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Vivint alerts homeowners about scam artists

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Say your residential security company has made a huge dent in a particular neighborhood. You’ve got the area covered and all is good, for you and for homeowners.

Then some shifty guy comes around that neighborhood, knocks on your customers’ doors and professes to offer a better deal for their homes’ security than you can provide.

The guy is likely part of a door-to-door scam, and it’s also likely more guys like him will be showing up over the summer months, according to the Better Business Bureau. I read about a spate of this going on recently in Corpus Christie, Texas, but that's not to say Corpus Christie is a unique target of such ploys.

Vivint has a way of letting its customers know to be on the lookout for such scams. It encourages aware customers to contact the company about suspected scams or deceptive sales practices in their neighborhoods. Upon that notification, Vivint will send out an alert to alarm panels owned by customers in the impacted area. The message says that security scams have been reported nearby, and also gives a 24/7 phone number to call to verify a Vivint rep who might legitimately show up at the door.

“At Vivint, we take all possible measures to keep our customers protected. This includes keeping them apprised of what’s going on in and around their homes in real time,” Steve Dixon, VP of customer experience and operations, told me via email.

"The security alert is one of the things Vivint uses, in addition to customer emails and calls, to advise Vivint customers about questionable or deceptive sales practices used by competitor sales representatives in the area," Dixon said.

Good for Vivint, I say, and to all the other resi providers who provide such a service.

Scam artists, beware!

Goings-on at Guardian

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Guardian Protection Services has been busy lately, rolling out a new funding process for dealers and a new mobile app for customers along with a rebranding initiative during its 65th year.

A meeting with Guardian at ISC West last week didn’t come off as planned, so this week I caught up by phone with Joseph Lininger, VP of marketing, to talk about recent activity at the super-regional.

Guardian will now pay authorized dealers on a daily basis as opposed to a weekly basis for the accounts it purchases. “If the account is approved on Monday, the dealer gets paid on Tuesday,” Lininger said.

The change in payment processing was made to boost dealers’ cash flow to help optimize their operations. Guardian invested in proprietary software to accommodate the change.

Guardian also has released a mobile app for its customers who use the Alarm.com platform to control their homes. Developed for both iOs and Android, the app provides remote access to home security and automation systems through an Internet connection. Future upgrades will include more functions, added Guardian services and special messages.

The new dealer program and the app come on the heels of Guardian’s recent rebranding. A new logo and tag line—“At the Heart of Your Connected Home”—for resi and builder business divisions are in place to give customers “the correct perception of Guardian as a customer-centric technology firm specializing in security and automation while providing the most reliable, technologically advanced services to homes and businesses,” the company said in its announcement.

The rebranding project, which took a year to complete, was initiated to reflect the company’s evolution and position it for the future, Lininger said.

“We always keep our brand awareness at the top of our mind, Lininger said.

COPS' David Smith talks about 'redundant staffing'

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Since I came into the industry, I have heard a lot about redundancy; making sure that everything runs smoothly, service is consistent, nothing is down for long. At the center of these discussions has always been the latest technology that adds new levels to that redundancy. On the show floor at ISC West, I heard David Smith, director of marketing and communication for COPS Monitoring, talk about an entirely different kind—redundancy of people. This is the task of trying to find the same types of operators that mesh well with the company’s goals and requirements to ensure that service at one location doesn’t differ from that of another.

"Redundancy from a technological standpoint is much more straightforward than redundant staffing. Successfully replicating a training program and maintaining consistent performance levels across multiple sites is much more difficult to master,” he said.

This is an important consideration for a wide-spread company like COPS, Smith said, but having multiple locations helps. COPS has 350 dispatchers, and adding more. It would be difficult to find that many people who fit COPS’ bill in the same place. “We have a very strong company culture that permeates the entire organization.”

“Creating a unique, desirable workplace is part of the culture at COPS, and has proven to be of high value to our employees,” Smith said.

It's a little easier to find the best candidates when looking for operators in the surrounding areas of six different locations, he said.

“Qualifying someone as the ‘right person’ to be a successful dispatcher is determined by more than education, experience, and attitude: we believe that COPS dispatchers must also have the proper blend of professionalism, personality attributes, ability, and sense of duty,” he said.

In addition, the company is increasing dispatcher positions at its locations—30 positions in its Florida facility, with similar possible expansions at the Tennessee and Arizona centers as well.

AMAG to sell Salient video products under Symmetry name

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

AMAG's big announcement at ISC West was about selling Salient's video products under AMAG's Symmetry name. In an email interview, Matt Barnette characterized the deal as different from its partnerships with other manufacturers. Known for its Symmetry line, AMAG Technoloigies is a provider of access control and integrated security management systems for government and commercial customers.

"Traditionally, we do not resell another technology partner’s products under the Symmetry brand, but this partnership will lead us to faster and greater innovation," Barnette said. 

"We are offering Symmetry CompleteView VMS, Symmetry PowerProtect NVR platform, Symmetry TouchView Mobile Apps and the Symmetry Dual and Quad monitor Guardstation client workstations. These products augment our current Symmetry VMS, Encoders and HD camera lines," he added.
 
