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Guardian empowers techs to help ensure customer satisfication

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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

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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?

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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

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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.

 

Mobotix CEO departs

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Magnus Ekerot is no longer CEO of network camera provider Mobotix. The company announced that Mobotix CFO, Klaus Gesmann, will take on the role of CEO and sales oversight “until further notice.”

According to a statement from Mobotix, Ekerot “was released of his position” on Feb. 17.

In response to questions from Security Systems News, Mobotix co-founder Sabine Hinkel said in an email that Mobotix is “not looking for a replacement for Dr. Magnus Ekerot. Our actual focus is the reorganization of the company back to its roots. There is no deadline to find a replacement for him.”

Hinkel declined further comment on Mobotix reorganization plans.

Ekerot joined Mobotix as chief sales officer in 2011; he was promoted to CEO in October 2013.

Meet the editors, be interviewed at ISC West

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

It still seems a bit surprising how many folks in the industry I speak to regularly despite never having met them in person. That’s all about to change in a few weeks. And maybe for some of you, it will change within a few hours of ISC West kicking off.

On Wednesday, April 2, my SSN colleagues and I will be at the ISC West Media Stage from 9:30 – 10 a.m. for a “Meet the Editors” event. It’s a good opportunity for us to meet with readers and sources as well as newcomers wanting to become acquainted with our publication. The media stage is located just outside the entrance to the show floor.

The media stage is also where I’ll be conducting a round of on-camera interviews with those on the central station side on Friday, April 4 between 10 a.m. and noon. Through these interviews I hope to discover what’s piquing the interest of those in the monitoring arena, that is, what they’re finding of value on the show floor or in the educational sessions.

I still have a few slots open, so if you’re with a central station and want to discuss what’s new or in the pipeline at your camp, or just want to share some general impressions about the show, don’t hesitate to shoot me an email at lkothe@securitysystemsnews.com.

Another media-related feature of ISC West 2014 will be the giant Twitter wall, where readers can feel free to contribute their own discoveries and thoughts about the show. The wall will offer a scrolling display of #ISCW14 tweets.

And should you exhibit a pattern of Tweeting especially compelling insights about ISC West, you may find yourself eligible for the MVT Award, which (as you might have guessed) will be given to the most valuable Tweeter.

Futuristic film wins the “Security Oscar” in 2014

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Each year, California-based Moore Protection announces its choice of a movie that best shows the use of modern security technology. The security company calls its honor the "Morpheus Award," a name inspired by Morpheus, the god of dreams and visions in Greek mythology. But I've dubbed it the "Security Oscar," since it’s always announced around the time of the Academy Awards.

The 2014 Morpheus Award winner is—hand me the envelope, please—“The Purge,” by writer/director James DeMonaco and starring Ethan Hawke.

According to Moore Protection, which announced the award March 1, Hawke plays “a security salesman in an America of the near future where crime has been eliminated for all but one night of the year. However, once a year for twelve hours, all crimes are legal, thus making a good security system even more valuable than in our present day. DeMonaco’s premise is that government sanctioning of this cathartic “purge” of mayhem for one night quells citizens’ inherent inclination toward violence for the rest of the year.”

Interesting premise. I’m curious to see it—and to find out how RMR would work in that brave new world!

Here’s a little more detail on this fun annual award from the company, which is based in Redondo Beach, Calif.:
 

Don Moore, president of Moore Protection, instituted the Morpheus Award as a friendly reminder to members of the entertainment community to regularly and personally use their security systems. Mr. Moore said, “Few things frustrate us more than hearing about a celebrity or industry exec being burglarized while their security system was not armed. Show business people often have assistants and household staff to whom they have delegated the task of arming their alarm systems, and this is a dangerous practice. If a crime is committed while the system is disarmed it is the owner, not the assistant, who is the victim. I encourage all my clients to personally arm and disarm their systems daily and test them at least monthly.” It is also for this reason that the “Morphie” is presented during Awards Season in Hollywood, said Moore.  “The paparazzi are not the only ones who know the stars are away from home on the night of a big awards show!”
For more information or to nominate a film for consideration for next year’s Morpheus Award contact Dave Lofstrom at dlofstrom@mooreprotection.net

 

Monitronics nabs pair of Stevies

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Highlighted by the marquee acquisition of Security Networks, 2013 was unquestionably a strong year for Monitronics. It appears 2014 is starting the upswing as well.

Monitronics turned in an impressive haul at the latest Stevie Awards, reeling in a pair of Bronze prizes at the eighth awards show for sales and customer service. For the second consecutive year the third-party central station won in the Contact Center of the Year category, according to a news release from the company. The company was also honored in the Front-Line Customer Service Team of the year category.

