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PSIA elects execs from Convergint, JCI

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

The Physical Security Interoperability Alliance (PSIA) announced it has elected Mike Mathes, EVP of Convergint Technologies, as its chairman, and Jason Ouellette, product general manager-access control for Johnson Controls, as its vice chairman. The PSIA membership develops specifications for enabling standards-based sharing of digital data and intelligence throughout the physical security and enterprise ecosystems.
 
"Mike and Jason bring us strong technology, commercial and industry leadership skills," David Bunzel, executive director, the PSIA, said in the announcement. "They will be powerful evangelists for how standards-based physical security systems can help the industry create new opportunities for systems integration and data sharing while solving cost and complexity challenges." 
       
As PSIA Chairman, Mathes will work closely with the PSIA Board to identify industry needs for new and enhanced PSIA specifications. He will be responsible for growing the organizations membership and helping companies determine migration strategies needed to specify and/or adopt and implement PSIA specifications. "With an expanded membership base, we'll see further adoption of open standards, which will drive down the cost of system integration for the end user," Mathes, said in the announcement. At Convergint, Mathes leads the Advanced Solutions Group.

Ouellette's role as PSIA Vice Chairman will include defining the technical aspects of PLAI necessary to make this an effective commercial standard, including enhancing and promoting a robust set of test tools to assure industry compliance and interoperability for PLAI. Ouellette, who at JCI is responsible for the global access control businesses, specific to program management, product management, and engineering functions, said in a prepared statement, "The PSIA specifications make it easier for integrators to offer high quality solutions with less integration time and lower total cost of ownership."

Peter Boriskin, vice president product management at ASSA ABLOY Americas, will continue as the PSIA's treasurer.

"PSIA open standards can solve real enterprise problems for customers in way that is not possible through standard integrations,” Boriskin said in the announcement. “I am looking forward to working with Mike, David and the rest of board to help the industry understand our use cases and encourage rapid adoption of PSIA specifications, in particular through the development of PLIA adaptors by manufactures."

ISC West gears up for 2018 show, educational sessions

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Earlier this month ISC West announced the program for its SIA Education@ISC for the 2018 show, to be held April 10-12. I got the chance to speak with Sherida Sessa, industry VP for ISC events, and Kimberly Roberts, SIA’s director of education and training, about some of the sessions and themes that attendees can look forward to at ISC West 2018.

“We’re very excited that we have over 85 sessions scheduled for this year. They really run the gamut, they cover most of the new and trending topics that we’re seeing in the industry, many are technologically based,” said Sessa. “You’re going to see a lot of new content this year,” she added.

“This year, we do have a standards in interoperability track … and also a security professionals under 40 track, and those are two brand new tracks that we have not had before in previous years,” Roberts said. The professionals under 40 track will be “more geared towards professionals on the integrator and manufacturer side,” she added.

Several themes from the show floor are represented in the educational sessions, Sessa said. “We’ve done that strategically. It really makes it easier for the attendees if they can learn about something in the classroom and then walk upstairs and actually see it in a working environment on the show floor,” she said.

A core theme to ISC West 2018 is comprehensive security, Sessa said. The theme encompasses the Connected Security Expo @ ISC West, which has been part of the show since 2016. “That’s actually in its third year now and is an entire area of the exhibit floor that provides holistic solutions from the IT and IoT perspective. That translates right over into our education program as well, we do have two tracks of education that focus on that: a people and process track and a technology track,” Sessa said.

This year’s ISC West show floor will also have the Unmanned Security & Safety Expo @ ISC West, which started last year and has been growing, according to Sessa. “Kimberly and the SIA team have done an excellent job of adding content to the education program that corresponds to that trend as well,” she said.

The show floor will feature more connected home technologies and there are educational sessions on these technologies as well. 

ISC West 2018’s show floor will introduce a new area for start up companies, called the Emerging Technology Zone. “It’s going to be located just near registration … on level one of the show. So, it’ll be an all new exhibit area,” Sessa said. “It’s really designed to offer an entry option for companies that are brand new to the industry.”

She continued, “We hear from attendees all the time, in our survey research, that they really come to trade shows specifically to find cutting-edge technology and brand new products. So this is one way to make it a little bit easier for them to do that.”

SIA has planned an interesting session for the Tuesday before the show floor opens, called “What’s New at ISC West?” Here, Steve Oplinger, systems design manager for Integrated Fire and Security Solutions, and J Kelly Stewart, managing director and CEO of Newcastle Consulting LLC, will present a preview of key technologies and companies they think attendees should see on the show floor.

