Subscribe to

Blogs

Comcast brings home automation to more customers

 - 
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Updated 1.24.18

PHILADELPHIA—Comcast recently announced that it will expand its smart home capabilities to the company’s Xfinity platforms, including xFi, Xfinity Home, Xfinity Mobile and X1—its TV and voice remote. This will make home automation available to more than 15 million Xfinity customers at no additional cost, according to the company's announcement.

"Our latest announcement reaffirms our commitment to offer our customers an easy to use platform that can help them make their home technology work for them," Neal Foster, vice president of product management, Xfinity Home, told Security Systems News in an email interview.

"By integrating home automation across the Xfinity platform, we are able to unlock new experiences for customers. For example, smart home devices can be automatically detected by our gateway and users can be instantly made aware of the automation experiences that the device can do within the Xfinity platform," Foster said.

Down the road, Comcast is looking to further expand the plaform's capabilities. "Long term we will be able to add even more smart home devices into our platform making it easy for our customers to add the devices they need and manage and control every device from the Xfinity platform. Through the increased breadth of the platform, we will be able to target new solutions across a broad range of areas including peace of mind, protection, entertainment, wellness, energy and home maintenance," said Foster.

In the announcement, Comcast highlighted key smart home developments for the company. In September 2017, Comcast acquired Stringify, which provides a cloud-powered automation service for more than 500 IoT products and digital services. “Stringify’s technology will soon be integrated into Xfinity’s products and services, significantly expanding the capabilities of Xfinity automation,” the announcement read.

Additionally, Comcast’s ‘Works with Xfinity’ program facilitates the integration of smart home devices into its Xfinity platform. “The company plans to expand its partner ecosystem to include new product categories such as: wearables, automotive, voice assistants, email, social media platforms, and more,” according to the announcement. “New partners will help improve an Xfinity customer’s lifestyle, whether for convenience, entertainment, peace of mind, or to help run their home more efficiently.”

In May 2017, the company launched xFi, a digital dashboard for customers to set up and control aspects of their home Wi-Fi network, including seeing what devices are connected and setting parental controls.

The company also recently added enhanced features to Xfinity Home Security Cameras. "Its new AI-powered platform identifies movement, centers on the subject, and delivers a crystal-clear thumbnail image to customers so they can always know what’s happening with just a glance in our app," the announcement read.

Red Hawk acquires two

 - 
Wednesday, January 17, 2018

BOCA RATON, Fla.—Red Hawk Fire & Security LLC, a leader in fire, life safety and security services based here, announced this week the purchase of two companies to build upon its capabilities in the special hazard fire suppression business and the integrated security services arena.

In separate transactions, Red Hawk announced the purchase of Anaheim, Calif.-based Diversified Protection Systems, Inc., (DPSI) and ATCi Communications, Inc. (“ATCI”), headquartered in Miami, Florida. The two purchases represent Red Hawk’s fifth and sixth acquisitions in the last 20 months as the company continues to grow both organically and through strategically aligned acquisitions.

“The purchase of both DPSI and ATCi are consistent with our core strategy of bringing on the teams from well regarded, client-centric companies to build on our existing service presence or to expand our geographic footprint to further set Red Hawk apart from our competition,” Michael McWilliams, Red Hawk Fire & Security president and CEO, told Security Systems News. “Joining forces with these two great companies on opposite U.S. coasts elevates our expertise and complements our existing geographic presence while also presenting a broader suite of innovative solutions to our valued clients to further our aim of being the preferred choice for all our customers’ fire, life safety and security needs.”

DPSI’s expertise includes special hazard clean agent and water mist fire suppression, early warning smoke detection & controls, hazardous gas monitoring & specialty cooling systems. DPSI President Dominic De Maria will remain with Red Hawk helping develop the new Red Hawk Fire & Security “Critical Infrastructure Division.”

“We are just as enthusiastic about this purchase as Red Hawk,” De Maria said in the announcement. “Not only does it advance Red Hawk’s posture in the fire and life safety industry by adding our specialized team of professionals, but it expands the resources and geographic reach we can now offer our clients as well.”

