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New tech, like the cloud, coming to central stations

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Even a few weeks past it, I’m still thinking about ESX and what resonated with me about some of the panels. One in particular, “Central Station Technology—The Latest and Greatest,” has kept me thinking.

Panelists included Jay Hauhn, CSAA’s executive director, Jens Kolind, VP of external partnerships for IBS, and Chris Larcinese, cloud-based services market manager in the Americas for Bosch Security Systems. Joe Miskulin, proprietary central station manager for State Farm, served as the moderator.

First off, Kolind brought up the cloud. He said it brings certain technological efficiencies, such as when upgrading systems or not needing as big an IT staff on hand.

Hauhn said, “The promise of cloud is quite attractive.” This is especially true for proprietary centrals, he said, and predicted the number of proprietary monitoring centers would increase.

An attendee asked about the risks of using the cloud. Jens answered, saying that there is a larger risk of a data breach. Those looking to the cloud should make sure that the cloud provider is encrypting important information, he said.

The panel addressed two interesting sides to the technology coin; what is on the upcoming horizon, and what might be sunsetted.

Larcinese pointed to “wearables” as an emerging technology.

According to Hauhn, new entrants should be the ones to look out for; it is movement’s like DIY or the smart home that will define what is going to be monitored in the future.

This begged the question: what kind of weight does a self monitored dispatch carry? Hauhn said it’s very credible, the home owner might have a better idea of who should or shouldn’t be in that house than the operator.

The ASAP to PSAP is also an emerging trend. Hauhn said that program is cloud-friendly.

As toward what technology might be sunsetted soon, Kolind said the age of IP might inhibit the end of the traditional receiver. 

Digging deeper at TechSec

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Exec ed Martha Entwistle and I had an excellent conference call yesterday with SSN’s TechSec Advisory Board. We’re gearing up for the annual conference on new and emerging technology, and our advisors assist us as we determine programming.

One thing I can say at this point is that the educational sessions at the TechSech conference Feb. 2-3 will be different from what you’ve heard over and over again. I attended ISC West and ESX, and the people I met with and the panelists at the sessions I attended were certainly very smart and at the top of their games, reinforcing topics we’ve heard about for months and have written about. But I was left with the questions, “Are there new takes on these persistent topics? What angles haven’t been pursued?” We want to dive deeper at TechSec. And we will.

The conversation Martha and I had with our advisors led to some interesting, topical points. We’ll be announcing the program and panelists soon. You can check out last year’s educational here for a feel of what we’ll be aiming at, bigger and even better in 2016. It will be great, and you can hold me to that!

I especially like how we have some of our past “20 under 40” winners on our advisory board: Ralph Nerette, Sharon Shaw and Jeremy Brecher. (We know how to pick them!) Along with input from longtime industry pros, they provide us with unique perspectives and know what those in the industry want and need to know in today’s fast-changing security environment.

Thanks to each member of our advisory board. Please stay tuned for more info on TechSec, filled with what will be most current and forward-looking hot topics in the industry. 

‘20 under 40’ end-user nominations: One word. Wow

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Security System News’ team has done a preliminary vetting of the nominations for SSN’s “20 under 40” awards, with a full study to come this week. The deadline for nominations was July 1, and thank you, readers, for coming through!

Although we do have two categories, one for integrators, I am primarily responsible for the end user awards.

I say it every year because it’s true: Each year we get such great nominees, so qualified, extremely professional, smart and deserving of being honored in the industry.

We always have a tough time selecting the final 20. We select some of them to participate on panels at TechSec and honor all of them at a ceremony at that annual premier event. The “20 under 40” panels at TechSec are always among the most appreciated by attendees, according to our surveys, because who in the industry doesn’t want to know what these smart, innovative people need and want to do their jobs successfuly?

In order to select the best of the best, we rely on nominators, often calling upon them, again, to expand upon their reasons. We talk to our TechSec Advisory Board. We mull. We agonize. Then we choose.

This year’s nominees are physical security directors at big-name corporations, major retailers and hospitality groups, healthcare institutions, municipalities and utilities—many, many nominated.

