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iControl helps Silicon Valley traveler keep in touch

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Monday, July 16, 2012

iControl, an interactive platform used for security/home automation by traditional security companies like ADT and the new cable entrants like Comcast, got a nice mention on the front page of the New York Times travel section yesterday.

The story, about how Silicon Valley entrepreneurs’ make travel paperless and stress-free, talks about Tim Ferris (author of The Four-Hour Work Week and other books in an updated self-help genre) has many gadgets that help him when he’s traveling, including iControl software—which keeps him in touch with his home.

From the story: “One of the world’s largest guarding companies When he’s on the road Mr. Ferriss uses iControl software, which allows him to receive e-mails with video clips from infrared cameras in his house and to receive text alerts on his phone about who’s going in and out of his home.”

Is Tim’s security system provided by a traditional provider or a cableco? I’m sure iControl wouldn’t disclose the answer to that question.

Study: PSIM market to grow to $2.8b by 2021

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

A couple days after PSIM maker VidSys touted one aspect of the new Frost & Sullivan PSIM study, F&S itself today sent out a release about this study.

The projections are most interesting part of the release, I think. F&S projects the global PSIM market is set to grow from a $142.9 million in 2011 to a $2.79 billion by 2021.

When I spoke to VidSys CTO James Chong the other day, he said that his company’s commercial business is on the rise. The Frost & Sullivan study says that’s the way it’s going to go. Revenue generation from will shift from solely to include more critical infrastructure to first responders and commercial entities in the future.  

The biggest driver will be “word of mouth” about PSIM capabilities, the study says.  Frost and Sullivan even gave that phrase its very own acronym—“WOM.”  That’s a new one for me.

There’s not a lot of WOM yet, because most enterprises are still grappling with the convergence of physical security and IT security.  

From the news release: "The majority of security integrators are focused on solutions they are used to and their unwillingness to learn information technology and implement software products is restraining the PSIM market," explains [Krzysztof] Rutkowski. "This is a major challenge because awareness of customers may not be improved by the systems integrators."

As such, being a well established player in the PSIM and security market is crucial for market success. Value added products will be able to capture more of the market share.

"Being well recognized in the market sends a positive message to the customers on expertise and future reliability in terms of installation and upgrades support," says Rutkowski. "Another key aspect to success is the value a PSIM provider can add to the solution i.e. a computer-aided dispatch (CAD) option or a command and control (C2) centre."

The study advises video and access control systems companies to "tie up with PSIM players" to avoid being edged out.
 

Fraud trial, white gloves in McGinn, Smith case

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

When the Securities and Exchange Commission charged alarm industry investors David L. Smith and Timothy McGinn in 2010 with running a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of at least $80 million, one of the SEC’s contentions was that some of the money was diverted to pay for “strippers and go-go dancers” on McGinn’s You Only Live Once cruise ship business.

Now, a judge has ordered that another cruise business associated with the case—this one with the tonier name of White Glove Cruises—be sold for more than half a million dollars to help pay the creditors of Smith and McGinn—who served as CEO of IASG from 2003-2006.

McGinn and Smith, founders of an Albany, N.Y.-based investment firm that conducted dealing in the alarm industry, also were indicted this year on criminal fraud charges that could send them to prison for years, if convicted. Each has pleaded not guilty and their trial—originally scheduled for last month—now is set to begin on Nov. 13.

The sale of Dania Beach, Fla.-based White Glove Cruises was approved by U.S. Magistrate Judge David R. Homer in a June 20 decision in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of New York. The buyer of White Glove, and a related business called Luxury Cruise Receivables, is Caribbean World Travel Services, and the purchase price is $575,000 in cash, along with other considerations, including being relieved from further lease obligations of more than $258,000, court records show.

White Glove is a travel agency “with Timothy McGinn appearing to have taken a material role in its management,” according to court records.

This business sounds much more refined than McGinn’s YOLO (You Only Live Once) venture. The agency specializes in booking cruises “on more luxurious cruise lines,” and had gross billings of between $9.7 million to $12.4 million for each of the past three years, court records say.

John Akouris: Hollywood security 'star'

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I knew that John Akouris, former VP of sales for Moore Protection, was a movie buff  who played a big role annually in helping select the winner of Moore Protection’s Morpheus Award.

Moore Protection, a security company based in Redondo Beach, Calif., gives out the award—which I like to all the “Security Oscar”—each year at Academy Awards time to a movie that “that best depicts the realistic use of modern security technology in mainstream media.” Akouris’ astute comments about the winning film always made me want to rush right out to watch it.

