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ESX 2016 Report

 - 
Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Friday, June 10

I started the final day at ESX sitting in on a session titled, “Rethinking the Political Landscape - How to Impact the Industry through Legislative Action,” which was moderated by Robert Few, director, Time Warner Cable - IntelligentHome, and featured panelists Todd Baxter, regional vice president of government affairs, Texas, Time Warner Cable, and David Morris, founder, Modern Systems Inc.

The Panel emphasized taking a proactive role through industry representation with elected officials.

“ESA is currently tracking and monitoring 177 bills that could possibly affect the industry,” noted Baxter, who said it is imperative that security company owners get to know their state legislature, who can make them aware of impactful legislation.

“It is so important to meet and get to know them [state legislators],” he said. “They are there to represent you.”

Morris told his story of how he was able to block some legislation in his state of Kentucky that would have been harmful to security businesses by reaching out to his state legislators and getting the word out to others in the industry and within the state. “I knew it [the proposed legislation] wasn’t good for our industry,” he said. “Don’t assume the state knows what they are doing when it relates to our industry.”

Morris was able to work with his state legislators to amend and rewrite the bill to better reflect the needs of the security industry and professionals in his state. “Everything we suggested to the state they agreed to and added in the language of the bill.”

Although the bill died in committee, the panel all agreed that sometimes halting or killing a bill that is bad for business is an important first step. 

“The entire process is set up to kill bills,” said Baxter. “I like to tell people that there are two things you should never watch being made: sausage and legislation. It is very difficult to get a bill through and more than half don’t make it.”

For those looking to dip their toe into the legislative pool, Few said participating in the annual ESA legislative trip to Washington, D.C., “was the key to figuring out the process” for him.

For the closing keynote, Economist Alan Beaulieu, a principal of ITR Economics, returned by popular demand and did not disappoint, as he was able to mix economic forecasting with a wry sense of humor that had attendees both intellectually riveted and spitting out their drinks at the same time.

For starters, to get everyone’s attention, Beaulieu started out by saying, “Another great depression is coming in 2030,” as baby boomers continue to age and put pressure on our healthcare system and finances.

“We have 80 million baby boomers, but we have 3- to 4 million more Millennials,” he said, pointing out, “The Millennials are going to need all of us baby boomers to die off because we are going to ruin the economy for them.”

In the short term, though, Beaulieu said that he sees a mild recession coming in 2019, similar to the one we had in the ‘90s. But before that happens, he says the next few years will be very good for the country and the security industry overall.

“2017 was a good year—record high levels of GDP and job opportunities, and the economy is growing,” he said. “I expect the fed rates to go up, so now is the time to get that loan, and make that purchase or acquisition, hire new people.”

He said that it is also imperative to “make sure your training and retention programs are top notch,” and “plan for higher wages and energy costs” down the road.

Although he wouldn’t pick our next president, he did guarantee a “one term president,” because of the looming recession in 2019.

As for the Millennials, Beaulieu said, “Who knew it, but they are just like us, and want the same things we do—a family, kids and a house in the burbs. They will be a strength for our nation, but only after us baby boomers die off.”

He told the audience not to be afraid of hiring Millennials, especially at a time when it is so difficult to find quality employees in the security industry. “Just make sure you feed them,” Beaulieu said. “And I am talking actual food.”

Thursday, June 9

Day two at ESX 2016 began with the Industry Excellence Breakfast, which provided the perfect setting to recognize and honor the industry’s leaders with awards. It also featured keynote speaker Michael Jagger, founder and CEO of Provident Security, who stressed to attendees that becoming great or “remarkable” at what you do involves staying focused on your business model, and many times saying no to the numerous opportunities that arise for companies in today’s security industry.

He gave the example of renowned master chef Jiro Ono at Sukiyabashi Jiro in Tokyo, a three-star Michelin restaurant located in the basement of an office building that Jagger visited on a recent trip. Ono has made a name for himself, Jagger pointed out, by “intentionally not being bigger, staying smaller and being the best sushi chef he can be,” he said.

After the Industry Excellence Breakfast, I sat in on an educational session titled, “Video is the New RMR,” moderated by Scott Carpenter, president, Action Alarm Solutions, and featuring panelist Larry Folsom, president, i-View Now, Nik Gagvani, president, CheckVideo, LLC, and Daniel Forrest, CEO, Eyeforce Inc.

Carpenter led the session off by saying, “Video is the next market that will save everyone,” as it provides the opportunity to add a new level of RMR to your business.

Gagvani pointed out that in addition to the new wave of IP-based cameras available and the capability of cloud-based monitored video being readily available, “video analytics allows you to expand your monitoring capability.”

Forrest noted that although video is being used for small to enterprise commercial locations, he sees increased adoption of video on the residential side. “There have been some privacy issues in the past for the home but that is changing,” he said, opening up another area for increasing RMR for dealers today.

Gagvani added, “There are a lot of good use cases to draw on now in the home, so video will become more accessible to, and desired by home owners.”

Moving back to the main stage for the Public Safety Luncheon, featured speaker FBI Section Chief Philip Celestini provided an overview of what the FBi is doing to combat the ever-changing landscape of cyber threats. As a veteran special agent of the FBI, Celestini is the Senior Executive FBI Representative to the National Security Agency and U.S. Cyber Command, and has seen first-hand the financial and other impact cyber attacks have on the U.S. and throughout the world.

