Subscribe to


Hopefully, no one listens to this guy

Friday, March 20, 2009
The recession is bringing out more and more of these so-called business experts teaching people how to make money. This guy advocates promoting your door-to-door security business with a checkered dog: I find him strangely entertaining. But also a moron.

New iris company lands $13m

Friday, March 20, 2009
You'll see a profile of the company in our April issue, but in case you can't wait that long, AOptix has made some news by landing $12.9 million in funding. (I'm guessing it would have been $13 million, but that's bad luck?) Here are some details:
AOptix Technologies Inc., a Campbell, Calif.-based developer of iris recognition systems and ultra-high bandwidth laser communication solutions, has raised $12.9 million in Series D funding. Northgate Capital led the round, and was joined by return backers Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Clearstone Venture Partners, DAG Ventures, W Capital Partners and Lehman Brothers. The company has now raised over $60 million in total VC funding.
They're not a pure-play security company, obviously, so maybe I shouldn't call them "new" in the headline, but just this month they launched their security product (warning: that link's a pdf), which they call the "InSight," and which elevates iris recognition systems by making it so you don't have to stand all up close to the wall unit and stare into it. You just look in the general direction of the unit and stand within about a meter square area and, voila, you get recognized. I have not actually seen this demonstrated, but it sounds cool over the phone. I'm not sure how much of the money will go toward development of the security line, vs. their other optical imaging lines, but I'll call and find out what I can.

About that stimulus money

Friday, March 20, 2009
More than one industry leader has referenced the stimulus package as a potential boon for the security industry. Here's AMAG chief Bob Sawyer talking about "shovel-ready" projects, for example. Our lead newswire story references a webinar where the stimulus was oft-referenced. But SIA has expressed some displeasure with how security was treated in that package and I wonder how much of it will really make its way to the electronic security industry we hold near and dear. Security has such a wide definition that nearly anything can be justified as security: gas masks, haz-mat suits, helicopters, police cars, sidearms, better communications systems, training - the list is nearly endless at some point. This comes to mind as I read this story about money supposedly directed toward "border security" down in Texas.
While Gov. Rick Perry's Office of Emergency Management had "generally" ensured that more than $79 million spent between September 2005 and November 2008 was effectively used to combat border crime, the State Auditor's Office found a handful of examples of squad cars, helicopters and other resources that never made it to Texas' southern frontier.
Check out some of the details:
While the ACLU report primarily focused on the activities of border police and sheriff's departments, the auditor's review analyzed spending within the Texas Department of Public Safety, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Governor's Division of Emergency Management, which together received approximately $142.3 million in state and federal funds between the 2006 and 2009 fiscal years. To date, the agencies have spent just over half of that money, primarily on salaries, equipment and third-party contracts, the auditor's office found. Those purchases included: >> A total of 105 new DPS squad cars that were spread across the state rather than along the border. The department sent 106 used cars to border counties. >> A $7.4 million helicopter that has since been stationed in Austin. DPS redeployed an old helicopter to Laredo. >> Five new commissioned officers in the DPS Aircraft Division who were assigned to duty stations outside of the state's six border operational sectors. The department also failed to establish a planned $1 million Rio Grande Valley Border Security and Technology Training Center slated for Hidalgo County, citing insufficient funds, the audit states. "The (audit) recommendation indicates that resources should be placed in the most critical areas of the border," DPS management said in its response to the report. "We note that the criticality of various areas of the border varies because of a constantly changing threat."
Note how that training center is the only thing on the list that looks like it would have benefited electronic security, and there was no money for that, in the end. When politicians and bureaucrats think about protecting the critical infrastructure that's prioritized in the stimulus package, are they going to be thinking about analytics and cameras and access control integration and PSIM? Or are they going to be thinking about helicopters and police officers and squad cars? Who's out there educating local officials about the ways that security technology can eliminate the need for some of those officers and helicopters and squad cars? That education and lobbying is vital to the ongoing health of the industry.

