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The Assa Abloy breakfast is SRO

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Thursday, April 2, 2009
I'm not going to do a full live blog on this because I came in a little late (no comments, please), but a bunch of integrators sure woke up on time to hit the Assa Abloy systems integrator breakfast. Right now they're talking about electronic access control OEM sales. Basically, EAC software drives 750,000 openings in the USA a year and the OEMs are investing a bunch of cash in improving functionality. This is the preferred go to market model for Assa. They're pushing the Sargent WiFi locks this way, and pretty soon come the PoE locks. Partners include AMAG, S2, PCSC, Sielox, DMP, Reach, GE Security, and a couple others I can't read. The new toy? The battery operated WiFi lock that communicates back over 802.11b infrastructure. We wrote about this at ASIS, I think. I'd link back but I'm getting really crappy wireless card reception here in the Titian ballroom. A couple guys from Red Hawk have just come up to talk about how they're making a bunch of sales with the WiFi solution, especially in K-12 applications. "We were able to leverage their existing infrastructure; allows the school district to install literally thousands of these without wiring. The ability to use third-party software, allow the SDKs to be written by other manufacturers, allows them a lot more flexibility. When you're talking about a WiFi lock such as this, you're not up running in the ceiling, you're eliminating that. It's easier to quote, because you don't have to estimate wire runs. It's easier for them to budget, just locks time price, so they can figure out how many locks to buy each quarter or what you."

What's PSIM (and why are we calling it that)?

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Thursday, April 2, 2009
As with any show, sometimes the best part is in the bar at 10 p.m. or so (early enough for good conversation, not so late that people are bombed and talking stupid (though that can also be entertaining)). Last night, I was arguing (in the good sense of the word - I like to argue and so should you. It's an art form) with Bob Beliles, VP at Hirsch and general good person to argue with. Basically, Bob mucked up the PSIM (physical security information management) panel at ISC West yesterday saying that basically PSIM is just the same thing that good access control software has been doing for years (a couple of years, anyway). Well, yeah. But if you go tell an integrator or an end user that you've got awesome access control software, what's going to make them think that you can do video? That you can handle alarm events? That you can put automated instructions in so that when an alarm happens the software tells the operator what to actually do? That a GPS-coordinated map will be called up to show where in your environment the alarm event is happening? That you can integrate with analytics software? Etc. If you want to call yourself access control software, go ahead. But don't get pissed at other people because you're underselling yourself and that people don't understand that you've got all these other crazy capabilities. Sometimes a new name has to be created for something when the old name doesn't suffice anymore. I've heard of these things with wheels that move forward (and sometimes backward), that you sit in with other people to go places. Stop calling them cars. They're what good horseless carriages have been doing for years. Stop with all that useless marketing speak, will ya? Is PSIM a term invented by Steve Hunt? I think so (Steve, or the guy who invented it, will correct me if I'm wrong). Could another term serve just as well? Obviously. We've got a lot of words in the English language. I was on the phone with a guy who sold video management as a service the other day and he says, "hey, I see you guys are calling it VaaS nowadays. Is that what you're going to call it?" I'm like, "um, I guess so. That's what I'm hearing other people call it." He says, "alright, that's what I'm going to call it, too." And this guy makes a good bit of money selling VaaS. But sometimes nomenclature matters when a new market is forming. It helps people figure out what the heck you're trying to sell them. And that new nomenclature has to start somewhere. So PSIM's not a bad way to describe the software capabilities that have developed relatively recently whereby you can use one GUI (another term that really, really sucks, but everyone uses it - took me six months in the industry before I knew what the hell it stood for) to look at information generated by your alarm system, your video system, your access control system, your fire system, your HVAC system, your lighting system, and all the other systems in your facility that matter for keeping people safe and happy. Well, safe anyway. If you want to gather up a bunch of people in the industry and get them all to call it something else, and they all agree to it, and then everyone starts calling it that, good for you. I'll call it that, too. I don't really care. But for now a lot of people are using PSIM and that's fine with me.

