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More Firetide funding

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I picked this up from the PEHub email, but there's nothing I can find to link to, as it was just a blurb in the body of the email, but:
Firetide Inc., a Los Gatos, Calif.-based provider of wireless mesh networking solutions, has raised around $8.59 million in fifth-round VC funding, according to a regulatory filing. It had previously raised $46 million since 2003, from firms like Coral Capital Management and Menlo Ventures.
I've got an email in to see if I can learn more from Firetide.

How'd that WSJ ad work out, anyway?

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I caught up with Jack Turley, VP of sales and marketing for Gallagher’s Cardax brand in the Americas, and asked him about his thoughts on the decision to take out the ad in the Wall Street Journal. It was a long discussion that went all over the place, but here are the relevant bits: Sam: What was the impact of the ad, in your opinion? Jack: There’s a lot of ways to measure that impact. The most analytical way would be the web hits, I guess. We got five times the traffic that we normally get, and the visitors were scattered all over the world, but predominantly from the U.S., so I think the trade show, coupled with the Wall Street Journal, brought some of the awareness we were hoping for. From the booth traffic, considering what I saw at other booths, and as a relatively new entrant to the U.S., our booth was as busy as anyone else’s and it was certainly up from last year. We certainly had our share of current GE dealers come to wonder what we’re all about. It was kind of interesting. Some of them came not exactly sure what to make of us. So we gave them the quick tour, had them sit down with the senior management—that’s one of the things that makes us different: [company CEO] Bill Gallagher attends just about every trade show and wants to meet everyone that comes into the booth, which is a different sort of company to work for. Bill Gallagher might be dealing with the ambassador to Germany one day and have a screwdriver in his hand the next day, showing a guy how to work a panel. What was a bit unexpected was a few GE employees coming and sniffing around, and two of them actually handing us business cards and asking to keep them in mind as the expansion increases. Based on all of that, the Wall Street ad has been extremely successful. I bet 400 people at the show came up to me and gave me the equivalent of a high five. Sam: Could that impact have been created with something other than an ad in the Wall Street Journal? Jack: There’s a place for the industry trades, sure, but what I see is other companies out there trying to sell black boxes, and we’re much more of a solutions business. And that comes down from Bill, who’s an inventor, but also somebody who really wants to solve problems. So, with the ad, we’re not talking just to security dealers, but starting a dialog with the business world as a whole.

UPDATE: How to get your FREE stuff!

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Monday, September 28, 2009
I posted earlier on an upcoming free webinar being hosted CSAA and moderated by Attrition Busters' Bob Harris. At the time of the post, I did not have registration information. Since then I received a comment from a Steve Kanunu with the registration link, which is here. I also received the latest issue of Signals which has more information, and I got a call from Celia Besore at CSAA and an email from Bob Harris. Harris' email also pointed out he's available to help in other ways:
If you are a contract central, equipment distributor, or a manufacturer considering doing a stand alone product or services showcase session during ISC West 2010 and are looking to generate eager attendees to come to it, Bob Harris has agreed to provide only two Attrition Busters “showcase” sessions at this upcoming ISC West. If you really want to draw people out and have a large captured audience to showcase your newest product or service, consider hiring Bob Harris to keynote your event or provide one of his critically acclaimed sales and retention sessions! Again, Bob has agreed to provide only two session at ISC West so if this is of interest to you, please get in touch with him as soon as possible to secure one of only two opportunities to have him speak at ISC West in April.
I have to admit, I like the Attrition Busters logo... attritionbusters It makes me think "A-Team." Could Harris be the RMR equivalent of Hannibal, Faceman, Murdock and B.A. wrapped up into one? Check out the webinar and decide for yourself. This looks like a pretty cool webinar, and the price can't be beat. There is also more information in the latest issue of CSAA's Dispatch. If you haven't signed up yet, get going.

Monday morning with DHS

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Monday, September 28, 2009
Many of you know I've been giving this Twitter thing a go lately. I thought it worked out well at the ASIS show - I thought I posted some interesting tidbits in a way that wouldn't have fit either the blog or long-form story-writing (my reports on the location of kegs of beer on the show floor were particularly riveting), and I picked up some cool stuff from other posters there (I first heard of the Gallagher-to-GE letter via a Tweet). (Insert shameless plug here: Follow me at www.twitter.com/sam_pfeifle.) Anyway, I've spent some time cruising around Twitter trying to get my feed filled up with people who have interesting information to disperse. I thought the Department of Homeland Security might be good to pick up, especially since I generally find their RSS feed, which you can follow in the lower left-hand corner of our home page, to be fairly valuable. However, when I found them, I was a little disappointed. I think maybe they lost an intern or something. Check it out: http://twitter.com/HomelandSecurit. First of all, the lack of a "y" at the end is disconcerting. I'm sure it's because that's all the letters you can have or something, but go with another handle if that's the case. The missing "y" just makes you look like a typo. And then, when you actually check their page out, it's kind of pathetic. Sure, they've got 15,000+ followers, which kicks my ass, but friggin' Ashton Kutcher is at 3.7 million and counting. Shouldn't the DHS be able to top Ashton Kutcher? And while you may dismiss Twitter as frivolity, does anyone else have a better way for the DHS to directly message the average citizen about a homeland security threat they need to be aware of? Is there a better tip-line? This is a golden opportunity, and not only is DHS not bothering to get people signed up, but it uses its tweets to tell us if the threat level for flying is orange or yellow (i.e., meaningless or meaningless), and hasn't posted since June. The Twitter feed for Ready.gov is a little better in terms of updates and information, but has fewer than 5,000 followers, which makes it mostly a waste of time in the grand scheme of things. Maybe Twitter isn't the be-all, end-all, but if random celebrities have the time and energy and resources to gather millions of followers, surely the U.S. government does (not generally known for their efficiency with human resources, or resources of any sort). And it has a clear utility. So what's the problem?

