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CSAA moving on up!

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Friday, December 5, 2008
The Central Station Alarm Association announced recently that it was moving to a new location for the New Year. The ever busy, but accommodating Celia T. Besore, director of marketing & communications at CSAA sent me a pic of the new space, which unfortunately, will not post here. The original release is included below. The Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) will start the new year in a new, larger office near its current location. The new address will be 8150 Leesburg Pike, Suite 700, Vienna, VA 22182. Phone and fax information remain the same. "The workload of the Association and the increase in staff to continue to offer quality services necessitated the relocation to new offices," said Steve Doyle, Executive Vice President of CSAA. "In addition, we are excited that the move to the new building allowed us to get extra space to host the Central Station Industry Museum. Given the current real estate market, it was the right time to make the move." added Doyle. CSAA's headquarters have been at 440 Maple Avenue East in Vienna since 1997.

Will it be a bad year for the big shows?

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Thursday, December 4, 2008
Any major manufacturer knows how expensive it is to have a large presence at a big show like ISC West, ASIS, or IFSEC. Not only is there the outlay for the space, but there's the expense of the booth, the set up of the booth, and the travel for all the people to man the booth. It's huge money, and in a bum economy, where people are increasingly getting their information from the web and not attending shows in the first place, that might be an expense people are looking to cut back on. We've already reported, for example, that Honeywell's presence at ISC East was much smaller, in terms of booth, than it normally is, but that they, being local, sent a large number of people to do the meet and greet. Sounds like a smart move to me. It's the people that matter, anyway, in my opinion. Now comes some interesting developments on the IFSEC front. For those who don't know, IFSEC is a huge show (30,000+) held in the relatively crap (to use a British term) city of Birmingham, England. From what I've been told (I've only been twice), it's traditionally been a very international show, but has lately turned very British and has lost a little luster in comparison with ISC West, for example. That's anecdotal - but it's pretty consistently the story I'm told. Anyway, yesterday Pelco put out the following release: Clovis, CA (December 3, 2008) — Pelco management announced today that it will not be participating in the IFSEC 2009 Exhibition but will still be hosting its annual customer party, to be held at a venue near but not at IFSEC. The company feels it prudent – given the current worldwide economic atmosphere – to withdraw from participation at the show for the upcoming year. Yeah. Pelco's not going to have a booth at IFSEC. You won't see the dancing cameras. That's huge. And the fact that they won't have the party at the show isn't surprising - the facility is in the middle of nowhere, near the airport, and there's no decent place to throw a party anyway. “Pelco did not come to this difficult decision lightly, but we feel that we can better serve and support our customers worldwide by realigning certain expenditures elsewhere,” says Pelco President and CEO, Dean Meyer. “Although we are spending less in some places – at IFSEC, for example – we are putting that investment to work in other areas that make more sense for our customers.” For example, Pelco is reinvesting into many areas throughout the company, including providing resources to broaden its HD product offerings during 2009. “This move will allow us to help redirect resources to launch our broad HD end-to-end product offering over the course of 2009, ranging from megapixel cameras of all shapes and sizes to recording and viewing solutions encapsulating H.264 compression, and third-party interconnectivity to storage,” Meyer says. “As it remains important that we support our customers from around the world who travel to IFSEC,” says Kevin Smith, Regional Manager UK and Ireland, "the Pelco party will still provide a great opportunity to connect with customers, even without having a stand at IFSEC 2009.” Great press release, if you ask me. Not hiding behind the decision, but rather explaining it in a way that makes sense. Couple this announcement with the reports that are circulating about Norbain not attending IFSEC, and you've got to think IFSEC is reeling. Not surprisingly, today I got a press release from IFSEC (damage control - I'm shocked!): London, 4 December 2008.  Honeywell, Panasonic, Dedicated Micros, HID, Samsung Techwin, JVC, IBM, Cisco, Paxton Access, Siemens, Risco, NICE, Axis, Milestone, Sony and BAE Systems have all announced their commitment to IFSEC 2009. Already, over 500 security companies and the industry’s leading brands have confirmed their attendance at the world’s leading annual security event when it takes place from 11-14 May 2009 at the NEC in Birmingham, UK. First, if any of the above companies hadn't already bought a booth for IFSEC 09, that would be devastating. But the fact that Norbain and ADI-Gardiner aren't mentioned is pretty interesting. No distributor mentioned at all, actually. IFSEC is the focal point of the industry and as such it has the support of all the major associations and media including the Security Institute and the BSIA. Norbain and Pelco will be supporting IFSEC 2009 by hosting their established networking events during the week of the show. Oh, here are Norbain and Pelco. Nice spin. They'll be "supporting" IFSEC by not giving them any money for a booth and by having a party in the general vicinity. James Blue, director of fire & security at UBM Live, organisers of IFSEC explains:  “We pride ourselves on IFSEC being an event that facilitates business and delivers real results; bringing exhibitors together with a high quantity of quality leads and branding opportunities. IFSEC 2009 is set to be another successful event with an extensive educational programme, dedicated end user and installer campaigns and the most innovative marketing activities to date.” IFSEC 2009 takes place from 11-14 May 2009 at the NEC, Birmingham in the UK.  For further information on the event and its exhibitors please visit www.ifsec.co.uk.  Companies interested in exhibiting should contact Kristan Johnstone at kjohnstone@cmpi.biz. That's the security-industry version of "let's make a deal." So, what's this mean for the industry at large? I think people - integrators and manufacturers alike - are being conservative and watching their costs, and there's no way around the fact that IFSEC is god-awful expensive to attend. The British pound has treated the dollar rather poorly as of late, cab rides are $40, a decent dinner is $100 for two, and hotels are always over-booked and under-accommodating. IFSEC might be a good show, but it's in an expensive place and it doesn't deliver much that you can't get at Essen, if you're targeting the European market, and Essen is much cheaper and only every other year. Further, ASIS admits attendance and booths were down this past fall, for the first time in years, and I'd be shocked if ISC West didn't shrink a bit, though of all the shows, it seems like the most must-attend, so it may fare pretty well. Vegas ain't cheap either, but it's a hell of a lot more fun than Birmingham. I don't think this means the era of the big show is coming to an end, but it's definitely possible that the extravagance of the big shows is coming to an end, and that most manufacturers are becoming a lot more choosy about where and how they spend their show dollars. Is anybody actually impressed or care much about the giant booths, anyway? Don't you really just want to find a person to ask questions of and make a connection with?

