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Video analytics at work

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Thursday, June 4, 2009
A lot of you have probably already seen this, but here's a video where analytics pick up a woman who walks toward some traintracks, lies down in between them, and then lets a train travel over top of her before getting back up and walking away. I wonder what the general public thinks of all the green circles and what not. Do they understand that's video analytics at work? Are they curious about them at all?

Fla. gov. supports sprinkler installation

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Thursday, June 4, 2009
Florida condominium owners who are looking to put off installing fire sprinklers are out of luck. Fla. Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed a bill that would have given those building owners until 2025 to install sprinklers. By vetoing the bill, those owners must install sprinklers by 2014. Here's what the gov said:
"I am sensitive to the costs of installing fire sprinkler systems, especially in these challenging economic times. However in the event of an emergency, public safety ... outweigh(s) all other considerations."
Here's the story And speaking of sprinklers, the NFPA is doing some convincing pr on their effectiveness. Check out these pictures. Wish I could post them for you. Sorry I can't do that you know. You gotta click here to see them.

Having trouble selling power protection?

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009
I still find power supplies and power protection to be one of the most opaque parts of the industry. Thus, I'm going to try to find time for this webcast that Minuteman is putting on next week. It's June 11 at 11 a.m. Eastern/10 Central/etc. Here's the agenda: The Problem With Power Why Your Customers Need Power Protection Benefits of Selling Power Protection Selling Power Protection in Security Selling Power Protection in Telecom/VoIP Selling Power Protection for Data Centers Selling to Architects and Engineering Firms Selling the Right Solution Overcoming Customer Objections Questions and Wrap-up

Agilence gets boost from Schneider

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009
They're not saying how much, but Schneider Electric has invested money in Agilence, an analytics vendor focused on the point-of-sale space. We wrote about Agilence here and here. I'm not sure if there's any connection with Pelco, real or implied; or if Schneider is just looking to spread its wings in the video space a bit; or if the venture arm even knows what the rest of the company is doing. They might just have seen it as a good investment, plain and simple. I'm making some calls.

Murphy, Forman lauded by industry

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009
News from the CSAA informs us that Vector Security president John A. Murphy and Altronix Corp. president Alan Forman are deserving of some applause. The most recent edition of CSAA's Signals reports Murphy received the Triton Tri-Association Award in recognition of his industry statesmanship and his efforts to promote good working relationships among the three associations--CSAA, NBFAA and SIA. Established in 2004, the Triton Award recognizes an individual's commitment to advancing the industry through the work of the three associations. Past winners include Stan Martin, Charlie Darsch, Marc Mineau, and Ralph Sevinor. Forman won SIA's George R. Lippert Memorial Award in recognition of his contributions to SIA and the security industry. Congrats to both for careers well-led and well-recognized.

What will they do with the lingerie?

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Okay, so there's nothing really interesting about this story concerning a Victoria's Secret store getting robbed. It's pretty standard stuff:
Police said the pair stuffed dozens of bras into bags about 4:30 p.m. May 27. The security video shows the suspects walking between tables of merchandise. The woman carried a large purse. The man had a large bag that appeared to get fuller as the minutes ticked by.
However, I found this paragraph amusing:
Police suspect the stolen merchandise will be sold on the Internet or the black market. Victoria's Secret's loss-prevention staff will monitor the Internet to see if the items are posted for sale.
That's crack police thinking there. What, you don't think those dozen bras were stolen for personal use? Hey, the economy's tough out there!

IPhone apps hit home security (somebody's fibbing)

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Well, okay, there's a Blackberry app, too, but Blackberries are booooring. Anyway, both the new iPhone and Blackberry app are the creation of Alarm.com, so that Alarm.com and GE Security dealers can now offer their customers all kinds of sweet remote control of their systems, along with remote reporting features, etc. And yes, it's a free app that you can download if you're an Alarm.com/GE security customer. That's a nice little bonus you can offer your customers, no? Here's the problem with the release, though: Um, you're not an industry first, Alarm.com. Either your PR guy got ahead of himself or you gave him some bad information. Here's your headline, to be clear:
Alarm.com Launches Industry-First Home Security Apps for iPhone and BlackBerry
And here's the reality: Honeywell's My Keypad App (also free) was released on April 3. Your iPhone app was released May 8. See how April 3 is before May 8 on the calendar? Sorry, I just hate how people use superlatives in this industry without even checking to see if they're right. It ruins things for everyone because I just basically think you're all liars. Sorry. (It took me exactly two minutes to search "home security" and discover Honeywell's app, even if they didn't put out a press release about it or anything. I'm trying not to pick on you, Alarm.com - you're not the only one making claims without checking, believe me.) So far, on iTunes, there are 73 ratings and 17 reviews posted for the alarm.com app. People generally seem to either love it or hate it: There are 43 5-star reviews, but also 21 1-star reviews. I'd give you samples of the reviews, but there's no way to link to them and you can't highlight/cut-and-paste from iTunes. So Apple's not perfect. There, I said it. For Honeywell, there are 16 ratings, with the same love/hate relationship: 7 5-stars, and 7 1-stars. Generally, the 1-stars come from people who think you can just control any alarm system with the app, and then are disappointed and mean spirited, even though it says pretty clearly you need to be a Honeywell Total Connect customer with AlarmNet service for Honeywell and have Alarm.com service for the other. (Also, I love how people get ragingly upset (we're talking 15 unsmiley faces) when a FREE app doesn't do what they thought it would - yeah, sorry you wasted the 20 seconds of your life downloading that FREE app!) I also think it's interesting how the two companies have chosen to categorize their apps. Alarm.com puts theirs under "Lifestyle." Honeywell went with "Utilities." Different places to be searching, for sure. Also, for whatever reason, when you search "Home Security" in the App Store the Alarm.com app comes up on the first page, but Honeywell doesn't come up until the second page, which will work in Alarm.com's favor. I'm not sure if that's ranked by most downloads or what, but it would seem judging by reviews that Alarm.com is pushing more apps out there. Oh, and while I'm talking apps, there's an app from AVAI, which does "fusion" systems that bundle AV, lighting, security, etc. Guess how much their app is: $149.99. Stupid. So a customer buys a multi-thousand dollar system from you and then you tell them they need to shell out $150 to download the iPhone app that controls it? Stupid.

