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Marathon security after Boston

 - 
Wednesday, May 1, 2013

After the bombing at the Boston Marathon on April 15, I began wondering what the security would be like at the April 28 Big Sur Marathon.

I ran (OK I jogged, maybe even walked a little) this spectacular course that runs along Highway 1 in California in 2011 and did the same on Sunday. I was curious to see if there would be a more noticeable security presence at the event this year.

There were a few stories published before the race. In an interview with the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Michael Klein, who oversees security for the event, declined to talk specifics, but he was quoted as saying there would be “tons more resources” this year compared to past years.

He said entities involved in security for the event included: California Highway Patrol, California Emergency Management Agency, Cal Fire, Monterey County Sheriff's Office, Monterey Police Department, Sand City Police Department and the Monterey Regional Airport Fire Department. All will be coordinated into an incident command system that will be based on training models used by he federal government for mass casualty disaster response.”

Another story from Active.com about post-Boston marathon safety reported that the Boston Marathon has been a pilot project of sorts for “emergency action techniques” a communication system and protocol called Next-Generation Incident Command System (NICS). The Boston Athletic Association coordinated with the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, the National Guard and other local authorities to implement NICS.  

From that story:
“In 2008, Boston Emergency Medical Service Chief Richard Serino told the Boston Globe that they approached events like the marathon as, "planned disasters." He went on to state that such circumstances presented, "an opportunity to test some things you would never want to test in a real disaster."
It just turned out that, this year, the disaster occurred during the marathon.”

In the Santa Cruz article, Michael Klein says points out that the Boston and Big Sur marathon locations are completely different. Managing threat in a crowded city involves different techniques than managing threats along a difficult-to-access highway that has hills on one side and the ocean on the other.

While terrorism may not have been top-of-mind for Big Sur marathon organizers in the past, the possibility of mass casualties that could result from a natural disaster have been, according to Klein. Along the California Coast, earthquakes and landslides are common and occur without notice.

In fact, as the result of a landslide in the winter of 2011 that left part of Highway 1 impassable, the Big Sur race course had to be changed from the usual Big Sur to Monterey point-to-point race to an out-and-back course that started and ended in Monterey.

So, what was Big Sur like? I have no doubt there were more security measures in place, but it wasn’t very noticeable.  Maybe there were a few more police vehicles around, perhaps certain protocol—like maybe tickets to get on buses to the race start (at 3:30 a.m.!)—were checked a little more thoroughly by than in the past, but it wasn’t obvious or restrictive feeling.

The event is really well organized, and as any security director or integrator will tell you, you need policy and protocol in place to make even the best security system work effectively.

More than 4,000 people run the marathon and 6,000 others do races of shorter distances or the relay. That’s a lot of people along the 26-mile stretch of highway.

It takes 200 buses to move people to the start line and various staging points for the relay and other races. The event is manned by 2,500 volunteers who cheerfully transport, feed, direct and assist the runners.

So, I didn’t see more cameras or armored vehicles or obviously restricted access to different venues at the marathon.

What I did notice was a lot of talk about security and the Boston bombing. Ron Kramer, the Boston Marathon event director spoke to the crowd at the starting line.

Many incredible athletes run Boston and Big Sur every year, but this year nearly 400 people did both.  More than ever before.

From a participant’s point of view, the Big Sur Marathon went off without incident. The landscape was as stunning as ever, the hills as beastly as before. There was definitely a new awareness of security among the crowd, (and certainly on the part of the organizers.) but it didn’t lessen the experience for me.  On the contrary, it made me appreciate even more how very well organized this event really is.

Comcast sold on retail security sales

 - 
Wednesday, April 24, 2013

I’ve been writing about a new trend in the industry: selling home security in a retail environment. And now communications giant Comcast is one of the latest to embrace retail, opening a new store in Albuquerque, N.M. designed to let customers experience its Xfinity Home automation/home security product firsthand.

Philadelphia-based Comcast on April 20 held a grand opening of its new Xfinity Customer Center, the company said. It invited elected officials and community leaders to tour the facility, and Comcast gave a $2,500 donation to the Boys & Girls Club of Central New Mexico.

Comcast said the 2,500 square-foot center, which is open seven days a week, “is designed entirely around the needs of customers and provides consumers with an opportunity to explore, learn about, and interact directly with the latest Xfinity products and services.”

