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ISC West 2013 Day 1

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

It’s the first morning of ISC West, but the show-related events and commitments started yesterday. They started as soon as I got here and way before my hotel had my room ready. Yesterday I attended several meetings and one special event—the Women’s Security Council reception.

I was flattered to be named one of WSC’s ‘women of the year’ last night, and honored to be in the company of the following industry leaders: Mary Jo Cornell, president and CEO of Linstar Inc.; Pamela Petrow, president and CEO of Vector Security; Donna Kobzaruk, vice president of GlobalSecurity and Investigations, JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Bodil Sonesson, vice president of Global Sales, Axis Communications; Karen Evans, president and CEO of Sielox; and WSC 2013 Volunteer of the Year: Renae Leary, Senior Director of Global Accounts, Tyco.

It was fun to catch up with so many folks at the WSC reception before the show. Rhianna Daniels of CompassPR and Deb O’Mara, of SDI, did a great job organizing the event and running this important group.

The day starts for me in 30 minutes with the Axis Press breakfast, followed by press conferences and meetings with Next Level Security Systems, Diebold, Quolsys click here to see who they are  NICE, Avigilon, Tyco Global Accounts, Tyco IS, Security-Net.

I also have a list of booths that I want to check out. Among them, Prism Skylabs. Like many other suppliers,  Prism is running a promo. Here’s some of the details of that from an email conversation I had with Prism founder Steve Russell.

1. How will the promo work?

Security integrators who sign up for our partner program and purchase a Prism Starter Pack at ISC West will get an additional 100 one-year Prism Skylabs licenses for free. That's more than a $10,000 value, and something that I can't imagine we'll ever offer again. As it is, our Starter Packs are hyper discounted for new partners, allowing them to make high margins, generate recurring revenue, and expand their sales beyond LP and into Marketing, Merchandising, andOperations. But it's not just that. We get a lot of traffic at www.prismskylabs.com, and we use our website to generate leads for our partners. …It's a turnkey solution that takes mere minutes to deploy anywhere around the globe, is steeply discounted, and comeswith real-time, mobile access and powerful offline analytics —from customer counting to dwell time to product lift.

One more item before I go to the show floor: The Security 5k is tomorrow morning at 7:30! There’s a new starting location. You can catch a bus to the start line if you go to the taxi stand behind the Sands. Last bus leaves at 7:10 or better yet, jog the .6 miles to the start.

Qolsys has issued a fun throwdown for the Security 5K. Here's their pitch:

"CAN YOU BEAT US? This year's Security 5K at ISC west is sure to have the biggest turnout ever. We run it for a good cause, to enjoy each other's company, and to enjoy a little friendly competition.This year, we're upping the ante. Our race team is good, but if you can beat us, you deserve a little something extra. 5 somethings extra.If your fastest racer* can beat the Qolsys Team's fastest racer, we'll give you an exclusive, personal demo of the new IQ solution, and 5 free panels."

A word of warning: I hear Qolsys’s fastest runner does sub-7 splits, and their slowest is just over 9 splits.

 

 

Vivint Live: personal touch monitoring; Vivint president takes on solar CEO duties

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Two recent developments from home automation/home security giant Vivint caught my eye. One is a new feature for homeowners called Vivint Live, which the company said links customers directly to a monitoring professional and helps reduce false alarms. The other is that Alex Dunn, who just recently became president of Vivint, is also now interim CEO for Vivint Solar.

Provo, Utah-based Vivint announced today that with Vivint Live, its customers can now use their touchscreen panels to communicate directly with a monitoring professional in the event of an alarm.

Here’s what the company had to say:
 

When an alarm is triggered, the signal is sent to Vivint's award-winning monitoring center, which is staffed 24 hours a day throughout the year. Upon receiving the alarm, a Vivint in-house monitoring professional speaks to the customer through the touchscreen panel. Acting as a first responder, the agent assesses the situation, confirms an emergency with the customer, and dispatches emergency personnel accordingly. With Vivint Live, homeowners have the personal, immediate response they need to work through any emergency situation and receive necessary care. …

… Vivint Live's quick response also allows Vivint to decrease the number of false alarms. Vivint monitoring professionals connect directly with the customer and then dispatch emergency personnel only during a legitimate emergency or when the customer cannot be reached.

In other news, the company also announced yesterday that Tanguy Serra has stepped down as CEO of Vivint Solar and that Dunn is now interim CEO. Serra said in a statement that it’s time for him to step away from day-to-day operations but that he still will be involved as an advisor to the company.

Vivint Solar, a company that Vivint created in 2011, is one of the fastest-growing residential solar power provider in the North America.