For example, ransom-ware attacks went from causing $25 million in losses to $200 million in just the last year in the U.S., as well as an astonishing $2 trillion in cyber crime losses worldwide. Furthermore, “80 percent of companies who have been attacked by ransom-ware are not reporting it to law enforcement,” he said, which is why the FBI is reaching out to the industry for its help in spreading the word of the importance of cyber security and working with law enforcement to minimize loss.

The second day on the trade show floor gave me another chance to check out the ESX Innovation Award winners’ products up-close and personal, and demo the latest and greatest products in the industry today.

Wednesday, June 8

The first full day at ESX 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas, began with a thought-provoking OpenXchange Breakfast discussion led by ESX Chairman George De Marco, featuring panelists Nate Williams, chief revenue officer for August, and Tim Colleran, director of Business Development for Qualcomm.

De Marco started things off right with some fun by announcing a special guest—Amazon Echo’s Alexa, who was given a seat on the panel to join the discussion. After some uncharacteristically witty banter from Alexa, it became apparent that it was not Alexa at all, but rather De Marco’s daughter, Lauren, who with the help of her father provided some levity before some serious discussions on identifying disruptive technologies and emerging trends in the industry today.

De Marco started the discussion by saying, “Every aspect of your business is about to change,” which as the day went on, emerged as a major theme for the show, as it reflects the pivotal time in the industry right now, especially on the residential side.

Williams pointed out that the industry needs to pay attention to the success of Amazon’s Alexa, which he pointed out is in 4.5 million homes, as “voice is the next big thing, and you will see an explosion in the next five years,” he said. “Voice control is just more natural and people want that today.”

“The big challenge,” he continued, “is integrating and bridging products in the home. Over time, we have to be able to show how devices work in concert, which is already starting to happen.”

After the OpenXchange breakfast, I sat in on a spirited session, “Go Big or Go Home? Expanding & Extending into New Markets,” which was moderated by Greg Simmons, co-owner/VP of Eagle Sentry, and included a great panel featuring Jeremy Bates, general manager and co-owner of Bates Security/Sonitrol of Lexington, Inc., Barry Epstein, president of Vertex Capital and Tom Kerber, director, Research, Home Controls & Energy for Parks Associates.

The panel was well balanced, with Kerber handling the research side of things, Epstein looking at acquisitions and Bates providing a dealer’s perspective.

Kerber pointed out to the packed session of interested dealers that today “a majority of security subscribers—more than 50 percent—have interactive services,” he said. “RMR growth, for the most part, has been driven by this increase in interactive services adoption. And security is the leading channel to the smart home,” providing an opportunity for dealers to increase RMR by being able to provide these options for their customers.

Bates pointed out that with so many smart home and interactive products and new opportunities, “dealers need to be careful what they chase and stay focused on their business model” as they look to possibly expand or grow into new markets or geographical areas.

For dealers who are trying to navigate the acquisition landscape, Epstein noted that there are certain criteria that must be met before a dealer decides to buy another company. The first thing to ask is “do they have good, solid contracts?” he said, “Because if they don’t have contracts, tell them to call you back when they have contracts.”

Prior to the trade show floor opening, the Opening Keynote Luncheon featured world-renowned business futurist and innovation thought leader Nicholas Webb, author of Innovation Playbook and The Digital Innovation Playbook, who raised some important questions to ponder in this new smart-home driven world we are now living.

Webb pointed out that there are a lot of hackers, so to speak, who will try to disrupt the industry by providing innovative technology or services that consumers today want, and provided examples of what Uber did to the taxi industry and what the WAZE app did to GPS devices like Garmin.

His take-home message to a packed house: “You either become a hacker—a disruptive innovator—or you get hacked by a disruptive innovator.” 

Note: Please check back here and at SSN Editor Martha Entwistle’s blog page for updates from the show.

 

Ready for 5G?

 - 
Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Central Station Alarm Association name is on its way out. At the CSAA general membership meeting here at the ESX show here in Fort Worth, Texas, members voted to change the name to The Monitoring Association. Here's a story that Spencer wrote about the name change a couple weeks ago.

Jay Hauhn, CSAA executive director, told me that 90 percent of those voting were in favor of changing the name to The Monitoring Association, "and the other 10 percent wanted to change the name, the only discussion was about what exactly the new name should be." 

The new name signals a change in direction for the association, and is among a list of improvements and updates that Hauhn and CSAA president Pam Petrow have outlined over the past year or so.

Hauhn said the new name better reflects what professional monitoring companies do. "Central Station Alarm Association is an old school term that was driven by UL standards," he said.

Today's monitoring companies are monitoring "things that are mobile, people, and more. It's not just the monitoring of fixed assets anymore," Hauhn said.

Petrow said that there are some research and registration tasks that the association will have to complete before the name change is official.

The OpenXchange breakfast on Tuesday morning featured a panel discussion moderated by ESX chair George DeMarco with speakers Nate Williams of August Home and Tim Colleran of Qualcomm, and “special guest Alexa Amazon,” (played with perfect timing by Lauren De Marco.) Please see photo. Alexa was seated in the chair between George De Marco and Tim Colleran.

The theme that emerged was how “new players” such as Qualcomm and August can help foster innovation in the security industry by collaborating with traditional security companies—manufacturers and installers.

Nate Williams  said there are two reasons customers want a smart home: "to save money or for more security." However, the smarthome devices must make the homeowners life better. "No one wants to be CTO of their home," August said.

