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Body parts battle: See it at TechSec

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Body parts battle?

Yes, among the highlights of TechSec this year will be a session we've dubbed "Battle of the body parts," and not just because it's a catchy title. We're going to have a little competition at TechSec.

I've been hearing from more and more integrators that biometrics are coming of age. They're more affordable and they're more reliable, you've told me.

So, we decided to take a look at which biometric technique works best and where the promise still exceed the reality.

SecuritySpecifiers' Ray Coulombe will lead the session and he's gathered experts on four biometric technologies—facial recognition, eye scan, fingerprint, and hand geometry—to speak. Those representatives will state their cases. These will not be manufacturer' pitches. Those are not allowed at TechSec and would be booed off the stage. Rather they'll be biometrics experts talking about specific technology fundamentals (rather than their companies or products), advantages and best application areas.

To help figure out who wins the battle we'll have a panel of judges drawn from our "20 under 40" award winners.

Face, eye, finger, hand ... Come to Delray Beach, Fla. Feb. 2-3 to find out which body part is victorious in 2016. Here's a link to the program.

And, stay tuned for the announcement of our super cool keynote speaker early next week.

One central finds efficiency in the cloud

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Home Security Monitoring Center, a family-owned wholesale central station based in Stowe, Vt., is focusing on virtualization, “Putting more and more information up on the cloud,” according to company president Scott Trowbridge. The company mainly uses the cloud for business efficiency.

Trowbridge said that HSMC has been using the cloud for years, but named it as a priority moving into 2016 and beyond. “It’s not going to be done tomorrow. …  Having to commit to something like that is a very big choice. … It’s one of those things that doesn’t make you money, it just … saves time and makes you more efficient.”

The company uses the cloud to store information that is relevant for the “daily running of the business,” according to Trowbridge. Fewer computers means lower power consumption and fewer IT issues, “it makes us more cost-effective to push things into the cloud to some degree.”

The cloud makes the company more flexible, Trowbridge told me, both in terms of getting information and notifications to dealers as well as allowing staff access to information while not in the office.

“We’ve got to be very careful about how we put [information] into the cloud, and making sure that the most critical information—customer’s information—stays local so that it doesn’t get compromised,” he said.

In addition, by leveraging the cloud, workstations in HSMC are able to access a variety of functions from one spot, allowing employees to pick up their work at any location.

Trowbridge says that the company cross-trains its employees, “In order to keep things interesting and fresh, we try to rotate tasks out for our operators to … round-out the education.” These roles range from alarm monitoring to data entry and putting accounts on and off test. 

Diebold lands 500-location national account

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

NORTH CANTON, Ohio—While Diebold Electronic Security waits on the close of one deal—its acquisition by Securitas—it has closed another: a 500-location national account deal.

The national integrator will provide intrusion, fire, access and monitoring services as well as its online customer portal, SecureStat, for Rack Room Shoes, a national footwear chain that also owns Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse. Diebold will also provide an enterprise video and access control system for the company’s newly expanded corporate headquarters in Charlotte. Rack Room Shoes made the announcement Dec. 14.

Diebold has “the vision, knowledge and resources to be that partner, truly vested in Rack Room Shoes and our loss prevention strategies and results," Johnny Turner, director, loss prevention, Rack Room Shoes, said in a prepared statement.

Tony Byerly, EVP, electronic security, Diebold said in a prepared statement: “As a national retailer, Rack Room Shoes needs a security provider that focuses solely on the unique needs of business customers with the resources to deliver monitoring services and the necessary standardization of technology, solutions and processes across the United States."

When the Diebold/Securitas deal is closed, the contract will be transitioned to Securitas. The deal is expected to close early in 2016.
 

From Microsoft to Google at Cloud+

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

At the very last session of the Cloud+ conference, Brivo's Jonathan Healey noted that the Cloud+ conference began with a speaker from Microsoft and ended with a speaker from Google. "Five years ago [the idea that you'd have that line-up at a physical security conference] would be preposterous, he said.

