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Anti-drone technology takes flight

 - 
Wednesday, March 15, 2017

With drone technology gaining traction within the security space, it only makes sense that the discussion includes anti-drone technology, as the issues of privacy and rules and regulations regarding flight restrictions must come into play.

At this year’s ISC West in April, for example, the show’s inaugural Unmanned Security Expo—which has its own section of the show floor with a “flying cage” featuring ground-based robots and aerial drones in action—will also include an education portion addressing topics such as anti-drone technologies and drone use in law enforcement.

Many security companies have already developed or are developing anti-drone technology, ranging from machine-gun looking devices that can block communications and knock a drone from the sky, to technology that intercepts the drone’s signal, assuming control, so to speak.

The government is getting involved, of course; the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, Program Executive Office Unmanned Aerial Systems (PEO UAS), recently sent out a “request for information for participation” or RFIP, which “seeks technology solutions that are capable of detecting, identifying, and tracking, and identifying small unmanned aerial systems (SUAS) that are perceived as threats to people or critical infrastructure to participate in the DHS S&T 2017 Technical Assessment of Counter Unmanned Aerial Systems (C-UAS) Technologies in Cities (herein called TACTIC).”

DHS S&T established the Program Executive Office for Unmanned Aerial Systems (PEO UAS) to lead DHS efforts in guiding, advising and enabling technology solutions in this area, and as part of this RFIP invites industry, academia, and other government organizations to submit applications addressing innovative technology solutions for assessment during TACTIC.

This is certainly an interesting time as we enter into the robotics as a service (RaaS) era within security. In our recent news poll, many respondents commented that they see great potential for drone and other robotic technology within security; many agreed that it is just a matter of how quickly these technologies are adopted.

 

Study: Connected home solutions still in early adopter phase

 - 
Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Although a ton of research has been coming out recently looking at the high ceiling for smart or connected home growth over the next few years—Parks Associates says that half of homes will have a connected product by 2020—a recent study by research firm Gartner Inc. finds that only about 10 percent of households currently have connected home solutions.

Gartner found that adoption of “newer connected home solutions is still at the early adopter phase,” a conclusion based on responses from nearly 10,000 people in U.S., the U.K. and Australia during the second half of 2016. According to the study, “connected home solutions” consist of a set of devices and services that are connected to each other and to the Internet and can automatically respond to preset rules, be remotely accessed and managed by mobile apps or a browser, and send alerts or messages to the user (s).

"Although households in the developed world are beginning to embrace connected home solutions, providers must push beyond early adopter use," Amanda Sabia, principal research analyst at Gartner said in the announcement. "If they are to successfully widen the appeal of the connected home, providers will need to identify what really motivates current users to inspire additional purchases."

The survey found that home security alarm systems, the more established of connected home solutions, have nearly double the adoption rates (18 percent) of newer connected home solutions such as home monitoring (11 percent), home automation or energy management (9 percent), and health and wellness management (11 percent). Overall adoption rates were five- to six percent greater in the U.S., where they were first marketed.

However, excluding home security alarm services for which a monthly fee is generally paid, solution providers may find monetizing connected services challenging as the survey revealed that less than half of households currently pay for subscription-based home monitoring and automation/energy management solutions.

“In the U.S., where the home monitoring industry is more developed, 59 percent of households with a home monitoring solution indicate they do pay a monthly fee, thus proving they see value for these solutions,” according to Gartner. “However, charging for subscriptions for home automation/energy management and health and wellness solutions is more of a challenge since more than half of current households are already using these services free of charge.”

Using a scale of 0 to 100, respondents were asked about their feelings and preferences toward the value of devices, appliances and applications in the connected home ecosystem. Three-quarters of respondents indicated they are happy to manually set temperature and lighting controls versus only one-quarter who expressed an interest in having devices anticipate needs in the home. Furthermore, 58 percent of respondents showed a preference for separate, independent, stand-alone devices.

