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One video monitoring company exec weighs in on municipal video surveillance

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Thursday, April 14, 2011

Recently, I've been doing some thinking about, reporting on, and writing about municipal video surveillance. Our upcoming source book is all about video surveillance. Our most recent poll is all about video surveillance. People sure do have varying and strong opinions.

We here at SSN received a well-thought out answer to recent Chicago-focused criticisms of the ACLU’s Illinois chapter from Iverify’s Mike May. Mike sent us a letter, part of which I used in the sourcebook but his thoughts are so compelling, I thought I’d post them up here for everyone to read in their entirety.

From Mike:

I am writing to comment on the position adopted by the ACLU regarding the City of Chicago video surveillance system. As a career security and law enforcement professional I have a deep and abiding respect for the constitutional protections that we as Americans enjoy. The world is fraught with example after example of human rights being trampled when adequate protection of people are not embraced as foundational principles of society.

The right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, the right to the quiet enjoyment of our lives and the freedom to exercise free  speech are all part of the bedrock of  American society. Those protections also extend to the rights of our citizens to live free of fear from crime, to  live their lives peacefully in their neighborhoods, and the right of our children to travel the streets of our cities without being victims of drug addicts, career criminals and predators.

We seem to have lost our way when it comes to the protection of individual freedoms. Our society has an obligation to provide a safe and secure community that is free of intimidation, where predation by criminals is prevented and where our families can go about their daily lives earning a living, gaining an education, participating in their community or enjoying their retirement without fear.

The ACLU has been a bright beacon for individual rights and the balance of governmental authority. I believe the ACLU needs to have its leadership walk the streets of Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, and Columbus. Our core rustbelt cities are fighting a death struggle every day to maintain a semblance of freedom for its residents and its businesses. Our company works in the most challenged urban locations in the country and we see the impact every day to those folks who are working hard to make a living in the face of violent unconstrained crime.

The City of Chicago has established itself as a leader in the use of modern technology solutions in an effort to identify those involved in urban crime and terrorism. The ACLU should step back and thoughtfully look in the mirror and adopt a position that they are as concerned about the rights of the folks who strive to get by and make a living every day in our cities as they are about public positioning. Only then will they be living up to their name as the American Civil Liberties Union and could legitimately claim the moral high ground in this important dialogue.

Mike May

President and CEO

Iverify

Check out the Video Surveillance Source Book for more on the civil rights story playing out in municipalities around the country.

 

Schneider bid $30b for Tyco? IControl raises $30m

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Some say the leaking of the Tyco/Schneider news will not help the deal at all, but others clearly think the leaking–and rise in Tyco’s stock prices?—is applying the right pressure to the right people. I saw some interesting stuff last night on the potential Schneider/Tyco deal from the (UK) Daily Telegraph’s Ben Harrington, who is reporting that Schneider has made its bid, and has sent a letter of interest to Tyco’s US board. He says Schneider has been working with JP Morgan and Bank of America Merrill Lynch on the deal since September. Tyco, meanwhile, is working with GoldmanSachs, he said.

From the story: “JP Morgan, Bank of America Merrill Lynch and five French banks are said to be willing to provide a $13bn loan to Schneider to finance the transaction. The loan is likely to then be securitised. The banks are also willing to offer a $2.5bn bridge loan, which could be paid back at a later date with potential asset sales. Schneider has about $3bn cash on its balance sheet to contribute to the financing package.”

He says they’re sweetening the deal by offering Tyco chief Ed Breen a seat on the board of the combined companies. I just now learned that the WSJ and Reuters are reporting this as well. 

11 a.m. Here's an update to the Schnieder/Tyco story: Schneider says it’s not in discussions with Tyco

I’d reached out to Schneider’s press operation in France on Monday to see if they’d comment on the Bloomberg report, and hadn’t heard back until this morning, after I'd posted this blog. I received this press release from Anthime Capriol in their investor relations office.

“In response to market rumors, Schneider Electric announced today that it is not currently in discussion with Tyco International regarding a potential strategic transaction between the two companies. Schneider Electric stated that it would make no further comment regarding this matter.”