Asked what drove this partnership, Barnette said that AMAG has worked closely with Salient Systems through its Symmetry Extended Business Solutions Program. "They have been a proactive partner, and were always quick to update the integration with our Symmetry product whenever new features were available. Salient valued the technology integration between our two companies and made upgrading the integration a priority. We recognized what a great partner they are, and so did our customers, so it made sense to enhance the partnership."

Barnette said that AMAG and Salient's product management and engineering groups will jointly develop "a unique set of features and future products that will only be available through the AMAG channel."

"Salient offers a VMS and NVR platform, along with a robust mobile app. Many of our customers were looking for the features in the Salient platform and chose to either integrate their Symmetry system with Salient or use it as a stand-alone product," Barnette explained.

The tighter integration will make the system easier to use and may open up "opportunities now for future customers looking for a robust and more standardized access control and video management solution."

AMAG will continue to support its existing Symmetry VMS, encoders and HD cameras, along with its other video management and camera partners. "Our own video product line and existing relationships with video partners are very important to AMAG. Ultimately, what we are accomplishing with this partnership is the creation of products with new unique value and to give our customers more choices," he said.

AMAG Technology is based in Torrance, Calif., and has offices throughout the U.S.

Martha's ISC West 2015 daily updates

 - 
Monday, April 13, 2015

DAY 2

Day 2 of ISC West started off before the sun rose at the Security5K/2K. The weather was perfect (at least for us Mainers) and the enthusiasm was high. Lots of team spirit this year among companies large and small. Axis’ Fredrik Nilsson said that 108 Axis employees are at ISC West this year and 102 are participating in the Security5k/2k. “Anyone who was not participating had to come to me with an excuse,” Nilsson said, laughing. Paxton Access had a similar ratio of participation—something like 11 of 12 employees present. Most importantly the fundraising went very well, according to Mission 500’s George Fletcher. Last year $20,000 was raised through direct fundraising. This year, more than $40,000 was raised! The total raised to help children in need will be more than double that. I’ll update this with the final fundraising numbers once they’re in.

Back on the showfloor after the 5K, I met with Jeff Pranaitis and Alper Cetingok, who run the Security Defense & Government Services business for Raymond James. Investment Banking group. The group advises on M&A, public and private capital-raising, and valuation/fairness opinion analysis for middle-market companies. Among their recent deals are: Ackerman, Iverify/TransAlarm, SimpliSafe recapitilization, and Avigilon's purchase of VideoIQ.

I had a brief interview with Yoav Stern about DVTEL’s major cybersecurity initiative called IPMune. DVTEL is definitely out in front on this one.

I did an ssnTVnews interview with Sharon Shaw of systems integration firm TechSystems, and a TechSec Advisory Board member. Sharon talked about TSI’s approach to lifecycle management and how cybersecurity fits into the picture.

Eric Yunag of Dakota Security stopped by the Media Studio to share some ISC West observations with Sharon and me.

I met with Lee Odess at Brivo and he showed me the new mobile app for Brivo OnAir. Slick and simple, Odess said it’s aimed at the small- and medium-business market to give business owners flexibility to manage access on the go. He also told me about a new Brivo initiative —called the Dealer Success Program—to teach security installers and dealers about how to sell and succeed with services. “It’s really not Brivo-specific, it’s basically a how-to kit that shows why it’s good for integrators to chase the services business.”

At smart thermal camera company SightLogix,  John Romanowich and Frank De Fina had a number of installers checking out their new offerings: SightWrap and SightSensor XA. SightWrap is a new dealer program. It’s a no-money-down RMR-business aimed at car dealerships. SightSensor XA (extended area) a thermal camera that can surviel an entire football field. The previous model could cover to the 40-yard line, the XA provides "coverage all the way to the end zone," Romanowich said.

I had a chance to meet Alarm.com’s Matt Zartmann and Jeff Bedell in person. We talked about says Alarm.com’s commercial launch. Recent tweaks and the acquisition of secure-I have enabled the company to get its commercial platform in place for video, intrusion and energy management. Bedell said installers can offer their commercial customers one or all three components.

I stopped by Arecont Vision and talked to Scott Schaeffer about the company’s Project Registration Program that he says is different because it protects dealers with project pricing that’s “intentional.” We also talked about updates to the set-up-utility and the fact that Arecont now has motorized lenses in all of its product lines

DAY 1

As it’s 1:30 a.m. EST right now, this will be a very brief overview of my Day 1 at ISC West 2015. I’ll be adding more later.DAY

The day started at 8 a.m. with the annual Axis Press breakfast. The always-entertaining Axis event had a baseball theme. Axis CEO Martin Gren tested an Axis camera’s resiliency with a bat—which woke everyone up. Some announcements: Axis’ announced its new Zipstream product. Here’s a story on that.

