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ESX draws a crowd in Nashville

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The ESX show, now in its sixth year, returned to Nashville this year for the third time but this year, it was in a new, very nice venue, the Music City Center.

The center’s musical instrument-inspired design is really beautiful. And the trade show floor and classrooms were easy to find.

The center had literally been open for only two weeks before ESX, so we’ll give facility managers a little time to fix two things: the building needs more consistent wifi throughout  (maybe a vendor will sponsor a hot spot next year);  and, it needs more food vendors--at least one with some healthy food.

ESX reports that there were 3,000 registrants and nearly 200 exhibitors at the show this year. Most vendors I spoke to reported good traffic at the show, especially on Wednesday.

I was at the SSN Booth/ESX Experience stage doing video interviews for most of time that the floor was open. We were on the far side at the front of the floor and there was plenty of traffic.

The aisles were wider than usual, so while there were definitely more people walking the floor than last year, there was more space on the floor as well.  

A new addition to our booth this year was the Twitter Wall, which was a giant scrolling screen of #ESX2013 tweets. Tim Purpura (SSN group publisher) coordinated with sponsor Interlogix to offer prizes to tweeters for the duration of the show.  

We had two big prizes. Each time someone tweeted using the #ESX2013 hashtag, they were entered into a drawing for an iPad Mini. Brandon Savage @biff_savage won that prize.

I chose the winner of a second iPad Mini, the #ESX2013 “MVT” (Most Valuable Tweeter). The prize went to Erica Wood, @TheSecurityGirl, who is one tireless tweeter!

Among the interesting events at the show was a speech given by Michael Kehoe, Newtown, Conn. police chief and a first responder at the Sandy Hook Elementary School during the December shooting.

Kehoe that the Sandy Hook Elementary School was among the safest in the country, with regular safety drills and a security system in place.

People are starting to look at school security differently now. “Security is an issue in every school, and it’s really everyone’s business,” he said.  

He lauded the Electronic Security Association for its work in drafting “The Electronic Security Guidelines for Schools” a new resource for school officials that are considering adding electronic security systems to new or existing schools. The guidelines were announced at the luncheon and can be downloaded for free at www.ESAweb.org.

Put together by panel of experts led by David Koenig of Capital Fire and Security of Madison, Wisc, the guidelines aim to help schools create a security plan and outlines steps  such as: threat assessment, procurement types, contractor selection, how systems affect schools, equipment types, and system use. The guidelines also address community involvement in schools.

ESA is distributing the guidelines to schools across the country.  

Kehoe called the ESA guidelines the “perfect blueprint” for school administrators and school boards.

I have much more, which I will report on later, about from the show, including my panel discussion “Financing and Debt Options for your Company,” which featured sage advice from Robert Chefitz of Egis Capital Partners, Jeff Kessler from Imperial Capital, and Jennifer Holloway from The PrivateBank.

One more item about the show floor, which didn’t walk as much as I would have liked.

I only did one ISC West-style booth visit at the Honeywell, which by the way, won the “best overall” category for ESX’s Maximum Impact Awards for its LYNX Touch 5100,    

The LYNX Touch 5100 is “a full-color touchscreen with graphic icons and intuitive prompts that enables garage door notification, tornado alerts for U.S. and Canadian residents, Z-Wave home automation capabilities and advanced alarm communications. The Z-Wave connectivity module lets installers integrate security, lighting, thermostats and more—for local and remote control.”

