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Floor space filling up fast at ESX

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

ESX is one of the fastest-growing trade shows in the country, a distinction that hasn’t been lost on the industry’s top monitoring and integration companies. The expo floor is already more than 70 percent sold for this year’s event, which will be moving down the street from Nashville’s Convention Center the new Music City Center.

More than 140 exhibitors were on board as of Monday, including 30 companies that weren’t on the floor last year. Among the new participants from the monitoring world are Criticom Monitoring Services (CMS), Metrodial and SAFE Security.

Some of the busiest real estate at ESX 2013 is likely to be found at the NexTech Zone, where exhibitors focused on home automation, energy management, IT and interactive services will display the latest products and services. With Time Warner, ADT and other big players increasingly moving into this space, it’s probably a good idea for central stations to stay ahead of the curve (or at least not fall behind it).

There also will be 10 educational sessions at ESX focusing on central station operations and technology. Topics range from how to find and retain quality operators (and customers) to the monitoring world beyond PERS, with some of the top names in the industry leading the discussions. To find out more about what ESX has to offer—pencil in June 17-21 if you haven't already—or to register, click here.

What you should have on your calendar: 7:30 a.m., April 10, 2013

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

As you’re putting your ISC West calendar together, make sure that you have The Security 5K on your list. Now in its fourth year, the race (and 2K walk) will take place on Thursday, April 11 at 7:30 a.m. The start line is within easy walking distance to the Venetian. Click here for the link to sign up.

Security Systems News and Security Director News founded this event with Mission 500 four years ago. We’re proud to be involved and pleased that the list of generous manufacturer sponsors is getting longer.

Whether you walk, run or show up to cheer your industry colleagues along, The Security 5K is a fun way to start your second day of ISC West.

You and your colleagues can sign up as a team or individually online or at ISC West on Wednesday. We had more than 400 runners and walkers last year and expect even more this year.

However, the most important way you can participate is by sponsoring a runner or walker. All of the proceeds go to benefit Mission 500, a wonderful organization that literally saves children’s lives. It provides basic necessities, food, clothing and housing for some of the neediest children in the world. Last year we raised $90,000, making a real difference in children’s lives. Your participation matters. See you there.

 

Avigilon locates ‘global sales HQ in U.S.’

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Vancouver-based Avigilon, manufacturer of megapixel cameras and other video surveillance products, is opening a U.S. headquarters in Dallas, the company announced this morning.
 
This location will also be the “global headquarters for sales.” Employees will include sales, business development and customer support.  The company plans to “add additional customer support personnel over the next year.”  

Bryan Schmode, executive vice president of global sales, will run the office.

Avigilon became a public company in the fall of 2011and has reported impressive growth and ambitious revenue goals since.  Some management changes were announced in October of 2012.

In a statement, Alexander Fernandes, president and CEO at Avigilon, noted that the “U.S. market accounts for a healthy percentage of our revenue.” Notable installations include: Minnesota Twins' Target Field, the Hard Rock Casino and Hotel in Albuquerque and the Dallas Love Field Airport.

"We chose Dallas because it is a business-friendly city. With access to an incredible talent pool and quality infrastructure it's no wonder several major corporations call this city home,” Fernandez said in a prepared statement.

Telguard gets PERS partner; COPS plans Gilley’s bash

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Telguard has expanded its reach into the PERS marketplace by licensing its cellular technology to Mytrex, a South Jordan, Utah-based manufacturer of medical alarm systems.

Mytrex is targeting independent seniors who are doing away with POTS but still want medical response service. The technology used in Telguard’s TG-P cellular PERS communicator can now be found in Mytrex’s MXD3G “turnkey” PERS solution.

Mytrex President Richard Bangerter said his company was looking for a partner “with proven cellular technology and service to enhance our product line and help us address the growing no-landline senior population.” That led to Telguard, which provides solutions for wireless monitoring of intrusion and fire systems.

One of the selling points for the MXD3G is that it's "central-station agnostic," eliminating the need to purchase and maintain proprietary equipment.