OK, I’m very curious now about how this is going to turn out ... Do you think it’s all a matter of how you define “currently”?

There's more financial news about iControl today. Our friends over at CEPro did some great reporting on fundraising efforts at iControl. Remember iControl? They’re the home security and management providers who merged with their competitors uControl in November. IControl has a partnership with ADT—which introduced its interactive Pulse product last fall, while new partner uControl has historically worked with broadband and telco providers. In a November interview, Paul Dawes and Jim Johnson told me that they’d be announcing a partnership “with a very large broadband provider” in the future. CEPro says the company is “gunning for the new Comcast Home Security business, which of course makes sense."

IControl is now seeking to raise $30 million. Of that, $28.5m has been raised, according to this April 8 SEC document, which CEPro kindly provides a link to in its story.

Further, CEPro points out that if you add this $30 million to the $45m they’ve already raised, you get $75m, which is roughly the same amount home automation company Control4 raised in 2010. Here's a link to the CEPro report. 

 

Smith & Wesson likes security—on the perimeter

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Here’s an interesting new development from gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson: After just severing its ties March 31 with the Smith & Wesson Security Services dealer program, the company has announced that it has “rebranded its wholly-owned perimeter security division, formerly known as Universal Safety Response.”

The division’s new name is Smith & Wesson Security Solutions.

That announcement was made April 4 by Smith & Wesson Holding Corp., the parent company of Smith & Wesson Corp., a 159-year old company in the global business of safety, security, protection and sport. “The new name more accurately reflects the company's long-term heritage and leadership in security and protection,” the company said.

The rebranding announcement came just five days after the revelation that Smith & Wesson had severed its nearly three-year relationship with NationWide Digital Monitoring Co. effective March 31. The partnership had allowed NationWide to sell Smith & Wesson-branded security products, and NationWide contends the agreement was ended against its wishes and very abruptly by new management at Smith & Wesson.

The dissolution of the partnership has left the 70 dealers in NationWide’s dealer program with a short grace period—until April 30—to strip away the Smith & Wesson name from their security products such as advertising, trucks, uniforms, doorknob hangers and lawn signs, in which they have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Is there a connection between Smith & Wesson’s ending of one security relationship and the rebranding of its perimeter security division?

Liz Sharp, Smith & Wesson VP investor relations, told me, “No.” She said the timing of the two developments is coincidental and unrelated. The two businesses are completely separate, she said.

Smith & Wesson has said little about the ending of its relationship with NationWide. Sharp has said only that Smith & Wesson wanted to protect its brand after the agreement failed to perform as expected.

The company strongly endorsed its perimeter security division in last week’s announcement.

In a statement, Michael Golden, president and CEO of Smith & Wesson Holding Corp., said, “We are excited about the opportunity to leverage our strong Smith & Wesson brand name in the perimeter security market. For nearly 160 years, our firearm products have come to represent safety, security and protection for law enforcement and security professionals, military organizations, and consumers both in the United States and abroad. Having a single, globally-recognized brand name allows us to extend that proposition to commercial and government clients seeking a trusted source for their perimeter security needs."

Barry Willingham, president of Franklin, Tenn.-based Smith & Wesson Security Solutions, said in a statement: “Our unique products have already earned a tremendous reputation with our existing customers.  We expect this rebranding to provide us new opportunities by differentiating Smith & Wesson Security Solutions in the competitive arena and better positioning our business to play a significant role in the global security marketplace.”

 

“Crash & Smash” burglary makes it to ISC West

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Monday, April 11, 2011

The burglar probably had no idea he was going to get caught breaking into a Michigan home, let alone become a feature at ISC West in Las Vegas last week.

But because the home had a “Crash & Smash Protection” enabled alarm system, that’s exactly what happened. Pinnacle Security and Alarm.com touted the recent incident at the ISC West show as a real-life example of the effectiveness of the technology.

Pinnacle Security provides Alarm.com’s “Crash & Smash Protection” through a partnership between the two companies, Pinnacle said in a press statement about the capture, which it released at ISC West. The exclusive detection technology is a system option, the company said.