The other winners are below:  
-Best Access Control/ID Systems: Access Control System Linear: Linear eMerge E3-Series
-Best Access Control/ID Systems: Keypads DMP: Graphic Touchscreen Keypad
-Best Accessories & Aids: Dealer Company Software DICE Corporation: Matrix Mobile Vivid
-Best Accessories & Aids: Mobile Applications Monitronics: eContract
-Best Alarm Equipment: Alarm Signal Transmission Equipment ipDatatel, LLC: Cellular Broadband Alarm Transceiver
-Best Alarm Equipment: Annunciators, Bells, Sirens, Strobes Cooper Notification: Exceder LED Speaker Strobes and Speakers
-Best Alarm Equipment: Enhanced Video Alarm Videofied-RSI Video Technologies: Indoor Motion Viewer
-Best Alarm Equipment: Fire/Smoke/Gas Detectors System Sensor: i4 Series Combination CO/Smoke Detector
-Best Alarm Equipment: Interactive Services Telguard: Telguard HomeControl
-Best Alarm Equipment: Intrusion Alarm Control Panels Honeywell Security Group: Tuxedo Touch
-Best Alarm Equipment: Intrusion Detection System Xtralis: IntrusionTrace PLUS
-Best Alarm Equipment: Intrusion Sensors/Detectors Xtralis: ADPRO PRO Intelligent Passive Infrared Detectors
-Best Alarm Equipment: PERS Hardware Telguard: MXD3G
-Best Alarm Equipment: Wireless Alarm Systems Honeywell Security Group: LYNX Touch 5100
-Best Central Station Equipment: Central Station Software Bold Technologies, Ltd.: Dashboard
-Best Central Station Equipment: Remote Video Monitoring Equipment/Software I-View Now: I-View Now Guard Tours
-Best Security Robotics: Robotic Technology Vigilant Robots: Vigilus Mobile Camera Platform
-Best Services: Alarm Monitoring KeepYourIp, Inc.: KeepYourIP
-Best Services: Dealer Financial Services AlarmBiller by Perennial Software: AlarmBiller
-Best Services: Dealer Marketing Services Netsertive, Inc.: Digital Extend
-Best Services: Security as a Service (SaaS) Axis Communications: ASG Video powered by Secure-I & Axis AVHS Platform
-Best Services: Video Monitoring Services I-View Now: I-View Now Version 2.0        
-Best Video Security: Digital Recording Systems Interlogix: TruVision NVR 50
-Best Video Security: IP Cameras Axis Communications: AXIS P12 Network Camera Series
-Best Video Security: Video Surveillance System Smartvue Corporation: Smartvue S9Q Cloud Surveillance Server

Home by home, Honeywell solution helps cities go green

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Thermostat control is a home automation feature that can save individual homeowners energy and money. And it stands to reason that the more energy each household saves, the less demand on a community’s electric grid—meaning there are fewer brownouts or blackouts.

Building on that idea, Honeywell is now partnering with cities and towns to help them manage their energy consumption communitywide, home by home. The Morris Township, N.J-based company is providing communities with thermostats they can give their residents to better control energy usage. It seems like a very innovative—and very green—solution.

Here’s more from a recent article in the St. Paul, Minn.-based Pioneer Press newspaper:
 

Honeywell has announced a new Wi-Fi-controlled thermostat that is intended to be distributed by municipalities instead of purchased at retail by consumers in order to better manage energy consumption across a town or city.

South Sioux City, Neb., will be the first community to deploy the new thermostat to help its 13,000 residents manage electricity costs, which are said to have risen steadily there in the past three years.

In the future, other municipalities will recruit residents to reduce energy consumption when demand spikes, a strategy known as automated demand response, or ADR.

As part of this, the residents would receive the $150 Honeywell Total Connect Comfort with ADR thermostat for free so that utilities can link to the home devices and reduce that residence's energy as needed.

Such an approach can help avoid brownouts and blackouts on the hottest days of the year, when power-grid stability is threatened.

Honeywell's thermostat can be controlled with a Total Connect Comfort app, available in versions for Apple iOS and Google Android devices.

 

Simon says it's time to cooperate with your local PD

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Giving your customer list to law enforcement makes sense.

That statement seems to fly in the face of convention for the alarm industry, which hasn’t exactly been cozy over the years with the boys in blue. But Dave Simon, writing recently for the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, makes a compelling case for doing so.

Simon argues that there are far more benefits to cooperating with law enforcement than erecting barriers. Despite concerns in the past that sensitive information about customers could be compromised, that hasn’t happened, he said. And he draws another conclusion (agree with it or not) in this age of surveillance: Police departments will eventually get the lists anyway, so why not partner with them as good citizens?

The bottom line, Simon wrote, is that SIAC believes the cooperative approach bears more fruit. Here’s more of what he had to say:

Besides being nice, alarm dealers are actually helping customers in those cities where they provide the lists. Why? Because the list helps the PD do their job, ensure compliance and get systems registered. All that means a better-run alarm management program, improved enforcement and increased public safety. That’s good for the alarm dealer because customers have fewer false dispatches, saving them expensive fines and the risk of losing police response.