He's right, our industry has come a long way in five years. That was a recurring theme at the Cloud+ conference, but we've also got a long way to go.

Speaker after speaker talked about the opportunities—for integrator and end user alike—in cloud-based systems. There are two stories in our newswire today about the conference: one about the keynote speaker, Monica Hopelian of MIcrosoft and one about investment and "the new security dealer," a session presented by John Mack and moderated by yours truly.  Amy's blog this week gives an overview of the sessions.

Look for more stories over the next week.

One of the topics John Mack talked about was M&A activity and investor interest in cloud-based technology. I can tell you there was investor interest at the conference this week. Many attendees were asking me if I could get them audio from the sessions and Powerpoint slides. Two attendees pulled me aside halfway through day two and  said it would be really great if I could get them the slides "within the hour." I told them they would need to wait until I was done emceeing the event.

Clearly some valuable information at Cloud+

One of the most popular sessions at Cloud+ was about cybersecurity in the cloud, presented by Rodney Thayer. Before you get too excited about your "Cloud Bling," you (both the folks who are making the stuff and the folks who are integrating the stuff) better ensure you're following cyber-safe practices, he advised. Is the Internet of Things, really just  the "Internet of Trouble?" he asked. Well, it could be. He reiterated what keynote speaker Monica Hopelian and another speaker Diebold's Jeremy Brecher said: that the physical security group should not be the weakest link in the chain. Thayer talked through some scary potential scenarios, before offering a series of practical guidelines and resources for integrators and manufacturers.

Interested in this topic? (yes you should be) Thayer will be at TechSec 2016. Here's a link to the educational program.  talking about cybersecurity on an educational session led by Kratos' Chris Peckham. Also speaking on that educational session will be Joe Coe of Hikvision. Hikvision, one of the fastest growing security companies in the world, has also suffered a couple of major cyber breaches. Don't miss it!

CSAA’s CVEC project could reduce attrition

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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

VIENNA, Va.—After CSAA announced its latest project with Verisk Analytics last week, I was interested to hear more about exactly the collaboration will cover. Keith Jentoft, chair of the CSAA/Verisk Exchange Committee (CVEC) and president of Videofied, told me that the project will develop a channel of communication between security companies and insurance providers, ultimately leading to a possible drop in attrition.

“What we’re doing here is, if you cancel [a monitoring subscription] there’s going to be a closed loop,” he said. “The insurer will, then, notify you that because you cancelled your alarm, your insurance is going up. So, it will have a real, direct effect on reducing attrition.”

The project will cover the value of separate security functions, such as water sensor with an automatic shut-off valve or video verification. This will mean incremental discounts for property owners, Jentoft said. All of the services that the CVEC is looking at are fully, professionally monitored, he said.

Verisk is the parent company to ISO, Jentoft pointed out, a group that works on risk ratings across the country, which can speed up the process of applying the valuations of security alarm functions. “We’re cutting years out of the implementation of this by working with Verisk.”

The project will be ongoing, according to Jentoft. “The tighter we get with the insurer, the more value we can create.”

The committee has a legal subcommittee and a technology subcommittee, focused on the data transfers between the two industries, which Jentoft said would be truly starting in January, “we hope to have some preliminary results by ISC West.”

Live from Cloud+

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Monday, December 7, 2015

Cloud+ — It's a wrap!

One and a half days jam-packed with info, curiousity, interaction and networking for all involved. Where do I start? I'll be writing more about all this later, but here are some highlights:

Keynoter Monica Hopelian, cloud specialist for Microsoft’s state and local government team, said the cloud is here to stay and offered advice on finding the "right cloud." Among her advice, which you can read about in detail on the Security System News website soon, was making sure your cloud is flexible. "Tiering off into the cloud" is important to meet different requirementS and compliance issues. 

