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Registries and fines in St. Petersburg, Fla.

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Lately it seems that the St. Petersburg Police Department has been looking closely at the matter of security. Two separate items have cropped up in this city just outside of Tampa, Fla. The first is that they are compiling a registry for security cameras in the city.

This initiative, called ‘Eagle Eye,’ allows for cameras to be registered online through the St. Petersburg Police Department’s website. By having a comprehensive list of cameras in the city, the department hopes to gain quick access to clues in investigations. A press release from the department says the registration will be at “no cost and the information is kept confidential.”

The second item is that they are looking to raise the fines for false alarms, an issue posted on Nov. 22 on the website of a local paper, The St. Petersburg Tribune. Though, even after seeing a drop in false alarm numbers since the fine’s installation in 1995, false alarms are still a problem for the department.

The idea of registry comes up in this matter also. The police department hopes that by eliminating fees for end users in registering alarms, as well as renewing their alarms—more people will register, giving the police a better idea of who to contact in the event of an alarm.

More on Honeywell Life Safety award ...

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Monday, November 24, 2014

I couldn’t resist. I wrote about Honeywell presenting its annual Life Safety award at its Connect2014 event a few weeks ago.

But when I received a photo from Honeywell from the awards ceremony and remembered the moving tribute, I had to repost with some more details to give this amazing kid as well as the outstanding first responders in Palm Bay, Fla., their due.

Six-year-old Romeo Rodriguez, one of the recipients of the award, was instrumental in saving his friend, an 8-year-old girl, Kathy. He found her unconscious at the bottom of a swimming pool during a Memorial Day party. He swam to her, brought her to the surface and yelled for help.

Adults came to his assistance, called 911 and started CPR. A Palm Bay police officer, Amy Revis, was enroute. Upon her arrival, she instructed one of the adults to continue CPR while she applied an AED and followed its advice about how many shocks to give, if at all. Palm Bay Fire/Rescue arrived and took over. The girl started to show signs of life. She was taken by helicopter to a hospital and made a full recovery.

The young survivor was on stage at the Honeywell Connect2014 event to hand out the awards to her rescuers, and she gave a brief speech thanking them for the fact that she was alive. Romeo, who received a personalized fire helmet from the fire department in addition to his medal, showed grace and confidence way beyond his years in front of the audience of hundreds.

The audience, by the way, gave the first responders, the kids and the rescuing civilians a very long standing ovation.

Here’s an explanation of the event from TV news personality Larry King, who notes that it shows how a community “came together to save a young girl’s life.”

Bravo young Romeo, Roger Fox, Jana Watts, Officer Revis, Lt. Brian Gent, Driver Engineer Mike Kurrus and Firefighters Kevin Plunkett and Randy May. 

On this Thanksgiving week, I can truly say we here at Security Systems News are thankful for people like you.

Jay Hauhn retires

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Monday, November 24, 2014

This week is the first week in 37 years that Jay Hauhn is not reporting to work at Tyco (or former sister company ADT). Hauhn's last day was on Friday. I had a chance to catch up with Jay last week at ISC East.

Jay said he's looking forward to taking the next 6 to 12 months to "decompress" from the day-to-day corporate world. But he'll stay connected to the security industry in a volunteer capacity: Hauhn serves as president of the Central Station Alarm Association, and he's also looking forward to "re-engaging with SIA [in some volunteer capacity.]"

Jay began his career with a temporary job at ADT as a "key runner," where he literally carried a metal keybox to businesses when there was an alarm. After six months, he moved to an engineering position where he worked on the "very beginnings of computerization of central stations." He later worked in the World Trade Center in New York where did further work with ADT central stations (There were 165 at the time; today there are fewer than five.)

In the course of his career, Hauhn has worked on the systems integration side of the business, has been responsible for products, and has worked as CTO.

Asked about the most important technological change he witnessed in his career? The digital dialer, he said. "The digital dailer created the residential businesses' ability to cost effectively protect homes. That was a paradym shift," he said. Many security companies are about 70 percent residential, he noted. "[The digital dailer] led to the growth in this industry."

More recently, an important technological advancement has been managed services and in particular hosted access. Where previously a security company that did card access and video "was lucky to get a maintenance contract," hosted access changed that.

"Steve Van Till [Brivo CEO] did this," Hauhn said. "He showed this industry how to sell card access and get RMR out of every sale."

The industry is not there yet with hosted video, he said.

Hauhn said he's a huge believer that workable video analytics will be the key to hosted video.

"That's where managed video is going to finally get traction," he said. Then, only important snippets of video will be sent to the cloud.

Then that video data will be mined. "It will be more about business operation improvement as opposed to security. That's where the ROI [for end users] would be—in improved business metrics."

I asked him about the most fun stuff he's done working in the security industry.

