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Stanley enhances its monitoring

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

It seems that Stanley Security has really been focusing on how it approaches monitoring lately.

Monday, the company announced its partnership with I-View Now, a cloud-based platform for central station video verification. Last week CSAA announced Stanley’s participation in its ASAP to PSAP program. Additionally, all of this is coming just weeks after Stanley announced its acquisition of SentryNet, a wholesale monitoring center.

Steve Walker, VP of customer service for Stanley said this could lead to other monitoring companies under Stanley—such as Sonitrol and SentryNet—joining ASAP as well. He noted that SentryNet is already integrated with I-View Now.

“The big advantage [of joining the ASAP program] is it reduces the time to communicate or dispatch on an alarm, so it just translates directly into an improved, faster response from the agency [and] it improves the accuracy of the agency response,” Steve Walker, VP of customer service for Stanley, told me.

Walker said Stanley has been working on joining the ASAP to PSAP program for about a year. Integrating the ASAP. Integration with the company’s automation software, IBS. “We’re IBS’ first customer to successfully connect to the network,” he said. Having completed this integration should make it easier for other IBS customers to join ASAP, he said.

I-View Now is integrated with many different DVRs and cameras, Walker said, and that’s a benefit for Stanley. “It greatly expands our product offering. … We don’t have to worry about integrating all of these different technologies into our software—all we have to do is integrate with I-View Now.”

Walker lauded I-View Now’s ability to allow end users to review a video feed at the same time as the central station after an alarm signal is sent. Stanley has also been working on this partnership for a year, he said.

Stanley has about 250,000 monitored customers in the United States, and another 80,000 in Canada, Walker said. Stanley is the second predominantly commercial business to join the program, after Diebold announced its participation last month.

10 ways security integrators can make money from cloud

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Can you make money from cloud-based video and access control? Are cloud-based systems more vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks? Is it too early to embrace cloud-based technology?

These are just three of the many questions that we'll be answering at Cloud+, a new conference that I've been putting together over the past several months. The conference is around the corner: Dec. 7-8 in Silicon Valley, but it's not too late to sign up!

Over that past two weeks, I've had conference calls with a very cool lineup of speakers who will be looking at cloud-based technology in a way that our industry has not previously done. We'll give you many more than 10 ways to make money from cloud. 

--The educational sessions will cover everything from basic definitions to the implications of central station infrastructure sitting in the cloud and the possibilities of cloud-powered biometrics.

--Our keynote speaker from Microsoft will talk about which industries are doing a good job taking advantage of cloud and how they're doing it.

--Leading integrators will give you expert advice and real-life examples of how to make profit and provide ROI from cloud-based access control and video.

--We’re excited to have Rodney Thayer, who’s adept at both security consulting and hacking, doing a presentation about cybersecurity and how to ensure safety in the cloud.

--The exhibit hall will be educational too. It's the first venue ever to showcase cloud-based physical security technology side-by-side in one place.

Hope to see you in California Dec. 7-8! Here's a link to the program and registration.

The IoP(ets)

Monday, November 23, 2015

I am one of the 60 percent of reported Americans who own pets. Apparently, this will drive me to be a smart home customer.

I have two cats. One is older, one is a kitten. I love them to death. Do I need to watch them 24/7? No. They wake up after hours of sleep about 4 a.m., jump on my sleeping head and clamor for breakfast. After they eat, they are rambunctious, then they go back to sleep. For hours. How do I know where they are without a camera? I see their inches-deep hair on my living room sofa.

They greet me at the door when I arrive home about 6 p.m., run around for a few minutes and then go back to sleep. This is no insightful news to cat owners.

But according to Vivint, we should be using smart home technology to take better care of our pets’ “safety, health and overall care.” We can monitor their activity level and food intake. 

The “passion people have for their pets … means a large market opportunity for those companies connecting pets and smart home technology,” the study says.

I get the IoT thing to find lost pets. What I don’t understand is people wanting to check in on their indoor pets, including monitoring their eating habits. One of my cats, the older one, is very fat. “Pet management,” including “smart pet food monitoring,” could become a driving force in the IoT market, the study said. I just prefer to give my fat cat less food.

I’m skeptical, but also interested in who uses this technology. I’ve heard it’s mostly Millennials, but Vivint says the use of smart home tech for pet care “is likely to be one of the strongest demand drivers for the smart home in coming years.”

Pet owners’ passion “could be a significant entry point for many into the smart home,” it said. I have passion for my pets, but they are, afterall, pets. I don’t feel the need to watch them all the time and see where they’re sleeping. I will spare you my opportunity to post photos of them here (but they are both cute, trust me); they don’t need me watching them around the clock. 