Integrator weighs in on estate tax

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Friday, September 25, 2009
I'm not exactly sure where I stand in the estate tax debate. Part of me thinks you can just tax plan the right way and avoid it, so who cares; part of me thinks its an archaic throw-back to anti-bourgeoisie Revolution-era thinking; part of me thinks the government has to raise money somehow; part of me is pretty sure I'll never have to worry about it, considering the $3.5 million exception, so why spend time thinking about it; and part of me thinks it's not good for small business, where personal tax returns double as business returns and it doesn't take a large business to trigger the tax. Anyway, my opinions matter little on the subject. What's cool is that RFI Enterprises owner Larry Reece had an anti-Estate Tax op-ed in the Mercury News this week, showing thought leadership in his business community. I love it when security execs take an active role in the local and national conversation, and he's got a good story about starting his business at the kitchen table. It's worth a read regardless of your position on the matter.

Good works by Prestige Alarm in Birmingham

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Friday, September 25, 2009
Here's a nice story to begin your weekend with: Prestige Alarm and Specialty Products, Inc. of Birmingham, Ala., donated an E3 Series Expandable Emergency Evacuation System, manufactured by Gamewell-FCI, to a nearby Ronald McDonald House. According to a Honeywell Fire Systems press release, Prestige's CEO Eddie Harden decided to donate a system to the Ronald McDonald House, a facility for families to stay while family members are in the hospital, when his kids offered to help pay for the system. [caption id="attachment_2276" align="aligncenter" width="448" caption="Ronald McDonald house in Birmingham, Ala."]Ronald McDonald house in Birmingham, Ala.[/caption] From the release:
Eddie Harden, CEO of Prestige Alarm, recalls being asked for pricing on the fire alarm system. His young children overheard and offered to help pay for it. This ultimately moved Harden to donate the system in his children's names, along with the installation and three years of monitoring and maintenance services. "I've seen families receive the blessing of the Ronald McDonald House. It meant a lot to me to be a part of the new facility and provide a system that will protect lives there for many years," says Harden. To ensure split-second detection, notification and communications, Harden utilized a Gamewell-FCI E3 Series system, operating on a 625k broadband pipeline with the bandwidth to ensure a fully-loaded panel delivers immediate results. One UTP (unshielded twisted-pair) of wires integrates the House's entire fire protection system while reducing its overall footprint and facilitating efficient installation and troubleshooting.
Here's the press release.

ONVIF plugfest update

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Friday, September 25, 2009
Looks like my passive-aggressive post about the PSIA plugfest, wherein I snarkily mentioned I couldn't get in touch with ONVIF (admittedly, I didn't try THAT hard, but I hate when phone calls aren't returned), has resulted in good things. I got a report on what happened at ONVIF's ASIS plugfest and it sounds like it was a resounding success similar to the PSIA's. Per ONVIF executive director Paul Ritchie:
First, we had 8 companies represented, and they demonstrated 10 cameras and 4 software clients. AVerMedia, Axis, Bosch, Canon, IndigoVision, Lilin, Panasonic, Sony, and Vivotek were present and demonstrating products. By actual headcount, we had 146 people, both members and non-members of ONVIF attend the reception and plug fest demonstration.
That's a major headcount, and definitely more people than were at the PSIA event (not that it's a competition). Speaking of competition, though, I was talking with Warren Brown, director of product management for access control and video at Tyco (Software House, Kantech, American Dynamics, etc.), and he mentioned that while Tyco has joined the board of directors for PSIA (go to the link, then click on the story - it's one of those automatic PDF downloads), they're also members of ONVIF, and that he thinks the competition of the two groups is good for the industry. He doesn't think either group would be as far along as they are without the other as a benchmark and I think most people agree. Maybe eventually it will shake out to where one is the dominant standard, or maybe they'll converge at some point and everyone will be arm-in-arm and the world will be all peace and harmony, but for now the race is on and it's fun to watch.