Both Jay Kenny, VP marketing for Alarm.com, a technology provider of interactive security solutions based in Vienna, Va., and Stuart Dean, VP corporate communications for Pinnacle, an Orem, Utah-based summer-sales model security company, spoke to me at ISC West about the incident. They said it illustrates how well “Crash & Smash Protection” can go from alert to capture. “We’re going to do a case study on it,” Dean said.

Pinnacle in its April 7 release announced that Pinnacle’s “systems facilitated the capture of a home intruder in Benton Harbor, Michigan.”

It said the home’s “Crash & Smash Protection” enabled alarm system “notified Pinnacle Security’s triple-redundant monitoring facility of a potential incident in the home of Pearl Lewis. Police were contacted, and 12 minutes after the individual tried to enter the Lewis home, he was in custody.”

Kelly Walker, Pinnacle CEO, said in a statement: “This incident demonstrates why we are so passionate about what we do. Our mission is to help our customers secure the things that matter most, and this is a perfect example of that mission in action. Right now, an individual, a home and a community are safer because these technologies work.”

The term “crash and smash” refers to an attempt to disable the security system by damaging the panel itself, Pinnacle said.

Colin Murray, Alarm.com’s manager of strategic accounts, explained in a statement: “When the intruder entered the home, he attempted to disable the system by smashing the panel. With any other system this would destroy the panel’s ability to communicate with the monitoring centers, but with the Alarm.com ‘Crash & Smash Protection’ service, the event is recognized and a signal is sent, alerting the monitoring station immediately.”

Dean said the technology even won the praise of law enforcement, which he said is unusual because authorities don’t want to appear to be endorsing one product over another.

“It’s a great example of the public assisting law enforcement to keep township residents safe,” Brian Smit, detective sergeant for the Benton Township Police Department, said in a statement in the Pinnacle press release. “Twelve minutes after the initial alert, we had the individual in custody. The monitoring system alerted us the panel had just been disabled so we knew the suspect was likely still close. We responded, and an arrest was made swiftly.”

 

 

ISC West Day 2: Security 5K, more PSIM and a lawsuit

 - 
Friday, April 8, 2011

The day started bright and early with a 3.1 mile run with 400 others in the second annual Security 5K. Nice weather, considering it’s the desert, and awesome energy at this event. And the event raised $92,000 for Mission 500, enough money to food, clothe and house for 240 kids for a year. How about that! This event gets bigger and better every year.

I’ve got lots to report from Day 1 and Day 2 of ISC West, including more PSIM- and PSIM-type news.

Honeywell called a press conference yesterday to announce a deal with Boeing where it will provide a PSIM-type solution to its HIS dealers—the Honeywell’s 160 certified Pro-Watch dealers. Honeywell is going to integrate Boeing’s “VSOC”—Boeing’s PSIM—with its security and building management platform. Honeywell’s Scott Harkins said Honeywell likes the 3-D and geospatial information provided by the Boeing solution, and said this deal will help its certified systems integrator (HIS) dealers expand into more complex jobs and provide more customized solutions to their customers. Honeywell has previously announced integration capabilities with Allerton and Notifier (both Honeywell companies) and it has more underway, he said.

I also spoke to ADT’s John Kenning and Proximex’s Jack Smith about the acquisition of Proximex, announced on Monday by ADT, which Kenning said is part of ADT Commercial’s evolution and “stated goal becoming a leader in the managed services space. Of particular interest to me was a discussion about how ADT will own, but not operate Proximex. “Proximex will remain agnostic and independent.” Kenning and Smith both emphasized that “the proper firewalls will be put in place” to ensure that there’s no channel conflict. “Competitive information will not be passed back to our ADT sales organization. That’s Jack and my credibility at stake...We’re not going to do that.”

I had a number of other interesting meetings—details later—including a great meeting with Dave Fowler and Kelly Fiedler of Vidsys, where they gave me their take on all the talk of PSIM at the show: (PSIM-Light, PSIM-Like and other variations on the PSIM theme.) 

OK, there was no press conference on this announcement, but there were some off-the-record chatting about Object Video suing Bosch, Sony Samsung over alleged patent infringement on OV’s analytics.

