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Update on NFPA show

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Monday, January 26, 2009
I got a call from Linda Bailey at the NFPA bright and early this morning. She said registration is on track for the June show in Chicago. The early sell out of the block of rooms at the hotel where the convention is being held (see previous post) is the result of early registration by exhibitors. "It's looking good for the show in Chicago," she said.

The infamous skeet-shooting video

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Monday, January 26, 2009
Some of you remember senseless posts back in June, referring to a skeet-shooting outing with the TBFAA at ESX. Well, here's proof that I could at least fire the gun without injuring myself. And if the Maryland folks would like to set up an afternoon of shooting things, I'd be all for it.

IPv6: Big deal or not?

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Monday, January 26, 2009
Maybe one of the most under-reported and least-understood stories out there is the one about the move to IPv6, from our current IPv4 Internet addressing system. Essentially, the world will eventually run out of IPv4 IP addresses (the line of code that identifies where a device lives in relation to the Internet) and we'll be forced to move to IPv6, which offers addresses with much longer strings of numbers and letters and therefore opens the amount of addresses to something more than trillions and trillions. But what do we actually have to do to prepare for this switchover? When does it have to be done? Will it affect your average installer and end user? How will it affect network security? These are questions I get varying answers on. Here's a story I wrote about IPv6 late in 2007, for reference. Nothing much seems to have changed since then. Other than one release from Axis that mentioned IPv6 capability, I've seen virtually no security manufacturer even mention IPv6. I'm not sure why. I'm reminded of this mostly because of an article I came across today positing that IPv6 might make networks less secure. This is the exact opposite of the information I've been getting, that security is built into IPv6 and it is inherently more secure than IPv4. From my story: Also, Nilsson emphasized the added security features IPv6 offers, and its ability to make installation easier. So, who's right? I understand about half of this, but it appears to be a primer for network security during the IPv6 conversion. Here's a white paper from 3Com (who will be in physical security shortly, I'm told), which points out security vulnerabilities, but is pretty vague. Here's a white paper from SIA, but it's a pdf and is cumbersome for my poor version of Safari. Probably works in Firefox. According to this White House memorandum from 2005, the federal government was supposed to be totally IPv6 compliant by June 30, 2008. Did this happen? Did anybody check? I haven't heard anything to the contrary, but then I run across press releases from Verizon where they talk about upgrading the Army to IPv6. Do they not count as part of the federal government? In short, it seems prudent to make sure your people are up to speed on IPv6, especially if you're doing work with the government, but it doesn't look like the security product manufacturers are in a huge hurry to make things IPv6 compliant. Will this matter? I'm not sure.

