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Changing the analytics standard copy

Thursday, April 16, 2009
When I first entered the market four years ago, all of the talk was about what analytics could do (wicked cool stuff, I assure you). About two years ago, the focus changed to what analytics can't do (hey, guys, we never said it could do really wicked cool stuff, just wicked cool stuff). Every presentation on analytics suddenly included a bunch of slides where the presenter said things like, "which of these guys has a gun under his jacket? We don't know"; or "which of these people is about to rob a bank? Who knows?; or "No, you can't pick a face out of a crowded stadium." Well, maybe this last bit needs to be taken out of standard Power Point presentation or they should make it clear they're speaking for themselves. Check out this blog posting by 3VR head Steve Russell:
After a grueling multi-year testing process, in 3VR SmartRecorders and SmartCams provided between 85 percent and 92 percent accuracy in recognizing and matching faces in a few crowded, highly-trafficked public train stations in Seoul. In each case, the images analyzed were of fast-moving groups of commuters entering or exiting various transit areas en masse.
If you can get past the white text on black background, the rest of the post is pretty interesting, too. So, you can pick out faces in a crowd? I can see how maybe there's an app for that. Sister paper SDN wrote up the story here.

CO detection makes sense for dealers and consumers

Wednesday, April 15, 2009
More and more states are passing legislation requiring mandatory CO detectors in new homes. This is a story that will explain why. It's about a family that was warned about dangerous levels of CO through its CO detector (which, importantly,was connected to the family's monitored alarm system.) The mother was quoted as saying:
"That was the really scary thing," she said. "We all felt fine. There was no smell, nothing."
System Sensor was showing its new (this fall) CO detector at ISC West, which has a test to ensure that it is, in fact, detecting CO. (This is notable because other brands have tests which ensure that the device is powered up, but not that the detection device is working.) CO detectors are an easy add-on for residential security dealers, and one that stands out, I think, as making good sense for families to have. System sensor maintains a nice tally on its Web site about where legislation has been passed Here's a link. Click on the links on the right hand side to find out what's passed or pending in terms of CO legislation.

High technology solution to "key bumping"

Wednesday, April 15, 2009
In one of the more interestingly punctuated press releases I've been sent in a while, I was alerted to the Super Grip Lock, pitched as a solution to the key bumping problem (you know, where people can get past a deadbolt in about five seconds). In case you don't know about key bumping, here's a wacky Japanese video that gives you the idea (I'm sure there are English ones, too, but this one is fun): So, how do you stop criminals when they can just bump your deadbolt? Make sure the deadbolt handle can't turn! I'm thinking even I could install this thing: Of course, the question remains of what good this would actually do. Do robbers really very often target homes where people are there? Aren't they looking for unoccupied homes? I'm not completely sure why you'd want to more strenuously lock yourself in your home unless you had lots of enemies or something, and if they really want to get in because you haven't paid the vig on the $50,000 you borrowed to bet on the Red Sox last night, they'll just kick your door down or something. Maybe people do live in fear of burglars key bumping their homes while they're there and coming in an doing bodily harm to them. Maybe that's why I live in Maine. For those of you with time to kill, here's an instructive video about how to make one of these bump keys (go to YouTube to watch this if you enjoy expletive-filled comments (and who doesn't?)):

Can home security systems be art?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Yes. And here's proof in the form of a creepy video of some kids (who by the way, are in need of belts) breaking into a house in Florida. The good news is that the cops caught the thieves. The eight-camera system was sold to the homeowner by Landy Peluso, who owns Monitech Security Services. Landy told a local TV station that he installs hidden cameras in lamps and other places for customers. I have to add something here though. This video reminds me of a modern dance performance. It must be the stage-left and stage-right entrances and exits of the thieves, alternating with various pets, and accompanied by--what is that noise? a parakeet? Plus, like that dance performance, it goes on, and on, an on. If these kids straighten up and fly right, they might find better work in live installation in a museum. I"m not being critical, really. It's a security system that works, and it's like, art, man.