 As South Florida’s largest independent security systems integrator, ATCi Communications brings an expert team that designs, installs and provides technical support and maintenance services of enterprise-level, intelligent video surveillance systems, access control and intrusion alarms for federal and local government facilities and law enforcement agencies, luxury residential and mixed-use properties and large scale commercial projects. ATCI also expand’s Red Hawk’s “best in class” specialty portfolio of capabilities through its market leader position in providing customized CityWide Surveillance (CWS) and Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) solutions to municipal clients.

“Being able to now offer fire and life safety services to our existing security portfolio is a win-win for our customers, our people and Red Hawk as well,” Vincent. J. Vento, ATCI’s founder and president, said in the announcement. “We look forward to combining our sales and business development efforts to maximize our potential across all product and service lines throughout the entire Florida market.”

Los Angeles-based Imperial Capital, LLC and Miami-based Pacifica Capital Group LLC co-represented ATCI as financial advisors for the transaction.

PSA, SIA and ISC launch cybersecurity conference

 - 
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

DENVER—Cyber:Secured Forum, a cybersecurity summit focusing on integrated systems, will launch with an inaugural gathering here, on June 4-6, 2018, under a partnership formed by PSA Security Network, the world's largest systems integrator cooperative, ISC Security Events (Reed Exhibitions, the global tradeshow company) and the Security Industry Association (SIA), a leading trade association for global security solution providers.

“Sophisticated cybervulnerabilities and threats are emerging every day, and it is critical for the physical security and systems integration industry to accelerate its delivery of compelling education to help all industry stakeholders mitigate the risk of cyberattacks to business continuity,” SIA CEO Don Erickson said in the announcement.

Cyber:Secured Forum will feature in-depth content on cybersecurity trends and best practices as related to the delivery of physical security systems and other integrated systems. Content is being collaboratively developed by SIA and PSA Security Network’s education teams and will feature top cybersecurity leaders.

“Cybersecurity is no longer just a threat—it’s a real issue knocking on the doors of security and IT professionals on a daily basis,” Bill Bozeman, president and CEO, PSA Security Network, said in the announcement. “The time for just being in reaction mode is behind us now. As security leaders, we have a responsibility to step forward and be part of the frontline defense when it comes to cybersecurity, just as we have been part of the frontline defense when it comes to physical security issues for decades. The goal of this conference is to empower attendees with real tools and knowledge to do just that.”

The two-day event will provide leaders in the IT and physical security industries with opportunities to connect and share information on risks and liabilities, responding to cybersecurity threats, and establishing security control standards across IT systems and particularly when integrating physical security solutions and devices on IT networks.

Additionally, sponsor exhibits will help showcase solutions related to cybersecurity, integrated systems and physical security solutions.

“At our recent ISC West and ISC East events, the educational sessions on cyber-physical integration and connected security have been in high-demand,” Will Wise, group vice president of the Security Portfolio, Reed Exhibitions. “In-depth education, training and industry collaboration is essential to ensure safe and secure systems for the market. We’re enthusiastic about this partnership with PSA Security Network and SIA to address this important market need.”

For more information about this new event and to be added to the event mailing list, visit cybersecuredforum.com

Mission 500 recaps 2017 efforts

 - 
Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Mission 500, a non-profit charitable organization focusing on the security industry and dedicated to serving children and families in need across the U.S., recently gave an overview of its efforts throughout 2017, including the annual Security 5/2K at ISCW, the summer Security Softball Game and the Miami Mixer among other events.

“Engaging and giving back to children and communities in need is at the core of our mission here in the U.S.,” Jeff Eichenlaub, director of strategic partnerships for Mission 500, said in a prepared statement. “We look forward to contributing to causes that are important to the security industry again in 2018.”

At the Miami Mixer, Mission 500 raised more than $15,000 for children in need in South Florida, according to the announcement. The event had more than 70 attendees and included a fashion show, raffles, an auction and karaoke. Proceeds were donated to children attending to Crosspointe Elementary School, a Title One School in Boynton Beach and Centro Campesino, a not-for-profit organization that hosts a summer camp for children of migrant farm workers living in severe poverty in South Florida.

