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More money for VideoIQ

 - 
Wednesday, January 11, 2012

VideoIQ yesterday announced it received $3.5 in funding from existing investors Atlas Venture, Matrix Partners and Tenaya Capital.
 
This is an expansion of a Series C funding round. In September, the company got $7.5 million in September from the above investors and another existing investor, Cisco.

Also in September, VideoIQ named Ed Bednarcik as its new CEO. Bednarchik, who is known for readying companies for IPOs, replaced Scott Schnell.

The company, which makes IP cameras and encoders with on-board storage and built-in self-calibrating analytics, said funding will be used to expand sales and product development teams. It also announced "record growth" over the past year. I’m currently enroute from the ESI Forum in Dallas to Maine, but am looking forward to getting more details from Ed Bednarcik during an interview tomorrow. I’ll have more on this deal, and the ESI Forum, in stories later this week.

Talking about new entrants in Dallas

 - 
Tuesday, January 10, 2012

I’m in Dallas at the ESA Leadership Conference and ESI Forum.

If you’re at the event, check out the educational session I’m moderating today. It’s called "What the Arrival of New Industry Entrants Means for your Business"

The panelists are Joe Nuccio, CEO of ASG Security, and John Loud, president of Loud Security. We’ll be talking about  the cable and telco companies that are playing in security now.

There are seven at last count, and they’re not all taking the same approach. We’re going to take a look at who the new entrants are, analyze their offerings and approach, and talk about what traditional security companies should keep in mind as the competitive landscape shifts.

The session begins at 1:45 today. See you there.

Bay Alarm exec on state board overseeing alarm companies

 - 
Monday, January 9, 2012

I’ve written about Pacheco, Calif.-based Bay Alarm before. The company, which is more than 65 years old, says it’s the largest independently-owned and operated alarm company in the nation. It’s certainly a competitive player in California, and now the company’s co-president has been appointed by that state’s governor to an important committee that oversees alarm companies in the state.

Here’s more from the news release Bay Alarm sent out early this month:

In one of his final appointments of 2011, California Governor Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown Jr. named Matthew Westphal to the Alarm Company Operator Disciplinary Review Committee (DRC), part of the Department of Consumer Affairs, on Friday, December 30.

Westphal, co-president of Bay Alarm Company, the largest independently-owned and operated alarm company in the United States, has been a board member of the Security Network of America since 2001 and the California Alarm Association since 2000, where he served as president from 2009 to 2010.

"Because of my in-depth knowledge of the industry, and the California Code of Regulations, I feel well equipped to help steward this important Consumer Affairs Committee through the years ahead," Westphal said. "I am honored to serve on the DRC, and look forward to sharing my ideas and expertise."

The five members of the Alarm Company Operator DRC are appointed by the Governor of California and include three alarm company operators and two members of the public. The committee reviews appeals of fines against alarm company operators or their employees, and denial, revocation, or suspension of licenses, certificates, registrations or permits issued by the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services.

Dice vs. Bold: Case closed?

 - 
Monday, January 9, 2012

 

“Dice Claims Against Bold Dismissed”

That was the headline on a media release today from Richard Hahn & Associates, detailing developments in the six-month legal dispute between the two providers of central station automation platforms.

So that’s it. Case closed, right?

Apparently not.

According to court documents, a federal judge did dismiss three claims that Dice filed against Bold in an amended complaint in the trade secrets case: for unjust enrichment, conversion (civil as opposed to criminal theft), and a request for statutory damages, costs and attorney’s fees related to a copyright infringement claim.

But according to Craig Horn, an attorney representing Dice, the Nov. 29 court development was procedural and “the meat of the argument” between the two companies hasn’t changed. In other words, the legal battle is far from over.

The case in a nutshell: Dice filed suit against Bold in federal court in August, alleging that Bold unlawfully accessed Dice’s proprietary software with the help of a former Dice engineer hired by Bold. Dice, which is seeking damages and compensation, says it spent more than $5 million developing the software that it claims Bold misappropriated.

A boatload of legal briefs, claims and counterclaims have been filed since then, but Dice is holding to four points of its argument: that Bold violated the Michigan Uniform Trade Secret Act, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and that it infringed on Dice’s copyrights by creating unauthorized derivative works.

Bold has contested the validity of Dice’s claims, calling the lawsuit “baseless” and “a misguided attempt to level the playing field.” David McDaniel, an attorney representing Bold, declined to comment on the case today to Security Systems News.

Horn said depositions have been scheduled for the next couple of weeks and “we should know a lot more in a month than we do now.”

“Apparently, Bold is still taking the position that they haven’t done anything wrong,” he said. “It’s kind of an all-or-nothing proposition. Either we’re right or Bold’s right, and I guess that still remains to be seen.”

The Cable Guy goes pro as telecoms enter security space

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Watch out security industry! Here comes the new version of the Cable Guy—one that’s more likely to wear a suit and have a computer science background than be a rube who’s always late.

