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Behind the GE Security comments

Thursday, August 27, 2009
You'll see in my story about the potential GE Security sale that at least one dealer hasn't been happy with the corporate support. Mostly, I think this comes from a difficult integration among all of the GE acquisitions. This is somewhat reflected in the reviews of the company at Glassdoor, which is where potential employees can check out what current and past employees think of the company. They don't necessarily slander the company six ways from Sunday, but there are a lot of comments like this:
GE Security shows an amazing amount of promise. It has strong acquisitions in video (VisioWave), access (Casi-Rusco), and fire (Edwards), and is finally making great strides to incorporate them all into an integrated security platform. If realized correctly, this surely will be a big player in the security industry.
I mean, these are companies that have been bought as many as five years ago. At this point, the integration should be more complete, probably. And that's what leads to comments like this:
The company continues to struggle for a coherent market identity due to it's legacy of acquisitions; after 5 years of integration attempts only recently have the silos started to melt and "GE" penetration taken effect. There is constant leadership turnover as the heritage managers start to fade and the GE-fed talent moves across the corporate umbrella.
So, it's not hard to see why a dealer like Alarm King might be a little frustrated at the lack of progress.

GE Security: For sale

Wednesday, August 26, 2009
All of you who've got $2 billion in the checking account, start lining up: GE Security is apparently for sale. Quoting from the Bloomberg article:
GE hired JPMorgan Chase & Co. to find a buyer for most of GE Security, said the people, who declined to be identified because the talks are confidential. Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE asked potential buyers to submit preliminary bids about a month ago, the people said.
Well, first, shouldn't someone have ratted this out to me a while ago? Bids were asked for a month ago? I've got to get out to a show and do some gossiping. Summer's no good for gossip.
Possible acquirers include Tyco International Ltd. and United Technologies Corp., which also sell security equipment, the people said. GE may sell the unit in parts if it can’t find a buyer for the whole business, one of the people said.
I personally don't think Tyco or UTC would be that interested. There's a ton of duplication of effort there, especially on the Tyco side, which has a huge residential presence already.
GE Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Immelt built the division through acquisitions of security and fire companies starting in 2002. GE Security projected $3 billion in sales by 2011, up from about $1.8 billion in 2007, Dean Seavers, the unit’s chief executive officer, said in an interview in September 2008.
Yeah, but did anyone really believe Dean when he said he'd almost double revenues in four years, especially considering the worldwide economic collapse? Anyway, I'll be looking into this and I'll see what I can find out.

Last chance for distribution source book

Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Distributors: Go here and fill out the survey, if you haven't already.

Who needs integrators?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009
These guys will design your IP surveillance system, sell you the parts, and let you do the installation. I think. It's hard to tell exactly what that Web site wants to do, other than sell you some IP cameras. The blog does an okay job of summarizing press releases, I guess, but it's mostly just an exercise in linking to the products they sell. Buy now! The Sheffield Hospital is using these cameras, so should you! Regardless, you've got to think they'll launch some referral program at some point. How could the majority of end users possible install and integrate these systems with confidence they'll perform security functions?

