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by: Amy Canfield - Wednesday, July 1, 2015

It’s the Millennials who are the biggest DIY buyers, according to ESX 2015 panelists at a “DIY Security—Competition or Opportunity” discussion. 

Icontrol’s 2015 State of the Smart Home Report, a nationwide survey which Security System News conducted and has reported on earlier, also found that the Millennial generation, loosely defined as those born in the early 1980s to the early 2000s, are big consumers of home automation. You can read more about the survey at the above link, but here a few new tidbits from it from its recent official release.

The report said, “U.S. consumers aged 25-34 express a higher level of excitement around the following benefits of the smart home:

  • Greater productivity and ability to manage work-life balance, 40 percent vs. 23 percent of consumers overall.
  • Making it easier to enjoy music, movies and web surfing anywhere in the house, 26 percent vs. 18 percent.
  • Helping anticipate the needs, such as shopping lists and minor repairs, 24 percent vs. 18 percent.
  • More interactive features that help me connect with the people in my life, 21 percent vs. 13 percent.”

Entertainment has emerged as a smart home driver, icontrol found. Interest in the entertainment link has grown to 55 percent since last year’s report. Consumers want their entertainment rooms connected to their smart home, followed by their kitchens and bedrooms. 

A challenge is getting that younger generation to move from DIY to traditional security providers, according to Brian Leland of Interlogix and Sterling Barnes of Melaleuca Security, the panelists at the ESX discussion. You'll be able to read more about the ESX DIY panel later, so stay tuned, please. 

The icontrol report had some other great factoids as well, so stay tuned for more info on that as well. 

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by: Amy Canfield - Monday, June 22, 2015

BALTIMORE—Rapid change in the industry, home automation, the IofT and DIY were prevalent themes at the sessions I attended today.

First up was the OpenXchange, a forum featuring Mike Hackett of Qolsys, Rod Coles of Bold Technologies, Syed Zaeem Hosain of Aeris and Alexei Erchak of BeON, moderated by George De Marco, ESX chairman.

De Marco asked audience members if they were ready to be disrupted. Emerging technology and cloud-based security is changing the industry forever, he said. “Is your company just surviving or experiencing transformational success? What differentiates you?”

The panelists discussed the need for manufacturers to keep up with the pace of change by responding to customers’ feedback; the impact of home automation and DIY and how to meld those into the security business and more.

I’ll be writing in more detail about this interesting overview soon, so stay tuned.

Next was “DIY Security—Competition or Opportunity?” with Brian Leland of Interlogix and Sterling Barnes of Melaleuca Security, moderated by Kirk MacDowell of Alarm.com.

Interlogix looks at DIY as a long-term strategy, it will only keep growing, Leland said. It’s the fastest evolving market and there’s a lot traditional security providers can learn from it, he said.

Barnes said he doesn’t see a need to be in direct competition with DIY. “Our customers come to us because they want a professionally installed system,” he said. “Don’t be worried that NEST and Google will ruin your business, but customers will want some of those features.” I’ll be writing further about this discussion as well.

Next, Jamie Kane, president of Sandler Training, talked to company heads about “Assuming the Right Leadership Role.” This interactive session had audience members discussing their jobs as mentors, supervisors, coaches and trainers, and how to find the right balance for their specific company’s success. What should be their primary focus? I sat in on an “audience group” with Brendan Armstrong, president of Trinity Wiring and Security Solutions; Ritch Haselden of Essence; and Robert Irish of Mediacom. Those three gentlemen were passionate about their roles as company leaders and took the session seriously. Takeaway? Delegate. Don’t train and supervise when others can do it. Motivate and coach.

“Monetize the Internet of Things,” moderated by Kirk MacDowell, aimed to “unbaffle and provide clarity” about IoT, he said. People are frustrated by all the products out there. What to do? Qolsys’ Hackett, Alarm.com’s Jeff Bedell, Honeywell’s Gordon Hope and ADT’s Paul Plofchan all noted that most people most trust security companies to monitor their home automation systems, so that’s a prime opportunity. “The opportunity is to sell into the demand. The risk is that as an industry we let someone else do it,” Bedell said.

