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Honeywell, Opower to empower homeowners

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

More and more homeowners are becoming familiar with smart meters, which utility companies are installing on homes to better monitor energy usage.

But now Honeywell is teaming up with Opower, an Arlington, Va. provider of energy information software, to create smart thermostats to help homeowners keep track of their energy use and save money. Here’s more from a press release that Opower released this week:

Honeywell and Opower announced plans to jointly develop energy management tools to help consumers cut their energy use and expenses. The companies will combine Honeywell’s expertise in residential automation and control systems with Opower’s industry-leading energy data analytics and customer engagement techniques to create intuitive, reliable and cost-effective technology that will provide energy savings in the home and across the entire electrical grid. 

Honeywell and Opower will initially launch a platform that includes a Web-connected programmable thermostat to help utilities boost energy efficiency programs, driving deeper savings in the home and maximizing return on investment. The technology will measure, analyze and report homeowners’ electricity use, including detailed information from the thermostat, which controls heating and cooling systems — equipment that accounts for almost 50 percent of all residential energy consumption.

 Utility customers will be able to access the data from a Web portal or mobile application to get a clear and comprehensive snapshot of their energy use and spending. The technology will also suggest and automatically implement cost-saving changes, and will present equivalent data from similar families in the same geography to provide a benchmark and additional context.

“Empowering consumers to adjust how they use electricity starts with awareness,” said  Jeremy Eaton, vice president of energy solutions for Honeywell. “But it doesn’t end there — they also need easy-to-use controls to implement changes and make them stick. We believe Honeywell and Opower will successfully combine information, motivation and control to help homeowners reduce energy consumption and costs.”

The companies plan to pilot the new product with select utility partners over the next few months.”



Illinois man faces 75 years in prison relating to allegedly illegal surveillance

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Facebook connection of mine recently posted a link to a YouTube video that got me all fired up. The video details the developing story of Michael Allison, an Illinois man who, in an attempt to protect himself and his aged mother from what he considered police harrassment, recorded police he felt were abusing their power. Allison now faces 75 years in prison because he had the audacity to record police whom he felt were misbehaving on his property. These police weren't even in public... they were on his (or his mother's) property and because Allison recorded their voices without their consent on his cell phone during the exchange, they're hitting him with five counts--based on some archaic laws on the books in Illinois--of felonious eavesdropping. It's a class 1 felony in Illinois and literally equates Allison, if convicted, as a felon as bad as murderers and rapists... Really? The police have nothing better to do?

So when I watched the video I got pretty fired up, given that surveillance is something I write about an awful lot, most recently compiling a sourcebook article on surveillance and civil liberties, with a focus on Chicago. I spoke with people from the municipal side in Chicago who maintained public surveillance was a necessity as well as folks from the ACLU, who claimed civil liberties were being infringed upon by surveillance in public.

Police, of course, are allowed to videotape citizens at will.

Ken Kirschenbaum has, in his email newsletter, delt in past with liability issues relating to surveillance, especially audio.

They Huffington Post has an interesting look at the Allison case as well, as does a site called Death & Taxes, which points out that the Allison case is pressing ahead "just days after the 1st District Court of Appeals upheld the right to record police actions in public in Glik v. Cunniffe."

I put out emails to the Chicago chapter of the ACLU as well as to some former police with whom I'm acquainted to see if anyone had any input. I've heard nothing back from the ALCU, but former police officer and Illinois Electronic Security Association president Chet Donati (DMC Security) got back to me with some input. He seemed a little surprised by what's going on in the Allison case.

"If what this guy asserts is true," Chet told me, "it seems like they're taking the law to an expensive and unnecessary extreme."

Chet has spoken with SSN a lot lately, for stories about his trials and tribulations with former IESA executive director Marsha Kopan as well as in regards to the association's ongoing battles with local fire districts.