Colorado fire co. wants to train you to start your own biz

Friday, March 20, 2009
that's what the press release said, but they're not rushing to call back the press with further info. At least, they won't call me back. Here's the press release It a company out of Denver called Nationwide Fire Protection Corp, and they sent out a press release a few days ago saying they'll train "aspiring business owners" to get into the fire protection business. Nationwide, the release says, will train you and "turn over existing accounts in the territory covered by the newly trained fire protection job specialists." (I guess that's what you are before you start your own business? ) From what I can tell, Nationwide specializes in the restaurant business and does a lot of kitchen hood systems. Its Web site says it does fire alarm installation as well. I emailed yesterday, called once yesterday and twice today to get some more information, to see if they're trying to start a franchising or if they're just looking for technicians. The person who answers the phone today said the owner got my messages and he'll call me back when he gets a chance, but she wasn't sure when that would be.

New PR/media exposure resource could help security industry pros

Thursday, March 19, 2009
I was pleased to see get an email recently from John Sternal, proprietor of the Understanding Marketing website, concerning a new toolkit for small business owners, including security products professionals. According to the attached release:
Security products professionals need help promoting their services in this market but do not wish to hire a PR agency for increased media exposure. To help overcome this, Understanding Marketing [on March 17] launched the PR Toolkit, an affordable new e-Book that helps smaller firms generate their own public relations tactics to increase their client base. Authored by John Sternal, a seasoned PR professional of nearly 20 years, the new PR Toolkit provides insight to help small businesses leverage the power of media awareness to promote their companies and generate bigger profits. Understanding Marketing offers DIY marketing and PR information for small businesses and the PR Toolkit serves as an agency-in-a-box for any company looking to insource and get publicity on a shoestring budget.
Well, any small business could use all the PR help they can get in this economy.

More manufacturer workforce trimming

Thursday, March 19, 2009
The effects of the economy continue to be felt in the security industry. Today comes word (right in my back yard) of workforce trimming at the GE Security plant in Pittsfield, Maine.
GE Security in Pittsfield is cutting its workforce, likely by more than one-third. About 430 people work at the plant. Just before the end of the first shift Wednesday, company officials called workers together to tell them the news: due to a drop in sales, they have to cut jobs. They asked first for a voluntary reduction, offering severance packages with benefits. Company spokesperson Michelle May tells TV-5 the number of jobs that will be cut depends on how many people take the voluntary package. But, she says it's likely more than 100 people will permanently lose their jobs. Some workers at the plant were already on month-long furloughs.
Obviously, this is a very small portion of the GE Security workforce, and companies have to do what they have to do to stay profitable (or avoid losses) in bad economic times, but these are the kinds of layoffs that really hurt a community because, I can assure you, there's really not much else going on in Pittsfield, Maine. It's pretty close to the middle of nowhere:

View Larger Map We need to do some serious bootstrap-pulling, and quick.


Thursday, March 19, 2009
This press release came in today (sorry no link):
VSI Viscount Selected for Obama Hookerbucks Program. VSI Viscount is pleased to announce the company has been selected by the US Government as the official co-sponsor of the launch of the Obama Hookerbucks program. Attendees to the upcoming ISC WEST Security Conference will receive complementary Hookerbucks at the VSI booth. As part of the US Government's $3 Trillion budget, the $30 Billion Obama Hookerbucks program is expected to be the key to stimulating the Las Vegas economy. Stephen Pineau, CEO of Viscount, commented, "The public is being screwed by the whole mess anyways so at least this way attendees will have something to show for it."
I did not make that up. I swear. Unless someone has hijacked Pineau's email address, I can confirm it came directly from him. Hookerbucks. Get 'em while they're hot. This is the same guy, remember, who held a wake for the access control panel in 2007, famously parading through the ISC West show floor with a coffin and, if I remember correctly, bagpipes. So he's got a flair for the dramatic.

