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Following up on the Detroit verified response issue

Thursday, August 25, 2011

So I blogged last week about Detroit's decision--effective Monday, Aug. 22--to no longer respond to unverified alarms. I wrote a story last year about the city working cooperatively and successfully with SIAC to enact an ECV policy, an outcome the guys at SIAC called a victory given that the alternative was a much more severe verified response policy.

Well, less than a year later here we are stifling that sigh of relief as Detroit goes ahead and enacts the tougher of the two options.

What's the difference you might ask between ECV and VR?

Both aim to reduce needless police dispatch by requiring the alarm company to take certain actions before calling the police to dispatch to the alarmed premise. However, ECV doesn't require visual (either in person or via video) or auditory proof of a  break in or crime in progress. It only requires more than one call to multiple numbers be made to ascertain if the alarm activation was accidental or not. Verified response is something I've written about numerous times, covering companies like Cernium, RSI, Sonitrol, and Provident.

Since I wrote that blog about Detroit's move to a more strict policy, I've reached out to and heard back from SIAC, have picked up some chatter about the policy change on the ACCENT Listsrv and have left voice mails with the Detroit PD.

Here's what some are saying on ACCENT:

From Mike Riley (


In case you had not heard Detroit has instituted a new policy for burg disp.

Details attached (If Accent will allow a pdf attachment) however in short Detroit will only respond as follows:

1) Someone has confirmed from the premise that the PD are required

2) Remote video or audio verification that PD are required

3) Multiple Alarm Trips

A) 1 Perimeter AND 1 interior alarm activation,

B) 3 or more interior trips.

If either of these are cause for a dispatch an email with alarm activity is supposed to be sent to a specific address @ DPD. "Upon receipt of a verified alarm, the EC shall immediately enter the information into the CAD system for police response."

If the attachment doesn’t work and you would like a copy email me and I will send it.

I've got that letter from the DPD to alarm companies right here. It explains their policy and gives you a contact at the DPD for further questions. His name's Commander Todd Bettison. I've spoken with him before. He's a good guy who's willing to talk. Shoot him an email or give him a call at 313-596-5402.

Jeff Smith ( had the following to say about changes in Detroit:

You also can get updated information as it happens at:

The Burglar and Fire Alarm Association of Michigan as well as SIAC is actively working on this and hopefully either repeal it or have the policy at least rethought. It creates a public safety issue with alarm owners having to respond to their own alarms. There is of course the guard response possibility, but getting people to pay for that or even put in cameras to verify that there is a crime is an expensive endeavor for most.

I can affirm that SIAC is still at work in Detroit since executive director Stan Martin got back to my inquiry right away:

Dan, Yes we're still working Detroit. But it is a very tough situation. Right now they are enforcing the policy change and I do believe they are putting citizens at unnecessary risk by not allowing a longer period of transition. We've appealed to the mayor to work with us, restore response and let us bring to fruition a plan we set in place over a year ago... that includes an ordinance that would provide $2million plus in revenue to the city while continuing to reduce alarm dispatches. We're confident that we can achieve 60-80% in those dispatches, targeting the chronic abusers and not the 80% of the systems that have one or less dispatches per year.

We recognize Detroit has serious issues and want to work with them. There are no plans for any alarm industry coordinated efforts to throw gasoline on this volatile situation by stirring up the alarm customers. Every alarm company has an ethical if not contractual duty to notify their customers of this change and give them options. SIAC does not recommend inflammatory rhetoric be included in that communication, only the facts and options.

Sounds like good advice: cooperation is always best.

Back over to ACCENT. Bob Dolph expresses concern about having alarm company employees or end users showing up to verify alarms.

Is the public aware that the PD is requiring that a civilian stay on location once they have reported the crime?  Sound very dangerous to me.

Having alarm company personnel respond to the facility is crazy. I remember a similar requirement in Milwaukee many years ago. The alarm company did not hold a key most of the time, but still had to show up. Police would ask why I was there and I said because you said I had to be. They would ask me to open up the premises and I would simply say I do not have a key. There were several times that I accidentally walked in to a police shotgun. What are they thinking?

As we all know there are model ordinances that can reduce false alarms. Maybe some day they will listen to the security professionals. NOT!!

In my early years in the industry we had a police department complain about false alarms. In a meeting with them I simply asked, If all alarms systems were turned off and you had to have a police officer on every street corner, how many extra personnel do you think you would have to hire? Sometimes they have to remember the overall public service alarm systems provide.