As the telecoms enter the security space at a fast and furious pace—I’ve recently written about the new home security/home automation offerings of Verizon, Time Warner Cable, Frontier Communications, AT&T, Cox Communications, and Comcast—the security industry has expressed confidence that small, professional security companies will outperform those giant companies when it comes to service.

That’s because the archetypal Cable Guy in everyone’s mind is someone who’s always late and barely seems to know what he’s doing. But as the telecoms offer new products such as professionally installed and monitored home security systems, they’re also creating new teams of professional Cable Guys to install and service those products, according to a recent The New York Times article.

Here’s more from the article, entitled “Today’s Cable Guy, Upgraded and Better-Dressed:”
 

“Long depicted as slovenly cranks who dodged growling dogs and tracked mud on the living room carpet, cable guys (and gals) these days often have backgrounds in engineering and computer science. That kind of training is now required — along with a new dress code for some, calling for button-down dress shirts and slacks — as cable companies and their telephone rivals try to lure customers and increase revenue with a suite of [new] products. ... That means added pressure for installers and new requirements for a job that traditionally appealed to high-school graduates looking for reliable blue-collar work. …

… Robert Kolb, a 33-year-old installation and service supervisor for Comcast’s Xfinity television, phone and Internet service, has a one-year certification in network engineering. He wore pressed slacks and a sporty fleece jacket on an Internet upgrade job in the Philadelphia suburbs recently, where he worked on a company-issued MacBook laptop and had a waterproof hand-held computer that could withstand a five-foot drop.

… To make sure he stays up to date, Comcast requires him and other installers to take classes at an in-house training facility known as Comcast University.

OK, the advent of the upgraded Cable Guy doesn’t mean that small professional security companies won’t still have a service edge with customers who continue to view them as their trusted security provider.

But I do think it shows that no security company should be complacent about the telecoms entering the market this time around—and that having professional, well-trained staff that provides excellent customer service is a key to success, no matter what size your company is.

 

Former Honeywell exec Cornett to head PERS company

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

 

The private equity firm Generation3 Capital is getting into the PERS game, announcing this week that it has acquired LogicMark, a Virginia-based designer and manufacturer of medical alarm systems. Generation3 was joined in the deal by Promus Equity Partners LLC, according to a Gen3 statement. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Adding to the news is the fact that LogicMark is bringing aboard former Honeywell execs Ben Cornett, who will be the new CEO, and Kevin O’Connor, who will serve as president. Both formerly worked at Honeywell Security Group, as president and vice president of global sales, respectively. Most recently they have been involved with EZ Watch, another company in Chicago-based Gen3's portfolio. Cornett is still serving as CEO, while O'Connor has moved on full time to LogicMark.

“The PERS market is growing rapidly in both the durable medical equipment and security channels,” O’Connor said. “We are excited to be involved with LogicMark and have the opportunity to work with some new customers in the DME market, as well as working with some old friends in the security market.”

What are Cornett’s views on the PERS world? I’ll learn more in an interview with him this week, with a story to follow.

CSAA webinar: For anyone with a hole in his (or her) dance card Jan. 18, the CSAA has announced that it will be the new date for a webinar on “Social Media Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).” The online session will feature panelists Yvonne Grahovac of Alarm.com, and Richard Hahn of Bold Technologies. Register at https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/164912682.  

SDA Security: Something old, something new

 - 
Friday, December 30, 2011

San Diego-based SDA Security is proud of its long history, but is known for being a forward-thinking company decidedly not stuck in the past. Now, a fun, new, “silent movie” commercial about the company on YouTube celebrates both its past and its present.

SDA, one of Southern California’s largest security systems providers, was started in 1930 and originally called the San Diego Burglar Alarm Company. The family-owned business changed its name in 1995 as it grew and broadened its selection of offerings for customers.

In 2007, Shandon Harbour became president, the third generation of her family to lead the company. According to the company website, she “restructured and reteamed SDA Security to represent its new advanced and cutting edge identity.”

Now Shandon and a variety of company employees star in a new YouTube commercial SDA created to help promote its services. The commercial seems like an old-time “silent movie,” and is fun to watch while it effectively shows all the company has to offer customers.

Here’s what Megan O’Neal, SDA marketing communications coordinator, told Security Systems News about the commercial spot in an email communication: “We gathered some costumes, some camera equipment, some employees, and shot an old-West bank-heist video with SDA Security coming to the rescue at the end … It shows the fun side to the security business many people may not see very often.”

Check it out!

Lack of detectors = tragic Christmas fire lesson

 - 
Thursday, December 29, 2011

The early morning Christmas Day house fire in Connecticut that took the lives of three little girls and their grandparents is an event sad beyond all words.

And adding to the sadness is a report that the century-old Victorian mansion’s smoke detectors weren’t working as the blaze—which officials say was caused by fireplace embers that were improperly disposed of—raced through the wood structure as everyone was sleeping around 3 a.m.

I can’t help imagining a totally different outcome if functioning detectors—or a monitored fire detection system—had been safely protecting this home.