Tim Colleran predicted that voice will be "the next big thing in smart home," but, he cautioned that devices need a smart filter for anything that's' being stored in the cloud. He talked about smart home features helping raise the historic 20-percent penetration rate of residential security systems, but it's important for security companies to pay attention to demographic data. A smart home consumer in rural Colorado and the smart home consumer in Los Angeles have vastly different reasons for investing in a smart home, he said. 

On the show floor later in the afternoon, I spoke to many of the exhibiting companies including Axis Communications, where I had a chance to catch up with Jennifer Bruce, who's in charge of business develeopment for Axis cloud solutions. Bruce has agreed to be an advisor for Cloud+ and I'm looking forward to working with her on the 2016 educational program.
 

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Day 1

Security Systems News editors have just arrived in Fort Worth to attend ESX 2016.

I'm looking forward to many of the "main stage events" and the exhibit hall, and I'm planning to check out a couple of educational sessions tomorrow including one on cloud technology. It's called "Making Sense of Cloud" and it's at 10 a.m. in room 202A. I'm doing some research as I plan the educational program for Cloud +. What's Cloud+? Here's a link to the website and here's a link to a story about Cloud+.

Even though it's at the same time, I'm also going to check out the "Risky Business" session, which will address what SMBs need to do to survive a cyberbreach. It's 10 a.m., next door in room 202B.

And, as I was winging my way out here today, I read an interesting story in the Atlanta Business Chronicle (from Monday) about AT&T expanding its 5G lab trial to Atlanta. According to the story AT&T's trial is already happening in Austin, Texas. In addition to Atlanta, the trial will also be expanded to Middletown, N.J. and San Ramon, Calif.

This shoud come as a reality check to security companies out there still dealing with 2G sunset. Here's a link to the story.

Smart home mania or madness?

 - 
Wednesday, June 1, 2016

With the flood of new smart home products hitting the market these days, one of the things I look forward to each day is checking my Google Alerts to see what new surprises this wild west of home automation and connectivity is bringing us now.

From smart toasters that tell you when your toast is ready, or if you like, that toasts the past night’s sports scores right onto the bread for you, to a smart-fridge that tells you when you need more milk, the number and volume of new smart home products hitting the market today is staggering. And, to say the least, a little befuddling, like the smart grill that tells you when your steak needs to be flipped, or the smart coffee maker that texts you when your coffee is ready, or … brace yourself … the smart tampon that reminds you when it is time for a change—huh?

As one of my SSN colleagues pointed out, you have to wonder if consumer interest and demand is driving this innovation or if companies are just throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. We both agree that more often than not, it is the latter.

The latest innovation, and I have to say I am surprised it has taken this long, is the smart home robot named ZenBo, which is basically Amazon Echo’s Alexa on wheels. ZenBo, and other robots like it that will surely flood the market in the coming months, can turn on your lights, walk you through a recipe, remind you to take your medicine or even read a bedtime story to your kids, if that idea doesn’t freak you out as much as it does me.

For every convenience that a product like ZenBo can provide to a family, you have to wonder if we haven’t flipped open the lid on Pandora’s box. When will the madness end, and how are dealers to make sense of all of these new products hitting the market?

For every interesting new product I read about, like the smart go-cart that Tony Fadell, co-creator of Nest, is designing to allow parents to geofence where their kids will be able to drive, there are five to 10 other new products that make you shake your head.

When it comes to sorting through all of this and figuring out what is viable and what is just, hmm, let’s say—insane—it is important for dealers to ask themselves: Will my customers be interested in this or are these companies creating a problem where there isn’t one just to sell another clever smart home product?

 

Doyle buys in Albany

 - 
Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Doyle Security Systems acquired Albany Protective Services yesterday, adding 1,100 accounts to the company, almost doubling Doyle’s presence in the Albany area.

“It gives us a great expansion in our Albany market—just a much stronger presence,” John Doyle Jr., company president and CEO, told Security Systems News. Prior to the acquisition, the company had about 1,400 accounts in that area.

Doyle has been working on the deal for about 6 months. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Albany Protective’s account base is mostly commercial, Doyle said. “Their split is about 70 percent commercial and 30 percent residential.”

APS had operated its own UL central station, but Doyle is transferring the accounts to its monitoring center in the Rochester, N.Y., area. “They were on the same software platform as we were, which was really helpful—for both their monitoring and their billing,” Doyle said, both companies used Bold Manitou for automation and Sedona for billing. “It’s been a very smooth process. It’s not 100 percent done, but its pretty close.”

Four employees from Albany Protective Services are joining Doyle. Former president and majority owner of APS, Mark Foster, is joining Doyle’s Albany office in a management position, the company announced. Ross Foster, who was part owner of APS, will work in Doyle’s sales, and two service technicians are joining the team from APS.

“Mark Foster—he just has tremendous knowledge about the industry and his customer base. Bringing him on board was very important to us, and likewise with his brother Ross. … Having them on our team is just a huge plus for us,” Doyle said.

The company now has about 27,000 accounts. Doyle said that it is not every day you see two multi-generational family businesses joining forces. APS, a third-generation family business, was founded in 1935, and Doyle is a fourth-generation business, founded in 1919.

Convergint buys fifth company in five months

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

SCHAUMBURG, Ill.—Convergint Technologies today made it five purchases in five months. And, there will be more, according to Dan Moceri, Convergint executive chairman and co-founder.

