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Vegas-bound—and trend-watching in the central station space

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Monday, March 31, 2014

ISC West 2014 - Day Three

After spending much of my career in the medium of print, I managed to make my on-camera debut at ISC West 2014, interviewing several folks from the central station side who provided some lively perspectives about the show and the direction of their respective businesses.

First up was Jim McMullen, president and COO of COPS Monitoring, who said the company had around 800 dealers at its annual Dealer Appreciation Bonanza, an event I also happened to attend with several SSN colleagues. He wasn’t lying; Gilley’s was thronged, and there was no shortage of attendees eager to duke it out in the mechanical bull riding competition, a contest for which the event has become well known. The Bonanza has become a marquee event for CO, McMullen said, and has proven to be another way the company goes about forging strong relationships its dealer base.

In my next interview, Josh Garner, CEO of AvantGuard Monitoring, discussed the company’s new monitoring center in the rural community of Rexburg, Idaho. Garner characterized the new facility as a human capital investment, as the company aims to leverage the community’s young and well-educated workforce (Brigham Young University has a campus in the town). We also talked about AvantGuard’s success in the mobile PERS market and the company’s PERS Summit Network, which has an educational component that takes a “granular” approach to equipping dealers with the knowledge they need to run a successful PERS operation.

My final on-camera interview of the day was with Hank Groff, SVP of sales at Dynamark, and Tom Piston, VP of business development. The duo explained the philosophy behind Dynamark’s recently launched partner program and discussed the company’s highly focused, customized approach for ISC West.

I also met briefly this morning, off camera, with Barry Epstein, president of Dallas-based investment firm Vertex Capital. We discussed the late 2013 Security Partners acquisition of Mace Central Station (a deal in which Epstein represented Mace) as well as the PERS valuation market, which remains intriguing (and well worth keeping an eye on) but relatively inactive.  

And that just about does it for ISC West 2014. Keep an eye out for our show roundup, which we’ll include on the newswire next week.  

ISC West 2014 - Day Two

The second day of ISC West had the same frenetic energy and pace as the first—which is maybe fitting for a day that for many began with the Security 5K run. My opening meeting of the day was with I-View Now, who hosted a forum for several attendees. I-View’s Steve Patterson, chief information officer, and Matt Fleming, chief technology officer, highlighted some of the company’s new initiatives, which include the a newly launched cloud analytic, and discussed the company’s push to form additional partnerships with some big name manufacturers. The two also touched on sales strategies for video verification, which can contribute an additional $35-50 in RMR for monitored accounts, according to Patterson.

Patterson noted that demos are a critical component of the sales process for video verification. I-View Now has developed a demo portal that can act as management tool, demonstrating the correlation between video verification demos and successful sales.

I returned to the show floor for my second demo of the day, this one led by Aaron Salma, at Union, N.J.-based Affiliated Monitoring. Salma showcased the e-contract functionality on the company’s new dealer app, which allows technicians to efficiently manage their accounts. Salma said the app can be enormously beneficial for businesses employing a summer sales/door-knocking model.

In the afternoon I made my way up the Venetian Tower where I joined Kevin O’Connor, president of LogicMark, and Troy Bruce, director of sales, to discuss the company’s newly released mobile PERS offering, the SentryPal, as well as its new traditional unit, the Caretaker Sentry. Both emphasized the need for PERS products (and the security industry at large) to remain grounded from a practical standpoint despite rapid technological advancements.

O’Connor believes even a less tested market like mPERS holds considerable promise. That market, he said, may evolve much like the security industry in general, continually adding new functions that central stations and dealers can translate into more RMR.

While the sheer numbers of America’s aging Baby Boomer demographic bode well for anyone in the PERS space, security companies still need to develop a sound strategy for bringing the product to market, managing the expectations of customers and efficiently redeploying their units, they noted. Interestingly enough, both agreed that security companies, if the resources are there, do themselves a favor by creating a separate division for bringing PERS to market.

My afternoon concluded with back-to-back PPVAR panel sessions, the first of which distilled several outside-the-industry perspectives on video verified response. The session, moderated by Steve Walker, VP of Stanley Convergent, president of PPVAR, featured representatives from law enforcement and private insurance.

The next session, moderated by Don Young, CIO of Protection 1, VP Stanley Convergent representatives from the manufacturing side (Scott Harkins, president of Honeywell) and the central station space (Chuck Moeling, executive VP of sales at Interface, and Tony Wilson, president of CMS), together with representatives from the private investment and legal arenas.

An interesting topic raised by the panel dealt with the potential of video verification in the residential security space. Moeling pointed out that there are considerably more barriers to establishing a foothold in the residential market (as opposed to commercial) in North America. One of those barriers, he said, is the “basic nature of American independence” and customers being leery of having “big brother watching.”

Though Harkins believes there is potential for video verification in the residential space, he added the caveat that, from Honeywell’s perspective, bringing the technology to a mainstream market has to be done in a way that keeps such systems affordable to a mass market. 

ISC West 2014 - Day One

Though access control resides a little outside my coverage domain, my first ISC West stop was at Assa Abloy’s booth for a morning press conference. It was an impressive showing from the company, whose president of access and egress hardware group, Martin Huddart, delivered a presentation outlining the company’s past, present and future.

Huddart keyed in specifically on the company’s transition to a new line of “2.0” solutions. The presentation touched on several on several of the company’s newer and more sophisticated solutions: Access credential technology that sends keys “over the air” through smart phones, “futureproof” maglocks that support several different credential strategies (NFC and Bluetooth among them), and the company’s EcoFlex locks.

The latter, according to David Sylvester, president, door security solutions at Assa Abloy, was a major point of attraction for the sustainability officer at Amazon, which plans to use the locks at its new headquarters.

I spoke with Michael Schubert and Woodie Andrawos, president and executive vice president, respectively, of National Monitoring Center, which is fresh off announcing the opening of a new 25,000-square-foot facility in Lake Forest, Calif. Both characterized the facility as a substantial technological upgrade that amply accommodates for future growth. NMC now has two central stations (the other is in Texas), and Schubert said, down the road, the company may explore the possibility of getting another, ideally in a new time zone.

I had the chance to meet early in the day with Gary Shottes, president of AES Corporation, and Candyce Plante, senior director of marketing at AES. We spoke at length about the company’s patented wireless mesh technology, some new developments at AES on the product front (stay tuned for that), and the ramifications of the 2G sunset—an industry inevitability from which a company like AES is well-positioned to prosper. Already seeing gains from clients keen on “futureproofing,” the company could thrive even more when the 3G sunset occurs, according to Shottes.

The 2G sunset proved to be a theme that found its way into some of my afternoon discussions as well, particularly in my conversations with some folks at Uplink, whose software solutions are geared to mitigate some of the adverse effects of network obsolescence.