Thank you for nominating your best and brightest. Finalists will be contacted soon by me, and I’ll do a profile of each one for Security Systems News, both online and in the print edition. So stay tuned. You’ll want to hear what these pros have to say.

I think the industry is in good hands.


Hear it from this Millennial

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

More and more I’m hearing about the “Millennials;” those born between 1980 and 2000. I fit squarely in that range.

Millennials seem to be the target audience for home automation, some have noted them as the more “technological-savvy” generation. Now, the Millennials are entering the job market. At this year’s ESX I heard UCC’s Mike Lamb, and ADT’s Stephen Smith, share their observations on training this younger generation.  

During Lamb and Smith’s ESX Panel, “Training for Central Station Operators,” I was—as a Millenial—quite alert, asking myself how each technique or perspective applied to me.  

There were quite a few points that I could agree with and—imagining myself in the shoes of a prospective central station operator—would see a lot of value in. Though, there were other points where I differed in opinion.

Lamb said that Millenials like understanding the value in their work. That is certainly something I could agree with, and I don’t think Millenials are the only ones who could benefit from better grasping the value behind what they do.

Also, he had a point that, when given a task, Millenials might be more prone to ask “Why?” This isn’t a sign of disrespect, he said, but instead looking for more understanding.

I definitely agree with that. Approaching a task, I find it very useful to understand where my role or any action plays into the larger plan.

Lamb pointed out that Generation Y is the age of “participation trophies,” which, unfortunately, I can’t disagree with. Lamb had a point that this constant recognition given to many individuals in Generation Y is something to notice and enable in your central station employees; that they like to be recognized if and when they are doing things right. I can see how a little positive reinforcement would encourage confidence in a new employee. Though, I personally wouldn’t want to see this overdone, certainly not to the levels of participation trophies.

Lamb also had a point that younger generations occasionally struggle with professionalism, specifically in writing. An example he gave was with “twitter speak,” using “u” instead of “you,” “r” in place of “are” and so forth. This surprised me the most. Perhaps it is my writing experience separating me from the Generation Y pool of potential operators, but I have always found a professional writing style to be imperative. Lamb, and some of the attendees, said this is a problem of the generation.

Integration begins for Protection 1 and ASG

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Let the integration begin.

With Apollo Affiliated Funds closing on both deals with Protection 1 and ASG, I checked in with Jamie Haenggi, Protection 1 CMO about what's next.

In an email interview, Haenggi complimented ASG CEO Joe Nuccio, saying he's "done a nice job building a company of passionate employees that care about the customer, which mirrors the Protection 1 culture." 
Haenggi said Protection 1 CEO Tim Whall is out "is out doing what he does—meeting with the employees of ASG, hosting town hall meetings and sharing insights as to how he looks at measuring the business, taking care of the customer and developing the employee.  The senior teams are working together over the next 30-60 days to devise a detailed integration plan.  As you can imagine bringing together two companies this size is no small undertaking and great care is given to ensure little to no disruption."

Indeed, this is a huge undertaking, but my guess is that Tim Whall and team are up to the challenge. If you look at where the two companies overlap geographically they'll have five or six markets where they'll have huge density on the residential side. I've talked to lots of observers, outside of the ASG and Protection 1, who believe that this will mean very nice efficiencies and margin improvement on the residential side. On the commercial side, ASG was focused on small- and medium business and national accounts. These assets should just accelerate what Whall's been working on for the past few years—becoming the largest independent full-service security company around.


Fire services trump alarm industry on NFPA vote

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

On June 25, in Chicago, the NFPA held its annual meeting, but the alarm industry was concerned about two motions on NFPA 72, which would effectively give local municipalities the authority to disallow the use of listed central stations for fire alarm monitoring.

Ultimately, motion 72-8 passed with a vote of 142-80, giving municipalities that discretion. Motion 72-9, which would have removed the line referring to central stations completely, was withdrawn after 72-8 passed.

Kevin Lehan, executive director for the Illinois Electronic Security Associaiton, told Security Systems News that there were some beneficial aspects to the meeting for the alarm industry. “Previously the language said ‘alternate location approved by the authority having jurisdiction.’ Now the language specifically says ‘listed central supervising station.’” Lehan said that this specific mention will help central stations through being now a specific entity as opposed to the previously vague language.

