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Dynamark CEO optimistic for new year

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

HAGERSTOWN, Md.—Throughout the past year, Dynamark entered some new areas: it moved into a new 24,000 square-foot facility, launched a funding program for its dealers, and entered the mPERS space through working with Numera’s Libris device. Company CEO Trey Alter looks ahead at 2017 as the “year of improvement.”

“This year our theme is it’s all about service, both for Dynamark customers and helping our dealers provide better service to their customers. It’s easy to create accounts in this industry, but it’s hard to fulfill the expectations of the customer,” Alter told Security Systems News.

“It’s a more competitive marketplace than it’s ever been,” Alter said, pointing to the cablecos and DIY offerings. “[We’re] trying to help our dealers understand that it’s going to take more each and every year to both get new customers and keep the customers you have.”

The company grew by 36 percent in 2016, which is somewhat consistent with Dynamark’s previous growth according to Alter. He also said that dealers have been showing interest in the new funding programs since its release.

The company previously said that it is looking to acquire another central station, and Alter said it’s a “must do” for 2017. “We’re very focused on finding a second central station this year—whether it means opening a new location or purchasing an existing location—and adding it to Dynamark,” he said.

“I think, ideally, we’d like to see something more in the Western market; but, we would never overlook a quality central station,” Alter said. Purchasing an existing central, instead of building one, “gives us the chance to meet a bunch of new dealers, to roll out some new technology to them, and to just make more relationships.”

What is the company looking to improve on? “Helping dealers understand early warning signs of bad customer behavior.” Alter gave a couple of examples, “If your customer’s not arming their system, and has not done so in a month, they will cancel on you—earlier than you’d like them to—because it means they have not found value in the system.”

Alter continued, “If you are not talking to your customers about the new offerings, about the camera systems that are available today, about the ability to integrate home automation devices, someone else is going to take your customers.”

ESX prepares for its 10th year

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

ESX just recently opened early registration for the 2017 show, to be held June 13-16 at the Music City Center, in Nashville, Tenn., as well as nominations for ESX 2017 Innovation Awards.

Yesterday, ESX announced a heavily discounted rate for early registration as celebration for the show's 10th year; early registrants will only pay $199 for ESX's Premium Pass. Last year, the Premium Pass early rate was $700. 

"We are thrilled to extend the special pricing for ESX 2017! To celebrate our 10th year, we really wanted to expand the opportunity of experiencing ESX to even more integrators, dealers and monitoring professionals," George De Marco, ESX chairman, told Security Systems News in an email exchange.

"We plan to highlight all the best of what the industry has to offer – technology, education and networking – and to take a trip down memory lane, showing off the best of ESX over the years," De Marco said.

ESX has a strong focus on providing useful education each year; this year the program expands with new “CounterPoint Forums,” De Marco said. “The interactive format will encourage security professionals to explore and discuss opposing views freely and passionately. We’ll be discussing topics, such as: Should you sell your security company? Cable service companies are here to stay - what impact are they having on the industry? DIY Security: Passing fad of real opportunity?”

“We believe the Counterpoint Forum will become a strong anchor in our program for 2017 and beyond,” De Marco continued.

Vendors and service providers can submit their nominations for Innovation Awards up to March 17. 

Alongside these announcements, ESX posted its educational session this year. Glancing at some of the session, I see some key trends for the industry. 

“Video Verification - Can You See Me Now?” one of the sessions in the Grow Your Business track, will look at video verification, why it’s important and how to upsell customers to gain more RMR.

In the Monitoring Center track, “Critical Steps to Understand and Combat the Growing Cyber Threats to your Monitoring Center Data,” plans to address the now ubiquitous concern of cybersecurity and tell attendees how they can educate their staff and identify proper resources to support their IT organization.

“Must Know Future Trends of the Industry,” a session in the Rethink the Future track, looks at a variety of industry topics, including cloud-based services, new players in the market, and the “pros and cons” of forming third-party partnerships.

In the Run Your Company track, “Five Tips for Managing Millennials” session seeks help attendees tap into potential talent in younger generations, through understanding common millennial career views and motivations.

Smart home presence up at CES 2017

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

LAS VEGAS—With the 2017 edition of the Consumer Electronics Show wrapping up on Sunday, it is always fun to see what technology trends are coming out of the show and how these will influence the security industry.