One session that Roberts highlighted was the Active Shooter Workshop, which is a session that SIA is bringing back from 2017. “Unfortunately, in the day and time that we live in, there’s certain situations that we can’t control,” she said, adding that the presented will help end users and integrators look at technologies to implement.

Sessa highlighted another track, Security Megatrends, which includes sessions on the smart home, the DIY market, artificial intelligence, and access control.

Both Roberts and Sessa gave credit to the Education Advisory Board for the lineup of sessions coming to this year’s ISC West.

Comcast brings home automation to more customers

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Updated 1.24.18

PHILADELPHIA—Comcast recently announced that it will expand its smart home capabilities to the company’s Xfinity platforms, including xFi, Xfinity Home, Xfinity Mobile and X1—its TV and voice remote. This will make home automation available to more than 15 million Xfinity customers at no additional cost, according to the company's announcement.

"Our latest announcement reaffirms our commitment to offer our customers an easy to use platform that can help them make their home technology work for them," Neal Foster, vice president of product management, Xfinity Home, told Security Systems News in an email interview.

"By integrating home automation across the Xfinity platform, we are able to unlock new experiences for customers. For example, smart home devices can be automatically detected by our gateway and users can be instantly made aware of the automation experiences that the device can do within the Xfinity platform," Foster said.

Down the road, Comcast is looking to further expand the plaform's capabilities. "Long term we will be able to add even more smart home devices into our platform making it easy for our customers to add the devices they need and manage and control every device from the Xfinity platform. Through the increased breadth of the platform, we will be able to target new solutions across a broad range of areas including peace of mind, protection, entertainment, wellness, energy and home maintenance," said Foster.

In the announcement, Comcast highlighted key smart home developments for the company. In September 2017, Comcast acquired Stringify, which provides a cloud-powered automation service for more than 500 IoT products and digital services. “Stringify’s technology will soon be integrated into Xfinity’s products and services, significantly expanding the capabilities of Xfinity automation,” the announcement read.

Additionally, Comcast’s ‘Works with Xfinity’ program facilitates the integration of smart home devices into its Xfinity platform. “The company plans to expand its partner ecosystem to include new product categories such as: wearables, automotive, voice assistants, email, social media platforms, and more,” according to the announcement. “New partners will help improve an Xfinity customer’s lifestyle, whether for convenience, entertainment, peace of mind, or to help run their home more efficiently.”

In May 2017, the company launched xFi, a digital dashboard for customers to set up and control aspects of their home Wi-Fi network, including seeing what devices are connected and setting parental controls.

The company also recently added enhanced features to Xfinity Home Security Cameras. "Its new AI-powered platform identifies movement, centers on the subject, and delivers a crystal-clear thumbnail image to customers so they can always know what’s happening with just a glance in our app," the announcement read.

Red Hawk acquires two

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

BOCA RATON, Fla.—Red Hawk Fire & Security LLC, a leader in fire, life safety and security services based here, announced this week the purchase of two companies to build upon its capabilities in the special hazard fire suppression business and the integrated security services arena.

In separate transactions, Red Hawk announced the purchase of Anaheim, Calif.-based Diversified Protection Systems, Inc., (DPSI) and ATCi Communications, Inc. (“ATCI”), headquartered in Miami, Florida. The two purchases represent Red Hawk’s fifth and sixth acquisitions in the last 20 months as the company continues to grow both organically and through strategically aligned acquisitions.

“The purchase of both DPSI and ATCi are consistent with our core strategy of bringing on the teams from well regarded, client-centric companies to build on our existing service presence or to expand our geographic footprint to further set Red Hawk apart from our competition,” Michael McWilliams, Red Hawk Fire & Security president and CEO, told Security Systems News. “Joining forces with these two great companies on opposite U.S. coasts elevates our expertise and complements our existing geographic presence while also presenting a broader suite of innovative solutions to our valued clients to further our aim of being the preferred choice for all our customers’ fire, life safety and security needs.”

DPSI’s expertise includes special hazard clean agent and water mist fire suppression, early warning smoke detection & controls, hazardous gas monitoring & specialty cooling systems. DPSI President Dominic De Maria will remain with Red Hawk helping develop the new Red Hawk Fire & Security “Critical Infrastructure Division.”