SIAC promotes cooperative problem-solving. This is a great example of how we can be supportive and help local jurisdictions—particularly the police department—conserve resources. We’ve found that even the largest national companies give lists. Cooperating with law enforcement is not a novel idea. Supplying customer lists should be an extension of our continued cooperation to ensure well-executed alarm management programs.

Simon invites opinions on the subject, pro or con, at siacinc.wordpress.com.

Prism Skylabs looks at new funding round

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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Prism Skylabs, a cloud-based service that enables business owners to use data from existing video surveillance cameras for business intelligence, marketing and other purposes, is looking at doing a $10 million Series B funding round, according to a report published on PE Hub today.

I emailed Steve Russell, Prism Skylabs CEO and founder of 3VR, this morning to ask when the new funding round would happen. He didn't give me an definitive answer, but said he'll keep me posted.

The PE Hub report was a glowing review of Ron Palmeri of MkII Ventures. Palmeri co-founded Prism Skylabs with Russell and is involved in a number of other non-security ventures. In that report, Palmeri is quoted as saying that Prism Skylabs "is probably worth about $80 million."

Last fall, Prism launched a partner program and also raised $7.5 milliion in funding.

 

 

 

 

Selling alarm gear? Meet your match on new website

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Looking for a pair of used Osborne Hoffmann 2000 receivers? How about a mix of Philips Lifeline 6800 and 6900 PERS units? Or maybe you have a security item to sell but you don’t want to pay to list it?

Welcome to AlarmClassifieds.com. It’s the brainchild of Josh Garner, CEO of Ogden, Utah-based AvantGuard Monitoring, who launched the free website in May because he saw a need for it among his dealers and in the industry at large.

“Last year, I had a number of our dealers who emailed me a list of equipment or tools that they were trying to sell, and they asked me to broadcast out to our entire dealer base that they had these items for sale,” he said. “I knew there had to be a more effective way for dealers to sell things to other dealers. So I went out and bought the domain.”

In addition to providing classified advertising space, the website features a directory where people serving the alarm industry can list their names (or the names of their companies). The classified ads expire in 30 days, but the directory items stay online for a year. All listings are free.

“I envision every vendor who is serving the alarm industry would want to put a directory listing up specifically in their category,” Garner said. “Why wouldn’t they? It’s free advertising.”

Categories on the site include brokers, consultants, manufacturers, marketing, software providers and RMR-enhancing services. There are more than 20 categories listed, and Garner said if you have one to add, “tell us and we’ll create it for you.”

Garner modeled the site on the popular KSL classifieds that serve Web customers in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming. KSL is the NBC news affiliate in Salt Lake City that has basically replaced Craigslist in the region with the advertising section on its home page, he said.

“If you want to buy something, if you want to sell something, you go to KSL.com for free,” he said.

The only mention of AvantGuard on AlarmClassifieds.com is small text block and company logo introducing the website. There is no other display advertising.

“This isn’t about revenue,” Garner said. “It’s a service to my dealers, but it’s really only a service to my dealers if the rest of the industry uses it. It’s about giving something that’s of value to the industry that I think is needed.”

North Carolina hotel room a CO deathtrap?

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

North Carolina requires carbon monoxide detectors in homes and apartments, but not in hotels. Now, some tragic deaths in a hotel room in Boone, N.C. make a compelling argument for a CO detector mandate for hotels.

First, an elderly couple died in April in room 225 in the Best Western Plus Blue Ridge Plaza, according to news reports. Then, on Saturday, an 11-year-old boy was found dead in the same room, reports say.

Blood tests show that the April deaths were due to CO poisoning, according to TIME Magazine.

Next to die, on June 8, was the young boy, Jeffrey Lee Williams. “The cause of death was determined to be asphyxia, meaning his lungs couldn’t get enough oxygen,” TIME reported June 9. “Williams, from Rock Hill, S.C., died spontaneously, and his 49-year-old mother was hospitalized in critical condition — circumstances strangely similar to that of Daryl Dean Jenkins, 73, and Shirley Mae Jenkins, 72, from Longview, Wash., who were found dead in the same room on April 16.”

It has not yet been established if CO poisoning caused the boy to die and his mother to become ill, news reports said. But TIME said that an initial test taken the day the boy died “showed a high amount of poisonous gas in the room.” A toxicology analysis is pending, the magazine said.

The report says police didn’t explain why it took two months to get toxicology results on what caused the Jenkins to die. Earlier results, the magazine said,  “could have led to the closing of the hotel long before Williams’ death.”