Hauhn spent some time in the late 80s and early 90s working for ADT's federal group. "I got to design security systems for some places that don't exist," he said. "I'm still not allowed to talk about those, but to go to those federal DoD locations and know the importance of those places, and I got to design the security systems to protect them. That was neat," he said.

Hauhn also really liked some work he did with the Navy SEALS. He declined to elaborate beyond: "I got to play with some of their toys—boats and vehicles. That was fun."

Hauhn said he may do some consulting after a year or so, but he also may decide not to.

"Tyco and ADT have been very good to me," he said. "I know it sounds corny, but I've really met some fantastic people in this industry," he said. "There's a lot of cameraderie and people care about what they do—protecting assets and property."

 

 

Live from New York, it's ISC East

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

ISC East kicks off this morning here on a beautifully sunny morning in New York City.

Conference sponsor SIA said it expects to “see increased attendance at this year’s event.”

SIA introduced a mobile app (sponsored by Genetec) for this year’s event that’s free to download at www.isceastmobile.com The app has a list of exhibitors and their locations, the educational schedule and other planning features.

In addition to the show floor exhibits and educational sessions, the annual SIA Honors Night will take place tonight at Chelsea Piers. Honeywell’s Gordon Hope will receive the George R. Lippert Memorial Award at that event.  

Check back here for reports about this year’s show.

Dice: Conference, apps and growth

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Dice released a selection of new products at its most recent annual users group conference, held Nov. 4-6 in Mount Pleasant, Mich., where 30 percent of its client base was present. Approximately 95 percent of those attendees were from North America, according to Carol Enman, senior VP of strategic business development and communications for Dice.

“One of the things we spent a good deal of time talking about was the difference between apps and applications and what they provided the customer,” Enman told Security Systems News. She described the root difference between the two as apps being for phones while applications are web-based.

Enman listed numerous examples of new products, including a system for mobile sales management, designed to allow managers oversee their sales people; a new data entry system that leads users step-by-step through information entry; a scheduling app allowing for customers to be quickly scheduled for service or installation; and a fire inspection app allowing service technicians to inspect fire systems on sites and fill out required forms. 

One of the precipitating factors to this lineup of releases was “that the company’s design and development staff has increased,” according to a prepared statement. Enman estimated an overall growth in the company of at least 30 percent across all departments in the past year and a half.

The main idea behind these products appears to be creating efficiency for monitoring companies. “We have customers with hundreds of thousands of subscribers operating companies with less people in them then some small alarm companies with a few thousand accounts have” Cliff Dice, CEO, said in a prepared statement.

Some takeaways from Honeywell's Connect2014

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Saturday, November 15, 2014

ORLANDO, Fla.—“The Big Picture” was the focus of Honeywell’s annual event for authorized dealers, Connect2014.

The conference, held here, started Nov. 13, but the glitzy kickoff was on Friday morning with a general session that was quite a production, featuring a live orchestra, big screens, top execs, award winners and more.

Marek Robinson, president of the First Alert Professional and CSS Authorized Dealer programs, told the audience that “The Big Picture” means taking a step back and looking at everything that’s going on in the world and the industry. “How does it impact the industry? What are your resources to deal with it?” Those are the questions dealers should be asking, he said.

People are spending from three to five hours a day on their devices, said Ron Rothman, president of Honeywell Security, and they’re inundated with technology.  Honeywell and others have been waiting for this trend for a long time, but that also means a slew of new entrants are going after a piece of Honeywell’s pie—31 new start-ups just in October, he said.  However, the power of the Honeywell brand and the upcoming investments the company will make in technology, marketing and advertising will prevail, he said.

Alex Ismail, ACS president and CEO, said Honeywell aspires to be the Apple of industrial companies when it comes to customer satisfaction and loyalty. A five-star customer experience was a recurring theme throughout the two-hour session. (More on that later.)

Inder Reddy, president of Honeywell Security Products Americas, reminded dealers that while they need to adapt to the new environment they also need to stay grounded in the fact that they are protecting families, homes and businesses. “Security is still central to the Connected Home and Connected Building,” he said.

Authorized dealer tenure awards were presented, and the general session wrapped up with a moving tribute to the folks who helped saved a little girl’s life—they received the Life Safety award. A 6-year-old boy, a nurse, a Palm Bay, Fla., police officer and the Palm Bay Fire Department all played a crucial role in resuscitating an 8-year-old girl who was found unconscious at the bottom of a swimming pool. She was on stage to present the awards to her heroes.

The second general session of the day featured a boisterous Rudy Wolter, director of the North America Region of Citigroup Security and Investigative Services and a key player in Honeywell’s End Users Group. A “five-star” experience for end users is “partnership, not perfection,” he said.  (More on this later, too.)