This is certainly an interesting and messed up story. I'd love to get your opinion. Do you think citizens should have the right to record police in public or in private? Do you think Michael Allison needs to be put away in federal prison with rapists, murderers and thieves for the remainder of his life because he had the gall to record police pushing him and his mother aroundwithout their permission? Are anti-eavesdropping laws archaic? Or are they defensible?

Let me know your thoughts.

More security videos and SSN returns to Texas!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Avid readers of this blog will recall when SSN associate publisher Gregg Shapiro and I went on an adventure down to Texas last year. It was a blast and we met with a lot of security folks! I got a lot of copy out of that trip and learned a lot as well. Part of what we were traveling down there for was a dealer fishing trip put on by NMC. This year, Gregg and I had another adventure driving from the airport to our hotel in Charlotte, N.C. for ESX. Me, Gregg and his haughty English sounding GPS device cruisin' the streets of Charlotte. Awesome.

Just recently, Gregg again traveled down to Texas and checked out a cool event UCC was having for its dealers, a dove hunt. Now, unfortunately, I was unable to attend, but Gregg did manage to capture some pretty awesome video of UCC president Teresa Gonzalez and a number of other UCC employees rockin' the house with a UCC-themed rewrite of John Mellencamp's R-O-C-K in the USA.

Here're some of the specifics: It was the 8th Annual UCC Dove Hunt Extravaganza during which UCC hosted over 150 folks, representing about 80+ dealers from across the country from Pennsylvania to California. The program began with tours of UCC’s San Antonio center on Thursday, September 8. A dinner sponsored by DSC and SGI was hosted that evening at the Alsace Hotel & Spa in Castroville, Texas and the hunt then took place at the Nooner Ranch in Hondo, Texas on Friday, followed by a bbq dinner and music. Including the special performance by Team UCC.

I've written about security videos before. I always like seeing bits of footage caught or created by the security peeps about whom I write.

Rock on UCC!

Cash raised & new brass at AlertEnterprise & VideoIQ

Monday, September 12, 2011

More cash and new top brass were added by two suppliers in the past week.

This morning I was working on a story out of California, about a software company, AlertEnterprises, raising $19m and appointing a new high-profile board member, when I got a press release from VideoIQ about $7.5m in new funding and a new CEO.

There were whispers last week about VideoIQ—a venture-backed producer of IP cameras and encoders with on-board storage and built-in self-calibrating analytics based in Bedford, Mass.—getting a new CEO, and this morning the video surveillance company officially announced that Ed Bednarcik has replaced Scott Schnell as CEO.

Bednarcik is experienced in getting companies ready for IPOs,  according to a press release, Most recently, he led Write Line out of Worcester, Mass., which was sold to Eaton Corp. in August of 2010. The release says Bednarcik was “an early employee of A123 Systems” and notes that A123 “was the largest IPO on the NASDAQ in 2009.”

I spoke to former CEO Scott Schnell back in May about an integration VideoIQ did with Software House, and while I didn’t write about it in the story, Schnell talked a lot about recent growth at PE-backed VideoIQ.

Here are some of my notes from that call: “VideoIQ tripled the run rate it had a year ago,” Schnell said. “Our largest customers a year ago had dozens of customers, our largest customers today have hundreds of cameras.” The company’s “huge uptick in business” he said has been helpled along by the introduction of its HD, he said. The company is big in three verticals: critical infrastucture, education and corporations, notably in banking. Schnell also said that the company does 25 percent of its business outside of the U.S.

I have a call with Ed Bednarcik today and will have something for the newswire on Thursday.

Meanwhile, out on the West Coast, in Fremont, Calif., AlertEnterprise, a software company designed for critical infrastructure, got a $19 million infusion from Kleiner Perkins, Caufield & Byers. KPCB has invested in 3VR and iControl out in the Bay Area. KPCB managing partner,Ray Lane, is now on AlertEnterprises’ board of directors. Lane is also the non-executive chairman of the board of HP.