OV announced the lawsuit, which it filed in the U.S. District Court of Reston, Va Reston, on April 7.

The suit names “Robert Bosch GmbH; Bosch Security Systems, Inc.; Samsung Group; Samsung Techwin Co., Ltd.; Samsung Techwin America; Sony Corporation; and Sony Electronics, Inc.”

From the announcement: “The complaint seeks damages as well as injunctive relief against the defendants for the sale of products that contain software features and functions which infringe certain ObjectVideo patents.
‘With the strong increase of video analytics offerings over the past few years, we've seen a similar increase in the number of companies using ObjectVideo's patented technologies without paying for them,’ said Bill Marino, chief intellectual property officer for ObjectVideo. ‘We need to ensure our existing IP and software partners are not unfairly disadvantaged in the marketplace by competitors whose products use the same or similar functionality to innovations that are ours.’
World-class research and development, dating from early 1998 when ObjectVideo was founded, has resulted in the company's seminal video analytics patent portfolio. To date, ObjectVideo holds 37 United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and International patents, along with 46 USPTO and International patents pending, all in the field of computer vision.”

I’ve got request for comments into Bosch, Sony and Samsung and will let you know what I find out. 


 

Verint acquires Rontal

 - 
Wednesday, April 6, 2011

It's true: Verint is indeed acquiring PSIM maker Rontal

I'm late for an 8 a.m. event, so all I have is the announcement. More later, and there's some other info about Rontal in my blog from Monday: Here's a link to that:

Launches Nextiva PSIM (Physical Security Information Management) for Situational Awareness Enabling Organizations to Improve Control and Compliance, and Optimize Total Cost of Ownership in Security Operations

 

LAS VEGAS and MELVILLE, N.Y., April 6, 2011 — Verint® Systems Inc. (NASDAQ: VRNT) today announced the acquisition of Rontal Engineering Applications Ltd., a privately-held provider of situational awareness solutions. This acquisition expands Verint’s portfolio of security intelligence solutions, powering the launch of Nextiva® PSIM™—a platform that captures information from a variety of security, safety and corporate systems— and enabling the fusion of information for users to quickly and efficiently view, correlate and analyze data to identify, initiate and manage response to situations in collaboration with other security agencies.

 

Nextiva PSIM enables organizations to gain immediate situational awareness and faster response leveraging an intuitive 3D multi-layer user interface, efficient organizational control and management through systemic procedures and standards, contingency planning capabilities for natural disasters and calamities, reduced operational costs through efficient deployment of equipment and resources, and optimized planning and preparedness for situations using virtual simulations alongside debriefing and analysis. Nextiva PSIM is an important addition to Verint’s award-winning Nextiva end-to-end IP video portfolio.

 

“This technology acquisition adds an important dimension to our comprehensive suite of security intelligence solutions and further strengthens our market leadership position,” says Elan Moriah, president, Verint Video Intelligence Solutions™ and Verint Witness Actionable Solutions®. “We have been offering PSIM technology within our solutions portfolio through a successful OEM agreement. The launch of Nextiva PSIM demonstrates our continued commitment to delivering innovative and comprehensive solutions to our customers, enabling them to derive enhanced value from their security investments.”

 

Frost & Sullivan, a leading global analyst and consultancy firm, projects that the world market for PSIM software will continue to see high adoption. Defined by the firm as “a fundamental component for the next generation fully integrated physical security environment to offer advanced functionalities and present a clear ROI,” Frost & Sullivan views PSIM as a valuable component not only for critical infrastructure, homeland security and law  enforcement customers, but for large and medium-sized corporations as well. “With the launch of an entire portfolio of state-of-the-art IP video products and an advanced physical security information management system, Verint is a must-stop shop for organizations looking to take their security operations to the next level today and into the future,” says Dilip Sarangan, senior industry analyst, Frost & Sullivan.

 

Organizations that are looking for the next level of security management solutions for their security operations can use Nextiva PSIM—delivered to them from a proven market leader—to capture, analyze and distill vast amounts of information to gain the actionable intelligence they need to help make their organizations safe and secure.

 

Meet the Editors is ready to roll!

