enterprise market. AXIS also unveiled its Camera Station 5, a full-featured video management software best suited for mid-sized installations, and updates to its popular Zipstream technology.

Keeping with the theme of video solutions, great food and good people, I was able to attend a press event hosted by Genetec, Bosch Security and SecureXperts, and the unveiling of their Cyber Secure IP Video Solution featuring CHAVE, which stands for Credentialed High Assurance Video Encryption. With cybersecurity such a hot topic right now, those in attendance were eager to hear about how CHAVE is resilient against unauthorized access, malware, brute force cracking and other exploit techniques.

For my booth visits, I was able to get some unique glimpses into some great new technology and products being introduced at ISC West 2016.

My visit to the Salto Systems booth gave me a summary of the company's evolution, new software and security access control solutions. Salto’s VP of Marketing Jennifer Stack provided a comprehensive overview of the company’s wire-free electronic locking solutions, and the future direction the company is going both domestically and internationally.

My visit to the SRI Identity booth allowed me to see the company's exciting biometric technology first-hand. SRI Identity’s Steven Perna, executive director of products & solutions, gave me a demo of the power of biometric technology featuring iris recognition—the future of identity and access control is here!

I then stopped by the STOPware booth, where the STOPware team of Paul Terschuren, company president/CEO, Phil Mantia, senior account manager, and Debbie Pendleton, VP of sales and marketing, gave me a fascinating look at the capabilities of the company’s secure visitor identification and tracking technology—so many applications and options available!

I also was able to get some face-to-face time with the marketing team at Icontrol Networks/Icontrol One—David Box and Greg Roberts—who shared with me the company’s evolution and success with its interactive security and home automation products and services, as well as how the company is helping dealers to benefit from the new opportunities available in the connected home market. 

I also had an opportunity to tour the Honeywell Security & Fire booth—the biggest booth this year at ISCWest2016. Honeywell’s George Janelis, senior channel manager, gave me some informative demos of the amazing technology Honeywell now has available for the connected home, and outlined the increased support and options now available for Honeywell dealers looking to provide these options to their customers.
 
More to come …

Thursday, April 7

What an exciting day at ISC West 2016, as we started the day bright and early with the Security 5K/2K with Mission 500, a great charity in support of children and families in need. This year’s race raised $95,000, and awareness of how much more still needs to be done.

Back at the expo hall, I was able to conduct two video interviews at the SSN Media Stage for ssnTV. My first interview was with Tom Kerber of Parks Associates, a leading market research company, who shared with me some interesting insights from the show as he was able to meet face-to-face with so many from the security industry. He noted that ISC West is an opportunity to gather “qualitative evidence to support some of the data and research we are seeing in areas like RMR growth, for example.”

My second video interview was with Loud Security Systems President John Loud, who shared some insights on the industry, and the importance of this show for him, as he was able to meet with fellow dealers at the DMP Owners’ Forum on Monday, which “was outstanding this year, as they introduced some new products and services that can help give dealers more opportunities” in the connected home and DIY space, which is getting so much attention right now. He also noted that ISC West gives him a chance to visit with other partners such as Honeywell to see firsthand the newest products, services and training the company provides in support of its dealers. 

In the afternoon I was back on the trade show floor visiting booths, and checking out the latest and greatest in the industry.

I visited BeON, a company that CEO Alexei Erchak said “is taking a preventative approach” to security with its smart light bulbs that learn your schedule, and provide a simple but effective burglary deterrent.  As he pointed out and demonstrated, you just use your light switch to turn it on and off just like any other bulb, but you recharge the built-in smart battery each time the light is on.

At the Altronix booth, Kirby Han gave me an informative overview of the company’s newest security, access, fire and surveillance products, which he pointed out “are evolving to meet the needs of dealers,” from residential to commercial.

At the Galaxy Control Systems booth, I was able to meet with Rick Caruthers, executive vice president, and Robert Laughlin, president, who spent some valuable time giving me his unique perspective on an industry he has been working and innovating in for more than 35 years. He pointed that the company provides a “complete and secure solution” for dealers, one that is based on decades of proven research and development from some of the best minds in the industry.

Visited the Nortek Security & Control booth, where Greg Stone, video product line manager, gave me a demo on the full line of new 2GIG IP video solutions for the residential and small business markets.

Also sat down with Mitchell Klein, new executive director of Z-Wave Alliance, who shared with me the company’s unique vision for the smart home, including a look at the direction the company is going with its amazing products and technology.

Also met with some other interesting exhibitors, including Fibaro Home Intelligence, where I spoke with Rich Bira, managing director, USA, and Sightlogix, outdoor video specialists, where I spoke with John Romanowich, president & CEO, as well as RSF Security, where I met with Dennis Bitton, general manager.

