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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.

 

 

AT&T gets into mobile PERS; Puro resigns at CRN Wireless

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Mobile PERS is fast becoming the land of the giants.

AT&T is the latest to get into the game, announcing on Feb. 21 that it will provide the wireless network and location services for Libris, a mobile health management system from Seattle-based Numera Inc. The news follows ADT’s announcement in January that it’s getting into mobile PERS by partnering with Toronto-based health tech provider Ideal Life.

The target market for both ventures is similar: active senior citizens looking for an extra measure of safety, and those with chronic conditions who want health monitoring inside and outside the home. Libris delivers by integrating biometric readings, two-way mobile voice, automated fall detection and location tracking.

“Incorporating continuous monitoring of an individual’s activity, location and important health measurements, [Libris] breaks new ground in bringing together personal safety and telehealth in a mobile device,” said Chris Penrose, senior vice president of emerging devices for AT&T, in a prepared statement.  

While the competition for remote patient monitoring is getting more intense, there’s probably a lot of room left in the sandbox for players of all sizes. The telecare and telehealth market is expected to exceed $1 billion by 2016 and grow to $6 billion by 2020, according to Numera.

Puro resigns at CRN Wireless: In other PERS-related news, e3 Investment Partners announced this week that Nicholas Puro has resigned as CEO of CRN Wireless. He will focus on other opportunities in network services, monitoring and security, according to an e3IP news release.

“I am particularly interested in network services and wireless monitoring in the medical and pharmaceutical field,” said Puro, who is listed on LinkedIn as managing director of e3IP. “There are vast opportunities for new products and services ranging from fully mobile personal emergency response systems to wireless monitoring of pharmaceuticals through the cold chain.”

Earlier this month, CRN Wireless launched two 4G cellular alarm communicators through its AlarmPath division.

Get your new product listed in SSN

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Got new product? Exhibiting at ISC West?

If so, you may submit your product for Security Systems News’ ISC West New Show Products section.

All companies exhibiting at the show can submit one product that is making its debut at ISC West 2013 in April, but companies that have more than one product division may submit one product for each division. That's like video and access--not different flavors of video, OK? Please attach a jpeg image of the product to the email.

The process is easy. Just send the following information, in the body of an email to Cath Daggett  cdaggett@securitysystemsnews.com

1.  Company name
2.  Company website
3.  Product name
4.  Three bullet points that describe your product, each 12 words or less
5. Company telephone number—only ONE please (to be published)
6. ISC West booth number (essential; you must be exhibiting at ISC West)
7.  Image of product ( JPEG file with a DPI of 300 or greater. No PDFs, please.)

The firm deadline is Wednesday, March 6. Space in the issue is limited, so submitting early ensures you a place in the section.

Questions? Call or email me or Cath.

 

ADT shares predicted to rise 20 percent

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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

An article in Barron’s has the financial media world abuzz because it predicts shares of The ADT Corp. “could climb by more than 20 percent over the next year.”

The article in the latest edition of the weekly financial newspaper owned by Dow Jones cites the push into home automation by the publicly traded ADT, which spun off from Tyco in September. ADT Pulse, introduced in 2010, is the driver of much of ADT’s growth, the article said.

Barron’s also indirectly suggests ADT could buy a rival like Vivint or that ADT itself could be acquired. The article refloats the rumor that AT&T could acquire ADT.

The article concludes: “It may be time for investors to pick up the smartphone and tap the ADT Pulse icon.”

Here’s some more details summarized by Reuters:
 

According to [Barrons], the Boca Raton, Florida-based company is already benefiting from a stronger housing market, rising demand for home healthcare services, and recent acquisitions, and commands 25 percent of the home alarm business and 14 percent of the small business segment.

… At the center of ADT's expansion effort is Pulse, a nearly 2-1/2 year old product that lets customers control settings remotely through devices such as smartphones and tablets.

While Pulse serves just 4 percent of ADT customers overall, the company in January said 19 percent of new customers use it.

ADT last month also set plans to quickly buy back $600 million of stock under an existing $2 billion repurchase program.

… It also said ADT could buy rivals, which are mainly owned by private equity firms such as Blackstone Group LP.  [which owns Vivint]

Based on recent transactions for security companies, ADT could fetch $59 per share in takeover, the newspaper said.

Shares of ADT closed yesterday at $46.57.

 

G4S Technology gets new EVP

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

G4S’s integration business, G4S Technology, (formerly Adesta), has a new EVP: Sam Belbina. Belbina will be in charge of business development, marketing and communications, and strategic initiatives such as new markets and the expansion of National and Global Services business.

Belbina comes from Schneider Electric where he ran sales for the Schneider/Pelco video brand and the integrated security solutions business in the United States. “In this role, he captured and managed over $400M in business,” G4S said.  

Belbina will report to Bob Sommerfeld, president of G4S Technology.

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