Architects getting phased out by security

Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Obviously, I follow the publishing industry almost as closely as I follow the security industry (it'd be nice if my industry didn't completely disappear while I'm trying to cover another one), and the news in publishing is pretty bad right now. There's another paper or magazine closing every day, seemingly. However, Architectural Openings Journal closed not because the business model is crap, but because the market is disappearing. Why?
"That whole industry is being absorbed: half by the construction and half by the security industry."
Whereas the architect used to decide what the door opening would be, now it's the security guy and the construction guy. I often hear about manufacturers talking directly to the A&E community, and integrators often gripe about having to deal with A&Es show design without knowing how the products they specify will actually work, but maybe the A&E's influence is waning. Another good sign for the security industry, I'd say. I was totally surprised to see the cover of the magazine on the page I linked to above. For architects to be getting a cover story on biometric access control - just didn't realize their jobs went there. But I guess they don't anymore.

More (armed) security needed at sea

Monday, April 13, 2009
The most recent Somali pirate drama got me thinking. Should U.S. merchant ships be more secure? Should it become common practice to have armed security on-board? At least one ex-marine believes so. The point of a security system is protection of life and property, right? I mean, let's be honest, there's probably not going to be anything gained from installing intrusion alarms, motion sensors, and video monitoring on a ship which is out in international waters most of the time and in foreign jurisdictions a lot of the time, unless the first responders are right there on the ship. And unless they're equipped to deal with the menace these pirates increasingly pose. I say, arm the ships, and, to quote the aforementioned ex-marine, "smoke[d] every one of those guys." That may sound harsh, but these pirates aren't modern day Robin Hoods, they're criminals and murderers, and maybe need a little operant conditioning in the form of punishment. Just my opinion. I welcome yours. Oh, and I just have to comment on this line from the linked ABC story above:
Justice Department officials are trying to determine whether to try the pirate in the U.S. or leave him to a pirate court in Kenya that has yet to try anyone for piracy.
Am I understanding this correctly? The U.S. Justice Department is actually considering handing the one surviving pirate of a band of pirates who terrorized hard-working Americans, over to a "pirate court?" Huh...? A pirate court that has yet to try anyone for piracy, no less. Really? How do we know this court to try pirates isn't run by pirates? Yeah, let's consider handing this guy over to the pirate court. Good thinking. Again, just my opinion.

Saving money by cutting security?

Monday, April 13, 2009
This story out of Virginia could have some major implications for the security industry and the future of how we do security in the United States. Quite simply, we've got potential U.S. Congressmen arguing that the security being mandated for ferry service in their district is a waste of money and it should be cut or significantly scaled back in order to preserve the ferry service, which is important to the local economy. Check this quote out:
"Everybody who's ridden that ferry agrees that the security checks are not only not effective, but probably not needed," Clark said Thursday. "If we can save $1.6 million on the cost of providing security that isn't needed, we're most of the way to achieving the savings VDOT would achieve by cutting back on the ferry."
Stan Clark, an Isle of Wight County supervisor and a contender for the state House seat held by Del. William K. Barlow, is leading the effort. Barlow is a Democrat who represents the 64th District, which includes Isle of Wight and James City County.
Whoah! The security checks are not effective? Someone is running on a platform that the security is worthless? Has there been an incident on the ferries since they've begun? How do you know plans haven't been thwarted? That a potential terrorist passed up the target because it wasn't worth the attempt? Of course, there's no way of knowing those things. And after spending time in Israel, I'm actually pretty convinced that "random" inspections are worthless, as the guards can't actually perform random inspections - they naturally gravitate to certain situations and people and once you observe them for a while it's pretty easy to avoid the "random" inspection if you're a smart bad guy. But ought we to be politicizing the expense of security? Should this Clark guy be deciding what's worthless and what's necessary? Is he getting security briefings? Does he have any experience with security operations and risk management? These kinds of decisions need to be left to independent third-parties appointed by the government but operating relatively free from political restraint. The real problem, of course, is that this is an unfunded mandate from the federal government to the states. This is the nut graph:
Though security is mandated by the federal government, the cost falls on VDOT's shoulders. The $1.6 million covers a security detail of between 32 and 35 armed security guards provided by a private security firm, according to Hansen. The guards each are provided basic weather gear, a sidearm, a nonlethal weapon and a flashlight.
If security is seen as a burden, it's not going to be done right. If security is going to be mandated, there needs to be funding behind that mandate (this is the same kind of policy-making that has crippled public schools, by the way, and has set up resentment against kids who need special education - I've seen that firsthand as well). And people need to see the reason for the mandate, too. This bit, thrown in at the end of the story, is mindblowing:
VDOT does not keep a log of incidents handled by ferry security guards, but numerous arrests have been made involving "threats to the ferry, contraband and assistance in breaking up fights," Hansen said. "The biggest thing we have found is that having the security presence there has been a deterrent to people breaking the law," she said.
Um, maybe you want to keep a log of those things? Seems like a pretty easy thing to do, and it should fall under public right to know laws, anyway. If you can show the tangible benefit (the ROI, in today's speak), you can make a better case for getting the security funded. For some time, I've been hearing that transportation security and government-funded projects in general are a safe bet for an industry looking for new markets. But if security is suddenly seen as an unnecessary expense by any large portion of the the political population, that market could begin to dry up, especially on the state and local levels, where budgets are especially thin and they can't just go borrowing trillions of dollars, like the feds. I think this is a very interesting case to watch.