But Akouris, 78, who died of congestive heart failure on June 25, also was “a star” who made his own unique mark on Hollywood community in his many years of protecting Los Angeles’ most high-profile residents, according to Don Moore, president of Moore Protection.

Here’s more that Moore wrote about Akouris, who previously worked for Westec Security before joining Moore Protection, where he retired in 2010 but still retained the title of VP of sales emeritus:
 

John did as much to further the positive image of our security profession as anyone in memory, consulting with the “movers and shakers” of the Hollywood crowd since the mid-seventies while overseeing the West L.A. sales force of the most formidable alarm installation company in town. He was truly a star in a town full of stars, enjoying and reveling in his reputation for taking seriously his responsibility to protect while entertaining the entertainers with his myriad stories, anecdotes and insightful observations. His awards and accolades are too many to recount here but one glance around his den is testament to a lifetime of honors bestowed upon him, scattered among the celebrity photos inscribed lovingly by his famous but grateful clientele. …

He is survived by his bride of fifty-six years and high school sweetheart, Elaine, and their son Arthur, as well as throngs of extended family, friends, business associates and clients who came to love him as much for the care and diligence he conveyed in protecting them and their loved ones as for his larger than life personality and broad range of knowledge and experience. …

He will be missed greatly by all those who knew and loved him down here, but rest assured that Heaven is today a much safer place than it was before his arrival!

 

What's your advice for customers and BYOD?

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hope you enjoyed the Fourth of July holiday. Here in Maine it was rainy and foggy, but it was still glorious. You see, I was off the grid with my husband and teenagers. We all BYODs, like we always do, but they didn’t work—and guess what? No complaints

So, I didn’t read this BYOD story until today. It’s from publication called PCAdvisor and it has some interesting statistics about people bringing their own devices to work and using them to access corporate resources.

The story does not address employees accessing corporate physical security systems specifically—but the statistics are still relevant. And it seems to me that integrators and end users need to be thinking about policy options for managing BYOD for physical security employees and physical security applications.

We did touch on this topic at TechSec in February. Steve Van Till moderated an excellent mobile apps panel, and Axis’ Fredrik Nilsson talked about this question specifically.

He suggested BYOD could save money and increase efficiency for the physical security operations because workers want to use their own devices (security guards for example), but there are many ifs (what if a device is lost? How do you know for sure who is using the device?) All panelists agreed that BYOD brings up many concerns.

This writer suggests that the move toward BYOD is “unstoppable.” I don’t know about that, but it’s certainly got momentum, and probably a good idea to assess BYOD workplace policies even if your customers aren't asking you about them.

I liked the following stats and this question: Will employees be bringing more than one device to work?

“Gartner predicted that 90 percent of businesses will support corporate applications on mobile devices by 2014. And Cisco survey data suggests that we can expect to see 3.47 devices per person in 2015 and a whopping 6.58 devices per person in 2020. This begs the question: How many devices per person will the enterprise ultimately need to manage?”

DICE rolls out backup in Colorado fire

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

They are powerful numbers: More than 18,000 acres burned, 32,000 residents forced to evacuate, and nearly 350 homes destroyed. The Waldo Canyon fire outside Colorado Springs is now under control, but not before leaving its mark as one of the most destructive in the state’s history.

It’s a long way from the sagebrush to Bay City, Mich., but that’s where DICE Corp.’s Disaster Recovery Center geared up to help any clients threatened by the Waldo wildfire and others in the region. DICE software is used to monitor thousands of homes and businesses in the Colorado Springs area.

“Having accounts in an area that could, at any time, be in jeopardy on a large scale … will cause intense management issues at the monitoring centers located in non-affected areas,” the company said in an email statement. “Part of the preparation we did on behalf of the recent Colorado evacuations was to make our Disaster Recovery Center available to receive signals from any of our clients if the [fire] was affecting their normal day-to-day businesses. In doing so, it provided an advanced storm mode, if you will, in which case the extra signal activity is removed from the center’s inbound circuits, which is really an expansion of capacity and services to the center.”

Melissa Courville, head of marketing and communications for DICE, said there were clients in the Colorado Springs area that did turn to the company’s DR center for assistance, but she was not at liberty to disclose who they were or to what extent they were affected.