Convergint's fifth purchase of 2016 is: Corporate Security Services of Edison, N.J.

Moceri told me the deal expands Convergint’s geographic reach in the N.Y., N.J. and Philadelphia region, brings "really nice integration skills, product expertise across product lines we support, ... and a similar focus on the customer on the service side."  Corporate Security Services also has a "highly visible customer base with a strength in the financial and hospital verticals," according to a Convergint statement. Here's a story about CSS work at MetLife Stadium.

Bob McCabe, president of Corporate Security Services, and all of his 30 staffers are joining Convergint. “Convergint’s commitment to superior customer service was a driving factor in our decision to join their team," McCabe said in a prepared statement.

When will the acquistiions stop? Not in the foreseeable future, Moceri said.

Moceri expects Convergint's 2016 revenue to be about $600 million. He wants to continue to expand the company organically and through acquisitions, and he has the support of PE partner KRG Capital, which Convergint has been working with since September of 2012.

"We think by 2020 we can be a billion dollar organization," Moceri said.

Convergint purchased Dakota Security in January of this year. In April, Convergint acquired H&E Comfort Controls of Windsor, Ontario. and Enion, an integration firm based in Switzerland.  Last month, Convergint bought Total Recall of New York.

 

 

 

Answers in Austin

 - 
Wednesday, May 25, 2016

When I looked at the SIA update this morning, I saw a headline about the cloud and cybersecurity concerns. Want to learn about cybersafety in the cloud? Come to Cloud+ in Austin in November!

Cloud+ is the only conference where you can learn how cloud technology is reshaping the security industry, what the potential is for your business and what steps you can take now to enhance your bottom line with cloud-based technology. Cybersecurity is on the agenda.

Sponsored by Security Systems News, the inaugural Cloud+ took place in Silicon Valley in December 2015. This year we’re thrilled to be holding the event in the high tech hub of Austin, Texas. Cloud+ 2016 will take place at the Lost Pines Resort in Austin on Nov. 29 and 30.

SSN launched this conference because we believe that cloud-based technology is the new frontier in physical security. Just as early adopters jumped on IP a decade ago, early adopters today are moving to the cloud.
We’re looking forward to building on the success of last year’s event, which featured speakers from Google and Microsoft.  

As usual, we'll take a TechSec-style approach to the educational program. Expect interactive educational sessions featuring cloud experts from inside and outside of the security industry.

I’m putting together the conference educational program right now. Have a great idea for a speaker or session topic? Call me.

One of the sessions that's already lined up will address central station capabilities in the cloud. It will include cloud providers and will be moderated by one of the country's leading integrators Jeffrey Nunberg of ISS in Miami. Nunberg will be asking the hard questions that all integrators want answered: How is it done? What are the options? Which integrators will benefit the most from moving monitoring to the cloud? What kind of the front-end investment is required and what kind of ROI should integrators and end users expect?.

Stay tuned for more on the educational program.

One of the coolest things about Cloud+ is the exhibit hall: It’s solely focused on cloud-based technology and it’s the only place you can see physical security cloud technologies side-by-side in one room.

Steve Van Till, CEO of Brivo, and one of my Cloud+ advisors, had this to say about Austin: “Austin is perfect because it combines great accessibility for travelers, a very strong tech-focused business community, and lots of local culture for those who want to get out and do something memorable with colleagues or customers.”

Yes! Austin is not your old-school, typical-security-industry-style convention location. In addition to the fact that every important high-tech end user has an office here, I’m convinced you cannot find a bad musician in the town.

It’s also home to a first -class university, restaurant options galore, and there’s easy access to the great outdoors.

Mark your calendar for Cloud+, Nov. 29-30, 2016. Here's a link to the Cloud+ website.

Abode brings professional monitoring to its DIY systems

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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

PALO ALTO, Calif.—Abode, a DIY security company that got crowdfunded last year, is now offering professional monitoring—full time or on-demand—from UCC, and the company is actively looking for partnerships with security companies.

“We always had the plan to introduce [monitoring options], but our goal first was to get the product out in peoples’ hands and really drive some of the early feedback to actually make our product better, before we went down the road of charging people for services,” Chris Carney, abode’s founder and CEO, told Security Systems News. Prior to starting abode, Carney was in the traditional security space, working with ADT and Tyco.

The company offers its system with three plans. Its “Basic” plan is MIY with professional monitoring on-demand with no monthly fee. The “Connect” plan offers everything in the basic plan with a 3G cellular back up for $10 a month. Abode’s “Connect + Secure” plan gives users all the functionality of its Connect plan with full professional monitoring, for $30 per month.

The company started shipping products to consumers in November and currently has 1,000 users in 27 countries. “Our goal is to hit 10,000 users in our first twelve months,” Carney said. Users outside the U.S. are on the non-monitored option, but the company is currently integrating with foreign central stations to support other plans, he said.

Abode launched its monitoring options last week. The company offers two options for on-demand monitoring: $8 for three days or $15 for one week.

Abode is currently only sold directly to consumer, but that could change. “We do want to look at the security space as a place to partner with companies,” Carney said. This partnership would appeal to companies that want a DIY offering in their portfolio. Partnering companies would have abode accounts monitored through UCC, he said.

“We can get partners up an running on a pilot in a few weeks,” Carney said. “Our goal is to maintain our brand as part of these relationships, we would be willing to discuss other branding solutions with dealers on a case by case basis.”