Steelbox assets acquired; execs come, too

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Friday, January 23, 2009
As predicted widely, Steelbox's intellectual property and people retained quite a bit of value, even if the company couldn't make a go of its business model. Today, Adtech Global Solutions announced they'd purchased what remained of Steelbox. It looks like Adtech is an OEM that wraps hardware around your software. It looks like Verint was one of the company's first customers. There's an Atlanta connection, too. Just what Adtech plans to do with Steelbox is unclear. From the release: ATLANTA, Jan. 22 /PRNewswire/ -- Adtech Global Solutions (AGS) announced today the acquisition of the IP assets of Steelbox Networks, Inc. (Steelbox) under an Article 9 UCC Foreclosure sale. Additionally, Key Steelbox personnel, including founders and inventors of the technology, Jim Jordan and Bill LeBlanc, joined the company. The acquisition provides AGS with industry-leading technology poised to address the needs of one of the fastest growing vertical markets. Current and future Steelbox customers will benefit from partnering with a company that has a solid 10-year record of posting strong returns, a mature and stringent ISO- 9001:2000 Quality Management System, global footprint, and a host of service and product offerings. The combined entity will now be able to offer comprehensive, industry-leading, end-to-end solutions. Notice that security has not been mentioned yet. Or video surveillance. Just what is this "fastest growing vertical market"? "Steelbox will contribute to AGS' growth strategy for 2009 and beyond, while adding industry-leading Intellectual Property to our portfolio," Tim Shadburn, Chief Executive Officer, said. "The community's reaction to Steelbox's exit from the market was simply overwhelming. We felt we were uniquely positioned to bring it back, allowing it to realize its potential." At this point, it's just kind of weird. Which market? Which industry is being led? Nik Moissiadis, Vice President of Business Integration and one of AGS' founding members, will lead Steelbox. "I have personally worked with Steelbox and its founders since 2005. In that timeframe, we partnered in the design, deployment and support of their products worldwide. Through this relationship, we have come to clearly recognize the importance of this leading-edge technology in the marketplace, while understanding first-hand the challenges associated with the unique and demanding applications for which it is intended. With over 50,000 systems deployed and hundreds of installations in Fortune 500, mission-critical infrastructure environments, we know what it takes to execute," said Moissiadis. So maybe AGS created the boxes that Steelbox's secret sauce was wrapped in? There's no mention of it on their web site. This is what they have for "surveillance." "This is an exciting time. Under the AGS umbrella, Steelbox's unique infrastructure approach to the management of digital video and audio, is ideally aligned to thrive in the marketplace. Combining our technology with AGS' broad service portfolio provides the perfect platform from which to continue the development and delivery of best-of-breed video storage, transport and retrieval solutions, with an unparalleled focus on customer and partner needs," commented LeBlanc. First mention of digital video and audio, but still no security or surveillance mentions. It seems like this is a move to use Steelbox's technology to approach other video-heavy markets, as was a goal of former CEO Brian Cohen before the company hit foreclosure. He just couldn't get it turned in that direction in time. I'll work on some reporting to see if this is the last we'll see of Steelbox in security.

What's wrong with being a pizza delivery guy?

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Friday, January 23, 2009
All kinds of things come across my desk, and lately a lot of stories about the struggling American work force have been showing up in my in box because people are finding or losing jobs with security companies. Anyway, this one from CNN bothers me. Look at the title: "Deliver pizzas, wife tells laid-off hubby" What's that supposed to imply? Delivering pizzas is a great job. It says in the article the guy's making $10 an hour, plus tips. That's not bad at all. I paid my rent and drank my beer in college thanks to pizza-delivery jobs (making, I think, $4.25 plus tips), and I know a lot of guys who got themselves through grad school and financed moves to locations all over the country thanks to delivering pizzas. That's not exactly supporting a family, I understand, but we weren't exactly working 40 hours a week. Check this out: "I had to swallow my pride and take whatever I could get," Rob LeBlanc says. "I kept telling myself one of these days something better will come along." He spent nearly five months delivering pizzas at Domino's. He admits he fell into depression during that time. But the family received good news Friday, when a private security company hired Rob LeBlanc to be a security officer. He says the company offers many opportunities to move up to a managerial position. "My first thought was to tell my wife right away," he says. "I could hear the relief in her voice." Swallow your pride? It must have been tough! Give me a break. What job is better than listening to tunes in your car, driving around and seeing people, and hustling for decent pay? A security guard? No way. I'm sorry. I would take delivering pizza over being a security guard six days a week and twice on Sunday. And did anybody at CNN do any math for this story? The guy lost a $55,000 a year job. Okay. How much could he make delivering pies (that's industry talk, there)? 40 hours x $10 = $400 x 52 = $20,800 base Plus, you should be able to hit at least 5 houses an hour even in a slow night, depending on the size of the city and how well the pizza joint advertises (Domino's is pretty good at that). So that's another $10 an hour, easy, which, of course, is under the table and you don't report, so a very robust $20,000 a year. My first year out of school, I made more than $50,000 (shhh, don't tell the IRS) doing nothing more than substitute teaching and delivering pizzas. That's good scratch. So I don't think it's outrageous to say those jobs are fairly comparable. A pay cut, for sure, and you've got to subtract out the gas money, which isn't insignificant, but better than unemployment, probably, and I think lots of people would take $40,000 a year. That's a damn good job in the journalism industry. My first gig at the Portland Phoenix paid me $6.25 an hour. Sorry, I was off track there. My point was: These people are not suffering from financial hardship! Things aren't that bad. It's just that, yes, the unprecedented life of opulence being led by the American middle class over the last 10 years is coming to an end for a short time. It's just like Obama said in his inauguration speech: It's time to start working our asses off again. Suck it up. Deliver some pies. Do some babysitting. Knit and sell some hats. Hustle. Be better than the other guy. Stop crying about how you can't afford HBO and Showtime. Did you read this part? The LeBlanc family lives lean in their five-bedroom, three-bathroom house with its $440 a month mortgage. The couple is teaching their children about budgeting and bargaining while relying on coupons and sales. They no longer eat out and no longer have cable TV. For entertainment, they attend free movies at a church. Donna LeBlanc takes pride that they have no credit card debt. $440 a month mortgage? On a five-bedroom, three-bathroom place? Holy smokes! That's like living for free! They have no credit card debt? This is an example of the bad economy how? Sorry, only tangentially about security, I know, but it speaks to a growing feeling on my part that people are beginning to wallow in their own self pity, even in this industry, and people need to knock it off.