Gren talked about two new “non-camera products” AXIS A8004-VE Network Video Door Station, which enables “two-way communication, HD video identification and remote entry control.” He also introduces an “intelligent audio device,” the AXIS C3003-E Network Horn Speaker.

The “home run” Axis product introduced at this show, Nilsson predicted, would be the first camera in the new AXIS Q37 Series, the AXIS Q3709-PVE. This multi-sensor camera is unique because it comes “focused from the factory with three 4K sensors that together provide a perfect 180-degree view.”

ABout the acquisition of Axis by Canon, Fredrik Nilsson said to expect twice as many products next year, with the resources of Canon behind Axis.

Photo: At the baseball-themed Axis Press event: Martin Gren (left) Fredrik Nilsson (right). On the video screen, the CEO of Canon. Japan, where Canon is based, is a place where baseball is also popular, Gren and Nilsson noted.

 

I picked up my show badge after the Axis event and stopped by the HID Mission 500 backpack project, where volunteers were filling backpacks with supplies for kids.

Photo: HID's Denis Hebert (left) and George Fletcher of Mission 500.

Next up were a few ssnTVnews interviews. I spoke to three of the Women’s Security Council “Women of the Year” honorees:  Vivian Hodges, Global Procurement Manager for Northland Controls; Andrea Ferrando, Industry VP for Reed Exhibition and Irene Lam, VP of R&D for Tyco Security Products.

Scallop Imaging had some news: their assets have been acquired by Vision Technologies, which makes military-grade cameras. Scallop will keep its branding, but the new company name is Blackhawk Imaging. This is an opportunity, Scallop’s Steve Gorski told me, to go after new markets.

Did you see the news that “Ipconfigure buys Cannon”? I stopped by and it is true. See photo below. 

PHOTO: IPCONFIGURE buys Cannon.

 

 

Next, I attended a luncheon where four companies presented. Teleste’s Mike Odea described the video and broadband company’s approach this way: open platform, holistic and ultra-scalable.

Richard Beard  of PSIM provider KapLogic said his company is addressing behavior analytics. It’s important to know what's not normal behavior, he said.

Kathleen Chigos of PlateSmart, a software-only LPR company said PlateSmart works with any hardware. You don’t need to worry about an "LPR" camera, she said.

Alfredo Perez said Vidcie brings surveillance cameras to places, like trains, where there were none. It does this via smartphone. I heard lots of interest from the luncheon crowd on this one.

I caught up with PSA Security’s Bill Bozeman who said that "cybersecurity is the next big thing and the next big opportunity."

Chatted with Tyco IS’s Mark van Dover about facial rec/iris biometrics. They are in demand, he said. If a "clear winner" emerged "we could sell it all day long."

Got a briefing from Dror Irani at BriefCam about the new Sindex3.1. It can filter video seven ways and do it fast. The idea is that this will get more people in an enterprise using video. Irani also showed me a demo of the BriefCam app (just for consumers now) on a Flir camera. Video synopsis goes mobile for homeowners.

 

 

 

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On my way to the show floor for Day 1. First up is Axis Communications' press event.

Here's a photo of Women's Security Council "Women of the Year" winners from last night's event. Great crowd last night. Really well-done event, as always. Kudos to Rhianna Daniels Hile, CompassPR and the WSC. Congrats to the winners!

 

 

Preparing for tomorrow morning's 5 a.m. flight to Las Vegas, the beginning of a long day of meetings and receptions on April 14, the day before ISC West 2015 starts.

After a few meetings, I'll be at the SIA event at 5 at the "Encore Beach Club." I'm don't think the Encore has a crazy beach like the Mandalay Bay, but I did hear that this venue is outside--which is always nice. Then I'll be at the Women's Security Council Reception, which will take place from 5-7 at Delmonico's at the Venetian.

Make sure to stop by to say hi to Spencer, Amy and me at the "Meet the Editors" event (9:30 to 10 Wednesday, April 15 at the SSN/ISC West Media Studio--the big stage just outside the entrance to the show floor. You can't miss it.)

Also, remember to tweet your news and observations #ISCW15. Quality and quantity may win you a handsome "Top Twitterer of ISC West 2015." SIA won last year and has the plaque to show it. Check out the cool SSN Twitter Wall which will be close to the SSN/ISC West Media Studio.

Also, you still have time to sign up to run or walk the Security 5K/2K. Here's a link. Fresh air, networking, exercise, help Mission 500 make a difference in a child's life--this is a great event!

Check back here for ISC West News. I'll be updating this blog daily. And, my bet is something will break tomorrow, Tuesday, April 14.

ISC West 2015—The daily monitoring report

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Friday, Day 3

The last day, like the first, started off with a great meeting at the media stage. This time I met George De Marco, ESX chair, and talked about how the different ways booths look to bring in visitors, everything from booth design to attractions. 

Then I headed into the show floor for a meeting with Cliff Dice, company president and CEO, and Carol Enman, Dice SVP for strategic business. We talked a lot about the reception of Dice's cloud-hosted central monitoring software platform, now UL certified. "I actually thought there would be more resistance to it when we came out with it," Dice said, pleased with the positive reactions he's heard at the show.