“We were thrilled to be able to get the numbers out that we did.” Lehan said, pointing out that the vote, being on June 25, happened at the same time as ESX. “We mobilized very well, we just have to inform and entice the rest of the alarm installer community to be active in the NFPA going forward.”

“What we learned at this event is that there is a disconnect between the industry and the fire services,” Lehan said. The two sides of the argument, fire departments and the alarm industry were approaching the matter from very different perspectives.

“The fire services, their testimony came across as stating that central stations are unsafe. We have heard for a few years, and this was echoed at that [NFPA] meeting, anecdotal situations whereby the private alarm industry failed in dispatching [without more specific details on the alarm event]. When we ask for specific situations when this has happened, we do not get a response," he said.

“On the private industry side, it’s the same position that we’ve always had, allow us to compete for business. Let UL listed central stations perform to NFPA code standards, and let the market choose service providers,” said Lehan.

Lehan said that the idea of creating a forum for fire services and the alarm industry to communicate better had come up in discussions following the meeting, and that may be further developed in the future, Lehan said. 

It’s all about the Millennials

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

It’s the Millennials who are the biggest DIY buyers, according to ESX 2015 panelists at a “DIY Security—Competition or Opportunity” discussion. 

Icontrol’s 2015 State of the Smart Home Report, a nationwide survey which Security System News conducted and has reported on earlier, also found that the Millennial generation, loosely defined as those born in the early 1980s to the early 2000s, are big consumers of home automation. You can read more about the survey at the above link, but here a few new tidbits from it from its recent official release.

The report said, “U.S. consumers aged 25-34 express a higher level of excitement around the following benefits of the smart home:

  • Greater productivity and ability to manage work-life balance, 40 percent vs. 23 percent of consumers overall.
  • Making it easier to enjoy music, movies and web surfing anywhere in the house, 26 percent vs. 18 percent.
  • Helping anticipate the needs, such as shopping lists and minor repairs, 24 percent vs. 18 percent.
  • More interactive features that help me connect with the people in my life, 21 percent vs. 13 percent.”

Entertainment has emerged as a smart home driver, icontrol found. Interest in the entertainment link has grown to 55 percent since last year’s report. Consumers want their entertainment rooms connected to their smart home, followed by their kitchens and bedrooms. 

A challenge is getting that younger generation to move from DIY to traditional security providers, according to Brian Leland of Interlogix and Sterling Barnes of Melaleuca Security, the panelists at the ESX discussion. You'll be able to read more about the ESX DIY panel later, so stay tuned, please. 

The icontrol report had some other great factoids as well, so stay tuned for more info on that as well. 

ESX 2015—The monitoring report

Monday, June 22, 2015

Friday, Day 3

Today started on the show floor with a visit to All American Monitoring's booth. There I saw Lisa French, national sales representative, and Laura Hutchinson, national dealer support. I met both of them last month at the NEACC show where they were talking about the company’s MeyeView cameras. At this show they were showcasing the company's new proprietary GSM.

From there I headed to the Dice booth. Much like at ISC West, Cliff Dice, company president CEO, said that there was a good response to the company's hosted central station platform.

At Rapid Response booth I talked with Bryan Bardenett, the company’s senior account manager. He said what the company was talking about most at this year's ESX was the upcoming expansion to its Syracuse facility, adding 35,000 square feet to its current 40,000.

Michael Zydor, Affiliated's managing director, and Daniel Oppenheim, Affiliated's VP, said that one thing that kept appearing in their conversations with dealers on the exhibition floor was the 2g sunset.

From there I briefly stopped by the Acadian Monitoring Services booth and talked with Jason Caldwell, the company’s national sales representative.

Woodie Andrawos, NMC's executive vice president, mentioned the hot topic of DIY. When asked about the combination of DIY systems and professional monitoring, brought up in a Wednesday panel, Andrawos said professional monitoring is a must. "It has to be professionally monitored to be true security."

I stopped by the AvantGuard and Freeus booth again today, this time meeting Troy Iverson, AvantGuard's VP of sales and marketing, and Chris Pyle, Freeus VP of product. During this visit at the booth I heard more about AvantGuard's PERS Summit, to be held in Park City, Utah, this year at the end of September.

