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ESX prepares for its 10th year

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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

ESX just recently opened early registration for the 2017 show, to be held June 13-16 at the Music City Center, in Nashville, Tenn., as well as nominations for ESX 2017 Innovation Awards.

Yesterday, ESX announced a heavily discounted rate for early registration as celebration for the show's 10th year; early registrants will only pay $199 for ESX's Premium Pass. Last year, the Premium Pass early rate was $700. 

"We are thrilled to extend the special pricing for ESX 2017! To celebrate our 10th year, we really wanted to expand the opportunity of experiencing ESX to even more integrators, dealers and monitoring professionals," George De Marco, ESX chairman, told Security Systems News in an email exchange.

"We plan to highlight all the best of what the industry has to offer – technology, education and networking – and to take a trip down memory lane, showing off the best of ESX over the years," De Marco said.

ESX has a strong focus on providing useful education each year; this year the program expands with new “CounterPoint Forums,” De Marco said. “The interactive format will encourage security professionals to explore and discuss opposing views freely and passionately. We’ll be discussing topics, such as: Should you sell your security company? Cable service companies are here to stay - what impact are they having on the industry? DIY Security: Passing fad of real opportunity?”

“We believe the Counterpoint Forum will become a strong anchor in our program for 2017 and beyond,” De Marco continued.

Vendors and service providers can submit their nominations for Innovation Awards up to March 17. 

Alongside these announcements, ESX posted its educational session this year. Glancing at some of the session, I see some key trends for the industry. 

“Video Verification - Can You See Me Now?” one of the sessions in the Grow Your Business track, will look at video verification, why it’s important and how to upsell customers to gain more RMR.

In the Monitoring Center track, “Critical Steps to Understand and Combat the Growing Cyber Threats to your Monitoring Center Data,” plans to address the now ubiquitous concern of cybersecurity and tell attendees how they can educate their staff and identify proper resources to support their IT organization.

“Must Know Future Trends of the Industry,” a session in the Rethink the Future track, looks at a variety of industry topics, including cloud-based services, new players in the market, and the “pros and cons” of forming third-party partnerships.

In the Run Your Company track, “Five Tips for Managing Millennials” session seeks help attendees tap into potential talent in younger generations, through understanding common millennial career views and motivations.

TechSec Solutions takes on the future

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Security Systems News is excited to announce this year’s TechSec Solutions educational program and keynote speaker—Jack Wu, co-founder and CEO of Nightingale Security, an innovator in the area of robotic aerial security.

In his keynote, Wu will look at the current and future role robotics has in security and potential applications across many different verticals. Wu co-founded the company with John Hsu, whose vast experience in aeronautics and astronautics, Ph.D. from Stanford University and work at SpaceX on Falcon’s navigation system provide the technological vision and know-how that helps drive the company’s advancements in aerial robotic technology. Come see the company’s latest security drone up close and personal in Delray Beach, Fla., Feb. 27-28.

Beyond the keynote, we are tackling some of the bigger technology trends that are impacting the security industry today and will continue to shape the industry in the future, from IoT and big data to biometrics and mobile access. And, of course, cybersecurity and the cloud will make it into many of the conversations as well.

As a new and emerging technologies conference, the underlying theme for the educational program is looking to the future of technology—where we are and where we are going and how the industry can leverage these advances. We will also be looking at where the industry is in terms of standards and best practices.

For example, this year's session entitled, The Future of IoT: Taming Security’s Wild West, will delve into how the Internet of Things or IoT is a virtual wild west, and is transforming into the Internet of Everything (IoE). This session will try to make sense of it all, looking at what is being done in the area of standards, best practices, interoperability, cybersecurity and more, led by panelists Neil Lakomiak, director of business development & innovation, UL; Mitchell Klein, executive director, Z-wave Alliance; Jon Lewit, communication committee chair, ONVIF, and director of technology leadership, Pelco; and integrator Jim Coleman, president, Operational Security Systems, Inc.

For more details on TechSeec Solutions and to register, click here.

Parks Associates: 10 top IoT trends

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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Parks Associates recently released a whitepaper that discusses key trends in the IoT space for 2017.