I've written about this before. Having end users respond to alarms is ludicrous. I interviewed Mike Jagger last year for a market trends piece I did on alarm verification.

Sending a client to investigate their own alarm is both dangerous and stupid. Sending the Police to respond to every alarm is both stupid and a colossal waste of taxpayers' money. Nevertheless, thousands of times a day, alarm companies do both. This isn't a two option only situation. There are many ways to provide safe and efficient verification, either using properly trained guards providing immediate response or using technology. Either option works. At some stage, alarm companies need to take responsibility for the service that is being provided and acknowledge that professional response, or at least technical verification, is an essential part of providing a real service. Sending a client into a potentially dangerous situation is half-assed. Collecting money for it is worse. Using it as an example as to why Police departments should fund our service delivery model is criminal.

Strong words? Maybe, but aren't they (at least a little) true? Mike also spoke with SSN editor Martha at ISC West last year and explained that proactive verification and could be a real opportunity to increase positive contact with end users on a regular basis. Regardless of how you view it, change is coming.

I'll update or add a new post when and if I hear back from the DPD.

Managed video company says good first half bodes well for managed services

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I saw a release online the other day from Envysion. They were touting some impressive growth they've seen in the first half of 2011.

I've spoken with Envysion's vice president of product and marketing Carlos Perez on the phone a number of times as well as in person at trade shows. He's a good guy with a passion for what he does.

Of the growth Envysion has seen this year, Carlos told me he thought it boded well, not just for his company, but for the whole managed services ecosystem:

We’re proud of our success in the first half of 2011. We believe our tremendous growth is not only reflective of differentiated power and value of Envysion’s MVaaS solution but also signals an accelerating pace of adoption for managed solutions overall and is recognition of the impact managed solutions can deliver.  We have believed all along that Managed Video as a Service will be a disruptive force and will change the way customers use and think about video.   MVaaS puts easy-to-use, video based business intelligence into the hands of an entire organization so they can make profit impacting changes in their day-to-day jobs and breaks the legacy model of only using video reactively when incidents occur.  Over the last six months we’ve seen increasing evidence of this market disruption, particularly as large enterprises continue to chose our MVaaS solution over traditional video products.  

When last I spoke with Carlos, he was telling me all about the Managed Video Summit they do. They had their second outing with that in June, just prior to ESX.

The third installment is planned for next year.

The release I saw online runs with the headline: "Envysion Reports Exceptional 1st Half of 2011 Delivering 70% Growth in Recurring Revenue." I thought that sounded pretty impressive. From the Envysion release:

“2011 has already been a phenomenal year for Envysion, having signed large deals with Cinemark, By the Rockies and several other new customers. We now have the largest MVaaS deployments in the restaurant, retail and cinema segments, further demonstrating the broad applicability of our MVaaS solutions and the tremendous impact we deliver for our customers. We are excited to continue this growth and further expand the MVaaS market,” says Matt Steinfort, president and CEO of Envysion. “During the first six months of the year we also witnessed incredible market validation, both for the industry and specifically for Envysion with the success of our second annual Managed Video Summit, partnerships with major industry players and recognition from industry awards.”

The release then goes on to list some of the restaurant, cinema and retail clients it has picked up in the last year:

In the first half of 2011, Envysion continued to realize strong growth in the restaurant segment, while also rapidly expanding into the cinema and retail segments. The company’s exceptional growth is highlighted by several large new customers, including:

* Industry leading big box retailer selected Envysion and will immediately begin an enterprise-wide deployment of the Envysion Insight solution to more than 1,200 retail locations

* By the Rockies, LLC, the second largest franchisee of Carl’s Jr.   and Hardee’s, selected the Envysion Insight solution for all 100+ of its locations

* Cinemark USA selected Envysion as its MVaaS provider and began initial rollout

* Garden Fresh Restaurant Corp., operator of 120 restaurants under the Sweet Tomatoes and Souplantation brands, selected Envysion Insight as its exclusive video solution

* Wireless City, a Premium Retailer for Verizon Wireless selected Envysion as its exclusive video provider for all locations

* Wireless Express, one of the largest Preferred Retail partners of Sprint with 50+ retail locations, selected Envysion for a complete enterprise rollout

It certainly looks like Envysion is growing, adding prominent end user clients.

I also wrote a while back about Envysion's Insight Marketplace.

The release mentions a partnership with Sony that came out of the second annual summit, as well.

it's probably a good sign for folks in the video monitoring segment that more and more businesses are seeing the value in live video monitoring as opposed to video documentation via a DVR. I've written in the past about the difference between video verification services and true video monitoring companies.

