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These guys get it

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Friday, November 30, 2007
Integrators who've bought into the get-RMR-now mantra need to check out the brand-new Integrator Support, a company basically created by PSA Security, though it's an independent business. They make selling "interactive video monitoring" or "virtual guarding" (feel free to suggest other terminology) very easy for the central station-less integrator. Plus, they can get you into renting and leasing equipment to your customers, which also equals RMR, which equals a more steady balance sheet and a higher valuation for your company. IS is headed by Jim Taylor, former owner of integration firm White & Associates (sorry, that link is under construction, but you'll get the idea), so he gets what integrators need: back office and sales support and automation. He walked me through the web site functionality and it's pretty dang intuitive. No surprise he's a Mac guy.

Vegas and Quiet Riot use ECV

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Thursday, November 29, 2007
I find it interesting that security companies are often involved in news stories, but are almost always left anonymous, and everything they do is completely unquestioned and taken as completely ho-hum. In this case, I'm talking about the stories regarding the death of Quiet Riot frontman Kevin DuBrow (stop pretending you didn't like "Cum on Feel the Noize" at the time; you know you did). Check out these two paragraphs: Original Quiet Riot bassist Kelly Garni posted a statement online Wednesday describing the details of how he learned about the death of Kevin DuBrow, his friend and the band's singer, and again asked for fans to withhold speculation on what might have caused the 52-year-old singer's passing. "I want to thank everyone who refrained from jumping to conclusions and starting rumors," wrote Garni, who has spent his years since leaving the band as a professional photographer. He explained that at around 3:15 p.m. Sunday he got a call from the security company that handles DuBrow's home. "I am the only one who gets a call whenever his alarm goes off and usually I go to his house and let the guards in to check things out," he said. "However, Kevin had had his front doors replaced a few weeks ago and I did not yet have a key, so I told them to send the guards and if there was a problem I would go there and take care of it. They also told me that Kevin's voicemail was full. That was the first sign of trouble to me." The reporter doesn't wonder if this is standard procedure at all, which surprises me. So, the alarm goes off and his ex-bandmate gets the first call? That totally makes sense. Well, it does if you understand the principles of enhanced call verification (I'm assuming Garni means first call after calling the house), but if I was just Joe Schmoe, I might wonder if something could have been prevented if the police were immediately dispatched (which is probably not the case here, as his voice mail was full and he was probably long dead by the time the alarm went off). Also, which security company? Why is that just not important? Are all security companies the same? If I were the security company here, I would contact the local papers and talk about my role in the story and use it as a forum to promote the fact that without a security system, who knows how long DuBrow might have lain dead in his house? It's a great opportunity, too, to raise the discussion of verified response.

Get on the standards train (or bus, or whichever mode of transportation is your preferred participation metaphor)

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Thursday, November 29, 2007
In my most recent editorial, I counsel participation in standards-making processes. Basically, no one knows better how products should operate than those who install the products and have to make them work to satisfy end users. Similarly, if you're involved in a process - dispatch, etc. - you ought to make sure you don't have that process dictated to you by a standards body that doesn't have the appropriate input from those who will be most affected by the resultant standard. Well, here's a good chance to poke your nose in, even though it's more directed toward manufacturers. SIA (the Security Industry Association - in case you're not up on your acronyms) is exercising considerable muscle and energy in trying to create technology standards and it's my belief that the association will wind up being the de facto standards-making body for the security industry, at least in the short term, before historically IT-focused standards-making bodies might conceivably take over some of the technology standards in the industry. Anyway, what I'm pointing you to does seem a little dense, I'll admit. Check out this paragraph: The OSIPS Framework is the foundational standard for the OSIPS family of standards. Since OSIPS is directed at enabling the open integration of so many different types of components, it is essential to establish precise definitions of shared system elements and common means to communicate. OSIPS Framework provides the requisite definition needed to create this goal including interface infrastructure requirements and special interfaces for shared activities such as event reporting, schedules exchange, and other common functions. I mean, "create this goal"? Still, the comment period is open till Jan. 7, which gives you some time to figure out what this all means and whether you have an opinion. Read the proposed standard here. Comment here. Seriously. Do it.