Here’s more on what Comcast had to say about the center:
 

Featuring fully interactive touchscreen displays; the environment enables customers to learn about products and indulge in the complete Xfinity Experience. The center also exhibits a 3D viewing experience, and comfortable seating areas. Customers can try out Comcast's Xfinity Home security system, the Xfinity TV app and popular apps on an iPad. Customers also can experience Xfinity TV, test drive Xfinity Internet's speeds and learn more about Comcast Business Class products and services at Kiosks throughout the center.

In addition, customers will receive personalized service from trained and knowledgeable Sales Consultants and more time-saving offerings, including a self-service kiosk for quick bill pay and a new queuing system that allows customers to explore and be entertained instead of waiting in line for service.

Comcast was a leader in the trend of among telecoms and cablecos entering the security market, launching its Xfinity Home Security product in June 2010. The company renamed the service last year as just Xfinity Home to reflect the fact that it includes many home automation features in addition to home security. The product has been rolled out in major markets across the nation.

Comcast is now part of a retail trend being embraced by both large and small companies selling security.

Telecom giant AT&T has told me that selling Digital Life, its home security/home automation product, in its retail stores is a key part of its sales strategy. Also, retail giant Lowe’s recently announced it is selling its Iris product not only its own stores but in Verizon Wireless stores.

And I just wrote recently about a small, traditional security company, Madison, Miss.-based The Alarm Company, finding its new retail location a roaring business success.

I’ll be talking to Comcast to learn more about its new store.

 

Video takes down Boston bombing suspects

 - 
Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Looking back on it, it was a little too close for comfort: Walking the streets of Cambridge at about the same time the Boston Marathon bombers were killing a police officer at MIT, just a few blocks from a nightclub where I was heading with a friend. Investigators had released photos of the suspects a few hours earlier and they were now on the run, with a carjacking, police chase (more on that later) and shootout to follow.

The two men should have known they wouldn’t remain anonymous for long. Given the extent of video surveillance at the bombing site and the number of people taking photos of the race on their cellphones, it was only a matter of time before authorities put the pieces together. Credit for identifying the suspects goes not only to the police and FBI, but also to the technology that made it happen.

The use of that technology extended to the arrest of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the suspect who fled on foot after surviving the shootout on the night of April 18. Holed up in a shrink-wrapped boat in Watertown, his presence was confirmed by helicopter with the help of thermal-imaging cameras provided by FLIR Systems.

In a black-and-white image that has gone viral since Tsarnaev was taken into custody, his glowing body can be seen through the covering on the boat. Police later sent in an unmanned vehicle to lift the covering, which allowed them to determine that Tsarnaev was not wearing an explosive vest. They soon moved in and apprehended him, ending four days of high anxiety.

My night in Cambridge ended with an improvised escape from town. After leaving the club we found the streets buzzing with dozens of police cruisers, all screaming west toward the shootout in Watertown. Think of the chase scene from “The Blues Brothers” movie—no intersection was safe to cross, even if you had a green light. The main routes out of Cambridge were blocked, so we had to pick our way through a maze of side streets until we found our way home.

What we didn’t know that night was that the MIT slaying and the bombing suspects were connected. That information was confirmed after we made it out of the city, which was soon under lockdown. I'm not sure I would have changed my plans, but I'm obviously glad our paths didn’t cross.
 

Authorities closing in on marathon terrorist suspect?

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Updated 3:40 p.m. April 17

Both CNN and the Boston Globe on Wednesday, April 17 reported that a suspect has been identified in the Boston Marathon terrorist bombing and that an arrest has been made or is imminent. Both backed off of that assertion about an hour later, and the Boston Police made a statement saying that no arrest had been made.

From the Globe:
“ …authorities have an image of a suspect carrying, and perhaps dropping, a black bag at the second bombing scene on Boylston Street, outside of the Forum restaurant.
Investigators are “very close” in the investigation, said the official, who declined to be named.That official said authorities may publicize their finding as early as this afternoon.The same official also said a surveillance camera at Lord & Taylor, located directly across the street, has provided clear video of the area, though it was unclear whether the image of the suspect was taken from that camera.  “The camera from Lord & Taylor is the best source of video so far,” said Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “All I know is that they are making progress.”

Most experts hope that crucial information will be gleaned from video—footage from city surveillance systems, local businesses and videos from the smartphones of those watching the marathon.