New ISP group to host webinar

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Installation and service professionals: Listen up. A new one-of-a-kind group formed just for you is about to hold its first webinar.

I’ve written before about the Installation & Service Professionals Group, one of two new groups formed earlier this year by the Electronic Security Association. The ISP group, which the ESA says is the first of its kind, and the Sales & Marketing Professionals Group held their inaugural meetings this June at the ESX show in Charlotte.

Now, the ISP group is holding a webinar on Wed., Sept. 14 at 2 p.m. to discuss the results of a research survey that was conducted earlier this year. Sounds like some valuable information will be discussed.

Here’s more from the release:

This survey reveals relevant information about standard installation and service practices of ESA member companies and helps identify areas that are most important to ESA members in everyday business.

The survey also benchmarks ESA companies against peer companies in areas such as skills assessment, training, technician certification, productivity, labor management and information system solutions for the installation and service disciplines.

Led by Mark Grossman, vice president, branch operations, ASG Security, Beltsville, Md. (chair); and Trevor Block, vice president of field operations, Guardian Protection Services, Warrendale, Pa. (vice chair), the ESA ISP serves system design, installation and service staff of security integration companies, including vice presidents, directors and managers of installation and service and other leaders.

To register for the ISP webinar, go to Membership in ISP is free for employees of ESA member companies. For more information, contact Jaclyn Sion at or call (888) 447-1689.






Pro 1 acquires for the second time this year

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Earlier this year, Protection 1 made what it termed an exponential expansion of its national accounts business when it acquired more than 2,000 commercial security monitoring accounts from Las Vegas-based Sting Alarm.

Now, Protection 1 announced this week, it has acquired nearly 3,000 residential customers from Provo, Utah-based ICON Home Security.

“When we find an opportunity to grow our market share that makes sense, we’re going to take it,” Protection 1 president and CEO Tim Whall said in the Aug. 16 press release.

I’ve got a call in to Romeoville, Ill.-based Protection 1—one of the nation’s major providers of electronic security—to learn more about what this means for the company.


Detroit no longer responding to unverified alarms

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I picked up on a news story the other day from The Detroit Free Press about the city's new policy--effective Monday, Aug. 22--of no longer responding to alarms that aren't verified by the alarm system owner or the monitoring company.

Of course, verification is something I've written a lot about, covering stories from companies like RSI Video Technologies (avid readers know that I field a lot of calls from RSI's Keith Jentoft), Sonitrol, and Provident Security that have a strong verification aspect to their business model. In fact, shortly after seeing the Detroit Free Press story, I picked up a tweet from Provident's main man Mike Jagger. I've talked with Mike about his company's business model of private response to all alarms for verification purpose before. Mike said in his tweet he thinks that all municipalities should stop responding to unverified alarms.

I wrote about Detroit going to an ECV policy late last year. That policy was drafted with help from SIAC. ECV requires a second phone call to a different number to help determine if an emergency exists. This new change in policy is what SIAC had hoped to avoid last year. The new verified response policy states that the DPD will no longer respond to an alarm unless it is verified by the alarm company by private response or by technological means (video or audio) that there is actually a crime in progress.

From the Free Press story:

'We at the police department are working hard to serve the citizens; however, nowadays we have to rely more on technology to help solve our problems because we're not getting any more resources,' said Detroit Police Cmdr. Todd Bettison.

'Our main goal is to respond to crime, and if we can utilize modern technology, then so much the better. We feel very passionate about this,' Bettison said. 'We've been looking at this for a long time and from what we've observed this is definitely the way to go. Verified response will take us to the next level.'

Citing a U. S. Department of Justice report, a department press release said verified response is a reliable practice toward eliminating waste and improving police service. Since 1991, approximately 30 police departments in the U.S. and Canada have adopted the policy, including Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Milwaukee and Madison, Wis., and Fremont, Calif.

Godbee said verified response will result in significant time savings for police, allowing more time for preventive policing activities while freeing officers to respond to higher priority calls.

Video Security Monitoring of Oak Park is among a handful of local companies that already offer video verification. The company issued a news release Monday touting its service.

Sounds like strong advocacy for video and audio (or private guard) verification of alarms.

I've got emails out to the guys over at SIAC to see what the word is there.

Interface lands huge retail deal

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Interface Security Systems has landed a huge deal where it will provide managed cloud services for 9,500 Dollar General stores—the entire retail store network. I wrote a story last month about Interface’s being certified as an “Advanced Managed Services Channel Partner by Cisco” which means that Cisco value-added resellers across the country would be introducing Interface to its customers.