The good news for the security industry in tough economic times? Courtesy is free.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008
In my recent endeavors to introduce myself to all of you I haven't yet met, and to say hello to those of you I have, and perhaps to discover that coveted bit of new and exciting news that no one else has, I found myself cold calling my way through my Rolodex.
I have been touched by the kindness, willingness to talk and courtesy with which I have widely been met. Annie Roderick of Wayne Alarm, for example talked to me for a while about SSN's new ssnTVnews section of our site (by the way, if you've got a camera, start generating some clips, and send them over to our fearless leader Sam Pfeifle). Andy Stadler also chatted with me for a piece about the goings on at Security Partnerss. Andy provided me with this pic of Security Partners' new central located in a refurbished railroad warehouse.
I thoroughly enjoyed my talk last week with G4S's Jerry Cordasco, who though I inadvertently called him on his cell phone during lunch, was nonetheless friendly, informative and, yes, courteous.
I had a wonderful, friendly conversation today with Mel Mahler, Tom Szell and Lela Mullins from ADS Security. We talked for a while about all the awards they won at the First Alert Professional Convention held from November 13 through 16 at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes in Orlando, Fla.
Unfortunately, even though courtesy is a free, though priceless commodity, some people just fail to see the value of "please," "thank you," "you're welcome," or even "good bye" before hanging up on you. I've called San Antonio-based Dispatch Center, Inc. a couple times now, just to say hello and see what was going on. The first time, I got connected eventually to Stephen Harper, who was, at least, friendly. This time there was no Stephen available to let me down easy with a "nothing new going on." On both occasions, I have had the great misfortune to have to first deal with a guy named Ray. Today, after asking me, "What do you want?" he actually hung up on me as I was asking if Stephen had vociemail. And that was, unfortunately, before I could tell him to "have a nice day." So, have a nice day, Ray.
Now, I'm sure that we're all very busy and far too important to talk to the press, but are we really reduced to grunting out aggravated questions like imperatives? Is it really necessary to hang up on people, Ray?
My point is that courtesy is free, and earns you the admiration and respect of your peers, including the press who report upon you. Doesn't that make the worth of courtesy incalculable?
Just a thought. I welcome comments.