Said Hope, “What do we say when the customer says, ‘I don’t need your monitoring. I can get it direct from my app for free.’” The answer is, he said, “We’re not free because we provide value. You can DIM, but apps won’t keep your house from burning down. Notifications are great, but what if you’re halfway around the world?”

Tell customers why you’re not free and why you’re unique, Hope said, adding that “we will not survive as an industry without offering home automation. Embrace the change, there’s much more upside than downside.”

At ESA Celebrates, De Marco encouraged donations to the ESA philanthropy project, ESA Gives Back! This year, donations go to the Green Berets’ Next Ridgeland, a program that helps Green Berets transition from active duty to the next step in their lives. De Marco’s daughter sang one of the loveliest renditions of “I’m Proud to be an American” that I’ve ever heard.

All in all, a great day. Well done, ESX 2015.

This morning, Security Systems News publisher Tim Purpura officially announces our new conference, Cloud+. Much more about that to come.

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BALTIMORE—I had a very nice conversation with BeON CEO Alexei Erchak late this afternoon, who was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule here in ESX-Land to fill me on his company’s growing success. (That took place after we both, being New Englanders, complained just a little, tiny bit about this city’s oppressive heat.) 

Since I last spoke to him at ISC West, BeON has “made a lot of progress on a lot of fronts,” he said.

The LED lightbulb preventative security system has passed UL testing, dealers are clamoring for it and BeON is shipping now to beta testers and Kickstarter backers. He’s here at ESX to talk further with dealers.

BeON is targeting the 80 percent of the market that says that it doesn’t want a home security system.

Erchak has heard from numerous consumers who appreciate his company’s approach, he said. Women in the 25- to 35-year-old range who live with roommates or with a spouse who travels a lot, for instance, tell him that they like the system because it makes it look like more people are home when they just might be there by themselves.

Feedback has been key to BeON’s growth, he said. “People are giving us ideas for protection, ideas we never even thought of,”  he said.

“By this time next year we’ll be talking about interoperability,” Erchak said.

I’ll certainly keep in touch with Erchak to see how his company progresses.

Tomorrow I’ll be attending a number of ESX educational sessions to get up to date on the latest trends and challenges in the physical security sector, so stay tuned.

Right now there’s a fierce thunderstorm outside my hotel, so I won’t be venturing out much. I hear the restaurant downstairs has awesome crabcakes, so here I go. 

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Tomorrow, June 23, I am en route to Baltimore for ESX 2015. I’m a veteran of ASIS and ISC West and a number of other, smaller shows, but this will be my first time at the Electronics Security Expo. I’ve heard great things about it from colleagues and from industry pros, so I’m looking forward to it. (Plus, I am a big fan of Maryland crab.)

After the great whirlwind on the show floor at ISC West, I will enjoy the opportunity to attend a number of educational sessions to dig deeper into topics of import to the resi industry and the chance to catch up with some of my sources as well.

I’ll be updating this post daily about who I see, what I learn and what is trending, so please check back often. I’ll also be tweeting. And stay tuned, because I’ll be posting stories from the ed sessions, too. See you at ESX!

 

 

by: Amy Canfield - Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The other day I sat in on Honeywell’s virtual press conference on its latest industry trends in commercial life safety systems. The company had a nice lineup of their pros on hand to discuss their work and what they'll be highlighting at next week's NFPA World Safety Conference and Expo. 

Brian Carlson, manager of strategic marketing, Gamewell-FCI, said the S3 Series fire alarm system for small- and medium-sized buildings allays users’ fears about “pressing the wrong button” and thus eases stress and confusion during an emergency.

As the industry’s only small, addressable panel with a color touch-screen, “everything that needs to be pressed is highlighted. It gives people confidence,” Carlson said. Building owners especially like the custom function and shortcut function keys, he added.

Susan Adam, NOTIFIER’s marketing director, talked about how SWIFT—Smart Wireless Integrated Fire Technology—is helping dealers win jobs at construction sites and renovation projects because of its easy installation and removability when the job is finished. Sites and even separate building areas under construction or renovation still need to be protected, she emphasized, “and SWIFT can differentiate dealers.” SWIFT recently was installed at two large temporary buildings at the World Ski Championships in Vail, Colo., and at a 100-year-old mansion in Massachusetts that was being renovated.