“As long as a dealer’s central station advertises support for two-way voice, the MXD3G using Telguard service can be installed to deliver it,” the company said in a prepared statement.

The device is available through Telguard or Mytrex.

Work hard, play hard: COPS Monitoring is planning a Dealer Appreciation Bonanza during ISC West that will include cocktails, dinner, line dancing and a mechanical bull riding competition for anyone brave enough to saddle up.

“We wanted to celebrate the opening of our 8,000-square-foot central station in Texas and our recent acquisition of AlarmWATCH,” COPS President and COO Jim McMullen said in a prepared statement. “Our dealers work hard all year long. We thought that it would be exciting if we hosted an event that gave them the opportunity to play hard as well.”

The gathering will be held from 6 to 10 p.m. at Gilley’s at Treasure Island in Las Vegas. There will be door prizes and dealers will be able to commemorate the evening with a Western-themed picture from the event photo booth. Co-sponsors are Alarm Funding Associates, CheckVideo, the SS&Si Dealer Network, Telguard and TimePayment.

Space is limited and is reserved for qualified alarm dealers and their guests. For more information or to find out if you qualify for complimentary tickets, click here or call Betty Hudson at 800-367-2677, Ext. 1256.

Cableco expands home security to Canada’s ‘Golden Horseshoe’

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

I wrote recently about two Canadian giants, cable company Rogers Communications and telecommunications company Bell Aliant, planning to offer home security/home automation for the first time in Atlantic Canada this spring. And now Rogers has announced it’s expanding the service in its Ontario footprint.

Rogers launched its Smart Home Monitoring in its cable footprint in Ontario in August 2011. And today, Toronto-based Rogers announced it is now expanding its offering to Ontario’s “Golden Horseshoe.” That’s a region of southern Ontario that includes Greater Toronto and is quite densely populated, with about 26 percent of Canada’s population calling the region home, according to Internet sources.

Rogers said its service now will be available to residents of the Golden Horseshoe, which includes Oakville, Lincoln, West Lincoln, Grimsby, Hamilton and the Greater Hamilton area, Burlington, Niagara Falls, Thorold, Pelham, Niagara-on-the-Lake, St. Catharines, Wainfleet, Welland, Fort Erie and Port Colborne.

Roger’s offering, like Bell Aliant’s NextGen Home Security, is professionally installed and monitored. Both offering are powered by California-based iControl’s OpenHome software platform.

“We're thrilled to now offer Rogers Smart Home Monitoring to residents of the Golden Horseshoe," Ian Pattinson, VP and general manager, Rogers Smart Home Monitoring, said in a prepared statement. “Since we launched a year and a half ago, our customers continue to discover new system features that keep their homes and families secure while helping them better manage their daily lives for ultimate peace of mind.”

The company said that customers’ alarms are monitored by the Rogers Central Monitoring Station, “a 24/7, real-time monitoring service provided by certified security experts with over twenty years of experience in security, monitoring and emergency services.”

Motorola makes $6.5m investment in BriefCam

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Video synopsis provider BriefCam has a brand new $6.5 million investment led by Motorola Solutions Venture Capital, the investment arm of Motorola Solutions.

I spoke to Droro Irani, CEO and president of BriefCam today who told me this is a Round 3 investment for Briefcam, but that  Motorola is a new investor and new strategic partner for BriefCam.

Irani is excited about the investment and the fact that Motorola joined “forces with us on the business side.” Motorola signed a worldwide reseller agreement with BriefCam. While the investment arm and business side of Motorola are separate businesses, the deals happened at about the same time, Irani said.

The new funds will be used to expand BriefCam’s presence in the U.S., China, South Asia, and other locations where Motorola has a presence.

BriefCam has “a lot of customers on the safe city [vertical] in the U.S.,” Irani said. He expects Motorola to introduce BriefCam to its many customers who work on “similar government-related projects,”

BriefCam’s flagship product is the Video Synopsis solution which enables the quick review, analysis and indexing of video surveillance footage.

