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Depends what your definition of "security system" is

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Friday, July 17, 2009
I'm not sure if people are following what happened at Mount Rushmore (a place I've been twice - it's amazing and worth the trip), but it's gotten pretty out of hand. People are wondering, naturally, how the Greenpeace folks were able to climb the mountain and unfurl the banner asking Obama to more strenuously combat greenhouse gases. Well, it sure wasn't a security breach!
“All security measures functioned exactly as designed,” said Memorial superintendent Gerard Baker, reading from a prepared statement Thursday morning. Baker said park officials would review security systems and procedures in light of the incident. There was never any danger to visitors at the memorial, and programs continued uninterrupted, he said.
Huh? That was from last week, though. Surely they've changed their tune by today? Not so much.
Mike Evenson, district manager for SimplexGrinnell, said his company hasn't received any requests for service of the system from memorial officials. "To my understanding, everything worked as they expected," he said. "We did not have any reports of anything that failed or did not work as they designed it."
Well, then, what happened? They saw the Greenpeacers heading up there and didn't care? Is that the implication about the "danger" part of the first quote: "We saw they were there, but we knew there were just banner hangers, so we let them do their thing and then arrested them. Easy-peasy. If saw guns, or didn't see a banner or something, we'd have been all over them with helicopters and machine guns." It's hard to know.
Matt Leonard, one of the climbers, said he didn't see any cameras or other security measures on the hike up in the dark. He believes the holding area where the climbers waited, just 100 yards from the faces, was not monitored by security cameras. Only when the Greenpeace team got very near the sculpture did Leonard notice the fences and cameras.
Looks like Rushmore didn't have a way to extend its perimeter. This goes back to something the Israelis always wonder about American security systems: If the first time anyone encounters a security system is when they're at your front door, what stops them from walking up to your front door and blowing up your house? Nothing. So why are metal detectors INSIDE buildings? I also like how the Greenpeace folks come to the defense of the security guys:
It would be hard to make any security system foolproof in such a rugged terrain, said Michael Crocker, a Greenpeace spokesman. "In fairness to the park officials there, it is a massive place. And they have limited resources for that (security)," he said. "Obviously, we were able to get around it."
Being pitied by Greenpeace: Is there a more embarrassing moment for a security guy?

Some perspective

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Friday, July 17, 2009
Just when I start to think the security industry might not be as small as everyone says it is, I'm presented with a reminder of its relative size. This story talks about GE's 2nd quarter numbers, and spends about 1,000 words doing it. However, you'd never know GE was even in security at all. And GE's kind of a big player in security...

Utah alarm company needs an alarm system at Texas facility

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Friday, July 17, 2009
I was doing some email interviewing lately on a story I wrote on DIY surveillance systems when Keith Jentoft over at RSI--in a sort of impromptu Videofied pitch--pointed me in the direction of this little nugget from the Odessa American, out of Odessa, Texas. Can you say irony? My favorite part is this sardonic little gem:
The equipment, obviously, was not in use at the time of the theft.
Really? I don't like to make fun of anyone's misfortune, but doesn't this almost seem like something you'd see in The Onion? Good luck to the Odessa PD in tracking down the stolen goods, and good luck to Utah-based Apex Alarm in recouping the loss.

This is potentially very bad for the alarm industry

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Thursday, July 16, 2009
CIT, which has traditionally been a major lender to the alarm industry, looks to be on the brink of bankruptcy. Gretchen Gordon, who runs their media/alarm division, is a friend of the paper so I'm going to try to tactfully ask her what the potential implications are, though I imagine she's kind of busy right now. This would be the part that would seem to affect the alarm guys, though Gretchen has told me in the past they didn't really get involved with small alarm deals:
Founded in St. Louis in 1908, CIT boasts on its website that 1 million business customers depend on it for financing. Many may now have to depend on someone else, at a time credit markets remain tight, reducing business activity as the government tries to lift the economy out of recession. Failure to meet its obligations “would be a disaster” for small and mid-market borrowers that depend on CIT, said Eric Goodison, a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP in New York. Published reports said many customers drew down credit lines in recent days as CIT’s problems became widely known. Steve Bartlett, chief executive of the Financial Services Roundtable, said in an interview that 10,000 small businesses could be choked off from needed funds if CIT failed.
I guess it depends on the definition of small business, too.

Facial recognition in action

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009
They say seeing is believing: I'm not sure why manufacturers don't send me stuff like this. I just came across it on YouTube. This is much more interesting than a press release, though.

