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A case for video in the home

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Sunday, May 4, 2008
Well, as it turns out, this story from a CBS station in Philadelphia isn't as much about residential CCTV as a I hoped, but boy is it entertaining! Yes, it's yet another story about someone with a security system where the alarm company/integrator isn't mentioned. Yes, it's another story where they're talking about digital video but still use the phrase "caught on tape." No, the video in question isn't actually all that instrumental to a burglar being caught by police. But. You've got to check out Robin Pearlman, the woman who chased a burglar from her home, got down his license plate number and gave it to the police, who then arrested the bad guy. This woman is very impressed with herself (for good reason), alternatingly referring to herself as "Rambolette" and a member of Charlie's Angels (apparently she hasn't consumed much popular culture in the last 25 years or so). Great east coast accent, too. Oh, right, I'm supposed to be making a point about the security industry. Please note that the woman is very matter of fact about her residential security cameras. Nice sales tool. Privacy questions? What privacy questions? Everybody has CCTV in the home now. Even housewives in suburban Philadelphia.

Get your guns out

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Friday, May 2, 2008
Just got off the phone with the vice president of licensing for Smith & Wesson, Bobbie Hunnicutt. Smith & Wesson, for those of you non-gun loving types like me, is one of the (if not, THE) largest gun manufacturers in the U.S. Yesterday they announced their entrance into the electronic security marketplace with a partnership (or, in legal speak, "licensing agreement") with NationWide Digital Monitoring. The two company's will develop Smith & Wesson-branded security systems that will be sold and installed by specifically recruited dealers ("We are only looking for professionals," said Wayne Wahrsager, president of NationWide). NationWide, which is a division of New York Merchants Protective Co., will have a separate monitoring division in its central station dedicated solely to customers with Smith & Wesson branded systems. Both company's talked about the importance of protecting and building their brands. Hunnicutt talked about the extensive research Smith & Wesson did to understand its brand, its customers and the expectations and potential of the company. They discovered the Smith & Wesson brand was synonymous with "security and protection" and so their entrance into the electronic security market was a "natural step for us." The Smith & Wesson brand will be rolled out by 2009. I just hope part of their marketing strategy is lawn signs that jive with their bumper stickers.

A security firm is the top home integrator

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Friday, May 2, 2008
CE Pro has just released their annual list of the top integrators by revenue and there's an interesting name at the top: Guardian Home Technologies, part of the Pittsburgh-based Guardian Protection headed by Russ Cersosimo. (You know, the guy who pities the competition.) This year’s list is led by Pittsburgh-based Guardian Home Technologies with $37 million in multi-subsystem home technology revenue out of 19 locations. The company, overall, is a $120 million security company with roots in both residential and commercial alarm systems. Further, CE Pro's top 100 companies haven't felt the pinch of the economic situation yet, despite a bad builder market that must have hit them in the third and fourth quarters of last year. The list, which is in its tenth year, reported a leap in average income of 9 percent, from $6.8 million to $7.4 million. Other strong data includes a leap in the average installation price of 7 percent. I won't go further into some of the conclusions you can reach from looking at the full list because you should go check it out yourself. Security integrators need to become CE Pro readers and look at installation work that doesn't include (just) security. This is the message we've been preaching with the Security Business Development Forum (which we've just cut the admission price for, by the way): By diversifying your revenue streams, you can ride out bad economic times. Looks like Russ got that message some time ago.

Bunch of complaints about Brady's alarm company

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Friday, May 2, 2008
Take a look at this link, which includes a tv news story about Tom Brady's Cordoba, Tenn.-based alarm company, which he named, "The Alarm Company." Apparently 48 complaints have been lodged against the company in the past six years and this story says Brady's using unethical tactics to steal accounts. He's telling customers, for example, that their current alarm company, ADT, is going out of business and "The Alarm Company" will be taking over the account. "Just sign this contract and we'll continue your service." Sounds bad, but the video casts Mr. Brady in a worse light. I'm going to make some calls on this today, but Brady certainly doesn't do himself any favors by running into a back room when a tv news reporter pulls a Mike Wallace on him. Here's the link. You've got to watch a 10-second commercial before the newscast comes on.