Bank robbery stats; bank branch business

Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I suppose I could have looked these up myself, or I could link to the primary source, but why do the research when "Ask Doug" is willing to do it for me? The question for Doug? How many bank robberies actually take place? The answer:
I found the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Bank Crime Statistics for the second quarter of this year. During those three months (April through June), there were 1,278 bank robberies in the United States. That’s an average of 14 per day.
That's kind of staggering, especially considering the stats that follow (i.e., robbing a bank isn't a good way to make money). That's roughly 5,000 robberies a year. And, according to a comment left on this excellent examination of whether bank branches are going the way of the dinosaur (they're not - yet), there are some 100,000 bank and credit union branches in the United States. So about five percent of all branches are hit each year (I'm sure some are hit twice and I'm sure location matters in risk assessment, but that's a good honest number to use if you're pitching a video system to a bank branch, who all already have video systems anyway, but still, you want to sell them a new one). It's no wonder security is a concern. But how good is the security at these branches? Is the ROI real on the security system?
Robbers got away with $9.5 million, and law enforcement so far recovered $1.46 million of that, from 28 percent of the robberies that ended up with money actually being stolen.
So, they got away with an average of $7,433, and you've got a 28 percent chance of recovering the money (obviously, this again depends on location, etc.). Seems like the bank robbers aren't doing a whole lot of risk assessment (they've got a 40 percent chance of being caught, apparently). That's a pretty paltry sum in exchange for certain jail time (I'm guessing crystal meth impairs judgment, yes?) 40 percent of the time. So bank branches stand to lose an average of $7,433 per robbery (which they probably write off right away, so I'm not going to count the money they get back), and that's bound to happen about once every 20 years, going by the math alone.
In almost all the robberies, alarm systems were activated and surveillance cameras were on.
So, the question is, if alarm systems and surveillance cameras result in our current situation, a loss of $7,433 every 20 years, what would happen if bank branches didn't invest in those things? Would that increase to $7,000 every year? Every five years? How many of the 40 percent get caught because of surveillance footage and how many get caught because they're stupid and hide the money in their couch and their buddy rats them out? Just some numbers to get me thinking, I guess.

Security's on Cloud 9... or is it Cloud 85?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I was writing a story on Iveda teaming with mobiDEOS the other day, and I noticed in my interviewing the terms "cloud computing" and "in the cloud" and "cloud technology" were being dropped a lot. I had to be honest with myself and admit, while I kind of got the basic idea of cloud computing, I wasn't exactly sure what it meant, how it worked, and what kind of effect its advent would have on the security industry. The cloud, and cloud computing has been mentioned in a couple of SSN stories recently, and I felt it was time I educated myself. I found a well done article on the emerging phenomenon at Datamation. It gets into just what cloud computing is, how the emerging cloud is being shaped, and what ramifications it will have on numerous industries, including security. There's also a list of 85 cloud computing vendors battling it out for market share right now. Interesting stuff, and useful info with implications for both the physical and data security industries. Enjoy.

The safest city in the great state of Texas

Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Have you ever wondered which is the safest city in Texas? Is it McGregor--which is not too far from Crawford where our former president has a ranch? Or is it Bryan--which is next to College Station, home to the A&M Aggies? Bryan has and McGregor is about to install ADT municipal surveillance systems. We heard today, in a lively presentation by Ty Morrow, police chief retired of Bryan, and Bryan deputy police chief Peter Sheets, why Bryan is the safest and we heard from Steve Foster, police chief of McGregor why his city is the safest. McGregor wanted to install cameras as a "force multiplier" for the small police department, while Bryan was dealing with a major crime problem. Morrow, Sheets and Foster described why they decided to partner with ADT (they're looking for a partner and ADT fit the bill in terms of service and products) and had interesting things to say about their strategies for getting the police force, local politicians, and the general public on board for the projects. "Get them buy into to the vision that we want to make the City of ____(fill in the blank) the safest town in the great state of Texas." And once everyone's on board, how do you pay for the project? Morrow found seed money for the project by selling assets confiscated from criminals. We're talking about some serious cash--they've got $45K in the bank right now as the result of the program. And they've got an orange cadillac for sale if you're in the market. Foster's city council actually increase its city budget this year. These guys know their politics. Steve Foster, a former Texas Ranger who stands well over six feet tall, said the state objected to the placement of a pole which was to hold a camera. "One guy from the state said he was going to arrest me if I put a pole there. I said, 'If you think you can do it, c'mon down...I never did hear back from him." The municipal security panel discussion today was one of four events during a day-long event at ADT's fancy Dallas HQ, which is in Carrollton. We also heard toured the IP Lab and Demo center, where customers have systems configured and performance tested and where customers can compare system options side by side. More on this later. Gotta get ready for the dinner right now. Oh, and about the Texas Hold'em last night. I had to fold 'em after not too long. No wild cards you see. If twos had been wild it would have been a different story. The good news is that Leischen Stelter, managing editor of our sister news outlet, Security Director News, won the tournament. I take credit for sitting next to her. Ask Sam, it can be very lucky to sit next to me when you're gambling. And if anyone can find a place that observes wild card rules, watch out.