Up next was John Mack, EVP, co-head of investment banking and head of mergers and acquisitions, Imperial Capital. Mack said use of the cloud will lead to more funding for M&A. "Private equity is very interested in the cloud-based business model," he said. You can read more about that on the SSN site today.

Christian Morin, VP Cloud Services, Genetec; Steve Van Till, president and CEO, Brivo; and Jeremy Brecher, VP Technology and Electronic Security, Diebold; discussed public clouds, private clouds and hybrid clouds. "Cloud will transform this [physical security] industry," Morin said. 

BluBox Security's CEO and co-founder Patrick Berry spoke on "The possibilities of cloud-powered biometrics." "Do more, own less, protect yourself—that's what cloud does for you."

Day 2 kicked off Rodney Thayer's talk about ensuring cybersecurity in the cloud. "You can't stop thinking about security just because you've moved to the cloud," he said. "Your data is next to another customer's data. You have to verify, trust, but verify." Thayer is a cybersecurity expert, a consutlant with Smithee, Spelvin, Agnew & Plinge.

Cliff Dice, president and CEO of DiCE; Hank Goldberg, VP, Secure Global Solutions; and Jens Kolind, president and CEO of Innovative Business Software discussed the cloud's usefulness and benefits for central stations. With everything geting more technical, they said and with it becoming more cost-effective, it only makes sense. That discussion was moderated by Jay Hauhn, CSAA president.

Security customers want simplicity, according to Bob Ryan, SVP of Protection1, and Brian Lohse, director, sales for SecureI and Alarm.com. That's why video in the cloud is good for both customers and providers. There's a value to convenience and sales forces need to be trained to sell that. 

Three leading integrators, Morgan Harris, director enterprise solutions, Protection 1; Chris Peckham, SVP, CTO and special projects, Kratos Public Safety and Security Solutions; and Jerry Cordasco, client development manager, Tech Systems, said cloud is the absolute right choice for a variety of customers, including those who need access control, video and health monitoring.

Alice Debiasio, general manager, cloud services, Honeywell Security and Fire; Jay Kenny, SVP of marketing, Alarm.com; and Letha McLaren, chief marketing, Icontrol, discussed the opportunities, now that cloud has taken off with resi customers, for the commercial side. It's easier than ever today to make that transition, they said.

Finally, Seth Page of Unikey and Mayank Upadhyay, director of engineering for Google, said they want keys and passwords to become obsolete. The phone should become the key, and they're working on it. That panel was moderated by Jonathan Healey of Brivo. 

More later!

CSAA announces insurance-focused project

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

CSAA is starting a new project with Verisk Analytics, a firm that studies data on insurance as well as other industries. The organizations will be “examining the impact of professionally monitored alarm systems on insurance risk,” according to a recent release from CSAA.

CSAA will combine its member alarm system data with Verisk’s proprietary insurance data. “Insights from this study could be used in filings for updated discounts with insurance department regulators,” CSAA said in the statement.

“This project is the most important collaboration between the alarm industry and the insurance industry in a generation. Working together with Verisk will quantify the value of security solutions to reduce risk and give the insurers a reason to offer their policy holders incentives for professionally monitored alarm systems,” CSAA president Pam Petrow said in a prepared statement.

Anthony Canale, vice president of Verisk Crime Analytics, said in the statement, “We’re excited to work with CSAA and use alarm system data to create risk models for our insurance stakeholders to help them quantify risk, reduce losses and improve their customers’ experience.”

Keith Jentoft, president of Videofied will be chair of the new CSAA/Verisk Exchange Committee (CVEC) that will be working on the project's data collection and analysis. Don Young, COO of Protection 1, was named the board liaison, giving the CSAA Board oversight and direction to the CVEC.

The late November announcement said that the project was approved on Oct. 11, during CSAA’s annual meeting.

In the Big Easy, it's not always easy

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Monday, November 30, 2015

Just days before the 50th Super Bowl will take place, the assistant chief of public safety for New Orleans’ Mercedes-Benz Superdome, which has hosted many of those spectacular games in the past, will discuss what goes into protecting thousands upon thousands of spectators.