Over the past few years, the smart or connected home has made its way into the fabric of the show, growing in size and presence each year. Many prominent companies in the industry made big announcements at the show this year, including some notable unveils from ADT, Vivint, Alarm.com, Nortek Security & Control, Bosch, and Z-Wave Alliance, which featured its Z-Wave Experience Smart House demo area.

Vivint CMO Jeff Lyman told Security Systems News, “The show was marvelous for us—we doubled the size of our presence there this year having learned a lot from doing it last year for the first time in 2016. We were really pleased with how the show turned out. There is a large smart-home presence at CES, and it is a growing section of the show.”

Lyman also talked about the company’s big announcements at CES, most notably Vivint Sky, the company’s new smart home assistant that uses artificial intelligence, or AI, to manage all of the devices in a connected home. Vivint Smart Home also announced a new Flex Pay option with Citizens Bank, as well as partnerships with Airbnb and Vivint Solar.

Steve Connor, director of product marketing for Nortek Security & Control, like Lyman, pointed to the growth of the smart home at CES, telling SSN, “The Smart Home section had solid traffic and this time we saw a lot of our dealers, which was nice, and different from past years. The show went very well for us and we had some big announcements.”

Most notably, Nortek Security & Control unveiled its new 2GIG Vario Hybrid Security System, which Connor said is the culmination of “a lot of hard work and innovation.” The complete Vario system consists of a security control panel with on-board hardwire inputs and outputs, which can add wireless capabilities to take advantage of 2GIG’s existing wireless solutions. [Note: An article on this is coming soon, so check back on the site over the next few days for my full interview with Connor.]

Another top provider on the residential side, ADT, made a big splash at CES this year as well, making several announcements including expansions to its Canopy platform, which brings the company’s professional monitoring to various smart device partners in an on-demand offering, as well as new integration partners and ADT Anywhere. ADT also announced that its Canopy offering will be available with the launch of LG’s Smart Security product—an all-in-one security and home automation device with video capabilities. Also at CES, ADT announced integrations with Samsung’s Gear S2 and Gear S3 smart watches.

CES also offered glimpses at the future, with self-driving and autonomous cars, including one unveiled by Bosch with biometric capability, as well as drones and robotic technology as part of an overall security system solution.

Speaking of drones at CES, Alarm.com announced at the show plans to develop autonomous, video-enabled drone applications to extend the capabilities of smart home and business security systems. Alarm.com’s multi-sensor awareness and property intelligence, together with the Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight drone platform, will deploy drones to investigate unexpected activity. The drones will be designed to autonomously navigate through the property and provide a high-resolution video feed to the property owner. Alarm.com also unveiled at CES its Insights Engine, a multi-sensor learning capability that recognizes and proactively responds to unexpected activity around a property.

I look forward to speaking with Alarm.com's chief product officer Dan Kerzner later this week to get more on this interesting development for the company.

And while we are on the topic of new and emerging technologies, I would be remiss if I did not get in a shameless plug for SSN’s TechSec Solutions show, where we will be looking at how to leverage new technology over a day and a half of educational sessions, networking and product displays. Click here to register and get the early bird discount!

Hope to see you at TechSec in Delray Beach, Fla., Feb. 27-28!
 

TechSec Solutions takes on the future

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Security Systems News is excited to announce this year’s TechSec Solutions educational program and keynote speaker—Jack Wu, co-founder and CEO of Nightingale Security, an innovator in the area of robotic aerial security.

In his keynote, Wu will look at the current and future role robotics has in security and potential applications across many different verticals. Wu co-founded the company with John Hsu, whose vast experience in aeronautics and astronautics, Ph.D. from Stanford University and work at SpaceX on Falcon’s navigation system provide the technological vision and know-how that helps drive the company’s advancements in aerial robotic technology. Come see the company’s latest security drone up close and personal in Delray Beach, Fla., Feb. 27-28.

Beyond the keynote, we are tackling some of the bigger technology trends that are impacting the security industry today and will continue to shape the industry in the future, from IoT and big data to biometrics and mobile access. And, of course, cybersecurity and the cloud will make it into many of the conversations as well.

As a new and emerging technologies conference, the underlying theme for the educational program is looking to the future of technology—where we are and where we are going and how the industry can leverage these advances. We will also be looking at where the industry is in terms of standards and best practices.