This morning the LA Times reported that analysts from the FBI are “sifting through more than 10 terabytes of data for clues about who might have placed the bombs near the finish line. The data include call logs collected by cellphone towers along the marathon route and surveillance footage collected by city cameras, local businesses, gas stations, media outlets and spectators who volunteered to provide their videos and snap shots, said the federal law enforcement source.
The FBI has flown analysts from field offices across the country to Boston to watch and log hundreds of hours of video, he said.

I asked Amit Gavish, GM, Americas, BriefCam, via email, what he thought the prospects were for finding clues in the various video footage taken in the area of the finish line. In addition to working for Briefcam, a manufacturer of video synopsis systems which enable the very quick review of hours of video [],
Gavish, is a CPP, with 16 years of security and military experience in the U.S. and Israel. He served as the Deputy Director of Security at the Office of the President of the State Israel and was in charge of physical and information security. Before joining BriefCam, Gavish was a risk management consultant specializing in risk assessment, development of emergency plans and training programs.

Gavish said it will be important to look at video footage taken days before the marathon: “In my opinion, the person was there before. The person who did this most likely did some dry runs before the event, even days before and probably was there hours before the event.”

He said the footage from Monday is likely “crowded to the point where you can’t see who put the device at the scene, and you have to go back a few days prior and see who was there … who looked suspicious, who was just walking by or loitering.”

He said there “are hundreds of cameras that could potentially have something. There are good cameras there—Boston PD, public cameras, stores in the neighborhood—but part of the effectiveness of the investigation is how fast you can get to something that you can work on,” he said.

I also did an email interview with Zvika Ashani, CTO of Agent Video Intelligence (Agent Vi). I asked Ashani how a product like Agent Video’s VI-Search would  examine video from multiple sources.

Vi-Search can be “used in an offline mode on cameras that are not part of a large pre-installed surveillance system. For example, video can be retrieved from a store or a gas station, which is in the vicinity of the event. This video can then be quickly processed by the software (at a rate of about 10x) and then searched using the same query structure.”

 
 

Video surveillance holds the key in Boston bomb probe

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Marcus Dunn was late for the phone call Tuesday morning, but there was no need to apologize (although he did so anyway). As director of government relations for the Security Industry Association, he had been in a meeting to discuss the bombings in Boston and it ran longer than expected.

Our conversation—we speak every month about legislative issues affecting the industry—quickly turned to Monday’s deadly attack. Less than 24 hours had passed and speculation was rampant about who had done it and why. There were few new facts, but police had started to sift through surveillance video that likely will be key to solving the crime.

That provided a silver lining, however slim, for Dunn.

“When these things happen, despite all the craziness, there’s a little bit of pride in being with an organization that often prevents these types of things or plays a large role in apprehending those responsible,” he said. “There are some critics of the technology and how there are cameras on the streets, but I think we’ve seen time and time again that they’re effective in preventing crime and certainly very effective in capturing perpetrators.”

Dunn said that was the case after bombs killed 52 people aboard three London trains and a city bus on July 7, 2005. The examination of CCTV images helped investigators identify the suicide bombers and arrest others connected to the attacks.

“We’re trying to determine what was deployed in the area in Boston and if a [SIA] member company had equipment deployed there,” Dunn said. “In London, it’s just decked out—there are cameras everywhere. That’s what they used [in 2005]. They were able to go through the surveillance footage very quickly.”

In the aftermath of Monday’s attack, there was also the realization that “soft targets” like the Boston Marathon will always be vulnerable. No matter what security precautions are taken, the risk can never be eliminated—at least not in a free society. With it comes a loss of innocence that deepens the grief.

“The marathon is one of those things that is very open, you can come and go,” Dunn said. “Those days are gone now.”

After SIA’s meeting Tuesday morning, CEO Don Erickson—who is also a marathon runner—echoed the thoughts of many with the following statement:
 
“As someone who has personally experienced the strong community spirit that exists on marathon days, I am incredibly saddened by the horrific events that tragically occurred yesterday in Boston. On behalf of SIA, our thoughts and prayers are extended to those who were injured and to the families of those who lost their lives on what should have been a day of accomplishment and excitement for the city of Boston. We extend our thanks to the first responders who acted so quickly to help the victims of this attack.”