The study found that respondents are starting to see the value of one app for integrating their connected home devices, appliances and services as well as the importance of brand certification for their connected home devices and services. More than half of the respondents (55 percent) rated 51 or more toward the preference of one app integrating connected home devices and services, while 58 percent rated 51 or more toward the importance of hardware and services being certified by a specific brand.

"Messaging needs to be focused on the real value proposition that the complete connected home ecosystem provides, encompassing devices, service and experience," Jessica Ekholm, research director at Gartner, said in the announcement. "The emphasis needs to be on how the connected home can helps solve daily tasks rather than just being a novelty collection of devices and apps."

Ekholm will provide further analysis on consumers’ use of technology at the Gartner Tech Growth & Innovation Conference 2017 taking place June 19-21 in Huntington Beach, Calif.

20 under 40 winners at TechSec 2017

 - 
Wednesday, March 8, 2017

As I’m watching the weather forecast for Maine predict a drop into single digits temperatures, I can’t help but think about the great weather we had in Delray Beach Florida for this year’s TechSec Solutions conference, held Feb. 27 and 28.

Though there was a bit of rain during the day, the weather worked out perfectly in the evening for our “20 under 40” Class of 2016 reception. It was great to see a variety of award winners able to make it down—seven from our end user class and six from our integrator class. Below is a photo of all the winners that could attend this year's conference.

Reviewing the feedback we’ve gotten, many said that they enjoyed the networking opportunities. Each year, I find that the poolside “20 under 40” reception is a great place to spark those conversations and meetings.

Beyond making it to the reception, it was great having so many of these winners also participate on panels. Paramount Pictures’ Jeff Reider, National Oilwell Varco’s Bob Bernazal and Brian Phillips of Alexion Pharmaceuticals—all three of which are 2016 end user winners—gathered for a conversation, moderated by Guy Morgante from Northland Controls, on the nature of GSOCs today.

Phillips also moderated the session on big data in the physical security world, which you can read more about here.

Class of 2016 integrator Andrea Kuhn, from Kastle Systems, moderated the panel on the mobile security technologies that are out there today.

Kuhn also served as a panelist on “Class of 2016 ‘20 under 40’ winners take on the future,” along with fellow integrator winner Jeremy Brooks, with CSG Security, and end user winners Michael Brzozowski from Symcor and Tyrone Chambliss of Flex. Together, these four panelists discussed various hot topics in the industry, including the Internet of Things, smart buildings, cybersecurity and drones.

It is very rewarding each year to recognize up and coming professionals in this industry, and it was great to see some of them at this year’s TechSec conference and hear their perspective on the latest industry trends.

Study: Connected home solutions still in early adopter phase

 - 
Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Although a ton of research has been coming out recently looking at the high ceiling for smart or connected home growth over the next few years—Parks Associates says that half of homes will have a connected product by 2020—a recent study by research firm Gartner Inc. finds that only about 10 percent of households currently have connected home solutions.

Gartner found that adoption of “newer connected home solutions is still at the early adopter phase,” a conclusion based on responses from nearly 10,000 people in U.S., the U.K. and Australia during the second half of 2016. According to the study, “connected home solutions” consist of a set of devices and services that are connected to each other and to the Internet and can automatically respond to preset rules, be remotely accessed and managed by mobile apps or a browser, and send alerts or messages to the user (s).

"Although households in the developed world are beginning to embrace connected home solutions, providers must push beyond early adopter use," Amanda Sabia, principal research analyst at Gartner said in the announcement. "If they are to successfully widen the appeal of the connected home, providers will need to identify what really motivates current users to inspire additional purchases."

The survey found that home security alarm systems, the more established of connected home solutions, have nearly double the adoption rates (18 percent) of newer connected home solutions such as home monitoring (11 percent), home automation or energy management (9 percent), and health and wellness management (11 percent). Overall adoption rates were five- to six percent greater in the U.S., where they were first marketed.