On the Fire-Lite Alarms, Silent Knight, side of things, marketing director Richard Conner discussed the company’s growth with low-frequency alarms, especially for children, young adults and the hearing-impaired. I spoke with Conner about this at ISC West, but learned a little more this time around about the alarms’ use in college dormitories, motels, hotels, assisted living facilities and the like. Studies have shown that the low-frequency signal is most effective in waking up children and young adults, he said during the press conference, and are more effective than bed- and pillow-shakers.

Christa Poss, senior manager of product marketing, System Sensor, said the latest addition to the FAAST smoke detector product portfolio, FAAST XS, targets smaller areas, up to 5,000 square feet. Those areas include elevator shafts, cable ducts and boiler rooms. FAAST XS offers “extension communication and connectivity options all without the need for new hardware,” Poss said. FAAST is now available in three varieties to protect from 5,000 square feet to up to 28,800 square feet.

Charles Simek, industrial, product and technology specialist, Honeywell Industrial Safety, gave an overview of Honeywell’s optical flame detection analytics’ success, and Gene Pecora, business leader, industrial fire, Honeywell Fire Safety, discussed areas where Honeywell is getting into new areas or expanding its capabilities.

“Incidents occur in the petrochem industry all the time,” Pecora said, to the tune of $20b a year. It’s not uncommon in process locations to have small incidents that don’t make the news as the big events do, but those incidents need accurate and reliable equipment just the same, he said.

He said Honeywell’s new HS-81 is a unique, “all-in-one-solution” for smoke, flame, gas and extinguishing that meets global certifications.

by: Amy Canfield - Wednesday, June 3, 2015

My colleague, Spencer Ives, has been keeping me updated on our latest Security Systems News Poll about women in the security industry.

What do I have to say?

Here’s what I say: I am appalled.

I can’t believe I am even writing these words in 2015. Some of the comments responding to our poll are unbelievable, so misogynistic that I can’t even put them on here. (Hint: It’s better for a woman to be barefoot and pregnant.)

While some respondents talk about how vital it is to have women in the physical security workplace, others—women—speak of how they’ve been discriminated against, how they’ve had to leave their jobs because of harassment; the “good old boys’ network” has a complete and solid divide when it comes to women in security positions.

I have met so many enthusiastic women in the security field. Dynamic, smart and successful women. I have attended Women's Security Council gatherings to honor women who have served so well and who do such a great job at the executive level.

I have also met many men in the industry who would never, ever, say a disparaging remark about their female coworkers. They're partners; they work to the best of their abilities to serve their customers. 

Here's to all of you who do such great job, no matter your gender!

by: Amy Canfield - Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The alumni list for Security Systems News’ “20 under 40” awards for end users is outstanding. Past winners work for hospitals, public school districts, utilities, Google, retail chains big and small, Facebook, universities and major corporations.

We’re seeking nominations now for more of these young, intelligent and dedicated end users for our upcoming awards.

Please take a few moments and think of your customers: Who is the most up-to-date on the latest technology and knows what they need to physically secure their workplaces? Who is dedicated and passionate about their responsibilities?  Or, maybe, you just need to look in the mirror. Do you fit the bill? You are perfectly welcome to nominate yourself.

Honoring these men and women means a lot to them. I’ve heard from past winners who say the award helped them advance in their careers and gave them more cred with the c-suite.

In addition to being profiled on the SSN website and in our print publication, each of our past “20 under 40” end user winners, who we honor at the annual TechSec Solutions in February in Delray Beach, Fla., have added greatly to the conference’s discussions and networking. Many of them have served on educational panels at the event; some have become members of our expert advisory panel. All in all, their input is vital to the success of the show.

Nominate them here. The deadline is July 1. I’m looking forward to getting to know them.

 

 

 

by: Amy Canfield - Wednesday, May 20, 2015

You’ve heard the old real estate sales mantra: “Location, location, location.” For many in the residential security industry today, the new mantra is “Design, design, design.” 

At ISC West this year I met with a long list of security pros, from manufacturers to dealers to providers, most of whom proclaimed that on top of tech advancements their equipment was made “to look good.” 

