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Meet the editors, be interviewed at ISC West

 - 
Wednesday, March 12, 2014

It still seems a bit surprising how many folks in the industry I speak to regularly despite never having met them in person. That’s all about to change in a few weeks. And maybe for some of you, it will change within a few hours of ISC West kicking off.

On Wednesday, April 2, my SSN colleagues and I will be at the ISC West Media Stage from 9:30 – 10 a.m. for a “Meet the Editors” event. It’s a good opportunity for us to meet with readers and sources as well as newcomers wanting to become acquainted with our publication. The media stage is located just outside the entrance to the show floor.

The media stage is also where I’ll be conducting a round of on-camera interviews with those on the central station side on Friday, April 4 between 10 a.m. and noon. Through these interviews I hope to discover what’s piquing the interest of those in the monitoring arena, that is, what they’re finding of value on the show floor or in the educational sessions.

I still have a few slots open, so if you’re with a central station and want to discuss what’s new or in the pipeline at your camp, or just want to share some general impressions about the show, don’t hesitate to shoot me an email at lkothe@securitysystemsnews.com.

Another media-related feature of ISC West 2014 will be the giant Twitter wall, where readers can feel free to contribute their own discoveries and thoughts about the show. The wall will offer a scrolling display of #ISCW14 tweets.

And should you exhibit a pattern of Tweeting especially compelling insights about ISC West, you may find yourself eligible for the MVT Award, which (as you might have guessed) will be given to the most valuable Tweeter.

Futuristic film wins the “Security Oscar” in 2014

 - 
Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Each year, California-based Moore Protection announces its choice of a movie that best shows the use of modern security technology. The security company calls its honor the "Morpheus Award," a name inspired by Morpheus, the god of dreams and visions in Greek mythology. But I've dubbed it the "Security Oscar," since it’s always announced around the time of the Academy Awards.

The 2014 Morpheus Award winner is—hand me the envelope, please—“The Purge,” by writer/director James DeMonaco and starring Ethan Hawke.

According to Moore Protection, which announced the award March 1, Hawke plays “a security salesman in an America of the near future where crime has been eliminated for all but one night of the year. However, once a year for twelve hours, all crimes are legal, thus making a good security system even more valuable than in our present day. DeMonaco’s premise is that government sanctioning of this cathartic “purge” of mayhem for one night quells citizens’ inherent inclination toward violence for the rest of the year.”

Interesting premise. I’m curious to see it—and to find out how RMR would work in that brave new world!

Here’s a little more detail on this fun annual award from the company, which is based in Redondo Beach, Calif.:
 

Don Moore, president of Moore Protection, instituted the Morpheus Award as a friendly reminder to members of the entertainment community to regularly and personally use their security systems. Mr. Moore said, “Few things frustrate us more than hearing about a celebrity or industry exec being burglarized while their security system was not armed. Show business people often have assistants and household staff to whom they have delegated the task of arming their alarm systems, and this is a dangerous practice. If a crime is committed while the system is disarmed it is the owner, not the assistant, who is the victim. I encourage all my clients to personally arm and disarm their systems daily and test them at least monthly.” It is also for this reason that the “Morphie” is presented during Awards Season in Hollywood, said Moore.  “The paparazzi are not the only ones who know the stars are away from home on the night of a big awards show!”
For more information or to nominate a film for consideration for next year’s Morpheus Award contact Dave Lofstrom at dlofstrom@mooreprotection.net

 

Monitronics nabs pair of Stevies

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Highlighted by the marquee acquisition of Security Networks, 2013 was unquestionably a strong year for Monitronics. It appears 2014 is starting the upswing as well.

Monitronics turned in an impressive haul at the latest Stevie Awards, reeling in a pair of Bronze prizes at the eighth awards show for sales and customer service. For the second consecutive year the third-party central station won in the Contact Center of the Year category, according to a news release from the company. The company was also honored in the Front-Line Customer Service Team of the year category.