However, excluding home security alarm services for which a monthly fee is generally paid, solution providers may find monetizing connected services challenging as the survey revealed that less than half of households currently pay for subscription-based home monitoring and automation/energy management solutions.

“In the U.S., where the home monitoring industry is more developed, 59 percent of households with a home monitoring solution indicate they do pay a monthly fee, thus proving they see value for these solutions,” according to Gartner. “However, charging for subscriptions for home automation/energy management and health and wellness solutions is more of a challenge since more than half of current households are already using these services free of charge.”

Using a scale of 0 to 100, respondents were asked about their feelings and preferences toward the value of devices, appliances and applications in the connected home ecosystem. Three-quarters of respondents indicated they are happy to manually set temperature and lighting controls versus only one-quarter who expressed an interest in having devices anticipate needs in the home. Furthermore, 58 percent of respondents showed a preference for separate, independent, stand-alone devices.

The study found that respondents are starting to see the value of one app for integrating their connected home devices, appliances and services as well as the importance of brand certification for their connected home devices and services. More than half of the respondents (55 percent) rated 51 or more toward the preference of one app integrating connected home devices and services, while 58 percent rated 51 or more toward the importance of hardware and services being certified by a specific brand.

"Messaging needs to be focused on the real value proposition that the complete connected home ecosystem provides, encompassing devices, service and experience," Jessica Ekholm, research director at Gartner, said in the announcement. "The emphasis needs to be on how the connected home can helps solve daily tasks rather than just being a novelty collection of devices and apps."

Ekholm will provide further analysis on consumers’ use of technology at the Gartner Tech Growth & Innovation Conference 2017 taking place June 19-21 in Huntington Beach, Calif.

Industry pros shine at TechSec

 - 
Wednesday, March 1, 2017

As I sit here in Florida, at the beautiful Delray Beach Marriott, basking in the 80-plus degree temps and relaxing ambiance, I reflect on Security Systems News’ highly successful two-day conference that wrapped up here yesterday.

From the opening keynote, “Cheaper, Faster, Better” by Jack Wu, co-founder and CEO of Nightingale Security—who looked at the current capabilities and future potential of robotics in security (including flying a drone in California from his iPad)—and eight thought-provoking education sessions to the “20 under 40” award reception and invaluable networking, TechSec took on many of the hottest topics in the industry while looking at how integrators can best leverage today’s emerging technologies.

Over the next few weeks, you will see extensive coverage and articles from SSN staff on each session, as well as pictures of the many great panel discussions and of our “20 under 40” integrator and end-user award winners—they represent this next generation of tech-savvy security professionals who will lead the industry into the future. 

As we begin to enter the trade show season here in the industry, with ISC West, ESX and ASIS, to name just a few, we are excited to delve even deeper into the topics and trends that are driving the industry today. 

TechSec Solutions 2017: continuing conversations

 - 
Wednesday, March 1, 2017

One theme that I was happy to see at this year's TechSec Solutions conference, held in Delray Beach, Fla., on Feb. 27 and 28, was that conversations were picked up in- and outside of sessions.

Many topics in the industry impact more than just one sector, vertical or business. Drones, IoT, cybersecurity, biometrics—these technologies have many different applications and their changes and developments have a wide impact.

This year, we wanted to continue the conversation on biometrics after a very interesting "Battle of the Body Parts" at TechSec Solutions 2016. In the end, iris scan technologies proved to have the most potential, for its security as well as its applicability. This year, we brought back reigning champion Blaine Frederick, vice president for product management with EyeLock, to talk more about iris scan technologies’ developments and opportunities with Jeff Kohler, product line and business development director of the newly named Princeton Identity.

Cybersecurity has come up a lot in the industry, and it was definitely brought up a few times during the conference. During the last session of this year's conference, moderator Jay Hauhn, executive director for CSAA, pointed out how he liked that cybersecurity was addressed as it specifically related to each conversation.