The magazine added, “Room 225 is directly above the room housing a natural gas heater for the hotel’s swimming pool. Documents obtained by the Charlotte Observer show a Watauga County Health Department report indicating deficiencies in the pool.”

According to an NBC report, the independently owned and operated hotel released a statement saying, “The health and safety of guests who stay at our hotel is our No. 1 priority. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of those involved. We are cooperating fully with authorities who are investigating this truly tragic incident.”

According to a new interactive map of CO legislation in the United States developed by System Sensor, North Carolina’s law requiring CO detectors in homes and multi-family dwellings took effect Jan. 1, 2010. System Sensor, based in St. Charles, Ill., makes fire detection and notification devices, including carbon monoxide detectors.

Once IR spins off security division, will others follow?

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Once IR spins off its security division, will others follow? Poking around some investor conference info recently, I came across this tidbit on Seeking Alpha

“Stanley Black & Decker Chairman John Lundgren made an interesting revelation during his chat at the Electrical Products Group Conference yesterday. [The conference took place in late May]. The exec says the company will keep an eye on the spinoff from Ingersoll Rand of its security business to see if a similar move would make sense for SWK with its security business. On strategy: "Because if we are convinced a year or two years from now that we have got a 12x EBITDA business trapped in a 7 or 8x business, we will make it bigger."

Through my Stanley contacts, I asked Brett D. Bontrager, SVP and Group Executive, Stanley Security Solutions, for further comment on Lundgren’s statement. Bontrager declined comment saying that there was nothing more to say beyond what John Lundgren stated.

You may recall that Ingersoll Rand announced in December that it would spin off its security products business.  Here’s my story. The IR security business—which includes brands such as Schlage locks and other electronic and biometric access control products—will be a $2 billion company once it is spun off. The remaining IR business will be a $12 billion business.

Following the IR spinoff announcement, reports, such as this one from Bloomberg, speculated that the new standalone IR security company will present an acquisition target. This report said potential acquirers include Stanley Black & Decker (to add to its security businesses and further diversify from its power tools), Tyco (might be interested in IR’s commercial products but not its resi security products) and UTC. The report also notes that IR, which is headquartered in Swords, Ireland, presents certain tax advantages.

The IR spinoff was prompted by activist shareholder Nelson Peltz, whose Trian Fund Management owns about 7.3 percent of IR stock.

During ISC West, IR announced that Patrick Shannon will serve as senior VP and CFO of the new security spinoff and Barbara Santoro will serve as SVP and general counsel. They will report to the CEO, who has yet to be named.

Surveillance cameras called ‘worse than useless’ in Philly

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

It’s not the kind of press you would expect for video surveillance, especially after all of the positive PR for helping bring down the suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing. Only onward and upward, right?

Apparently Philadelphia didn’t get the memo.

Last week, City Controller Alan Butkovitz announced the results of an audit of the police department’s surveillance camera program. The news wasn’t favorable: Only 32 percent of the cameras reviewed were functioning as they should, down from 45 percent found to working properly during a random sampling last year.

“That means that at any given time when crime is occurring around our city, only a third of the cameras are able to capture criminal activity at camera locations,” Butkovitz told the Philadelphia Daily News. He said the system is “worse than useless” because it gives residents a false sense of security.

Butkovitz said the problems included blurry images with pixelated edges and condensation in camera domes, making it difficult or impossible to read license plates and identify crime suspects.

“Suppose that had been the quality of photos in the Boston bombing,” Butkovitz told KYW Newsradio, letting listeners draw their own conclusions.

Mayor Michael Nutter was quick to respond to the assertions, calling Butkovitz’s report inaccurate. Nutter said that by his administration’s count, 85 percent of the 216 police cameras were working as of May 27.

Asked by the Daily News why there was such a wide discrepancy in the figures, Nutter said, “I can’t account for the controller’s inability to count. … We know what cameras work. [Butkovitz] does some kind of sampling. We actually pay attention to all of the cameras.”

Regardless of who’s right, Philly’s spat highlights the benefits for the security industry post-Boston. For cities that don’t have a video surveillance system, the law enforcement benefits of adding one have never been more obvious. For cities that are already onboard, now is the time to make sure the systems are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. That goes for the monitoring side as well.