Just after noon, outside the show floor, I did a video interview with Darryl Bray, sales manager for Security Central. We talked about the company's upcoming CSAA Five Diamond certification and increasing sales efforts.

I then went back in to the show to visit EMERgency 24's booth to hear about the partnership with BluePoint. I met with Patrick Devereaux, SVP of EMERgency 24; John Shales, partner at BluePoint; John McNutt, partner and CEO at BluePoint; and Terri Douglas, co-founder and principal at Catapult public relations firm.

My final meeting of this year's ISC West was with Larry Folsom, president of I-View Now, who told me about the company's latest integration with Honeywell's Total Connect.

I thought it was a great show. I look forward to hearing more from the people I met with, and seeing them at future shows.

Thursday, Day 2

Helping out at the Security 5k in Sunset Park was certainly not a bad way to start the day. It was sunny, with very little wind—all around a great day to get out for fresh air and a walk or run. On the ride back, I met Kevin G. Clark, global communications & PR for Genetec who was kind enough to point out some of Las Vegas' notable buildings along the strip for this new-comer.

One of the things I liked hearing from central stations at this show is what makes each of them stand out. My first show floor meeting of the day was with Acadian Monitoring Services, where I met with Jason Caldwell, national sales representative, Tim Newman, business development, and Kristin Hebert, security operations manager. "Where we really differentiate [ourselves] is our special focus on video monitoring and medical monitoring," Caldwell told me. The company also operates the second largest AES network in the country, according to Caldwell, which has seen a bit of growth lately. "We're seeing a lot of growth on that network now," with upwards of a thousand customer radios added recently, he said.

From there I went over to IDIS, one of the top 10 biggest booths at the show this year, to hear about what the company was doing with all the space. Right away, I met Benjamin Bryant, IDIS public relations consultant and Tara Farley, IDIS marketing and PR consultant. While at the booth, I was able to talk with a couple of people from 4sight imaging, one of IDIS' partners. Brook Jackson, managing director for 4Sight, and Marcus Boden, business development director,  talked with me about 4Sight's license plate recognition and gave me a demo. I also met with Young-Dal Kim, company CEO. 

Jens Kolind is the VP of external partnerships at Innovative Business Software. We spoke a couple of months back about SBN Cloud, the first UL-listed cloud-hosted monitoring automation platform. It was great to meet him and amazing to see what a UL central station could look like with SBN Cloud, below.

I met Kevin Helmig, president and CTO for Centra-Larm, and Scott Mailhot, VP of operations, not too long ago, but it was good to see them again and their first ISC West booth.

I circled back to the IDIS booth a little later, to talk with Keith Drummond, senior director of sales for IDIS America. He told that this event really signals the company's entrance to the American market, a key step in becoming a global company. While this regional launch was preceded by two others, UK and Middle East launches, the American extension of IDIS was planned before the first step outside of the company's native Asia region. Launching in America was a very strategic process, according to Drummond. "The one thing I'm letting people know is that we are here to stay." I got a chance to meet IDIS America president Andrew Myung on this second trip to the booth.

I briefly met Brett Springall, Security Central's CEO, at the media booth. He mentioned that the company has been increasing its sales team lately.

After that, I met with a.p.i. Monitoring's Lewis Jacobson, the company's director of dealer sales. He told me that a big thing for the company at this show is the release of their partnership with Numera's mPERS.

Monitronics' Bruce Mungiguerra, the VP of operations, told me that the company is moving to a new facility, 165,000 square feet large. This will be the consolidation of three different Monitronics buildings in the Dallas area under one roof. The new building will be three stories, which makes more sense for a central station than the current building's six floors. The new building is on a lake, with walking trails in the surrounding area, and two gym facilities. This will create "a campus environment that our employees can be proud of," he said.

One of the biggest things I heard about when talking with COPS Monitoring, is that the company is expanding in both staff and technology. In terms of staff, it is adding 30 dispatcher stations at its Florida center, with similar expansions planned for COPS' Tennessee and Arizona facilities, Jim McMullen, president and COO said. In technology, the company is upgrading its capacity to be able to handle as many as 3.4 million accounts. 

"We've been talking a lot about the econtract app" at the show, Michael Zydor, Affiliated Monitoring's managing director, said. Apps were the big thing this year, with a new end-user app, which takes functions from the company's previous end-user app and puts it into a newly made format, made much "simpler," according to Zydor.

Next, I met with Steven Schmit at UL to talk about new standards under the new version of UL827, published last Fall. Central stations will now need more redundancy and capablities and cybersecurity measures. This is the first time Cybersecurity has been directly involved in requirements, Schmit said. "Now with that in the standard we're going to have conversations about [central stations'] network security, how they keep their customers' data secure." The current plan is for these standards to be required by late 2016. I also met with Neil Lakomiak, director of business development and innovation, at the UL booth. Lakomiak and I talked about some of the other technologies that could see standards with UL, such as mPERS.