Irani said BreifCam has had a lot of success in the U.S. and China with its “on demand” concept.

“The mindset and technology is still led by the U.S., and in China, there’s been a dramatic increase in the use and budget [for] public safety [installations],” he said.

The company has “several installations that include thousands of cameras and the new architecture allow us … to support really big installations like those that are typical in safe city installations,” he said. On the commercial side, BriefCam is looking to grow in the hospital, higher ed and critical infrastructure verticals. BriefCam and partners will be showcasing its solutions at ISC West, he said.

The funding round included participation from all of BriefCam’s exisiting investors. Another new investor is Hebrew University. “In a way it closes the circle,” Irani said. “Our IP comes out of Hebrew University and now [the university’s fund] decided to join in.”

 

ADT sued over early termination fees

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Early termination fees are pretty much standard in the security industry but now The ADT Corp. is facing a lawsuit over them, I’ve learned.

Earlier this week two law firms announced the filing of a class action lawsuit in federal court in California on behalf of ADT Home Monitoring Services customers regarding early termination fees, also termed early cancellation fees.

The law offices of Bursor & Fisher and of Jana Eisinger contend in a news release that the fees are illegal and the “lynchpin of ADT's ‘never let them go’ strategy.”

The attorneys are urging consumers who believe they were wronged to contact them.

Here’s more from the March 4 release:
 

The proposed class consists of two groups of consumers: (1) all current or former consumer subscribers of ADT who have been charged an early termination fee or are subject to being charged an early termination fee (also called an Early Termination Fee or Early Cancellation Fee, collectively "ETF", and comprising the "ETF class"); and (2) all current or former consumer subscribers of ADT whose rates were increased or are subject to increase by ADT without prior notice while in the initial contract period or during subsequent contractual extensions.

This class action is intended to redress ADT's wrongful practice of imposing early termination fees, the lynchpin of ADT's "never let them go" strategy. Early termination fees are unlawful penalties used simply as an anti-competitive device and do not compensate ADT for any true costs of breach. These penalties, which are unilaterally imposed by ADT - even when ADT fails to perform the services promised - also violate the consumer protection statutes of California and Illinois and similar laws nationwide.

The early termination penalty is extracted under circumstances which cannot be justified, when ADT has failed to perform the very services that form the basis of ADT's obligation. The penalty is also extracted from customers who contracted with ADT to simply monitor a system that was previously installed, requiring no equipment to be installed and resulting in a windfall to ADT upon termination. By charging the early termination fee ADT gets paid for years of monitoring without doing any monitoring to earn those fees.

In addition, Plaintiffs seek redress for ADT's pattern of unilaterally increasing alarm monitoring fees while consumers are under contract for lesser fees. These increases are implemented without adequate prior notice and without providing the appropriate and required disclosures necessary to ensure that customers consent to these increases in advance. ADT relies on small boilerplate text neither signed nor highlighted for customers to claim its "right" to unilaterally increase fees.

I contacted ADT and Sarah Cohn, ADT director of media relations, who responded that the company has a policy of not commenting on pending litigation. She noted however, that “termination fees are common in the industry when a company absorbs the upfront cost of the installation.”

I’ve also reached out to the lawyers involved to find out why they’re targeting ADT. Stay posted!

 

Systems integrator start-up in Mass.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

A new systems integration company has opened its doors in Burlington, Mass. A2 Systems, founded by security industry veterans Pat Connors and Matt Leonard, opened its doors after the first of the year and just completed its first job for an energy company. It’s now delving into two more jobs—one in the pharmaceutical vertical and one in retail.

Connors, who is in charge of operations, and Leonard, who does sales and marketing, previously worked for Massachusetts-based Team AVS. They left there last spring and began planning to launch A2 Systems.

“We took the time to research different products,” Connors said.

A2 Systems does access control, video, intrusion, fire alarm, intercom and emergency call boxes. Its mantra is “Keep it simple and extreme customer service,” Leonard said. A2 will offer Red Cloud, Honeywell, Exacq Technologies, and Axis Communications products among others.