“We are just as enthusiastic about this purchase as Red Hawk,” De Maria said in the announcement. “Not only does it advance Red Hawk’s posture in the fire and life safety industry by adding our specialized team of professionals, but it expands the resources and geographic reach we can now offer our clients as well.”

 As South Florida’s largest independent security systems integrator, ATCi Communications brings an expert team that designs, installs and provides technical support and maintenance services of enterprise-level, intelligent video surveillance systems, access control and intrusion alarms for federal and local government facilities and law enforcement agencies, luxury residential and mixed-use properties and large scale commercial projects. ATCI also expand’s Red Hawk’s “best in class” specialty portfolio of capabilities through its market leader position in providing customized CityWide Surveillance (CWS) and Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) solutions to municipal clients.

“Being able to now offer fire and life safety services to our existing security portfolio is a win-win for our customers, our people and Red Hawk as well,” Vincent. J. Vento, ATCI’s founder and president, said in the announcement. “We look forward to combining our sales and business development efforts to maximize our potential across all product and service lines throughout the entire Florida market.”

Los Angeles-based Imperial Capital, LLC and Miami-based Pacifica Capital Group LLC co-represented ATCI as financial advisors for the transaction.

PSA, SIA and ISC launch cybersecurity conference

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

DENVER—Cyber:Secured Forum, a cybersecurity summit focusing on integrated systems, will launch with an inaugural gathering here, on June 4-6, 2018, under a partnership formed by PSA Security Network, the world's largest systems integrator cooperative, ISC Security Events (Reed Exhibitions, the global tradeshow company) and the Security Industry Association (SIA), a leading trade association for global security solution providers.

“Sophisticated cybervulnerabilities and threats are emerging every day, and it is critical for the physical security and systems integration industry to accelerate its delivery of compelling education to help all industry stakeholders mitigate the risk of cyberattacks to business continuity,” SIA CEO Don Erickson said in the announcement.

Cyber:Secured Forum will feature in-depth content on cybersecurity trends and best practices as related to the delivery of physical security systems and other integrated systems. Content is being collaboratively developed by SIA and PSA Security Network’s education teams and will feature top cybersecurity leaders.

“Cybersecurity is no longer just a threat—it’s a real issue knocking on the doors of security and IT professionals on a daily basis,” Bill Bozeman, president and CEO, PSA Security Network, said in the announcement. “The time for just being in reaction mode is behind us now. As security leaders, we have a responsibility to step forward and be part of the frontline defense when it comes to cybersecurity, just as we have been part of the frontline defense when it comes to physical security issues for decades. The goal of this conference is to empower attendees with real tools and knowledge to do just that.”

The two-day event will provide leaders in the IT and physical security industries with opportunities to connect and share information on risks and liabilities, responding to cybersecurity threats, and establishing security control standards across IT systems and particularly when integrating physical security solutions and devices on IT networks.

Additionally, sponsor exhibits will help showcase solutions related to cybersecurity, integrated systems and physical security solutions.

“At our recent ISC West and ISC East events, the educational sessions on cyber-physical integration and connected security have been in high-demand,” Will Wise, group vice president of the Security Portfolio, Reed Exhibitions. “In-depth education, training and industry collaboration is essential to ensure safe and secure systems for the market. We’re enthusiastic about this partnership with PSA Security Network and SIA to address this important market need.”

For more information about this new event and to be added to the event mailing list, visit cybersecuredforum.com

Mission 500 recaps 2017 efforts

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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Mission 500, a non-profit charitable organization focusing on the security industry and dedicated to serving children and families in need across the U.S., recently gave an overview of its efforts throughout 2017, including the annual Security 5/2K at ISCW, the summer Security Softball Game and the Miami Mixer among other events.

“Engaging and giving back to children and communities in need is at the core of our mission here in the U.S.,” Jeff Eichenlaub, director of strategic partnerships for Mission 500, said in a prepared statement. “We look forward to contributing to causes that are important to the security industry again in 2018.”

At the Miami Mixer, Mission 500 raised more than $15,000 for children in need in South Florida, according to the announcement. The event had more than 70 attendees and included a fashion show, raffles, an auction and karaoke. Proceeds were donated to children attending to Crosspointe Elementary School, a Title One School in Boynton Beach and Centro Campesino, a not-for-profit organization that hosts a summer camp for children of migrant farm workers living in severe poverty in South Florida.