Is Nokia eyeing the security market?

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008
An interesting story from the Continent today, showing that Nokia may soon be a player in the security marketplace. It's starting out with a collaboration with an energy company to help people control their heating (it's a Finnish company - heat's a big deal there) through the Nokia Home Control Center, essentially a wireless router on steroids, but the article goes on to say that Nokia feels other third parties will integrate with its box, including security manufacturers: The smart box is based on an open Linux-based platform and includes a raft of wireless technologies which allow users to connect remotely via a PC or smartphone. It is envisaged that third parties will integrate their own services as Nokia vies for a slice of the "networked home" market. It packs 6GB (gigabytes) of storage, necessary if it is to act as a store for video from security cameras. First: Wow. "It is envisaged"? That may be the most passive sentence starter I've ever witnessed. Well done, anonymous BBC writer! Second: What the article discusses isn't all that different from what a Honeywell Total Connect, DSC+Life|Ware, or GE Home Technology can do, but it's interesting that a mobile device maker is trying to get hardware in the home. With competition heating up and mobile device makers struggling to keep their profits up, security might be an area where more of them try to make hay, whether it's the iPhone pushed as a video surveillance key, or smart-phones pushed as the center of your digital universe, including your security system. Regardless, it's more indication that mobile is king, and if you can't offer your customers access to their system via their mobile device, that's going to increasingly be a problem.

Shape up security

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008
If Somerville can shape up, the security industry has definitely got a shot. A few days ago I wrote about the woes of Santa Monica, Calif. where so many people are exercising and making so much noise that the neighbors complained and the cops had to get involved to limit the exercising. (I know, big problem!) Look what's happening here on the other coast: Somerville, Mass has become "Fit City" according to this story in today's Boston Globe. Somerville is a city next to Boston, borders Cambridge actually. I lived there for a while way back in the roaring 80s. At that time, Davis Square was a place for 20-somethings to find a cheap triple decker, not the hipster hangout it has turned into today (home of Axis Communications execs among others.) But who knew it would turn into Fit City? And guess what? the city of Somerville, in collaboration with charitable organizations and Tufts University is encouraging this "Shape Up Somerville" initiative. And it's becoming a model for other communities, from the story: "We want the default behavior, the behavior that requires no additional money or significant effort, to be the healthier behavior," said state public health commissioner John Auerbach. "How do we achieve that? By making sure schools have healthy lunches in the cafeteria. Working with employers to create healthier work sites. Make it easy for people to walk or bike to school or stores. To do that means mobilizing a community, and that's what Shape Up Somerville has done." Some one tell me that there's a Shape up Security initiative out there.

High level integrator exec is moving on

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Just heard that George West, vice president and head of Siemens Building Technologies Security Solutions business unit, is leaving the industry to head up an energy company in Boston. There hasn't been an official press release, but Siemens called our offices to let us know, which was cool of them. His last day is Friday, if you want to drop him a line. In my opinion, it's the industry's loss. He's a good thinker and definitely had some vision for where the industry was headed. Here's the interview I did with him when he was hired, in early 2006. Interesting that I mention his desire to return to New England in the first paragraph. Guess the family REALLY liked New England. Personally, I've lived in New England most of my life and I don't think it's any great shakes, but you can't account for taste. Interesting side note: There is apparently a George West, Texas. Who knew?

Some post-election insider dope from an industry member

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Monday, December 1, 2008
Some of you may know Frank Baitman, who ran Petards' North American operations until the company sold off its secret sauce and things went south. Well, Frank took the time off and went to work for Obama's campaign (insert joke about why Petards didn't succeed here...). If you're interested, he's posted some stories about his experiences on his blog. It's a good read and pretty interesting, regardless of your political persuasion. Read from the bottom up. Further, I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving, and I'll get back on the blogging.