Kessler and DeMarco: Professional monitoring, strategy bode well for DIRECTV/Lifeshield deal

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I had a chance to speak to Jeff Kessler, research analyst for Imperial Capital, and ESX chairman George DeMarco about the satellite television giant DIRECTV getting into security with the purchase of LifeShield.

Below is a summary of those discussion:

This deal is different from the string of cable companies and telecoms that have jumped into the fray over the past couple of years, Kessler said, for a couple of reasons.

First, DIY is built into the DNA of both DIRECTV and LifeSheild, Kessler said. “They understand each others’ way of working,” and that will make the combination more successful.

Second, LifeSheild, and now, DIRECTV, is using CMS, Protection 1’s professional monitoring arm to monitor security customers.

With the exception of AT&T, which is building two monitoring centers, the other cable and telecom players are not using professional monitoring centers.

“This allows DIRECTV to show off its feathers in front of other cable and telecom players,” Kessler said. Those companies are using “generic customer service organizations to do their initial [monitoring] service, [but DIRECTV has a acquired a company] that uses the largest independent monitoring company in the country with five branches.”

He pointed out that CMS has extremely experienced people answering phones who know about intrusion and life safety, including carbon monoxide. The company also has a group of people who are specially trained in health care for calls related to personal emergency response.

All of this is important, he said, because it will improve the customer experience for DIRECTV’s security customers. Going with a professional monitoring company will help convince customers that they can trust DIRECTV as their security provider because customers believe that the “police will be there in five minutes, or a health specialist will stay on the phone for 35 minutes with a customer,” he said.

In general, the public’s perception about cable companies’ service is not good. This is a hurdle for cable companies who enter the security industry. By partnering with CMS that has “proficiency and experience dealing with customer emergencies, whether it’s security or health,[DIRECTV] is in a better position to succeed,” Kessler said.

Kessler said there will likely more deals like this where an outsider like a satellite or cable company will buy a home security provider. In addition, Kessler expect to see more “partnerships as telcos and cable operators realize the value in having a high-quality partner on the service end of the business.

George DeMarco, chairman of ESX, and former owner of Greater Alarm said DIRECTV’s strategy is pretty straightforward.

“DIRECTV has 20 million customers. If the current market penetration for electronic security systems is approximately 20-25 percent, then their customer database is a gold mine.”

DeMarco said it’s all about finding new, complementary, recurring revenue streams that “boost their ability to attract a greater share of the customer’s wallet. Offering security and home management systems with interactive service capabilities, especially video, gives DIRECTV an opportunity to overlay additional home services for customers, while growing top-line revenues and increasing bottom -line profits.  
 
“With the advancements in product technologies, cloud-based services, and mobile devices, Multiple System Operators (MSO) and telecoms have been eyeing the electronic security industry of late. That said, I believe DIRECTV and other MSOs are looking for ways to augment their current offerings.” 

DeMarco said the those industries’ subscribers are willing to “cut the cord” from content packages because of the impact of Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon’s Prime Service. “In other words, MSOs can increase new phone and broadband subscribers while losing paid TV subscribers. Consumers have more choices today for content and delivery of broadband services. As a result, MSOs are exploring other sources of revenue for growth opportunities and the electronic security industry seems to be the likely candidate.”

 

Time Warner about to wrap up home security rollout

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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

I’ve been writing about IntelligentHome, Time Warner Cable’s home security/home automation product, since it launched in a few markets in 2011. Two years later, Time Warner is now announcing that the rollout of IntelligentHome should be complete by this fall.

Here’s what the company had to say in a news release today:
 

Time Warner Cable has announced that it will launch its home management and security system, IntelligentHome, throughout its Ohio and Wisconsin service areas in June, followed by New York City this fall. The upcoming launches will wrap up TWC’s rollout of the new product to all major markets in its service area.

Time Warner amped up the introduction of IntelligentHome this spring, launching it in Maine, Kansas City, Mo., South Carolina and all of North Carolina and also in San Antonio.

Time Warner describes IntelligentHome as “an easy-to-use wireless system that offers professional home security along with flexible features that allow customers to check in on their kids or pets, arm or disarm their security system, turn on a light or set the thermostat the way they like it—all via a smartphone, laptop or in-home touch screen.”

The product is professionally installed by Time Warner employees and also is professionally monitored.

How is the New York-based cableco liking security? I’ll be talking the company’s VP of IntelligentHome to learn more. Keep posted.

 

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