My final floor meeting was guided by Tiffany Coles, marketing manager for Bold Technologies. I started by talking with her and Chuck Speck, company president about the next version of its Manitou platform, Neo. From there, Tiffany and I walked over to White Rabbit's booth, where I met Rod Coles, White Rabbit's CEO, as well as Toby Prescott, White Rabbit's product engineer, and saw a demonstration of their products which are designed to lead DIY and home automation back to the central station.

After leaving the show floor, I attended Dynamark's party, held in the renaissance suite in the venetian—quite a view from the 36th floor. There, I met Trey Alter, president and CEO, and Hank Groff, senior VP of marketing and business development.

My final event for the day was to have dinner with Galaxy Control Systems at Carnevino in the Palazzo. It was nice to meet Rick Caruthers, company VP, and Luke Krawec, account executive with LRG Markerting. 

 

Wednesday, Day 1

As I've mentioned in previous blogs, this is my first ISC West show. Day 1 of the show went pretty well, from start to finish, I thought. I got the chance to finally meet some people in person whom I've talked to via phone about multiple times, like Christopher Denniston of Rapid Response and David Smith of COPS.

My day started with the "Meet the Editors" event at the media stage outside the show floor. Here I briefly met Jim McMullen, president and COO of COPS Monitoring. I also met two members of the CheckVideo team: Nik Gagvani, president and GM, and Ed Troha, director of marketing.

My first meeting on the show floor was with Christopher Denniston and Dan Gelinas of Rapid Response. Unlike every other person listed in this day's blog entry, Gelinas is one person I had met before, at Security Systems News' office in Yarmouth, Maine. I had a question on my mind for a couple of months; what is Rapid Response referring to in he company's ad which states that on "everything changes" on 4.15.15, today. When I met with Christopher Denniston, he told me that it referred to the company's new mobile apps for monitoring one or multiple PERS, updates on existing dealer and customer apps, as well as the increased redundancy in the company's relatively new California facility. The facility will be able to handle the company's entire account load at one time, he said.

All American's patriotic booth was the site of my second visit. The company decided to use ISC West 2015 to launch its My View brand of cameras specifically for its dealers. Bob Keefe, the company's president, told me that the company has spent a while testing the cameras. "We've been testing it with our sister company (EMG Alarm, a Florida-based installer), making sure the product was as good as we hoped it would be before we sold it to our dealers," Keefe said. I also met with Rob Keefe, company VP, and Tammy Zappa. Zappa said Bob Keefe is "constantly" looking for new items to offer dealers.

MKS's booth really represented part of its 30th anniversary changes, with the whole staff dressed in the company's new color scheme of orange and grey. I met with Bailey Bhogal, MKS' marketing specialist, Joe Ligouri, the CFO and COO, and Victoria Ferro, president. The company was recently awarded at the show. Ferro was named one of the 10 WSC Women of the Year on Tuesday. 

My last show floor meeting was with Alarm Monitoring Service, where I got the chance to meet Rick Jolet and Dera De Roche, the co-owners, as well as Bob Gates the company's VP of sales. Jolet is also the CEO, and Dera is the CFO. They talked to me about a few of the things that make their monitoring center unique. One thing that Dera pointed out was that the company has an answering service for its customers.

My evening was quite busy. After leaving the show floor, I went to Affiliated's cocktail reception in the lovely Lavo, in the Palazzo. Here I got a chance to meet Daniel Oppenheim, the company's vice president, Michael Zydor, the managing director, and Stanley Oppenheim, president of DGA Security.

From there, I went to the Bellagio's Hyde lounge for National Monitoring Center's annual event. I met with Michael Schubert, the president, Woodie Andrawos, the executive vice president, and Sharon Elder, NMC's vice president of sales. During my time at the event, I was lucky enough to catch the Bellagio's fountain show.

My final event for the evening, and Day 1, was COPS Monitoring's third annual "bonanza" at Gilley's in Treasure Island. Amidst good food, live music, and a bull-riding competition, I met Donavan Maden, the company's executive vice president, and David Smith, COPS' director of marketing.

Now I'm preparing for tomorrow's Security 5k!

 

Tuesday, before the show

After landing, my first meeting of the week was with Mike Bodnar, president of Security Partners, at the new facility—the next installment of On Location: Central Station. The station is brand new, having officially opened on Monday. There was certainly a "new" look to it, especially with slideshows of photos taken before and after the renovations. It was really interesting to hear from Bob Schott, Security Partners' director of information technologies, about items carried over from the buildings previous use as a government data center. I also met John McCann, who talked with me about the new line of exclusive Mace-brand products that Security Partners' dealers will be offering, among which is a diesel tank monitor. 

From there I attended Altronix's dinner, held at the DB Brasserie in the Venetian. Alan Forman, Altronix president, presented on the latest products from the company, including technology to monitor power supply. I also enjoyed meeting and talking to Kirby Han, Altronix Art Director and Rodney Thayer, a consultant with Smithee, Spelvin, Agnew & Splinge.

