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business, video

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008
So this morning I found an interesting video monitoring application being used in meat processing plants. I realize it's not exactly the market for the average security installer or integrator, but I thought it was a good example of how security technology is moving beyond traditional applications and is actually being used to improve business operations (and, in this case, the health of consumers). Arrowsight is a company that provides remote video auditing (RVA) technology (a new acronym for me), and installs these systems in meat processing and animal handling factories so managers can constantly monitor "the line" to ensure that employees are following food safety standards. In the wake of this massive meat recall with video surfacing showing unimaginable violations of meat handling compliance, knowing that somebody is keeping an eye on how the nation's meat is being handled is slightly comforting (although the company's who are progressive enough to install video monitoring systems probably aren't the ones using fork lifts to move sick cattle into the slaughter house). For the security integrators out there, this is just another example of how security systems are moving beyond traditional applications and truly becoming a tool to improve business.

Who's looking out for the industry on Capitol Hill?

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008
To support member of Congress who are looking out for the interests of the security industry on Capital Hill, the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association has formed a new Political Action Committee. NBFAA's government relations guru John Chwat said in a statement that PACS are a great way to facilitate contributions to U.S. Congressional candidates in House and Senate races. "The legal minefield one must navigate to give directly to a candidate is confusing at best, and PACs avoid the possible problems inherent in companies trying to manage individual contributions," he said. The NBFAA will soon begin soliciting PAC contributions from member companies.

RMR that will make you fit

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I've been meaning to write about these 24-hour gyms for a while. What a great RMR opportunity for a central station with some extra capacity. If you don't have a business partnership with one of these franchises now, it's time to find one. Basically, the gyms never close, and don't need staffing at night because everyone just wears a panic alarm while they work out, and have access cards to get in the building. Just look at all the tasty business outlined here: Snap Fitness uses a slightly different panic system, said Sternitzky. Buttons are still on necklaces and walls, but a security company is called instead of police. The security officer converses with people through an intercom. If a patron collapses or is too weak to speak, rescue crews are dispatched. ... Keycards help protect members, too, said Collien. People swipe their card to gain access at Anytime, Snap and Club Fitness. At his business, patrons sign a policy not to let anyone in, even if they think the person is a member, Collien said. The measure prevents people from entering with stolen cards. Sorry, not to interrupt, but how exactly does a policy not to let people in prevent people from entering with stolen cards? If they have a card, they don't need people to let them in, right? Customers who lose their cards receive new ones, he added. The old code is canceled so others can't use it. Even when they aren't working, operators can still watch their establishments. All local 24-hour centers have surveillance, and many owners can control the cameras from off-site. Collien said his cameras are connected to his home computer so he can monitor the business anytime, even when he's home with the flu. So, that's a monthly contract for the monitoring, plus a monthly contract for the managed access control (you don't think the gyms want to deal with issuing cards and changing PINs, do you?), which needs an access control system, preferably IP so you can manage it better at the central, plus an IP surveillance system (or a networked DVR, anyway), plus some analytics (you can't allow tailgating, can you?), plus the panic buttons. That sounds like a nice little system sale, plus a substantial chunk of RMR, no? I think it's time to promote fitness in your hometown.

Surveillance is for the dogs

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Monday, March 17, 2008
Sorry, just couldn't pass this story by. Have you thought about marketing your integration firm as an animal-cruelty prevention service? Maybe you should. Anderson hired a security company to install surveillance cameras that allegedly caught the neighbor on tape, tossing two small objects [rat poison, it turns out] in the direction of Anderson's yard. A couple of years ago, the same neighbor had filed enough noise complaints about Pete that the dog's owner had to defend himself in a DeKalb County court. Last week, DeKalb County police arrested the neighbor, 46-year-old John Groover, and charged him with felony cruelty to animals. "It's like that show, 'To Catch a Predator,' [but] doggy-style," Anderson said. There seem to be a number of jokes I could make here, but none of them seems appropriate. One question: When will we stop using the phrase "caught on tape," when, in fact, nobody actually uses VCRs for surveillance anymore (at least not in new systems. I mean, right?)?