I also spoke with Telguard’s Shawn Welsh and Pam Benke (VP of business development, director of marketing, respectively) about their launch, today, of their OneRate service plan for their HomeControl platform, which replaces the company’s previous multi-tier pricing structure with a single flat price.

The plan, according to Welsh, goes along way in terms of “demystifying” the sales process for customers, and he believes the simpler, pared down approach will give sales personnel a considerable advantage when trying to sell home automation in conjunction with security products. The service plan also includes a reseller price that allows central station partners to “make margins bundling the service,” Welsh said.

A recent report from ABI Research shed light on the notion that the industry is still in the laboratory phase as far as figuring out the best way to bring home automation to market. There’s still a fair amount of tinkering and experimentation going on, the report noted, and this simplified (and innovative) service plan from Telguard seems indicative of that.

Once again, as I’m wont to do at trade shows and other industry events, I’ve stretched this blog a bit beyond its ideal length, so that’s all for day one. I have a slew of meetings and interviews tomorrow, which I’ll provide updates about during the course of the day.  

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Like thousands on the east coast, I’ll be flying west tomorrow to Las Vegas, where I’ll be spend the following three days at ISC West, trying to gauge what those in the central station arena are finding compelling about the marquee show.  

Judging by conversations I’ve had with members of the industry over the past several weeks, there should be no shortage of new developments at this year’s show. Days after booking my ticket to Vegas I was hearing about new central station automation software, a cloud- and algorithm-based video verification platform, the launch of new mobile apps for dealers and technicians, and manufacturers warming up to mobile PERS.

Basically, I’m expecting an aggressively forward-thinking show, and, since I’ll be updating this blog over the next three days, you’ll be able to see to what extent that presentiment is realized.

I want to encourage readers to take up the opportunity to meet with me and my colleagues—SSN editor Martha Entwistle; SSN managing editor Tess Nacelewicz; and Amy Canfield, managing editor of our end user-focused sister publication, Security Director News—at our “Meet the Editors” event at the show. This is scheduled for Wed., April 2 from 9:30 a.m. to 10 a.m, and will be held at the SSN booth, adjacent to the ISC West Media Stage, which is located directly outside the main entrance doors to the show floor.

I very much look forward to meeting our readers in person, so please feel free to stop by!

Martha's daily report from the ISC West show floor

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Monday, March 31, 2014

Updated April 3, 2014, with information about ISC West Day 2

Day two started with the fifth annual Security 5K, a benefit race for the wonderful organization, Mission 500. More than 700 people registered for the race and we raised $90,000 to help save lives.

We had a very special guest at the Security 5K events this year, someone who knows well the good work of Mission 500. Before the race, and also at the Security 5K race reception we heard from Dr. Diego Alejandro Garcia, a pediatrician who was sponsored at the age of 3 through World Vision/Mission 500.

Today he is Director of the Colombian Ministry of Health Vaccination Program..

He spoke about his experience with Mission 500 and what a real impact it has on young children.

I don’t think I was the only one in the crowd who found Diego’s remarks—and presence at the even this year—very moving

The Security 5k was founded by United Publications, publishers of Security Systems News and Security Director News, and we’re the organizing sponsor of the event. Other sponsors are Reed Exhibitions, proprietors of ISC Expos; and Mission 500. Core sponsors of the 2014 Mission 500 5K/2K are Alarm.com, Altronix Corporation, Axis Communications, Ditek, HID Global, Honeywell, LRG Marketing Communications, Pelco by Schneider Electric, and Safety Technology International. Additional sponsors include Cops Monitoring, Digital Monitoring Products (DMP), Samsung, Brivo, Freeman, Monitronics, Qolsys, Bolide Technology Group, Security Industry Association, and PSA Security Network.

Find out more about this wonderful organization here. http://mission500.org/2014/

After the race I had 30 minutes to get back to the show floor where I got to participate (with Mission 500’s George Fletcher, Diego Garcia, Charlene Foglio) in the opening ceremony for ISC West Day 2.

Then the meetings started. Here’s a brief overview of who I saw:

I met with Jay Hauhn of TycoIS and we talked about the hosted video cloud service that TycoIS is planning to launch in June. TycoIS is working with Next Level Security Systems on project. I asked Jay how he feels about ADT getting into larger commercial security projects (greater than 7,500 square feet after its non-compete with TycoIS expires in September.) “Just another competitor,” Hauhn said.

John Romanowich of Sightlogix filled me in on the company’s newest camera—it’s faster, more accurate and the price has come way down. He said it “brings accurate outdoor security to the mass market.” And because the power requirements are so low, it can be wireless and run on solar. He noted that it's the trenching for wiring that costs money and necessitates design work.

Steve Gorski of MOBOTIX said he’s talking to lots of integrators about the company’s new VMS software, which he called “user-friendly, icon-driven, Apple-ish.”

At Speco Technologies, Laura Mastroberti and Jim Pascale showed me the new IP version of Speco’s mini-cams. I also saw their a recreation of their H2H training center they have in their booth this year.

I spoke to Pierre Racz Genetec. They’re showing Bosch’s 4K camera and he called Genetec’s collaboration with Bosch on the 4k cameras proof that "the best of breed is the way to go"

Had an interesting chat with Brian Schmode at Avigilon. We were talking about how much work the company does with IT resellers. He said it’s the end user that drives which reseller Avigilon uses, and said the company is definitely seeing more end users working with IT resellers.

Off the show floor I caught up with Marty Guay and Paul Barratta at the Stanley Security suite. We talked about the new version of Stanley’s eSuite customer portal.

Updated April 2, too late at night

It’s 10 p.m. and ISCW2014 Day 1 (Wednesday, April 2) is a wrap! Good day on and off the show floor.

No numbers yet from Reed Exhibitions, but it was crowded today. I heard from several exhibitors that they saw more people in the first half of today than they normally see in two days. I even heard that from one access control provider who is located in the more far flung reaches of the hall.

I started the day at the Axis Communications breakfast. I don’t really love events before the event, but the Axis breakfast/press conference proves to be worthwhile year after year. The theme this year was 4. Yup, you guessed it, Axis introduced its 4k line, the P14 Series. Fredrik Nilsson Axis GM Americas touted the P14 28E. It’s better, he said, because: it follows the ITU standard (4k res in 30 fps); it’s easy to install; the lens fits the solution ‘perfectly’ (IR corrected 8MP lens0; correct depth of field and image clarity; and , it’s $999 and “ready for outdoors.”

Axis folks talked about other “4s” as well. After asking if  people would be running the annual Security 5K race tomorrow, Nilsson said: “some of us will wish it’s a 4k tomorrow.”

Axis co-founder Martin Gren gave a brief (and really amusing) history of Axis and the company’s “culture of innovation.” He noted that 2014 is the 30th anniversary of Axis, and mentioned that the original name of the company was G&K Firmware. “Isn’t that a cool name?” he said.