Dunn said in a statement: “Tanguy has helped us build an amazing business, and we are grateful for all of his hard work and dedication. Vivint Solar is what it is today because of his leadership. We are committed to expanding upon the foundation that he has built, and believe our solar solution to be a critical component to helping our customers save money and gain energy independence.”

 

A central station in every home? There’s an app for that

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Using video technology to spy on Fido or your terrible teens while you’re away from home isn’t new. But now a California company has launched an app that will allow you to use a smartphone for the job, bypassing the need for a traditional IP camera system.

People Power, a Palo Alto-based software firm, is touting its Presence app as a way to monitor and protect the homefront for free via WiFi. “Use it … as a webcam, security cam, baby cam, party cam, you name it,” the company states on its website. “Customize and get meaningful alerts that give you [the] peace of mind you need knowing that loved ones are safe.”

The iOS app provides real-time audio and video streaming, motion-detection video alerts and two-way voice. The idea is that your outdated iPhone or iPad can be converted into a remote camera, with you as Big Brother—or Big Mother—watching it all on a similar device at your office or favorite watering hole.

And that’s all well and good. Like other DIY systems on the market that offer video, being able to see when Jimmy gets home from school or who is polishing off the last of the ice cream has its merits. As for Fido, now you can reprimand him from the cloud when he gets into the trash. Talk about Big Brother ...

Then there’s the protection angle. Users can program the app to record a 5-second video clip when motion is detected and then send them an email alert. If you have a collection of unused iOS devices, they can be arrayed to cover different areas of the home.

“We really are creating this disruptive app that really creates an inexpensive security system,” People Power CEO Gene Wang told the Los Angeles Times.

The translation is that the app user is now the central station. But does the average homeowner really know what that entails?

A number of questions immediately come to mind. For starters, what happens when Presence detects an intruder, or what the user thinks is an intruder? Should he call the police, or maybe a neighbor to check on the house? If it is an intruder and the intruder is hostile, what happens then? If the police are called and it’s a false alarm, how will municipalities handle that?

It will be interesting to see how it pans out. While Presence without question has some very attractive features—don’t forget that it’s free—taking it into the security realm comes with responsibilities that might be best left to professionals. As with most services, typically you get what you pay for.

Universal expands reach in Southeast

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Guard company and security systems integrator Universal Protection Service announced the purchase of Allegiance Security Group from Trivest Partners, LP.

Allegiance has a big presence in the Southeast and provides "sensitive sites as a U.S. General Services Administration (GSA)-approved vendor for the federal government," according to a statement.

"With the acquisition of Allegiance, Universal Protection Service now becomes one of the largest manned security providers in the Southeast," said Steve Jones, Co-CEO and COO of Universal Services of America, in a statement.  He said the purchase will allow Universal "to deliver additional services and increased value to all of our clients located throughout the Midwest and Southeast." It also brings Universal into new states, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

In a statement, Brian Cescolini, chairman and Co-CEO of Universal Services of America, parent company of Universal saidl  "In addition to the government sector, the company also has premium clients throughout the U.S., which will add to our existing infrastructure and build our density strategy in all of our operational branches."

Universal Protection Service says it's the fifth largest security company and the largest private security firm in the U.S. Universal Protection Service is a division of Universal Services of America, which includes Universal Building Maintenance, Universal Protection Security Systems and Universal Fire/Life Safety Services.

Checkpoint sells CheckView; Richmond honored for ASAP

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Checkpoint Systems, a global supplier of loss-prevention products and solutions for the retail industry, announced earlier this month that it was negotiating the sale of its CheckView integration and monitoring business. On Monday, the buyer was ID’d: Platinum Equity, a California-based private equity firm, which will make the deal for $5.4 million.

In a blog Tuesday, Seeking Alpha analyst Brenon Daly called the deal “one of the more financially lopsided divestitures we've seen in some time. ... The electronic security unit generated roughly $77 million of revenue in 2012, although it did run slightly in the red.”

The transaction includes CheckView’s CSAA Five Diamond-certified central station in Chanhassen, Minn. CheckView also sells digital video cameras and monitors to combat retail crime, along with fire and intrusion alarm systems for that vertical.

In a prepared statement, Checkpoint said its board of directors had determined that CheckView could better serve its customers as an independent, entrepreneurial and more focused organization. George Babich, who was named Checkpoint’s CEO and president on March 4, said that Platinum Equity has “a strong track record helping companies reach their full potential. … We are committed to support CheckView throughout the sale process to ensure an orderly transition with full continuity of service to customers.”

“CheckView will act as a platform acquisition and allow us to focus on the core business while pursuing organic-growth initiatives and strategic add-ons in a highly fragmented space,” said Platinum Equity principal Jason Leach.