The first panel session, "The future of IoT: Taming security's wild west," looked at IoT's current standards and developments. This topic was then picked up and added to by both our panel of "20 under 40" winners from the class of 2017 and the second day's session on the latest trends in monitoring. 

At our "20 under 40" reception I discussed the hot topics with Brian Cote, product manager for Eizo. He made an interesting point about the maneuverability Nightingale Security's Jack Wu showed in his drone demo, comparing the free range of rotation to a more traditional camera's pan, tilt, and zoom capabilities.

Thank you to everyone that came out and participated!

Johnson Controls publishes cybersecurity 'call to action'

 - 
Wednesday, February 22, 2017

CORK, Ireland—Johnson Controls released a “call to action” whitepaper on cybersecurity this week in an effort to help the industry to better protect all of the data that is being produced throughout smart buildings today.

“As data becomes more and more prevalent throughout the buildings where we live and work, so does the need to protect that data; it is no longer enough for a building to be smart—it must now be cybersmart,” according to the new whitepaper, “Cybersmart Buildings - Securing Your Investment in Connectivity and Automation” published jointly by Johnson Controls and Booz Allen Hamilton, a management and technology consulting and engineering firm. This whitepaper provides a roadmap for building managers, building owners, contractors and others to act to protect their information.

“Research clearly demonstrates that cybersecurity is a critical need at a critical hour for buildings around the world,” Bill Jackson, president, Johnson Controls Global Products, said in the announcement. “As building technology and data converge, we must be increasingly vigilant.”

This collaboration between two companies, with more than 200 years of combined expertise in their industries, illustrates the progress being made in raising awareness of the need for cybersecure smart buildings, coined “cybersmart buildings” in the white paper.

“Securing smart buildings and building systems more generally, is a shared responsibility requiring focus and commitment from the manufacturer, integrator, and customer,” Jason Rosselot, director of Johnson Controls’ global product security, said in the release. “Just as two industry leading companies were able to collaborate to create this whitepaper, so too can smart building stakeholders partner to follow these recommendations and create cybersmart buildings.”

Jackson added, “Defending against cyber threats today and tomorrow requires the secure design, development and deployment of building automation systems and controls.”

According to the 2016 State of Industrial Control System (ICS) Security Survey by SANS, 67 percent of participants perceived severe or high levels of threat to control systems, up from 43 percent in 2015.

“Smart buildings are now at the forefront of this battle—with tremendous complexity and integration of systems, they represent an increasingly valuable target,” according to the whitepaper. “Connectivity and automation create entry points for cyber attacks with potential safety, continuity, quality and privacy impact. But we can’t let this risk cripple innovation.”

According to the whitepaper authors, cybersecurity can be “a business enabler for smart buildings. When done well, cybersecurity is about insuring your investment and assuring your ability to reap the transformative benefits that connectivity offers,” including working “with the right partners to secure your investments when assessing and deploying smart building systems or retrofits.”

The whitepaper, which can be found here, summarizes key insights to help set an agenda for cybersmart buildings.

Alertus partners with AccuWeather

 - 
Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Mass notification system provider Alertus Technologies recently entered a partnership with AccuWeather Enterprise Solutions, bringing its customers more capabilities when it comes to weather alerts and emergencies.

Alertus, founded in 2002, has included weather alerts in its system and has been developing and automating these alerts. “We wanted to partner with AccuWeather since they really are the leader in that space, and have a lot of additional services that they bring to the table,” Amanda Sassano, Alertus director of commercial sales, said. 

Formerly, the company relied mostly on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration data. “[Previously], there was a certain radius outside of a ZIP code, and that area would be notified if there was a tornado watch or warning—they were very basic alerts,” Sassano said. “Now, with the partnership with AccuWeather, we’re able to tap into their resources—or their feeds as well, and leverage if they have severe weather packages—from hurricanes, to snow, to lightning—to their SkyGuard Service.”

AccuWeather’s SkyGuard service provides users with real-time data relevant to their local areas from a meteorologist. This information will be brought directly into Alertus' ThreatWatcher tool.