ISC West Day 1

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009
I think I'm actually ready for ISC West meeting frenzy after a morning run on the strip with Gene Szatkowsky from Secure i and SSN associate editor, my comrade, Dan Gelinas. I arrived in Vegas yesterday and last night I went to the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation (AIREF) Reception at the Rock House. (Very nice event, but the Rock House had the special ambience found in a frat house.) In attendance were members of the AIREF board of directors, the NBFAA Executive Committee and players and sponsors of the 6th Annual AIREF Golf Classic at ISC West. John Jennings, (SafeGuard Security CEO)—and, I learned last night, chairman of AIREF—announced that the golf event raised $1,000 which will be used for industry training efforts. Saw lots of people there including ASG CEO Joe Nuccio, who I'll be interviewing for ssnTVnews later today; SDA Security president Shandon Harbour; Dave Simon (Brink's) and Dave Koenig (Capital Fire & Security) who played golf together, but didn't win like they sometimes do. Dave Merrick of Vector; George Gunning, Merlin Guilbeau, Pat Egan, the one and only Bart Didden, GE's Kirk McDowell, and many, many others. Gotta run now. Meeting frenzy starts in less than an hour at the Honeywell Booth, where I'll catch up with Ralph Maniscalco and David Gottlieb, meet Honeywell's new GM for their cable and CE business, Brian Casey, and hopefully get a chance to talk to Ron Rothman for a few minutes. Throughout the day I'll see Ray King, president of VES (used to be Viking); Stanley's Tony Byerly; attend a Pelco press conference, and live, from Booth 1129, on ssnTVnews, I'll be interviewing Bill Polk from Capital Source, Dean Seaver president of GE Security; Alex Dunn, COO of Apx Alarm; Joe Nuccio, as I mentioned, and Chester Donati of DMC Security.

TimeSight wins the big video award

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009
People are buzzing about TimeSight, a video management software company that drastically reduces an end user's storage needs by taking video and reducing its quality over time, so that you've got high-res stuff for the first few days, then lower res, then lower res out as far as you want to go. This way, if somebody needs to store something for 30 days, you don't have to keep it at high quality the whole time, and thus require 50 TB or storage, and you don't have to degrade the video from the open just to make sure you only use up 5 TB because that's all the end user has to spend. How cool are they? They won that SIA new product showcase thing for video products. They had a shiny little trophy at their booth and everything. Here's Scott Carter talking about the secret sauce.

Mace is going to buy that central

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Remember how I was telling you Mace was going to buy a central? Here we go:
Mace Security International Signs Letter of Intent to Acquire a Wholesale Security Monitoring Company HORSHAM, Pa. -- April 01, 2009 Mace Security International, Inc. ("Mace" or the ³Company²) (Nasdaq Global:MACE) today announced that it signed a letter of intent to acquire a wholesale security monitoring company. Mace anticipates that it will sign a definitive purchase agreement within 30 days, and plans to consummate the transaction within 30 days after signing the definitive purchase agreement. The wholesale monitoring company has a UL-listed monitoring center that maintains over 30,000 accounts. Mace will not disclose the name of the company until the definitive purchase agreement is signed. "We are very excited about this future acquisition," said Dennis Raefield, Chief Executive Officer and President of Mace Security International, Inc. "As Mace previously announced, we are focused on revenue growth in our Security Segment. I announced a strategy in December 2008 that included Mace's goal to purchase a wholesale security monitoring company to complement our surveillance product line. This allows Mace¹s sales force to offer a new product to its Professional Dealers, and allows the Company to generate recurring monthly revenue from the monitoring service. We believe that offering a traditional third party monitoring service, plus advanced future remote-managed services, will increase our dealer loyalty and strengthen our position in the marketplace." The letter of intent is subject to customary closing conditions. Although there can be no assurance that this acquisition will ultimately close, the Company is optimistic that the conditions will be satisfied.

