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Calling all monitoring companies at ISC West 2016

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Although it seems hard to believe, ISC West 2016 is fast approaching and now less than two weeks away. I’m currently working on my schedule for show floor meetings and it is filling up pretty quickly.

As I was last year, I’ll be making my way around the show floor and trying to visit with as many monitoring-related companies as I can. If your company has new developments with its monitoring center, or simply wants to tell me about your approach for the rest of 2016, feel free to reach out to me. My direct phone line is 207-846-0600 ext. 254, or you can send me an email at sives@securitysystemsnews.com.

If your company is more residentially focused, you might want to reach out to our new managing editor, Paul Ragusa, at pragusa@securitysystemsnews.com. Or, if your business is commercial or systems integration, email SSN editor Martha Entwistle at mentwistle@securitysystemsnews.com.

Last year was my first ISC West, actually my first security industry trade show—which some called “a baptism by fire.” It was great to meet a lot of companies at one time, and this year I look forward to checking in and seeing the latest with each of you.

One thing I know I’m headed to is the Security 5k on Thursday morning, April 7, benefiting Mission 500 and founded by Security Systems News. Shuttle busses will leave from the Sands Convention Center Taxi Ramp between 6:15 a.m. and  6:45 a.m. Speaking from experience last year, it was great to get off the show floor and the strip for a little be and have some fresh air. Feel free to register here, and keep an eye out for the new SSN team shirts (photo on left). I hope to see plenty of you there!

Smart homes—all is not golden?

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

While the “smart home” may be a vision of the future—with the rise in interest and demand for these technologies and services continuing unabated—all is not golden in this quickly emerging world of interconnectedness. Potential concerns include cost, ease of set-up and self-service, and support services.
 
Following data released in December by Argus Insights that shows growth in consumer demand for connected home devices slowing in 2015, findings from a recent survey reveal the specific challenges consumers are facing.

SSN reported on a June 2015 study from Argus, “Connected Home or Ho-Hum?” that showed a similar downward trend for smart home services, although many in the industry disputed the report, and many leading smart home companies are showing increases for 2015 in the adoption rate for their smart home interactive services.

As the industry continues to show interest in, and adopt the myriad new smart home services now available—controlling everything from your lights and heat to tracking your sleep patterns and even when your toast is done—there still may be some growing pains for this quickly emerging market.

To gain a better understanding of these challenges and explore possible solutions, Support.com, a provider of cloud-based software and services, surveyed more than 3,000 U.S. consumers in an effort to look at drivers and barriers of smart home usage and consumer behavior for both smart homeowners and potential buyers.

While nearly a quarter of respondents (23 percent) indicated that they have a smart home system installed in their home, the survey found key areas (cost, ease of set-up and self service, and support services) that may be causing some challenges or obstacles for existing and potential new consumers.

Despite the enhanced value to a home, the survey found that the perceived cost of smart home systems is a deterrent for many consumers, with 42 percent saying that price was their greatest frustration when purchasing, installing and maintaining their smart home systems.

The complexity of installing and configuring smart home systems is also frustrating users and causing hesitation in potential buyers. The survey found that 31 percent of smart home owners struggle with the complexity of setup, configuration and ongoing support for their devices, while 18 percent of smart home owners said their biggest frustration is when all of the devices don’t properly communicate and work together, and 43 percent of potential smart home buyers are concerned about the complexity of installing and configuring smart home devices and systems.

According to the survey, of current smart home owners, 61 percent want to fix issues on their own and become frustrated if they can’t, and 57 percent installed, connected and set-up all the devices and services themselves to save money on installation. Of potential buyers, 39 percent would rather install, connect and set-up all the devices and services on their own and save the money, and 22 percent would not buy a smart home system because they perceive it would be too complicated to install and set up on their own.

So while these findings are showing some hesitation as consumers try to make sense of the potential this new world of interconnectedness has, they also point to the need for security dealers and installers to connect more with their customers—and potential new customers—to bridge that gap between their interest in these new smart home technologies and their fear of taking the leap into this cool new world of interactive services.

By addressing these concerns up front, and adding some more transparency to the overall process, companies and installers may find that this initial resistance to smart home technology and services gives way to understanding and wider acceptance and adoption.

 

MIT, Cambridge Public Schools talk security in education

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

On Tuesday, I moderated a discussion in Cambridge, Mass. with MIT security director Tom Komola; Cambridge Public Schools security director John Silva; Brad Baker, president of Quincy, Mass.-based integration firm FTG Security; and two technology providers, Jumbi Edelbehram of Oncam Grandeye; and Jacob Hauzen of Genetec. The event is designed to create a dialogue about the risks that today's educational facilities face and how those risks can be mitigated. We had a few introductory slides to start the event including the one below, which really illustrated the importance of these kinds of discussions. 