When I stopped by COPS Monitoring's booth, I heard more about the company's Mpower app, which David Smith, company said gives the dealer more information on their account activity, such as how each alarm was resolved or concluded.

At Security Central's booth I saw Darryl Bray again; we first at ISC West. Brett Springall, company CEO, talked with me about the company's latest promotion, a $50,000 incentive, up to that amount in free monitoring, for dealers that switch to their central station. Springall said that, when talked about with dealers, the offer got a pretty good response.

Luciana Harrison, Monitronics' Eastern regional sales manager, said that the show looked like it had some slower traffic, but it was still good for meeting dealers. The company is soon moving to its new campus Bre Otero, dealer sales and marketing coordinator for Monitronics, said that the process of moving each department started a week ago and will last about a month. One department is moving at a time to ensure minimum disruption for customers, Otero said, with the central station moving last. "It'll be great to have everybody back in one building," Otero said.

My final floor meeting was a brief discussion with Nik Gagvani, president of CheckVideo, and Ed Troha, company director of marketing, about Security Systems News' new conference, Cloud+.

As the show floor was winding down I headed to the closing keynote luncheon, featuring economist Alan Beaulieu, president of ITR Economics.  He projected that the economy would be pretty good for the next 15 years, with a dip around 2019. Many factors in this good economy had relevance for the security sector, he said; as the home market and mortgage lending rates look better more people will be buying houses. With a notable rise in disposable income, Beaulieu said that this could bring new installation opportunities for security companies. One market in particular he mentioned a growth in was the PERS space, with higher numbers of seniors expected in coming years. This comment made for a nice transition to my next event.

My last educational session of this year's show, "To PERS or Not to PERS," had a more intimate session than most. The speakers took chairs off the stage, turned off the projector and the microphones, and asked attendees to move up to the first row, making the session an impromptu "round table" based in questions and answers. Panelists included Yaniv Amir, president of Essence, Justin Bailey, COO of AvantGuard, and Daniel Oppenheim, VP of Affiliated Monitoring. Joe Miskulin, central station manager for State Farm, served as moderator. The panelists were in agreement that it is better to separate PERS operators from those handling traditional burglary and fire alarms. Special attention need to be given to PERS operators in terms of training and support; central stations should evaluate whether they can handle that in-house, or it would be best left to larger centrals with those capabilities.

Thursday, Day 2

At the start of Day 2, for me, was the panel “False Dispatch Reduction Update.” The panelists were Thomas Waugh, division chief, permit and code enforcement for Baltimore City in the Alarm Reduction Section; Kristine Walker, Alarm Services Manager for Vector Security; Derrick Jackson, dispatch reduction manager for Vector Security; and Maria Malice of Bonds Alarm.

They addressed various forms of reducing false alarms, including Enhanced Call Verification. Waugh and Jackson both spoke on noticing generally lower rates of false alarms in recent years. Malice said that without reducing false alarms, the next step for a city is verified response, “and that is not where any of us want to be,” she said.

I bumped into Jay Stuck today in the hall who introduced me to Steven Paley, president of Rapid Security Solutions based in Sarasota, Fla.

Speaking of chance meetings, I have been talking to SIAC for as long as I’ve been the associate editor at SSN and it was great to finally meet a couple of them face to face; Stan Martin, executive director, and Steve Keefer, national law enforcement liaison.

ESA and CSAA hosted a presentation on deceptive sales practices, featuring Diane Pruitt, recently solicited by a deceptive security company in Baltimore, Derrick Layton, a retired Baltimore police officer and another who was solicited with deceptive sales practices, Jay Hauhn, executive director for CSAA, Marshall Marinace, president of ESA, David Bleisch, Chief Legal Officer for ADT, and Casey Callaway, on the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Pruitt and Layton shared their recent experiences, both emphasizing how persistent the sales people were, even when being pushed out the door or shown a police badge. Hauhn noted that there is a difference between a door-knocking company, which is a fine practice, and the deceptive sales practices used in scams.

