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False alarms hit the big time

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008
The false alarm issue went mainstream in a big way when this article appeared in The New York Times last Sunday. The article basically outlines the issue and cites different false alarm policies throughout the East, nothing those of you reading this don't already know, but my favorite section was this: "Not all towns see false alarms as a problem. In Westchester County, Lt. Robert W. Mazurak of the Bedford Police Department said his officers respond to about 50 alarms a week in Bedford, Bedford Hills and Katonah. Almost all are false. 'This is an important service we provide,' Lieutenant Mazurak said. 'We get to know where the houses are, and the people get to know our cops.'" I love positive people. I'm sure some of you would love to have this guy in your police department. I was confused by this paragraph: Officials in Suffolk County chose another approach, beginning in May 2005. If a business has more than 16 false alarms within 365 days the company is required to fix the faulty alarm within 30 days or it is put on a do-not-respond list. False alarms are counted only if they are caused by system failure, not employee error, and homeowners are exempt, said Richard Dormer, the county police commissioner. It sounds like if an employee triggers the alarm and police/fire respond it doesn't count as one of the 16 allowed alarms? Hmmm. I wonder how they track that? Speaking of tracking, I'm working on a story about a company that does exactly that: It takes care of all the administrative duties for tracking, enforcing and billing customers for false alarms. Keep your eye out for the March issue. (Was that plug too blatant?)

Don't forget to alarm the pet door

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008
This story about an intruder breaking into a Dallas house via a doggie door seems a little unbelievable. The door was eight by 12 inches, according to this story. Think the intruder was a pre-schooler? Anyone ever put a sensor on a pet door?

Securitas Systems' new name: Niscayah

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008
In a relatively conservative security industry, the latest news out of Stockholm has to be considered fairly bold: Securitas Systems, the integrator that spun out of Securitas, has announced it will officially change its name to Niscayah.
I know: Niscayah? According to the release, it means "secure and reliable" in Sanskrit. But you knew that. I knew a name change was coming. Apparently, after the spin-out, Securitas Systems only had claim to the Securitas name for two years, anyway, and they probably didn't want to wait until the deadline was upon them. Intellectually, I think this is a great move. It's different. It emphasizes the company's reputation for creativity. It says that the company is about more than just traditional security. But can you reliably google it? It took me a few practice runs to remember how to spell it (k or c? h at the end or no?), but I did get it eventually. And does it say "security" at all to your average end user? I'm not sure. What do you guys think?

Who's the most famous security industry member?

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Monday, January 28, 2008
I'm going to nominate Cris Carter for that honor. I'm frankly shocked that this New York Times article references his ownership of Carter Bros., however. It's rare that the sports section acknowledges a player's post-playing career. Of course, this - He owns a security company, Carter Brothers, based in Atlanta, and received an award for entrepreneurship from the National Urban League. - makes it seem like he's running a little old alarm company, or something. But, as you'll see in this story about Carter Bros. buying GE's Edwards installation arm, where I interviewed the other Carter brother, John, it's pretty dang substantial. I'm thinking for mainstream fame combined with security industry stature, Carter can't be beat. A close runner up might be Thomas McMillen, the former NBA star and congressman who heads Homeland Security Capital Corp., but a: his company is still smaller than Carter's, and b: Carter is on HBO.

Buckle your seatbelts. It's time for another Brink's investor call

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Monday, January 28, 2008
One thing about these hedge fund guys: They certainly know how to lively up an investor call. Yeah, it's still kind of like a math class, but this is one math class with some interesting personalities. The CEO of Brink's is like the teacher and those hedge fund guys are the kids who don't care if they get detention. Ready to tune in yet? Mark your calendar for one of the least boring investment calls of the year: Jan. 31, 11 a.m. Eastern Time.