Like to debate industry numbers?

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Then this thread over at Honovich's site is a must read. It's definitely something of a pissing match, but Alastair from IMS is involved and there's definitely some good market-sizing going on. People ask me for these kinds of numbers all the time - well save them for your power points.

Thoughts and prayers needed

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I just got off the phone with SIAC director Ron Walters who, despite extenuating circumstances, called me back by deadline for commentary on a follow up story to a piece I wrote in February on an alarm ordinance task force in Santa Fe. Ron and his family could really use some positive energy and support from the industry right now. Please keep Ron, his daughter Elena, and the whole Walters family in your thoughts and prayers. Drop by the blog Ron's maintaining and show your support.

Who wants to work for APX?

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009
ApxAlarm is Martha's company to cover usually, but she's on vacation this week and I couldn't help myself (also, we shipped a paper on Friday, so I have time to surf YouTube for a bit). Check out this recruitment video for APX: I know there are people in the industry who'll slander these guys six ways from Sunday, but you can't say they do things the same old way.

Brill clears the air (sort of)

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Here's a long and somewhat interesting interview with Steven Brill, founder of the Clear/VIP airport security effort that crapped out last month. Perhaps the most interesting piece is his newest venture, Journalism Online, which will try to get online content providers to use JO as an engine for charging readers for content. There actually isn't much talk about the future of airport security. Probably because the fact is, most people just don't mind airport security that much anymore. It's 15 minutes, tops, and what else do you have to do at the airport?

Get ready to vote

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Looks like the NBFAA is moving forward with a potential name change to the Electronic Security Association, or ESA, according to a letter emailed out today by NBFAA president Mike Miller. Here are the details (many of which you know from earlier blog entries):
We're at an exciting time in the security industry. Our capabilities are expanding rapidly with new product announcements and daily advancements in technology. Video surveillance, access control and integrated systems are fast-growing categories of our industry and we are energized about what our future holds. Because of our industry's remarkable progress, NBFAA Strategic Planning and Executive Committees and its Board of Directors realize that the words "burglar and fire alarm" describe only a portion of the products and services our members, and the industry as a whole, provide. The words "burglar and fire alarm" limit our association's ability to increase membership among integration and supplier companies and, as a result, we are falling behind the trends of our industry. We need to address this issue now.
I would agree with this. Burglar is just an antiquated word in general. All I can think of is the Hamburglar, really, although I think McDonald's decided he was a bad idea a while ago. And, really, the idea of a burglar, like that guy dressed all in black in the Broadview commercials, is sort of an antiquated one. I don't think the methheads that are robbing your house bother with the all-black stuff anymore. They're not quite that coherent.
After many hours of discussion and reflection, the NBFAA Strategic Planning and Executive Committees and its Board of Directors voted unanimously to recommend an update of the association brand name. Strategically, we feel that a name change will strengthen our association and allow us to connect with a broader membership demographic.
Again, I mostly agree with this, but, on some level, what's in a name? There's been a lot of talk in the offices here about branding, considering Broadview's new name, Niscayah, TAC moving to Schneider, and now the NBFAA potentially making a switch. What do you lose in brand equity that you gain in a new message, etc.? In the cases of Broadview and Niscayah, they didn't really have a choice, and with TAC, it's not like that's a 20-year-old brand. But look at ASIS. Doesn't anybody think of them as the American Society for Industrial Security anymore (and did I even get that right? They don't even have the acronym spelled out on the Web site anymore)? I don't think so. Why couldn't the NBFAA just be the NBFAA and not worry so much what the letters stand for anymore? That way, they don't have to spend a bunch of money and effort on the rebrand, and the people they've been working for and lobbying to over past decades won't be confused. Just a thought.
We have produced an audio presentation regarding the name change which you can view at http://www.alarm.org/av/brandupdate.wmv. Should you have any comments or concerns, please email us at brandupdate@alarm.org by July 22. A vote of the general membership will be conducted (via mail) within the next 60 days.
They couldn't have just put that up on YouTube? Then I could have embedded it...
Our association is looking forward to a future of growth. I urge you, along with all of the members of the Strategic Planning and Executive Committees and NBFAA Board, to back this recommended update. Please support us in this endeavor as we work to strengthen the future of your association.
It's worth remembering that this vote could go awry. The last time they tried this, people rebelled. I'll keep you posted.

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