ADT “Undercover Boss” gives worker $35K reward

 - 
Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I wrote previously about Tony Wells, ADT chief marketing and customer officer, posing as an entry-level employee on the CBS reality show “Undercover Boss.”  Wells told me how the experience made him really appreciate ADT’s hard-working employees. But I didn’t know until the show aired on April 12 that the company showed its appreciation to one employee in the form of $35,000.

The employee, a technician named Jesus, has an 18-month-old daughter and he and his fiancée were barely making ends meet. But Jesus showed an outstanding work ethic shown as he helped Wells—in his “Undercover” persona of “James”—learn on the job. So, when Wells revealed who he really was at the end of the show, he also told Jesus that ADT wanted to reward him.

“You told me about your hardships and how hard you were working and we’d like to do something special for your daughter,” Wells said.

He said Jesus would get $10,000 to start an education fund for his daughter, and $25,000 for his family.

Jesus appeared overcome. “It’s too much … thank you,” he told Wells.

The technician used the family money to move into a “dream home,” according to news reports.

Boca Raton-based ADT has 16,000 employees, and it’s not known what salary Jesus earns. But Glassdoor, a salary web site, lists ADT employees' average salary as $44,527, higher than the national average of $41,000, according to the Aol Jobs web site.

Day 3 and done ISCWest 2013

 - 
Monday, April 15, 2013

On Friday, April 12, Day 3 of ISC West, many were already heading to McCarren, but I was heading back to the show floor. And this year, though the crowd had thinned considerably, so were a lot of other folks.

Very decent crowd for Friday of ISC West.

While I had early rallies on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I didn’t have any official appointments until 10 a.m. on Friday. My first was with IMS/IHS’s Niall Jenkins. We caught up on a few things including plans for TechSec 2014. Yes, plans are underway, and Amy and I have some great ideas—you’ll hear all about them in September.

Next was a meeting with Matt Barnette of AMAG. I was supposed to go to the AMAG A&E and integrators’ event in March. Unfortunately, lengthy flight delays derailed that plan—so I spent some time catching up on some news announced at that event. AMAG is all excited about their new Symmetry SR series retrofit controllers, which can be used to convert competitor’s legacy systems to AMAG’s Symmetry solution. “Our engineers used our existing hardware platform and changed the form factor so it’s a direct pin for pin [upgrade] solution for traditional Casi Rusco solution,” Barnette said.

A couple of years ago, UTC (parent company of Casi Rusco) announced that it would end-of-life its Secure Perfect and Picture Perfect solutions and would transition those customers to a product called Facility Commander. AMAG considers this change in UTC’s roadmap as an opportunity to get those UTC (Casi Rusco) customers to instead transition to AMAG.

Back at the video studio, I did two more ssnTVnews interviews, one with Rob Hile, CEO of IFSS, an independent integrator in Florida and one with Levy Acs of American Integrated Security Group.

Hile and I talked about IFSS’s successful migration to a services-based model, and Acs and I did a follow-up interview on this story I wrote last month about his ambitious growth plans.

The rest of Friday was spent walking the show floor and hanging around the ssnTVnews studio chatting with folks who stopped by.

What was the theme of ISCWest 2013? There was continued talk about mobility and cloud. More manufacturers are figuring out how to offer the two and integrators are starting to see possibilities for making money offering the same. The big theme it seems to me, however, was optimism. There was a vibe at this show I haven’t sensed in many years and, frankly, it’s not what I was expecting after the not-so-crowded ASIS show last fall.

I heard the same from nearly everyone I spoke to. Good to see; nice to be a part of.

ISC West 2013: Day 1 & 2

 - 
Friday, April 12, 2013

Lots of people on the show floor on Wednesday! 29,900 square feet of exhibit space and 1003 booths, is what I heard.
Wednesday started for me with the Axis Press Breakfast, where the network camera company introduced three new cameras and an upgraded Axis Camera Companion. In 2012, there were 60,000 downloads of the software, according to Axis’ Fredrik Nilsson.

The cameras of the future will be customized for customers with apps, the same way we currently customize our smartphones, Nilsson said. With that in mind, Axis also announced a partnership with the Wentworth Institute of Technology, a college in Boston, where students will design apps for cameras. One professor, Charles Hotchkiss, and two students, Joshua Ramirez and Nicholas Gelfman,  attended the breakfast and the two students talked about the apps they’ve already developed.