“The Internet of Things is driving the reinvention of consumer technology and entertainment markets,” Brett Sappington, senior research director, Parks Associates, said in the announcement.

“New players and product categories are emerging that challenge traditional players with established business models and distribution channels. Online giants have the scale and technology to take risks in new areas of innovation. In some cases, these innovations are transforming whole sectors of the connected home,” Sappington continued.

According to Parks’ research, the average U.S. broadband household has “more than eight connected computing, entertainment, or mobile devices, plus another two connected home devices such as networked cameras, smart thermostats, or smart lighting.”

That strikes me as very interesting, as my household contains only about five—and, as a millennial, I feel more is expected of me there.

“Consumer interaction with the devices and services in their lives – at home, in the car, on the go – will continue to evolve in 2017 to be more personal and targeted,”  Jennifer Kent, director, research quality and product development for Parks Associates, said in a prepared statement. “Approximately 50% of U.S. broadband households plan to buy a smart home device in the next 12 months, and they will tie these devices to their mobile platforms, broadband connections, and other devices to create a singular but ever-expanding user experience.”

Below are the 10 trends Parks Associates noted on in their announcement:

1.         Voice control is vying to become the primary user interface for the smart home and connected lifestyle.

2.         The smartphone market plateaus, and mobile carriers experiment to retain subscribers, which will threaten fixed broadband services.

3.         CE manufacturers focus on new product categories and ecosystem strategies to compensate for stagnation in a mature market.

4.         Virtual and augmented reality gain a foothold in niche operations and greater awareness among early adopters, creating opportunities for social VR experiences.

5.         The differences between on-demand and live viewing continue to blur as consumers embrace a variety of OTT video services.

6.         Consumers increasingly expect connectivity in their cars, but pricing, safety, and data privacy concerns inhibit market growth.

7.         To cross the chasm, the smart home industry will continue to develop new use cases for security, peace of mind, and energy management.

8.         Insurers are exploring new business opportunities in smart home products and services and will continue to launch trials and new partnerships.

9.         Wearables and smart watches are expanding as healthcare tools and will be integrated with other IoT applications.

10.       Consumerization of healthcare services and devices drives integration with smart home ecosystems and new business models.

The whitepaper also includes a list of “Players to watch in 2017” for a variety of categories, including voice control, security and the smart home, connected health devices, and insurance and the smart home.

 

Z-Wave Alliance aims to secure IoT

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The Z-Wave Alliance, an open consortium of global companies deploying the Z-Wave smart home standard, is adding a security requirement to its long-standing interoperability certification.

According to Mitchell Klein, Z-Wave Alliance executive director, the Alliance Board of Directors voted to mandate all devices receiving Z-Wave Certification after April 2nd, 2017 to include the new advanced Security 2 (S2) framework, an important addition to the Alliance’s certification program that will require manufacturers to adopt a stronger level of IoT security.

“The recent spate of hackings and DDoS and other things going on are more or less happy coincidences and not motivation on our part, and the reason I put it that way is because something as complex as the S2 Security protocol that we’ve established has been in development for more than four years,” Klein told Security Systems News. "No one can afford to sit on their hands and wait—consumers deserve IoT devices in their home to have the strongest levels of security possible. IoT smart home technologies that don't act will be left behind."

Klein said that the update is backwards compatible, so any devices that are running on the current chip sets can be firmware updated to include S2 without having to make any hardware changes, and the updates can be pushed.

“The reason why we moved forward with it is because we wanted to ensure that as we got more and more complex devices, and more and more complex systems, that security becomes a base part of all devices and everything in the system,” Klein explained. “In order to achieve that, we had to take it up a level and make sure that it is going to run on the current chip set, so that our members don’t have to go and change or redesign hardware.”

Z-Wave's S2 framework was developed in conjunction with cybersecurity hacking experts, giving the already secure Z-Wave devices new levels of impenetrability, according to Klein. “We are so confident that this is hack proof, that we actually post the S2 protocol on the website and it is publically available,” he said.