We saw a demo of the P14 28E. Cool, clear picture. And we also saw a demo of Axis’ (4th generation) camera station.

Next up, was the BRS Labs press conference, where Ray Davis spoke about the company’s new Saas solution. This means that BRS Labs is bringing “the same technology that the US military, several cities and some countries” use to commercial customers. The company wants its customers to include not only the “Googles, Amazons and FedExes” but small and medium size businesses. It also has its eye on the residential market.

Davis called the offering a “pre-crime systems” that is better than an alert or alarm that only goes off once a criminal is on premises.

BRS Labs will be making a concerted effort to woo integrators, dealers and residential installers and will launch a full channel partner program this summer.

At Pivot3, Ron Nash spoke about VSTAC edge product “a first class solutions for a customer with multiple locations” and how the company’s VDI product line can help make mobile access secure.

Scan Source has a brand new booth, dedicated to its new “security on demand,” an educational and information portal that the distribution company launched today. For all current and (for a time)prospective clients, the portal features short videos with content that’s relevant to resellers.

I spoke to Joe Morgan at FLIR was the company’s new low cost thermal bullet camera ($499) which the company expects to “open doors to more vertical markets.”

Most of the afternoon was spent at the SSN Media studio doing video interviews with readers. I spoke to:

Joe Liguori, partner at ACT, an integration company (and Security-Net member) based in New Jersey. Ligouri is planning to grow his company from about a $13m to $20m in revenue over the next few years. He talked about the training-intensive culture at ACT and how that’s necessary to customer service, internal efficiency, and also to the planned rapid growth the company is looking for.

So, one of my favorite activities at ISC West is generally HID’s Denis Hebert’s lunchtime trends talk. He generally draws a great crowd and generates some good discussion. Well, HID had alternate plans this year, but Hebert agreed to come talk to ssnTVnews about trends. The most important, this year, he said, is convergence and secured identity solutions. We talked about HID’s decision to leverage Bluetooth LE (in addition to NFC) with its mobile solutions. Finally he talked about the complexity of solutions for integrators—and what HID is doing to help its integrator partners with sales and education.

Holly Tsourides, CEO of Matrix Systems, talked about the integration arm of Matrix, “Xentry.” She believes the newly named business unit has great potential to increase the services it sells to existing customers and to bring on new customers.

G4S Technology president Sam Belbina talked about providing the “total solution” to customers and how G4S is in a unique position to do just that because its sister companies offer monitoring and guard solutions.

Eric Yunag, CEO of Dakota Security, talked about what he’s seeing on and what he’s not seeing on the show floor. Incremental technology feature improvements he sees a lot of. That can be interesting, he said, but what he wants to see from manufacturers is the showcasing of security outcomes. He also talked about his frustration with standards and how this industry needs to feel a little more urgency about standards. IT companies—“have the potential to exert a technical advantage … and exploit a significant weakness [of security companies], he said, unless this industry gets up to speed on standards.

I talked some more on this topic with Brent Franklin, president of Unlimited Technology. IT companies have their eye on the security space, he said. All integration companies need to understand that, he said. We also talked about Franklin’s plans to grow Unlimited Technology’s revenues 30 percent in 2014. It added 15 staff in 2013 and plans to add 16 this year.

At the Brivo Labs press conference Lee Odess talked about the company’s launch of its SAM API (social access management), which allows developers to create applications that allow people to use their social identities for access control to places and identities. He also demo’ed OKDoor which allows a person to use their social media identity to send a message when they arrive at a destination.

Among the receptions I attended tonight: DVTel, alarm.com, Affiliated Monitoring, Samsung, and my personal favorite Women’s Security Council. The WSC threw another great event to honor the 2014 Women of the Year. Read about that here.

updated March 31, 2014

It snowing and sleeting here in Maine as I try to get out the door to leave for the desert, and of course, there's also news breaking.

Video surveillance providers Vicon and IQinVision announced this morning that they're merging into what will be a $56 million company. Read details here. 

Also, NMC announced it's opening a new $6 million location. Check out the details here. 

Check back for news from the ISC West show floor. Leif, Tess, Amy and I will all be updating our blogs daily. On Tuesday, I'll be attending some meetings in the afternoon, stopping by the SIA event, the Security-Net event and a Diebold event as well.

On Wednesday morning, I go to the Axis breakfast. I go every year, and every year, so far anyway, it's informative and entertaining. I'm expecting the same this year.

After that, I'm heading to our Meet the Editors event. Tess, Amy, Leif and I will be at the SSN booth/ISC West Media Studio from 9:30 to 10. It's right outside the entrance to the show floor. You can't miss it. Please stop by and introduce yourself.

Also, remember to tweet using the #ISCW14 hashtag. You can see all the relevant tweets at the Security Systems News Twitter Wall, located just inside the entrance to the show floor. We'll be awarding an iPad Mini at 12:30 on Friday, April 4 to the MVT the Most Valuable Tweeter. To be a competitive MVT candidate, be informative and compelling and use the  #ISCW14 hashtag.

See you in Las Vegas!

 

What's new in the connected home and fire industry at ISC West?

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Updated April 4

Among the exciting news I learned about on Thursday at the show was that Honeywell’s new wireless LYNX 7000 won Best Intrusion and Detection Device in this year’s ISC West New Product Showcase event, according to Ralph Maniscalco, Honeywell’s director of marketing communications.

The company describes the LYNX 7000 as “an all new version of Honeywell’s self-contained wireless touchscreen security and home automation system. The product is the first of its kind to control up to four cameras and two-way voice over Wi-Fi.”

Among its features is a “water valve,” Maniscalco told me, which can turn off the water if necessary to prevent flooding. Also, he said, LYNX 7000 customers “get weather free.”

Honeywell also is developing a new app to help dealers in selling the LYNX 7000. Marketing communications specialist Natasha Ramjit told me that previously sales reps have had to lug around a “big demo kit,” but with the app, which can be used on an iPad or Android device, all the features of the system can easily be demonstrated to the homeowner. “It just puts everything at anyone’s fingertips,” explained Ramjit.

Speaking of awards, there was great excitement at the Eaton Cooper Notification booth because Cooper’s new ALERiTY line of IP network-based mass notification solutions won the Best Emergency Communication System award in the ISC West New Product Showcase.

“We’re pretty excited about it,” Marla Moran, Cooper’s global commercialization leader, told me.

The company describes ALERiTY, released late in 2013, as “a one-click solution to launch critical messages across its three layers of MNS—in building, wide area and distributed recipient. The advanced IP technology provides seamless interoperability with life safety and communication systems such as fire alarm control panels, sensors, paging and LED digital display signs.”

“You can program it all in one button if you choose,” Moran told me.

How does it function in the real world? Dan Moceri, CEO of Convergint Technologies, dropped by the Eaton Cooper Notification booth to explain that to me.