Gelfman is working on a 3D multi-tracking app that is intended to alert operators if someone is trying tamper with a camera. The app determines where an approaching person or object is distance-wise from the camera and sends an alert if it gets too close. Gelfman put it in simple terms for me: “Cameras see in 2D, this app basically allows it to see in 3D.”

Ramirez is a sophomore computer information systems major from Hanover, N.H., who is the station manager of Wentworth’s radio station WIRE. 
“I had a selfish reason for developing the app” he said. Students who work in the radio station are supposed to sign in and out when they come to work at the station, but they often don't do that, he explained. So Ramirez developed an app that automatically records the time that a student comes into or leaves the station, and it sends Ramirez an email alert under certain conditions.

He named the app Alibi. It "tracks students and if they log in, [the app] is their alibi to say that they were [at the station]," he said.

“It’s still a work in progress. I’ve spend six weeks on it but it was during exams and finals,” Ramirez said.   

Nilsson said that Axis didn’t give the students any ideas about kinds of apps to develop. They approach the project with no preconceived notion of what kinds of apps to develop. Axis has been amazed with the results, he said.

After the Axis breakfast, I did a video interview with Renae Leary and Matthias Ernst of Tyco Global Accounts were I got an update on how Tyco's global enterprise customers are standardizing their security systems across in offices spanning the globe.

At a press conference Bosch launched 110, count ‘em, 110 new video products and previewed its ‘4K Ultra HD’ camera. It also announced its integration partner program and is showing integration with 5 VMS providers in its booth.

Next, I interviewed Mark VanDover of Tyco IS for ssnTVnews. He talked about the progress the integration giant has made as a standalone entity over the past year and a half.

More mobile news: Jay Hauhn, Tyco IS Chief Technology Officer, also did an interview for ssnTVnews. We talked about Tyco’s launch of  MSM, Tyco’s Mobile Security Manager.

Next up was an interview with Tony Byerly, Felix Gonzales and Jeremy Brecher of Diebold, where I got to see a demo of their very cool “SecureStat” enterprise security platform. I heard about it at ASIS and saw if for the first time at the show. Here’s a YouTube video about the platform.

At a NICE press conference, Tony Ruiz, City of San Diego, talks about implementing NICE's Situator, to manage protection for its critical infrastructure, and for the city too. The implementation is new, but Ruiz said it's already saving training time and money for the city and taxpayers.

Back on the show floor, I met with Bryan Schmode, EVP of Global Sales at Avigilon. We talked about Avigilon’s the Adaptive IR in its new bullet camera, and the company's new Dallas headquarters.

Also had a chance to swing by Next Level Security Systems and talk to Bill Jacobs. I got to see some of the stuff I spoke to Bill and Jumbi Edulbehram about in this story.

Next I had a chance to visit with Stan Oppenheim and Dan Oppenheim at Affiliated Monitoring. Looking forward to seeing their new monitoring station the next time I get to NYC.

And, I wrapped up Day 1 after catching up with Will Schmidt and other CapitalSource folks.

THURSDAY, April 11

Is Thursday Day 2 or Day 3 of the show? Officially, it’s Day 2, but with so many events scheduled for Tuesday, it really is Day 3 for most of us.

Whichever day it was,  it kicked off brilliantly with the fourth annual Security 5K!

We had a different course this time. Rather than starting near the Fashion Show Mall, the 2013 start line was a half-mile jog or bus ride away from the Sands in an office park of sorts. The course was a completely flat out-and-back labyrinth of switchbacks. Best course yet in my opinion. It wasn’t exactly bucolic, but the office park was considerably greener and cleaner than past year’s courses, and it was fun to watch the crowd of runners ahead of you snaking back and forth around the park. And because of the switchbacks, the finish line appeared closer than it really was.

More than 400 finished the 5K and there was a big crowd for the 2K as well.

Most important, we raised more than $90,000. Mike Perkins of Anixter raised more than $7,000 with his company match. Jesse and Nicole Foglio raised $2,350, and Bob McKee raised $1,685.

Mission 500’s George Fletcher said that 650 people registered for the race. If each person raised $100, we would raise $65,000 before any extra fundraising efforts—something to think about for 2014.