Dealers would own the accounts and the possible RMR. “Our solution will also provide the dealers the opportunity to become the trusted advisor for the users entire connected home in addition to their security consultant,” Carney said.

The abode system can also verify alarms which can reduce false alarms. “Every system that we send has visual verification of events,” abode co-founder Brent Franks said.

“We’re focused 100 percent on security, but essentially our product is a smart home in a box,” Carney said. “We also have the ability to add other third party devices that are ZigBee or Z-Wave.” 

The insurance space is another area for possible partnerships, according to Carney. This could include a “co–branded solution directly sold by the partner to their customers as a security offering [or] offering the abode branded solution to their customers as way for their policy holders to save money on their insurance. These are still in testing stage, but look to be a very viable channel for our fully integrated solution.”

A 'smart home' snapshot

 - 
Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The Smart Home 360 report, which comes out today from the market research company Argus Insights, provides a snapshot of what is out there in the smart home market today. The study looks at changes in the market from March to April, as well as overall trends Argus researchers are seeing within the quickly emerging and maturing market.

I caught up with Argus Insights CEO John Feland, who pointed that because the smart home market is changing so fast, “we are continuously pulling data around the marketplace from consumers on what is working and what is not.”

Overall, Feland said that Argus is seeing “year-over-year growth" within the smart home market, and equally important, the data is showing that security is still vitally important with consumers when it comes to taking that first plunge into smart home offerings.

“Home security is top of mind,” said Feland. “For those who are in the ‘do it for me’ category, the gateway use-case is security, so that is still what is selling and driving [smart home] adoption.”

And there is even more good news for traditional security dealers: For the ‘do it for me’ group, which is professional-installer based, the data is showing that when consumers try to do it themselves “they have been frustrated,” said Feland. When they work with a local dealer/installer, the “outcomes have been much better,” he noted.

From an installer’s standpoint, Feland said the key to getting someone to start on that smart home journey is simplifying the initial process for customers while providing a system that can seamlessly integrate smart home connectivity and capabilities without any headaches for the end user.

In the area of home automation, “If they [dealers] are not talking to their customers about Amazon Echo, they are not doing their job,” said Feland. “Amazon Echo is still a leader, and Alexa is still the voice in people’s homes, but we will see what happens when Google launches its product.”

In the DIY space, Feland noted that dealers should pay close attention to consumers’ frustration with the lack of support they are getting on the retail side. “If you look at where they [retailers] are failing right now, that presents an opportunity for traditional dealers to be that second date that leads to marriage.”

The report, which Argus released a sample section of today, is also available for purchase.
 

 

News from Affiliated's Catalyst

 - 
Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Thursday, Day 2

This morning I got to speak with Ron Davis, president of Davis Group, and Adam Matlin, COO of Think Protection and one of Security Systems News’ “20 under 40” Class of 2015.

The first session was presented by Michele Shuster, founding partner at MacMurray Petersen & Shuster, “So You Want to Work with a Telemarketer: 7 Essential Tips.” Regulations around telemarketing are a serious issue, and carry with it large detriments to a company’s bottom line. Avoid assisting and facilitating liability, she said; "You are as responsible for your marketers as if you were doing it yourself." Tips included making sure that telemarketing scripts are compliant with both federal and state regulations and being aware of riskier practices like calling or texting a cellphone or using pre-recorded messages.

“Mobile Mania: Catch the Wave of Mobile PERS,” the day’s second session featured panelists Matt Campbell, Nortek Security and Control SVP of sales and business development, and Jake Chandler, co-founder of LiveFree Emergency Response. The session was moderated by Jesse Rivest, Regional sales manager for Affiliated Monitoring and an SSN “20 under 40” from the Class of 2013.

When Rivest asked about the biggest points to selling mPERS. Chandler said that it’s water resistant, ready for future communications with 3G, and that it can be strapped to the wrist. Campbell said that “really defining the user as someone who's active," helps, along with fall detection technology.

The battery life isn’t a challenge, Campbell said, because now users are more conditioned to know that they have to charge it at night. Chandler said that it’s important to know when a user is best suited for a PERS instead of a mobile PERS. “A lot of seniors should not have mobile PERS," Chandler said, because there are some customers that do not have the capability to remember to charge the system every night.

In the last session, “Executive Spotlight: How I Grew a Multi-Channel PERS Company,” Ritch Haselden, vice president of sales for Essence USA, talked about best practices for developing a PERS business. Before working for Essence, Haselden was with ResponseLink, PERS provider in the U.S., in charge of the company’s revenue creation.

Affiliated VP Daniel Oppenheim asked Haselden about who the most important first hires for a PERS company would be, “I would have a very strong operational person and a strong marketing person.”

He stressed the importance of finding a person who is in contact with seniors who were potential customers, and believed the system could help them. Haselden said he would take the effort of "Making sure that we knew that they cared about the customer."

Haselden also advised spending time “looking at referrals that were coming in and where they were coming from."

I thought it was a very informative conference, with lots of knowledgeable people in the PERS side of the industry. Catalyst will be in Florida again next year, also in May. It’ll be a special one, Affiliated founder Stanley Oppenheim said, as it will coincide with Affiliated’s 40th anniversary.

Wednesday, Day 1

The first day started off well for me, I got to have breakfast with Keith Jentoft, who is now part of the integration team at Honeywell following the company's acquisition of RSI, and David Stang, founder and president of Stang Capital Alliance. 