He said that as a systems integrator, Convergint aims to provide a total solution for customers. It had strong security and fire solutions to offer them, but until now with ALERiTY it “didn’t have a robust solution on the communications side” to complete the package, Moceri said.

He added that Convergint also demands that its partners be of high quality and Eaton Cooper Notification fits that bill, offering “best in the industry” service and support.

Moceri cited large community college campuses in Portland, Ore. and Texas as places where Convergint has used ALERiTY as a solution.

Ted Milburn, Cooper’s VP of marketing, added that ALERiTY is “a scalable product” allowing each end user “to do the piece you want.” For example, an end user might need only the in building and wide area applications, but can add the distributed recipient component, such as text messages and emails, in the future as needed.

Also on Thursday, I talked to John LaFond, VP of integrated systems, strategic business unit, for Linear, which provides access control, health and wellness and security solutions.

LaFond talked to me about the e3 OneBox. The company describes OneBox as combining “Linear’s embedded browser IP-based access control platform with Digital Watchdog’s full-featured DW-VMAX digital video recording capability within one enclosure to create a fully integrated access and video solution.”

LaFond noted that access control is about 8-10 percent of the market and video is about 12-14 percent. However, he said, combine they comprise about 20 percent of the market. “Integrated systems is a much larger proposition,” he said.

In OneBox, is Digital Watchdog leading video technology meshes with Linear’s top access control products, LaFond said. “We’re combining our product knowledge, combining that technology at the right price point,” LaFond said.

He said that “creates a market opening for a dealer base.”

Nicholas Brown, of Caster Communications, which represents Linear, talked to me about the advantage of Linear and 2GIG being under the Nortek umbrella. Nortek companies are “compatible with each other and have a shared vision.”

He said the companies all work together to provide home automation/security solutions that help dealers look at “the big picture of what they can be to the homeowner and not just a security installer.”

Linear at the show also was touting Linear Enterprise, which it described as “a browser-based, embedded network appliance and access control system available through select Linear dealers and equipped for large-scale installations. Enterprise offers remote management, low total cost of ownership (TCO), an easy path to VMS integration, and a unique license key system that makes integration and expansion easier than ever.”

I also attended a very interesting press conference on Thursday, put on by Mircom, a Toronto-based manufacturer and distributor of intelligent building and life safety solutions.
You’re familiar with the connected home—well, Mircom is focused on the connected condo, taking home automation features into the condos and apartments of multifamily units.

It introduced its TX3 InSuite and its TX3 Community at the show. Those are the latest additions to its TX3 Platform, which the company says “provides a total management, communication and security solution.”

Jason Falbo, VP of engineering, explained that “the previous generation of the products were focused at the lobby of the building,” providing such services as access control. But InSuite, Falbo said, “allows to get a footprint inside the tenant suites of the building as well, for a total management solution.”

He continued: “It’s a revolutionary home automation platform. Most of our competitors are focused on the single family home market but we’ve leveraged our experience and skill set in the multifamily sector and developed this home automation controller to provide the best in functionality from standard home automation equipment and, in addition to that, we interface with what were previously stand alone building solutions.”

For example, Falbo said, “with our controllers, not only can you manage the devices within your own home or condo, things such as door contacts, motion sensors, door locks, thermostats, lighting etc., you can also receive alerts, notifications and emergency notifications from systems such as the fire alarm detection system, the mass notification system, the building automation system and the energy management system.”

Interesting concept!

At the Kwikset booth, that residential security door look manufacturer had on display its touchscreen version of the company's SmartCode 914 deadbolt lock. “The SmartCode Touch provides all of the features of SmartCode—including keyless entry—combined with the added convenience and enhanced aesthetics of a capacitive touchscreen,” the company said in a news release.

Larry Goldman, Kwikset’s North American sales and business development manager, told me lock “is very robust” because while it has a sleek-looking appearance appealing to a homeowner’s aesthetic, its lock cylinder is the only residential lock cylinder that meets commercial grade standards.

It’s also “the only Z-Wave lock you can put on a fire door” because it’s fire-rated to not melt or become dysfunctional during a fire, Goldman said.

An added benefit, he said, is that the LED lights on its touchscreen are designed so they can be seen in all types of lighting conditions and won’t be obscured by glare.

Goldman said dealers are saying, “Finally, a beautiful residential lock with an incredible touchscreen.”

I also talked with Dirk Wyckoff, VP of sales and marketing for UniKey, an access control technology provider. Wyckoff told me about updates to the firmware in the Kevo lock, which is powered by UniKey. The company bills the lock as “the only keyless Bluetooth residential door lock on the market.” Wyckcoff also noted that it’s a “mass market solution.”

Among features Wyckoff highlighted is UniKey’s Inside vs. Outside Intelligence technology, which enables the lock to determine if the homeowner is inside or outside the home, preventing accidental unlocks if a person is just passing by the door.

At the Tyco Security Products booth, Tim Myers, product line director, intrusion, talked to me about the large number of products that DSC, part of the security products business unit of Tyco, was touting at the show. “In all, we’re releasing in excess of 30 new products. … This is the biggest product launch we have ever done,” Myers said.

Products he highlighted included the PowerSeries Neo line. The company describes that as “a new scalable commercial and residential line of products, which combines the flexibility of a modular, hardwired system with the simplicity of a wide range of compatible wireless devices.”

Myers said Neo is cost effective for dealers and offers a variety of control panels. It also leverages PowerG, which the company calls “the industry’s leading-edge wireless intrusion technology,” in wireless devices that are easy to install.

The company also was introducing a number of devices, such as keys, detectors and sirens, which are powered by PowerG and compatible with Neo.

In all, Myers said, the new products “will position DSC very strongly in the wireless world” for both residential and commercial applications.

At the Potter Electric Signal Co. booth, national sales manager Craig Summers told me how well the company’s new fire alarm panel designed specifically for sprinkler monitoring has been selling.

The PFC-6006 Sprinkler Monitoring Panel was just released last summer and touted as an industry first. “We’ve sold hundreds and hundreds of units,” Summers said.

The affordable panel comes with a dual-line dialer built into the panel and also has the ability to be monitored via IP. That’s important because the 2013 version of NFPA 72 requires backing up phone lines that send signals to a central station with an alternate technology.

If dealers are in a jurisdiction that has adopted the 2013 version of the code, “this panel is very attractive,” Summers said.

He also said Potter’s facility management software now can be downloaded off the company’s website and is free for a limited period of time.

Also on Thursday, I attended an Alarm Capital Alliance reception, where I chatted with President and CEO Amy Kothari and also with Jason Grelle,
VP of sales and dealer program development.

Updated April 2

New initiatives and new products—I got to hear about lots of those kinds of developments on Wednesday, the first day the show floor opened.