At the Axis Connect & Converge Conference, Mission 500 spoke to conference attendees about corporate social responsibility awareness in the security industry and why it is important. Conference attendees assembled School Refill Packs for 600 students at a Title One School in Seattle, which will provide students with enough school supplies to get through the second half of the school year, the announcement said.

Axis Communications hosted another event at the company’s new Southeast Experience Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The event was dedicated to assembling School Refill Packs for 200 low-income students impacted by Hurricane Harvey, the storm that impacted Houston in August 2017.

At the 2017 California Alarm Association Winter Conference held in San Francisco in November, Mission 500 helped attendees assemble School Refill Packs for 200 low- income children impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

At the NY Fire and Executive Security Club Dinner, Mission 500 honored Alan Forman of Altronix Corporation, Zygmunt Staszewski of Z.S. Engineering D.P.C, and Lew Walters of Affiliated Monitoring for their philanthropic contributions. All proceeds from the event benefited children supported by Mission 500, in addition to the NY Firefighters Burn Center Foundation Children’s Camp.

In 2018, Mission 500 is already planning for the eighth annual Security 5/2K at ISC West as well as the annual Mission 500 softball game which will take place in the fall.

Allied Universal partners with Robotic Assistance Devices

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

On the Move Systems recently announced that its wholly-owned subsidiary Robotic Assistance Devices has executed a strategic agreement to supply its intelligent robotic solutions through Allied Universal, a leading facility services company and one of the largest security forces in North America with more than 150,000 employees.

The robots will be leveraged to help Allied Universal customers supplement existing security professionals and improve safety, increase situational awareness and drive efficiency across the enterprise.

“The RAD portfolio augments the core competencies of our guard personnel because it offers fully autonomous patrolling that stakeholders can leverage to make rapid, informed decisions,” Ty Richmond, president, Integrated Security Solutions and Technology, Allied Universal, said in the announcement. “The data captured by the security robot will prove valuable in post-event investigations, enabling our customers to quickly address ongoing issues, close cases and identify trends. We are excited to explore the possibilities alongside RAD.”

RAD founder and president Steve Reinharz said in the announcement that RAD’s S5 Security Robots add significant benefits to the Allied Universal product and services portfolio by delivering a cost-effective solution to augment traditional guarding services, and serve as a force multiplier that removes security personnel from potentially dangerous situations, reducing injuries and liability. He noted that the combination of human personnel with robotic technologies creates a strong value proposition that results in new levels of security and streamlined operations.

“The market is primed to embrace the combination of human personnel and robotic guarding, and we expect this trend to increase significantly in the coming year,” Reinharz said. “We are thrilled with our already valuable partnership with Allied Universal and the size and quality of the sales funnel we’ve been able to create together.”

When Security Systems News spoke with Richmond recently, he noted that Allied Universal continues to work closely with drone and robotics manufacturers “to provide another technology tool that allows you to extend your security operations. We are very bullish on robots and we see them as an augmentation to our man-guarding business.”

And speaking of robots in security, Reinharz and Allied Universal will both be participating on a session/panel at our SSN TechSec Solutions conference, Feb. 26-27, in Delray Beach, Fla. Click here for more on the session and the entire education program.

Top monitoring topics in 2017

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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

YARMOUTH, Maine—Now that we are in the second half of December, it seems like a natural time to look back over the year and some of the common topics from the monitoring side of the industry in 2017. 

The Monitoring Association had some notable developments this year, including changing its name from CSAA in March—a change made to better portray the focus of the organization.

It was great to attend TMA’s Annual Meeting this year. You can read an overview of that event here. At the close of the meeting TMA welcomed its new president, Ivan Spector, president of Montreal-based Sentinel Alarm Co., along with several other officers. You can read more about that here.

And, more recently, TMA announced its new Level 1 training course for monitoring center operators.

PERS, yet again, was a big topic of the year.

Affiliated Monitoring held its second annual Catalyst conference in Miami in mid-May, examining the sales and marketing aspects of the PERS industry.

AvantGuard held its fourth PERS Summit in late September, in Park City, Utah, covering a variety of topics.

Medical alert provider Medical Guardian also announced a change-up to its branding and marketing, looking more at overcoming one of the biggest obstacles in the PERS industry, which is “the perception of the service,” according to company founder and CEO, Geoff Gross.

PERS manufacturer Freeus also started a dealer education initiative. There were also some acquisitions announced; VRI made a purchase in the PERS space, as did Tunstall Americas, and GTCR was purchased by a private equity firm. PERS company ONKÖL started production.