Zydor, as the event's emcee, started by giving an overview of the conference, saying that it is now "the largest PERS conference ever." He also underlined the value of networking at Catalyst, "We believe that the relationships that you create over the next few days are just as important as the content." Zydor backed this up by having each attendee in the room introduce themselves.

Zydor then handed the microphone to Affiliated VP Daniel Oppenheim, who projected a bright future for the PERS industry. He said that in 2030, just 14 years away, there will be 72 million people in the 65+ demographic, and these new seniors might be more tech savvy, given the current 30 percent prevalence of smartphones in the age group. He addressed mPERS. which has an average sign up age of 78, compared to traditional PERS' average age of sign up at 81. "'That is a meaningful reduction in years," he said. "Mobile PERS are bringing in younger users that will stay with us longer."

Oppenheim then announcce CareAlert priority group chat, a new offering exclusive for Affiliated dealers. When a PERS user activates their system, Affiliated's monitoing center sends out a text message to as many as four family or friends of the user. The text message contains a link that opens a group chat between the recipients. The recipeients can then discuss the user's condition, and even hit the 'On My Way' button, to let the other friends or family members know theyr'e headed to check on the user. This software was developed entirely in-house. 

The first session was the conference's first executive spotlight, "The Complete Guide to Building a PERS Company," featuring Geoff Gross, CEO of Medical Guardian. He said he focuses on culture and picking the right people. "When you go through the wrong people, you learn how to hire the right people," he said. 

He also spoke about hiring Florence Henderson, the actress who played Carol Brady in The Brady Bunch, as the company's spokesperson. Gross said that Henderson had some apprehension, not wanting to be portrayed "on the floor crawling around in bad shape." Gross said this was perfect, Medical Guardian wanted to let customers know that not ever PERS user is in failing health.

The second session was "Benchmarking: Is Your Sales Technology Holding You Back?" with Moderator: Matt Solomon, Affiliated director of software solutions, and panelists Nick Delis, Five9 regional VP enterprise sales, and Michael Marks, Perennial Software, co-founder. Solomon introduced the session by saying, "You can't be a successful sales and marketing organization if you don't have the right tools." With phone calls as such a big part of the sales and marketing job, companies need to monitor that activity, and that's one of the things that Five9's cloud-based software does. Marks said that CRM is made up of two components, the initial sales and then keeping the customers happy. Perennial's offerings include AlarmBiller and SedonaOffice.  

For the keynote presentation, "Managing in the Majors: Running a Big League Team," Bobby Valentine, a former professional baseball player and manager, got onstage to discuss his views on forming a team. Valentine first addressed the idea of luck and the role that plays, "If we all think it's about us ... I think we're making a mistake." Being in the moment is crucial, and that means that means to enjoy what you're doing now because you don't know what's going to happen later." And respect is key, "Teams that win understand respect, and the individuals usually respect themselves, respect the competition, and respect their teammates."

Tuesday night

I arrived this afternoon in Naples, Fla., to attend Affiliated's new PERS conference Catalyst, focused on the sales and marketing of PERS systems. The event began with a nice reception, where I got to catch up with Affiliated's managing director Mike Zydor and president Stanley Oppenheim. It's interest to see people gathered from all sections of the industry; PERS manufacturers, PERS dealers, those involved in insurance around the industry, and professionals from the banking world.

I met a lot of people tonight, but want to highlight a few. I enjoyed meeting Cathy Rempel, president of the California Alarm Association. It was nice seeing Yaniv Amir, president for Essence USA—which recently won an ESX Innovation Award. I had a great conversation with Chris Masse, technical sales manager, US corporate accounts for Tyco Security Products. He told me about how the smart home works well for a PERS user, such as automating lights to help users that have difficulty moving. I also got the chance to speak to Scot McGehee, director of operations for Climax. 

Check back here for daily updates on the conference.

ASIS Media Tour

 - 
Wednesday, May 11, 2016

As one of the biggest tourist destinations in the nation, Orlando, Florida represents a unique challenge for security professionals throughout the area. That is why the ASIS Media Tour provided an exciting opportunity to see what the host city for the ASIS 2016 Conference, Sept. 12-15, is doing to secure some of the major commercial buildings and facilities within Orange County.

Day One

The ASIS Media Tour started at the Orange County Convention Center, where we were able to talk with Orange County Convention Center Security director Timothy J. Wood, who shared some of the key security management strategies for the second largest convention center in North America with 2.1 million square feet of area to secure. Wood and his security staff work closely with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department to create a plan for the more than 200 events that are held at the conference center each year.

“We do a full security plan 21 days out,” he said, looking at the history of the event, attendees expected, guest speakers invited, as well as any high profile attendees, such as military, government or dignitaries.

Wood noted that “although we can’t harden all areas, the goal is to minimize any soft spots” that a criminal or terrorist, for example, might be looking at, and “deter them by disrupting that cycle of planning and surveillance,” as well as being proactive in addressing any suspicious activity. He said it is also vitally important “to have a plan in advance of each event that addresses crowd management,” especially for a big shows like Megacon, which has doubled in size over the past few years.

One thing that struck me is the sense of community that is present throughout the Orlando area, from police and fire personnel to security professionals working at these high-profile facilities, who many times are former police, as is the case with Wood. “We have been working for decades with law enforcement and have a great working relationship,” which he noted includes sharing information and identifying security trends and issues.

