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Will computers replace human operators in central stations?

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Friday, March 6, 2009
I was emailing with Dice Corporation business development EA Melissa Roedel recently, and she was all excited about a new branding initiative Dice is ready to throw into high gear. Dice, a provider of security industry dispatch software, in February unveiled its newest offering, Quantum Operator, a software system designed using advanced human-like voice technologies to make calls on alarms. The system can handle 12 to 100 calls at a time, depending on how it is configured, and can allow human operators to concentrate on higher-level alarms. Dice president Mike Simpson said Quantum Operator is just one of more than 75 upcoming Dice products and services that will bear the Quantum branding. New York, N.Y.-based Statewide Monitoring recently installed Quantum Operator, and company president Steven Coppola said he has been pleased with the results. Simpson claimed the next few releases of the product may include such services as Collection Calls, Service Appointment Notification, Installation Quality Inspections, Sales Appointment Reminders, and Sales Presentation Calls. Stay tuned for updates as they become available.

ADT lays off 500

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Thursday, March 5, 2009
I've got a call into my contacts at ADT for more details on this story which says that ADT has laid off 500 workers. It appears from this story that they were employed in the commercial and retail divisions of ADT.

JC lands a $5b contract (yep, that's a b)

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Thursday, March 5, 2009
Okay, so it's not security-related necessarily, but if you don't think the energy conservation/building controls market is a growing one, take a look at this release from Johnson Controls:
MILWAUKEE (March 4, 2009) - A new national appetite for energy efficiency and renewable energy – especially within federal government buildings – means Johnson Controls is well-positioned to expand its leadership in the marketplace. The company was recently awarded two federal contracts that could result in more than $5 billion over the next five years according to Iain Campbell, vice president and general manager – North America, Johnson Controls. Campbell testified this week in Washington, D.C., at the House Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment hearing, “Energy Efficiency: Complementary Policies for Climate Legislation.”
Five billion dollars? That's a pretty decent contract, I'd say. Isn't that, like, the entire market for security product sales in the world?
“These contracts, along with the recently passed American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, increase the nation’s focus and investment in energy efficiency, especially in federal, state and local government facilities,” said Campbell, “Energy efficiency should be the first priority in addressing climate change as a way of containing the cost of climate protection policies and creating new jobs.”
And I'd say energy efficiency is a good market to work your way into if you're doing security system integration.

Viewpoint CRM ready to open new facility

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Thursday, March 5, 2009
Perhaps you caught this story a couple weeks ago in the Boston Globe. It did my heart good to read it. It's about a security company, Viewpoint CRM, that's projecting growth despite the economic turmoil the rest of the world is experiencing. Viewpoint CRM is a video surveillance company based in Lowell, Mass. One of their strong points is that in a tough economy, it makes more sense to use technology to make surveillance intelligent, and real time rather than dull, expensive and reactionary the way actual human guard services can be. I wrote a story on a similar company Virtual Guard Services a few months ago. According to Viewpoint CRM vice president of channel sales & marketing Michael Hanlon, the center will be up and running "in a couple weeks." Tune back in then for an update on this new advanced video monitoring facility, a couple pictures of which I've included below. viewpoint12 viewpoint21

How are your project management skills?

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009
In a scramble now getting ready to head back to Maine. I have reams of notes from the AMAG Technology event, had a chance to talk to a bunch of partners, as well as AMAG execs, including Matt Barnette and Bob Sawyer. I've got details about AMAG's plans for the next year (things are looking good, revenue and growth are steady--isn't that nice to hear for a change?). I heard lots of good news from the consultants here as well. Some have the biggest backlog of jobs they've ever had. I also got an earfull about how consultants work with you all. A common complaint from consultants about some of you is that you need to work on your project management skills. What do you have to say to that? I'll do some blogging while I'm waiting for planes in the long day ahead. It's 75, the sun's coming up over mountains, there are rabbits all over the lawn (I'm not kidding) the desert landscape is spectacular (Frank Lloyd Wright thought all the cacti and desert scrub it looked like the bottom of the ocean, and imagined his winter home as a ship sailing through that ocean.) So, it's beautiful here and I look forward to returning, but I can't wait to get back to my frozen home in Maine.