Raymond Dean, former president and founder of PEI and now senior vice president at MSA Systems Integration, spoke on treating customers as a company’s best assets.

“Take care of the customer and they’ll take care of you,” Dean said.

Visit customers regularly when there are no problems and they won’t associate you with negative connotations; don’t send new hires out to a homeowner without a formal introduction from someone they know; show respect, he said.

“Growth makes us complacent, the roots of our success get forgotten,” Dean said. Customers made you a success, don’t drift away from customer service, he added.

Keynoter Jeffrey Gitomer, a best-selling author and sales and customer service professional, gave a humorous and insightful talk to the appreciative crowd. He discussed the need to be adept at social media to boost company reputations and branding, because “the old way of selling doesn’t work anymore. Social media has changed the way you sell and serve forever.” (More on this later, too!)

I also attended three breakout sessions, the first of which was “Communication Strategies—2G, 3G, 4G and Beyond,” Dan Jarnigan of Guardian Systems, Dave Hood of EPS and Alan Buffaloe of Gill Security discussed their approaches to customer upgrades.

Next was a discussion on the Connected Home with Jeremy Bates of Bates Security, Larry Comeaux of Acadiana Security Plus and Rence Coassin of American Total Protection. The panel discussed tailoring “connectedness” to meet customers’ needs, while reminding customers that security comes first.

Honeywell’s Jan McBride presented “The next BIG THING: Emerging Technologies.” It’s not just wearable devices, she said, showcasing a number of other products—“not sure if they’re creepy or cool”— that could impact the industry. Those include Bluetooth-enabled gloves; smart appliances that can text you when, for example, your clothes are finished in the dryer and refrigerators that can track your eating habits; smart doorbells that allow you to “answer the door” via cellphone even when you’re not home; and home robots that can not only read to your children, but can remind you of appointments and take photos of your events so you can be in the pictures.

Eye-tracking technology, gesture recognition (to pull down window blinds, for example) are all here now, McBride said. “These trends will be a driving force in terms of home automation. The impact on our business is whether these things are of real value or are these applications a passing fad?”

On the final day of Connect 2014, Steve Means, district sales manager for Honeywell in Texas, encouraged dealers to leverage Honeywell’s services to grow their businesses. “Connected solutions are what your customers want, and it will be good for your business,” he said during the morning’s general session. From detecting mold to being notified when kids get home from school, along with myriad other applications, it’s the way to go, he said.

Russ Ackerman, district sales director for Vector Security, said his company’s RMR will be up 20 percent this year because of Connected Home. He doesn’t care about competition. “I don’t care what Comcast and AT&T are doing. Competition is for crybabies, sissies and whiners. I don’t want to compete. I want to dominate.” Connected Home will “help get us there,” he said.

New selling techniques are required. Where before Vector would use with its customers a “security evaluation questionnaire,” now it uses a “lifestyle analysis,” Ackerman said. Vector gives prospective customers a test drive of its products rather than “glossy pictures” of those products. It shares a two-way voice demo during the sales presentation.

“We’re closing 83 percent of presentations on the first call,” he said.

Other speakers during the general session drilled down on Connected Building for the commercial sector.

I attended two educational sessions later in the day, one on “Building Your Brand,” the other “Creating a Culture People Love.”

John Schwartz, marketing director for ADS, discussed a number of branding myths—for example, that branding is complicated, expensive and had to be done solely by marketing professionals; advertising vs. branding—advertising is pushing the message out, branding is solidifying that message; and social media’s power, both pro and con—“if someone is mad at you, they can go on every social media outlet and let everyone know.”

Sales people should be involved in branding, with input from customers, Schwartz said. Companies should pick one word they want to be associated with, such as “trust,” and take it from there, he said. Facebook can be used for “sideways selling:” let people know how your company helps the homeless or conducts other community service projects, he said.

At my final Connect2014 educational session, LOUD Security’s John Loud explained how his company, with 57 employees, has built its culture to be engaging and fun. It all starts with company leadership, he said. Events for employees, teamwork and recognition all matter, he said. (Read more about this later, too!)

Complete with a ‘70s Fever Costume Party and the Awards Gala, Connect2014 put on a big event in keeping with its “Big Picture” theme.

Dynamark enhances its partner program

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

In every industry, and security is certainly no exception, everyone needs something to make them stand out from the crowd. One company in particular I’ve noticed as making that effort is Dynamark Security Centers, located in Hagerstown, Md., with their Partner Program. Today, Dynamark launched a new website for their Partner Program, providing an online portal specifically for their dealers and those interested in the program and stressing the difference between opening a partnership and participating in a dealer program.  