Getting ready for ISC West

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Monday, March 17, 2008
ISC West is fast approaching and all of us here at SSN and Security Director News have been booking meetings and getting ready for this annual Vegas extravaganza. I have to admit, I don't dislike Las Vegas as much as I used to. The smoke, the crowds, the faux-everything used to leave me thinking the red-eye home was a pleasant experience. After a few trips, however, I'm kind of getting used to Sin City. It's nice to see all the people I talk to all year in person at the show, and if there's no natural beauty in Vegas, there are some great places to eat and shop. Coincidentally, at my house, my husband and kids and I have been watching, and enjoying the Ocean's series of movies, having missed their first runs in the theater. Last weekend we watched the original Ocean's 11, filmed in pre-high rise Vegas, before ISC West even existed. There are a lot of dated references, but lots of cool as well: Cesar Romero's mid-century modern home; a Nelson Riddle score; a very young Angie Dickinson; Dean Martin singing 'Ain't it Kick in the Head' ; Frank Sinatra and Peter Lawford, and how wicked cool is Sammy Davis Jr. here singing Ee O Eleven...

Can I get an analytics salesman on the phone?

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Friday, March 14, 2008
I'm sure everybody's heard about the most recent troubles at Heathrow airport, including yesterday's event, where a man scaled a fence and waltzed onto the runway before being challenged and then arrested. Where, oh where, is the security industry in all of this? The mainstream media and government officials are being allowed to spout all manner of wrongness and no one in the security industry is being interviewed or offering their two cents. This is the perfect time, whether you're in Europe or in Kansas, to offer up guest editorials or offer yourselves as technology and systems experts. Just look at this bit: Gordon Brown, the prime minister, said he was satisfied everything was being done to ensure security at Heathrow. Speaking after arriving at an EU summit in Brussels, he said: "I think the important thing about the Heathrow incident is that the person was detained, that all the security precautions went quickly into action ... and that all possible steps were taken so that when this incident happened the arrest took place. And I'm satisfied everything is now being done to ensure security at Heathrow is intact. We are determined to protect all passengers and all staff who go through Heathrow and every other airport in the country." What? Is this guy on crack? A man was allowed to walk right under a passenger airplane carrying a backpack! Hey, England, you got lucky. All possible steps were not taken in any way, shape, or form. There are some very inexpensive (relatively) solutions that would have alerted you the moment somebody started climbing the fence. Remember when I wrote about Optellios at ASIS? Heathrow just opened a $8.6 billion terminal. They couldn't pony up a bit more for some fiberoptic cable and some software to make sure their perimeter was secure? Or how about some off-the-shelf perimeter analytics? Anybody can do fenceline nowadays. There would have been buzzers going off like no tomorrow in the central command center at Heathrow as soon as that guy got within 10 feet of the fence and he never would have made the tarmac. I have major reservations about the people in charge of aviation security in England after reading the following: The former head of security at BAA, Norman Shanks, said a higher fence would not prevent further incursions and a serious clampdown on intruders would require sophisticated motion-sensor technology. A number of systems are available or under development, including CCTV technology that detects irregular movement. However, such a move would increase the cost of a Heathrow security bill that has risen by tens of millions of pounds since the liquid bombs scare in 2006. The perimeter at Heathrow is jointly patrolled by BAA security staff and the Metropolitan police. One aviation expert said it had not changed since the September 11 2001 attacks on the United States which showed al-Qaida's continued fascination with attacking aviation. A BAA spokesman said: "If there are lessons to be learned, they will be learned." A higher fence? Seriously? "Sophisticated motion-sensor technology"? What's wrong with that? You just spent $8.6 billion! There's wasn't $1,000,000 (and that's just an arbitrary large number - no way it would have cost that much) for some perimeter security? "CCTV technology that detects irregular movement"? Seriously, the security industry needs to be out there educating the general population about what's available. If the mainstream public knew about the technologies, and their relative affordability, they would not stand for a perimeter system at the largest airport in England going un-upgraded since 2001. That's borderline criminal.