I started the day out doing some video interviews for SSN TV News. Look on our site in the near future for my interviews with Steve Firestone, the new president of Lancaster, Pa.-based Select Security; Patrick Egan, owner and CEO of Select Security and also Security Partners; John Bergher, EVP of marketing and customer care for Sacramento, Calif.-based GHS Interactive Security; and Jim Vogel, the new VP of ADT’s dealer program. In the meantime, though, I’ll share a few highlights of what we talked about.

Firestone, who became president of Select Security Jan. 1 after holding the position of that company’s EVP of sales and marketing since 2012, talked about the company’s Utah call center’s new director, Tony Roberts. “We’re delighted that Tony is part of the organization,” because of his more than 20 years of experience in management and call center development, Firestone said.

He said one part of the call center will support Select Security’s residential direct sales program, which he said aims to add about 2,500 new residential customers this summer. In another part of the call center, Firestone said, “we are about to start an inside sales outbound telemarketing organization” and the company is in the process of recruiting employees for that.

I then talked to Egan, Select Security’s CEO. Egan said Select Security has plans for growth through acquisition this year and promised to make some announcements soon. One buy is going to expand the super-regional reach into another state, he said.

GHS’ Bergher had some exciting news to share about a new partnership that GHS has formed with Solar Universe, which the companies say is the first instance of an alarm company and solar company teaming up to provide a comprehensive solution that involve security, home automation and solar. It will be interesting to see where the new venture takes these companies.

ADT’s Jim Vogel just started his new job March 17. He comes from outside the industry—he most recently was a VP for Allstate Insurance—so this is his first ISC West show.
He spoke about how impressed he was with the enthusiasm of the crowds at the show and about some of the opportunities the ADT dealer program offers dealers.

I also heard about some exciting new life safety developments from Beth Welch, public relations manager for Honeywell Fire Systems and also from David George, director of marketing communications for System Sensor.

Welch told me, “It’s a very busy show. It seems like there’s more interest from security integrators to do fire.”

She said there’s increasing interest in Silent Knight by Honeywell’s combined smoke and carbon monoxide detector, the SK-FIRE-CO Detector. “It’s one of the few, if not the only one, sold over the counter, so it’s non-proprietary,” Welch told me. The device also saves money and is easier to install because it’s one device and not two, she said.

Welch said demand is being driven by such things as AHJs increasingly enforcing new CO laws and requiring that CO detectors be connected to a fire alarm to ensure they’re supervised at all times.

Silent Knight also just launched a new website on Monday with a lot of new resources, she said.

Among other developments at the show, Welch also spoke about Fire-Lite by Honeywell’s new Emergency Command Center, a mass notification system the company introduced at last year’s ISC West. She said MNS is often thought of as only for applications like protecting big college campuses. However, the ECC is “like having mass notification for the down market” because dealers can promote it for a variety of smaller applications, ranging from churches to office buildings.

Also, she said, the system now has a new interactive module, called the Remote Telephone Zone Module (RTZM), that is designed to provide authorized users remote access to send out emergency notifications through a building’s ECC via any phone. She explained that it would, for example, allow a school principal to call in and issue an emergency warning from a remote location, such as five miles down the road from school, if the principal spots a tornado approaching.

At the System Sensor booth, George talked about how many people don’t know that in states or regions that have adopted the 2010 or 2013 edition of NFPA 72, all new commercial sleeping places must have a an audible device that produces a low frequency tone centered around 520 Hz. The requirement became effective Jan. 1.

George said System Sensor has launched an education campaign to get the word out, and also to let those in the affected region know that the company has some new low frequency notification appliances, just launched last summer, that meet that requirement. “It’s an issue with codes changing and compliance taking months, if not years, to kick in,” George told me.

He also said System Sensor has a “brand new website” on which dealers will find it easy to download documents and data and access training webinars.

I then went to talk to Jay Kenny, VP of marketing at Alarm.com, who had many exciting developments to talk about.

The highlights included an announcement that Alarm.com’s cellular-based interactive technology will soon be available with Verizon’s 4th Generation, Long Term Evolution (4G LTE) network. “It’s really the beginning of the 4G life cycle,” Kenny said. He said it “opens up new opportunities to deliver things over the cellular connection” in a managed network way.

Another announcement was that Alarm.com and LiftMaster announced the integration of the MyQ Universal Garage Door Controller, so that now all major garage door brands now integrate with Alarm.com’s connected home platform.

Kenny said, “It’s essentially compatible with anything built after 1992.”

Among other highlights, Kenny said Alarm.com was “enhancing our video solutions.”

For example, the company said in a news release, “it enhanced its video monitoring service with the addition of a high performance, continuous video recording solution. The new solution captures a 24x7 stream of what’s happening at a property and provides cloud-based streaming and video clip access from anywhere. Alarm.com’s Video Monitoring service now includes continuous high definition recording, anytime live streaming, smart clip capture with secure cloud storage, and instant video alerts.”

At the Interlogix booth, I sat down with Warren Hill, product marketing manager, to talk about some new technology Interlogix has acquired in its recent buy of Ultra High Speed (UHS) from Australian company Hills Limited. The acquisition will “broaden [Interlogix’s] global portfolio of intrusion product offerings and services,” according to Interlogix, which is a part of UTC Building & Industrial Systems, a unit of United Tepchnologies Corp.
 
Hill said the new technology resulting from the deal was creating a lot of buzz at the show. “Lots of dealers are coming to see the new products we have,” he said.

Among them, according to a company news release, were “a self-contained panel that includes native Wi-Fi and Z-Wave to interface with popular lifestyle management devices such as lights, locks and thermostats; new accessories for the NX platform … including a touch-screen module that adds a graphical interface to the control panels; and a modular, hybrid panel that allows features to be added through a unique, DIN-rail mounting system, providing the utmost installation flexibility for system components in both residential and small-to-medium enterprise applications.” The company said interactive services will use native IP and “embedded Web servers to provide remote programming and mobile applications across product platforms.”

Next, I headed to the LILIN booth to find out news about Control4. Control 4 partners with camera manufacturer LILIN. At the show, Control4 was showcasing enhanced integration for surveillance cameras and NVRs for residential and commercial systems.

Paul Williams, Control4 VP of security and communications products spoke to me about Control4’s Simple Device Discovery Protocol (SDDP) technology, which he described as being able to “automatically identify and load drivers for supported IP-connected devices.”

Williams said SDDP increasingly supports many surveillance cameras and NVRs, helping provide Control4 dealers with more security monitoring options in residential and commercial applications.

On Wednesday evening, I chatted with Russell Cersosimo, CEO of Guardian Protection Services, at a Guardian event. We talked about Guardian’s dealer program and how a top California dealer recently joined the program, drawn by the innovative new financing plan the program offers.

Stay posted as I continue to update this blog.

Updated April 1: Day 1 of ISC West

My first morning at ISC West 2014 featured mind reading, that “dirty little word: cable,” and tips on hiring employees who are not just skilled but have the right attitude a company needs to succeed.