The map above shows locations of school shootings in the United States in the past year. The red tags are shootings with multiple fatalities; the yellow tags are shooting with one or no fatalities.  One year.

We had a great discussion about the challenges of securing a world class university like MIT and how that task is similar in some ways and very different in others to securing a large, diverse urban school system like the Cambridge Public Schools. Komola and Silva both talked about the importance of collaboration with different department and entities inside and outside of their schools.

In addition to working with school administration and staff, Silva's team works closely several local- and state public health and safety departments to coordinate the best security program for 14 different schools. The team also works closely with the city council and school committee. Technology is relatively new in his security program. Four years ago, Silva didn't have any cameras in the schools. Today, he has more than a hundred cameras, mostly thanks to government grants, and more camera and access control are planned. His challenges, like most public school districts, include resources, both financial and in terms of staff. He also has to keep parents and the community informed about how the security measures benefit students and staff. 

Silva's program may be just getting started in terms of technology, but it's highly organized and many-layered, and far ahead of most public school systems of comparable size in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. 

In comparison to a K-12 public school, MIT has many resources, financial and otherwise. However, Komola points out that his security program has scaled very quickly. Seven years ago he had a couple hundred cameras. Today, he has more than 1,800. Komola stands out among security directors that I've talked to in the past in that he said he has a "great relationship with the MIT IT department." The two departments collaborate daily and support each other in getting tech projects planned and implemented. Moreover, Komola said it's been that way since they started the security technology program years ago. Perhaps the key to that working relationship is that both security and IT report the same executive (the highest ranking non-academic exec at MIT) and they're expected to work together.

Komola told a funny story about MIT students hacking an access control system. Fortunately, the students then showed him where the weakness in the system existed, so he could correct it. 

FTG's Brad Baker talked about how integrators know that the success of projects ride on IT and security working together effectively. Early on in meeting with customers, he "takes the temperature" of the customer's IT deparment to see "how they feel about physical security." He's fortunate, he said, that FTG's sister company, FTG Technnologies, is a telecom solution provider. This is something that makes an end user's IT folks comfortable.

What's on the Komola and Silva's technology wish lists?  Komola said he wants analytics and smart cameras. "I'm looking for technology that does the work, that's foolproof." Silva is also interested in smart tech, but he also needs "the budget to cover it."

Asked about where technology is going, Oncam's Edulbehram talked about the growing importance of analytic alerts for access control and video. Mobility--being able to access security system information from your phone or other device--is equally important. It's critical, he said, to have "mobile apps across the board for security systems." He also said that cloud technology is the wave of the future.

Genetec's Jarrod Fullerton echoed that sentiment. Big data, from video and other sensors, needs to be processed, and "the only place that can analyze all that data is a big private data center or the public cloud."

The event also included some cool technology demos from Oncam Grandeye and Genetec. Oncam makes 360-degree cameras. The cameras take a photo-in-the-round that looks like a normal fisheye shot, but the cool thing is seeing different elements of the photo "dewarped", straightened out so it looks like a normal photo.

Tuesday's event was the first of three OnCampus Security Symposiums. Two more events are planned: one in Chicago and one in San Jose, Calif.

 

 

Cybersecurity, the big theme of ISC West 2016?

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

When we did an educational session at TechSec 2014 about the possibility of security systems falling victim to an APT (advanced persistent threat), cybersecurity wasn't something we heard about every day at Security Systems News. Here's a link to a story about that educational session.

Times have changed. As we do advance ISC West show reporting this year, cybersecurity is cropping up over and over again.

A standard story we do each year is about the biggest booths at ISC West. Here's a link to the story, which is in our newswire today. Spencer spoke to three of the largest exhibitors for the story. Asked what they'll be talking about in Vegas, two of those exhibitors, Hikvision and Axis, are leading with their cybersecurity efforts. The third, Hanwha Techwin (formerly Samsung Techwin), is focused on its new name first, which makes sense. However, Hanwha's Tom Cook said cybersecurity was an important topic of discussion at the manufacturer's recent dealer meeting and said it's a topic the company will be talking more about.

We've continued to talk about cybersecurity at TechSec in 2015 and 2016.  This year we had Rodney Thayer at TechSec and at Cloud+ talking about cyber, both sessions were highly rated by attendees. Thayer is an excellent presenter—super knowledgeable and amusing too. He's leading an educational session at ISC West called "Cybersecurity: Three steps to counter external attacks on physical security systems" on Thursday, April 7,  from 3:30 - 4:15 in Casanova 603. My guess is that it will be a worthwhile session to attend.