Wood attends monthly “tourist crime intelligence meetings” with local law enforcement, FBI, SWAT, Secret Service, and bomb squad and fire personnel, to look at upcoming events, and address concerns or trends in security or for Orange County.

He also emphasized the importance of having security staff trained in hospitality, as well as working closely with Orange County Convention Center public relations, marketing and communications to coordinated efforts, such as with mass notifications, messages, news releases, etc.

For all of its security management efforts, the OCCC won the ASIS Matthew Simeone Award for Public Private Partnership Excellence two years ago.

The next stop on the tour was The Mall at Millenia in Orlando, which comprises 1.2 million square feet over several levels. Greg Moore, security director, said that because of their location in Orlando, “we have a much higher emphasis on security than you will see in other malls,” from training for security and other staff to the technology and services that they employ.

There is also a big emphasis on prevention or deterring crime. “It starts with the tone we set when you pull into the parking lot, with our police and security presence, to when you walk into the building.” He noted that the image that you create and the initial impression create a “big deterrent” to someone who might be thinking of doing something bad.

He and his security staff, including assistant security director Justin Messenger, also examine incidents that have happened at other malls, such as the shooting that happened at a Maryland mall two years ago, to look at “best and worst practices,” which can then be applied during training for their staff, whether it is active shooter training or workplace violence training.

Security guards are also proactive in identifying and dealing with suspicious behavior. “We tell our security officers to control their environment and don’t let it control you,” which can be something as simple as security guards asking someone who is looking at a map, for example, if they can help them find something.

Messenger, who oversees much of the technology employed at the mall, noted that the mall has “state-of-the-art cameras with video analytics capability,” including the ability to record all activity in the mall. A command center has full access to video and can notify security of any suspicious activity so they can be proactive in mitigating any possible problems.

Moving on from the mall, our last stop on day one of the tour was at the University of Central Florida, which at more than 60,000 students represents one of the largest campuses in the nation. To secure such a large campus with so many schools and buildings, UCF has its own Police HQ, an emergency operations center and mobile command vehicle with satellite capability.

UCF Police chief Richard Beary, who has nearly 40 years in law enforcement, noted that a university of this size presents unique challenges, including continued growth, as the campus is about to embark on a project that will add a downtown campus in Orlando.

He noted that creating a campus that is designed to address current security concerns is of the utmost priority. “The biggest challenge with new facilities is what we call ‘value engineering’ where they engineer the value right of a building,” he said. “With the new campus, we can’t afford to do it the wrong way, and then retrofit it after the fact,” which he said has been a challenge with some of the more than 200 existing buildings at UCF.

With Florida a concealed carry state, Beary is concerned about current campus efforts to allow concealed weapons on campus, as he feels the training to get a permit “only requires a 45-minute class, which is not adequate enough training and does not even involve teaching them how to handle the weapon or even fire it.”

Jeff Morgan, UCF director of the department of security and emergency management, noted that the UCF Crisis Intervention Group “is a huge program that is very beneficial” as the group is trained to deal with the many issues that occur on campus, including sexual assault and other violent crimes.

Managing a campus with 11,276 doors with locks creates its own safety and security challenges, and Morgan noted that the campus is researching adding some more capability to the more than 2,000 cameras on campus. “We have had vendors come in and there are future plans to add that analytics capability.”

In addition to a fully functioning Police department, the EOC was activated in 2013, providing a state-of-the-art facility (with a backup generator) that allows security to monitor all facilities, host training of all kinds, leverage the latest technology, and to connect, coordinate and talk with law enforcement, security, fire and hospital personnel while pushing important and relevant security info to all parties in real time.

The EOC is also used as a backup for federal marshals, as well as by FEMA and DHS for training.

Days Two and Three

Our first tour stop on day two was at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, which recently brought on Chris Savard to fill a newly created position of director of security. Savard works closely with Annette DuBose, account manager for Andy Frain Services, a security management company that oversees the Phillips Center, to provide comprehensive security management protocols for a facility that is within sight of town hall and very much a part of the fabric of the community.

Savard, who is recently retired from law enforcement, said he wanted to begin to “change the culture and mindset” at the theater, with a stronger emphasis on security while still maintaining an “inviting and welcoming environment” for theatergoers.

One of the first things Savard did was start bag checks to better enforce a strict no weapons policy at the theater. “I was amazed and shocked at what they were trying to bring into the building,” he said, noting that items found during newly instituted bag checks included guns, knives, pepper spray and bullets, to name just a few.

Changing the culture at the theater is challenging, as bag checks or the use of wands, for example, is not something that is being done yet in New York’s theater district, for example. “Here in Orlando bag checks and the use of wands is becoming more of the norm, as you see it being done at Disney and other theme parks, so people are starting to get used to it,” said Savard, who noted that the theater is also considering starting checks for weapons using a wand, which would be done on a random basis. “After Paris, people want to see an increased police presence and focus on security.”

He said another important initial step to boost security was adding a police officer inside the building as well as a more strategic use of law enforcement officers outside. “We added a canine officer outside the theater to greet people as they drop-off and enter the valet area in front of the building, which we feel is a huge deterrent for a bad guy,” said Savard.

Security also brought in the Department of Homeland Security to do a complete assessment of the facility, looking for vulnerabilities and areas that can be hardened. “They found a few things that we were able to correct, such as varying our valet parking procedures,” noted Savard.

