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A guy who likes to gamble in Vegas

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008
I just got an email this morning from Wael Badawy, founder and chief technology officer of video analytics company IntelliView Technologies of Calgary. As promised, he sent me screen shots of a maintenance worker stealing a cell phone from their booth at ISC West. I really can't figure this out. ISC West is a trade show in Vegas that has more cameras per square foot than people--well almost--and this worker decides to swiping a cell phone is a good bet? Now that's taking gambling to a new level. So, this is what happened: Wael's VP, Mark Gillingham, realized he lost his cell phone and remembered leaving it on a table in the booth. To help jog his memory, he decided to take a look at the video footage from Intelliview's cameras. (While the monitors were not turned on after hours, the cameras were running 24/7.) Using analytics tools, Gillingham located footage of the phone on the table...and then saw Einstein here grabbing the phone. When I visited the booth on Friday, Wael and Mark showed me like three different angles of this guy taking the phone. Security was there and the supervisor recognized the worker who took the phone. Fast forward a couple days and Mark has his phone back. As for Einstein...maybe he should take up black jack.

One of my favorite ISC West Discoveriis

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008
This might not be practical for most of you, but Vumii's night vision solution is pretty neat so I wanted to elaborate a bit on it. Essentially, Discoverii looks like a pair of cameras side by side, but one of the housings actually has inside of it a laser beam that the camera beside it can see like a spotlight. The naked eye sees nothing, but the camera can read the names of boats 2 kilometers out on the ocean in total blackness. I was impressed. Below is a link to a video that also shows off the Sensorii program, which is software that takes a PTZ camera and takes thousands of individual pictures to create a 360-degree map that correlates with the video you're viewing so that you can always know where you are in a scene. Plus, you can create preset spots on the map for a sort of virtual tour process. The software is available separately, too. Here's the demonstration: Here's a YouTube video without the Sensorii (still pretty impressive):

Cazer to replace Ritter at Brink's

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008
The AP's reporting that The Brink's Company's found a replacement for CFO Bob Ritter, Michael J. Cazer, who most recently was with GE Security. Ritter announced his intention to retire last October.

SIA's new product awards

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008
I have to admit I'm a little jaded toward these SIA-sponsored awards at ISC West. Sure, it's an honor to be judged the best product, but I swear that every booth I visited had one of those little clear glass awards, all smudged up with fingerprints. Did anybody not win an award this year? Well, lots of people didn't, I guess. Maybe I'm just jealous. Maybe if I wasn't so lazy I'd apply for those Tabbie awards they give to hack trade journalists like myself, then I'd have a bunch of smudgy awards, too. Sure I would! Anyway, Noble Peak won the top award, a follow-on to their Global Security Challenge award last year. They're cleaning up (they scored $12 million in venture capital this year, too-now I'm really jealous), so they must be doing something right. Like Vumii, they don't have a ton of practical application right now, but they make cool stuff. For the full list of winners, go here.

Now this is commitment to customer service

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Sunday, April 6, 2008
One very cool meeting I had at ISC West was with Trish Bambury, the marketing gal for new U.S. entrant Paxton Access, an IP access control maker that's done very well in the UK and is just now ramping up efforts here in the States. In general, I think their stuff is good-looking, with a very slick GUI and a general appreciation of design and aesthetics that I find largely missing in the market as a whole. But that's not even the good part. At the end of my interview with Trish (who's got one of the most interesting British accents you're likely to come across - plus I'm a sucker for all those Britishisms), she pointed me to an area of their web site where you can read every comment ever sent in response to the survey they send out following every service call. There are currently 4,772 responses posted, all dated and timed, some of them with signatures, and just about all of them are positive. But they're not filtered, as you will come across the occasional stinging indictment. That's confidence in your product and your service. Well done. You have to go back to June of 2007 to find a really sharp comment, but it ends with this, which I always find amusing: I would rather suspect this comment will not get published on the Paxton Home Page. Trish tells me the people at Paxton are "anoraks," which is a British term for calling people obsessive compulsive, from what I can tell. She says it's not quite a compliment, but if it results in what they've got to offer, it can't be that bad.

Security on a Mac!

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Friday, April 4, 2008
Well, per usual, I don't have much time to post, as ISC is kind of kicking me in the head (I suppose it wasn't totally necessary that I be out till 2 a.m. gambling last night...), but there is at least one bit of exciting news: You can finally get a video management system that works on a Mac! Check this out: This has been a complaint of mine ever since I've entered the industry - nothing works on a Mac. Considering that significant portions of certain industries - graphic design, education - use Macs almost exclusively, this seemed to me like a bit of an oversight. Well, Exacq has finally done it. They've got a great interface and a really powerful video management engine, and here at the show they're actually showing it running on a Mac. I've never seen it before. I talked to Roger Shuman at their booth and he says it was a response to integrators saying they wanted the capability for the educational vertical. Imagine that. I know this is more exciting for me than for you.