At the Axis Connect & Converge Conference, Mission 500 spoke to conference attendees about corporate social responsibility awareness in the security industry and why it is important. Conference attendees assembled School Refill Packs for 600 students at a Title One School in Seattle, which will provide students with enough school supplies to get through the second half of the school year, the announcement said.

Axis Communications hosted another event at the company’s new Southeast Experience Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The event was dedicated to assembling School Refill Packs for 200 low-income students impacted by Hurricane Harvey, the storm that impacted Houston in August 2017.

At the 2017 California Alarm Association Winter Conference held in San Francisco in November, Mission 500 helped attendees assemble School Refill Packs for 200 low- income children impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

At the NY Fire and Executive Security Club Dinner, Mission 500 honored Alan Forman of Altronix Corporation, Zygmunt Staszewski of Z.S. Engineering D.P.C, and Lew Walters of Affiliated Monitoring for their philanthropic contributions. All proceeds from the event benefited children supported by Mission 500, in addition to the NY Firefighters Burn Center Foundation Children’s Camp.

In 2018, Mission 500 is already planning for the eighth annual Security 5/2K at ISC West as well as the annual Mission 500 softball game which will take place in the fall.

Allied Universal partners with Robotic Assistance Devices

 - 
Wednesday, December 20, 2017

On the Move Systems recently announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary Robotic Assistance Devices has executed a strategic agreement to supply its intelligent robotic solutions through Allied Universal, a leading facility services company and one of the largest security forces in North America with more than 150,000 employees.

The robots will be leveraged to help Allied Universal customers supplement existing security professionals and improve safety, increase situational awareness and drive efficiency across the enterprise.

“The RAD portfolio augments the core competencies of our guard personnel because it offers fully autonomous patrolling that stakeholders can leverage to make rapid, informed decisions,” Ty Richmond, president, Integrated Security Solutions and Technology, Allied Universal, said in the announcement. “The data captured by the security robot will prove valuable in post-event investigations, enabling our customers to quickly address ongoing issues, close cases and identify trends. We are excited to explore the possibilities alongside RAD.”

RAD founder and president Steve Reinharz said in the announcement that RAD’s S5 Security Robots add significant benefits to the Allied Universal product and services portfolio by delivering a cost-effective solution to augment traditional guarding services, and serve as a force multiplier that removes security personnel from potentially dangerous situations, reducing injuries and liability. He noted that the combination of human personnel with robotic technologies creates a strong value proposition that results in new levels of security and streamlined operations.

“The market is primed to embrace the combination of human personnel and robotic guarding, and we expect this trend to increase significantly in the coming year,” Reinharz said. “We are thrilled with our already valuable partnership with Allied Universal and the size and quality of the sales funnel we’ve been able to create together.”

When Security Systems News spoke with Richmond recently, he noted that Allied Universal continues to work closely with drone and robotics manufacturers “to provide another technology tool that allows you to extend your security operations. We are very bullish on robots and we see them as an augmentation to our man-guarding business.”

And speaking of robots in security, Reinharz and Allied Universal will both be participating on a session/panel at our SSN TechSec Solutions conference, Feb. 26-27, in Delray Beach, Fla. Click here for more on the session and the entire education program.

Top monitoring topics in 2017

 - 
Wednesday, December 20, 2017

YARMOUTH, Maine—Now that we are in the second half of December, it seems like a natural time to look back over the year and some of the common topics from the monitoring side of the industry in 2017. 

The Monitoring Association had some notable developments this year, including changing its name from CSAA in March—a change made to better portray the focus of the organization.

It was great to attend TMA’s Annual Meeting this year. You can read an overview of that event here. At the close of the meeting TMA welcomed its new president, Ivan Spector, president of Montreal-based Sentinel Alarm Co., along with several other officers. You can read more about that here.

And, more recently, TMA announced its new Level 1 training course for monitoring center operators.

PERS, yet again, was a big topic of the year.

Affiliated Monitoring held its second annual Catalyst conference in Miami in mid-May, examining the sales and marketing aspects of the PERS industry.

AvantGuard held its fourth PERS Summit in late September, in Park City, Utah, covering a variety of topics.