There were also a few notable hires and role changes at monitoring companies: Security Partners named Randy Hall as its president, Justin Bailey became the president of AvantGuard in addition to being its COO, MONI’s Bruce Mungiguerra was promoted from SVP to COO, and NMC recently hired Nicola Oakie as its new director of national sales.

 

MONI renews relationship with Skyline Smart Home Protection

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

DALLAS—MONI Smart Security on Dec. 11 announced a renewed relationship with Skyline Smart Home Protection, based out of Los Angeles. Starting on Jan. 1, 2018, Skyline will begin selling exclusively for MONI.

“We’re really excited about it and it really comes at a good time for us—to start off the year with a great new partner,” Jeff Gardner, CEO of MONI, told Security Systems News. “One of the things that drives our revenue growth at our company is the strength of our dealer program, so … adding a dealer with the prominence of Skyline and the size of Skyline will send a great message.”

Skyline was previously a MONI dealer, from 2010 to 2014. Gardner said that increased advertising and publicity for the MONI brand, as well as MONI’s sales training opportunities were among factors that drew Skyline back to MONI’s dealer program. “We’re just thrilled to get them back,” Gardner said.

“I am thrilled to be partnering again with MONI,” Edwin Arroyave, CEO of Skyline, said in a prepared statement. “It has always been important for Skyline to align itself with partners who understand the value and importance of technology and innovation, while consistently providing the highest levels of customer service. MONI shares these values and I could not be more excited to be renewing our relationship. I look forward to the opportunities ahead.”

Skyline was founded in 2004 and offers home security products and services, such as interactive and home automation, mobile apps, video monitoring and energy management products. The company currently has more than 80,000 smart home customers across more than 30 states.

“They’re going to be one of the largest dealers in the MONI program,” Gardner said. Skyline is “the largest dealer partner that we’ve recruited since I’ve been here, and I’ve been here just a little over two years,” he said.

“I’m hopeful that Skyline will be the first of many new dealers that we add to our program in 2018,” said Gardner.

Alexa for Business?

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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

No one can refute the impact that Amazon’s Echo device has had in the home—if I had a nickel for every time someone yelled out the name Alexa in the home, I would be on a warm beach somewhere instead of trying to keep the cold drafts at bay in my office here is chilly Maine. But I digress.

With the success that Amazon has had with Alexa in the home, it is not surprising to see the company try to move into the office with the introduction of Alexa for Business, which was announced earlier this month at the AWS Re:Invent event.

As much as this raises interesting questions about possible uses within the office—in addition to the way these devices interact with other IoT devices in the office—it also raises many questions in regard to the place for voice assistants and voice assistant devices outside of the home.

In the home, Parks Associates estimates that nearly 50 percent of U.S. broadband households use a personal assistant through an application or dedicated device. And currently 10 percent of U.S. broadband households own a smart speaker with a personal assistant, such as an Amazon Echo or Google Home.

Parks Associates recently released a new whitepaper, Enabling Voice in the Smart Home, with research showing 49 percent of U.S. broadband households use a personal assistant through an app or dedicated device, which is a key use case for a voice-based user experience. The whitepaper, sponsored by the ULE Alliance, examines the influence of the voice-first interface on the adoption of connected products and presents market strategies for long-term success in the voice technology market.

“Collectively, companies are competing to stay in the race for dominance in the voice-first market,” Dina Abdelrazik, research analyst, Parks Associates, said in a prepared statement. “Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung continue to announce new product enhancements in order to stay ahead of the demand for voice technologies. As the voice-first landscape expands, we will see voice capabilities embedded into a variety of devices, from appliances to thermostats to lighting. Voice alleviates complexity in the user experience for these products, and as a result, voice will serve as a prime differentiator in the user experience for the smart home.”

But will this same battle for the smart home play out in the business world as well? That is a question that only time will answer, but Amazon is hoping that the demand at home will influence and drive the demand outside the home, as consumers come to expect the same kind of convenience and seamless experience in the office.

Amazon offered up some interesting use cases at the launch of Alexa for Business, such as having Alexa make calls, send messages, record important meetings and control thermostats, lighting, and other IoT-enabled devices around the office, for example, but what role will voice play in the overall smart building ecosystem that we are moving toward as an industry right now? This is a question that is loaded with other concerns, such as privacy and cybersecurity, to name just a few.

What do you think the role of the voice in the office will be and how far are we from hearing Alexa called out incessantly in the office as well?

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