Who needs on-site storage?

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Word's getting out today about Google's plan to offer storage as a service. Clearly, this is targeted first toward the consumer market, so people can have all-the-time/everywhere access to their photos and music, either to share with Grandma or hipster friends (wallet pics and iPods just don't cut it anymore, apparently). But it's also targeted toward the burgeoning online backup industry, which makes a hell of a lot of sense. The big question, of course, is how long it will be before everyone's storing just about everything in giant, hot-redundant storage farms, and whether the central station industry, for example, might want to get in on that as a service to provide both dealer customers and end users. If I'm an end user, why would I want to buy a bunch of RAID storage and have it sit in a closet when I could just store all my video off-site and access it through a web browser from anywhere in the world (not that I couldn't access it from anywhere anyway, it's just now I don't have to worry about my closet flooding)? Well, for one thing, off-site storage is still price prohibitive: As you can see, online storage is pricey. For instance, if you bought a Maxtor OneTouch 300GB external hard drive for $296, your one-time cost would be 99 cents per gigabyte. However, if you backed up just 2GB of data to IBackup, you'd pay $162 per gigabyte. Just think what 90 days of bank video from megapixel cameras would cost! But it's going to get cheaper soon: Even EMC Corp. has driven a stake into the hosted-storage landscape with its October agreement to buy start-up Berkeley Data Systems Inc. and its popular Mozy online backup business for $76 million. So, you might want to check out a service like that being provided by OzVision as a way of moving in that direction, if you're a central station. End users just want to look at video - they don't want to have to store and keep clean and safe a bunch of humming black boxes.

Brink's evaluates sale

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Activist hedge fund Pirate Capital’s relentless foot-stomping appears to have yielded some initial results. Today Brink’s—parent company of Brink’s Home Security and Brink’s Incorporated, the cash-handling business—announced that it’s hired the consulting firm Monitor Group to “evaluate its strategic alternatives. Pirate (along with other major shareholders like MMI) have been after The Brink’s Company to consider selling off one of its divisions for more than a year.

The Times weighs in on Registered Traveler

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007
might decide I have thoughts on this later, but for now, check out what the New York Times has to say about the slow-moving Registered Traveler program.

Many bars and nightclubs still unsprinklered despite deadline

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The Nov. 14 deadline passed almost two weeks ago for bars and nightclubs to install sprinkler systems, but according to this front page story in the Boston Globe only 22 Boston establishments have installed sprinklers. The Globe reports that a total of 283 bars and nightclubs needed to install sprinklers to comply with the 2004 Massachusetts Fire Safety Act, 22 have installed sprinklers, while 109 got waivers and 85 waited until the last minute to get extensions. The law was passed shortly after the 2003 Station Nightclub fire in Rhode Island.

Just 11 days later...