Who has another view?  Am I just a bad pet owner?

My Alarm Center is on the street Thursday night

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Executives from My Alarm Center will be sleeping on the streets of Philadelphia Thursday night, Nov. 19, participating in Covenant House’s Sleep Out: Executive Edition.

Covenant House is a homeless youth shelter, headquartered in New York. It holds sleep outs

Weather reports say that Philadelphia has a 100 percent chance of rain on Thursday and temperature in the low 60s, middle 50s overnight. “We look at it this way: These kids that are homeless, they don’t get to pick which weather that have to sleep out in,” Kelly Bond, SVP of business development, told Security Systems News.

What are the preparations? “They give us a card board box and a sleeping bag,” Bond said.

Bond will be participating alongside Amy Kothari, president and CEO and Anastasia Bottos, COO and CSO, in the annual event this year. The My Alarm Center team has already raised more than $17,000—the entire Philadelphia event already surpassed it’s $225,000 goal, almost hitting $230,000.

“This event not only raises substantial funds for Covenant House, but it helps build awareness of the difficult situations far too many children in our communities face. I feel so fortunate to be a part of it,” Bottos said in the statement.

“We are so incredibly honored to be able to contribute to this cause in a meaningful way,” Kothari said in a prepared statement.

Covenant House has locations across the U.S. as well as in Canada and several countries in Central America. Its sleep outs feature different groups, like mothers, Broadway actors, or the Executive Edition, in which all participants are C-suite in their company.

Security pros can get BS through SIA/college program

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The University of Phoenix College of Security and Criminal Justice and SIA have partnered to provide those who have completed a SIA Certified Security Project Manager credential with 21 credit hours to apply toward a bachelor of science in security management.

The goal, according to a prepared statement, is to respond to industry demands by providing flexibility to security professionals to advance and increase skills in the ever-changing industry.

“University of Phoenix is proud to partner with the Security Industry Association to provide security professionals with flexible learning options and industry-aligned curriculum that will further their education and build upon the skills gained through a CSPM certificate,” Spider Marks, executive dean for University of Phoenix College of Security and Criminal Justice, said in the statement.

Security professionals holding CSPM certificates have a minimum of approximately three years of hands-on project management experience. However, a survey by the Project Management Institute found that the majority of CSPM certificate holders in the United States do not have college degrees. 

“The increasing complexity in the security industry has resulted in expanding demands for educated professionals,” said Don Erickson, SIA chief executive. “This agreement offers seasoned practitioners who already possess management experience to apply their practical skills toward a degree that supports their career advancement while also meeting industry needs.”

The agreement between University of Phoenix College of Security and Criminal Justice and SIA is just one example of a growing list of strategic initiatives the college is undertaking as it increases its focus on meeting educational needs within the security sector, it said. 

Trying harder and the right employees

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The stories in our newswire this week are part of our annual Women in Security special report. When I interviewed Bodil Sonesson, VP global sales for Axis Communications, we were talking about her work outside of Axis, as a member of the board of directors of a public company based in Norway. I was interested to learn that public companies in Norway are required to have a certain percentage of women on their corporate boards. 

Sonesson said that she was recruited for the board. It wasn't easy, the headhunter told Sonesson, to find a woman with extensive experience with global sales and marketing and an advanced business degree. To find a woman who met that profile the headhunter told Sonesson, he just needed to "try harder." 

"I wouldn't be on the board if it wasn't for that quota," she said. "Once they found me, I had a chance. It was up to me to do a good job," she said.

The story reminded me of a joke we have at my house. When they were younger, my kids would open the refrigerator and without looking inside they'd say, "Mum, where's the butter?" I would remind them, that just because the butter, or whatever they're looking for, did not fall into their outstretched hand, it does not mean there's no butter in the fridge. Sometimes you need to take a few extra minutes and look around.

Sonesson, who oversees a global sales team that's grown eightfold under her leadership, said she believes diversity in the workplace is important, and advises recruiters she works with to "try harder" to find the right candidates for jobs.  

Today there are more women than men on the corporate board where Sonesson is a director. And, yes, it's a profitable company that's doing well.

Trying harder to increase diversity of all kinds—gender, race, age, ethnicity, experience—makes good business sense. Think about it. Your shareholders may thank you.

This year we've profiled four leaders in our industry, Bodil Sonesson, Axis Communications VP global sales; Jill Lloyd, owner of Lloyd Security; Bethany Taylor, Dakota Security director of operations; Judy Randle, president of Central Montoring. Our Five Questions this month features Cassie Weaver, operations coordinator for Dakota Security. We also have a general news story about how security companies use social media which features three women: Rebecca Matson Purtz of director of business development for Matson Alarm; Alison Shiver, residential sales and marketing manager; and Kristin Milner, ADS director of marketing.    