Security Systems News has been on this story for more than two years, and we'll continue to keep you informed. If you hear of any particularly impressive or interesting cybersecurity efforts or stories, please let me know. I can be reached at mentwistle@securitysystemsnews.com

Rapid Response plans new building

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Local news source Syracuse.com recently reported that Rapid Response Monitoring is looking to expand its presence further in Syracuse with plans submitted for a new three-story building. The company is currently working on a 35,000 square-foot expansion of its headquarters, to be unveiled this spring.

Security Systems News has reported on Rapid's rapid growth previously. Here's a story about the expansion of the headquarters.

The report said, “The state has agreed to provide a $1 million grant through Gov. Andrew Cuomo's regional economic development council initiative to assist with the building's construction. According to Rapid Response, the 41,000-square-foot building will cost an estimated $8 million to build and approximately 50 jobs will be created.”

Contacted by Security Systems News, Rapid Response declined to comment on the project at this time.

The building will be mixed-use, according to Syracuse.com, with offices and residential space. “The plans filed with the city Planning Commission show offices and a restaurant on the first floor, offices on the second floor, and offices and three apartments on the third floor. Rapid Response would occupy a portion of the building,” Syracuse.com reported.

The new building will be about a two-minute walk from the company’s current headquarters. Rapid acquired the space in 2014, the report said.

Meeting at ISC West

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

With ISC West 2016 right around corner, my calendar for appointments is starting to fill up fast! As this is my first show as managing editor of Security Systems News, I am excited to connect with as many industry folks as I can, and learn as much as possible about the residential side of the business, which is my primary focus. To that end, I encourage you to reach out to me in the coming week to set up a time to visit your booth, or to meet and talk about the industry.

I know from my past experiences at key industry trade shows, that events such as ISC West provide an invaluable setting to meet face-to-face with people that we have developed relationships with over the years, or are just meeting for the first time after numerous conversations on the phone and email correspondences that, oftentimes, serve as our first informal introductions. But, as many of you know, it is vitally important in today’s ever-changing industry to take advantage of every opportunity to meet with peers and other industry professionals in this type of forum.

In addition to the valuable ‘schmoozing’ that goes on, I am eager to see first-hand how new technology, products and services are helping to shape and transform the industry, as well as meet with manufacturers and vendors who work closely with our readers—the security dealers and installers—to help them provide their customers with the best security and services as possible.

In addition to setting up appointments for the show floor, SSN editors, including me, will be doing short video interviews on the SSN stage outside the exhibit hall, as we have in past years. These video interviews provide a unique glimpse into the ISC West show experience from the attendees’ perspective, and I encourage you to reach out to me if you have something new and unique that you would like to talk about or share.

See you in Vegas!

Email me at: pragusa@securitysystemsnews.com.

 

ESX 2016 sessions look at key topics for central stations

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Wednesday, March 9, 2016

ESX recently announced its educational tracks for its 2016 show; Run Your Company, Grow Your Business, Maximize Your Central Station, and Rethink the Future. At the end of 2015, I wrote about the biggest trends of the year for monitoring, and I see quite a few of those topics coming up in the Maximize Your Central Station track at this year’s ESX.

ASAP to PSAP had a big year last year, with the announced involvement of big names like ADT, Vivint and Stanley. On June 9, ESX has a session on the program, called “ASAP to PSAP - The Game Changer for the Central Station.”

Cloud came up quite bit last year too, with IBS, Dice, and Bold Technologies each announcing a cloud-based central station platform. The session   “The benefits and limitations of cloud storage in a central station environment,” and, “How UL-827 will impact you and what will be required to secure your technical configurations.”

Other topics sound new and intriguing. Lela Panagides, founder and CEO of Leap Into Leadership, will present a two-part session on “The Art of De-stressing Your Central Station.” The first part will address “How to Know When Your Team Needs a Chill Pill,” and the second will seek to give attendees “The Healthy Workplace Toolkit.”

The complete list of sessions in this track, as well as the others, is available on ESX’s website, www.esxweb.com.

Planning for ISC West has begun

 - 
Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Planning for ISC West 2016 has begun.

Paul Ragusa, our new managing editor;  Spencer Ives, SSN associate editor;  and yours truly are starting to schedule appointments for the biggest show of the year, but some events are already in place on my schedule.

I am moderating two awesome educational sessions including the ISC West Opening Keynote: "Lights! Camera! Action! How Paramount Pictures Delivers Enhanced Safety and Global Security While Driving Operational Efficiency and Sustainable ROI." It will take place on Wednesday morning from 8:45 to 9:45, right before the show floor opens. Here's a link with more information.

I toured Paramount's GSOC in Los Angeles last fall. The Paramount folks have a great story to tell—and they're very open about how they do things and what the potential pitfalls are. You won't want to miss this one.