Courville said the situation served as a reminder of when the company provided backup for a central station that was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina until it was able to rebuild.

“I’m humbled to say it was my first opportunity to step up as an emergency operator to dispatch,” she said. “To us it is only natural to offer our assistance, as we have done always and continue to do so.”
 

ASAP to PSAP: Full speed ahead

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

For central stations wondering if they’ll ever be part of ASAP to PSAP, there was good news from ESX 2012: Progress continues to be made.

Show attendees got an update on the protocol at a seminar led by Mark McCall of United Central Control, Glenn Schroeder of the Security Network of America, Pam Petrow and Anita Ostrowski of Vector Security, and Melissa Courville of DICE Corp.

While ASAP might not be advancing fast enough to satisfy everyone in the industry, the panelists in Nashville listed a number of bullet points that detailed the gains. Among them:

—A CSAA-owned message broker is up and running at the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (Nlets) facility in Arizona. The server acts as a scrubber for transmissions being forwarded from monitoring companies to public safety answering points.

—A trademark process has been completed to certify the ASAP name and logo.

—ANSI version 3.3 of the protocol is currently live in Richmond, Va., and it is scheduled to go online in other pilot project locations by the end of the year.

—ASAP leaders have expanded their outreach to the PSAP community in 2012, with presentations to groups including the Texas Police Chiefs Association and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.

The three municipalities involved in the pilot project—Richmond, Va., York County, Va., and Houston—are scheduled to be joined soon by Tempe, Ariz., and James City County, Va. On the monitoring side, Alarm Detection Systems and ADT are in line to join pilot participants Vector Security, UCC and Monitronics.

McCall, director of information technology and facility security officer at UCC, told the seminar audience that central stations planning to become part of ASAP may find that the requirements “are a little bit more than what your operation is used to now.”

“Remember what we’re connecting to,” he said, referring to Nlets. “We’re connecting to the same network that every police department, every fire department and every emergency agency is connected to. Nlets is responsible for the integrity of that network, and for us as an industry to play in their sandbox, we have to meet their security requirements.”

On the plus side, most of those concerns were alleviated with the deployment of the message broker, McCall said. Other ASAP issues involving the preparation of automation vendors and CAD providers are being addressed, and the CSAA is creating a new website—www.asaptopsap.org—to keep interested parties informed.

“The materials are continually being added to and the CSAA will let everyone know when [the information] is ready for public consumption, as it will be sending out ASAP-dedicated email blasts to confirmed charter members at that time,” said Courville, co-chairwoman of the ASAP to PSAP Outreach Committee.

In the interim, she said inquires about the protocol should be addressed to Becky Lane (membership@csaaintl.org) or Monique Talbot (communications@csaaintl.org) at the CSAA.

Talking mobile apps and new entrants at ESX

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

New entrants into the security industry and mobile apps where major topics of interest at the ESX show in Nashville, Tennessee where Tess, Rich and I spent the last week.

I moderated three panel discussions on three different topics on Tuesday, but both of these topics came up in all three. And they came up in many other educational sessions last week,

I moderated a panel called “Technology Trends Impacting your Business,” with Wells Sampson from American Alarm, David Carter of SNA, and Lou Fiore of AICC.

Much of the discussion centered around mobile apps. Both Carter and Sampson are proponents of offering mobile apps “at every sale.”

The new cableco and telecom entrants, and many traditional security companies, are going to be doing this, they said. You ignore this trend at your peril, they agreed.

However, it’s much easier said than done. To get his sales force on board with this initiative, Sampson took several steps. There was the educational piece, which is ongoing, but he has a staff member calling every customer to ensure that mobile apps are offered at every sale.

In addition, all of his sales people are equipped with an iPad, so that they can easily demonstrate how the apps work.

A person from the audience said that his sales people have this technology at home, and it’s made them better ambassadors for these services.

Several people questioned what the adoption rate is for mobile apps, and Sampson said the projections are admittedly low. He is not concerned with that at this point. He just wants to ensure that these services are being offered, so customers know they’re available.

I have heard figures during ADT investment calls that their new interactive services PULSE offering has an adoption rate north of 25 percent. 

And during a different panel discussion I moderated at ESX “The New Competitive Landscape: Telcos, Cable Companies and Beyond” one of the panelists, Joe Nuccio, CEO of ASG shared an interesting metric.

At ASG, from May 12, 2011 to May 11, 2012, 56 percent of new residential sales opted for “enhanced services.”