Klein said that by securing communication both locally for home-based devices and in the hub or gateway for cloud functions, S2 also completely removes the risk of devices being hacked while they are included in the network. By using a QR or pin-code on the device itself the devices are uniquely authenticated to the network as well. Common hacks such as man in the middle and brute force are "virtually powerless" against the S2 framework through the implementation of the industry-wide accepted secure key exchange using Elliptic Curve Diffie-Hellman (ECDH), he said.

Finally, Z-Wave also strengthened its cloud communication, enabling the tunneling of all Z-Wave over IP (Z/IP) traffic through a secure TLS 1.1 tunnel, removing vulnerability.

By changing the way security is implemented, Klein said that there are a number of improvements. “You will find that the response time from things like door locks, which actually had to require authentication, is much quicker, and with much less overhead (single exchange as opposed to a back and forth exchange),” he said.

For 2017, from a technology perspective, Klein said there will be discussions about a new generation Z-Wave chip. “We have a lot of things up our sleeve on what that is going to do and I think that is going to put a lot of smiles on people’s faces,” he said.

PERS company rebrands, refocuses

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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

KING OF PRUSSIA, Pa.—Wearable Health Solutions, formerly Medical Alarm Concepts, is moving from its original direct-to-consumer model to a dealer-only model with its new mPERS offering, the iHelp + 3G.

“The goal of this product and our company is to sell to dealers and to give them everything that they would need to help them to sell this product, and that includes the dealer portal,” Jennifer Loria, Wearable Health Solutions COO told Security Systems News.

The company is looking to roll-out its new mPERS in the end of January 2017. The company is currently sending out demos—“We’re ready and we’re excited about it,” Ronnie Adams, company president and CEO, told SSN.

Adams said that the company’s new name, unveiled in June, aligns it with the wearable field, a key aspect of medical alert devices.

The iHelp + 3G mPERS stands out through its new dealer portal, according to Adams, which will give dealers the ability to upsell and turn on certain features. “It gives them the ability to offer features and functionality where they couldn’t do it before,” Adams said. He also lauded the product’s light weight—1.5 ounces—and its small size.

The new device works on a 3g network and includes fall detection, geo-fencing and tracking capabilities in addition to its main help button. It device can also emit sound to help locate it if it is lost. The unit can notify specifically identified contacts if the user leaves the geo-fenced area; it will also notify these contacts when the user reenters the zone, Adams said.

“If somebody pushes the SOS [button], that’s the only time that it goes to a monitoring center—or if somebody falls,” Adams said.

“If the dealer wants us to brand it, we will brand it for the dealer,” Adams said. In certain events, key contacts will be sent a map, showing the user’s location and even this map can be white-labeled for the dealer, Adams said.

The company’s first solution, a PERS device called the MediPendant, was sold direct to consumer through big box stores and is being phased out over the next six months. While Wearable Health Solutions will services MediPendant, “The business going forward is going to be strictly with dealers, and with a dealer program, for the iHelp + 3G,” Adams said.

The company had a middle step between selling the MediPendant direct to consumer, and it’s 3G device to dealers. “In the interim, while we were developing this [3G] product, we came out with a 2G product, which got us into the field and enabled us to understand … the cellular space a little bit better and the dealer space a little bit better,” Adams said.

The company had a dealer portal for its 2G offering, originally called the iHelp, to learn more about the needs of the company’s dealers, Loria said. The original iHelp is no longer being sold.

PERS provider acquires two

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

BALA CYNWYD, Pa.—Connect America, a large provider of PERS products, recently announced two acquisitions through its Healthcare Division; Racine’s Medical Alert, based in La Junta, Co., and Spirit Homecare’s Medical Alert Division, located near Des Moines, Iowa.

“We acquire…  local providers that really have a regional reach and the opportunity to grow those businesses by cultivating referral sources in the geography where they operate,” Richard Brooks, president of Connect America’s Healthcare Division, told Security Systems News.

By acquiring Racine’s Medical Alert, Connect America’s Healthcare Division expands into Colorado. The company will continue to use it’s Racine’s brand.