The cyber elephant in the room

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

I've spent several days recently with two major camera companies, Hikvision and Axis Communications.

The last week in October I was on a Hikvision trip to China where I met with executives from the company, toured the headquarters and one of their factories, and also went to China's version of ISC West. This week I'm in San Antonio at the Axis partner event.

There are more than 400 integrators and technology partners here this year. Yesterday's agenda included information on the company's technology road map, a panel discussion on school security, an IT director for Westgate Resorts, and a forensics expert talking about camera evidence and how integrators' careful design and installation of video surveillance can help in law enforcement, rescue efforts, and criminal prosecution. There were also break-out sessions and there's a full agenda for today as well.

I'll have more stories on both the Hikvision trip and the Axis event, but I took note that both companies made a point to talk about cybersecurity, both internal efforts to ensure that their products are safe and external efforts to educate their integrator partners on best practices.

This is good news. It's about time the physical security industry starts talking about the cyber elephant in the room.

When I was at Hikvision, the president of the company, Yangzhong Hu and Hikvision international marketing director, Keen Yao fielded questions about cyber breaches the company has suffered. They also talked about their efforts to correct problems and instill cybersecurity best practices internally.  Hu said the company has partnered with international cybersecurity companies and professional hackers to proactivley test products, protocols and processes associated with cybersecurity.

Hikvision has a Security Center section on its website, which includes information about any current problems with its products, a location to report security issues, advice and best practices for end users and integrators on cybersecurity. Hikvision has also spoken about cybersecurity at ISC West, PSA-TEC and it will speak at ISC East next week as well. The goal, according to Hikvision North Amercian marketing director Alex Asnovich, is to share cybersecurity knowledge and best practices with the entire industry.

Yesterday at the Axis event, Sal D'Agostino, CEO of IDmachines, who has been working with Axis on cybersecurity, and John Bartolac, who heads up cyber strategy for Axis in North America,  led a break-out session about cybersecurity and the threat landscape. They introduced Axis's new "hardening guide", a 25-page document of cybersecurity best practices and protocols. Bartolac said Axis has been working on the cybersecurity issue for six years (most notably with its government customers). It is now expanding its efforts to educate its integrators and other partners about cybersecurity.

I've heard lots of cybersecurity statistics, and they're always chilling, but D'Agostino showed a live map of cyberattacks yesterday. Check it out here.

D'Agostino said the guide includes many "easily actionable items" for systems integrators.

“We’re supposed to be installing a security solution, not introducing a vulnerability,” D’Agostino said. “We want to help our [end users] meet their corporate goals. … It’s not acceptable anymore to say, ‘I didn’t know [about potential cyberthreats],’” he added.

The threat continues to evolve, he said. Not only do integrators have to worry about safeguarding the video that comes out of the camera, they need to be concerned about cameras being “taken over and used as a weapon.”

D'Agostino pointed out that using cybersecurity best practices and helping end users understand protocol is a great way for systems integrators to  "have a conversation with the IT side of the shop."

“As cameras are used not just as a security device, but as a business-enablement tool, you’re going to find yourself in a situation where you’ll be talking to the chief marketing officer or the IT department itself,” D’Agostino said.

Integrators who have cybersecurity knowhow can help IT department understand the value of their video data to the corporation, he said.

Bartolac said that Axis has a roadmap of cybersecurity tools that it will be offering to integrators. The hardening guide is just the beginning, he said. Axis also has plans to share cybersecurity best practices with the industry at large.

At TechSec, we've been talking about cybersecurity for a few years. Here's a link to a story about a TechSec educational session led by Diebold's Jeremy Brecher that we did in 2014 about cyber attacks and the potential problems for physical security devices. We'll be talking about cybersecurity in the cloud at our Cloud+ conference Dec. 7-8. Rodney Thayer, who's an expert in designing network security systems and hacking, is doing a not-to-be-missed educational session at Cloud+. Check out the educational program here.

PSA Security is also taking the lead on educating the industry about cybersecurity. PSA has a wealth of information on its web site. Click here.

Video verification and I-View Now, providing more information

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

SIA and Security Systems News hosted a webinar last week, focusing on I-View Now and what video verification can do for alarm businesses. Presenters underlined the value and importance behind verification, such as the ability to provide police with more information before dispatch.