I began my Tuesday at the DMP Owners Forum. The Springfield, Mo.-based manufacturer event is an annual one—it’s now in its third year—and this year’s event in Las Vegas included talk of how the new cable and telecom players are impacting the industry and employee hiring. And mind reader Eric Dittelman helped kick off the forum.

As he took the stage, Dittelman reminded attendees that DMP also gets into the minds of the consumer with its focus on customer-driven products.

“DMP mind reads with the help of technology,” he told the audience.

Among his feats was correctly identifying which one of five people had a dollar hidden in his closed fist instead of a penny, which the other four had, even though he hadn’t seen the person put a dollar in his hand.

Bob Harris, owner and president of Attrition Busters, was up next. He warned the crowd he was going to “speak about that dirty little word: cable.”

But although he said the cablecos and telecoms should not be discounted, he said professional security companies still have plenty of opportunity to successfully compete with them.

“Some people believe that there’s a  monitoring bubble about to burst,” Harris said. “…I'm here to tell you that’s not true. … This may be the best time to be in the alarm business and grow your company.”

But he said security companies can’t sit back and do such things as “walk past recurring monthly profit.” He asked, “On every single service call, how often do we stir the pot so our service techs bring intel back?”

Also, Harris said, employee training is vital. “Every single employee in our company is in the sales department and I’m talking about the company operator,” he said. All employees frequent restaurants and local business and have friends and family who call can be potential customers.

Harris also warned against “devaluing professionalism by competing on ‘price’ as the significant differentiator.”

He said security companies have to stress to customers they stand out from cablecos and telecoms in that they’re the local providers who are members of the community.

Professional security compannies also should bundle more services, like the big players do, Harris said. “We need to educate our teams with new levels of possibilities that empower them to lose the fear of selling value bundles,” he said.

Also, he said, adding fire services is a way to distinguish a company. “I don’t see a cable company going out to do a fire systems anytime soon,” Harris said.

He continued, “There’s a litany of things we can do to make a sticky customer, just by default.” When it comes to cable and telecom competitors, Harris said, “proactive or reactive? It’s up to you.”

Rick Britton, DMP CEO and president, also urged the dealers to take steps to compete with the big players, such as offering a single bill for bundled services. And adding interactive services is a way for dealers to double and triple RMR, he said.

“I think that’s a real opportunity for us,” Britton said.

He said of the cablecos and telecoms, “I think we can beat them all day long, any place, any time” because professional security providers are known, trusted providers. “We are providing something completely different,” Britton said.

Also on the agenda was Mark Murphy, CEO of Leadership IQ and author of The New York Times best-seller, “Hiring for Attitude.”

He said, “Hiring for attitude is important because [the wrong attitude] is why employees tend to fail and drive you nuts.”

But how to hire for attitude? Murphy told a story of how Southwest Airlines asked pilots coming in for interviews, who were dressed in suit and ties, to change out of their dress pants and put on some brown shorts. He said only a few pilots agreed to make the change and look silly—and those were the ones Southwest chose to continue with the interview process. That’s because the company wants employees with a sense of fun, Murphy said.

He urged security companies to figure out what the “brown shorts” values are in their companies and then devise some open-ended interview questions to find out if applicants share those values and will fit in with the company’s culture.

Murphy said that companies that are able to “find your brown shorts,” draw up relevant interview questions and build a key to interpret the answers will make a “pretty significant dent” in hiring more high performers in about a month’s time.

Tuesday evening found me at an Altronix event. The company, which manufactures low voltage power supplies and transmission solutions for the electronic security industry, held a press conference touting a number of new products here at the show, such as its introduction of the latest edition of eBridge Plus. The company said in a press release that “eBridge100RMT Ethernet over Coax/CAT5e Adapter Kits transmit full duplex data at 100mbps and pass PoE compliant power over coax 304m (1000 ft), or CAT5e cable up to 500m (1640 ft) without repeaters.”

“This is kind of a game changer when it comes to the Ethernet,” Ronnie Pennington, Altronix National Accounts manager, said at the conference.

Alan Forman, Altronix president, explained it this way in a prepared statement: “The ability to accommodate IP cameras and edge devices over coax cabling has proven to be an extremely pragmatic solution and a cost-effective way to upgrade analog systems to a networked platform. And the ability to transmit data and deliver power extended distances over Ethernet cabling without repeaters provides added savings.”
 
The company also said it was continuing to expand its NetWay product line with NetWay1D and NetWay1DWP. “These single port midspan injectors provide Hi-PoE up to 60W in addition to being PoE/PoE+ compliant.” In a statement, Forman said, “These new midspan injectors provide solutions for the ever increasing power demands of IP cameras, PTZs and edge devices.”

Pennington said the Netway line “saves a lot of labor and time and wire.”

The company also announced it was introducing Pace UTP/CAT5e Long Range Ethernet Adapter Kits.
“The latest addition to Altronix’s expanding line of adaptive transmission solutions, Pace1PRMT makes it possible for users to upgrade surveillance and security systems with new IP cameras and edge devices using existing or legacy infrastructure at distances greater than 100m (328 ft) without repeaters,” the company said.
Pace1PRMT is PoE/PoE+ compliant and transmits data at 100mbps full duplex over CAT5e or higher cable up to 500m (1640 ft), and up to 150m (500 ft) over single twisted pair (UTP).

Forman said at the press conference that Altronix products allow integrators “to enhance a current system or expand it [without running more cable].”

Well, there's plenty more of ISC West to come. Stay posted as I continue to update this blog.

Friday, March 28

I’m heading off next week to ISC West 2014. I’m eager to abandon the piles of snow still lingering here in Maine (where it’s only spring on the calendar!) and get to sunny Las Vegas to learn about what’s new in the industry. And I’m looking forward to meeting many of you and keeping you updated here in my blog about what I learn at the show.

I cover residential security and fire for Security Systems News and virtually every minute of my time at the show is scheduled for meetings with dealers and vendors who will be filling me in on the latest news on the connected home and fire. And each night, I’ll be updating this blog to tell you what I’ve learned, so please stay posted to find out what’s new.

And you’ll also have an opportunity to meet me and my colleagues—SSN editor Martha Entwistle; SSN associate editor Leif Kothe; and Amy Canfield, managing editor of our sister publication, Security Director News—at our special “Meet the Editors” event at the show. That will take place Wed., April 2 from 9:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. We’ll be at the SSN booth, adjacent to the ISC West Media Stage.

The stage is located in the big hallway right outside the main entrance doors to the show floor, so as you head in, please take some time to stop by. I look forward to meeting our readers in person. See you in Vegas!

Security Central promotes new managing director

 - 
Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Brett Springall, formerly the IT director at Security Central, and one of the key architects of the company’s soon-to-launch total solution, has been named the managing director of the Lake Norman Security Patrol, of which Security Central is one of three divisions. Springall’s promotion marks the first time in the company’s 50-year history that day-to-day management will fall under the responsibility of someone who’s not a member of the Brown family, according to a statement from the company.