From there, I headed to the opening keynote luncheon. Before the keynote, Security Systems News’ Tim Purpura announced its latest conference Cloud+, focusing on cloud technologies and how it can be applied in the security industry. Retired US Army special forces officer Maj. Gen. James Champion then gave his keynote address, sharing some of his experiences with the Green Berets and his observations on leadership. “When people look at an organization, where do they look first? They look at the top,” Champion said; an organization’s leadership lets others know where it is heading. Champion also outlined what his cause, the Green Beret Foundation does; helping Green Berets transition into civilian lifestyles, which is often a slower pace than they are used to. At the conclusion of the keynote, ESA presented a check to Champion and the foundation for $5,000.

I stopped by EMERgency24’s booth to briefly meet Kevin McCarthy, the company's national sales manager. I spoke with him recently over the phone and it was nice to put a face to a voice.

Next to EMERgency24 was Essence’s booth—my next meeting. I saw Daniela Perlmutter, Essence VP and head of marketing, in the previous day’s panel on central stations entering the DIY market, and it was nice to hear a bit more about the DIY offerings that Essence provides. While there I also met with Yaniv Amir, president of Essense USA, Brian Katz, Essence VP of business development, and Ritch Haselden, VP of sales for Essence USA.

It seems like it wasn't too long ago that I was talking to AvantGuard’s Josh Garner about its sister company, Freeus, acquiring the PERS business of Securus. It was great to meet some of each team at ESX this year; Justin Bailey, COO of AvantGuard, Matthew Brandon, Avantguard’s national sales manager, Brook Winzeler, GM for Freeus, and Marc McGrann, National sales manager for Freeus.

I stopped by for a quick chat with Warren Hill, product marketing manager in the Americas for intrusion for Interlogix. He told me a bit about the company’s ZeroWire home automation hub and the UltraSync app that connects it with various devices.

From there I headed to the Telguard booth to meet with Pamela Benke, company director of marketing, and Shawn Welsh, VP of marketing and business development. They both told me a lot about their home automation technologies, HomeControl, as well as HomeControl Flex.

At the Quick Response booth I met Jeff Cohen, company president, Renee Trebec sales manager, and Mark Penwell, Business development and retention manager. Jeff Cohen described the main footprint of the company as being around the Midwest and the Great Lakes. The company has been family owned since 1969.

This show was the first time I’d met or spoken with Alarm Central; proof that I am always reaching out and hearing from more central stations. At the booth I met Jeremy Wyble, GM for Alarm Central, and Jeff Herdman, central station manager. “Our main focus is to allow our dealers to grow with us,” Herdman said. “[If] they grow, we grow.”

I stopped by Bold Technologies' booth for a brief chat with Chuck Speck, the company's president. Back in November, when he and Bold CEO Rod Coles founded White Rabbit Electronics, I spoke with them about the timeline for the company; they hoped to showcase White Rabbit at ISC West, which they did, and distribute by ESX. Updating that, Speck said they are pretty close to that timeline, and hope to be rolling it out soon. 

At UCC’s booth, I met Mark Matlock, and Ron Bowden for the first time. I talked with both of them not too long ago about UCC’s expansions. I also met Mike Lamb, who was in the “Innovative Training Techniques for Central Station Operators.” Lamb and I talked a bit more about Generation Y and the point that UCC hasn’t tried to tailor all aspects of its training to younger applicants. Instead, Lamb noticed that they gravitate more toward the company’s existing principles of creating a peer environment and working collaboratively.

It was great to see Mike Bodnar, Security Partners’ president, again, following my visit to their newest central station in Las Vegas. Security Partners recently hired Tom McNeil as VP of sales; he told me about a back-to-basics approach for the company, working more to develop relationships with customers.

My final floor meeting was with Rick Stevens, response center sales and technical support for International Response Center, based in Rockford, Minn.

Wednesday, Day 1

On my way to today’s first panel, I happened to run into a few people I’d either met or talked to before. First was Keith Jentoft, who I first met at the NEACC expo, near the end of May. Second was Robert Forsythe. It was great to put a face to a voice, after I spoke with him earlier in June about US Monitoring’s new app. Third was Jens Kolind, who I met back at ISC West.

