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On the Editor's Desk

by: Martha Entwistle - Monday, January 21, 2008
Just an FYI that Blogger has been hiding some comments from me for reasons undetermined and that you can see what some other people said if you scroll back down through the January posts. Okay, well, it's the Tim Whall post where people had the most to say. Check it out. Jan. 7. I think I've got the problem solved going forward, so you keep up the comments, and I'll keep up the random thoughts on Mission:Impossible.
by: Martha Entwistle - Wednesday, January 16, 2008
It's hard to pass up these mainstream videos from news organizations covering the proliferation of cameras in public spaces. It's such a great window into how the general population feels. We talk often about educating the end user, but maybe not often enough about educating the level below the end user. Is this something SIA could take on? A general public educational campaign about the benefits of CCTV? It might get more municipalities buying, I think, with less public uncertainty and cynicism. Go here to check out the latest from NYC. Pardon the ad that starts the video - everybody's got to pay the bills somehow.
by: Martha Entwistle - Tuesday, January 15, 2008
I always point out when the mainstream press gets security wrong, so I thought I'd point out this article that really does a nice job of explaining to the general public what's going on at their local courthouse. Nothing revolutionary, but the installer is interviewed and the nuts and bolts are outlined well. On a smaller note, I can't decide what to think about this quote: "The courthouse can be a violable place," Armentrout said. "If something were to happen, we hope to be able to respond to it adequately." Did he really say volatile or violent, and violable is a typo, or did he really say violable, using an archaic adjectival form of the verb to violate? Meaning, I guess, the courthouse can be a place where people are violated, in the broad sense of the word?
by: Martha Entwistle - Monday, January 14, 2008
When will the mainstream media disabuse themselves of this whole "Big Brother" filter with which they see all video surveillance projects? Check out this news broadcast from New York: Edit: For a while, the video was right here, but I couldn't figure out how to stop it from automatically playing every time the page loaded, so I got rid of it. To view the video, go here. Do you notice how they lead wondering "how neighbors feel being so closely watched by big brother"? It's absurd. Have they read 1984? Big Brother was a bad dude. He was the head of a government that went around rewriting history and had monitoring devices in people's homes. Somehow, that's been extrapolated to security cameras in public places, where you have no expectation of privacy whatsoever. It's a street corner. What are you worried people are going to see you doing there? But that's not even the problem here. The problem is that the media is supposed to accurately reflect the news as it's happened. Is there anyone complaining about the possibility of cameras here? Um, no. In fact, everyone they interview is completely in favor of the cameras. Why? Because, oh, I don't know, they're scared and they want someone to help them? The simple fact is, they're not going to be watched by Big Brother. They're going to be watched by their friends and neighbors, the fine folks that make up their police department, and they're going to be overseen by elected officials like County Executive Tom Santulli. This is the exact opposite of Big Brother. It's the people getting what they want, not having it imposed upon them against their will. Does the TV station listen to its own broadcast? “There's a lot of older people that live around here, it's a protected community and if the cameras will control the violence and drug affiliation then I'm all for it,” says Mitchell. “Everybody feels that there's some degree of invasion of privacy with things of that nature, but something has to be done about the crime that's starting to overrun our county,” says Christine Alington. Those sound like rational people to me. The broadcaster, however, sounds a bit hyperbolic. If the security industry doesn't push back on all this Big Brother talk, the implementation of real potential benefits will be hampered by such hyperbole.
by: Martha Entwistle - Thursday, January 10, 2008
Does this company just not have a security director? The plan is to put data centers on boats and then move them around to where they're needed, for disaster recovery situations and what not. Okay, for the temporary disaster recovery market, maybe I can see the need for this. But for a long-term data center solution? Aren't the risk factors a little too numerous? While every other data center does its best to remain anonymous, surrounds itself with bollards and two-foot-thick concrete walls, and talks about hot-redundancy, these guys float around on the ocean, open to the weather, with crazy people looking to pull a USS Cole, and talk about using the heat from the servers to warm their staff. In an ideal world, this might be a great idea. In the risk-laden world in which real people do business, this strikes me as borderline insane.
by: Martha Entwistle - Wednesday, January 9, 2008
Well, there's plenty of security-related news coming out of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas right now, but I don't feel like getting into much of it because I'm trying to get a paper out the door. Instead, I'm pointing you to this blog, where people seem to have the same opinion of giant shows in Las Vegas that I do (people who don't like naughty language, do not follow this link - you've been warned). My favorite bit? You can't walk five feet on the show floor without hearing some horrible line of moronic marketing speak come out of the mouth of an overly perky 5-foot-tall PR girl in a pantsuit, and it makes me want to stab myself in the ears. Not that I would know anything about that.
by: Martha Entwistle - Tuesday, January 8, 2008
Argyle Security, a rapidly growing international integrator born out of the San Antonio-based ISI, has announced three buys just now. The total purchase price is $14 million, so none of them is a big move, but they have collectively caused the company to up its revenue projections from between $105 and $115 million to between $128 and $142 million. If they're paying $14 million for about $25 million in year one revenue, that's not too bad, right? I'll have more about this on the wire Thursday.
by: Martha Entwistle - Monday, January 7, 2008
News just came over the wire that L-1 has entered into a definitive agreement to buy Bioscrypt, recently named the biometric market leader by an IMS study. In a stock-for-stock deal, L-1 will pay about $44 million Canadian, which isn't bad considering the 3Q results you can find here for Bioscrypt. Basically, the company will do about $20-$22 million in 2008, but lost $10 million in the three quarters ending Sept. 30, 2007. This statment from L-1's version of the release thus seems a little optimistic: It is expected to be Adjusted EBITDA accretive in 2009. The cost-savings measures L-1 has planned must be something special, especially considering Bioscrypt will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary and keeps its current locations. I'll have more on the newswire Thursday.
by: Martha Entwistle - Monday, January 7, 2008
Stories like this one about the nuclear industry's new panic about sleeping guards just couldn't be better marketing fodder for those of you out there peddling remote monitoring and video analytics. Perhaps the most shocking part is the ridiculously hypocritical nature of the operators of the power plants themselves. While they protest that they're very (VERY) concerned about security, it takes a borderline heroic security guard to embarrass them on local television before they take his claims about sleeping guards seriously. Check it out: I admire, actually, Wackenhut's realism here. The author paraphrases it this way: Wackenhut says that the entire nuclear industry needs to rethink security measures if it hopes to meet the tougher standards the NRC has tried to impose since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States. As in, "Dudes, you were fine with the sleeping guards for the past 50 years. Did you think they'd all of a sudden get much more attentive?" Everyone knows guarding a nuclear power station is some seriously boring work. Unfortunately, the one time guards are needed to act every 10 years or so is a pretty important situation. Thus, it makes sense that the guards need to be patrolling (i.e., moving) and video analytics and central monitoring stations need to be taking care of the surveillance.
by: Martha Entwistle - Thursday, January 3, 2008
For those of you eyeing the home automation space, it might be interesting to note that the CEA now believes at least half of all U.S. homes have a digital television. I'm not sure about the logic that HD TVs equal a need for surround sound and other home automation perks, but it's probably true that HD TV buyers are early adopters of technology in general and have more disposable income for home technology in general. Is it worth trying to partner up with HD TV retailers, a la the Geek Squad, so you know when a new HD TV has been purchased and you can swoop in and offer your services? Anyone got numbers on how much crossover there is between HD TV owners and home security owners? I bet there's a fairly high correlation.