Prior to leaving

I'll be updating this page every day this week to stay current on my adventures at this year's ISC West. This is my first security trade show, and I'm looking forward to it. To hear about the future plans of central stations and monitoring companies, be sure to check back in!

ISC West 2015—My Day-by-Day Doings

 - 
Friday, April 10, 2015

Wrapping it up at ISC West 2015/Friday/Show Day 3

I put in a phone call to Jake Parker, SIA’s director of government relations, about every other month. Jake gives me the rundown on activities on Capitol Hill that have direct impacts on the physical security industry. I then report on those impacts for Security Systems News. Jake is an invaluable source for SSN, but I’ve never had the chance to meet him face-to face until now. We finally sat down together at ISC West and had a friendly conversation along with discussing a few security topics thrown in for good measure. Thanks for making the time, Jake!

I met with three execs from BeOn, CEO Alexei Erchak, COO Arvind Baliga and VP of marketing Mark Komanecky. I was so intrigued by their new “preventative security” technology that our meeting extended beyond the designated 30 minutes. The technology targets the “impulsive burglar.” BeOn’s unique lightbulbs, which fit into regular, existing sockets, “learn” homeowners typical movements—on a daily basis, when do they turn on, for example, the front porch light, the master bedroom light, the living room light?  After the learning process, the bulbs turn on to naturally make it look like someone’s at home when the house is empty. The bulbs also have a microphone function that will respond to the home’s doorbell and will progressively turn on lights as the owner would if he or she were upstairs and had to make their way downstairs to answer the door. Eventually, The microphone function can also trigger the sound of a dog barking, music playing and more.  A Kickstart company, BeOn’s focus is on reaching security-conscious homeowners who, nevertheless, have no desire to install a full-fledged home security system. Check back with SSN for more info on this interesting new company …

Things were still going strong when I took a final stroll around the show floor. For a Friday, the third day of the show, it was bustling. I hope you all had a good show, I know I did.

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'Thursday/Show Day 2

My workday started out by volunteering at the Mission 500 5K/2K run/walk and ended at the Mission 500 awards ceremony, always so inspirational. Congratulations to the fundraisers and race winners. Security Systems News is proud to be a sponsor of this annual, important charitable event that aids children in need.

I did three video interviews today, first with experienced industry pro Joel "Disruptive" Matlin, whose new resi company, Think Protection, is right on track to be up and running in June. Next up was Don Moore of Moore Protection, or, as I like to call him, resi provider to the stars. He serves high-end clients in the Los Angeles area, from movie studio bigwigs to celebrities to other million- and billionaires.My third video interview was with Margaret Spitznas, general manager of family-owned Washington Alarm, based in Seattle. Each of my video interviewees had unique perspectives on the industry. Stay tuned to the Security Systems News website to watch the videos. You’ll learn a lot.

During a visit to Alarm.com, Anne Ferguson, senior director, partner marketing, and Matthew Zartman, director of communications, told me about the company’s multi-faceted Partner Resources program, available to their 5,000 dealers. They also discussed the impact of home automation on their company. In previous years, dealers who had been in the business for a long time—those with physical security at their core—were hesitant to embrace the smart home, Ferguson said. But now, much to their benefit, they get it, she said. They know that if they don’t take home automation “to heart,” someone else will be installing those services to their customers over the next three years. Alarm.com dealers are hungry for training, which Alarm.com is happy to provide, she said. At the same time, Alarm.com is paying close attention to expanding beyond the home. For example, through their "wellness" offerings, they can connect a customer with an elderly parent’s residence. The customer would be able to see if your aging-in-place mother opened her medicine cabinet by a specified time and would get an alert if she didn’t, which might signify she didn’t take her medication on time as prescribed. Home automation has transformed the security industry, Ferguson and Zartman said, and the industry is in a great position to prosper.

Two years ago, Doug Farber, chief of security for the new World Trade Center complex, was one of our “20 under 30” winners. I spoke to him by phone a number of times, but due to work commitments—the construction project and its security implications were HUGE— he was unable to make it to that year’s TechSec conference to receive his award. A former Secret Service agent, Farber had impressed me with his passion for his job and his patriotism. Finally, finally, I got to meet him in person today. We talked about his challenges at such an emotion-ridden site—and we talked about his 9-month-old daughter! Doug is a great guy, a true patriot and professional, and I’m so glad we finally met up. Here’s to you, Doug! Keep doing what you’re doing so well!

At Genetec, I met with Andrew Elvish, VP marketing and product management, and Georges Karam, the new chief commercial officer. Genetec has so much going on. The company is growing, it’s introducing new products and is preparing to expand into market sectors it hasn’t broached before. Its Security Center upgrades and Cloud Link are on the cutting edge.

I did a spin around the show floor a couple of times during the day and was happy to see crowded booths and enthusiastic attendees, and this was even before the happy hours broke out! I’m interested to see the attendance data for ISC West 2015. Anecdotally, it’s been a very strong show.

I have a morning’s worth of appointments tomorrow, so stay tuned.

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Wednesday/Show Day 1

Home automation, device aesthetics, intuitiveness and ease of installation were recurring themes of the day as I made my way around the jam-packed show floor.