Interface’s Secure Managed Cloud Services for Dollar General includes Wide-area Network Management, PCI Compliance, Wireless Access Management, IP Alarm System Monitoring, IP Video Surveillance, and Interface Digital Voice.

Interface’s Secure Managed Broadband, a wide-area network design has redundant, high-speed network connections for failover and business continuity.


“What Interface delivers for any single location or a large organization like Dollar General is the economy of vendor consolidation. Interface offers a single point for billing and support,” said Michael Shaw, CEO of Interface in a statement.

I’ll be interviewing Shaw and Robert Aranda, IP Division President of Interface, today, so I’ll have a story on the deal online soon.

LifeShield targets B&B security market

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What’s popular? What’s new? LifeShield Security seems to pay close attention to what’s hot in popular culture and leverage that to promote itself. LifeShield is a wireless digital home security system that’s self-installed and professionally monitored.

I blogged about a couple examples of this earlier this year. In 2010, LifeShield, based in Yardley, Pa., announced that it had brought on NFL Hall of Famer Dan Marino as an investor and to help market its product on TV. Then, in January, the company announced it had added John Timoney—“America’s Top Cop”—as an advisor to help the company and customers protect against burglars with the aid of Timoney's inside knowledge of criminals’ minds.

Now, LifeShield's latest venture is to piggyback on the popularity of Airbnb, an Internet "bed-and-breakfast" service though which people can rent rooms or homes for vacations or other short-term stays from private home and apartment owners. LifeShield is offering a free home security camera promotion to Airbnb landlords.

The three-year-old Airbnb is tremendously popular and has experienced rapid growth. But it received a lot of negative press this summer after two separate claims that renters had heavily vandalized places they rented. Now, according to news reports, Airbnb is offering such safeguards as $50,000 in property insurance for landlords.

At the same time, LifeShield announced Aug. 11 that it will give free home security cameras to Airbnb users to help prevent renter theft and damage to residences.
The first 5,000 Airbnb users to call 877-874-4640 will get the cameras. The company also said it will give away free home security cameras to Airbnb users who sign up for LifeShield’s home security monitoring service.

Here’s more from the press release:

LifeShield’s next generation home security system offers sophisticated encrypted wireless technology that allows for easy set-up, a significantly lower up front cost and free, customizable monitoring options. The free wireless HomeView Camera will allow Airbnb users to view snapshots or video clips via the web or mobile phone. Users can also program specific triggers to take snapshots or even store images online to view later.

“LifeShield helps to safeguard a home on the inside as well as from outside intruders – which is critical for any type of landlord. Airbnb provides an outstanding and valuable service to its users, and LifeShield is a great complement to it – the ability for users to protect their most valuable assets,” said Mike Hagan, CEO, LifeShield. “Airbnb users need to prepare themselves in case they get one of those few bad apples who might temporarily rent their home but who have no real respect for the property itself or the personal items within it. A text message can be sent any time an off-limits cabinet or door is opened – so they can know the exact moment their agreement with that renter has been compromised. For instance, if a tenant has an unauthorized party with 100 people, they’ll know about it in real time – and can retrieve the camera snapshots or video clips of party guests for proof.”



Private industry pays for municipal video surveillance cameras

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

So I picked up this somewhat interesting article via SIA's Daily Update email (which is pretty cool--you can sign up for your edition here). They picked up a story from a local Allentown, Pa. paper, The Morning Call. That paper was carrying a story on municipal video surveillance, which is something I've written about before.

I'm interested in video, surveillance, analytics, biometrics, access control--oh and robots and flying cars--and all that other stuff that brings us closer to a sci-fi-ish future.

According to the story, the city had leveraged government money to put up 97 municipal "blue light cameras," so named for their adjoined, flashing blue, cruiser-like lights to watch city streets. However, that money is now drying up and the city is turning to the private sector--area businesses to chip in and cover the cost of adding more.

A little surprisingly to me, some businesses are down with the expense and are ponying up.

"Capital Blue Cross became the first company to chip in, paying the city $16,670 to install a blue-light camera at Hamilton and Jefferson streets, across from its 1221 Hamilton St. offices, near its employee parking lot," the story reads.

That's pretty cool. Here's a business that understands the value in municipal monitoring and is working with the city for the benefit of its own employees as well as law enforcement and the general citizenry.

I did an extensive piece on municipal video surveillance in our 2011 Video Surveillance Sourcebook. Specifically, I looked at privacy concerns and whether or not a proliferation of municipal cameras could stave off crime. Some have said no, but the statistics from Allentown seem to say otherwise.