More (bad news) on the casinos

Wednesday, March 18, 2009
On the heels of the Harrah's news yesterday, MGM/Mirage just released their numbers today. Not good. Here's the summary: 2007 net income: $1.6 billion 2008 net loss: $855 million No surprise, they blame the economy. Just in the fourth quarter, here's what happened:
Gaming revenues decreased 17% for the fourth quarter. The Company's total table games volume (including baccarat) decreased 17% in the quarter, with the overall table games hold percentage near the midpoint of the Company's normal 18% to 22% range in the 2008 period, lower than the 2007 period when the hold percentage was near the top end of the range. Slots revenues decreased 12% company-wide. Rooms revenue decreased 21% as market conditions impacted rates and occupancy leading to a 21% decrease in Las Vegas Strip REVPAR(1). Average room rates decreased 15% at the Company's Las Vegas Strip resorts and occupancy decreased from 93% to 85%.
We're staying at Treasure Island for ISC West (again, we booked our rooms too soon, I fear). There better be some $5 blackjack tables!

Executive carousel continues

Wednesday, March 18, 2009
You heard about Scott Schafer leaving Pelco for Arecont on Monday. Now comes word of his replacement (comma use in the below headline is sic): Clifford S. Holtz of Nortel Networks, to Join Pelco as Senior Vice President, Americas Sales I don't have a link for you, but here's the drill:
Clovis, CA (March 17, 2009) – Pelco is pleased to announce that Mr. Clifford S. Holtz has joined the executive management team of Pelco as its new Senior Vice President, Americas Sales, reporting to Mr. Dean A. Meyer, Pelco President and CEO. Holtz comes to Pelco from Nortel Networks Corporation in Denver, Colorado, where he was President of Enterprise Sales, North American.
I think this is an interesting move, if only because he's not a security guy. I've heard both sides of the debate on this one. Some people in the industry say if you haven't sold security, you might as well be a total rookie coming in. Others say the industry needs a taste of how the outside world sells nowadays. Clearly, we see how Dean Meyer and Pelco feel right now.
“The addition of Cliff our management team brings invaluable sales management experience to Pelco. Cliff has a long and successful record of working with leading technology products and independent sales channels that are similar to ours. We look forward to working closely with Cliff to do an even better job of taking Pelco products and services to market,” says Meyer.
The guy's definitely got a good tech background:
Prior to joining Pelco, Holtz was President of Enterprise Sales, North America, at Nortel and was responsible for all sales and marketing activity to this customer base. Leading technology-oriented enterprise business units for over 23 years, Prior to that, he served as Executive Vice President, Business Markets Group at Qwest Communications, where he led a $5 billion unit and managed an organization of over 5,000 employees. Earlier in his career, Holtz was at Gateway Corporation, where he led the $5 billion Consumer Division as Senior Vice President, where he managed all aspects of retail sales channels, advertising and product development. While at AT&T Corporation, he was President, Metro Markets, a $4.5 billion business unit.
Any move that brings top-notch talent into the industry is probably good for the industry as a whole.

ISC West to showcase more than security

Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I love all the little extras you get with ISC West. Granted, this will be my first ISC West show, and I have no point of reference for how this one differs from years' past, but I'm just really wowed at all the promises of cool stuff there. I heard a while ago that Monitronics is going to have UFC champion Chuck Liddell on hand at their booth. I also just heard that Iveda Solutions will be sharing their ISC West booth with John Deere (yeah, the green-tractor people, or for those more into country music, the titular, colored tractor of the timeless Joe Diffie classic) and showing their proof-of-concept video of an impressive piece of hardware. I don't have a link for that one, but here's a bit of the news from Bryce Witcher at Iveda:
Our goal is to show off at ISC West and give people a taste of how their security applications will be facilitated in the future. (Actually, the future is now, as the data infrastructure that makes our solution so robust has already been built and is currently in use.) In addition to showing what we are doing, John Deere (the heavy equipment manufacturer) will be sharing space in our booth to show their latest proof-of-concept product, the R-Gator. It is a semi-autonomous vehicle designed for patrolling areas that might be dangerous or inefficient for people to patrol. This includes huge installations like wind farms and power plants, or even border patrol areas. It carries on-board cameras that can be connected to our data center via wireless broadband cellular or other connections to the Internet. This is a really cool application.
My fearless editor Sam Pfeifle recently blogged on this same phenomenon. Cool stuff, cool stuff, cool stuff. For those a little less into action, less into ultimate fighting and cool, green, autonomous, border-patrol vehicles, Mission 500 will be there holding a silent auction to benefit needy children. There'll be lots there for everyone in the industry. I'm very much looking forward to it.