Israeli security hits the mainstream

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Thursday, March 13, 2008
Looks like I'm not the only one taking tours of Israel's security infrastructure. Here's a mainstream take from Slate. Of course, I've got some problems with it, but on the whole it's not bad. If anything, it makes me feel a little less special, obviously, if dentists and such can go on these sorts of tours. Anyway, I'd encourage you to read the Slate pieces if you enjoyed my dispatches. They confirm much of my conclusions, but their mainstream (and, I'd argue, borderline sensationalist) take is definitely a different angle.

I'm pissed if I'm Brijot

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008
I knew this would happen. For whatever reason, people have picked up on this ThruVision announcement of its T-Ray technology and turned it into "it's like superman's x-ray vision" and ""it's like x-ray glasses." This is so stupid on so many levels its hard for me to deal with it. Do these morons not realize that we have x-ray technology already? Oh my god, a machine that can see through clothes! That's crazy! How do they not realize that the innovation here isn't that it can see through clothes, but that it's a passive technology, that it receives rays that your body (and everything) emits, rather than bombard you with x-rays, which could be hazardous to your health? This blogger might be the most wrong-headed. She calls her blog "Go Girlfriend," but if she's empowering her fellow female travelers with tripe like this they're probably not all that empowered: Remember those X-ray goggles your brother used to tease you? Remember how he told all his friends he could see "everything" with them, including your polka-dot panties? His dreams may finally be a reality the new ThruVision or "Strip Search" camera. She then recants, saying, essentially, that her use of the word "may" was completely irresponsible, but then she finishes with this nonsense: The technology raises more questions than it reveals though. Does it invade too much personal privacy in the interest of keeping us all safe? How much privacy are you willing to give up to keep terrorism at bay? How does it raise those questions exactly? Because while walking through a portal you'll appear as a faceless blob that no one could ever recognize and if you're carrying a large, concealed metal object someone will be able to tell? You want to keep it private that you're fond of metal chastity belts or something? Afraid it will pick up hidden colostomy bags? This is the kind of muddleheaded reactionary thinking that keeps us from actually paying attention to security. How can you make a privacy argument about this when you allow your carry-on baggage to be screened with an x-ray machine, and your checked baggage to be physically pawed through, every time you travel? The Atlanta Journal Constitution doesn't do a bad job with the story, and even raises the point that the T5000 is designed to spot large objects, and not smaller objects that might be found in a shoe, but the author doesn't bother to ask anyone in the security industry whether this is in any way unique. If the author had asked me, I might have said: "Isn't that what Brijot's been doing for two years?" I don't think its millimeter technology is harming anyone, and its stuff can "see through clothes" from 80 feet away, like ThruVision's can, at least to pick up the giant packages I'm supposed to be impressed ThruVision can pick up. Why isn't anyone making ridiculous reactionary comments about Brijot? If I were them, I'd be pissed.