Back on the show floor on Thursday morning I did an ssnTVnews interview with John Mack, managing director and head of M&A for Imperial Capital. We were talking about the availability of financing and the flow of PE money into the industry. Here’s an interesting statistic: More than half of the top 20 alarm companies are now owned or have majority ownership by private equity firms. Five years ago “it was just a handful,” he said.
It’s a great time for alarm company owners and integrators to refi their debt or make acquisitions, Mack added.

I stopped by the Stanley booth on my way to Denis Hebert’s HID Global Strategy Briefing, which was packed, as usual. Hebert gave a great presentation. His focus this year was on the opportunities and potential pitfalls the security industry needs to be aware of as access control goes mobile. The move to mobile will “redefine credential use and management” he said. As a result, “best practices” for end users and integrators will become more important than ever. Privacy is an increasingly crucial element for all stakeholders to consider, he added.

Next I met with George Farley at Observint Technologies. Owned by The Carlyle Group, Observint was formed in 2006 with the goal of acquiring security-focused companies. Observint acquired Supercircuits in 2006. It subsequently bought Security Cameras Direct, DIGIOP and SC Technologies. Last summer it helping LG Electronics relaunch its security products in the United States, and this past November it acquired access control provider infinias. Farley said the last six months have been “all foundational work for us. … [building] a comprehensive sale and support solution.” That was Phase 1, he said. Observint is in Phase 2 now, he said, which is centered on its distribution partnership. Digiop and Infinias had distinct partners before the acquisition, and Observint is finalizing relationships with a variety of distributors, Farley said. The next phase will focus on the dealer, “building a robust and differentiated program … that will include demand generation support and sales support.”

At Milestone, I spoke with Courtney Dillon Peterson, about the company’s new Arcus product  “It’s a super-streamlined VMS that’s only for our technical partners to embed, not Milestone.” Partners embedding the solution, and present at the booth were Veracity, which is offering “Coldstore Arcus” for enterprise customers; Lenovo EMC (formerly Iomega), which is offering two different versions of what it’s calling LenovoEMC NVR; and, Razberri, which is offering its “Netswitch” appliance. “They each target a different audience and each offer a different form of VMS,” Peterson said.

The bottom line differentiation for this product? That it’s multi-platform, Peterson said. “It runs on Linux, MacOS and Windows. Others are Windows-based.” The product is “versatile … [and will enable partners to sell a] preconfigured, pre-installed, simplified VMS,” she said.

Samsung is in the midst of a “massive hiring campaign,” Frank DeFina told me during our meeting. Samsung was talking about its new 6000 Series line of cameras driven off its “core WiseNet II chip.” The full line of cameras are “available in every skin. … are 2.4 megapixel, with full 1080p. The clarity is second-to-none,” Samsung marketing director Janet Fenner said. Among the analytics available in this line is a “defogging” analytics, which gets rid of smoke or fog.

Back at our booth, I interviewed Don Erickson, CEO of SIA, and SSN’s own group publisher Tim Purpura. We spoke about two collaborative efforts SIA and SSN are working on—the distribution of SIA’s “Fiscal Year Informer,” a quarterly insert available through SSN with information about government grants; and, a webcast series on security technologies, moderated by me, and featuring a variety of speakers. The next webcast is scheduled for April 24. Here’s a link to that.

I did two other video interviews. One with Matthew Ladd, president and CEO of The Protection Bureau. We talked about how The Protection Bureau is saving money by sharing certain operational metrics with employees.

The other interview was will Bill Savage, CEO of Security Control Systems in Houston, and one of Security-Net's original founders. Security-Net, a group of independent integrators that functions as a national integrator, is celebrating its 20th anniversary. We talked about how the group has grown  from 5 to 20 integrators and the efforts it makes to ensure its employees are up to date on technology.

Next, I spoke to Pierre Racz, CEO of Genetec about the company’s new cloud-based video surveillance as a service solution for small and medium sized businesses. This offering takes Genetec “out of its comfort zone … into the realm of small camera-count  jobs, the 6-14 camera jobs [that represent a huge growth opportunity] for integrators and installers,” Racz said.

Thursday ended with the Security 5K reception. Mike Keegan of Magnasphere, who was honored for his community service efforts, gave a simple and compelling argument for getting involved with causes like Mission 500, the beneficiary of the Security 5k. “The ripple effect [of these efforts] is incredible,” Keegan said.