At Honeywell, Richard Conner, director of marketing for the SED Channel talked about the wireless trend for fire alarm systems. Requests for voice notification also have gone up, he said, along with making sure the devices look good. I also got demos of Honeywell’s Lyric and MAXPRO Cloud. Honeywell had a new booth design this year, with all of its products on interactive display in one big area, kind of like an Apple store. It looked great and was effective.

At the Nortek booth, Larry North, director of marketing, talked about the integration of 2Gig, GoControl and Linear products and how Nortek’s name change to Nortek Security & Control was a way to bring about cohesiveness and a closer relationship between the companies. Expect bundled, full-service sets from them in the near future along with PERS innovations down the road. Nortek’s booth had a new look this year, too, with all sister companies in one place. It also featured “A Day in the Life of Home Control.”

At the Z-Wave Alliance Pavilion, with nine member companies displaying their wares, alliance board member Avi Rosenthal also discussed home control. The ultimate goal is to have not just a connected home, but a true “smart home” that thinks for itself, he said. This is the year of industrial design, he said, with the focus on slick, European-style designs. “It’s the 'wife-acceptance' factor. She’s the one who decorates, so the devices must look cool on the wall,” he said. Form and functionality matter for all products, from sensors to switches to control panels.

Jim Vogel, VP of dealer services for ADT, said he’s excited by the company’s growth opportunities. He’s optimistic that the uptick in the housing market will mean more business for his company. (And its ad campaign featuring Ving Rhames hasn’t hurt a bit, either.) Pulse has taken off, he said, with 1.1 million ADT customers out of a total of 7.2 million using it. Meanwhile, ADT is “future-proofing” the Internet of Things, he said.

At OnGuard, product manager Brian Tripp had interesting info about intelligent elevators. In a high-rise apartment building, for example, a resident would swipe his access card, which would then identify which floor he needs to go to. The display would tell him which elevator car to take to make his ride up more efficient. That’s a win-win for both the user and for the building owner, who can cut costs by decreasing the time elevators are running up and down haphazardly. The user’s swipe also could alert his home automation system that the lights need to be turned on, thermostat needs to go up, etc.

I’d written about Icontrol’s new Icontrol One, designed for independent dealers, before, but I got to see it in action on Wednesday. Greg Roberts, VP of marketing, pointed out the usefulness of Icontrol One’s web portal, which allows the user to set up and revise the system, see alerts and easily find and watch video clips. “It’s a one-step stop for security for the entire home. The end user uses the web portal to do all,” he said. The portal, which is automatically updated so therefore doesn’t need to be refreshed, also offers the user a “home view” feature using the layout of his own home that shows the location of all the devices in the house and let’s the user monitor them from there. That feature also is available in 3-D. “Visual” people like that feature, he said. The system is intuitive, easy to install and, yes, its devices are especially designed to be aesthetically pleasing.

Mike Hackett, SVP sales and marketing for Qolsys, also emphasized the intuitiveness, ease of installation and good design looks of his Internet of the Home. Users—and installers— immediately understand and appreciate the value of the plug-in devices, he said. One feature that stood out for me was the easy way to change both the setting labels and voice instructions from English to French or Spanish. With two touches on the control panel all the information is translated. Dealers no longer have to figure out how many French or Spanish models they need to buy, Hackett said. It’s all in one.

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PRE-SHOW

Before the official kickoff of ISC West 2015, I spent Tuesday afternoon at the DMP Owners Forum and then attended the Women in Security Council reception and awards ceremony.

At the DMP forum, keynoter Patrick Thean spoke on "Rockefeller Habits: How to Differentiate, Execute and Win!" An international speaker and author, Thean is a serial entrepreneur who founded, among other companies, Metasys. He most recently co-founded and is CEO of Gazelles Systems and is the creator of Rhythm Software, designed to assist companies in setting and executing strategic plans for growth. There are three ways for companies to improve, he said: eliminate mistakes, shorten cycle times and improve business models. He also emphasized the importance of articulating core values and purpose and making sure the right people are in the right jobs. A strategy and execution plan should fit on one page, and that goes for companies that are startups all the way up to multimillion firms, he said. He provided attendees with a worksheet to help formulate those goals, create a leading indicator to drive results and a format to track progress. 

Next up was Deputy Chief Paul Calvaruso of the Akron, Ohio, Police Department, who talked about his recent experience instituting verified alarm response in his city. The department was facing layoffs due to budget constraints, and he knew it had to better manage its calls for service. Alarm response was "the low-hanging fruit," he said; he was looking at a 98.5 percent false alarm rate. For advice, he visited the Las Vegas P.D., which already was making use of verified response. He was told to include local alarm companies in his "campaign." He did so, and their advice was valuable, he said. Six months after Calvaruso got the program in place, 22 percent of the burglary and robbery alarms were verified and manpower hours were saved. He stressed that his department is "very supportive" of monitoring stations, which have a key role to play. Even if homeowners can get alarm alerts and video verification via smartphones, most don't have their phones available to them 24/7. Video verification is where the industry is headed, he said, and "I'm very glad we did it. I hope to continue to have good relationships with alarm companies. It's been a heck of a ride."