Was also able to make it over the Axis Communications booth, where I got a tour of the company’s newest camera and surveillance technology and products. 

Also visited with OnSSI, On-Net Surveillance Systems, an award-winning IP-based surveillance software company that shared with me the next evolution of its software.

Also made it over to Universal Electronics, which specializes in sensing and control technologies for the smart home. The companuy announced at the show that Ecolink Intelligent Technology, Inc., its wholly owned subsidiary, has entered into an agreement with Interlogix, which operates as UTC Fire & Security Americas Corporation, Inc. Through this agreement Ecolink security sensors will be available exclusively through all Interlogix sales channels within the residential and commercial security segment.

More to come ...

Friday, April 8

I finished my first ISC West strong, packing as much excitement as I could into the shortened last day, and powering through like I did at the finish line of the Security 5K the day before.

All I can say is, I survived the race, and my first ISC West!

All and all, the overall buzz for the week on the show floor was positive, with many saying traffic and attendance seemed equal to or stronger than past years, although official numbers are not in yet.

For my video interview for ssnTV today, I sat down with ESX chairman and security industry veteran George De Marco, who shared with me his experiences at ISC West this week, as well his vision on the industry moving forward. He also gave me a preview of ESX 2016, which is June 8-10, in Fort Worth, Texas. De Marco said he is “expecting a great show this year. We have a robust educational lineup, as well as exciting keynote speakers, events and training lined up.”

To start the day off on the trade show floor, I swung by the award-winning DMP booth to congratulate the team and see up-close some of the products the company had unveiled earlier at the DMP Owners Forum on Tuesday, including its new XTLplus Wireless Security Control Panel.

I then made it over to first-time exhibitor, Alarm.com. It was great meeting Jay Kenny, senior vice president of marketing, face-to-face earlier in the week, and to see the new products the company was unveiling at ISC West this year, including a Wi-Fi Doorbell Camera - Skybell HD Edition.Alarm.com also launched a new V521IR indoor infrared camera, and a new eight channel SVR100 continuous in-home video recorder. Although this was the first time Alarm.com was exhibiting, the company has had a strong presence at the show for many years, providing training for its dealers in an ideal industry setting.

I had the opportunity to visit the Kwikset booth, and get a demo of the company’s latest smart lock and access control technology products from Keith Brandon, VP, sales & marketing, residential access solutions. At the show this year, Kwikset unveiled its Kevo Home Connect Bridge, an all-new bridge device accessory that seamlessly integrates the Bluetooth-enabled Kevo smart lock with home automation and security systems. The company also announced its keyway-less touchscreen lock, its signature series motorized deadbolt with home connect technology, and its smartcode touchscreen deadbolt.

I also visited some companies in the DIY space, including the Nest/Google booth, as well as the Smanos booth, where I met with General Manager Brian Stark, who shared with me the company’s vision for 2016, especially on the residential side, including the ISC West launch of its UFO Panoramic WiFi HD Camera and Smart Video Doorbell as new additions to its comprehensive range of easy-to-use smart home security products. The smart home company also showcased its award-winning K1 SmartHome DIY Kit. 

Well, as they say, that’s a wrap! See you next year!

 

 

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by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The other night while activating my new phone, my son overheard me setting up the voice-recognition feature, dutifully repeating the set-up phrase, “Hey Siri,” which prompted sarcastic questions from him like, “Hey Dad, are you sure you know how to do that?” and “You want me to help you set that up?”

And while his ribbing was good-natured, he got me thinking about how his post-Millennial generation is growing up in a world where automation and voice activation—in all aspects of life—are expected and even sought out. And not just for asking where the closest vegan restaurant is or the best recipe for lasagna.

In fact, findings from a recent Home Automation Report from the Connected Intelligence Division of the NPD Group, a market research company, found that nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of smart home product owners used a smartphone to control or monitor their home automation devices. Additionally, 73 percent of smart homeowners already use voice commands, with 61 percent of those consumers expressing an interest in wanting to use voice to control more products in their homes.

With the rise of home automation products and services on the residential side, combined with the ever-increasing need for homeowners to have complete control over their systems, dealers and installers find themselves scrambling to keep up with the current pace of technology.

In my discussions with security dealers leading up to ISC West in Las Vegas next week, voice technology and integration is at the top of most of their must-see lists on the tradeshow floor. They realize that residential consumers today are starting to take a serious look at the capabilities of the connected home, especially if they can control it all with an app and the sound of their voice.