Atlanta revamps alarm ordinance, looks to collect $3 million

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Friday, January 23, 2009
ATLANTA—Atlanta's City Council hopes to collect $3 million from people who have multiple false alarms at their homes or businesses. The 15-person council voted unanimously Thursday, Jan. 22 on a proposal that increases fines and simplifies the penalty process regarding fire and burglar alarms. “The Atlanta Police Department supports the legislation on false alarms which will reduce the number of false alarm calls generated,” said Deputy Chief George Turner of the Atlanta Police Department in a statement. “This will create additional manpower hours to respond to the present call volume and increase police visibility in the Atlanta communities.” While Atlanta has had false alarm penalties in place for a while, it has not collected any fine revenue since 2005. According to the proposed ordinance, a project of Councilmember Anne Fauver, Atlanta had $4.4 million in issued, but uncollected false alarm fines in 2002. From 2000-2004 Atlanta saw revenues of only $1.5 million in collected fines. The reason for the drop off in collected fines? Fauver claims the ordinance was too difficult to enforce and that police stopped giving citations. Fauver believes the new ordinance will help the city out of its current budget hole. “The City’s emergency personnel need to be available for valid alarms and for their primary purpose of protecting our citizens,” said Fauver in a release. The ordinance gives a free pass for the first false alarm, but after that, penalties escalate from $100 for the second false alarm to $1000 for any false alarms over six in a calendar year. Under the ordinance, citations would be enforced like traffic tickets through the city's municipal court, and would allow for appeals. The legislation will go into effect upon approval by the mayor.

BICSI and NBFAA: we're pals

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Thursday, January 22, 2009
In yet another sign of the IP-oriented times, note this press release from BICSI and NBFAA. I have never actually seen such an announcement in my 10+ years of getting press releases: Today, BICSI and the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA) entered into an honorary friendship agreement. What's an "honorary friendship agreement" entail? The two organizations plan to engage in a variety of cooperative activities, including exchanging visits and views between the members of the two entities in order to promote a qualified and skilled work force; promoting and developing reciprocal training, education and certifications of ITS and ELSS design and installation professionals; and pursuing other cooperative activities as appropriate. I'm not sure why that's different than a partnership agreement or memorandum of cooperation or some other such thing, but I guess I kind of like the whole "friendship" language. It's cozy. And in the business world, so much can be kind of cold and calculated. Regardless, it's pretty interesting that the NBFAA, the old-school alarm industry vanguard, is being so progressive and hooking up with an "information transport" organization. No, that IT doesn't necessarily mean IP/network IT, but I'm sure that's a bulk of the work done by the membership at this point. In fact, I bet they're dealing with, or have already dealt with, many of the convergence and technology-shifting issues that security is dealing with right now. It must also be noteworthy somehow that I had never heard of BICSI until about three months ago, but now seem to find it popping up all over the security sphere.