Brivo adds video hosting

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Had a great conversation with Brivo's Steven Van Till just now. Here at the show they're unveiling a hosted video offering whereby you just plug in an Axis camera that knows how to "phone home," and it automatically finds the Brivo access panel and integrates with it. You can store up to seven days of video and export your own video clips. It's targeted toward the small business/retail market, and it's not meant to replace a full-blown video system. Really, it's only for four cameras per Internet connection (so you don't blow out your bandwidth) and if you go over that Brivo recommends you integrate with one of their DVR partners. Here's the full release. Notice the fancy new web site, too. Pretty sharp. Also learned Steve was a philosophy major. Somehow, that doesn't surprise me. Brivo's a pretty thoughtful company. According to Steve's research, there are currently seven companies offering hosted video, and he says he's the only one that pairs it with hosted access. Seems to me, access is an easier way to get in the door. Then you add the video, without having to add an pricey DVR. Just a $200 camera (I'm guessing - maybe it's more than that) really, and you could give that away for free and just charge a monthly fee.

DSC the Great

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009
So now I know what Product X is. DSC held their press conference just now and unveiled a new two-way wireless panel they're calling Alexor - Alexander the Great plus Protector=Alexor. It's not a bad little story, actually. They got these crazy gladiators to battle in a film with a deep-voiced narrator and everything. Plus, to go along with the chariot theme (that's how Alexander the Great rolled), they got Orange County Choppers to build an Alexor bike that's pretty sweet looking. To finish the loop, they'll do the same speed-of-install contest as last year, but this year the overall show winner gets to actually install an Alexor panel at the Orange County Chopper offices (or garage, or whatever). Pretty neat.

More IP video

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Just when you were worried there weren't enough IP video manufacturers on the market, here comes Vigilant:
Vigilant Technology Expands Operations Global Provider of IP Surveillance and Security Solutions Targets the US and APAC Markets Foxboro, MA – April 1, 2009 - Vigilant Technology, a BATM Company and provider of intelligent IP surveillance and security solutions, has expanded its presence in North America and the Asia Pacific region by opening two new headquarters. The expansion will significantly strengthen the Company’s presence in the respective regions.
I guess going from no office to having an office would strengthen your presence, yes. That kind of goes without saying.
Both offices include a complete video surveillance control room where visitors can participate in a hands-on experience of setting up and managing a live video surveillance network. Located in Foxboro, Massachusetts, the US office will support Vigilant’s sales efforts in the Americas through the sales offices in New York and Arizona. The APAC office is located in Singapore and will also support Vigilant’s sales efforts in Sydney, Australia.
So a kind of hybrid manufacturer integrator is what we're talking about here?
Vigilant Technology designs and manufactures intelligent IP surveillance solutions for mid-to-large-scale deployments in mission-critical, multi-user application environments. These solutions range from sophisticated video management systems including monitoring, recording, analysis, reporting and investigation suites, to high-end digital video recorders (DVR & NVR). The company specializes in CCTV surveillance services for city centers, public spaces and public safety agencies, corporate campuses, shopping malls, residential complexes, and casinos. The system can accommodate tens, hundreds and even thousands of cameras per site operating over enterprise LAN, wireless or carrier networks.
If I wasn't totally swamped here at ISC West already, I'd check them out.

Hello from ISC West

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009
So this is my first ISC West show, and I have to say, I'm a little overwhelmed by the sheer size of it. I'm very much looking forward to visiting booths and interviewing Jim McMullen from C.O.P.S., Mitch Clarke from Monitronics, Ed Bonifas from the CSAA, and MJ Vance from CenterPoint Technologies. It promises to be a good show. I arrived early today (Tuesday), having left my Monday open so I could pay a visit to Viewpoint CRM down in Lowell, Mass. I met with Viewpoint CRM CEO Brad Gordon, and VP channel sales and marketing, Mike Hanlon. Nice couple of guys with one heck of an operation (stay tuned for more on that.) I've already partaken of one of the convention's many, many educational pieces, attending a talk given by Honeywell's John Smith on expanding the role of the central station through offering managed services, specifically access control. I've seen lots of really neat booths coming together, with lots of lights and dazzle, and a few SUVs, one of which was a giant, mobile surveillance solution, one of which is sitting pretty and yellow at the Spy Place's booth. You'll remember my cohort Martha blogged about them last week. Can't wait to stop by booth 5047. See you all on the floor.