Medical alert provider Medical Guardian also announced a change-up to its branding and marketing, looking more at overcoming one of the biggest obstacles in the PERS industry, which is “the perception of the service,” according to company founder and CEO, Geoff Gross.

PERS manufacturer Freeus also started a dealer education initiative. There were also some acquisitions announced; VRI made a purchase in the PERS space, as did Tunstall Americas, and GTCR was purchased by a private equity firm. PERS company ONKÖL started production.

There were also a few notable hires and role changes at monitoring companies: Security Partners named Randy Hall as its president, Justin Bailey became the president of AvantGuard in addition to being its COO, MONI’s Bruce Mungiguerra was promoted from SVP to COO, and NMC recently hired Nicola Oakie as its new director of national sales.

 

MONI renews relationship with Skyline Smart Home Protection

 - 
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

DALLAS—MONI Smart Security on Dec. 11 announced a renewed relationship with Skyline Smart Home Protection, based out of Los Angeles. Starting on Jan. 1, 2018, Skyline will begin selling exclusively for MONI.

“We’re really excited about it and it really comes at a good time for us—to start off the year with a great new partner,” Jeff Gardner, CEO of MONI, told Security Systems News. “One of the things that drives our revenue growth at our company is the strength of our dealer program, so … adding a dealer with the prominence of Skyline and the size of Skyline will send a great message.”

Skyline was previously a MONI dealer, from 2010 to 2014. Gardner said that increased advertising and publicity for the MONI brand, as well as MONI’s sales training opportunities were among factors that drew Skyline back to MONI’s dealer program. “We’re just thrilled to get them back,” Gardner said.

“I am thrilled to be partnering again with MONI,” Edwin Arroyave, CEO of Skyline, said in a prepared statement. “It has always been important for Skyline to align itself with partners who understand the value and importance of technology and innovation, while consistently providing the highest levels of customer service. MONI shares these values and I could not be more excited to be renewing our relationship. I look forward to the opportunities ahead.”

Skyline was founded in 2004 and offers home security products and services, such as interactive and home automation, mobile apps, video monitoring and energy management products. The company currently has more than 80,000 smart home customers across more than 30 states.

“They’re going to be one of the largest dealers in the MONI program,” Gardner said. Skyline is “the largest dealer partner that we’ve recruited since I’ve been here, and I’ve been here just a little over two years,” he said.

“I’m hopeful that Skyline will be the first of many new dealers that we add to our program in 2018,” said Gardner.

Alexa for Business?

 - 
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

No one can refute the impact that Amazon’s Echo device has had in the home—if I had a nickel for every time someone yelled out the name Alexa in the home, I would be on a warm beach somewhere instead of trying to keep the cold drafts at bay in my office here is chilly Maine. But I digress.

With the success that Amazon has had with Alexa in the home, it is not surprising to see the company try to move into the office with the introduction of Alexa for Business, which was announced earlier this month at the AWS Re:Invent event.

As much as this raises interesting questions about possible uses within the office—in addition to the way these devices interact with other IoT devices in the office—it also raises many questions in regard to the place for voice assistants and voice assistant devices outside of the home.

In the home, Parks Associates estimates that nearly 50 percent of U.S. broadband households use a personal assistant through an application or dedicated device. And currently 10 percent of U.S. broadband households own a smart speaker with a personal assistant, such as an Amazon Echo or Google Home.

Parks Associates recently released a new whitepaper, Enabling Voice in the Smart Home, with research showing 49 percent of U.S. broadband households use a personal assistant through an app or dedicated device, which is a key use case for a voice-based user experience. The whitepaper, sponsored by the ULE Alliance, examines the influence of the voice-first interface on the adoption of connected products and presents market strategies for long-term success in the voice technology market.

“Collectively, companies are competing to stay in the race for dominance in the voice-first market,” Dina Abdelrazik, research analyst, Parks Associates, said in a prepared statement. “Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung continue to announce new product enhancements in order to stay ahead of the demand for voice technologies. As the voice-first landscape expands, we will see voice capabilities embedded into a variety of devices, from appliances to thermostats to lighting. Voice alleviates complexity in the user experience for these products, and as a result, voice will serve as a prime differentiator in the user experience for the smart home.”