I'll also be moderating an educational session on April 7, Thursday morning, at 10 a.m. That means I will have to run the Security 5k fast in order to get back to the Sands and be ready to go at 10. What's the Security 5k?, you ask. It's only the funnest event at ISC West. It's your chance to get away from the casinos, get some exercise and you'll be making a real difference in needy kids' lives. Walk 2k or run 5k. Here's a link with more information.

The April 7 educational session that I'm moderating after the Security 5K is called "Access Control Trends in the Education Sector."

We'll hear from two great speakers: Tara Steelman from the College of Saint Rose, and Gary Rodman from Ripon College. They'll talk about why they chose the access control systems the did and how those systems help them make informed decisions, act quickly in the event of an emergency and gather important intelligence for investigations. Matthew Zimmerman of LaForce will be on hand to give the integrator perspective. Definitely plan to attend!   Here's a link.

Do you have news to share? Are you interested in speaking to Security Systems News at ISC West this year? We'll be doing booth visits and video interviews on the ISC West/Security Systems News Media stage. Security Systems News focuses on breaking business news. We're interested in new products, but we want to know how those products and your business plans will affect our readers--the integrators and installers and monitoring companies. We don't want to talk to product folks, we want to speak to your business executives about what you're doing now, what your plans are for 2016. 

The editors' coverage areas are as follows: I cover the commercial and systems integration market; Paul covers residential; Spencer covers monitoring. Please email me at mentwistle@securitysystemsnews.com, Paul at pragusa@securitysystemsnews.com, or Spencer at sives@securitysystemsnews.com to inquire about setting up an appointment.

See you in Vegas.

A warm welcome …

 - 
Wednesday, March 9, 2016

From my coworkers here at Security Systems News, to the many in the industry that I have already had the opportunity to connect with, one thing that has softened the challenging and hectic transition to my new job as managing editor is the warm welcome that I have received from all.

During those particularly stressful moments of my first few days on the job, I must admit that seeing SSN Publisher Tim Purpura walk down the office hallway wearing a lobster hat—in preparation for the upcoming ISC West show next month in Las Vegas—brought a smile to my face, and unfortunately for Tim, some lame lobster-related puns about buttering him up that I can never take back. But I'm pretty sure I made him laugh … so I think my job is secure.

And speaking of security, job or otherwise, it was also heartwarming to find that an industry that is in the business of securing millions of homes and people, can have such a disarming nature. In my first week, I have been able to speak with a handful of industry professionals, who not only are helping me to get my arms around the market, but also assuring me that their doors are always open for a chat or a quote — whatever!  

Whether it was talking with Tom Kerber, director of research for Parks Associates, who shared some very interesting research the firm is doing, or chatting with industry professionals including Jeff Lyman, chief marketing officer for Vivint, John Loud, president, Loud Security, John Cerasoula, president/CEO, ADS Security, and Matthew Zartman, consumer marketing senior manager at Alarm.com, I am already finding that the industry is made up of people with diverse backgrounds, comprehensive experience and expertise in their areas, and not least of all, colorful personalities.

As we begin the mad dash to ISC West—and my preparation for the annual 5K run/2k walk charity event that SSN sponsors—I encourage our readers to reach out to me, if I don’t get to you first, to talk about the industry and the upcoming conference.

Email me at: pragusa@securitysystemsnews.com.

SEi adds new remote services division

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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Systems integrator SEi has moved to it new headquarters in Omaha, Neb. and launched a new Remote Services division, which will support SEi's growing managed services business.

SEi has "been doing managed access control for 30 years if not more," SEi EVP Tom Hruby said. But now it's doing more cloud hosting. With its managed access control business growing and its "hosted video seeing a huge uptick" there are more customer service questions too.

"The remote services group deals with issues connected with managed services," Hruby said. Questions often arise when a user updates a phone. They'll need information on code changes, setting up their iPhone app, or tablets or web interfaces, among other things.

Creating this new division is all part of SEi's focus on "the experience economy." Hruby said "Customers today will pay more for experience than services," Hruby said. "When they pay for a service, they have experience expectations. If we don't meet those expectations, they'll go pay for the service somewhere else."

"We focus on the experience at SEi; we call it 'The SEi difference," he said.

When it moved into new headquarters, SEi wanted to expand its central station, "create a great place to work and do business, ... add all new technology and furniture," he said.

SEi's new headquarters here—it's first move since it was founded in the '70s—is double the size of its former headquarters. It has room for 65 employees, warehouse space and its new U.L. listed central station is now called SEi's  Customer Care Center. 

In business for more than 45 years, SEi has 167 employees and 16,000 customers. Its 2015 total revenue was $27.6 million with $850,000 RMR.

 

 

 

 

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