On March 5, Checkpoint reported a fourth-quarter loss of $35.4 million, or 86 cents per share. That compares with a loss of $19.1 million, or 47 cents per share, a year earlier. The company’s shares closed at $13.43 on Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

ASAP honors for Richmond: Computerworld, which bills itself as “the leading source of technology news and information for IT influencers,” recently gave a nod to Richmond, Va., for a tech program that’s been making headlines in the alarm world: the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol.

Richmond’s participation in ASAP earned the city a 2013 Computerworld Honors Laureate, an award that recognizes “visionary applications of information technology promoting positive social, economic and educational change.” Richmond was one of three public safety answering points that served as charter municipalities for the program; six were participating by the end of 2012.

“Receiving Computerworld’s Honors Laureate acknowledges the outstanding achievement and advancement of our city’s Department of Information Technology and 911 staff in providing excellent service to Richmond’s residents,” Mayor Dwight Jones said in a prepared statement. “The benefits of the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol program are tremendous as it reduces 911 processing times, reduces response times by first responders, and provides an extremely accurate data exchange between the alarm monitoring companies and [PSAPs].”

Vivint CEO buying golf course, becoming developer

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Vivint has been in the news a lot since it was acquired late last year by the Blackstone Group for more than $2 billion. But the latest scoop is actually about the CEO of the Provo, Utah-based company, Todd Pedersen. He’s about to buy a golf course in nearby Orem and turn it into a housing development where he and others will live, according to the Daily Herald, a Provo-based newspaper.

But Pedersen also will give 20 acres of the property back to the city for recreation, the report says.

The paper says the Cascade Golf Center has been in business 45 years but has announced this year will be its last because it’s being sold to Pedersen for a residential development. The paper quotes Keven Stratton, Jr., who runs the family-owned golf course, as saying the economic downturn and competition from new golf courses have made business difficult.

Here’s more from the newspaper's March 21 story:
 

Todd Pedersen acknowledged Wednesday that he is in a business arrangement with the Strattons on the sale of the lease and is going through due process and will eventually come to the city council for approval. Pedersen's proposal would give him land to develop low-density homes -- approximately 12 to 15, with his being one -- but he would return to the city approximately 20 acres of land worth $7 million in fully developed parkland, sports fields, with infrastructure, parking, bathrooms and more.

"My wife and I have lived in the valley and we want to do something that most residents can enjoy," Pedersen said. "I want to make sure for the city management that the best uses will be made for the most citizens."

Pedersen knows many golfers in the community will be unhappy losing Cascade and he understands how they feel.

If Pedersen's proposal is carried through it will bring approximately $300,000 in property tax revenues to the city. He said that more than replaces the $450 a year the city receives through the Strattons' lease. Because the property is zoned R1-12 the plan Pedersen is proposing complies with the zone.

Cascade Golf Center opened in May 1968 after the city agreed to lease property to the Strattons until 2060. A second-generation owner, Stratton purchased the golf course in 1989 from his father and other partners. The construction and operation of the course has been privately financed. …

… The 53 acres owned jointly with Orem City along with the majority of the 67 acres of privately owned land that make up Cascade Golf Center are being sold. That includes the miniature golf course, the driving range, the small orchard east of the range, the Valley Course or lower nine and the back nine.

While the price of the property and the lease's selling price have not been disclosed, it is no secret that Orem and other developers see this as prime property, possibly worth as much as $200,000 an acre.

 

Stanley keeps an eye on access control

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Stanley Security Solutions believes iris recognition technology is going to be the next big thing in access control.

On Tuesday, it announced a new partnership with iris biometric provider Eyelock (previously Hoyos). Two years ago Stanely CSS announced a partnership with Hoyos. Here's that story.

I spoke to Stanley CSS’s John Nemorofsky who explained the difference between the partnership of two years ago and today’s announcement. Two years ago, the announcement was Stanley CSS becoming the exclusive dealer for Hoyos. Now, Stanley Security Solutions, the manufacturing arm of Stanley, is adding EyeLock to its security solutions. So, Stanley CSS will install the technology, but other integrators may install it as well through Stanley Security Solutions’ new Eyelock Certified Dealer Program.

Stanley has two dedicated teams to sell EyeLock, internally through the Stanely CSS business and worldwide. It is also working to integrate EyeLock with other access control solutions.

Hoyos was based in Puerto Rico. Its corporate office and R&D were moved to New York City when it underwent a management change and became EyeLock, Nemorofsky explained. Its operations and support are still currently in Puerto Rico, but Stanley plans to “run it through our product and manufacturing to take cost out and also to make the product even better and stronger and [more a part of the] product roadmap.”