For example, this year's session entitled, The Future of IoT: Taming Security’s Wild West, will delve into how the Internet of Things or IoT is a virtual wild west, and is transforming into the Internet of Everything (IoE). This session will try to make sense of it all, looking at what is being done in the area of standards, best practices, interoperability, cybersecurity and more, led by panelists Neil Lakomiak, director of business development & innovation, UL; Mitchell Klein, executive director, Z-wave Alliance; Jon Lewit, communication committee chair, ONVIF, and director of technology leadership, Pelco; and integrator Jim Coleman, president, Operational Security Systems, Inc.

For more details on TechSeec Solutions and to register, click here.

Parks Associates: 10 top IoT trends

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Parks Associates recently released a whitepaper that discusses key trends in the IoT space for 2017.

“The Internet of Things is driving the reinvention of consumer technology and entertainment markets,” Brett Sappington, senior research director, Parks Associates, said in the announcement.

“New players and product categories are emerging that challenge traditional players with established business models and distribution channels. Online giants have the scale and technology to take risks in new areas of innovation. In some cases, these innovations are transforming whole sectors of the connected home,” Sappington continued.

According to Parks’ research, the average U.S. broadband household has “more than eight connected computing, entertainment, or mobile devices, plus another two connected home devices such as networked cameras, smart thermostats, or smart lighting.”

That strikes me as very interesting, as my household contains only about five—and, as a millennial, I feel more is expected of me there.

“Consumer interaction with the devices and services in their lives – at home, in the car, on the go – will continue to evolve in 2017 to be more personal and targeted,”  Jennifer Kent, director, research quality and product development for Parks Associates, said in a prepared statement. “Approximately 50% of U.S. broadband households plan to buy a smart home device in the next 12 months, and they will tie these devices to their mobile platforms, broadband connections, and other devices to create a singular but ever-expanding user experience.”

Below are the 10 trends Parks Associates noted on in their announcement:

1.         Voice control is vying to become the primary user interface for the smart home and connected lifestyle.

2.         The smartphone market plateaus, and mobile carriers experiment to retain subscribers, which will threaten fixed broadband services.

3.         CE manufacturers focus on new product categories and ecosystem strategies to compensate for stagnation in a mature market.

4.         Virtual and augmented reality gain a foothold in niche operations and greater awareness among early adopters, creating opportunities for social VR experiences.

5.         The differences between on-demand and live viewing continue to blur as consumers embrace a variety of OTT video services.

6.         Consumers increasingly expect connectivity in their cars, but pricing, safety, and data privacy concerns inhibit market growth.

7.         To cross the chasm, the smart home industry will continue to develop new use cases for security, peace of mind, and energy management.

8.         Insurers are exploring new business opportunities in smart home products and services and will continue to launch trials and new partnerships.

9.         Wearables and smart watches are expanding as healthcare tools and will be integrated with other IoT applications.

10.       Consumerization of healthcare services and devices drives integration with smart home ecosystems and new business models.

The whitepaper also includes a list of “Players to watch in 2017” for a variety of categories, including voice control, security and the smart home, connected health devices, and insurance and the smart home.

 

PERS company rebrands, refocuses

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa.—Wearable Health Solutions, formerly Medical Alarm Concepts, is moving from its original direct-to-consumer model to a dealer-only model with its new mPERS offering, the iHelp + 3G.

“The goal of this product and our company is to sell to dealers and to give them everything that they would need to help them to sell this product, and that includes the dealer portal,” Jennifer Loria, Wearable Health Solutions COO told Security Systems News.

The company is looking to roll-out its new mPERS in the end of January 2017. The company is currently sending out demos—“We’re ready and we’re excited about it,” Ronnie Adams, company president and CEO, told SSN.

Adams said that the company’s new name, unveiled in June, aligns it with the wearable field, a key aspect of medical alert devices.

The iHelp + 3G mPERS stands out through its new dealer portal, according to Adams, which will give dealers the ability to upsell and turn on certain features. “It gives them the ability to offer features and functionality where they couldn’t do it before,” Adams said. He also lauded the product’s light weight—1.5 ounces—and its small size.