They’re right. Their designs are looking good.

Panels, switches, sensors and more are sleek with a European-design feel. They will be less than obtrusive when mounted on a wall. No more huge black or brown boxes in the front foyer—these blend in. 

The equipment, mostly white and thin, reminded me of the first, very early, iBook I owned. So pretty and neat, small and clean. That was a number of years ago, and my iBook eventually met its demise, but I still remember it fondly, mostly for how it looked in comparison to other bulky laptops of the day. 

“This is the year of industrial design,” Avi Rosenthal, board member of the Z-Wave Alliance and VP of security and control for Nortek, told me early on at the Las Vegas show.  His comments resonated as I visited other booths after that. 

For homeowners, form is equally as important as function for all products, he and others said.

“It’s the ‘wife-acceptance’ factor. She’s the one who decorates, so the devices must look cool on the wall,” Rosenthal said.

Who wants something big, dark and ugly hitched to the wall just inside their front door? Not me. Neither did former ADT exec Christopher Carney when deciding on the look of his new Abode home resi system.

The pursuit of aesthecially pleasing design extended into the ISC West booths themselves this year. Honeywell, for example, had all of its products—from fire to resi—on interactive display in one big, nicely appointed space—think of an Apple store. 

Nortek had a new, interactive booth, too, with each of its sister companies representing myriad slick-looking products. 

How big a deal is this whole aesthetics thing to you and your companies? Are you feeling the need to adapt to the latest trends in home décor? Are you hearing this from your customers? 

If your products are less than pretty, you might want to consider how good design might add to your bottom line.

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by: Amy Canfield - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Z-Wave Alliance, the consortium of companies deploying Z-Wave’s wireless control products and services, has launched Z-Wave Labs, a competition to support and provide incentive for IofT innovation on the Z-Wave platform.

Winners—one chosen each month for 12 months—will receive alliance membership and IofT development kits.

“We’ve all watched ‘Shark Tank,’ ” Avi Rosenthal, an alliance board member and VP of security and control for Nortek, said in an interview with Security Systems News. The logical question was “how do we do a Shark Tank for Z-Wave,” Rosenthal said.

The group wants to hear from “passionate” start-ups and entrepreneurs who want to bring Z-Wave products to market, he said.

“The beauty of this is that there are no bounds. People have wonderful imaginations,” Rosenthal said.

The alliance will provide no financial help, but “we will assist them, we will mentor them. It’s a great opportunity for them within the alliance. We will recognize them and give them guidance. It’s like when your little brother starts college,” Rosenthal said.

According to the alliance, the competition is open to private companies of any size and to individuals 18 and older as of March 1 of this year who submit their Z-Wave product innovation through an online application. Each entrant must submit an application before the 15th of each month in order be considered for that month's contest. Applications can be for products in any IoT related industry, including residential, commercial, automotive, healthcare, energy, security and aging-in-place.

Judges will choose winners based on innovation, functionality, engineering and design style, ingenuity, breadth of applicability marketability and ease of use. Winners will be notified and announced at the end of every month and featured on the Z-Wave Labs  website and on social media. 

Each winner will receive access to the Z-Wave IoT 500 series development kits from Sigma Designs and a year of alliance membership, which provides the opportunity to

participate in alliance trade shows, working groups, PR and marketing opportunities and other related activities. Winners will be paired with mentors from the Z-Wave community in their related industry to provide technical and marketing and business development support.

Go here to learn more about Z-Wave Labs, apply for the competition and read frequently asked questions.

 

 

 

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by: Amy Canfield - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

MIAMI—Mission 500, the non-profit initiative focusing on the security industry and dedicated to serving the needs of children and communities in crisis, broke its record and raised more than $120,000 at ISC West this year through its sixth annual Security 5K/2K Run/Walk and other events.

Meanwhile, the group is seeking new donations to help children displaced as a result of the devastating April 25 earthquake in Nepal. Go here for information. So far, with help from the security industry, it has raised $7,578 for the children of Nepal, well on its way to its goal of $10,000.  

At ISC West 2015, volunteer participation and fundraising efforts for Mission 500 “were stronger than ever,” George Fletcher, Mission 500 executive director, said in a prepared statement. “We are truly grateful to each and every corporate and individual sponsor that continues to help Mission 500 provide food, supplies, clothing, medical attention and education to children here in the U.S. and around the globe.”