Its first job was an IP-based surveillance system at a solar farm in Massachusetts. “Each panel is about five feet by eight feet and there are thousands of them,” Connors said.

The solar farm is owned by a national solar energy provider that is headquartered out of state. The surveillance systems allows the security officers at headquarters to keep an eye on the solar array and other electronic systems at the 40-acre Massachusetts location.

It's already come in handy. “The solar array feeds power into the grid,” Connors said. “During a recent snowstorm the system went into alarm because it wasn’t producing any electricity,” he said. The security operation at headquarters was able to view the solar array remotely and found out there was snow covering many of the panels.

A2 Systems will focus on job in Massachusetts and New Hampshire initially. “We carefully select our customers and offer a high level of customer service,” Leonard said.

The company’s business plan calls for “a good amount of growth in 2013. Connors expects to add another three to four techs by the end of the year. The company also plans to offer “Lunch and Learn” for end users this year to show them “what technology is out here and what they should use for different situations,” Connors said.

False alarms dogging Do-Right in Newfoundland

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

More than 12,000 false alarms in one year, including 81 from just one address? It’s enough to make a deputy reach for the Screech.

For those who think our neighbors to the north don't have security-related problems, think again. In St. John’s, Newfoundland, police have their hands full in a way that would have many of their U.S. brethren nodding sadly in agreement.

According to a report last week by CBC News, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary is being overwhelmed by false alarms. In 2012, they accounted for almost a quarter of the calls that the RNC handled in the St. John’s area.

“It has a dramatic impact on our service delivery,” Ab Singleton, deputy chief of the RNC, told the CBC.

The refrain will sound familiar to anyone who has dealt with the issue south of the border: Each of the 12,000 calls went to the RNC’s Communications Centre, where a dispatcher created a file, notified the alarm company and moved the call through the RNC system. An officer then responded unnecessarily, taking him away from other enforcement duties.

Singleton said the biggest problem with false alarms can be traced to a small number of businesses that have not trained their employees to properly use their security system, or have not replaced malfunctioning systems. The top six offenders in 2012 accounted for 344 false alarms, he said.

“The people either owning or operating the system, or the business, does not take the alarm or the work that we do seriously,” Singleton told the CBC.

The resulting waste of resources is unlikely to be stemmed any time soon. Police said the problem is getting worse, with more calls coming in and the percentage of false alarms rising. An increase in new homes pre-wired for alarm systems has been partly to blame, they said.

Peer into sports stars’ homes with ADT

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Friday, March 1, 2013

National Soccer Hall of Fame star Cobi Jones has a pretty cool house in California—a Spanish-style villa built in the 1920s. He also has an English bulldog named ZuZu that tends to slobber, as well as a wife and young child. I know all this because Jones’ home and family are protected by ADT.

Jones is a participant in an interesting new video advertising campaign from The ADT Corp. called ADT Home Turf. Not only does the video series feature virtual tours of famous athletes’ home for the curious—all the while explaining how the athletes’ ADT systems protect those homes—but it also is tied to a sweepstakes offering a free ADT system and sports tickets.

Here’s how ADT puts it: “Check out how ADT helps some of your favorite athletes secure their own home turf and … enter the sweepstakes for a chance to win an ADT system, a year of free monitoring, and a trip for 2 to a professional basketball playoff game including tickets, airfare, hotel and spending money.”

I got to learn that Jones has an affinity for tequila and that he gets his trademark dreadlocks professionally done. And I also got to see him deal with a “false alarm.” His smartphone notified him that his ADT system detected someone entering his garage side door. The intruder? ZuZu, who got a gentle scolding. Jones instructed his dog to play with dog toys instead of scoping out his in the garage.

After ADT spun off from Tyco this past fall, ADT's CEO Naren Gursahaney told me it's "not a moonshot" for the company to increase its residential penetration from the industry standard of 20 percent to as much as 40 percent. Clever ad campaigns like this should aid in that goal.

 

 

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