Subscribe to

Blogs

From the good news folder: Michigan fire co has best year ever

 - 
Monday, March 23, 2009
Wolverine Fire Protection Company,a Michigan fire alarm and sprinkler company that did $38 million in business last year is having "its best year in half a century," according to this story from the Flint Journal. (which I'm sure is thrilled to have some happy economic news to report for a change) This family-owned business has 130 employees and six offices in five states.

Good to see a security firm leading community

 - 
Monday, March 23, 2009
Here's a nice story about Per Mar Security moving back into offices that were destroyed by flooding along the Cedar River in Cedar Rapids. While some security companies spend too much time in the background, I think it's important that they have prominent roles in their community. If security firms are seen as community leaders they're less likely to be seen as taking advantage of people's fears and insecurities. Here's the video - good press for Per Mar:

This is not convergence

 - 
Monday, March 23, 2009
U.S. Senators, scared by Chinese hacks of their computers, are calling for a cyber-security czar. You know, someone who reports directly to the president and would be in charge of ensuring the nation's confidential and classified documents aren't being downloaded by foreign governments. But isn't that already somebody's job? Like the Chief National Security Advisor or the Secretary of Defense or somebody else who already reports to President Obama? I'm reminded of Jack Johnson's keynote from TechSec where he made it clear that it's impossible to separate physical and logical security. Say, as part of that hack of a senator's computer, the hacker downloads an iCal file (this is clearly make-believe; no senator is actually on a Mac, I'm sure), and therefore knows where that senator will be every day for the next month. Isn't that a significant physical security threat? Of course it is. The protection of files and data is tantamount to the protection of people and places and the more you go about separating the two tasks the weaker you'll be in the end. If you want to emphasize the importance of cyber security, hire a bunch more logical security experts and place them in the service of your top national security people, but don't elevate the threat to a cabinet-level position just because you don't really understand it.

Free home security systems for pols and AIG derivitives unit employees?

 - 
Friday, March 20, 2009
Home security was all over the news today. There were a bunch of stories yesterday about the former Ohio AG, Marc Dann, using campaign funds to pay for his $27,000 home security system. Must be a nice system. The Ohio Elections Commission decided to fine Dann $1,000 and his treasurer $250 for signing off on the security system. The story does not say whether he'll refund the $27,000 to his campaign war chest, but the story's not over yet. He's facing a bunch of other charges of using campaign funds for family trips and other unauthorized uses. Guess who else is looking for home security? The New York Times this morning reported that the guys from AIG derivatives department are looking for more security, and some have received death threats. That same story says former Merrill Lynch employees are also looking for private security.
A.I.G. employees are not the only ones seeking protection: An executive at Merrill Lynch, where bonuses have also come under fire, said that some employees had asked whether the firm would cover the cost of private security for them. Scott Silvestri, a spokesman for Bank of America, which bought Merrill in December, would not respond to that claim, but said in a statement, “The safety and security of our associates is paramount, and we will always take the appropriate steps.”
I think these guys are absolutely entitled to be protected. I also think that anyone who keeps even part of those bailout bonuses should be required to volunteer in an unemployment office. Might help them understand the anger.

For centrals, customer service needs to come first

 - 
Friday, March 20, 2009
I just came across this blog post this morning, and I have to say, I'm a little disappointed, if not surprised. In trying to gather information for existing stories and even to just say hello and see what's new, I've come across the same hang ups, and the same very short behavior. In the preceding, linked blog post, this poor person was met not only with rudeness from her central station operator, but an overwhelming display of nonchalant unconcern. You can almost see the operator shrugging and staring off into space while jawing on a wad of gum like cud, as if to say "not my problem." A central station operator is the most important facet of an alarm system owner's interaction with the security industry. The operator is the liaison between the end user and everyone else. Most likely, when an operator is dealing with an end user the end user is going to be scared, worked up, angry, confused... the list goes on and on. It's an operator's job to be calm, kind, helpful, knowledgeable and accommodating. Training, training, training. It's just too bad this end user now has bad feelings about not only the security industry, but humanity in general, due to one operator's specific handling of an incident. You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Protection One moving to new, bigger location

 - 
Friday, March 20, 2009
Just got this press release through my Google Alerts. Looks like the bad economy isn't hitting everyone. Well, there's some good news. And it's the first day of spring, so that's not so bad either. And if you're in the Wilkes-Barre region you've got free Italian Ice, which also rocks. Enjoy the day.

Hopefully, no one listens to this guy

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

New iris company lands $13m

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

About that stimulus money

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

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

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

Pages