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False Alarm freebies...?

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008
As many of you know, one of the big problems faced by everyone involved in selling, installing, monitoring, owning and responding to security systems is false alarms. I produce a regular column for every issue of SSN called False Alarm Ordinance Watch in which various new false alarm ordinances from around the country are highlighted. This morning I came across a column from newsok.com that discussed the new ordinance in Yukon, Okla. It's fun and lighthearted and has a few funny ideas for how to spend your freebie false alarms... At first I was taken aback, because false alarms are a serious problem that cost taxpayers and communities time, resources and money, and the industry itself, in terms of bad PR. However, the idea of spending your freebie falses, and not wanting to "waste your free false alarms," to quote the column, got me thinking. In tough economic times, maybe responsible security and fire alarm system owners who don't use, or "spend," their own freebie falses should start a market in which they sell their unused freebie credits to those less fortunate... Hmmmm... You know, similar to how companies can buy and sell tax credits, and pollution credits. I think the creation of such a False Alarm Credit Exchange would help reduce the number of false alarms drastically since it would operate on a system of positive reinforcement, rewarding people for operating properly rather than punishing them for operating falsely... Such a system could even begin to take on characteristics of a real economy with false credits from areas that have a rampant false alarm problem being valued and traded more highly than communities that don't have much of a false alarm problem, thus producing a living and changing false alarm credit exchange rate... Just an idea... I welcome your comments. Or a piece of the action if you choose to implement this idea ;-)

Congratulations Nick!

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I learned yesterday that one of my best sources—an expert on all things fire—went and retired on me! ( And before I could talk to him for a story I'm writing this week about IP technology and fire installations. Not happy about this, Nick.) Guess who? It's Fire-Lite director of marketing Nick Martello. In case any of you can't place the name, here's his photo. Recognize him now? Probably. Nick spent 25 years in fire and integrated systems and besides working for the Honeywell Fire Group, he also worked for Kidde Automated Systems, Thorn Automated Systems, Medeco Security Electronics, Medeco Locks and Matrix Systems of Dayton, Ohio. And here's some stuff you might not know about Nick... He spent 14 years as a public school music teacher (K-12) and was also a middle school principal. He worded at Sea World of Ohio for eight summers, where he found, according to his bio, that he "really liked electronics and went back to get electronics training. I then started my own wireless central station." After selling out to his partner, he developed intelligent fire systems for Kidde. He then transferred to marketing and worked extensively in the integrated security business including integrated fire, security, access control and CCTV. Next was Medeco Electronics, where he did marketing for SiteKey, an intelligent r/w keying system, and then, full-time consulting for Matrix Systems of Dayton, Ohio. In 1997 he joined Notifier, where he helped develop the Uninet Integration platform and served as marketing director and, finally he took over as Fire-Lite marketing director My sources at Honeywell say he's going to play golf, but they also say he likes to be busy, so may do some consulting. He's also got a blog to write. Here's the link. I like the tagline, "the online home for all things Martello" Congratulations and good luck Nick! Security Systems News will miss you!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, Happy New Year, etc

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008
opefully, no one's wasting time today reading this blog, but I'm just posting a quick message to say I'll be on vacation through Jan. 5, and you shouldn't expect a post before then unless something truly monumental happens (or I get really bored with the family - not impossible). Enjoy some time off and your families, and I'll talk to you again in the new year.

About Sam Pfeifle, who writes this column

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008
With a background in mainstream journalism, Sam has now headed Security Systems News for the past four years, and is a programmer of TechSec Solutions, a conference that explores the impact of IP technology on the security industry. He's married, has two children, and doesn't bother to lock his doors up here in Maine. But, shhhhh, don't tell anyone.

About Me

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008
My Photo Daniel Gelinas Raymond, ME, United States I am a journalist who enjoys writing short science fiction and literary fiction. I also enjoy reading, acting and spending time with my son. I began my editing career as an intern at children's book publisher Charlesbridge Publishing in Watertown, Mass. From there I moved into trade publications at Nielsen Media in Boston, working as a newswire editor at Nielsen's Entertainment News Wire. And no, even though I worked in entertainment journalism, I've never met anyone more famous than the guy doing backstage security at a Tori Amos concert. I now cover the Monitoring beat at SSN. Please feel free to email me with comments.