My first panel of the day was “Monitoring for the DIY Market.” Jay Stuck, EXP and chief marketing officer of SecureWatch 24, and Daniela Perlmutter, Essence’s VP of marketing, were speakers. Joe Miskulin, central station manager for State Farm, served as moderator.

State Farm operates a proprietary central station to monitor its buildings across the country. From Miskulin’s perspective, DIY is a great solution for small proprietary centrals, due to the ease of shipping systems for DIY installation, and connection back to the central station. Another point that stood out to me was Stuck’s; that a big issue in professionally monitoring DIY systems would be customer service, knowing how to handle end-user questions. Perlmutter, who identified herself as an “avid” DIY user, said there is definitely value in the DIY market—evidenced by big entrants like Google—and professional security companies have the edge of experience and expertise.

I then went to the Networking and Public Safety Luncheon. At this event SIAC presented its William N. Moody Award, recognizing those with comendable devotion to the the alarm industry, to Ron Rothman whose retirement from Honeywell was announced in January. SIAC then surprised Stan Martin, SIAC's executive director with his own William N. Moody award for his service to SIAC. Also at the luncheon, ESA presented its 2015 Youth Scholarship to Douglas Leonard.

Also at this event, CSAA presented its inagural Public Service Award to Bill Hobgood, project manager for the public safety team in the City of Richmond, Virginia's IT department, for his work to promote the ASAP program.

Baltimore's Deputy Police Commisioner Kevin Davis then gave his key note address, filling in for Anthony Batts, the city's Police Comissoner originally announced as the keynote speaker. He talked about teh recent unrest in Baltimore and the important role security plays in identifying those "people who harmed this city." Davis reassured attendees that Baltimore is "a great city, and a safe city." He also identified body cameras as a security technology that many Baltimore police officers are in favor of. 

It was at the Networking and Public Safety Luncheon that I first heard about ESX 2016, to be held in Fort Worth, Texas, June 8-10.

On my way to the next panel, it was nice to see Michael Zydor, managing director for Affiliated Monitoring.

My second session was “Central Station Technology” with CSAA’s executive director Jay Hauhn, Bosch Security’s marketing manager Chris Larcinese, and IBS’ VP of external partnerships Jens Kolind. A lot of intriguing points were brought up. The cloud looks like it’ll be a big technology in years to come, according to Hauhn. Larcinese said, “In some regard, [cloud is] a logical progression of the technology.” Kolind said that one thing cloud provides central stations with is the benefit of not having to worry about upgrades or other programming matters.

In “Increase RMR with Video Monitoring Services” there were also some really interesting perspectives shared. Larry Folsom, president and CEO of I-View Now, presented a few things to keep in mind when considering video services, like the sales side, having a strategic vision, and doing the best monitoring for it using best practices. Michael Jagger, president of Provident Security and fellow panelist, gave examples of how he video monitoring it into his business. “It’s great business, it’s a great way to grow your RMR: through video,” said Tom Szell, final panelist and SVP for ADS Security.

My last session of the day was “Innovative Training Techniques for Central Station Operators.” Stephen Smith, the national professional development manager of customer care for ADT, shared some of his thoughts on ways to best train current applicants, particularly those of more recent generations. One suggestion Smith gave was to look at how learning styles are changing; between kinesthetic, auditory and visual.

Mike Lamb of UCC was stepping in for Mike Gelvin, UCC’s assistant central station manager, to represent the company on the subject at this panel. Lamb made one point in particular that really has stayed with me. He said that those of Generation Y, born between 1980 and 2000, like to know that there’s value in what they do. This shouldn’t be too hard to impress on them, Lamb said, when you address that the root of security monitoring is protecting the lives and homes of other people.

Today was definitely very educational for me, as a newer person in the industry. I’m really looking forward to hearing more tomorrow and walking the show floor. 

Prior to the show

I'm really looking forward to ESX, held in Baltimore this year. This is where you can find the most recent updates on what I've seen, who I've talked to, and what's cropping up in monitoring from the show. Check back later, as I will be updating the blog daily from the beginning of the show on Wednesday. Hopefully I'll see you there, feel free to email me if you think there is something I should keep an eye out for at the show.

And here's ESX 2015!