And with new players on the resi side now offering DIY and home-automation options and services sans the need for a security system, dealers today need to move swiftly to compete for the smart home market, while effectively imparting to their customers that the two—home automation and security—should be mutually inclusive.

With smart home technologies changing the way homeowners look at security and home-automation, dealers also need to have a staff that is trained to have the right answers for today’s tech-savvy customer.

If they don’t, there are others who are eager to move in and provide that answer and solution, by way of a security system or otherwise.

 

by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, March 23, 2016

While the “smart home” may be a vision of the future—with the rise in interest and demand for these technologies and services continuing unabated—all is not golden in this quickly emerging world of interconnectedness. Potential concerns include cost, ease of set-up and self-service, and support services.
 
Following data released in December by Argus Insights that shows growth in consumer demand for connected home devices slowing in 2015, findings from a recent survey reveal the specific challenges consumers are facing.

SSN reported on a June 2015 study from Argus, “Connected Home or Ho-Hum?” that showed a similar downward trend for smart home services, although many in the industry disputed the report, and many leading smart home companies are showing increases for 2015 in the adoption rate for their smart home interactive services.

As the industry continues to show interest in, and adopt the myriad new smart home services now available—controlling everything from your lights and heat to tracking your sleep patterns and even when your toast is done—there still may be some growing pains for this quickly emerging market.

To gain a better understanding of these challenges and explore possible solutions, Support.com, a provider of cloud-based software and services, surveyed more than 3,000 U.S. consumers in an effort to look at drivers and barriers of smart home usage and consumer behavior for both smart homeowners and potential buyers.

While nearly a quarter of respondents (23 percent) indicated that they have a smart home system installed in their home, the survey found key areas (cost, ease of set-up and self service, and support services) that may be causing some challenges or obstacles for existing and potential new consumers.

Despite the enhanced value to a home, the survey found that the perceived cost of smart home systems is a deterrent for many consumers, with 42 percent saying that price was their greatest frustration when purchasing, installing and maintaining their smart home systems.

The complexity of installing and configuring smart home systems is also frustrating users and causing hesitation in potential buyers. The survey found that 31 percent of smart home owners struggle with the complexity of setup, configuration and ongoing support for their devices, while 18 percent of smart home owners said their biggest frustration is when all of the devices don’t properly communicate and work together, and 43 percent of potential smart home buyers are concerned about the complexity of installing and configuring smart home devices and systems.

According to the survey, of current smart home owners, 61 percent want to fix issues on their own and become frustrated if they can’t, and 57 percent installed, connected and set-up all the devices and services themselves to save money on installation. Of potential buyers, 39 percent would rather install, connect and set-up all the devices and services on their own and save the money, and 22 percent would not buy a smart home system because they perceive it would be too complicated to install and set up on their own.

So while these findings are showing some hesitation as consumers try to make sense of the potential this new world of interconnectedness has, they also point to the need for security dealers and installers to connect more with their customers—and potential new customers—to bridge that gap between their interest in these new smart home technologies and their fear of taking the leap into this cool new world of interactive services.

By addressing these concerns up front, and adding some more transparency to the overall process, companies and installers may find that this initial resistance to smart home technology and services gives way to understanding and wider acceptance and adoption.

 

by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, March 16, 2016

With ISC West 2016 right around corner, my calendar for appointments is starting to fill up fast! As this is my first show as managing editor of Security Systems News, I am excited to connect with as many industry folks as I can, and learn as much as possible about the residential side of the business, which is my primary focus. To that end, I encourage you to reach out to me in the coming week to set up a time to visit your booth, or to meet and talk about the industry.

I know from my past experiences at key industry trade shows, that events such as ISC West provide an invaluable setting to meet face-to-face with people that we have developed relationships with over the years, or are just meeting for the first time after numerous conversations on the phone and email correspondences that, oftentimes, serve as our first informal introductions. But, as many of you know, it is vitally important in today’s ever-changing industry to take advantage of every opportunity to meet with peers and other industry professionals in this type of forum.

In addition to the valuable ‘schmoozing’ that goes on, I am eager to see first-hand how new technology, products and services are helping to shape and transform the industry, as well as meet with manufacturers and vendors who work closely with our readers—the security dealers and installers—to help them provide their customers with the best security and services as possible.

In addition to setting up appointments for the show floor, SSN editors, including me, will be doing short video interviews on the SSN stage outside the exhibit hall, as we have in past years. These video interviews provide a unique glimpse into the ISC West show experience from the attendees’ perspective, and I encourage you to reach out to me if you have something new and unique that you would like to talk about or share.

See you in Vegas!

Email me at: [email protected].

 

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