AlertEnterprise’s software combines PSIM-like capabilities with identity management and adds a third capability—industrial control systems. This third capability also helps the end user adhere to with government compliance standards, Pan Jamal of AlertEnterprise told me on Friday.  

From the release: “AlertEnterprise delivers true prevention of theft, fraud and acts of terrorism against critical infrastructure by analyzing and instantly responding to risks from blended threats across IT Systems, Physical Access Control Systems and Industrial Control Systems.”

More about this in a story this week. I’ll also be meeting Jasvir Gill, AlertEnterprise CEO at ASIS next week.


Provident heads to the mountains

Monday, September 12, 2011

Whistler, B.C. came onto the radar of many Americans last year, when the beautiful Canadian mountain resort played host to the 2010 Winter Olympics.

But the community has been on the radar of Vancouver, B.C.-based Provident Security for several years. A number of its Vancouver clients have vacation homes in Whistler—less than two hours from Vancouver—and those customers wanted Provident to provide services to them in that community as well. To do that, according to Provident founder and president Mike Jagger, “we have worked closely with Dow Security, a local Whistler company." Dow provided alarm response service and emergency service for alarm systems on Provident's behalf, Jagger said.

Now, Jagger announced in his company blog last week, Provident on Aug. 31 purchased Dow, which will be rebranded as Provident Security (Whistler) Corp. before the end of the year.

“We saw a lot of potential in Whistler,” Jagger told me this morning. We talked about this new venture by Provident out of the city and into the mountains—a first for the 15-year-old company—and what it means for Provident, and I’ll be writing more about that this week. Stay tuned to our web site!


Honeywell announces new dealer opportunity

Friday, September 9, 2011

Honeywell announced this week that its portfolio of VISTA Series residential and commercial security systems is now certified by home automation provider Control4. Home automation integrators and security dealers can now integrate products from both companies to create “connected homes.”

Just what does that mean to dealers? Jonathan Klinger, VP of marketing, Honeywell Security & Communications, explained that in a prepared statement.

“The last couple of years have witnessed an exponential rise in consumer demand for home automation and control systems, many of which include security as a key element of the solution. This presents a tremendous opportunity for Honeywell security dealers to deliver more value to homeowners, differentiate themselves from competitors and close more business,” he said. “The integration of Honeywell’s VISTA series with Control4 provides our channel partners and their customers with a best-of-breed solution that will help them make the most of this opportunity.”

Here’s more from the press release issued by the Melville, N.Y.-based Honeywell:

The certification assures seamless interoperability between Honeywell’s range of VISTA security systems and the Control4 ecosystem of devices. More specifically, Honeywell VISTA is the only security system able to exchange zone descriptors with the Control4 home automation system, significantly improving the efficiency of the installation process. The Control4 platform gives homeowners the ability to automate and control a broad range of devices including security systems, HVAC, lighting and home entertainment systems from a number of interfaces including keypads, smartphones, touchscreens, tablets and TVs. 

“Security is a critical element in the vast majority of connected homes,” said Jim Arnold, Control4 senior vice president of sales. “Honeywell’s VISTA series is a significant addition to Control4’s ecosystem of certified products. It increases the depth and breadth of security offerings our dealers can provide their customers.” Honeywell security dealers interested in offering Control4 technology or aligning themselves with a Control4 dealer should email Control4 dealers should call 1-800-852-0086 to be aligned with a Honeywell security dealer. For more information, visit



More specifiers expected at ISC Solutions

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I learned recently that Reed Exhibition is expanding the scope of ISC Solutions to include an educational program for security specifiers as well as networking opportunities for security specifiers to get together and discuss business with integrators and end users.

Sounds like a very smart idea.

Ray Coulombe, founder and managing director of, signed a deal with Reed and is designing the educational component. Coulombe is an industry veteran and entrepreneur who started a little more than a year ago.

Reed intends to offer the same security specifier-specific education and networking options at ISC West.