The awards were presented at a gala banquet at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, the release noted.

On March 11, a pair of Monitronics leaders is slated to speak at the Piper, Jaffray Technology, Media & Telecommunications Conference held in at the Le Parker Meridien in New York.

Bill Fitzgerald, chairman and CEO of Ascent Capital, the holding company that owns Monitronics, and Michael Meyers, CFO of Ascent and Monitronics, will speak at the conference. According to an Ascent Capital news release, management may make “observations regarding the financial performance and outlook of both Ascent and Monitronics.”

In the wake of a big year for Monitronics, this presentation from management could be worth a listen. A live webcast of the presentation will be made available on the Ascent Capital investor relations website.

Digital Watchdog's plans for ISD

 - 
Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Updated March 5 with interviews with DW's Wade Thomas and Ian Johnston of ISD.

Whenever a big company like Digital Watchdog acquires a start-up like Innovative Security Design (ISD), as happened earlier this week, a common concern is whether the acquired company will be allowed to continue to innovate. Executives from both DW and ISD told Security Systems News, there’s no need to worry.

Most companies want an acquisition to “assimilate into [its] culture, revenue and business model,” Wade Thomas, Digital Watchdog president told me. “We want to let ISD do what they do best and give them runway to grow.”

Digital Watchdog, a privately held manufacturer of video surveillance products, on March 3 announced that it had acquired ISD.

ISD will remain an independent entity within DW, and it will continue to work with OEM partners.

ISD was founded by Ian Johnston, former CTO of IQInvision, in 2012. Here's an interview I did with Johnston when he launched the company. ISD turned some heads at ISC West last year when it introduced its netSeries camera—the first IP camera that uses Microsoft Windows as its base operating systems. Here's an interview I did with Johnston about the netSeries camera last May.

This week, Johnston said that most of ISD’s suitors were established IP camera companies, were he would have to “go in and change their minds and break up their notions of what an IP camera is.”

In some ways, ISD is more of a “design house or solutions factory so-to-speak,” Johnston said. And, DW will let ISD continue that way. “DW has great manufacturing experience and depth that will help us be price competitive,” he added.

It will also allow ISD to “build inventory and be attractive to really large companies that are looking to partner with us on an OEM [basis].”

DW's products include: IP and analog cameras, DVRs, NVRs, software and apps. It has been in business since 1987. In addition to its corporate office in Tampa, Fla., it has an office in Cerritas, Calif. It will keep ISD’s office in Irvine, Calif. Its business is concentrated in North and South America and has about 75 employees in the United States.

DW has engineering and manufacturing facilities in Seoul, Korea. Its products are assembled in the U.S., however.
Thomas declined to release terms of the deal.

Vivint says 2013 banner year for new subscribers

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The number of Vivint's net new subscribers in 2013 was 219,034, the most in the company’s 15-year history, Vivint President Alex Dunn told investors this week at the J.P. Morgan Global High Yield and Leveraged Finance Conference. APX Group Holdings, of which Provo, Utah-based home automation/home security company Vivint is a subsidiary, presented at the conference on Feb. 25.

According to information on the presentation provided by the company, Dunn presented Vivint to investors as a key player in a “large, growing and recession-resistant industry” with a “unique and differentiated sales model,” according to the company.

Vivint estimated its market share in 2013 was on par with Monitronics’—with each having a 3 percent share. Only three companies had a greater share than those two: ADT, with 21 percent; Tyco with 6 percent; and Stanley, with 5 percent, according to Vivint’s estimates.

Dunn said that average RMR per Vivint new subscriber was $58.35, compared to average revenue per subscriber of $53.05.

Direct sales accounted for about 77 percent of new subscribers for the door-knocking company but Vivint's growing inside sales program was responsible for the other 23 percent, the company said.

Dunn also said Vivint’s RMR was $42.2 million and that revenues were up about 10 percent and that attrition was 12.8 percent.

In an APX Group Holdings conference call in November, Dunn reported similar Q3 results and the numbers he discussed Tuesday also trended positive.

