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Bank robbery stats; bank branch business

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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?

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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

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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?

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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

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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

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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.

Vancouver? Security? Call Mike Jagger

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Monday, August 24, 2009
If you're looking for lessons on raising your public profile, call Mike Jagger, head of Provident Security in Vancouver. I don't think I've seen a story about security in Vancouver in the last year that Mike wasn't involved in. Dude is an impressive networker. Today, he's quoted in a story about some people with idle time on their hands going around and counting the number of security cameras in Vancouver. Who ya gonna call (if you're a reporter looking for a balancing source?)? Well, Mike Jagger, of course. So, why are they counting the cameras?
[T]he Public Space Network and the Surveillance Project are just hoping to provide a more accurate count -- so the public will have a sense of how often they're caught on camera -- often without even realizing it.
Hasn't this gotten tired by this point? Is there really anyone in the world anymore who's shocked - SHOCKED - by the amount of cameras watching the public domain? Isn't the anecdotal evidence overwhelming that people want cameras in their neighborhoods because they think they combat (or at least move) crime? Anyway, good thing they called Mike:
Michael Jagger of Provident Security says technology is also getting to a point where it risks invading people's privacy less. "We've programmed a number of rules to say, for example, if somebody gets too close to the windows you can see it's creating an alarm each time he's crossing the line," Jagger said.
Um, does that quote actually follow the first paragraph? If you understand that he's talking about video analytics, and that it's only going to record if someone gets too close to the windows and triggers the recording, then, well, sure, that makes sense. If you're Joe Blow on the street watching the TV news? That makes about zero sense. "Creating an alarm"? What does that have to do with me being videotaped in public and having my God-given right to never be seen by anyone unless I want them to stripped away thousands of times a day?

California says enough is enough with DO NOT RESPOND list?

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Monday, August 24, 2009
I was going through my email this morning when I came across a Google Alert claiming "Bay area officers weary of false alarms." I thought to myself, well there's some news... false alarms are wearisome? The link is from San Francisco Bay Area CBS affiliate CBS 5. There's a neat video report from one of the news anchors and what caught my attention was mention of a "Do Not Respond" list that the report asserts is taking hold in the area. The police interviewed in the spot are with the Vallejo, Calif. PD, where the Do Not Respond list was started 2 years ago, but other towns mentioned in the report include, Concord, Berkeley, San Francisco, Livermore, Fremont (where 99.7 percent of alarms are false, according to the report) and Palo Alto. Another thing that struck me about the CBS 5's news clip is the prominent parade of alarm company signage... There're yard signs and window decals from Bay Alarm, Edison Security, Brinks Home Security (CBS 5 couldn't be bothered to go and find a Broadview sign, it appears), and Morgan Alarm (a company without a website, it would appear) popping up right and left. The thing that's kind of funny is that, despite the plethora of security industry advertising displayed, CBS 5 didn't bother to talk to anyone from the security industry. Huh? If you're going to include all those advertising materials from the industry, shouldn't you at least make an attempt to contact them? I mean, I know the Westphals don't really talk to the press, but there must have been someone from one of the other companies who would have loved to talk to the media, right? Oh, actually, they did get a nice soundbite from a German shepherd, presumable guarding a location... Does that count? I've got emails out to some industry folks to see what their take might be. More on this later.

Sure he's below par on the green, but is he above par on his CEUs?

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Friday, August 21, 2009
CenterPoint VP Ops & Biz Dev MJ Vance recently passed on some info on the St. Louis-based monitoring center's next big event coming up in October. The Communications Industry Expo will be held Oct. 7. Info and registration forms can be found here. The event is a great way to stay current on your CEUs and is preceded by the 5th Annual Alarm Association of Greater St. Louis Golf Tournament at Pevely Farms, which takes place on October 6. So drop MJ a line and get your training and your eagle on!

Is this like Filene's Basement for security?

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Friday, August 21, 2009
Interesting press release (sorry, no link) out of Pelco HQ this morning: Pelco Announces Strategic Relationship with Northern Video Systems But this isn't your standard manufacturer-distributor marketing relationship:
Clovis, CA (August 20, 2009) – Pelco has entered into a strategic relationship with its Distribution Partner, Northern Video Systems of Rocklin, California, to market and sell Pelco Select Goods inventory. Pelco Select Goods are products that could be overstock products, discontinued products, products being replaced by newer models, and/or Factory Refurbished products. Unlike other companies, these products all carry the same Full Factory Warranty as all Pelco new products. Northern Video will actively market these products at a substantial savings to Factory New products. Since there is a varied supply of these products, quantities and availability will be unpredictable.
The bolds are mine. Maybe this is standard practice in the industry and I've just never come across it before, or maybe it's one of those things where you hear about it once and then all of a sudden hear about it all the time, but this is the second time in three days I've heard a manufacturer talking about inventory and overstock. On the Mace call, Dennis Raefield said they'd reduced their inventory by some $1.7 million by getting rid of overstock and older products. Hey said they actually created their own overstock web site where they're even willing to sell other people's products. They even used eBay. Seriously, eBay for video surveillance products. Who would have thought? Anyway, now Pelco seems to be doing something similar - trying to make some profit of used, discontinued, and overstock items. Is this the sign of a company in trouble? Mace is certainly struggling, if not "in trouble." They need to get to profitability and a strong balance sheet, if only to please the stockholders (they've got a decent amount of cash on hand - though if they keep losing $2 million a quarter the cash from the car wash sales will eventually run out). Is Pelco "in trouble," or is the company just being creative with new ways to find revenue? From what I've heard from smaller dealers looking to increase margin any way they can, I think this idea is a good one on Pelco's part. I know when I was broke and looking for a Mac, I always checked out the refurbished section on the Apple site. Same basic principle applies here: refurbished is good enough if the price is right. Here's Pelco's explanation:
These products have long been available from Pelco but have not been widely sold to its customers. The company believes this is simply due to its limited sales and marketing efforts around these offerings. With Northern Video Systems building a sales initiative around the distribution of these products, Pelco management feels that many more of their customers will be able to take advantage of these great savings. Northern Video will soon be marketing the availability of these products to the industry and have an energetic sales force ready to help customers with choosing products that will satisfy their requirements.
So, they've always had these products sitting around but never thought to sell them before? Doesn't that roughly translate to: "We were riding high on the hog for a long time and didn't care much about selling these products, but now we could use the cash so we thought, 'Hey, why don't we sell this stuff, too?'"? (Sorry for the weird punctuation - my point stands.) (Oh, and if you're not from New England, you may not know that Filene's Basement was this great store in Boston for finding cheap clothes that didn't get sold at Filene's proper. Of course, Filene's Basement closed. I'm not implying anything with that.)

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