Sonitec Corp. to offer PERS via SafetyCare

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Thursday, January 22, 2009
Sonitec Corp. on Jan. 20 announced it had become a SafetyCare Authorized Partner and would soon begin the roll-out of SafetyLink, the company’s new personal emergency response system. I spoke with SafetyCare general manager Mike Bodnar last year on the growth coming in the PERS industry. SafetyLink customers in metropolitan New York will have the benefit of access to a 24-hour-a-day safety and security system at the push of a button. Unlike other PERS systems, the owner of a SafetyLink system gains instant two-way voice contact with a certified emergency medical technician at the National SafetyCare Response Center, based in Reading, Pa. Leslie Lief, president of Sonitec Corp., believes the partnership with SafetyCare will benefit end users and Sonitec dealers immensely. “We've chosen to make a strategic and substantial investment in the SafetyCare product,” Lief said in a statement. Lief also said that a comprehensive website and a sales staff are being dedicated to SafetyLink now. Bodnar said Sonitec brought a strong industry reputation as well as a 33-year record of service in the New York area to the table. “We're pleased that Sonitec recognizes the unique product offerings at SafetyCare, as we work to steadily revamp and improve the security industry in this country,” Bodnar said in a release. Sonitec is the most recent addition to a growing stable of security companies taking advantage of the growing PERS industry through the SafetyCare Authorized Partner Program. Other recent Authorized Partners include LifeCall, LLC, Independent Living Solutions, and Eastern Distributing, among others. Pictured below are SafetyCare general manager Mike Bodnar (left) and Leslie Lief, president of Sonitec (right). [caption id="attachment_1661" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="SafetCare general manager Mike Bodnar and Sonitec president Leslie Lief"]SafetCare general manager Mike Bodnar and Sonitec president Leslie Lief[/caption]

Mace now has more cash on hand

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Mace continues to sell off its car washes, which gives the company cash with which to grow its security business, whether through sales and marketing spend or through acquisition. Considering leadership's recent comments, I'd be shocked if they don't buy somebody this year. The question is whether they're looking to add technology or a dealership base or a customer base. Obviously, all three wouldn't be bad. The way I read the release, they're adding about $3.5 million in cash to the reserves right away. Eduardo Nieves, Mace VP, made a point in a recent interview of noting Mace's cash reserves and pointing out that this allows the company to eye acquisitions as part of its growth strategy, with a central station being a possible addition. Look for an interview with new Mace security division president John O'Leary in our February issue.

Who won't be at ISC West?

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Following up on last month's posts about the big shows feeling the bad economy pinch, I got an interesting note from Denise Gadowski at Johnson Controls this morning, in response to a call for ISC West new product information. She says: [W]e will not be exhibiting at the ISC West show this year. There are many reasons for this decision: 1) our dedicated resources that are traveling around the globe to ensure everyone is trained are the same staff that run the booth (I'm running the risk of stretching everyone too thin) 2) the ASIS show is on the west coast as well this year 3) budget constraints force us to look at other ways to market ourselves. We will have representatives at the show and we are working with the show management on other marketing opportunities. Maybe this is just a random occurrence. Johnson Controls is in the middle of a big upgrade in security capability and is focusing much more on their integration business, for example, so they're a little bit of a company in flux and I can see why they'd want to take a year off from ISC West. But I didn't hear anyone complain in 2007 when both ISC West and ASIS were in Vegas in the same year. And Johnson Controls has never been shy at ISC West in my experience. They could have easily just downsized a bit and saved a bunch of cash. I think the "other ways to market ourselves" gets at a growing feeling in the industry that the big shows just don't deliver as much bang for the buck as they used to and I think we would be seeing them start to wane regardless of the economy. They'll continue to have their place, but won't be as "must-attend" as they've been in the past. I'll keep you posted on other ISC West developments.

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