The publicly traded Blackstone Group bought Vivint in 2012 in a deal worth more than $2 billion.

In other news, Vivint today named Nike veteran Jeff Lyman as its chief marketing officer. “As CMO, he will lead marketing and communication initiatives that elevate Vivint's brand awareness and drive adoption of its security, home automation, and energy management services,” the company said.

Before his promotion to CMO, Lyman was Vivint's vice president of consumer experience and previous to that had spent about 10 years at Nike.

I’ll be talking more to Jeff next week. Stay posted.

DirectView explores legal marijuana vertical

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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Though 18 states had previously legalized marijuana for medical use, it was the pair of initiatives passed in Colorado and Washington that legalized the substance recreationally that seems to have made the security industry more attentive to what kind of possibilities lie ahead in this new and rapidly expanding market.

It’s not difficult to see why. Those operating dispensaries and growing facilities will require security solutions for many of the same reasons an end user at a jewelry store would: They have to protect hundreds if not thousands of lightweight and expensive consumer products. End users will likely pull out all the stops on an integrated solution, relying on motion detectors, sensors, access control, dozens of cameras with status monitoring and, perhaps for larger storage facilities, virtual guard tours. Because the industry is in its nascent stages and still very much evolving, it’s difficult to forecast what the industry will look in even five to ten years from now.

New York-based DirectView Security, a provider of onsite and remote video and audio surveillance solutions and a subsidiary of DirectView Holdings, recently announced in a news release that it’s entered into “early stage discussions with several marijuana industry companies to provide a number of potential video surveillance and access control solutions.”

Though in many states marijuana laws are becoming more lax, the substance remains illegal under federal law. This adds an interesting wrinkle to the current security landscape in connection with this market. Federal pressure on banks has made it extremely difficult for pot dispensaries to get loans. As a result, they’ve had to rely primarily on cash, making them an even bigger target for robbers than they already were.  

It’s been well documented that ADT last year made a policy decision not to sell security systems to businesses engaged in the marijuana industry because it’s still illegal under federal law. It’s conceivable that other companies both large and small will also take that approach. But it will be interesting to see what companies take the reins in the market and to see to what kind of impact it will have on business.

In the news release, Roger Ralston, CEO and chairman of DirectView, expressed a good deal of optimism about doing just that: “Having worked to provide security products and solutions for large hotels and several banks, we have a strong understanding of complex security needs and how to provide the most cost-effective solutions,” he said, adding that he views the new market as “strong growth driver for our business in the coming years.”

Business optimization at ASG

 - 
Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Aronson Security Group, the Seattle-based systems integrator, is putting more resources into its Business Optimization Center.

The integrator announced this week that Nigel Waterton has been promoted to SVP of Corporate Strategy and Development for ASG. in this new role, Waterton—who was a speaker at TechSec 2014 on the topic of big data—"will guide the value proposition for ASG’s professional services, engineering, implementation, and performance that their management teams fulfill."

In a statement, Phil Aronson, CEO of Aronson Security Group, said: “Our growth demands another layer of leadership to identify and lead existing and future senior leadership. As well, Nigel will be extending and evolving our new Business Optimization Center which is a key foundation to our business model.”

ASG's Business Optimization Center helps security executives create a "Common Operating Picture" for their security program. ASG takes a look at the end user's the current operation to "understand the gaps between the as-is and to-be vision."

The next step, is to “establish a roadmap that guides the strategy, execution, measurement and budgeting of the program as it evolves over time,” Waterton said in a statement.

Waterton served in the British military for 16 years before he started working in the security industry in 1996.

Congratulations to Nigel!

AT&T’s Digital Life starts 2014 with market expansion

 - 
Wednesday, February 19, 2014

It hasn’t been a year yet since AT&T in April 2013 launched Digital Life, its home security/home automation product, but the telecom has lost no time in making the professionally monitored, professionally installed service available. As of this Friday, Digital Life will be available in a total of 63 markets around the nation.