 - 
Tuesday, April 5, 2011

So I'm in sunny (and HOT) Las Vegas. It's been one heck of a long day of travel. I left my house up in Raymond Maine (on the shores of Sebago Lake) at around 4 a.m. this morning and headed to the airport in Portland.

The trip was pretty uneventful except that my connection in Minneapolis/St. Paul was delayed for a bit. Gave me a chance to catch up on some reading.

I sat next to an interesting and congenial (not to mention attractive) young woman named Meghann on the way out to Vegas. We talked the entire flight, which was nice. She told me about her industry that she was in, and I got to tell her all about the show going on in Sin City this week. She promised to check out the Security 5K Thursday morning (providing she's up and at 'em).

Anyway, I checked into the Mirage, unpacked, ironed my jackets and shirts and headed over to the Sands to see if I could hook up with any of my fellow Newsbreakers. As luck would have it, I stumbled upon SSN publisher Tim Purpura and associate publisher Gregg Shapiro. Now all my loyal readers will remember that Tim and I and Gregg and I have had some wild security adventures over the last couple years.

Let me tell you, setting up the ssnTVnews booth where we'll be hosting the Meet the Editors event tomorrow morning from 8:30-10:30 a.m. was no less of an adventure. Location is everything, and we're right there when you round the corner to head downstairs and register. We'll be there with complimentary coffee ready to shake hands and chat you up about your plans for the show. Don't miss it!

See you bright and early tomorrow! Of course, first I'm hitting the CAA Industry Breakfast with ADT's Jon Sargent to get a little omelet on, but then I'll be over for coffee and lots of introductions.

I look forward to meeting you all tomorrow!

Who's who at Honeywell Commercial Dealer Forum

 - 
Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Honeywell Commercial Dealer forum is taking place in a meeting room in the Sands right now, and there are about 100 people in attendance.

Discussions this morning have included opening remarks from John Lorenty and Dave Kaufman, an overview of Honeywell’s managed services offerings by executives and the always-lively Dealer Development Group.

Gordon Hope and Dean Mason talked about the future of communications, current standards governing communications pathways and Honeywell’s solutions.

Along the way, several dealers have been recognized at the CSS Dealer Forum today:

Security Corporation of Detroit, founded by Rob Holloway Sr. and currently run by his two sons, Rob Jr. (president) and Randy (EVP) was named Dealer of the Year.

Security 101 of Atlanta, Chris Wise and Rich Montalvo, were named Eastern Dealer of the Year.

Quality Sound and Security of New Brunswick, Canada (Bill Mitchell, president) received an award for a high-end integration job.

Resource Technologies of Tampa (Robert Hessle, president)  and SouthCross Security (Doug Yarger, president) were named new dealers of the year.

 

Lots happening day before ISC West

 - 
Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Getting ready to leave Maine for ISC West yesterday morning was not easy. I had like four things on the agenda to get myself and my family ready for the week, but I just couldn’t get away from my computer. Lots of news yesterday. First ADT announced it’s buying PSIM maker Proximex. Here’s Steve Hunt’s (Mr. PSIM himself) interesting take on the buy.

As I mentioned in my blog,  I’m meeting with ADT and Jack Smith from Proximex on Thursday, so I’ll have more on this.

IN other PSIM news, a news report from Globes, Israeili business news, from March 31, says intelligence solutions company Verint Systems Inc.  has acquired PSIM solutions company Rontal Applications Ltd. “for tens of millions of shekels.”

More from that story: “Rontal was co-founded in 2001 by CEO Roni Zehavi. The company has developed SimGuard, which can rapidly integrate and manage massive amounts of disparate data collected from the large number of safety and security systems and devices such as sensors and cameras. The company's largest investor is the US Pegasus Fund, which has a 45% stake. Zehavi himself holds 10%, while another notable investor is IDF General (res.) Amiram Levin, who also holds a 10% stake. Based in Modi'in, Rontal has 35 employees and had revenue of $6.5 million in 2010 and a small profit. Rontal's rival Orsus was acquired by NICE-Systems Ltd. in November 2009 for $22 million.