But will this same battle for the smart home play out in the business world as well? That is a question that only time will answer, but Amazon is hoping that the demand at home will influence and drive the demand outside the home, as consumers come to expect the same kind of convenience and seamless experience in the office.

Amazon offered up some interesting use cases at the launch of Alexa for Business, such as having Alexa make calls, send messages, record important meetings and control thermostats, lighting, and other IoT-enabled devices around the office, for example, but what role will voice play in the overall smart building ecosystem that we are moving toward as an industry right now? This is a question that is loaded with other concerns, such as privacy and cybersecurity, to name just a few.

What do you think the role of the voice in the office will be and how far are we from hearing Alexa called out incessantly in the office as well?

ASIS changes conference name to Global Security Exchange

 - 
Wednesday, December 6, 2017

ASIS International announced this week that it has changed the name of its annual security conference from the ASIS Annual Seminar and Exhibits to the Global Security Exchange (GSX). Building on its 60-plus year legacy as a premier security event, the newly branded GSX will take place in Las Vegas, Nev., Sept. 23-27, 2018, in partnership with InfraGard and ISSA.

"In what will be our 64th year of delivering the security industry's flagship event, the Global Security Exchange, or GSX for short, will build upon the change and reinvention introduced at ASIS 2017," Peter J. O'Neil, CAE, CEO, ASIS International, said in the annoucement. "This name reflects the Society's commitment to unite the full spectrum of security—cyber and operational security professionals from all verticals across the private and public sector, allied organizations and partners, and the industry's leading service and solution providers—for the most comprehensive security event in the world."

The education program, led by ASIS, InfraGard, and ISSA subject matter experts, will deliver an immersive and interactive learning environment for security professionals at all experience levels. The exhibit hall will be transformed into a learning lab environment, showcasing new and emerging products and technologies such as machine learning, robotics, forensic analysis, and artificial intelligence. In addition, the revitalized networking events will facilitate relationship building and the sharing of best practices with peers from across the globe.

"From the Internet of Everything and soft target attacks to data breaches and drones, the velocity of change and risks knows no boundaries," Thomas J. Langer, CPP, 2017 president, ASIS International, said in the announcement. "GSX fills the industry's need for a global event that brings together the entire security industry, to exchange ideas and lessons learned, keep informed of current and emerging risks, and gain exposure to the emerging technologies shaping society and our workplaces."

While the annual event's new name is debuting now, the full rebrand will launch at the 2018 ASIS International Leadership Conference, which will be held Jan. 16-19, in Arlington, Va.

SIA launches new robot-focused working group

 - 
Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Security Industry Association on Dec. 1 announced its new Autonomous Security Robots Working Group, appointing Mark McCourt as the group’s chair. McCourt talked with Security Systems News about the group’s formation and core focuses.

McCourt said that he’s been working on the group since September. “We thought about getting out in front of this topic by taking the robotics, the drone, the anti-drone [or] drone defense, underwater unmanned vehicles, that section of the market that serves security, and start early on what SIA’s platform should be to help grow this industry successfully as a partner.”

This would give robotics companies a more direct reason to be a part of SIA, getting a voice at the table with SIA’s various segments, such as its legislative, education and standards teams, McCourt added. The Autonomous Security Robots Working Group is a part of SIA’s existing Public Safety Interest Group. The working group is currently seeking input and participants.

“We want to create good communications around this topic that we can get out and talk to people about.”

The working group will be looking at a variety of relevant topics. “One of the things we want to do is hone in on the go-to-market strategy and the role of channel partners,” McCourt said.

Education for end users and security practitioners—to inform them of the benefits of robots within security—will be a goal of the working group. “It’s not all about job replacement and cost reduction,” McCourt said. There are other elements of productiveness, and allowing people who might have their jobs impacted by robots doing other tasks to add value to their organization

“Robotics technology, especially when powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, has the potential to reshape how we think about security,” SIA CEO Don Erickson said in a prepared statement. “The Autonomous Security Robots Working Group will help industry members and end users manage and leverage this change to greatly enhance the protection of people and property.”

McCourt currently works with Cobalt Robotics, helping the company with commercialization.

Pages