The awards were presented at a gala banquet at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, the release noted.

On March 11, a pair of Monitronics leaders is slated to speak at the Piper, Jaffray Technology, Media & Telecommunications Conference held in at the Le Parker Meridien in New York.

Bill Fitzgerald, chairman and CEO of Ascent Capital, the holding company that owns Monitronics, and Michael Meyers, CFO of Ascent and Monitronics, will speak at the conference. According to an Ascent Capital news release, management may make “observations regarding the financial performance and outlook of both Ascent and Monitronics.”

In the wake of a big year for Monitronics, this presentation from management could be worth a listen. A live webcast of the presentation will be made available on the Ascent Capital investor relations website.

Digital Watchdog's plans for ISD

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Updated March 5 with interviews with DW's Wade Thomas and Ian Johnston of ISD.

Whenever a big company like Digital Watchdog acquires a start-up like Innovative Security Design (ISD), as happened earlier this week, a common concern is whether the acquired company will be allowed to continue to innovate. Executives from both DW and ISD told Security Systems News, there’s no need to worry.

Most companies want an acquisition to “assimilate into [its] culture, revenue and business model,” Wade Thomas, Digital Watchdog president told me. “We want to let ISD do what they do best and give them runway to grow.”

Digital Watchdog, a privately held manufacturer of video surveillance products, on March 3 announced that it had acquired ISD.

ISD will remain an independent entity within DW, and it will continue to work with OEM partners.

ISD was founded by Ian Johnston, former CTO of IQInvision, in 2012. Here's an interview I did with Johnston when he launched the company. ISD turned some heads at ISC West last year when it introduced its netSeries camera—the first IP camera that uses Microsoft Windows as its base operating systems. Here's an interview I did with Johnston about the netSeries camera last May.

This week, Johnston said that most of ISD’s suitors were established IP camera companies, were he would have to “go in and change their minds and break up their notions of what an IP camera is.”

In some ways, ISD is more of a “design house or solutions factory so-to-speak,” Johnston said. And, DW will let ISD continue that way. “DW has great manufacturing experience and depth that will help us be price competitive,” he added.

It will also allow ISD to “build inventory and be attractive to really large companies that are looking to partner with us on an OEM [basis].”

DW's products include: IP and analog cameras, DVRs, NVRs, software and apps. It has been in business since 1987. In addition to its corporate office in Tampa, Fla., it has an office in Cerritas, Calif. It will keep ISD’s office in Irvine, Calif. Its business is concentrated in North and South America and has about 75 employees in the United States.

DW has engineering and manufacturing facilities in Seoul, Korea. Its products are assembled in the U.S., however.
Thomas declined to release terms of the deal.

DirectView explores legal marijuana vertical

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Though 18 states had previously legalized marijuana for medical use, it was the pair of initiatives passed in Colorado and Washington that legalized the substance recreationally that seems to have made the security industry more attentive to what kind of possibilities lie ahead in this new and rapidly expanding market.

It’s not difficult to see why. Those operating dispensaries and growing facilities will require security solutions for many of the same reasons an end user at a jewelry store would: They have to protect hundreds if not thousands of lightweight and expensive consumer products. End users will likely pull out all the stops on an integrated solution, relying on motion detectors, sensors, access control, dozens of cameras with status monitoring and, perhaps for larger storage facilities, virtual guard tours. Because the industry is in its nascent stages and still very much evolving, it’s difficult to forecast what the industry will look in even five to ten years from now.

New York-based DirectView Security, a provider of onsite and remote video and audio surveillance solutions and a subsidiary of DirectView Holdings, recently announced in a news release that it’s entered into “early stage discussions with several marijuana industry companies to provide a number of potential video surveillance and access control solutions.”

Though in many states marijuana laws are becoming more lax, the substance remains illegal under federal law. This adds an interesting wrinkle to the current security landscape in connection with this market. Federal pressure on banks has made it extremely difficult for pot dispensaries to get loans. As a result, they’ve had to rely primarily on cash, making them an even bigger target for robbers than they already were.  

It’s been well documented that ADT last year made a policy decision not to sell security systems to businesses engaged in the marijuana industry because it’s still illegal under federal law. It’s conceivable that other companies both large and small will also take that approach. But it will be interesting to see what companies take the reins in the market and to see to what kind of impact it will have on business.

In the news release, Roger Ralston, CEO and chairman of DirectView, expressed a good deal of optimism about doing just that: “Having worked to provide security products and solutions for large hotels and several banks, we have a strong understanding of complex security needs and how to provide the most cost-effective solutions,” he said, adding that he views the new market as “strong growth driver for our business in the coming years.”

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