The cameras have reduced crime in areas where they have been installed, mostly by pushing it into un-monitored areas, said Assistant Police Chief Daniel Warg. For example, a chronic drug market at the corner of Sixth and Turner streets evaporated when the city installed a camera there, he said.

There's no way to prove the cameras prevent violent crime, but in 2010, the city recorded nine murders, the lowest number since 2002 and less than half the record 21 killings that took place in 2007, the year Allentown installed its first surveillance cameras.

Let's hope more communities start this kind of privately funded municipal program. Seems to me it would mean improved industry/municipality relations, businesses more invested in their communities, safer streets for citizens and probably increased work for local integrators and monitoring companies.


Will Ackerman acquire soon?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ackerman Security announced today that it’s opened a new, 32,000-square-foot headquarters in Atlanta. The facility is three times bigger than the former headquarters and includes “a state-of-the-art demonstration center where visitors can see the newest security technology up close and personal. Examples include alarm systems that allow home and business owners to manage their security systems via web-enabled devices like smartphones, and touchscreen keypads that simplify operation and incorporate home automation.”

In business since 1967, Ackerman Security Systems does residential and commercial security a Five Diamond, UL-listed central station.

Ackerman has 70,000 customers and employs 258. The announcement said the company will increase its workforce by 25 percent in the next year, according to the release.

Sounds like Ackerman may have acquisitions in mind. I have a call into Jim Callahan, and will let you know what I find out.

Winging my way to Venice!?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Yeah, I wish... Unfortunately, it's not in the budget. Of course my headline alludes to the upcoming CSAA Annual meeting. I've heard all about them and read all about them and, of course, written about them, but I've not had the opportunity to go yet. (If anyone has room in their luggage, I'm not a large man... I'd probably fit in a carry-on ;-))

I spoke last year with Keith Jentoft from RSI Video Technologies. He told me at the time, that last year's move back to the states (last year was in the Greater Tucson area—a real favorite of mine) after being in Greece the year before, was an effort on CSAA's part to be sensitive to its mostly financially strapped (given the economic climate) constituents. Keith said he thought the cost issue wasn't really all that relevant, though.

“I think the CSAA is doing its level best to be responsive to its members—and carry out their mission. In these economic times ‘perception’ often is reality, whether or not it is true. I don’t really think the cost difference between exotic/local is as significant as people think. It is more perception,” Keith told me last year. “I think that alternating between something more exotic and something less exotic is a good compromise and will be effective in today's environment. I think that the fact that the CSAA is willing to adjust and make changes based upon input from their members demonstrates that Ed Bonifas and the board really do want to serve their members and listen to what they say.”

I also spoke with Keith the year before in '09 when the Annual Meeting was in Greece. He really hit the importance of the meeting (and I've heard this from a few different people over the years...)

"What’s cool about this is that you get all the AHJs in one place ... The most important people there are the AHJs. you’ve got the president APCO—the 911 people. etc., you can just ride the bus with these guys. if you’re an integrator, you can get your views heard," Keith told me on location from Greece in '09.

Anyway, the whole reason I bring this up is that the most recent edition of CSAA's Signals wants you all to know that early bird pricing for the Venice trip is due to expire next Friday, Aug. 19. Early bird registration secures $150 savings per person off the regular rate.

Here's some of what you can expect at the Annual Meeting, should it be in your budget to go:

Early bird registration deadline: Friday, Aug. 19, 2011

Registration deadline: Friday, Sept. 16, 2011

Special tours registration deadline: Friday, Sept. 16, 2011

Hotel reservation/cancellation deadline: Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011

Airport transportation form deadline: Friday, Sept. 16, 2011

2011 CSAA Annual Meeting: Oct. 14-19, 2011

The keynote address is being given by FST21 founder Israeli general Aharon Zeevi Farkash. I've met the General a few times and interviewed him at this past year's ISC West. That promises to be a good talk. FST21's been seeing a lot of press lately, too.

In addition to his talk, CSAA will also offer the following educational sessions at its Annual Meeting:

* An AHJ president’s open forum.

* The current state of acquisitions and mergers.

* Alarm communications technologies.

* A nationwide public safety broadband wireless network.

* The ASAP to PSAP program.

* An update on PERS’ initiatives.

* Cloud computing: security as a service.

* Residential technologies of tomorrow.

For more information on the annual meeting head to CSAA's site, or call John McDonald, CSAA Vice President of Meetings, at 703-242-4670, ext. 17.