The panel, moderated by SSN’s VP and group publisher Tim Purpura, featured Larry Folsom, president of I-View Now, Michael Keen, VP of commercial sales for Protection 1, and Alice DeBiasio, general manager, cloud services at Honeywell Security and Fire.

I-View Now integrates disparate surveillance video into one unified interface for video verification, making the process easier on central station operators.

I-View Now is also integrated with home automation devices such as Honeywell’s Total Connect. Folsom said that consistency is important; as in having the same views for both the central station operator and for the end user checking in on their system.

Some devices, like cameras, are now sold I-View Now Ready, meaning that it can connect with the platform automatically, reducing the amount of install time.

Purpura asked the webinar audience, “What percentage of your current account base requires some sort of verification before dispatching police services?” Just under half said that verification is needed on less than 20 percent of their accounts. Twenty-eight percent need verification for 20 to 40 percent. Fourteen said between 40 and sixty percent of their accounts, and 9 percent said more than 60 percent of their accounts.

Some of these results could be due to non-response cities—areas that require verification before dispatching police. Although, Folsom said, “Additional information is just helpful regardless of the city’s response policy.”

Verification was more finely defined recently, Folsom pointed out, referencing the Texas Police Chiefs’ definition, established earlier this year

The panel also addressed the DIY market. Folsom pointed to the difficulty for 911 centers, that calls from cell phones often reach the wrong 911 center.

Folsom said DIY/MIY Market isn’t a threat, but instead an opportunity. Keen said that Protection 1 adopted DIY solutions as a way to reach customers outside the company’s network, and reach the “tech-savvy” customers that enjoys installing the system themselves. DeBiasio pointed to a potential to eventually upsell DIY customers to professional systems.

The full webcast is available on demand here.

Advanced XANDEM taking orders

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

XANDEM HOME in Salt Lake City is launching its new DIY home security and automation product that tracks the location of moving people.

The product, which can be installed by homeowners in about 15 minutes, the company says, allows users to monitor where people are moving throughout their homes without using invasive cameras. Think of the safeguarding lasers of the “Mission Impossible” movies, because that’s what it looks like.

The product detects and locates movement through walls and furniture to cover the entire house; integrates with other smart-home systems such as lighting and audio; triggers a siren to scare intruders away and sends mobile app notifications; and includes an API so developers can use the company’s Detect and Locate technology in their own apps and products.

XANDEM, started in a basement in 2008, has been selling in prototype form, but has made advancements such as the phone app and so forth, Joey Wilson, company founder and CEO, told Security Systems News.

“We’re taking orders for XANDEM HOME via Indiegogo soon,” he said. 

The company recently received grants from DHS and the National Science Foundation.

“What we’re seeing is that it used to be if you wanted a security system in your home, you could go to a custom professional or get a rinky dink local package and they could slap it down,” Wilson said. “But now … DIY and MIY are growing rapidly.

“We’re very connected to the IofT. We are not an alarm company. We’re an amazing technology company, not even a security company. We’re like Nest or Dropcam. You can put this in yourself or have an integrator put it in,” Wilson said.

He added that he’s seen a lot of interest from integrators.


Vivint goes jazzy

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY—The downtown venue that is home here to the Utah Jazz NBA team and is the region’s premier concert and entertainment spot will now be called the Vivint Smart Home Arena.

The renaming comes along with a partnership between Vivint and Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment. Financial terms of the 10-year agreement were not disclosed, according to a prepared statement.

The 19,911-seat facility, formerly known as EnergySolutions Arena, hosts about 1.8 million guests and more than 100 sports and entertainment events each year, the companies said.

“The Utah Jazz and the arena are proud to have Vivint as our new naming rights partner,” LHMSE president Steve Starks said in the statement. “Vivint is a long-time supporter of the Jazz, is a Utah-based company, and has a deep commitment to the community and our fans. These were all qualities we looked for when we began this process.”

Headquartered in Provo, Vivint says it has more than 1 million smart home and security product customers and 8,000 employees in the United States and Canada.

“The Utah Jazz and the arena have been an incredible economic engine for this region, and have created a tremendous sense of pride among Utahns,” Todd Pedersen, CEO of Vivint, said in the statement. “This agreement extends far beyond a typical ‘logo-on-the-building’ arrangement —it’s a true partnership built around innovation, community impact and the drive to elevate the prominence of Utah.”

LHMSE and Vivint say they have formed a multi-faceted strategic marketing partnership that will include an interactive “Vivint Smart Home Experience” on the arena concourse, expertise in products and services to improve the game night fan experience along with upgraded security and automation technology at the basketball facilities.

The two companies say they will also be collaborating on an autism awareness campaign as part of their joint community outreach.