Alertus has a broad customer base, Sassano said. The company’s most matured market is in higher education, she said, “they’re the early adopters in mass notification. But, we work in verticals like state and local government, healthcare, corporate, manufacturing, … stadiums, sports arenas, aviation, k-12 [and] military.” The company sells its offerings through security integrators as well as directly servicing customers.

What sets Alertus apart from other MNS technologies? “Definitely our approach. We’re very interoperable with all technologies, whether that's existing infrastructure on the emergency asset side—like access control, fire panel integration, cameras—to leveraging existing infrastructure that's not emergency assets, like VOIP phones [and] desktop computers,” Sassano said.

MONI introduces ‘Customer Bill of Rights’

 - 
Wednesday, February 15, 2017

DALLAS—Last September, when Monitronics changed its name to MONI Smart Security, it also said it would be pushing its brand toward consumers more. In line with that, MONI started a new initiative: its Customer Bill of Rights.

“Products and price are relatively similar across companies within the industry. The true differentiator, in this industry, can be customer experience,” Jay Autrey, recently promoted chief customer officer at MONI, told Security Systems News. “We want to be disruptive when it comes to the customer experience in the home security industry.”

According to the company, customers have the right to local service, easily moving their system to a new location, understand their contract, voice their opinions, have all issues addressed in one business day and a simple cancellation process.

The company relied on customer feedback, as well as a collaborative effort from dealer support and customer service organizations within MONI, to identify the most important customer rights.

Moni has in the last nine months been instituting more channels for direct customer feedback, Autrey said, and can use that information to gauge whether or not it is upholding the customer’s rights.

The company wants to “make sure that customers fully understand what they can expect from MONI, up to choosing us but obviously [also] well after choosing us.”

Chief customer officer is a newly created role at MONI, and Autrey said that the role shows a commitment to customer service, both internally and externally.

MONI is also looking to improve relations with customers by more frequently contacting them and giving them information on new products and services, Autrey said, which was a request the company heard from customers.

Smart home product sales soaring

 - 
Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Smart-home product U.S. dollar sales grew 57 percent in 2016 compared with the prior year, according to recent findings from market research firm The NPD Group.

According to the study, security and monitoring products led the category, making up more than 60 percent of dollar share, with smart entry devices, such as smart doorbells, growing 171 percent in dollar sales and 206 percent in unit sales compared with 2015.

The market research firm said awareness levels of smart home devices have fluctuated, but cited the smart doorbell as a category that witnessed growth in both awareness and ownership; ownership of smart doorbells inched up 2 percent while awareness grew 4 percent.

According to IHS Markit, the global market size for video doorbells, which was at $78 million in 2015, is expected to experience a 28 percent CAGR over the next five years, with North America leading the way.

Video doorbells, many times, are a homeowner’s first foray into video surveillance in and around the home.

“Video doorbells are only just beginning to gain traction among residential consumers,” Anna Sliwon, analyst, residential security, IHS Markit, said in the study. “As the market continues its rapid ascension, partnering with video doorbell providers could prove lucrative for home alarm manufacturers and service providers.”

In the NPD study, networked video cameras led as the most commonly found product in smart homes. Nearly one-third of smart homes owned a networked video camera, and demand for multipacks of IP cameras grew 129 percent in dollar sales for the year.

“Network cameras have long been considered the entry point into the smart home, but growing demand for items sold in sets shows that the market is maturing,” Ben Arnold, executive director, industry analyst for The NPD Group, said in a prepared statement. “We fully expect the next two years will see a broadening appeal of smart-home devices and estimate that the category will nearly double in that time.”

Voice command is also becoming more commonplace in smart homes, with nearly half of these homes using voice commands in some manner, and one-quarter using them to control a home-automation device, with Siri being the most commonly used digital assistant, according to NPD.

John Buffone, executive director, industry analyst, NPD Connected Intelligence, said one in five Amazon Echo owners use the device to control another device in their home.

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