Intelli-Tec owner in tragic boating accident

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Monday, December 1, 2008
Sad news came over the wire just now: Intelli-Tec owner Marty McMillan was killed in a boating accident on Sunday. Marty L. McMillan, 51, of Westbury, founder and president of Intelli-Tec Security Services, was fishing on his 30-foot boat Xiao Mu Ji 11 miles southeast of Montauk and 5 miles southwest of Block Island when the accident occurred about 9:30 a.m., said Coast Guard Petty Officer Annie Berlin. "They were attempting to pull anchor and try fishing another area and he became tangled in the anchor line and went overboard," said East Hampton Town Police Det. Sgt. Christopher Anderson. McMillan, who has been in the security industry since 1977, was not wearing a life jacket, Berlin said. I've never had a chance to meet Marty. If anyone would like to leave a thought or two about him in the comments sections, please do. Intelli-Tec is a Security Net member doing residential and commercial work out on Long Island. Here's a nice write-up of Marty from a local Real Estate Journal. Edit: Newsday has posted an interview with Marty's son Cody. It's heartbreaking.

Did anybody get any footage?

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008
People looking for a way to get on ssnTVnews need only search their recordings (or the recordings of their customers) for footage of that 10-ton meteorite that hit last Thursday night. I would love to check out some of that. Thousands of people in a 400-mile radius saw the fireball created as the object entered the atmosphere and exploded with the force of 300 tons of dynamite. That's how you know it happened in Canada: "thousands of people in a 400-mile radius." Harkening back to 8th grade math class, that's, what, 500,000 square miles? And they didn't say "tens of thousands." So that's (tops) 10,000 people in 500,000 square miles, for a population density of, say, 1 per 50 square miles? Whooo, boy. They must have some parties there! Anyway, scientists are asking for any footage they can get of the event: Several people filmed the fireball on Thursday night and researchers are urgently attempting to track them down. "We are now trying to get all the transient information about the fireball before it is lost," Mr Hildebrand said. He added: "Many motels and gas stations only keep their security recordings for one week or less, so we urge everyone to check their systems to see if they recorded the fireball or the moving shadows that it cast." I'm sure there are cameras at just about every gas station and motel in the area (all five of them), since the crime must be through the roof there on the border of Alberta and Saskatchewan. So, where (other than to me) do you send the footage if you got some? It's unclear. The "Small Bodies Discipline Working Group" doesn't appear to have a web site, so try the contact page at the Canadian Space Agency.

Security yogis take note: New restrictions in Cali

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Here's hoping we have more problems along these lines. Did you see the story on the front page of the New York Times today about too many people exercising (and making too much noise) in Santa Monica? Here's the link The problem area is along a median near Fourth Street and Adelaide Drive. People have used this area for walking and jogging for years, but apparently, now, some fitnessphiles are gathering pretty early in the a.m. for organized exercise classes. They're blowing whistles and counting loudly and doing stuff you don't really need to do to get a good work out. The people who live nearby complained, understandably, so in the last six months, the Santa Monica Police Department has park rangers patrolling the area enforcing a 'no-hanging out in the median' ordinance. They've posted these signs that say you can walk or jog, but no other exercise is allowed. The story says they warn about 600 people a month to move along and they've issued eight citations (for $158) For non-compliant exercisers. A couple observations: Isn't the noise, and not the exercising, the issue here? I'm assuming these loud exercisers are the same people who are so frightfully important that they need to talk on cell phones loudly and for extended periods of time in enclosed spaces like trains and planes. I understand that Santa Monica just found an existing ordinance to enforce to get rid of these noisemakers, but it seems like the loud exercisers just need an etiquette lesson. You know, a reminder to observe some basic tenets of the social contract. Don't disturb the peace and no one will care that you're practicing yoga instead of sprinting on the median. Loud exercising, or exercising of any kind for that matter, does not seem to be widespread in the security industry, but just in case you were planning to channel Richard Simmons on the median during breaks at the March Security Growth Conference, you've been forwarned. No Ashtanga on the median until further notice. Stick to walking and jogging.

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