The assessment process included a 3D virtual analysis of the building that provided a comprehensive look at all of the access points and areas in the building, which can then be shared with and accessed by SWAT teams, for example, to aid them in getting in the building in the fastest and safest manner possible during an emergency situation.

In terms of video surveillance, cameras are located throughout the facility, especially “in high-value areas,” Savard noted, including five out in the front plaza area, as well as at all levels of the loading dock.

Security staff and employees are also given active-shooter and workplace-violence training. “This training is vitally important,” Savard said, as it teaches situational awareness, behavior assessment and counter surveillance, as well as how and when to engage someone who might be showing signs of suspicious behavior.

Savard also started offering a situational awareness and self-defense training class for female employees and their daughters, to teach them some basic techniques on how to neutralize someone and defend themselves better.

“Overall, we have increased security and taken it to the next level, so we are doing a lot better than we were,” said Savard.

Our next stop on day two was the Florida Hospital, where William S. Marcisz, senior director of security and a member of the ASIS Health Council, provided a comprehensive overview and guided tour of the hospital’s security program. With 10 hospitals over eight campuses, Marcisz relies on a large and highly trained security staff to manage buildings, including more than 1,000 access points and approximately 2,500 cameras.

When Marcisz arrived about three years ago, he suggested that the campus-based management structure be reorganized into one security department. “We designed it similar to a corporate security program but it is scalable,” said Marcisz, who noted that the program has five key elements, including operations (guard force management, for example), a communications division or dispatch, technology, including an IT department, a training division and investigations.

Marcisz explained that the training division is vitally important because it helps ensure that “communications and operations are synchronized and that we have everything standardized across the system.”

One area where the hospital sees “a lot of return on investment,” said Marcisz, is through investigations. “We investigate everything that is criminal in nature and we leverage our technology in our investigations, including our cameras, to help resolve many cases,” he explained.

Marcisz pointed out that through investigations, the hospital is able to get back hundreds of thousands of dollars each year in hospital assets, such as property that is either lost or stolen, as well as provide risk mitigation and defer litigation. “We did solve a case in 2015, for example, that saved us $15 million,” noted Marcisz. 

Another key part of training is to ensure that all head security positions have certifications attached to them, such as the Professional Certified Investigator (PCI) certification through ASIS.

The hospital also developed a workplace violence prevention program that is managed through security. “We do threat management and have put together training programs developed in-house, including computer-based learning modules on active shooter and workplace violence,” said Marcisz. “And we are in the process of developing additional training for our leadership on how to manage workplace violence.”

Because the hospital has a constant turnover of staff, there is an employee orientation program, and staff receives MOAB (management of aggressive behavior) and CPI (crisis prevention intervention) training.

“Our safety violence risk assessment was also developed in house, and we are in the process of implementing that, which allows our nursing staff to match up objective criteria, in terms of a patient’s behavior, based on a stoplight system—red, yellow and green—that provides responses and actions that need to be taken as behavior escalates,” said Marcisz.  

With close to 200 security personnel and growing, the hospital has a structured onboarding training process that consists of several different training modules an officer must complete once they finish orientation. “They must attain, and if applicable, get certified in certain skill sets (handcuffing, for example) before they can even interact with patients,” noted Marcisz. “A hospital is a very unique, high stress environment, so we have to be compassionate and customer service-oriented as well.”

Outside, each campus has two security vehicles that are equipped with video and license plate identification technology, including a strict parking policy to keep employees from parking in unauthorized areas.

In addition to the security team, the hospital has a threat management team and works closely with law enforcement and fire personnel.

On day three, our final stop on the tour was at the Hyatt Regency Orlando, formerly the Peabody, where Fred Prassack, director of security, talked about the challenges of securing the largest Hyatt convention property in the U.S.

Located next to the Orange County Convention Center, the hotel has 1,639 rooms and 105 breakout rooms as well as numerous meeting rooms, the largest of which is the size of two football fields. The hotel is also getting set to add a $450 million new tower with a conference center that will have approximately 350,000 square feet of meeting space.

To secure such a large property, the hotel has a main security office, a video monitoring and dispatch center as well as a small conference room for security meetings and briefings.

Prassack said that one of the keys to their success is having a staff that is all on the same page. “We have an officer training program, as well as a new-hire orientation program,” he noted, which includes security, fire safety and other emergency preparedness training. “We also have training for managers in areas such as anti-terror, active shooter and workplace violence, which is done in cooperation with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.”

Prassack noted that he reminds security and other hotel staff that 9-11 “changed the way we live forever … many of our freedoms went away that day.” Staff is trained to look for suspicious activity and “be vigilant,” he said. “If you see something, say something. After orientation and training, I deputize them and have them sworn in, which makes them feel empowered to be able to do something, if needed.”
 
As a major convention hotel, Prassack speaks with other hotel security directors in the area and nationwide and participates in monthly sheriff’s crime intelligence breakfast meetings, which address current issues or concerns that security may need to address or be aware of, such as the Zika virus, which has been garnering a lot of attention lately in Florida. 

On the technology side, the hotel also utilizes more than 400 Panasonic cameras with IP addresses and a separate hard drive. Cameras have motion sensors and record activity, which is saved for 30 days. The video surveillance room is set up on an automated schedule that provides views of cameras in key areas at the hotel, while taking the feed off of areas that are not active, such as the bar area in the morning.

This attention to detail is paramount at such a busy and bustling hotel property, said Prassack.

 

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