Ross Bourgeois will speak at the TechSec Solutions conference on Feb. 3 in Delray Beach, Fla. The conference, presented by Security Systems News, will be held Feb. 2-3 at the Marriott there. The conference brings together security directors, integrators, installers, industry experts and advisors, manufacturers and consultants to look at where physical security is headed and how businesses can seize new opportunities.

Bourgeois, a former New Orleans police officer, will talk about what it takes to ensure safety at a decades-old venue in the heart of a “small big city.”

Bourgeois also is in charge of security for the downtown Smoothie King Center, home to Final Four college basketball championships and more, and Champion Square.

What does he seek to secure his urban facilities? What are his frustrations with the security industry? How does he meld customer service with making sure fans stay safe?

This interactive session will offer valuable information for those who work in other verticals.

Bourgeois is a 2015 SSN “20 under 40” End User award winner and will be honored, with his fellow awardees, at the conference.

10 ways security integrators can make money from cloud

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Can you make money from cloud-based video and access control? Are cloud-based systems more vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks? Is it too early to embrace cloud-based technology?

These are just three of the many questions that we'll be answering at Cloud+, a new conference that I've been putting together over the past several months. The conference is around the corner: Dec. 7-8 in Silicon Valley, but it's not too late to sign up!

Over that past two weeks, I've had conference calls with a very cool lineup of speakers who will be looking at cloud-based technology in a way that our industry has not previously done. We'll give you many more than 10 ways to make money from cloud. 

--The educational sessions will cover everything from basic definitions to the implications of central station infrastructure sitting in the cloud and the possibilities of cloud-powered biometrics.

--Our keynote speaker from Microsoft will talk about which industries are doing a good job taking advantage of cloud and how they're doing it.

--Leading integrators will give you expert advice and real-life examples of how to make profit and provide ROI from cloud-based access control and video.

--We’re excited to have Rodney Thayer, who’s adept at both security consulting and hacking, doing a presentation about cybersecurity and how to ensure safety in the cloud.

--The exhibit hall will be educational too. It's the first venue ever to showcase cloud-based physical security technology side-by-side in one place.

Hope to see you in California Dec. 7-8! Here's a link to the program and registration.

Stanley enhances its monitoring

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

It seems that Stanley Security has really been focusing on how it approaches monitoring lately.

Monday, the company announced its partnership with I-View Now, a cloud-based platform for central station video verification. Last week CSAA announced Stanley’s participation in its ASAP to PSAP program. Additionally, all of this is coming just weeks after Stanley announced its acquisition of SentryNet, a wholesale monitoring center.

Steve Walker, VP of customer service for Stanley said this could lead to other monitoring companies under Stanley—such as Sonitrol and SentryNet—joining ASAP as well. He noted that SentryNet is already integrated with I-View Now.

“The big advantage [of joining the ASAP program] is it reduces the time to communicate or dispatch on an alarm, so it just translates directly into an improved, faster response from the agency [and] it improves the accuracy of the agency response,” Steve Walker, VP of customer service for Stanley, told me.

Walker said Stanley has been working on joining ASAP to PSAP for about a year. First, the company’s automation software, IBS, needed to be integrated with the program. “We’re IBS’ first customer to successfully connect to the network,” he said. This work should make it easier for other IBS customers to join ASAP, he said.

I-View Now is integrated with many different DVRs and cameras, Walker said, and that’s a benefit for Stanley. “It greatly expands our product offering. … We don’t have to worry about integrating all of these different technologies into our software—all we have to do is integrate with I-View Now.”

Walker lauded I-View Now’s ability to allow end users to review a video feed at the same time as the central station after an alarm signal is sent. Stanley has also been working on this partnership for a year, he said.

Stanley has about 250,000 monitored customers in the United States, and another 80,000 in Canada, Walker said. Stanley is the second predominantly commercial business to join the program, after Diebold announced its participation last month.

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