Proceeds from ISC West events will support U.S. children through the Rebuilding Hope at Home program, which helps provide academic scholarships, school supplies and essential items like clothing, personal hygiene supplies and building materials, as well as disaster response and training for community organizations to empower young people. A portion of the proceeds will also support children in Tanzania and India by providing access to clean water, food, education and health care, Mission 500 said.

More than 30 5K/2K participants in April became members of the 500 Club, which recognizes volunteers who raise $500 or more for Mission 500.

Pelco was the lead team in fundraising, donating a total of $10,420 in individual and company-matched donations, Mission 500 reported. Max Burgess of BCD Video was the top individual fundraiser with $1,780, followed by Heather Miller with $1,725 to be matched by her employer, Anixter. Jesse Foglio, Mary Jensby, Stephanie Mayes and Ronnie Pennington each donated more than $1,000, according to the statement.

In addition, HID Global sponsored its second school-kit build at ISC West and put together $10,000 worth of school supplies for children in a Title One School in the Las Vegas Area, Rex Bell Elementary School. Meanwhile, Altronix and ISC West organizers Reed Exhibitions made a joint $10,000 contribution to Mission 500’s #ShowOrange campaign, which benefits children in poverty in the United States. 

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by: Amy Canfield - Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Say your residential security company has made a huge dent in a particular neighborhood. You’ve got the area covered and all is good, for you and for homeowners.

Then some shifty guy comes around that neighborhood, knocks on your customers’ doors and professes to offer a better deal for their homes’ security than you can provide.

The guy is likely part of a door-to-door scam, and it’s also likely more guys like him will be showing up over the summer months, according to the Better Business Bureau. I read about a spate of this going on recently in Corpus Christie, Texas, but that's not to say Corpus Christie is a unique target of such ploys.

Vivint has a way of letting its customers know to be on the lookout for such scams. It encourages aware customers to contact the company about suspected scams or deceptive sales practices in their neighborhoods. Upon that notification, Vivint will send out an alert to alarm panels owned by customers in the impacted area. The message says that security scams have been reported nearby, and also gives a 24/7 phone number to call to verify a Vivint rep who might legitimately show up at the door.

“At Vivint, we take all possible measures to keep our customers protected. This includes keeping them apprised of what’s going on in and around their homes in real time,” Steve Dixon, VP of customer experience and operations, told me via email.

"The security alert is one of the things Vivint uses, in addition to customer emails and calls, to advise Vivint customers about questionable or deceptive sales practices used by competitor sales representatives in the area," Dixon said.

Good for Vivint, I say, and to all the other resi providers who provide such a service.

Scam artists, beware!

by: Amy Canfield - Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Guardian Protection Services has been busy lately, rolling out a new funding process for dealers and a new mobile app for customers along with a rebranding initiative during its 65th year.

A meeting with Guardian at ISC West last week didn’t come off as planned, so this week I caught up by phone with Joseph Lininger, VP of marketing, to talk about recent activity at the super-regional.

Guardian will now pay authorized dealers on a daily basis as opposed to a weekly basis for the accounts it purchases. “If the account is approved on Monday, the dealer gets paid on Tuesday,” Lininger said.

The change in payment processing was made to boost dealers’ cash flow to help optimize their operations. Guardian invested in proprietary software to accommodate the change.

Guardian also has released a mobile app for its customers who use the Alarm.com platform to control their homes. Developed for both iOs and Android, the app provides remote access to home security and automation systems through an Internet connection. Future upgrades will include more functions, added Guardian services and special messages.

The new dealer program and the app come on the heels of Guardian’s recent rebranding. A new logo and tag line—“At the Heart of Your Connected Home”—for resi and builder business divisions are in place to give customers “the correct perception of Guardian as a customer-centric technology firm specializing in security and automation while providing the most reliable, technologically advanced services to homes and businesses,” the company said in its announcement.

The rebranding project, which took a year to complete, was initiated to reflect the company’s evolution and position it for the future, Lininger said.

“We always keep our brand awareness at the top of our mind, Lininger said.

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