Unmonitored camera liability?

Friday, April 10, 2009
Busy finishing up our May issue, but had a down minute and went over to check out VideoIQ CTO Doug Marman's blog, something I'd been meaning to do for a while. Check out the top post. There's an interesting discussion of the potential liability for corporations deploying cameras but not monitoring them. This isn't something I've heard of before and I'll be checking into it for a potential trends story.

Pelco's back in

Thursday, April 9, 2009
Maybe ISC West was a REALLY good show. Not only has John Honovich starting thinking about turning around his dire predictions for 2010, but Pelco has decided IFSEC isn't such a bad investment after all. Check it out:
Pelco to Participate in IFSEC 2009 Clovis, CA (April 8, 2009) – Pelco is excited to announce that after careful evaluation and reconsideration, it will once again be participating in IFSEC 2009. This is a shift from an announcement made late last year that the company would not participate at the 2009 IFSEC show. “Following some last minute discussions with the show organizers we have reached agreement for Pelco to exhibit in the IP section of the show, albeit with a much smaller stand than in previous years, in order to launch several exciting new products including the Sarix megapixel camera range and the new Endura HD Optimised, enterprise-class video management system,” says Kevin Smith, Pelco Regional Manager for the United Kingdom and Ireland. The Pelco stand will be located in Hall 5, stand D80.
Those "discussions" might have gone something like this: IFSEC: Come on! We'll give you a free booth. Seriously, are you really not coming? Pelco: Birmingham is the suck, and there's no good hotel rooms left anyway. No way, we're not coming. We'll see you when you move back to London. At least then we can eat at some decent restaurants. IFSEC: Look, we'll put you in the IP section. You can say it's just because the demand for your new Sarix cameras is so high that you just couldn't deny the UK market a look at them. And we've got some rooms stashed at a sweet hotel right next to the river. You can have them. Seriously. Just come. Pelco: Right on the river? IFSEC: Seriously. Right on the river. They have a rooftop jacuzzi, too. Pelco: Alright, we're in! We'll put out a press release and stuff. Good news all around.

Background check legislation filed

Thursday, April 9, 2009
The NBFAA announced today that Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) has filed legislation on its behalf that would allow fire and security companies to access to background checks before hiring personnel.
H.R. 1939, the “Electronic Life Safety and Security System Federal Background Check Act of 2009,” permits industry access to a database which can be used to check a potential employee’s criminal history. Congress has authorized similar access in the past to groups such as banks, credit unions and private security guards. “It is outrageous that a potential felon could have access to our citizens’ homes and businesses without the employer knowing his or her record, and that is why this legislation is so important,” Luetkemeyer said. “It would be irresponsible to allow this to continue because it puts those families and businesses who think they are being protected at risk.” States are not currently able to stay apprised of crimes committed from one state to another, and many private background check services do not capture complete law enforcement information upon which to base a hiring judgment. Some states have no background check requirements for this industry. The legislation is not a government mandate, but simply offers the electronic life safety and security industry access to the same background information that is currently available to many other groups. Americans do not want a person with a questionable criminal background installing systems designed to keep them safe in facilities such as child daycare centers, schools, public pools, chemical plants, water and nuclear facilities, banks, hospitals, port facilities and air terminals. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this commonsense legislation to keep our families, businesses, and critical infrastructure safe,” Luetkemeyer said. Once the legislation is passed, the industry will need to secure support from the Attorney General to permit states to access the database. The bill also recommends certain standards for the Attorney General and Department of Justice for those states wishing to participate, including a reciprocity requirement and NBFAA’s involvement as part of the background check process. The bill will require significant support to pass both the House and Senate, as other groups are requesting background check access, creating a long delay in accommodating non-law enforcement organizations such as NBFAA. With the help of the security industry, NBFAA will work on securing a senate bill and seek to pass the legislation.