Report from the PSIA Developers Meeting

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I snuck out of the Honeywell event to hit this first PSIA Developers Meeting, headed up by head David Bunzel, who began the group/is executive director (search PSIA to get all the details on that - no time to link right now). Depending on battery life, I may return to the Honeywell live blog. 1:03 - Bunzel - I came to ISC West in 2006 and I couldn't believe it, it was chaos. Everything was totally proprietary. All these small companies with total solutions, but very small and the industry was very fragmented. I saw there were no industry standards so everyone was trying to do everything. So, I got a group of companies together and said, "why don't we get together and identify some things that could actually be done in the industry." So we decided to create the PSIA and come up with some answers that would maybe help the industry. VMS suppliers were dealing with hundreds, if not thousands, of products. So we identified discovery, control of the device, and command and control of PTZ. Those were the initial topics. So we formed working groups: IP video, Analytics, Recording and Content Management (used to be just storage), Area Control (used to be access control, no contains intrusion, too), Core. Timeline: Feb. 08 - formed June 08 - core spec contributed by Cisco Sept. 08 - v.9 IP Media Device API spec Feb. 09 - v1.0 Service Model March 09 - v1.0 IP Media Device API spec March 09 - sample implementation Big slide of lots and lots of companies who are participating. Virtually all of the major VMS companies, many integrators. These companies are not only contributing, but the individual people are advocating this internally to their companies. 1:10 - Bob Cutting from OV, to talk about analytics: He's taking a while with his slides, so let me note that this is a scruffy looking crowd - I'm thinking these are actual engineers and designers of products. These are not sales guys, that's clear. No ties in the room, I don't think. Lots of T-shirts and scruff on the chin. Big difference from the Honeywell group, who are mainly business owners and sales types. I do wonder if there's a disconnect between the engineers and what they want and the sales people and what they want. Back to Bob: Analytics group was formed about six months ago, kind of a natural off-shoot of the IP video group. We agreed to focus initially on the output - the alerts and the metadata, which is really what the VMS companies are looking for. It's what systems integrators and customers want, too. Also includes capabilities discovery, so that the platforms and talk to each other, so the device knows what's going on and what's supported. One of the things that's going to be passed in a standard way is the rules and behaviors that are supported, and that will help with the rules configuration which will happen next. We've had great support from the industry, including GE, TI, Honeywell, Vidient, OV, Milestone, AgentVI, Cisco, Pelco, NICE, VideoIQ, Genetec, OnSSI, IBM, Vidsys - I like that it's not all analytics companies, it's a nice balance of everyone in the analytics spectrum, from device to the analytics to the application. Progress? We started with various contributions, SDKs that are out there, work in the open standards area, collected that and decided on a baseline, then opened it up. First we decided on REST, which the Core group will talk about more. We've made some decisions after that on event mechanisms, stream vs. push, using those models and considering multi-cast, looking at more push mentality. Looking at event types, from alert sampling, from system health standpoint. And looked at what does OV use for its format, what does Milestone gather? Came up with a standard event format, and we're just now producing a format for that. Also made decisions around what's a basic and full event. An application might choose just basic data - time stamp, that an alert happened, and what rule - or it might choose the full information, which might include the mark-up, the originating rule data. Just a two-layer approach depending on how much data you want to be passed. Can't just look at a single-channel event, have to consider whether it's an edge device, whether it's centralized, whether it's multi-channel or single-channel. We'll have to take all of that into consideration. (Looking at a flow chart, it looks like the analytics group is about 70 percent done toward a first working specification.) The next major discussion will be around metadata, which will be very interesting because there's a lot of different ways to approach that. Just happening starting this week, actually. (Bob Cutting talks really fast, by the way.) One of the great things that's come out of PSIA is that we have an established Core architecture team that serves as a liaison between all the working groups. So if we're working on similar things, we don't reinvent what other groups are doing. Working on: metadata, the baseline document, looking at a .9 version for public review in June (dang, that's soon - this PSIA group works fast). 