The new device works on a 3g network and includes fall detection, geo-fencing and tracking capabilities in addition to its main help button. It device can also emit sound to help locate it if it is lost. The unit can notify specifically identified contacts if the user leaves the geo-fenced area; it will also notify these contacts when the user reenters the zone, Adams said.

“If somebody pushes the SOS [button], that’s the only time that it goes to a monitoring center—or if somebody falls,” Adams said.

“If the dealer wants us to brand it, we will brand it for the dealer,” Adams said. In certain events, key contacts will be sent a map, showing the user’s location and even this map can be white-labeled for the dealer, Adams said.

The company’s first solution, a PERS device called the MediPendant, was sold direct to consumer through big box stores and is being phased out over the next six months. While Wearable Health Solutions will services MediPendant, “The business going forward is going to be strictly with dealers, and with a dealer program, for the iHelp + 3G,” Adams said.

The company had a middle step between selling the MediPendant direct to consumer, and it’s 3G device to dealers. “In the interim, while we were developing this [3G] product, we came out with a 2G product, which got us into the field and enabled us to understand … the cellular space a little bit better and the dealer space a little bit better,” Adams said.

The company had a dealer portal for its 2G offering, originally called the iHelp, to learn more about the needs of the company’s dealers, Loria said. The original iHelp is no longer being sold.

Z-Wave Alliance aims to secure IoT

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Z-Wave Alliance, an open consortium of global companies deploying the Z-Wave smart home standard, is adding a security requirement to its long-standing interoperability certification.

According to Mitchell Klein, Z-Wave Alliance executive director, the Alliance Board of Directors voted to mandate all devices receiving Z-Wave Certification after April 2nd, 2017 to include the new advanced Security 2 (S2) framework, an important addition to the Alliance’s certification program that will require manufacturers to adopt a stronger level of IoT security.

“The recent spate of hackings and DDoS and other things going on are more or less happy coincidences and not motivation on our part, and the reason I put it that way is because something as complex as the S2 Security protocol that we’ve established has been in development for more than four years,” Klein told Security Systems News. "No one can afford to sit on their hands and wait—consumers deserve IoT devices in their home to have the strongest levels of security possible. IoT smart home technologies that don't act will be left behind."

Klein said that the update is backwards compatible, so any devices that are running on the current chip sets can be firmware updated to include S2 without having to make any hardware changes, and the updates can be pushed.

“The reason why we moved forward with it is because we wanted to ensure that as we got more and more complex devices, and more and more complex systems, that security becomes a base part of all devices and everything in the system,” Klein explained. “In order to achieve that, we had to take it up a level and make sure that it is going to run on the current chip set, so that our members don’t have to go and change or redesign hardware.”

Z-Wave's S2 framework was developed in conjunction with cybersecurity hacking experts, giving the already secure Z-Wave devices new levels of impenetrability, according to Klein. “We are so confident that this is hack proof, that we actually post the S2 protocol on the website and it is publically available,” he said.

Klein said that by securing communication both locally for home-based devices and in the hub or gateway for cloud functions, S2 also completely removes the risk of devices being hacked while they are included in the network. By using a QR or pin-code on the device itself the devices are uniquely authenticated to the network as well. Common hacks such as man in the middle and brute force are "virtually powerless" against the S2 framework through the implementation of the industry-wide accepted secure key exchange using Elliptic Curve Diffie-Hellman (ECDH), he said.

Finally, Z-Wave also strengthened its cloud communication, enabling the tunneling of all Z-Wave over IP (Z/IP) traffic through a secure TLS 1.1 tunnel, removing vulnerability.

By changing the way security is implemented, Klein said that there are a number of improvements. “You will find that the response time from things like door locks, which actually had to require authentication, is much quicker, and with much less overhead (single exchange as opposed to a back and forth exchange),” he said.

For 2017, from a technology perspective, Klein said there will be discussions about a new generation Z-Wave chip. “We have a lot of things up our sleeve on what that is going to do and I think that is going to put a lot of smiles on people’s faces,” he said.

PERS provider acquires two

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

BALA CYNWYD, Pa.—Connect America, a large provider of PERS products, recently announced two acquisitions through its Healthcare Division; Racine’s Medical Alert, based in La Junta, Co., and Spirit Homecare’s Medical Alert Division, located near Des Moines, Iowa.