More Five Diamond Certs

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008
In news from gosanangelo.com, San Angelo Security's Central Monitoring Station, a division of Texana Security, LLC, has received "Five Diamond" certification from the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA). The company has been providing security services in San Angelo and the surrounding communities since 1961. "Five Diamond" certification is awarded only to central monitoring stations approved by Underwriters Laboratories and requires every monitoring operator to complete specific training courses, which can be demoed for free. According to the CSAA, less than 4 percent of central monitoring stations have received the certification.

Chipmaker's forecast speaks to downturn

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Monday, December 22, 2008
I'm not sure how many people are aware of Techwell, a chip-maker who's got product in (according to them) 70 percent of DVRs. They drive the playback engine, essentially. You can read about their HD play here. Anyway, they announced last week new revenue projections that speak to a significant slowdown in security surveillance sales. The numbers are somewhat irrelevant. Here's the nut graph: "Several of our larger security customers in Taiwan and China have pushed out orders in the last two weeks as a result of a build-up of inventory in their factories," said Hiro Kozato, Techwell President and CEO. "It is clear the current economic environment is impacting our core security business as well as our automotive and consumer businesses. However, we remain confident in our long term business prospects. Our design activity with our recently announced TW2880 HD Controller is strong and we believe that our product portfolio, profitability and significant cash balance will help us successfully manage through the current economic challenges." A build-up of inventory in the factories isn't a good sign. Product isn't moving, isn't being installed, isn't being sold. The chip-makers are at the beginning of the pipeline and when the slowdown hits them, it means it's hitting everyone.

CIA Security wins CSAA Five Diamond Cert

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Friday, December 19, 2008
The CSAA announced in late November that yet another central station had achieved Five Diamond Certification. Commercial Instruments & Alarm Systems, Inc. of Fishkill, N.Y. earned the certification by putting 100% of their central station operators through the CSAA's Central Station On-Line Operator Training Course. The training courses cover virtually all phases of central station communications with customers, law enforcement, fire and emergency services communications centers. In order to achieve Five Diamond Certification each and every operator must have not only passed the course, but demonstrated: proficiency in alarm verification, which helps reduce false alarms; proficiency in communications with public service answering points, such as 911 and other emergency responders; knowledge of electronic communications equipment, including radio; an understanding of the codes and standards of such organizations as Underwriters Laboratories, the National Fire Protection Association and others; as well as proficiency in the area of emergency preparedness under a wide scenario of possibilities. There are approximately 2,700 central stations in the United States, which communicate and interact with the law enforcement, fire and emergency service agencies. Of this group, fewer than 100 centrals have achieved Five Diamond status. Intrigued by this training offering from the CSAA, I decided to check it out and am in the process of undergoing the Central Station Operator Level One online course now. The training is administered by the CMOOR Group. CMOOR principle Chris Moorhead spent some time on the phone with me and made sure I was ready to go. Interested central station managers can check out the offerings and demo the course for free.

Panasonic to buy Sanyo

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Friday, December 19, 2008
Well, it looks like the rumors and speculation had merit: Panasonic has made a formal offer to purchase Sanyo. Not surprisingly, the WSJ doesn't mention either company's security divisions, as they are small pieces of a very large puzzle, but I found this paragraph particularly interesting: For Panasonic, the deal comes down to Sanyo's green technology products. Sanyo, the world's largest producer of rechargeable batteries for laptop computers, digital cameras and mobile phones, is poised to capitalize on the auto industry's shift to hybrid and electric cars. Maybe people remember Sanyo's solar-powered "green" cameras at IFSEC 2007? I'd of course love to see Panasonic embrace green practices in the security industry as part of this greening of the company in general. Still, this deal isn't exactly done yet: Panasonic said it will commence by the end of February a tender offer for Sanyo shares at ¥131 ($1.50) each, a 4% discount to Sanyo's Friday closing price of ¥136. Panasonic plans to issue up to ¥400 billion in debt from next year to finance part of the acquisition. A lot of things can happen between now and February.

Enhanced call verification becoming the norm

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Thursday, December 18, 2008
I wrote a story last month that appeared on Security Systems News' newswire, and which will appear in our next issue. The story was about the Seattle Police pushing for compliance to the city's municipal code, part of which requires the use of enhanced call verification. In Seattle, beginning the first of the year, central stations will be required to make two verification calls to alarm owners to ensure the alarm is real as opposed to false. Just Tuesday (Dec. 16), I came across another story from the Star News online about the city of Elk River, Minn. recently adopting an ordinance requiring enhanced call verification as well. Police from both Seattle and Elk River point out that the new two-call-to-the-end-user requirement is part of a much needed false alarm reduction endeavor.

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