Monday, June 22, 2015

BALTIMORE—Rapid change in the industry, home automation, the IofT and DIY were prevalent themes at the sessions I attended today.

First up was the OpenXchange, a forum featuring Mike Hackett of Qolsys, Rod Coles of Bold Technologies, Syed Zaeem Hosain of Aeris and Alexei Erchak of BeON, moderated by George De Marco, ESX chairman.

De Marco asked audience members if they were ready to be disrupted. Emerging technology and cloud-based security is changing the industry forever, he said. “Is your company just surviving or experiencing transformational success? What differentiates you?”

The panelists discussed the need for manufacturers to keep up with the pace of change by responding to customers’ feedback; the impact of home automation and DIY and how to meld those into the security business and more.

I’ll be writing in more detail about this interesting overview soon, so stay tuned.

Next was “DIY Security—Competition or Opportunity?” with Brian Leland of Interlogix and Sterling Barnes of Melaleuca Security, moderated by Kirk MacDowell of

Interlogix looks at DIY as a long-term strategy, it will only keep growing, Leland said. It’s the fastest evolving market and there’s a lot traditional security providers can learn from it, he said.

Barnes said he doesn’t see a need to be in direct competition with DIY. “Our customers come to us because they want a professionally installed system,” he said. “Don’t be worried that NEST and Google will ruin your business, but customers will want some of those features.” I’ll be writing further about this discussion as well.

Next, Jamie Kane, president of Sandler Training, talked to company heads about “Assuming the Right Leadership Role.” This interactive session had audience members discussing their jobs as mentors, supervisors, coaches and trainers, and how to find the right balance for their specific company’s success. What should be their primary focus? I sat in on an “audience group” with Brendan Armstrong, president of Trinity Wiring and Security Solutions; Ritch Haselden of Essence; and Robert Irish of Mediacom. Those three gentlemen were passionate about their roles as company leaders and took the session seriously. Takeaway? Delegate. Don’t train and supervise when others can do it. Motivate and coach.

“Monetize the Internet of Things,” moderated by Kirk MacDowell, aimed to “unbaffle and provide clarity” about IoT, he said. People are frustrated by all the products out there. What to do? Qolsys’ Hackett,’s Jeff Bedell, Honeywell’s Gordon Hope and ADT’s Paul Plofchan all noted that most people most trust security companies to monitor their home automation systems, so that’s a prime opportunity. “The opportunity is to sell into the demand. The risk is that as an industry we let someone else do it,” Bedell said.

Said Hope, “What do we say when the customer says, ‘I don’t need your monitoring. I can get it direct from my app for free.’” The answer is, he said, “We’re not free because we provide value. You can DIM, but apps won’t keep your house from burning down. Notifications are great, but what if you’re halfway around the world?”

Tell customers why you’re not free and why you’re unique, Hope said, adding that “we will not survive as an industry without offering home automation. Embrace the change, there’s much more upside than downside.”

At ESA Celebrates, De Marco encouraged donations to the ESA philanthropy project, ESA Gives Back! This year, donations go to the Green Berets’ Next Ridgeland, a program that helps Green Berets transition from active duty to the next step in their lives. De Marco’s daughter sang one of the loveliest renditions of “I’m Proud to be an American” that I’ve ever heard.

All in all, a great day. Well done, ESX 2015.

This morning, Security Systems News publisher Tim Purpura officially announces our new conference, Cloud+. Much more about that to come.


BALTIMORE—I had a very nice conversation with BeON CEO Alexei Erchak late this afternoon, who was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule here in ESX-Land to fill me on his company’s growing success. (That took place after we both, being New Englanders, complained just a little, tiny bit about this city’s oppressive heat.) 

Since I last spoke to him at ISC West, BeON has “made a lot of progress on a lot of fronts,” he said.

The LED lightbulb preventative security system has passed UL testing, dealers are clamoring for it and BeON is shipping now to beta testers and Kickstarter backers. He’s here at ESX to talk further with dealers.

BeON is targeting the 80 percent of the market that says that it doesn’t want a home security system.