Diebold comes out swinging

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Monday, March 10, 2008
Sorry I didn't post this earlier, but you can find a copy of Diebold's March 5 letter to UTC here. In no uncertain terms, Diebold Non-executive Chairman of the Board John N. Lauer makes it clear that Diebold isn't interested in being acquired. Here are some choice paragraphs: UTX is opportunistically seeking value that belongs to Diebold shareholders Your $40.00 per share offer is 27 percent below Diebold's 52-week high of $54.50 reached only seven months ago. Moreover, your offer is an opportunistic attempt to acquire Diebold at an inadequate price that does not reflect significant progress against our current strategic initiatives, a U.S. ATM and financial self-service environment that is anticipated to improve in 2009 from recent lows, important opportunities for growth overseas and cost initiatives that are on track to eliminate an initial $100 million from our cost structure by the end of 2008. I agree that UTC is being opportunistic, but can you blame them? Hey Diebold board, if you don't want to be acquired, get your stock price up. It's in free-fall last time I checked, and it's going to get worse if you rebuff this offer. No basis for Diebold shareholders to accurately determine appropriate value As we have clearly stated, given that we are in the process of working to become current in our financial results, there is simply insufficient financial information for investors to assess valuation. Accordingly, we have been unable to provide forward-looking guidance to date. As we have previously reported, the Company is working diligently to complete this process as quickly as possible. Hence, it would be imprudent for us to engage in any change-of-control discussions at this time. We believe that no responsible, objective management team or Board would assert otherwise and have heard from a number of our shareholders in the last few days that share this view. Seriously? Diebold's financial numbers are way late. Not just a little late. If I'm a shareholder, I'm thinking: "Throw us a bone with some good-looking numbers if you want us to believe we shouldn't take what we can get at this point." Misleading characterizations by UTX We take exception to your assertion that UTX has "sought for more than two years to engage Diebold in constructive discussions." This statement is inaccurate and misleading. Prior to your letter dated February 29, 2008, UTX had never made a firm proposal to acquire Diebold. In fact, UTX approached Diebold on only two occasions with non-specific inquiries -- first a brief, informal conversation that took place roughly two years ago between an investment banker (who did not identify his client) and a Diebold Board member; and second, your letter dated February 19, 2008, which referenced a vague proposal without any specific price. Two points of contact separated by two years does not, in our opinion, represent "constructive discussions to increase shareholder value" as you have publicly stated. This is tasty. Particularly for me. I've noted in past posts how certain financial journalists are acting like they knew all along about this supposed two-year courtship. Hogwash. They're just going on UTC's verbiage, which smelled a little funny to me from the outset. If this courtship has been going on so long, how come UTC released nothing older than that Feb. 19 letter? Point for Diebold here. UTC's definitely trying to spin public favor, and the financial analysts, wanting desperately to look insider are buying it. Simply put, UTX's proposed offer is far below what Diebold is worth. Furthermore, your overture, which comes at a time when we cannot responsibly engage in discussions, and the hostile nature of your approach, has convinced the Board that discussions now will not likely result in the best outcome for our shareholders. This is good work on Diebold's part. Even though they come off more than a bit whiny, they've put put all the onus back on UTC. It's passive-aggressive, considering the "time when we cannot responsibly engage in discussions" is pretty much their own fault, but I think it works, and they engage in a little spin of their own: "Simply put, blah, blah." Actually, it's not all that simple. People I've spoken to think the offer is about at one times trailing revenues, which is pretty much what firms in the security space are going for right now. Sure, UTC should be willing to pay a bit more of a premium for Diebold's size, but Diebold is in a tailspin right now, by most accounts, is laying people off, and can't get its numbers out. I'm thinking that damages your value a bit.

Like I'm not going to write about the T-Ray machine

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Monday, March 10, 2008
This story is all over the place, so, of course, I feel the need to comment. Basically, ThruVision has come up with a non-invasive, passive technology for scanning people for hidden weapons, etc. And it does sound cool: Unlike current security systems that use X-rays, the ThruVision system exploits terahertz rays, or T-rays. This electromagnetic radiation is a form of low level energy emitted by all people and objects. These are able to pass through clothing, paper, ceramics and wood but are blocked by metal and water. The system works by collecting these waves and processing them to form an image which can reveal concealed objects. "If I were to look at you in terahertz you would appear to glow like a light bulb and different objects glow less brightly or more brightly," said the firm's spokesperson. "You see a silhouette of the form but you don't see surface anatomical effects." So, let me get this straight: It can find stuff made out of metal and water. 1. Metal detectors seem to work pretty well. 2. So this is for finding liquid explosives? If I'm right with assumption 2, I guess I can see the point of this. After all, anyone who wanted to hide a liquid strapped to an inner thigh could do so at any point right now and walk it onto a plane. But the applications are pretty few - aviation only, right? What are you going to do, stop all people from bringing drinks into public spaces? I'm just not sure this technology upgrade is all that interesting application-wise.

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