1:22 - Back to Dave - introduces Dave DeLisser from Pelco to talk about the IP video working group. Dave D: This was a significant focus for PSIA right from the beginning. Video has gone through huge transformations. We have the ability to transport over networks, etc., but the one area that was a challenge was interoperability. As we got better and better, that whole interoperability really struggled for a while. We focused on those things that will really drive - get the industry back to the point where we can almost be a BNC simplicity. Get a consistent way of connecting cameras to VMS systems, in a standard method, and figure out what the capabilities were from the head-end, and address things like configuration, have standard methods for getting streams, for making corrections. I want to have plug and play connectivity. Make it easy for the users and installers to connect manufacturer A to manufacturer B. There are about 15 companies participating in our working group. We've had great contributions and generated a great specification. The process: The focus was the media device spec, which is the one that's been released. And we looked at the best method to get us where we wanted to go as quickly as possible. There are great tools out there, but the one we settled on was contributed by Cisco eventually, because it had a good foundation and we felt comfortable that it would create a platform to build on and get to the interoperability we needed. We had weekly meetings where we went through each capability and functionality that it needed. Started with use cases, what we were trying to satisfy. Then vetted the Cisco contribution, and removed elements that were not really in the scope of what we were trying to achieve. So, the spec is out now, and this is where we're going: Sample implementation, that's pretty much happening now, and we're close to the first of many plugfests, where we can get beyond the documents and the individual things working, and every manufacturer can be in a room and all plug in with each other and demonstrate real interoperability. Question: Are you guys working with codecs? Frank Yeh, of IBM, who will talk later, too: We already do have some groups out there in the world, JPEG and MPEG, so we're letting them do that. Q: Yeah, but they say they're MPEG 4, but what flavor? Yeh: Yeah, no kidding, and part of that is just publishing what you really do as a camera maker. Just saying you're MPEG 4 isn't enough. 1:39 - back to Dave B., introduces the Recording and Content Management working group. The guy who chairs it is from NICE, but lives in Israel and couldn't make it over. So Dave runs it down: Group is still in its early stages, we've had a couple of calls - we tend to work virtually - typically conference calls. Starting to use some online tools like meetingplace and webX - a lot of companies have difficulty traveling right now. We meet at ISC and ASIS, plus four times for board members and steering committee. Have about 450 companies that have registered for the spec. Back to storage group: Looking at recording NVR/DVR vs. edge device; playback functionality, search capability, transfer - remote client and the ability to pull content; storage policy - who can access the information and how; content integrity; security - preventing unauthorized access; diagnostics for system health. There's been a call for contributions - NICE has made a contribution - and there's been a definition of requirements. And they're developing a use case to understand what problem we're trying to solve. 1:52 - Cool stuff, Ian Johnston from IQinVision has got a camera here with the media device discovery spec actually working. So they show Bonjour actually find the camera, ask it how it's configured, what's the configuration like, and you can actually just name the camera, which then writes to the software and updates the device's status. And there's something about actually watching the packets going back and forth. I'm not sure how you do this exactly. "It's human readable." I'm way over my head here. But they're showing it to us in real-time. Unfortunately, it crashes (it does that a lot, apparently, this "VLC," which I don't know what stands for). And he's focusing the camera right there, and Frank Yeh just happens to have a tripod handy, which is kind of strange. He tells the device that it's motion JPEG and we want it some HTP something or other way, so then he calls up a browser (there's lots of crashing going on and weird error messages - not sure if that's a PC problem or what). But now it's working with a standard rtp/rtsp stream. Whatever that means. Apparently when you look at the packet stream, "it's not very chatty at all," which is apparently the nice part. And you can call up the device info, and it spits you out an xml stream about what the camera is, what it's ethernet specs are, firmware version, etc. Seems to be pretty cool beans, even if it's meaningless to me. Basically, you can ask for a ton of information about the device and get an expected response that's pretty helpful for integrators who have to work with these devices. "It's pretty exciting that within a year of this being started real fingers are being put to code." Now they're showing something called Wireshark so we can all see the packets. This excites "the geek in me," says Ian. I'm on reserver power, so that's pretty much the end of this. But cool stuff, nonetheless. I've got to find a plug - hard to do in these convention centers.

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