Ellen Brown Meihaus and Courtney Brown, the company’s CEO and COO, tend to promote people strategically from within the company, according to the statement. The two will continue to be highly visible at the company, though the release noted that they considered now “the right time” to begin shifting control over to a new managing director.

The Brown family figures to remain pivotal in terms of shaping the company’s direction—not only through the continued involvement of Meihaus and Brown, but also through the leadership of Caroline Brown, a third-generation family member who currently serves as the company's business development manager. Springall and Caroline Brown, the release noted, are the “future of Security Central.”

According to the release, Springall will wear “dual hats” for a short time during the transition, as the company, under the guidance of Meihaus and Brown, seeks a replacement IT director.

ADT’s move into commercial security, fire

 - 
Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Will ADT move into the larger commercial security market when its non-compete expires with Tyco?

I contacted ADT to see if I could talk to someone about it. Cheryl Stopnick, director of dealer communications, responded, and told me that ADT's not going to discuss business plans at this time.

They may not be discussing plans, but it certainly seems like they’re making them.

Right now ADT does commercial security for small businesses, which ADT defines as those businesses that are 7,500 square feet or less. ADT and Tyco came up with that definition when ADT spun off from Tyco. At that time it entered into a non-compete agreement with Tyco Integrated Security. That agreement expires Sept. 30, 2014.

As Luis J. Orbegoso, president of ADT’s Small Business Unit, said during a Dec. 6 investor call (according to seekingalpha.com), the “ADT brand has supported not only small businesses but also medium and enterprise businesses for almost 140 years. And our current definition of a small business as a location that is 7,500 square feet or less is somewhat arbitrary and not necessarily a true reflection of the market. It was actually the result of our non-compete zone improvement with Tyco, which expires in 10 months.”

Orbegoso knows commercial security. He joined ADT in 2013. Before that he was with UTC for five years, where he led the commercial security business (though I think he held a few titles while he was there, which seems to be the norm for the security folks at UTC). He came to UTC as part of the GE Security buy.

During the Dec. 6 conference call, (again, according to seekingalpha.com) Orbegoso said “once this noncompete expires, we will have the ability to take a look at possible adjacencies, such as commercial fire solutions and larger commercial and enterprise security offerings that we can integrate and leverage with our existing infrastructure and customers. These adjacencies could potentially quadruple our addressable markets. And again, today we are extremely encouraged by the momentum that we have in this space and our ability to execute.”

The potential is definitely there with the larger commercial projects, according to the folks at Imperial Capital. Jeff Kessler estimates that the security market in businesses smaller than 7,500 square feet is $2 to $3 billion, but the the market segment that includes businesses that are 7,500- to 25,000 square feet is an $18 billion to $20 billion market segment.

I spoke to some folks in the industry (aside from TycoIS) who currently do work in that market segment and they fully expect ADT to jump in to that market.

And while it’s an opportunity, not everyone believes it's an $18 billion-plus opportunity. It may be on paper, but one integrator told me “that’s a segment that’s been stuck in neutral for a lot of years.”

The commercial fire business, on the other hand, if you can get the right people on board—and ADT certainly has the resources for that—could be a more immediate opportunity.

Orbegoso has instituted many changes in the way ADT approaches security for small businesses. It was typically treated as a kind of  “extension of residential security,” but that’s the not the case any more. It will be very interesting to see how Orbegoso and ADT approach this new, larger, more complex market segment.

There may be disagreement about market segment size, but there’s general agreement that ADT has the potential to have some meaningful impact in this segment.

Imperial Capital: Growth in smart home market will benefit large security companies, but not smaller ones

 - 
Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I recently wrote about a new ABI Research report that predicts professional security companies’ share of the smart home market will be cut in half by 2019 as telecom and cableco competitors leverage their own strengths in the space.

However, not all security companies will fare the same, according to a new report from Imperial Capital, a New York City full-service investment bank. Imperial Capital says that large security companies will do much better than smaller ones as the smart home market grows.

Imperial Capital’s latest prediction on the market for the next six to seven years was released today. It differs from the ABI report in that it drills down more on how size matters.

Simply put, what Imperial Capital predicts is that the top 30 residential security companies will do well over that time period, whereas “the bottom 80 percent of security providers” will see negative growth.

The report, authored by Jeff Kessler, Imperial Capital’s managing director of institutional research, says that Imperial Capital’s and ABI’s views on the market are “generally consistent.” However, Kessler writes, “our biggest difference with the ABI report may be that it does not separate out the top 30 security companies from the rest of the industry, which may very well have customer generation problems.”

Those big companies will do well, Imperial Capital says in its report.

“Our estimates are that the market for home services will grow about 10 percent annually over the next seven years to over 50 million homes, driven by new applications form the security industry, new home services offerings, and marketing from cable and telcos,” the report says. “We estimate the top 30 residential security companies will grow subscribers at about 5 percent annually, from about 11 million current users to about 16-17 million users, driven mainly by life-safety focused subscribers to whom professional response and service and the certainty of police, fire, and personal emergency response is more important than price and bundling convenience.”

However, the report says, “this is offset in our analysis by all other smaller security companies falling from 12 million to 5 or 6 million by 2020.”

When you add those companies—which Imperial Capital says comprise 80 percent of security providers—to the top providers, “we see the security industry as flat to down in this period. In fact, because of this estimated decline in the revenues of small companies, our aggregate estimate of market share is actually more conservative [in] stance than the ABI Study.”

Imperial Capital also believes the smart home market will grow even more than ABI predicts.

“Where we also diverge with the ABI report is in the size of the market six to seven years from now,” the Imperial Capital report says. “ABI estimates a market in six years that is 37 percent larger, and Imperial Capital estimates that it will almost double in six years. The difference, we contend, is new services and technologies from the likes of Alarm.com, Vivint, and iControl … [and also more] “PERS” (personal emergency response systems) home health care and emergency response users. These advanced PERS applications are also being developed.”

Guardian empowers techs to help ensure customer satisfication

 - 
Wednesday, March 19, 2014

When you think about it, all the marketing and sales work a security company does can be largely undone if that company’s technician makes a bad impression at an install or service call.

Guardian Protection Services, based in Warrendale, Pa., believes that the interaction between technicians and customers is so vital that it has added a new field service management system designed to empower technicians and help them be more productive.

Here’s more of what Guardian announced today about how its selection of TOA Technologies’ cloud-based field service management application, ETAdirect, will help its technicians be on time, efficient, and prepared with the right tools and information to do their jobs:
 

“A quality experience is reliant on a smooth service process, which can only happen if every technician is on time, responsive and has the right knowledge about the customer and the job requirements. TOA’s ETAdirect solution will help to achieve this by providing us with a different approach to field service – one that creates personalized workdays unique to the routine of each of our field service employees. This will make their lives easier on the road, set them up for success in the customer’s home or business and drive efficiencies in the process. For example, ETAdirect will allow us to create daily schedules that start and end near our technicians’ homes – and still cut drive time between appointments significantly,” said Eric Aulbach, CIO of Armstrong Group of Companies, which owns Guardian.

