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Migration to the cloud inevitable, study finds

 - 
Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Companies across industries are increasingly leveraging the cloud for security applications, with 42 percent of respondents in a new study commissioned by Schneider Electric indicating they currently run security applications in the cloud and almost half (45 percent) stating they are likely or extremely likely to transition security operations to the cloud in the future.

The survey, conducted by Morar Consulting, included input from more than 300 U.S. CIOs, CTOs, IT directors, security/facilities managers and operations personnel across industries including construction and trade, education, financial services, healthcare, IT/technology, manufacturing and industrial and professional and business services.

“Leveraging the cloud for security applications is becoming increasingly accepted—and required—as we move into a 24/7 digital world,” Steven Turney, security program manager, Schneider Electric, said in the announcement. “Especially for companies where security management improvements are imminent, it makes sense to consider innovation at every level of their organization to meet their security needs. As businesses are required to be more agile, the cloud helps to unify and simplify security measures so an organization’s data, people and assets are constantly protected.”

According to the findings, organizations utilize the cloud for existing applications including data storage, human resources, email and security, and are eager to continue adopting it for security operations, with 57 percent of respondents believing the cloud is secure, including IT and technology professionals having the most confidence (78 percent), followed by education (70 percent), construction (68 percent) and financial services (52 percent). However, some skeptics remain, with 18 percent of respondents indicating they do not trust the cloud.

“Nearly three-fourths of respondents said network security is an important feature for security systems in their organizations,” the study’s authors found. “While the state of security continues to advance, respondents indicate security systems aren’t where they should be in order to adopt emerging technologies (54 percent), and despite business leaders being supportive of emerging technology (95 percent), many barriers to adoption exist.

Organizational/administrative barriers such as procedures, lack of perceived value and ROI were the top barriers identified that are inhibiting organizations from achieving their security goals, according to the study.

“While integration remains an obstacle to achieving security goals, almost 80 percent feel it is important to integrate security systems with other buildings and IT systems as part of an organization’s cloud strategy,” the study found. “Currently, photo ID badging, active directory, intrusion and CCTV are the top four systems organizations integrate into their security systems. The two top non-security systems organizations currently integrate with their security systems are automation and lighting.”

To learn more about the study, you can review the full results here.

Note: SSN continues to report on this story, including an upcoming interview with Steven Turney, security program manager for Schneider Electric.

CSAA is now The Monitoring Association

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

VIENNA, Va.—On March 16, CSAA announced that it is officially The Monitoring Association.

To recap: the name change was discussed among members in the second quarter of 2016. It was voted on, and passed, during CSAA’s general membership meeting in early June, 2016, in Fort Worth, Texas.

SSN spoke with executive director Jay Hauhn and the organization’s vice president of marketing and communications about CSAA’s plans for 2017, including the process of changing the name.

In a letter to the CSAA membership, president Pamela J. Petrow noted that “our new name reflects our renewed commitment to our mission: to advance the professional monitoring industry through education, advocacy and public safety relationships. It also emphasizes our long range goals to grow the association beyond our traditional services to embrace the opportunities of our changing industry.” She added that the new name’s meaning “will be reflected in all future initiatives of [the] association.”

Association programs including Five Diamond, Excellence Awards, Online Training, and the Annual Meeting and Fall Operations Management Seminar are also undergoing rebranding and will be re-launched under the new name, the organization noted in its recent announcement.

“The term ‘Central Station’ no longer has wide recognition outside of our industry,” Lasko said in the announcement. “Our new name will facilitate our efforts to educate the public about the critical role TMA members play in public safety,” she said.

“Monitoring life safety events in the traditional central station model remains our core business,” Hauhn said in the recent release. “That will not change. However, our demographics surveys show that members increasingly monitor more than traditional fire and burglar alarms – they monitor medical devices, access control, and other non-emergency but meaningful events. Our new name allows room for the association to encompass all the areas our members are beginning to monitor and any into which they may move in the future.”

TMA’s website can be found at www.tma.us. Member ID numbers and login information for the website will not change. TMA staff will use the email suffix “@tma.us.” All emails to the previous “@csaaintl.org” address will be forwarded.

New central station opens in Maine

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

CARIBOU, Maine—In Northern Maine, Virtual Managed Solutions LLC recently opened a wholesale monitoring center.

“I have wanted to develop a central station for a number of years,” CB Smith, CEO of Virtual Managed Solutions, said. The development of the monitoring center started in September 2016, and Smith credited the company’s VP and CIO Steve Boddy with much of the due diligence and technological setup.

Virtual Managed Solutions, or VMS, has operated a contact center here since 2007 and will be the parent company to VMSCS. “We’ve had a couple of really good years of growth and financial stability, so we’ve recently invested and we are online,” Smith said.

“We recognize that we have a skillset, we certainly have the network and we have the redundancy—of course—and now … the UL certification,” Smith said. “We are, as I see it, able to present ourselves as an apples-and-apples comparison to any other wholesale [station] out there in the country.”

The center, which officially opened at the end of February, currently monitors for about 150 accounts, Smith said. VMSCS is using Bold Technologies’ Manitou Cloud Services for its automation system. In addition to traditional alarms, the company will also do PERS and video monitoring.

Smith said that having the contact center business, collocated with the central station, will allow the monitoring center to offer “quite aggressive” pricing.

The company will be dedicating employees to monitoring center services, separating them from other call center operations in VMS. Picking the right people was important to the company, Boddy told SSN. “We’re looking for people that use customer service not as a job but as a career, because they’re going to put people first,” he said.

“Business development is obviously a big part of any business operation,” Smith said. The company is starting to grow its account base through contacting local dealers, he said. VMSCS is increasing its marketing and has created a new website. “From there, it’ll just be spreading our wings and going to different geographic areas of the state and then outside of the state of Maine as well,” Smith said.

Smith has a variety of experience with the industry, working with SimplexGrinnell, and Maine-based integrator Norris Inc, before working with VMS. “Since I opened this contact center with my team here, I’ve had a vision of coming into that world and working in that world. … I recognize the potential,” Smith said.

Anti-drone technology takes flight

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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.

 

20 under 40 winners at TechSec 2017

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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

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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.

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!

Alertus partners with AccuWeather

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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.

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