My sources at Verint, are answering their phones, but they’re also declining comment until Wednesday. Don’t know if they’re wait until the party at Tao, which starts at 8 p.m. The invitation says there will be a" big announcement" at 8:30 p.m.

Then I see that UTC Fire & Security is rebranding part of the business as Chubb. It’s a name that makes me think of insurance—but my guess is that UTCFS did their homework and the folks like the new name. And I’ll be happy not to have to write UTC Fire and Security all the time too. And, on top of that, they’ve got a new president, Scott Buckout. Here’s Tess’s blog with more info. She’s also meeting with these guys on Wednesday or Thursday, so we’ll have more on this too.

While I’m getting on the plane, which is then of course, delayed--I learn that Axis is announcing a deal today with an EMC company for a hosted video storage solution aimed at small- and medium sized business.

Iomega is an EMC company based in San Diego, that does data storage solutions for small and medium businesses. Iomega is going to offer its StorCenter network storage products with the AXIS Video Hosting System (AVHS) from Axis Communications. Axis’ AVHS is designed for “fast onsite deployments of a few cameras per site–typically less than 10–and is especially beneficial for organizations with many sites, such as franchises and bank branches.” The NAS models, which are shipping now, “have an integrated AVHS client that enables customers to store video files locally and at HDTV or megapixel resolution while simultaneously streaming video data to a secure off-site storage facility developed by their hosting provider.”

In a prepared statement, Jonathan Huberman, president of Iomega Corporation, said: “Eliminating the need for expensive and complex DVRs, as well as reducing the necessity of elaborate onsite infrastructure for low camera count deployments, gives our mutual customers a more secure, highly available and cost-effective solution for their video surveillance needs.”

I’m talking to Axis at some point today, so there will be more on this later.

Right now I’m 30 minutes late for the Honeywell Commercial Dealer Forum. They’ve traditionally met the day before ISC West starts. I’ve been to the First Alert conference (their resi/small-business dealers) many times, but since I just started covering the commercial and systems integration beat in September, this will be my first time attending this event.

They’ve got a full agenda lined up from 8-5 today, with dinner to follow. I’m going to have to miss the festivities tonight, as I’m going to the Women’s Security Council kick-off reception. It’s from 6-8 at the V-Bar at the Venetian. Here’s a link to a my blog about that organization and the event.

My goal is to get to the Honeywell event by 10, but first I need to go do a little run to stretch these tired legs. Can’t wait until this afternoon. My phone says it’s 48 degrees right now. That’s already a little warm for me!

You all signed up for the Security 5K? It’s Thursday morning 7:30. Here’s the link. Sign up now.

Live from Las Vegas... It's the Second Annual Security 5K!

 - 
Monday, April 4, 2011

Well, it's the North American security industry's big week this week out in Las Vegas. A bigger, bolder, rebounded ISC West is ready to go down in Sin City at the Sands Convention Center, and the editors of Security Systems News and Security Director News will be there, talking with industry players and bringing you the news you need as it happens.

If you'll be traveling out to Vegas to take in the show, please stop by and see us at our Meet the Editors event, which will take place at the ssn/sdnTVnews desk (right outside the exhibition hall) on Wednesday morning from 8:30-10:30 Pacific. We'll be handing out complimentary coffee and asking people about their plans for the show and for the coming year.

Start your day off right with the News!

Of course, we'll all (Martha, Tess, Leischen and I) be tweeting and blogging live from the floor, as well as interviewing select luminaries on camera for ssnTVnews and sdnTVnews. Drop by SSN and SDN often for updates.

Now, recently I told you all about the Security 5K happening on Thursday morning. There's still time to register if you want to walk or run in this great charity race to benefit Mission 500. If you can't make the show or the race, but want to tune in live, you can check out SSN's live Security 5K Channel at Ustream. You can check out SSN publisher's assistant Cath Dagget and I kicking the race off with our rousing rendition of the National Anthem, followed by the starting gun, the launch of the pack (the SSN/SDN Newsbreakers will be at the tip of the phalanx, I'm certain) and live highlights throughout the race. Watch Twitter for a tweet when the Security 5K Channel goes live on Thursday morning.

I'm looking forward to seeing you all in Vegas!

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