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Monday, November 26, 2007
Once you start looking into this kind of thing, you see it everywhere. I've been harping on guards (especially those employed by alarm companies for the purpose of pre-police response) being armed, and the possibility for mistaken killings that could lead to tragedy along with public relations disasters. This doesn't appear to be one of those cases, but it's indicative of the type of situation that would be better handled by the police, for a variety of reasons. Basically, a guard noticed something fishy, entered a vacant apartment, encountered two thieves hiding in a closet, got attacked with a power saw, and killed one of the thieves, allowing the second to escape. That's all well and good, and I'm pretty confident that the guard was justified in defending himself against what was probably a drug addict desperate enough to do just about anything to escape, but these paragraphs give me pause: Indianapolis-based Trinity Security had given a security guard who shot and killed a power-saw-wielding intruder at an Eastside apartment this week about four hours of general guard training and at least another two hours of specialized firearms training. That is more training than required by the state. Wow. Six whole hours of training? I'm not sure which is more scary, that a guy is working with a concealed weapon with only two hours of weapons training or that the state of Indiana doesn't require more training than that. And I'm not really scared for the potential thieves the guard might encounter, rather for the guard himself. Poor aim, poor handling and cleaning of the weapon, any number of factors could lead him to real harm in a future confrontation. Maybe in this situation the thieves were a total surprise and there wasn't opportunity to call in police who would have had second and maybe third officers ready for backup, to possibly both disarm without deadly force and catch the fleeing second man, but I'd much rather have representatives of the people killing criminals than private security guards. Dying for copper just seems so sad and pathetic and police officers have extensive training on when and where to use deadly force. It's possible a death in this case could have been avoided. In the case of a vacant apartment, there are definitely portable and temporary cellular-based intrusion systems that could be used to set off an alarm when the thieves enter and send a signal back to a central station, which could then dispatch police to the scene. I doubt that would be much more expensive than a contract guard, and it would certainly avoid situations such as this one, where a young guard making less than $12 an hour, and still enrolled in school, now has a death on his conscience.

This is the language police: We're surrounded

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Here's reason #354 why I should never have been handed the keys to a blog: A prolonged rant on compliment/complement. This particular rant has been triggered by a release posted by Imperial Capital, an investment bank that just bought another investment bank, USBX (one of their four vertical interests is security). Here's the offending sentence: "The addition of the USBX team is the perfect compliment to our existing professionals and will increase our M&A capabilities and expertise. So, basically, the deal is a way of saying, "good job," to the existing professionals. "Hey, guys, you've done such a nice job with that whole merging and acquiring thing that we're going to go out and buy another banking firm. Sound good? Good." Why is this particular homonym pair so difficult for people? I even recently discovered that if you google "compliment" and "deal" (don't ask why I was doing that) it returns pages with the word "complement" as well. And vice versa. I find that to be messed up. It's wrong in press releases more often than it's right, I'd swear. (It's ironic that USBX CEO John Mack is quoted using "complementary" correctly later in the release.) For reference, here's the Oxford American's explanation of the conundrum: USAGE: Complement and compliment (and the related words complementary and complimentary) are frequently confused. Although pronounced alike, they have quite different meanings. As a verb, complement means 'add to (something) in a way that completes, enhances, or improves,' as in: Janet's new necklace complemented her pearl earrings nicely. Compliment means 'admire and praise (someone) for something,' as in: They complimented Janet on her new necklace. Complementary means 'forming a complement or addition, completing,' as in: I purchased a suit with a complementary tie and handkerchief. This can be confused with complimentary, for which one sense is 'given freely, as a courtesy': You must pay for the suit, but the tie and handkerchief are complimentary. Try not to hate me.

Panasonic to buy Sanyo

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Monday, November 19, 2007
Well, it looks like the rumors and speculation had merit: Panasonic has made a formal offer to purchase Sanyo. Not surprisingly, the WSJ doesn't mention either company's security divisions, as they are small pieces of a very large puzzle, but I found this paragraph particularly interesting: For Panasonic, the deal comes down to Sanyo's green technology products. Sanyo, the world's largest producer of rechargeable batteries for laptop computers, digital cameras and mobile phones, is poised to capitalize on the auto industry's shift to hybrid and electric cars. Maybe people remember Sanyo's solar-powered "green" cameras at IFSEC 2007? I'd of course love to see Panasonic embrace green practices in the security industry as part of this greening of the company in general. Still, this deal isn't exactly done yet: Panasonic said it will commence by the end of February a tender offer for Sanyo shares at ¥131 ($1.50) each, a 4% discount to Sanyo's Friday closing price of ¥136. Panasonic plans to issue up to ¥400 billion in debt from next year to finance part of the acquisition. A lot of things can happen between now and February.

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