St. Louis needs golfers

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Thursday, September 24, 2009
Got a note today from Rick Drake, who's running the Alarm Association of Greater St. Louis' 5th annual golf tournament, and could use a hand. The proceeds of the tournament "are to assist and benefit our local chapter alarm association, members and other interested parties in the mechanics of starting and maintaining an accredited industry apprenticeship program to learn the necessary skills that would enable them to work in the alarm industry." I agree with Rick, George Gunning, and a number of others that a pipeline for new talent into the industry is important. The event is Oct. 6, at Pevely Farms, which is apparently a very nice course, starting at 8 a.m. If you're interested in playing or sponsoring the event, you can find Rick at 636.349.2442 Ext. 301 or email [email protected]. Sounds like there's a good St. Louis BBQ involved, too.

Tips from Pinnacle Security

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Thursday, September 24, 2009
Here's a press release issued last night by Pinnacle Security. And these are not tips on how to sell security systems, ala the You Tube video. This is a consumer press release--the kind many big security companies release from time to time about how homeowners can best protect their homes. I thought it was interesting because it's the first time I've seen Pinnacle put out a press release. I've had a dog of a time trying to get them to comment on anything. There's a press contact down at the bottom. I'm going to give this guy a call once offices open in Utah.

iOmniscient wades into analytics wars

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Thursday, September 24, 2009
One of the things I really appreciated about the Bosch tent this week at ASIS was that they didn't pull any punches. They held head-to-head competitions (of their own design, obviously, to maximize their strengths) and let people take a look. They went after Pelco particularly hard. I don't know why these kinds of performance tests aren't more common. I suppose we should be doing them, and I probably would if I even knew how to plug in an analog camera and make it work, or wire an access reader. I suppose I could learn, or contract other people to do it. Maybe I will. Regardless, the hollowness of manufacturer claims are hardly unique to security, nor are marketers to be faulted for seeing what they can get away with. Every day I come across another "leading manufacturer" of some piece of equipment. The security industry is kind of like Lake Wobegon: Everyone's a leader! I'm reminded of this today because of an email I got from iOmniscient, a company that just started sending me emails, but which I've gathered makes video analytics they think are pretty special. Here's the good part:
Last week Security World Magazine hosted the Secon conference in Seoul. With over 2500 attendees it is THE event on Automated Surveillance in Korea. For the second year in a row they invited Dr Rustom Kanga, CEO of iOmniscient to deliver a Keynote address – this time on “Selecting Software and Hardware for Video Analysis Systems”.
There is apparently some major interest in automated surveillance in Korea. Who knew? Also, why would you have the same keynote speaker two years in a row? Anyway, moving on:
An interesting observation on the event was that several speakers talked about the dissatisfaction that users felt about Video Analysis systems because of the number of false alarms they usually had to deal with. This is inevitable as other systems do not have an Artificial Intelligence based Nuisance Alarm Minimisation System (NAMS). All iOmniscient products above an IQ level of 65 are armed with NAMS. (Note: products with an IQ lower than 65 are rarely sold by iOmniscient. They are offered only in competitive tenders where the user does not understand the value of NAMS and wants the lowest price. These low end products always come with a warning that they do not include NAMS).
I mean: obviously! No else has NAMS! If only they did, all of their troubles would go away. I'm also impressed with the way that iOmniscient is willing to stoop below their normal IQ level to sell to those pesky end users concerned about price. Sorry. I'm being extra snarky this morning because I'm half-way through the red-eye home. I still haven't really gotten to the good part. My apologies. Here we go:
The importance of NAMS became evident in a recent trial in North America where we were in a competition against one of our very large US competitors. Over a week the customer put both systems through various tests. Both companies did equally well on the detections but there was one difference. Our competitor had 200 false alarms each night. We had zero. This wide difference in capabilities explains why there are so many “unhappy users” around the world among those who have used systems which do not have NAMS.
Ah-ha! A secret test, conducted by an unnamed end user, pitting iOmniscient against an unnamed competitor, in a completely unexplained environment! That totally explains why there are so many unhappy users out there. I'm utterly convinced. Seriously. What is the point of this? You know, recently, I gave my newspaper to 100 people at a major U.S. conference and asked them to read my paper and then read one of my major competitors. Then I asked them, "which one made you smarter?" Every one of them, it turns out, chose Security Systems News! In fact, many of the readers commented that the competitor's paper actually made them dumber. So that really explains why there are so many dumb people in the security industry: They're reading the wrong newspaper! But this kind of stuff isn't just limited to emails sent out by iOmniscient. Here's the text from the front page of their web site:
Our multi-award winning, patented Non Motion Detection is recognized as the world's only technology to accurately detect in crowded areas despite constant movement and obscuration; a feat that is not achievable with standard Video Motion Detection. This has resulted in a multitude of airports, railways, and roads and traffic organizations adopting iOmniscient's products worldwide.
Recognized by whom? What awards? Detect what? A multitude? Then why does the press release section of the web site mention exactly three customers since 2004? The big case study they're touting is a museum in Australia. I'm sure it's a national treasure, but doing people counting and loitering in a museum isn't that tough, and certainly isn't indicative any secret sauce. If you beat out some other guy, tell me which guy. If you were tested by a customer, tell me which customer, or at least tell me who the integrator was? If you don't have anything more than vague references to mythical stuff, just stop it.

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