Ever heard of Allied Telesis?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009
They just invited me for a booth visit at ASIS, and since I'd never heard of Allied Telesis, I said yes. They claim to be in the IP surveillance space, and you can find a white paper they've done on their presence in surveillance here, but I've never heard anyone mention them. Just like I seem to discover a new storage manufacturer about once a day who's suddenly paying attention to IP surveillance because they've seen some crazy ABI numbers about doubling of the surveillance market to $41 billion by 2014, so, too, I guess, should we expect switcher makers and other network types who know how to move gigabits around to pay attention to security. Can't be a bad thing, really. Just hard to keep track of them all sometimes. Guess that's kind of my job, though.

Twos are wild

Monday, August 24, 2009
Just arrived in Dallas, Texas where it is 97 degrees at 5 p.m. I've been here a few times in February and enjoyed the city, but I do not know how in the name of Sam Houston these Texans go out in this? So, what am I doing here when it's 70 and beautiful on the coast of Maine? Well it's the annual ADT media event, "a Security Round Up" they're calling it. Fortunately we won't be hanging out outside during any of the events. Here's the line-up for tomorrow: We're going to the ADT IP Technology Lab in Carrollton; seeing a municipal security demo and talking with ADT folks and three local chiefs of police about trends in municipal and local public safety camera systems; meeting with the security director for Kinder Morgan, who's going to talk to us about securing petrochemical and chemical facilities and the effect of DHS's C-FATS standards; and, a "security roundtable" with four security directors and three chiefs of police. Tonight's just meet-and-greet stuff, but I hear we'll be invited to play in a Texas Hold-em mini-tournament. I'm no ringer, but I did play a lot of poker with my brothers and sisters growing up. We favored lots of wild cards--twos, Suicide Kings and One-Eyed Jacks would all be wild in one hand. That's my strategy and I'm sticking to it. I'll let you know how it works out.

License-plate reading in Ohio questioned

Monday, August 24, 2009
In the same vein as the Vancouver article I linked to earlier today, here's a piece from a Dayton, Ohio, paper about the use of license-plate-reading cameras by the cops. I think this is fairly well done, actually, exploring the concerns that exist out there and explaining well how the technology will be used. But, oh, how I hate the lede (that's journalism spelling there):
Are they cutting-edge tools in the war on crime and terrorism? Big Brother in a box? Or maybe a little of both?
Gah! Drivel! "Big Brother in a box?" Are there cameras that are not in boxes? What does the "in a box" refer to that's different than normal "Big Brother" references about cameras? And "maybe a little of both"? Is that the most over-used hedging of bets ever? How is that a lede to a story that anyone wants to read? Why wouldn't you cut that first paragraph and start the story with the second (amended by me): "Area police are excited about the possibilities offered by the automated license plate reader, a camera with a scanner mounted in a housing on selected police cruisers. But area activists are concerned that the readers present potential invasions of privacy." Anyway, some of the concerns presented are real. No, license plates that are read and recorded by the cameras shouldn't be kept on file unless they triggered a match to a license plate that's linked to a wanted criminal or stolen car. The critics are right about that. And the lack of a strict policy on that matter by the cops is cavalier at best and negligent at worst. The guy's right here:
Stephens said “if in fact data is stored, that is extremely troubling. There should be absolutely no storage of the data” pertaining to innocuous vehicles. Such data could be subpoenaed in civil litigation, Stephens said. For example, he said, a person suing for divorce could try to obtain license-tracking data to show the past whereabouts of a cheating spouse.
As a journalist, I would FOIA the crap out of that information any time I was trying to figure out where a public figure had been when he shouldn't have, etc. And while it may just be a characterization on the part of the writer, this paragraph is troubling:
Local authorities brushed off those concerns, saying they only plan to use the cameras for legitimate law enforcement purposes.
You can't answer public concerns with: phsaw! You need to be able to say, "look we have definitive policy x, and if anyone violates that policy, they'll be reprimanded." The public employs the police to keep them safe - it's not too much to ask that they respect their valid criticisms and take them seriously. There is no way the video should be used to monitor the activities of law-abiding folks, and while it's unlikely they'd do anything with those recordings, it's appropriate for the public to be able to question the policy.