Brooks said that the purchase of Spirit Homecare’s Medical Alert Division opens the company’s opportunities in the Des Moines. This division will fold into Connect America’s network in the Des Moines area.

These acquisitions complement the company’s July acquisition of Home Buddy, based in Kansas, Brooks said.

Brooks described the company’s approach to incorporating acquired businesses, “We enhance the sales and marketing operation, we take some of the back office functions and move them to our headquarters, and emphasize a sales effort on a local basis.”

Connect America’s Healthcare Division has finalized four acquisitions in the past 12 months and expects a similar rate for the next year, according to Brooks.

The Healthcare Division grows both organically and through acquisition; 70 percent of the division’s growth comes organically and 30 percent is through acquisitions. The company did not announce the number of subscribers included in the deal.

Video rises into the cloud

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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

News continues to pour in on the portential of cloud-based services, especially on the heels of Security Systems News' Cloud+ conference, which brought early adopters of the cloud together in Austin, Texas, to look at how the security industry will continue to adopt and leverage the cloud, not only to increase RMR but to provide better and more cost-effective solutions for customers.

Many of the Cloud+ speakers, from integrators and consultants to end users and manufacturers, highlighted the many challenges of educating people on the benefits and solutions the cloud can provide within security, such as in the management of data and video, two areas expected to see tremendous growth over the next few years.

According to new findings from global research firm IHS Markit, based in London, the video software market is expected to rise from $6 billion in revenue in 2015 to more than $9 billion in revenue by 2021.

According to the new Video Software, Security, and Analytics Intelligence Service from IHS Technology, the atomization of media distribution and the switch from hardware-based technology solutions to cloud implementations are key drivers for the $3 billion in revenue growth over the next five years.

“Taken together, these two forces have created a market where value is shifting towards the frontend,” Cecilia Zhu, analyst at IHS Technology, said in the announcement. “A superior user-experience has become fundamental to securing increased consumer spend.”

Globally, content security accounts for 32 percent of the digital video software market, according to IHS.

“While demand for robust security solutions is unlikely to deteriorate,  particularly in the presence of high-value UHD and HDR content,  the segment is effectively saturated,” Zhu said.

By contrast, Online Video Platform solutions will continue to generate large, year-on-year returns through 2021. “The necessity of online distribution backed by a platform pre-integrated across a rich ecosystem of partners, means demand for OVP solutions will rise over the next five years,” Zhu said.

According to IHS, North America is the key region for the video software market, generating roughly $2.9 billion, and the region’s value relates primarily to confluence of three factors: the presence of large media companies, their outright scale, and their sheer number.

“The region’s economic dominance should not, however, overshadow the existence of cutting-edge video services in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, and the technology demand that these services generate,” Zhu said.

According to the research firm, Cisco has a 15 percent share of the video software segment, the largest globally. “The company has proven adept at transitioning into the video space, and at using its longstanding presence in core, metro, and access-network infrastructure to cross and upsell video-specific software,” Zhu said.

Monitoring: The argument for wholesale

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

YARMOUTH, Maine—Throughout the year one topic has been cropping up: the benefits of switching to a wholesale central station.

Several companies this year have opted to pick a third party monitoring center over continuing to operate their own central; RFI Communications switched to Rapid Response in March, Red Hawk Fire & Security partnered with Affiliated in October and recently, Comtronics switched its monitored accounts to NMC.

Some of these companies said that the move allowed them to refocus on the core of their business.

One thing that each of these companies highlighted is new-found flexibility and the ability to focus more heavily on offering new services and technologies to their customers. Specifically, these companies highlighted offerings such as mobile services and video verification with I-View Now.

This has been a pretty hot topic in the industry, it seems. I know if came up at CSAA’s annual meeting in the panel entitled “Owning vs. Contracting – Future Trends for Monitoring Centers.” I’d like to hear your opinions; Is this trend going to continue? Feel free to check out our most recent News Poll to share your views on the business benefits of either third party monitoring centers or operating your own central station. 

Young professionals

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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The one common lament I hear from those in the security industry today—from dealers to integrators to end users to manufacturers—is how difficult it is to find good young professionals.