The benefits of the EyeLock include: easy installation, simple to enroll users, easy to use, and it’s reliable because of the uniqueness of the iris.
Just about “anywhere you can use a card reader, you can use a Nano (the name of a compact EyeLock reader),” Nemorofsky said.

The main hurdle to adoption, Nemorovsky said, is misunderstandings about the technology. People need to understand the “iris reader is a camera, not a retina reader or some type of laser, ” he said.

I also spoke to Blaine Fredericks, Stanley Security Solutions global biometrics solutions leader, about EyeLock.  

Fredericks said that Stanley has installed the technology—which has some new, smaller form factors—in commercial applications where iris biometrics are not typically installed. He said Stanley believes that EyeLock is poised to become the access-control identity authentication solution of choice for the commercial space in the future.

“Typically [iris-based identity authentication] is pigeon-holed as a [solution for] banking or data centers, for very high-security areas,” he said. “We see this being used in a much broader sense [with] the ability to make our day-to-day lives easier.” He says it can be used to track kids getting on and off of school buses, to provide access to office doors and “to enable access to an ATM in the future.”

Unlike a card or other credential, it cannot be lost or shared. Hygiene is not a concern, like it is with fingerprint or hand geometry biometrics. And “next to DNA, it’s the most unique biometric,” he said. “The iris is formed randomly rather than being tied to the genetic code … So your right eye is different from your left, the irises of identical twins are different; and if you were to be cloned the [clone's] irises would be different  [from yours].” Irises also does not change as you age, he said.

Among Stanley's EyeLock installations are a large financial institution in the Southeast where it’s installed on turnstiles in the lobby and provides access control for employees.  I asked Fredericks if the iris readers on the turnstiles could tell the elevators which floors those employees worked on. He said it’s not currently set up to do that but “directed dispatch is a realistic possibility.”

Look for a follow-up story on the Stanely Eyelock deal.

SSN editors want to meet you at ISC West

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Before you hit the ISC West show floor, I hope you’ll stop by our “Meet the Editors” event.

Rich will be coordinating newswires and doing other editorial projects from the home office in Maine, but (SSN managing editor) Tess, (SDN managing editor) Amy and I look forward to meeting you at the event, which will take place from 9-10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 10 at the ISC West Media Stage.

The stage is right outside the entrance to the show floor—you can’t miss it. Stop by and introduce yourself, tell us about your plans for ISC West, what's going on at your company. Complaints, compliments, suggestions, scoops--happy to hear them all.

Industry veteran Don Trask dies at 75

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Sad news out of Texas: Don Trask, former vice president of operations for Online Alarm Quotes, died last week in Dallas at age 75.

“Don was one of the very first employees of Monitronics and helped build their central station,” Tom Fowler, president of Online Alarm Quotes, told SSN. “A very good soul. He was one of the nicest people I ever encountered in any walk of life. Please make mention of his passing and keep his family in your prayers.”

Trask was the executive vice president and CEO of Trask Enterprises, doing business as New West Security in Duncanville, Texas. Before his employment at Online Alarm Quotes and Monitronics, he worked for Southland Corp., the Arthur Trask Corp. and 3M Corp., according to his profile on LinkedIn.

Trask was born and raised in the Chicago area and attended the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Sheri Trask; daughters Nancy and Elizabeth; stepson Corey, and his grandchildren.

“Don was the kind of friend that renewed faith in people,” Fowler said. “He was there for you without asking and without question.”

Floor space filling up fast at ESX

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

ESX is one of the fastest-growing trade shows in the country, a distinction that hasn’t been lost on the industry’s top monitoring and integration companies. The expo floor is already more than 70 percent sold for this year’s event, which will be moving down the street from Nashville’s Convention Center the new Music City Center.

More than 140 exhibitors were on board as of Monday, including 30 companies that weren’t on the floor last year. Among the new participants from the monitoring world are Criticom Monitoring Services (CMS), Metrodial and SAFE Security.

Some of the busiest real estate at ESX 2013 is likely to be found at the NexTech Zone, where exhibitors focused on home automation, energy management, IT and interactive services will display the latest products and services. With Time Warner, ADT and other big players increasingly moving into this space, it’s probably a good idea for central stations to stay ahead of the curve (or at least not fall behind it).

There also will be 10 educational sessions at ESX focusing on central station operations and technology. Topics range from how to find and retain quality operators (and customers) to the monitoring world beyond PERS, with some of the top names in the industry leading the discussions. To find out more about what ESX has to offer—pencil in June 17-21 if you haven't already—or to register, click here.

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