Worst PR ever for surveillance camera installation

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Friday, January 25, 2008
Okay, so this happened in China, where maybe privacy isn't as closely held by government employees, but having surveillance footage of people kissing on a subway platform show up on YouTube has got to be the worst possible PR for those pushing cameras as a way of reducing crime. Here's the video. Sorry, couldn't resist. If this happened in the U.S., I'm pretty sure Nancy Grape's head would explode. It would be wise, in general, for security professionals of all stripes to acquaint themselves with privacy laws and best practices. If you can advise your customers in this area, you might find yourself with another piece of RMR, acting as an outsourced chief privacy officer. If you're looking to start down the path of privacy, you can't do better than the IAPP. And, hey, they're in Maine, so they must be smart.

Why Verify?

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Thursday, January 24, 2008
I can't seem to get away from this false alarm topic lately. Here's a video from a Florida TV station reporting on a non-profit organization that has racked up over $2,000 in false alarm fees in the last year. The non-profit says that a fire sensor installed in the kitchen went off every time the stove was turned on and the situation got so ridiculous they had to set up a makeshift stove outside so they could cook. The most interesting part of the piece, however, was a comment that the fire department must respond to all alarms, even cancelled alarms, from residential centers like this one. That was news to me. I guess I understand the intention of this policy, but it really eliminates the effectiveness of verification as a way to reduce false alarms, huh? I wonder if anybody's keeping track of how many false alarms are the result of policies like this? Sounds like wasted efforts to me.

Management shake-up at Cisco

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Thursday, January 24, 2008
For whatever reason, there's a management shake-up going on at Cisco. The past couple of days have seen press releases come across my desk reporting the new positions of two former higher-up physical security execs: Hirsch Electronics today announced Robert Beliles, co-founder of Cisco's physical security initiative and business unit, has been appointed vice president, enterprise business development. Mr. Beliles brings to Hirsch more than eleven years of product marketing and product management experience with Cisco Systems, Inc. He is also the co-author of several networked physical security system patents-pending. I like the "Mr. Beliles." The PR agency apparently used to work for the New York Times. Then there's this: Agent Vi, developers of enterprise video analytics software to improve security, business intelligence and operations, today announced the appointment of Mark Kolar to the newly created position of vice president, channels for the Americas. He will build, lead and direct the company’s channel partner efforts and related programs in North, Central and South America. Kolar joins Agent Vi from Cisco Systems where he served as director of physical security for worldwide channels. While at Cisco, Kolar founded and initially developed Cisco’s physical security go-to-market and acquisition strategies, and most recently designed, launched, and enhanced Cisco’s worldwide physical security reseller and channel program. His efforts included the implementation of processes to control and scale the deployment of Cisco's physical security solutions as well as the management of several large systems integrator relationships. Considering Cisco's only been in the physical security marketplace for a couple years, that would seem to be a large loss of institutional memory, but I guess Bill Stuntz has plenty of that himself.

New CFO at Devcon

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Thursday, January 24, 2008
Devcon International has a new chief financial officer, Mark M. McIntosh, who most recently served as the company's vice president of finance and strategic business development. He is replacing Robert W. Schiller who resigned on Jan. 16. Here's the official press release.

Edge Integration is now Reach Systems

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008
There are puns to be had and bad jokes galore here, but I'm going to maintain decorum in telling you that IP access manufacturer Edge Integration Systems is now Reach Systems. The press release tells us: Edge chose to rename the company and flagship product, the Edge Access Control System (Edge ACS), to further differentiate our unique service-based access control solution from other legacy security products using the word “Edge” in their name. Many of these similarly named products belong to our valued partners like respected card reader manufacturer, HID Global. Not to cast aspersions, but I'm guessing HID Global was maybe respectfully involved in getting that name change accomplished. They've been working hard to establish their Edge line of IP access products, and probably weren't too keen on confusion with a start-up. Reach, nee Edge, makes a good product, allowing tons of web-based control of access systems, offering a great solution for multi-site businesses that aren't huge, for example, or for integrators to offer managed access control to SMB customers. I had a good interview with Dennis Raefield about it here.

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