A TechSec review

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Some kind words about TechSec from Andres Armeda, CTO at Secure-i and one of our speakers at the event. Thanks Dre.

A step up from the Playboy bunny

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009
ISC West teases are starting to come out. I've got to say this is much more palatable than a Playboy bunny hype, if still not exactly high brow. I'm waiting for the day when a manufacturer runs an ad: "Come see greatest living author Toni Morrison at Booth 12546!" That would be hot.

New VaaS entrant

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009
You may remember Smartvue from my link to Martin Renkis looking dapper, but with all this talk lately about security and video as a service, now is the time to check out their new VaaS offering. You can find all the details here, on their brand-new Web site, which launched last night. It's admittedly a little bit different than your standard security company web site. It's geared toward the end user, yes, with pricing and equipment lists and things that often scare dealers who want to competitively price and be creative with system design, but here's the rationale from Bill Hapner, head of sales for Smartvue: "We're handing the lead to them, having the customer sign up to get the financing done on the front end. Then the dealer gets the installation fee. Then I'm going to pay them either a one-time fee or I'll give them a piece of the deal over the three years. And most every one of them is okay with it so far. The bigger guys will just go out and do it on their own because they don't need our help with the financing ... It takes 24 hours to get approved if you're an approvable business and we're ready to go. And people seem to be okay with putting the pricing and equipment online. And that's really to protect the dealers. It's so some guy can't come out and advertise at three points above cost. They can't advertise anything less than what we've got on the web. I thought I'd get some push back on that, but I haven't." A wireless 1TB NVR, four-high-res-camera video surveillance system for $199 a month with a "buy now" button on the web that still keeps the dealer and the channel involved? That seems pretty interesting.

Rapid Response absent from ISC West?

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009
I just got off the phone with someone over at Rapid Response Monitoring. I wanted to call and see if someone at Rapid Response would be able to spend some time away from their own ISC West booth to drift on over to the Security Systems News booth for a sit down with me on camera for ssnTVnews. I found out that Rapid Response is not exhibiting this year at ISC West. It is perhaps a sign of the times. I was told that they will have reps there but will not have a booth. This will be my first visit to ISC West, so I have no point of reference, but I'm assured by my predecessor, Leischen Stelter that the Rapid Response booth was not to be missed. Perhaps next year.

College kid embraces Big Brother

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009
In the battle for the hearts and minds of the general public, it looks like security professionals are getting somewhere. Sure, there are still ACLU types and others how are concerned about privacy issues when it comes to video surveillance, and sometimes they raise good points about who has access to the video and what legislation still needs to be ironed out, but the general public doesn't seem as much bothered by video cameras anymore. As proof, I offer this editorial from the Montana Kaimin, the student newspaper for the University of Montana. Seriously, when the student newspaper is advocating for CCTV, the paradigm has shifted considerably, I think. Some choice paragraphs:
These examples give me hope that students across the country will become more accepting of security cameras on campus. I’m sure some will argue that placing 30 surveillance cameras in the UC is invasive and invokes a “Big Brother is watching you” feel, but given the robberies of the UC Market and Jus Chill’n, I think actions speak louder than words.
Gosh, I love when people use meaningless cliches to (not) make a point. Both capturing video of people in the UC and robbing Jus Chill'n are actions, actually. And both complaining about Big Brother and complaining about being robbed are words. So which actions speak louder than which words? Anyhoo:
It’s a viable goal and it can happen with your support. It’s in our hands to encourage the change. The UC wouldn’t be the good institution it is if it didn’t respond to student wants and needs. Let’s all help the UC return to a safe and comfortable environment for many years to come.
Ah, incitement to action. You know, save the rain forest, end the war, install the video cameras! I can just hear the chant: "Hey UC bureaucracy/Install the cameras immediately" Boy do I miss college.

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