An order of analytics, please

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Thursday, May 1, 2008
So, I finally got around to reading The New Yorker article about the man who was stuck in an elevator for 41 hours. Nicholas White, a production manager for Business Week, spent a weekend trapped in Car No. 30 of the McGraw-Hill building in New York City back in 1999. For 41 hours he paced the elevator, pried open the doors, repeatedly used the emergency phone, laid down to sleep and even smoked the rest of his cigarettes (aren't there smoke detectors in there!) ... but nothing. Nobody noticed him, not even the eight (yes, 8!) different guards who were on duty that weekend. Here's an easily overlooked parenthesized sentence in the 8,000 word article that caught my security-honed attention: (Eight McGraw-Hill security guards came and went while he was stranded there; nobody seems to have noticed him on the monitor.) Check out the video for yourself: I don't know how many screens these security guards monitored, but it was a weekend, people. There's little to no activity in the elevators for the duration of the video, and, there's even elevator maintenance work being done, which should at least garner some attention from the guards. (Of course, there's no maintenance work being done on the elevator car that actually malfunctioned and trapped White inside.) I'd say this is a great example of why security guards alone are not very effective. If it had been one guy who missed this, I'd say fine, maybe he was tired. But EIGHT! I know this was nearly 10 years ago and the analytic technology of today wasn't available, but if I were an analytic provider trying to convince companies to invest in notification-based video systems, this example would certainly be in my arsenal.

Brink's earnings up

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Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Shares of Brink's Company stock were trading high today—the highest since 2003 when it changed its name from Pittston Co to Brink's, according to a Rueters report—after the company posted higher-than-expected first-quarter earnings. Here's the official press release. First quarter income was up $48 million, or $1.02 per share, up from $31.1 or 66 cents per share for the same quarter last year. Revenue was up 24 percent from $920.6 million from $740.5 million last year. Operating profit was up 51 percent to $97.3 million. Brink's said the increase was driven by "Latin American Operations and Brink's Home Security Unit."

You, sitting here in 2010

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008
So I got a call back from Andy McDill at Delta Corporate Communications and yes, it's true. They'll be installing these seats in their fleet of 777 and 767 aircraft. They're called Cozy Suite seats and they're made by Thomson Solutions, a company based in Northern Ireland. You won't be able to sit in them until 2010, as they're actually just being manufactured now. The bad news for me and the many of you who regularly fly into the Portland Maine Jet Port, we won't be able to ride in the Cozy Suite seats all the way home, since Delta's 777s and 767s don't fly here. We can catch them on flights out of Delta's hubs in Atlanta, Cincinnati and JFK though.

ROTC cadet robbed - wireless surveillance solves the crime

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Here's some great press for municipal surveillance systems, wrapped in the filth that is the worst of human nature. In Dallas, some scumbag robbed an 18-year-old ROTC cadet while he was suffering a seizure on the sidewalk. Luckily, a wireless surveillance system not only recorded the crime, but helped police pick-up up the perp returning to the scene of the crime the next day. Check out the video: Security systems catch bad guys. Really. It's not just cool technology, but serves a purpose, and that message needs to be continually pushed, not just for the good of the industry, but for the good of society in general. This story is also kind of personally satisfying for me, as I've written about this Dallas system, installed by Bearcom with Firetide and Sony technology, and we had a presentation about this deployment at TechSec 2007. So the things I write about aren't just theoretical, but practical as well. That makes me feel good.

Not your everyday gym shirt

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Monday, April 28, 2008
So, apparently the concept of "intelligent textiles" is more prevalent than I first thought. Here's a blurb about a t-shirt that monitors vital signs such as heart rate and body temperature. It's a good old cotton t-shirt embedded with conductive fibers that's supposedly washable, too. (Good thing, otherwise wearers of this t-shirt may not be welcomed in many enclosed spaces.) Here's how it works: "A micro controller embedded in the t-shirt digitizes the signals and transmits them via a wireless connection to a remote back-end system for real-time monitoring." The article claims part of the five-year development of this technology was partially paid for by the Department of Defense. Interesting. It also said that the company is beginning field testing for the monitoring of emergency service workers such as police officers and fire service workers. My thought is that some company has to be doing that monitoring, why not you?

Happy news from Delta

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Monday, April 28, 2008
I'm back after a glorious school vacation week of outdoorsy fun and sun with the family. No, we did not go on an excellent, educational, exotic vacation, it was warm and beautiful right here in New England. So, after that great week, I'm expecting some work re-entry pain, but it's kind of nice being back at my desk with my Mac. Maybe it's the fact that it's nearly returned to winter temps here in Maine, or maybe I'm peppy because one of the first things I came across this morning was some potentially excellent travel news. Lots of you in the industry, like me, spend a fair amount of time on planes, so this may make your Monday as well. I don't have confirmation—i no call back yet from Delta Corporate Communications—Delta is apparently installing some newfangled seats in some of its planes in economy class. There's lots leg room, a side panel so you won't fall asleep on a stranger's shoulder and here's the one downside: You may have trouble talking to the person next to you. Now that's the kind of downside that I like. Here's what they look like: The stories I've seen (in Saturday's New York Times and on a couple blogs) say the seats will be installed by 2010. I'm hoping that Delta Corporate Communications is going to call me back with the happy news that some of the first planes to use these will be flying in and out of the Portland (Maine) International Jet Port.

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