Erchak has heard from numerous consumers who appreciate his company’s approach, he said. Women in the 25- to 35-year-old range who live with roommates or with a spouse who travels a lot, for instance, tell him that they like the system because it makes it look like more people are home when they just might be there by themselves.

Feedback has been key to BeON’s growth, he said. “People are giving us ideas for protection, ideas we never even thought of,”  he said.

“By this time next year we’ll be talking about interoperability,” Erchak said.

I’ll certainly keep in touch with Erchak to see how his company progresses.

Tomorrow I’ll be attending a number of ESX educational sessions to get up to date on the latest trends and challenges in the physical security sector, so stay tuned.

Right now there’s a fierce thunderstorm outside my hotel, so I won’t be venturing out much. I hear the restaurant downstairs has awesome crabcakes, so here I go. 


Tomorrow, June 23, I am en route to Baltimore for ESX 2015. I’m a veteran of ASIS and ISC West and a number of other, smaller shows, but this will be my first time at the Electronics Security Expo. I’ve heard great things about it from colleagues and from industry pros, so I’m looking forward to it. (Plus, I am a big fan of Maryland crab.)

After the great whirlwind on the show floor at ISC West, I will enjoy the opportunity to attend a number of educational sessions to dig deeper into topics of import to the resi industry and the chance to catch up with some of my sources as well.

I’ll be updating this post daily about who I see, what I learn and what is trending, so please check back often. I’ll also be tweeting. And stay tuned, because I’ll be posting stories from the ed sessions, too. See you at ESX!



Honeywell fired up about latest tech

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The other day I sat in on Honeywell’s virtual press conference on its latest industry trends in commercial life safety systems. The company had a nice lineup of their pros on hand to discuss their work and what they'll be highlighting at next week's NFPA World Safety Conference and Expo. 

Brian Carlson, manager of strategic marketing, Gamewell-FCI, said the S3 Series fire alarm system for small- and medium-sized buildings allays users’ fears about “pressing the wrong button” and thus eases stress and confusion during an emergency.

As the industry’s only small, addressable panel with a color touch-screen, “everything that needs to be pressed is highlighted. It gives people confidence,” Carlson said. Building owners especially like the custom function and shortcut function keys, he added.

Susan Adam, NOTIFIER’s marketing director, talked about how SWIFT—Smart Wireless Integrated Fire Technology—is helping dealers win jobs at construction sites and renovation projects because of its easy installation and removability when the job is finished. Sites and even separate building areas under construction or renovation still need to be protected, she emphasized, “and SWIFT can differentiate dealers.” SWIFT recently was installed at two large temporary buildings at the World Ski Championships in Vail, Colo., and at a 100-year-old mansion in Massachusetts that was being renovated.

On the Fire-Lite Alarms, Silent Knight, side of things, marketing director Richard Conner discussed the company’s growth with low-frequency alarms, especially for children, young adults and the hearing-impaired. I spoke with Conner about this at ISC West, but learned a little more this time around about the alarms’ use in college dormitories, motels, hotels, assisted living facilities and the like. Studies have shown that the low-frequency signal is most effective in waking up children and young adults, he said during the press conference, and are more effective than bed- and pillow-shakers.

Christa Poss, senior manager of product marketing, System Sensor, said the latest addition to the FAAST smoke detector product portfolio, FAAST XS, targets smaller areas, up to 5,000 square feet. Those areas include elevator shafts, cable ducts and boiler rooms. FAAST XS offers “extension communication and connectivity options all without the need for new hardware,” Poss said. FAAST is now available in three varieties to protect from 5,000 square feet to up to 28,800 square feet.

Charles Simek, industrial, product and technology specialist, Honeywell Industrial Safety, gave an overview of Honeywell’s optical flame detection analytics’ success, and Gene Pecora, business leader, industrial fire, Honeywell Fire Safety, discussed areas where Honeywell is getting into new areas or expanding its capabilities.

“Incidents occur in the petrochem industry all the time,” Pecora said, to the tune of $20b a year. It’s not uncommon in process locations to have small incidents that don’t make the news as the big events do, but those incidents need accurate and reliable equipment just the same, he said.

He said Honeywell’s new HS-81 is a unique, “all-in-one-solution” for smoke, flame, gas and extinguishing that meets global certifications.