“Dynamark does not limit the growth potential of our partners; and we like to place emphasis on the word partner. We do not compete with our partners. We can only succeed if we have a long-term relationship with our partners, so we believe in transparency and choices,” said Hank Groff, senior VP of sales & business development for Dynamark, in a prepared statement.

“This website will help Dynamark better communicate with both current partners and dealers who are looking to know more about Dynamark,” said Tom Piston, VP of business development, in a prepared statement.

This is a program open to independent alarm dealers across the country, but it appears to be a program trying to offer something different and unique to the people Dynamark works with, having a concern for their individual growth as independent companies.

Which generation is big on smart home technology?

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

MADISON, N.J—Question: Who is most willing to spend money on smart home technology?

Answer: The Millennials, those consumers born between 1982 and 2000. That’s according to a recent survey conducted by ERA Real Estate and HGTV.

Overall, 2,437 consumers participated in the survey this past August.

Forty-six percent of the respondents said they believe it is important that their current home or the next home they buy be equipped with smart home technology; 51 percent said they would consider installing such technology to make their house have a higher resale value.

Millennials were 10 times more likely than Gen Xers, those born after post-WWII Baby Boomers, to make the smart home investment, the survey showed.

"While still a growing trend, smart home enhancements have the potential to increase savings, safety and resale value," Charlie Young, president and CEO of ERA Real Estate, said in a prepared statement. "As we have seen through this survey and (through) our one-on-one interactions with buyers and sellers, a smart home is one that is well-positioned for the future and aligns with a growing reliance on mobile technology."

Mobile technology and control are rising to the top, particularly with Millennials, the survey found. Seven in 10 Millennials believe it is important that smart home technology integrates with their smartphones.

Five in 10 survey respondents reported having a security system in their current home. Demonstrating consumers' practical preferences, the most commonly found technologies were those that could help homeowners save money, including automated climate control, energy management, remote home monitoring and lighting control systems, the survey said.

For more findings from the survey, go here.

Razberi gets $3m, new board members, CTO

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Razberi Technologies, which was reinvented three years ago by Tom Galvin, today announced that it received a $3m investment from a new investor, LiveOak Venture Partners of Austin, Texas.

I had a chance to speak to Galvin about the deal. “We launched the company exactly three years ago, in November 2011. We’ve been growing nicely through word of mouth but we got to the point where, to sustain growth, we needed outside capital,” he said.

The funds will be used “to invest in sales, marketing and branding awareness to fully leverage what we’ve built here in our product line and to invest in R&D. We want to continue to evolve and to develop the product line,” Galvin said.

Razberi’s flagship product is its ServerSwitch, which combines “the functions of a network video recorder and ethernet smark switch into a single compact appliance.”  These appliances, “go where IT doesn’t go because of cost or form factor,” Galvin said. Currently in development are a “ruggedized line for outdoor applications. There’s a growing energy business in the U.S., with oil and natural gas and windmills and they all need video surveillance,” he said.  

Galvin also announced that Ken Boyda has joined Razberi as non-executive chairman of its board of directors.

Boyda built Interlogi company, which he sold to GE Security and was subsequently sold to UTC. Galvin and Boyda worked together at GE before Boyda retired. Boyda has stayed active in the industry, Galvin said, serving on the board of VideoIQ before its acquisition by Avigilon. He also currently serves on the board of PSIM provider VidSys.

Boyda introduced Galvin to LiveOak Ventures.

“Razberi [which is based in Carrollton, Texas] is LiveOak’s first investment in North Texas. There’s a start-up market here that’s underserved by financial [backers], and LiveOak saw us a real opportunity,” Galvin said.

Jiri Modry, whom Galvin called “one of the pioneers,” has also joined Razberi’s board. “He developed the first DVR for security and sold it to Interlogix [which was sold to GE.] … The GE DVR line at the time was based on Yiri’s technology. It’s great to have his expertise on the board as well,” Galvin said.

Ben Scott and Krishna Srivivasan, both of LiveOak Venture Partners, also joined the board.

Razberi also hired Rich Anderson as its CTO. “He’s a key hire for us. He served in different executive capacities at GE and Casi Rusco back in the day,” Galvin said.

Protection 1 shines up its HALO

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Protection 1, responding to consumer demand to combine home security, home automation and energy efficiency, has added central alarm operator video alarm verification and other features to its HALO home automation platform.

Using a mobile app, residential users can control and manage interactive security, video monitoring and energy management solutions along with other connected devices. It’s powered by Alarm.com’s cloud-based software platform.

To reduce energy costs, sensor information learns a home’s activity patterns and creates “Smart Schedules” for efficient energy management, Protection 1 said in a prepared statement. That includes adjusting the thermostat to save energy when the customer is not at home and turns the heat back up when the customer is on the way home.

Customers also have the option of integrating solar energy into the system.

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