Many of our Class of 2016 “20 under 40” winners, both in the integrator and end user categories, are great examples of what this next wave of young security professionals are capable of, and many are involved in their local chapters of organizations such as ASIS International, SIA and ESA, which recently held its Rising Leaders Forum at Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, Wash., an event that was designed to gather rising leaders and industry veterans to participate in a leadership and team-building program.

Terry Peters, CEO and founder of Leader Solutions and Decision Support LLC, developed the team-building program. “Leadership is the art of influencing people in such a way as to gain their willing desire to accomplish the mission,” he said in the announcement. “Leaders are followed because their actions impact the environment in which they operate and people see them as a catalyst to achieve the desired outcome.”

This ESA event included multiple hands-on activities that turned strategy into action. It began with a fitness boot camp where attendees teamed up. Groups worked together to accomplish physical tasks such as carrying a makeshift gurney and 150-lb ‘dummy’ while exercising mental skills in communication and adaptation. Peters led a “lively” keynote presentation discussing leader development, team building, and change management from a Special Forces perspective, ESA said in its announcement.

Michele Monheim of Eastern States Sentinel Alarm Services said in the announcement, “The Rising Leadership Forum had a different spin than the usual trade show. It gave us a chance to get to know each other better in a more relaxed environment and look at leadership in a different perspective. Great job on the event and thank you for a great experience.”

The Leadership Development Discussion Panel featured Kirk MacDowell, vice president of platform sales at Alarm.Com, Bruce Mungiguerra, senior vice president of operations at Moni, and Greg Simmons, co-owner and vice president at Eagle Sentry. This team was joined by Robert Few, director at Charter Communications-IntelligentHome, as moderator for a group exchange of real-world experiences, implemented best practices, and industry-specific leadership strategies.

The YSP Rising Leaders Forum was center stage for the culmination of ESA’s Class of 2016 Mentorship Program. There were group presentations highlighting workforce development, customer lifecycle and experience and corporate social responsibility.

“The YSP event in Stevenson, Washington was the culmination of a wonderful nine-month experience,” Mentor Don Childers said in the announcement. “Working with my mentee was an absolute joy. And now, I not only have business contact, but I have a friend for life that I would not have had if it were not for this program. A truly wonderful experience and I thank everyone involved.”

Home sweet home

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Wednesday, November 9, 2016

There has been a lot of good news coming out lately on the state of residential security, which over the past few years has been bolstered by interactive and connected services, home automation, DIY and the emergence of mobile everything.

Technavio recently released a report on the residential security market, which shows that from 2016 to 2020 the global market for residential security will grow at a 7.34 percent CAGR—from $21.93 billion to $31.25 billion. The North American market will rise to about $15 billion in 2020, up from $12.51 billion in 2016, at a CAGR of 4.56 percent.

On the heals of that research, a report on home automation from Zion Research shows that the global home automation market was valued at around $5.0 billion in 2014 and is expected to reach $21.0 billion in 2020, growing at a CAGR of around 25 percent between 2015 and 2020.

Interestingly, the home automation market was dominated by North America, which accounted for about 40 percent of the total market in 2014. North America is followed by Europe and Asia Pacific, with Europe expected to witness robust growth in home automation systems market owing to strong demand from Germany, UK and France, according to the report.

The report also noted that the wireless system management segment dominated the home automation market in 2014, accounting for more than 40 percent of the overall market in 2014. With increasing use of products enabled with Wi-Fi technology, demand for wireless system management is expected to go up, the report said.

From my conversations with residential dealers, many are taking advantage of these new opportunities, providing scalable smart home packages that provide their customers with the kind of home automation customization and interactive services they are clamoring for, while increasing the potential RMR for an account.

Dealers are also finding that the more customers interact with their security and home automation systems, the more likely they are to stay a customer and add on services in the future. In addition to providing greater control over their security, surveillance, lighting and heating systems, homeowners are realizing energy savings, reduction in insurance costs, and overall greater peace of mind as a result of this smart home revolution. 

As the studies mentioned above bear out, the potential within residential security is limitless.

 

 

 

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