Of course, we’re talking about resi and small business sales here, but this trend is applicable to larger commercial and enterprise systems as well.

American Alarm and other SNA companies, and ASG both do a lot of large commercial/government systems, and those customers want mobile apps, Sampson, Carter and Nuccio said.

At the PSA-TEC conference in May, Jim Henry of Henry Brothers/Kratos held up his mobile phone and said: “We’re going to see more changes in the next 18 months in this industry than we’ve seen in the last 10 years.”

Alarm.com announces milestone

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Friday, June 29, 2012

In its early years, Alarm.com had so few customers that it used to ring a bell in the office every time one signed up, in order to get employees motivated, Steve Trundle, company president and CEO, said this week at the ESX show in Nashville.

But now the 12-year-old Vienna, Va.-based provider of interactive security services has far too many active subscribers to announce each one individually. So the company held a party at the show so Trundle could announce just how many: more than 1 million as of this past April.

He said at the show that the figure is a milestone not just because it’s so large, but because it shows mainstream consumer adoption of interactive services.

Here’s more from a news release the company sent out yesterday about the subscriber milestone:
 

This represents over 1 million properties and millions of individual users protected and empowered by Alarm.com and its Partners. The Alarm.com Partner community has grown its user base significantly year-over-year through a dedication to innovative technology that improves the security and overall user experience for its customers.

This milestone signifies the mass market adoption of interactive services. The consumer expectation of a security system has evolved and Alarm.com and its Partners have led the way with industry leading technology and services that meet the new customer demands.

Alarm.com has helped to revolutionize the way people interact with their homes and businesses by enabling interactive security, energy management, video monitoring and home automation. The vast majority of Alarm.com subscribers are on Interactive Services accounts and are deeply engaged with their security solution. With such large scale adoption, interactive services have expanded the purpose of what was traditionally only an intrusion security solution and become an everyday part of users' lives.

"Our recent report projects that US revenues for smart home systems and services will hit $7.6 billion this year, driven in part by consumers' desire for enhanced security and control systems with mobile apps, self-controlled lights, thermostats, locks and cameras such as those offered by Alarm.com," said Bill Ablondi, Director of Smart Home Strategies at research firm Strategy Analytics. "Alarm.com has shown a consistent ability over the past several years to anticipate market trends -- and then develop products and services enabling dealers to meet the evolving needs of their customers."

Over twelve years ago the company created the first completely wireless web-enabled interactive security services and has continued to drive innovation and deliver industry firsts year after year. The company's one-millionth subscriber comes on the tail of recent key announcements including its launch of image sensor services, location-based services, a partnership with Verizon Wireless, and the release of its native iPad app and native Windows mobile app to expand its full suite of mobile integration.

Getting to know the media can improve ROI

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Erica Wood, co-owner and chief security officer of Dayton, Ohio-based American Fire & Security, said she kept getting turned down by a business newspaper in her community when she tried to get it to publish news about her company.

It wasn’t until she met with the publication’s editor that she found out the paper only wanted stories focused on business growth. Now Wood knows how to tailor press releases about her company to win the interest of that publication.

Talking to editors and reporters to find out what kinds of information they’re looking for was one of the tips offered during a panel discussion I moderated today at the ESX show in Nashville, titled “Maximize Your Media Relations ROI.”  The focus was on how to get favorable publicity to help market your company.

The session included lively discussion from audience members such as Wood, who shared their experiences and posed questions to the panel of public relations experts: Joseph Mitton, marketing coordinator, Select Security; Beth Welch, public relations manager, Honeywell Fire Systems; and Jay Stuck, chief marketing officer and VP, residential sales, Securewatch24.

Panel members offered a number of tips. Welch urged use of social media sites like Facebook and Linked In to get information out about company news and also make connections. And she said to make sure that media outlets correct any mistakes they make in writing about your company online, because those kinds of stories “last forever.”

Welch said that sometimes sending a compelling photo along with a press release can help catch a publication’s interest.

When it comes to deciding what’s newsworthy enough about a company to put in a press release, Stuck suggested to the audience that they ask themselves, “So what?” If they can’t answer that question, he said, it’s probably not news.

Among tips from Mitton, a former television journalist, was to work to establish friendly relationships with reporters and editors, making it easier to pitch them story ideas.

ESX recorded the session—something it’s doing for all the seminars offered here—so it will be available online. I hope you’ll find what we had to say rewarding for your company!

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