At Security Systems News, we’ve expanded our coverage to include more coverage of specifiers in many of our stories, notably in a monthly column where we do a Q & A with a specifier.

Specifiers are an important piece of the security puzzle. As Coulombe says, they “influence an estimated $4 billion in security product sales annually.” And the more communication and contact integrators and manufacturers have with specifiers the better. Kudos to Reed and Coulombe for taking the lead on this effort.

Look for a full story about the deal and the educational program this week. In the meantime, here’s a link with more information.


Pelican takes Bayou under its wing

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pelican Security Network has a new member: Bayou Security Systems, a 30-year-old life safety services and property protection provider based in Shreveport, La.

Baton Rouge, La.-based Pelican is a nationwide alliance of independently-branded life safety and security services providers, fire alarm companies, systems integrators and electrical contractors.

The announcement was made Tuesday, Sept. 6, by Davis Mergers and Acquisitions Group of Long Grove, Ill., which said it represented Bayou in the transaction.

Here are some details from the release, and I’ll be calling the companies to find out more:

This addition of several thousand subscribers helps expand the footprint for Pelican in the Ark-La-Tex Region in and around Shreveport, the home of two of its three primary investors.

“I am very pleased that under the Pelican plan, Bayou Security will continue to be managed as it always has in the past, as a locally owned and operated company,” said Rebecca Norton, [Bayou] General Manager.

“In addition, under the altruistic guidance of Richard Norton III, the recently deceased founder of Bayou Security, the Company was not only known for its technological advancements and customer service, but also for its community and philanthropic activities. For these reasons, the Bayou transaction is a very special undertaking on our part,” said Louis Resweber, Founder, President and COO of Pelican.



ESX reaches $1m milestone

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

So I got this news from ESA and CSAA the other day. Apparently ESX, which touts itself as the only trade show owned by the industry and existing for the benefit of the industry, has raised north of $1 million for the associations since the show's inception in 2008. That's pretty cool news, given the state of the economy over the last several years.

ESA and CSAA have funneled all that money back into the industry in the form of funding for more education and more legislative initiatives, and public relations to benefit integration and monitoring companies.

ESA president Dom D'Ascoli was clearly pleased with the milestone. From the relase:

In addition to providing invaluable education, networking and vendor contact for our member companies, ESX is an important source of funding for ESA. The event has generated substantial funds for ESA during a time of general economic headwinds and has helped the association expand and improve its services.

CSAA prez Ed Bonifas also chimed in on the accomplishment.

CSAA is thrilled to be an owner and sponsor of ESX, and is proud of all that it does for the industry. Its profitability for the associations in every year since its launch is a testament to the event’s quality and structure.

I spoke with Ed just the other day about the current state of the ASAP-to-the-PSAP program and how the automated data transfer protocol faired during the natural disasters--the rare East Coast earthquake and Hurricane Irene.

John Galante, president of AE Ventures, producer of the ESX show was also excited by the news and hopeful of what it meant for the future.

AE Ventures is proud to produce an event that helps fuel industry growth through the programs of CSAA and ESA. All parties are committed to producing a growing, high quality event and making sure the industry is the principal beneficiary of its success.

ESX will be return to its roots in Nashville, Tenn for the next two installments.



NFSA: ‘We will NEVER forget!’

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

As the 10th anniversary of 9/ll approaches this Sunday, the thoughts of the nation turn to the events of that terrible day.

John Viniello, president of the National Fire Sprinkler Association, has gone further than most. He wrote his thoughts down into a song and sings it in a video that you can view on YouTube.

You also can link to it through the NFSA web site, which posted the video. Here’s what the NFSA had to say:

In honor of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, NFSA is proud to present this video. The song was inspired not only by the tragedy and insurmountable loss of life, but by the bravery and undaunted will of the firefighters, police, EMS workers and all volunteers who persisted in the effort to search for survivors, help the injured and clean up the horrible aftermath. We will NEVER forget!”