I then sat down with three dealers for an informal round-table discussion on their challenges and opportunities and how they differentiate themselves from their competitors, both big and small. Michael Hackett, president and CEO of Hackett Security in St. Louis, Mo.; John Bazyk, director of sales and marketing for Command Corporation in E. Granby, Conn.; and Dustin Reeves, sales manager for Blue Ridge Security Solutions in Anderson, S.C., had many good insights, which you can read about here. Teaser: Video verification will change the industry.

Early in the evening, there was a great and enthusiastic turnout for the Women in Security event. WSC director Rhianna Daniels Hile introduced the Women of the Year Award winners and encouraged attendees to spread the word about the good work that WSC is doing. She's always looking for sponsors for WSC, she added, so get in touch with her about that. 

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I'll be updating this post daily from ISC West, so please check back to find out who I met with, what cool technology I saw and how much money I lost on the slots. (OK, just kidding about the last one; I learned my lesson last year!)

10 named industry's Women of the Year

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

A diverse group of women, including high-placed executives and end users, are the recipients of the 2015 Women of the Year Awards from the Women’s Security Council.

Each was chosen from wide range of nominees, ranked on industry and work experience, volunteer roles within the industry and their communities and their reputation within the industry, according to a prepared statement from WSC.

“These impressive women … strive to make an impact not only in the field of security, but also in the business sphere and community-at-large,” Rhianna Daniels Hile, WSC director and CompassPR managing director, said in the statement.

The winners are:

Kristy Bradley-McMurtrie, director, safety and security, Conestoga College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning.

Ellen Cargill, chief technology office, Scallop Imaging.

Andrea Ferrando, industry vice president and show director, Expo Sequridad Mexico.

Victoria Ferro, president, Micro Key Solutions.

Christie Hamberis, vice president of merchandising, ScanSource Security.

Vivian Hodges, global procurement manager, Northland Control Systems

Barbara Holliday, director of dealer services, Monitronics.

Shannon Kenney, program manager, corporate security, emergency and protective services, City of Ottawa.

Irene Lam, vice president of research and development and engineering, Tyco Security Products.

Jill Lloyd, president, Lloyd Security

The winners will be honored at a networking reception from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday—the eve of the official opening of ISC West—at Delmonico’s at the Venetian in Las Vegas.

I’ll be there to congratulate these outstanding women in person, will you? Please say hello if you’re there!

 

Chico revises ordinance, stops fining alarm companies

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

In October, the City of Chico, Calif., passed an ordinance to fine alarm companies for false alarm dispatches. The California Alarm Association and SIAC responded, citing precedence in Fontana, Calif., where a similar ordinance was overturned. Now, the City of Chico has opted toward the standard action of fining alarm users for false alarms.

Jon Sargent in November told Security Systems News that SIAC remained available to help revise the ordinance.

SIAC is please with the outcome, Stan Martin, executive director for SIAC told me in an email interview.

Chico’s city council voted unanimously for the ordinance that fined alarm companies , and now it has voted unanimously to fine alarm users.

The new ordinance will fine alarm users $50 for the first false alarm, $100 for the second, and $200 for the third. The Chico Police Department can cease responding to repeat offenders, reported the Chico Enterprise-Record. The new ordinance also seeks alarm verification before dispatch.

The original ordinance proposed fining $100 to the alarm company after a first false alarm, and rising to $400 after consecutive false alarms.

“We are going to get a reduction in false alarms. That’s is what we wanted all along. If we get that, whether it’s the alarm user or the company, that is what we want,” Chico police Capt. Mike O’Brien said in the report. 

Is 4K so 2014? Avigilon turns it up to 7K

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Monday, April 6, 2015

Some pre-ISC West announcements today were led by news today from Avigilon that it will be showing a single-sensor 7K (30 megapixel) security camera in Las Vegas next week.

Last year every camera manufacturer and his brother unveiled, or announced intent to release, a 4K camera. Avigilon today announced that it will demo a 7K and release a 6K (24 megapixel) HD camera at this year's ISC West show. That's "horizontal resolution exceeding 7,000 pixels and more than 30 million total pixels." Avigilon already has 4K (8 megapixel) and 5K (16 megapixel) cameras.

Known for its mega-megapixel cameras, Avigilon has grown through a number of acquisitons beyond its HD surveillance roots to become an end-to-end provider of: HD network VMS, megapixel cameras, access control and video analytics. 

I have a request into Avigilon for an interview. I'm interested to find out when and where a 7K security camera might be useful, when Avigilon plans to actually release the 7K and how the price compares to other high-megapixel count cameras.   

The company said that the 7K camera uses power, bandwidth and storage efficiently when paired with its Avigilon Control Center software (which uses Avigilon's high definition stream managment technology.)

Avigilon will be at Booth # 22043 at the ISC West.

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