Be careful what you ask for

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Monday, June 1, 2009
I came across this story today, which is your basic local-paper coverage of a new security system that's going to be installed over the summer in the Nashua, NH, school system, assuming city officials approve the proposal (which will happen, I'm sure). So, why is it interesting? Well, a couple things really. The first has to do with the role of consultants in the industry. There are some who'd argue they work against integrators, as consultants puff up their own importance at the expense of the eventually installer, while integrators always grumble to me that they have to completely re-jigger the security plans once they actually wrest them away from the consultant. But, in this case at least, it seems like the consultant did pretty well for everyone. Check this out:
In 2007, school district officials went before the aldermen’s budget committee to request $554,00 for security upgrades. But the aldermen asked the school district to hire a consultant.
Okay, that makes sense, I guess. I mean, they could have just put out for bids at that point and seen what an integrator would tell them about their plans, but I understand the desire for a professional's opinion at the starting point. Let's see what happened:
“That’s what has happened and this is what they’re coming back with,” Jim Mealey, the school district’s chief operating officer, told members of the Board of Education on Tuesday night. At the meeting, board members voted in favor of asking the Board of Aldermen to take the $2.21 million out of the city’s school district capital reserve fund, which has about $7.3 million in it.
Thank you, consultant (or, in this case, W.L. Bliss)! The job just went from a little over half a million to more than $2.2 million. Brilliant! That's the kind of consulting this industry needs, I'd say. So, who's going to get the installation gig? Surveillance Specialties (they go by Surv, we wrote about them here). Why did they win the gig?
According to a memo from Smith, the district received 11 bids for the work, ranging in cost from $1.7 million to $2.9 million. Smith wrote that Surveillance Systems was chosen because it was the lowest bidder to provide a Web-based system, which allows access to the system from remote sites, such as the police department.
So, here's point number two: I hear over and over about schools being a great vertical right now, and I can certainly see why. I see stories like this at least once a week, and there's stimulus money still to be spent. But if you're not putting in IP-based systems, wireless locks, and the newest technology in general, good luck. The ROI and increased utility of these new technologies is extremely attractive to the education vertical and I'm not surprised SURV, which clearly gets the web and IT-based security architecture, got the job. But maybe the schools could have saved themselves some money. SURV offers a free consultation service, after all. But maybe SURV wouldn't haven't made the job quite so big...

Five Diamond milestone & cert renewals

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Monday, June 1, 2009
The CSAA has announced its Five Diamond program has reached an important milestone. Acadian Command Central, one of the central stations of Acadian On Watch, was the 100th central station to receive Five Diamond certification. Also this week, Per Mar Security Services of Davenport, La. announced it had renewed its Five Diamond certification. Congrats to Acadian Command Central and Per Mar! The CSAA’s Five Diamond Certification program is designed to create standards of excellence for the industry. In order for a central station to earn its Five Diamond Certification, all its operators must undergo the online training course and pass a test, demonstrating proficiency in: alarm verification (reduction of false alarms); communications with public service answering points such as 911; electronic communications equipment; the codes and practices of such standards organizations as Underwriters Laboratories, Factory Mutual, and the National Fire Protection Association; the handling of a wide scenario of emergency preparedness situations. And for those central in Canada or South America who speak French or Spanish, the training, as I noted in a recent story, is now available in multiple languages with the cooperation of CANASA and ALAS. According to the CSAA, there are over 2,700 central stations in the United States, and of this group there are now a little more than 100 central stations that have undergone the process and achieved certification.

A multi-college security department

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Monday, June 1, 2009
This is a new phenomenon: Three colleges in Massachusetts have decided to combine and consolidate their public safety departments, to do more with less. I've heard of integrators recommending that security departments work with marketing and operations to try to grab more money for budgets, but, in this case, I wonder if integrators should be asking small campuses to think about working with other local small campuses to get a better and more flexible surveillance system, for example, where 1 plus 1 would really add up to a better IP-based system for both parties, as they could split the cost of the monitoring facility. Looks like that's what they're doing at Smith, Hampshire, and Mount Holyoke:
As part of the merger, the dispatch operation will be located at a shared facility at Mount Holyoke. Otherwise, the officers currently stationed on each campus will stay in place, except in case of emergencies or special events. Officials said the response times for calls will not change.
Basically, they're keeping almost all the people, but reducing duplication of technology and increasing the ability to have a lot of officers on one of the three campuses should there be a large event of some kind that would otherwise require hiring out for help. Really interesting, I think.

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