Here’s the latest on the Stamford, Conn. Fire from today’s New York Post:
 

A permit was approved in May for at least seven smoke detectors in a doomed Connecticut mansion — but none was hooked up when three girls and their grandparents died there in a horrific Christmas Day fire.

The chief buildings official in Stamford told The Post yesterday that, given the time between when he issued the permit and Sunday’s fire, the detectors should have been working.

Robert DeMarco said that the city performed an inspection in June and found that the smoke detectors — part of a security system that included motion and carbon-monoxide detectors — were not connected to the home’s electricity or an outside monitor.

That was not unusual, he said. But the system should have been connected within three months of that inspection, by September, he said, even if the law doesn’t require it.

“If they got all their inspections in June, I would say . . . they should have been complete,” DeMarco said.

Renderings of the planned renovations on the three-story $1.7 million Victorian show that six of the seven smoke detectors were to be installed on the second floor: one in each of three bedrooms, another in a master closet and two near stairwells to the first and third floors.

Owner Madonna Badger, 47, her boyfriend, Michael Borcino, 52, and her parents were believed to be on the second floor when fireplace embers ignited the house.

Her daughters, 10-year-old Lily and 7-year-old twins Sarah and Grace, were on the third floor and couldn’t escape the flames, despite rescue efforts by Borcino and Badger’s dad, Lomer Johnson, 71.

Autopsy results released yesterday showed that the victims, who also included Badger’s mother, Pauline Johnson, 69, died from smoke inhalation. Lomer Johnson also had injuries to his head and neck, likely caused by a fall.

The Post also reported yesterday that a city official said “a modern “hardwired” smoke detection system was being installed as part of ongoing renovations. But it hadn’t gone online in the five-bedroom home, which was built in 1895.”

 

Next Gen 911: On hold for the holidays?

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Next Generation 911 is on hold, but don’t blink. It will return, if not tomorrow or next week, then when Congress reconvenes in 2012.

The provision, which was attached to H.R. 3630—“The Middle Class Tax Relief, Job Creation and Let’s Beat Santa Home Act of 2011”—was removed from the version of the legislation that made it through the Senate last weekend.

But it wasn’t removed because senators didn’t like it, according to Bob Bonifas, who has lobbied on Capitol Hill in an effort to change language in the bill that could harm the alarm industry. It was removed to simplify the bill so that extending the Social Security payroll tax cut could make it through both houses.

“They didn’t even bring it up,” Bonifas said. “Rather than deal with it, they just cut the NG 911 … out of it and sent the raw part back to the House.”

The raw part still awaits cooking as I write this, since the GOP leadership in House has refused to bring the Senate-approved bill to a vote. Will 160 million Americans get to keep their payroll tax break, or will it expire? There’s more to the standoff than that, but I won’t get into the particulars. Life’s short and besides, there’s still holiday shopping to do.

The action and inaction effectively kick the can down the road to 2012, unless something changes soon and the House decides to put NG 911 back into play before Jan. 1. But it will be back, eventually. And when it returns, Bonifas wanted to make something clear: The alarm industry supports it. It just wants language in the bill changed to prevent an unintended consequence: permitting unverified data—automated burglar, fire and PERS alarms—to flow into PSAPs.

“We’re not trying to oppose anything that would jeopardize (NG 911),” he said. “We’re not trying to blow up this bill; we’re trying to tweak a minor error in it.”

 

2011: The Year of the Telecom

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The year is not quite over yet, but it’s clear that 2011 has earned a new name as far as security is concerned: The Year of the Telecom.

That’s because the year has been marked by at least five telecoms entering the security space. And those who have yawned and said, “What else is new? The telecoms have tried this before and failed,” had better take note. There are some indications the telecoms are doing things differently this time—for example, they’re teaming up with other professional security companies and joining industry associations.

Verizon led off in January, debuting its home security/home automation product at the Consumer Electronics show. After beta testing in New Jersey, it followed up in October by launching the product to its broadband customers nationwide.

While Verizon’s product is designed to be self-installed and self-monitored, it appears other telecoms are going with professionally installed and monitored products—and in some cases using professional security companies to do the installation and monitoring.

Cox Communications launched a home security/home automation product in Tucson, Ariz. this summer and is planning to launch in other markets in 2012.

Also in the fall, Time Warner Cable and Frontier Communications joined in by launching home security/home automation offerings in upstate New York, and Frontier also is experimenting with a security product in Pennsylvania .

Frontier, which tried going it alone previously a few years ago, is now partnering with professional security companies—with ADT for its New York offering, and with Protection 1 in Pennsylvania.

There’s also recent news that AT&T is creating a new Atlanta-based division to offer customers home security and home automation.

The Georgia Electronic Life Safety and Security Association (GELSSA) is urging AT&T to join that group and be a good, ethical participant in the industry. That’s what Cox has already done in connection with its Tucson launch, joining the Arizona Alarm Association and attending seminars.

In 2012, we’re likely to see more activity from these telecoms and maybe additional players jumping in. Will the telecoms turn out to be competitive players this time around? Only time will tell.

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