The company will launch in four new markets that day: Albany, N.Y.; Dayton, Ohio; Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Wichita, Kan., according to an AT&T news release.

As of Feb. 21, customers in those markets can receive a live demonstration and buy Digital Life in company owned retail stores or make the purchase online. The company has 1,378 retail stores around the nation where the product is available, AT&T said.

The Dallas-based telecom had set a goal when it first launched Digital Life to have the service in 50 markets by the end of 2013, but surpassed that goal this past October.
And AT&T is predicting even more growth for Digital Life in 2014.

Kevin Petersen, president of Digital Life, said in a prepared statement: “This year is going to be exciting for AT&T Digital Life and the connected home industry. We’re going to expand our footprint and add features to the platform while being aggressive in the market to show customers how convenient it is to control your home with our easy-to-use technology.”

Also this year, the release said, “AT&T Digital Life joined the AllSeen Alliance, a nonprofit consortium dedicated to driving the widespread adoption of products, systems and services that support the Internet of Everything with an open, universal development framework supported by a vibrant ecosystem and thriving technical community. The alliance is a broad cross-industry consortium aimed at advancing adoption and innovation in the “Internet of Everything” in homes and industry.”

According to the news release, “AT&T Digital Life makes customers’ lives easier by simplifying the management of their home, offering security, convenience and peace of mind, in a customizable and easy-to-use experience from a smartphones, tablet or computer.”

Packages for Digital Life range from Simple Security, for $29.99 a month plus $149.99 for equipment, to Smart Security, for $39.99 a month plus $249.99 for equipment. Automation packages, such as camera or energy packages, can be added to the Smart Security for an additional monthly cost.

IQ Certification elects new board

 - 
Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Members of the IQ Certification Program recently elected officers at the organization’s first meeting of 2014. While there’s considerable continuity from years past (several members earned reelection), the board of directors also reflects some changes, highlighted by the appointment of Lynn Comer as chairperson.

Another change was the election of Don Childers, COO of Statesville, N.C.-based Security Central, to the IQ Board. Earlier this week I spoke to Don about some of the key priorities for the certification program moving forward. Childers said that, as with any association, exploring ways to boost membership remains an overarching objective.

“We have to show the value of what we’re doing, then determine how to get the message out en masse so that those in the industry better understand what we’re trying to do,” he said.

One strategy for doing just that, Childers said, is leveraging big-name industry events—he cited ESX as an example—to hold sessions that perform the double-task of educating prospective members while promoting the business value of being IQ Certified. An education chair at ESX, Childers said he would be in favor of including a 60 to 70 minute seminar at the show.  

As far as other goals with the organization, Childers said he may suggest ways to streamline some of the application paperwork for the certification program, making it easier for non-central station members, whose application process tends to be more involved. Besides that, Childers’ near-term aim is to examine IQ Certification membership “from the business owners’ point of view” and to continue “learning the job as I go along.” 

Security Networks of America makes a change

 - 
Friday, February 14, 2014

Security Networks of America has changed its name.

The organization of 36 independent security companies is now "NetOne." Together, the 36 companies serve 775,000 customers throughout the U.S. and Canada. The group "shares best practices and compare performance to ascertain the most effective methods of giving customers what they need—and projecting what they may need in the future." Among other trends, the group "foresee[s] a rapid expansion of the remote interactive services our companies offer."

In an announcement, SNA managing director David Carter said: "The name acknowledges that we function as a network, reflecting the unity of purpose of our member companies —sharing information and expertise to foster best practices and evaluating new technologies, so their customers are provided with a broad range of solutions to meet their expanding security needs and improve business operations.”

The name change is also an acknowledgment that times have changed since the group was founded way back in 1988. In a prepared statement SNA chairman Scott Elkins, CEO of UAS in Philadelphia said: "Customers want to control facilities and systems remotely, and they want to be able to use the operational insights they gain from these systems to manage their companies more efficiently and effectively."

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