 

Last day of ISC West

 - 
Friday, April 12, 2013

I’ve heard about so many new products and trends in my four days here at ISC West that will provide good background for future stories I’ll be writing. I also wrote yesterday about some dealers who scored $10,000 at the show. Check out that blog if you haven't seen it yet. In addition, here are some highlights from the last day of the event.

I started Friday at an interesting panel presentation by top dealers for Guardian Protection Services. The Warrendale, Pa.-based company was holding its annual authorized dealer convention in Las Vegas in conjunction with the show.

Three of the dealers who spoke excelled in different approaches to selling security: door knocking, telemarketing, and affinity marketing and gave insight on the various strategies.

The fourth dealer has a knack for hanging on to his customers and told his secrets for keeping attrition rates low. Hank Groff, national director of Guardian’s dealer division, commented that while a focus on sales is key, it’s important to remember that, “the ultimate goal is to protect customers and long-term relationships.”

A bit later in the day, I met with Sarah Semerjian, director of marketing for CheckVideo, a provider of cloud-based intelligent video surveillance and alarm verification solutions that is based in Reston, Va.

She said that CheckVideo executive VP Chris Brown participated in a panel discussion at the show on cloud RMR opportunities for integrators, which she said is something the company is focusing on.

CheckVideo has a variety of monitoring, technology and distribution partners and CheckVideo also is working with those partners to provide education about its products in the field, Semerjian said. “We’re really focusing on working with these partners to educate their dealers,” she said.

Also on Friday, I had an interesting talk with Jon Paine, a manager with the Sensor and Surveillance Systems division of manufacturer Moog, about new products the company was touting at the show. One was the EcoKit, a remote solar and wind power generator for surveillance systems. “Although there are other options out there, the blend of a wind turbine with solar is unique,” Paine told me.

He said the green solution is designed, as are all Moog products, for extreme environments and weather solutions, and is ideal for remote surveillance locations where other sources of power are not available or would be too expensive to make accessible. “There’s been a lot of interest at the show in the product,” Paine said.

The company also just released its EXO GeminEye high definition network thermal and HD visible imaging system. He said the blend of the two types of technology “gives 24/7 day and night coverage.”

ISC West Day 2: A new look at locks, and at home with radar

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Thursday, April 11, 2013

My second day at ISC West—Wednesday—was the first day the show floor opened. And among other things I learned from my visits to various booths was how to view locks from a new perspective.

For example, at the Kwikset booth, Stanley Black & Decker national account manager Brian Willis told me that as dealers work to convince homeowners to add home automation features to their security systems, “a lock is that transition piece.”  Kwikset is part of the Hardware and Home Improvement Group of Stanley Black & Decker.

The door locks that the California-based manufacturer makes serve as a bridge to home automation. For example, one of the many features of the 2nd Generation SmartCode deadbolt lock with Home Connect technology that Kwikset introduced at the show on Wednesday is its ability to integrate with home security and automation systems.

That means the lock can communicate with other wireless products in the home. For instance, Willis said, the lock can be set up so that if a smoke alarm in the house goes off, the door will automatically unlock. As Keith Brandon,Stanley Black & Decker director of residential access solutions, put it, such features “add value to consumers and dealers.”

Not surprisingly, ASSA ABLOY, a Sweden-based door opening solutions company, also was talking locks—a lot of them.

Martin Huddart, executive VP and CEO, said the company has launched 280 new products in the last three years. He said that typically 95 percent of a building’s doors require mechanical locks because they are low-risk entry points and 5 percent of the doors are high risk, so require more expensive access control.

But Huddart said ASSA ABLOY also has solutions for medium-risk entry points and he urged integrators to explore with their customers “matching the right level of technology with the risk.” He estimated about 15 percent of a building’s entry points might require those medium solutions.

Another highlight of my day was learning about a new form of residential security: radar. That’s the latest development from SpotterRF, which makes compact radar systems for military and commercial markets—and now for the residential market. SpotterRF, a company established in 2009 that has offices in Herndon, Va. and Orem, Utah, announced at ISC West that it has installed radar security at a luxury estate.

CEO Logan Harris told me that he can’t reveal much about the client for privacy reasons, but he said he believes the job was the first of more to come in the high-end luxury market. Installed was a 100-acre, 360-degree perimeter security system in just one day that cost about $12,000, he said.

Harris said that radar “gives you the capability of sticking on GPS tracker on someone without their actually knowing anything about it.”

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