Guardian Protection Services will use ETAdirect to:

    Build better customer relationships thanks to field service technicians who arrive at the client’s home or business on time and have all the right tools and information at their fingertips

    Create schedules that leverage the skills and strengths of each field service technician

    Enable service technicians to communicate directly with each other to ask for help or to provide support when needed – all performed within the same mobile field service application they use to access job details and complete work

    Ensure technicians arrive to appointments in a timely manner, and keep customers in the loop regarding the status of those appointments

    Generate efficiencies in travel time and costs, appointment duration and jobs completed per day

    Seamlessly connect field service delivery to its billing systems using the solution’s powerful APIs

“With ETAdirect, Guardian can better connect the field service processes to the holistic customer service experience, while realizing unique savings and benefits across the board,” said Yuval Brisker, co-founder and CEO of TOA Technologies, a provider of field service and mobile workforce management software solutions.

 

PPVAR panels at ISC West merit a close look

 - 
Wednesday, March 19, 2014

For anyone monitoring the progress of the latest push toward a comprehensive verified alarm standard, there’s a pair of consecutive PPVAR panel sessions at ISC West that are can’t-miss in stature.

The first session, moderated by Steve Walker, vice president of Stanley Convergent, kicks off on Thursday, April 3 in Room 502, and is especially noteworthy because it brings several outside-the-industry perspectives into the same forum. Titled “Insurance and Law Enforcement Review Verified Alarms,” the session illustrates the array of stakeholder groups now influencing the conversation of verification. Among the six panelists are Cmdr. Scott Edson, Los Angeles Sheriff’s Dept., and Anthony Canale, vice president of Verisk Crime Analytics.

The second panel, “Video Verification in the Alarm Industry,” is moderated by Donald Young, PPVAR president and chief information officer at Protection 1. The panel roster for this second discussion is designed to showcase a broad array of intra-industry views on the role of video verification in the alarm industry. Keith Jentoft, an industry liaison for PPVAR, said the lineup will feature representatives from the manufacturing side (Scott Harkins, president of Honeywell) and the central station space (Chuck Moeling, executive VP of sales at Interface, and Tony Wilson, president of CMS), along with representatives from the private investment and legal arenas.

The debate surrounding verified alarms is a fascinating one, and that’s due in part to the general complexity of an issue that involves stakeholders from outside the industry, as well as a host of ideas about the role of verified alarms that dovetail as much as they diverge.

I expect these discussions to generate some high-quality dialog that not only zooms into the subtleties and particulars of verified alarms, but also pans out to ask the big, overarching questions about the role of the industry in general. As the industry evolves, what aspects of the alarm industry as we know it will remain in place? What’s bound to change? What qualifies as a verified alarm, and where do legacy systems fit into the discussion?

These questions may not be asked explicitly, but I expect them to permeate the discussion.  

Is Avigilon in a buying mood again?

 - 
Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Avigilon will soon have more cash for purchases.

The HD surveillance provider on March 17 increased a previously announced financing to $100 million (Canadian).

The official statement said that the “company intends to use the net proceeds from the offering for general corporate purposes and for potential strategic acquisitions.”  

I have a call in to Avigilon to see if they'll comment on why they're increasing the financing.

The offering is expected to close just after ISC West this year “on or about April 8, 2014,” the company said.

The financing, “a bought deal offering of common shares of Avigilon,” is an expansion of a previously announced bought deal offering for $69 million, which was announced in November, just before Avigilon acquired VideoIQ on Dec. 31.

Under the terms of the expanded financing, a “syndicate of underwriters led by GMP Securities L.P. and including BMO Capital Markets, National Bank Financial Inc., CIBC World Markets Inc., RBC Capital Markets and PI Financial Corp. have agreed to purchase, on a bought deal basis pursuant to the filing of a short form prospectus, an aggregate of 3,448,280 Common Shares at a price of $29.00 per common share for aggregate gross proceeds to Avigilon of $100,000,120,” the announcement said.

The syndicate may purchase an additional 517,242 shares at the same price up to 30 days after the closing. If that happens, an additional $15,000,018 will be raised, and Avigilon’s gross proceeds will be $115,000,138.

ADT settles FTC complaint that it misled consumers

 - 
Wednesday, March 12, 2014

ADT misled consumers by paying experts to promote ADT Pulse on NBC’s Today Show and through other media outlets without revealing the experts were paid—giving the impression the experts’ reviews were independent, the Federal Trade Commission alleges.

The administrative complaint is part of the FTC’s “ongoing crackdown on misleading endorsements in advertising,” according to an FTC news release. Now, to resolve that complaint, ADT has reached a settlement with the FTC that prohibits ADT “from misrepresenting paid endorsements as independent reviews in the future,” the March 6 news release said.

I asked Boca Raton, Fla.-based ADT about the matter. The company provided this response: “ADT has a tough disclosure policy that follows the FTC endorsement guidelines. That’s why we are happy to have resolved the matter amicably, and why we are willing to commit publicly to maintain that policy.”

Here’s what happened, according to the FTC:
 

ADT paid three spokespersons, including a child safety expert, a home security expert, and a technology expert, more than $300,000 to promote the ADT Pulse, with one spokesperson receiving more than $200,000. Two of those spokespersons also received a free ADT Pulse security system, valued at approximately $4,000, and free monthly monitoring service, according to the complaint. In exchange, the spokespersons appeared on more than 40 different television and radio programs nationwide and posted blogs and other material online.

ADT set up media interviews for the endorsers through its public relations firms and booking agents – often providing reporters and news anchors with suggested interview questions, and background video, also known as b-roll, according to the complaint. The paid ADT endorsers were introduced by program hosts as experts in child safety, home security, or technology, usually with no mention of any connection to ADT. The endorsers sometimes demonstrated child safety, home security, or technology products other than the ADT Pulse, adding to the impression that they were providing an impartial, expert review of the products.

The settlement is not official yet. The FTC has given unanimous preliminary agreement to it, but the commission won’t take a final vote until a March 6-April 7 public comment period closes.

Here are more specifics of the agreement, according to the FTC’s news release:

             [The order]

-Prohibits ADT from misrepresenting that any discussion or demonstration of a security or monitoring product or service is an independent review provided by an impartial expert.
-Requires ADT to clearly and prominently disclose, in connection with the advertising of a home security or monitoring product or service, a material connection, if one exists, between an endorser and the company.
-Requires the company to promptly remove reviews and endorsements that have been misrepresented as independently provided by an impartial expert or that fail to disclose a material connection between ADT and an endorser.

 

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