Off to ISC West

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Friday, March 28, 2008
Just an FYI that'll be out of pocket until Tuesday, at the earliest. If, like me, you're heading to ISC West, please take a minute to stop by the booth and see me. I'll be there, at #23149, from noon to 1 p.m. on Wed. and Thurs., and from 10 a.m. to noon on Friday. If no one comes by, I'll be forced to blog in the booth, and no one wants to see that... If you won't be at ISC, then you'll need to stop back by the blog Wed.-Fri., as I'll be posting some thoughts and observations and maybe posting some video if I get the time. Either way, next week is going to be a big old ISC West break-down of a blog, so that ought to be entertaining. Theoretically.

Did I leave my coffee pot on?

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Thursday, March 27, 2008
Everybody wants a piece of the remote monitoring pie. Here's an article about SureWest, a California communications company, launching a remote monitoring service. Sounds like a plug and play system where they send you a camera, some sensors, a little bit of hardware/software and, of course, instructions. I'm always curious if these companies have dedicated customer service for new ventures like this, because frankly, no matter how simple it sounds, most of us are mildly-to-severely technologically challenged and setting up a system is probably at least a little tricky. The system appears to be completely self-monitored and I'd say only has a security application in passing, (you get alerts when your front door opens, for example, and can access video on-demand), but the concept of remote monitoring is something the security industry should take note of. The concept itself is fairly appealing. I spoke with Bill Diamond from Xanboo (they're the company that designed basically everything for AT&T's Remote Monitoring system, from technology to service) and he said the real driver for residential video, specifically, is the revolution of the cell phone. When people really start using their cell phones to check-in on their home, turn on lights, regulate temperature and who knows what else, the remote monitoring market will explode. And shouldn't security be the natural driving force behind remote monitoring? Anyone who doesn't at least dabble in home automation seems to be missing out on a significant opportunity to sell more than security to their customers and even if it's not full blown remote monitoring capabilities, at least it's a step in the right direction. I wonder if it could save me from stressing about whether or not I left my coffee pot on?

An interesting UTC-Diebold development

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Thursday, March 27, 2008
Looks like UTC has had a card up its sleeve all along: It already owns 3.5 percent of Diebold's outstanding shares. Kapow! Actually, I'm not sure what that means. UTC believes it's the sixth largest shareholder of the company, which should give them a little juice, but it's not exactly sitting in the catbird seat. Should they team up with a couple of the top five shareholders, then maybe they're all in business to come up with a slate of board members and start really shaking things up. (My apologies for not being able to figure out who those top five are - it's possible they're all board members, actually. I looked through their SEC filings, but all I could find was a total of 60,000 or so shareholders.) That assumes, of course, that the top fives are looking to sell for $40 a whack and agree with UTC that they aren't going to get a better offer. If they believe the Diebold board, then they'd think UTC were trying to buy low (despite a 66 percent premium) and be insulted by UTC's offer in the way the board is. Diebold's board is certainly unimpressed by UTC's unveiling. Here's the important part, I'd say: The company currently anticipates its financial review will be completed by the end of the second quarter of 2008 and it will make all appropriate filings as soon as possible thereafter. Those numbers are going to tell a big story to Diebold's real value, and whether the $40 offer is fair or a lowball. In the last annual report the company filed, at the end of 2006, Diebold reported sales of just under $3 billion. So, if UTC's offer is right at $3 billion, we're talking about a sales price of one times annual sales (or a little less). That might be the going rate for a smaller integrator, but I'm thinking UTC should expect to pay a premium for Diebold's size and name recognition (though some of that name recognition is negative in some respects). Probably 1.5 times sales is more like going rate. That's kind of a $1.5 billion difference...

American Idol featured a security guard, and I didn't know it?

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Thursday, March 27, 2008
I'm blown away by a throwaway line in this story about not-very-good American Idol contestant Chikezie getting sent home last night. As in, the 22-year-old airport security inspector from Inglewood, Calif. What? I totally would have been rooting much harder for the big man if I had known this. How did this get by me? And what a great opportunity missed for the security industry (I'm assuming, perhaps wrongly, that he's working for a private guard firm contracted with the TSA). This guy should be in PSAs for the TSA, for sure. "Hey kids, this is Chikezie. Remember how I was the tenth best American Idol contestant this year? Well, it's okay that I lost, because now I can get back to making sure everyone who flies through LAX is flying safely and securely." Then he could start covering that Men Without Hats tune, "Security (Everybody Feels Better With)," and then the commercial fades out with Chikezie carefully inspecting somebody's bag with a big ol' smile on his face. Really, I think somebody needs to make that happen. Perhaps GE Security could sponsor it, or Clear, since the two of them are teaming to make some big bucks off aviation security and screening. By the way, has anybody put much thought into the chorus of that Men Without Hats song? I was just thinking about it: If something in the world seems right then it is what I know This is where I want to be, so this is where I go Everybody feels better look inside and see a radio, a radio Everybody feels better with security If anybody can explain the radio reference to me, I'd be appreciative. Do they mean, like, a walkie-talkie kind of radio, that security guards used in the 1980s? I'm confused. Also, in that article about Chikezie, there's something about two straight bluegrass songs. Huh? Just cuz he got a little country with a Beatles tune doesn't mean they were jamming on mandolins and banjos back there. Bluegrass isn't just a cool word for country, people.

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