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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.

"Proactive policing"

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008
I saw this police-penned story come across the wire. It's actually a nice tale of police and the alarm industry working together to do what both are supposed to do: stop crime and keep people and property safe. I just find this part interesting: One idea centered on “Eliminating the number of steps with the alarm,” that caused a Hayward Baker representative being notified before the SPPD that the alarm had been activated. Due to the number of thefts at the company the SPPD and Hayward Baker decided to “Have the security company call us directly so we could catch the guys there on the property,” said Chief MacKinnon. When the January 12 report of the alarm was received by the SPPD the Officers “went down and skipped” the normal security measures of checking doors and windows to see if the business had been broken into. Ignoring the weird capitalization and distaste for commas, what's strange here is we have a police department touting its "proactive policing," when, in fact, they wouldn't have caught anybody doing anything if it weren't for the alarm company, whose name for some reason can't be mentioned. They don't have any problem naming the establishment that's protected, Hayward Baker, but can't seem to remember which alarm firm it was that was so compliant in changing protocol to suit the police department's needs. Huh. Over on Leischen's blog, there's discussion of alarm companies using free labor. Well, how many criminals are the cops catching if no one calls them up to tell them where they are?

For Tyco, Breaking up is good to do

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008
The break-up last spring of Tyco International has yielded better than expected results, according to a preliminary financial resultss for the first quarter of fiscal 2008. Led by strong quarterly performance by ADT and Tyco's Flow Control unit, Tyco's revenue grew 12 percent, from $4,365,000,000 in Q1 2007 to $4,870,000,000 in Q1 2008. The company reported organic revenue growth of six percent, and a 55 percent increase in operating income. Tyco chief Ed Breen said in a statement that Tyco's "raising its full-year earnings-per-share guidance. This morning Rueters reported: Tyco shares were up $2.03 or 6 percent to $35.75 on the New York Stock Exchange, erasing all of their losses from the three prior trading sessions. The stock is still down about 11 percent since the end of 2007, about in line with the year-to-date losses in the Standard & Poor's 500 index. Tyco's investor conference call is scheduled for Super Tuesday, now called Tsunami Tuesday, Feb. 5.

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.

Book reports industry mooches off taxpayers

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008
So after a few days on backorder from my favorite local bookstore, I finally got around to reading Free Lunch by David Cay Johnston. The main argument is this: taxpayers foot the bill for responding to false alarms which equals the profits reported by the security industry. Hence, the free lunch reference. Here’s the argument verbatim: “These profits are huge because the alarm industry does not pay its largest single cost, labor to check out alarms. The taxpayers pick up this expense. Each time the police check out an alarm it costs more than $50, the police in Seattle and other cities have determined. The average alarm goes off more than once each year. The police responded to about 38 million alarms in 2000 at a total cost to taxpayers of $1.9 billion. The burglar alarm industry collected $7.9 billion from residential and commercial burglar alarm customers that year. So if the industry’ estimates are reliable, it means that profits were almost $1.9 billion, almost exactly the value of the taxpayer subsidy in having police check out false alarms.” Johnston concludes with this: “The burglar alarm industry charges hefty fees for a service that costs it very little. Then the industry dumps onto the taxpayers the real costs of providing the very service it sells. This is economic pollution sold to people under the guise of making them safe. In fact, it makes them less safe.” The “safe” argument that Johnston tries to work into his argument is fairly weak, in my opinion, and a manipulation of numbers, but I won’t divert to that right now. Instead, I would say that the alarm industry is certainly aware that false alarms are an issue, but the real question is: How will the industry deal with this negative public image? Any ideas?

Do you know your overtime laws?

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008
This article caught my eye today, especially considering the Brink's back-pay settlement we wrote about a few months back. Basically, lawsuits against small businesses are on the rise, where employees are paying more attention to "the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act, which mandates time-and-a-half wages for any hours worked beyond 40 a week." This line is particularly auspicious: A New Orleans security company was assessed $185,385. I'm kind of assuming that's a guard company, but there's no way to know (I've never understood why mainstream reporters don't name companies specifically in stories like this. The information is right in front of them. Do they think it would be embarrassing for the company named? Isn't it worse to be hit with $185,385 in back wages?). Regardless, for you integrators and installers that might be sending people out at odd hours to fix stuff, or are pushing to finish up a job with salaried employees, you might want to make sure everybody's working the proper amount or being paid more.

New NBFAA Web site

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Tuesday, January 22, 2008
It's been up for a few days, but I just checked out the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association's new Web site. It's slick and easy to use, and there's lots of information on members and services there. Check out the membership directory, for example.

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