“We acquire…  local providers that really have a regional reach and the opportunity to grow those businesses by cultivating referral sources in the geography where they operate,” Richard Brooks, president of Connect America’s Healthcare Division, told Security Systems News.

By acquiring Racine’s Medical Alert, Connect America’s Healthcare Division expands into Colorado. The company will continue to use it’s Racine’s brand.

Brooks said that the purchase of Spirit Homecare’s Medical Alert Division opens the company’s opportunities in the Des Moines. This division will fold into Connect America’s network in the Des Moines area.

These acquisitions complement the company’s July acquisition of Home Buddy, based in Kansas, Brooks said.

Brooks described the company’s approach to incorporating acquired businesses, “We enhance the sales and marketing operation, we take some of the back office functions and move them to our headquarters, and emphasize a sales effort on a local basis.”

Connect America’s Healthcare Division has finalized four acquisitions in the past 12 months and expects a similar rate for the next year, according to Brooks.

The Healthcare Division grows both organically and through acquisition; 70 percent of the division’s growth comes organically and 30 percent is through acquisitions. The company did not announce the number of subscribers included in the deal.

Video rises into the cloud

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

News continues to pour in on the portential of cloud-based services, especially on the heels of Security Systems News' Cloud+ conference, which brought early adopters of the cloud together in Austin, Texas, to look at how the security industry will continue to adopt and leverage the cloud, not only to increase RMR but to provide better and more cost-effective solutions for customers.

Many of the Cloud+ speakers, from integrators and consultants to end users and manufacturers, highlighted the many challenges of educating people on the benefits and solutions the cloud can provide within security, such as in the management of data and video, two areas expected to see tremendous growth over the next few years.

According to new findings from global research firm IHS Markit, based in London, the video software market is expected to rise from $6 billion in revenue in 2015 to more than $9 billion in revenue by 2021.

According to the new Video Software, Security, and Analytics Intelligence Service from IHS Technology, the atomization of media distribution and the switch from hardware-based technology solutions to cloud implementations are key drivers for the $3 billion in revenue growth over the next five years.

“Taken together, these two forces have created a market where value is shifting towards the frontend,” Cecilia Zhu, analyst at IHS Technology, said in the announcement. “A superior user-experience has become fundamental to securing increased consumer spend.”

Globally, content security accounts for 32 percent of the digital video software market, according to IHS.

“While demand for robust security solutions is unlikely to deteriorate,  particularly in the presence of high-value UHD and HDR content,  the segment is effectively saturated,” Zhu said.

By contrast, Online Video Platform solutions will continue to generate large, year-on-year returns through 2021. “The necessity of online distribution backed by a platform pre-integrated across a rich ecosystem of partners, means demand for OVP solutions will rise over the next five years,” Zhu said.

According to IHS, North America is the key region for the video software market, generating roughly $2.9 billion, and the region’s value relates primarily to confluence of three factors: the presence of large media companies, their outright scale, and their sheer number.

“The region’s economic dominance should not, however, overshadow the existence of cutting-edge video services in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, and the technology demand that these services generate,” Zhu said.

According to the research firm, Cisco has a 15 percent share of the video software segment, the largest globally. “The company has proven adept at transitioning into the video space, and at using its longstanding presence in core, metro, and access-network infrastructure to cross and upsell video-specific software,” Zhu said.

Monitoring: The argument for wholesale

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

YARMOUTH, Maine—Throughout the year one topic has been cropping up: the benefits of switching to a wholesale central station.

Several companies this year have opted to pick a third party monitoring center over continuing to operate their own central; RFI Communications switched to Rapid Response in March, Red Hawk Fire & Security partnered with Affiliated in October and recently, Comtronics switched its monitored accounts to NMC.

Some of these companies said that the move allowed them to refocus on the core of their business.

One thing that each of these companies highlighted is new-found flexibility and the ability to focus more heavily on offering new services and technologies to their customers. Specifically, these companies highlighted offerings such as mobile services and video verification with I-View Now.

This has been a pretty hot topic in the industry, it seems. I know if came up at CSAA’s annual meeting in the panel entitled “Owning vs. Contracting – Future Trends for Monitoring Centers.” I’d like to hear your opinions; Is this trend going to continue? Feel free to check out our most recent News Poll to share your views on the business benefits of either third party monitoring centers or operating your own central station. 

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