Subscribe to

Blogs

Gunfire pinpointed, then privacy debated

 - 
Wednesday, May 30, 2012

ShotSpotter, produced by a company that bills itself as the “world leader in gunshot detection,” added to its media credits this week with an article in The New York Times. But while many police departments are singing the praises of the acoustic monitoring technology, it continues to raise concerns about how far law enforcement can go to do its job.

The system, developed by SST Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., pinpoints the location of gunshots by triangulating the sound via sensors mounted on utility poles, buildings and other structures. It produces alerts that detail the number and exact time of the rounds fired, the position of the shooter (or shooters), and their speed and direction of travel if they are moving.

Cities can buy the equipment from SST and monitor the alerts themselves, or they can contract with the company to do it for them. Technicians at SST assess each alert to determine its accuracy, then send it to the appropriate PSAP “within seconds,” the company says. SST claims a 99 percent accuracy rate in differentiating gunfire from other loud noises like fireworks or cars backfiring.

Proponents say ShotSpotter speeds the response of police officers to the scene of a shooting, bolstering arrest rates, deterring additional crimes and saving the lives of victims who otherwise might have died. “Now when we pull up on a scene, we have 100 percent knowledge if there was actually a shot,” says a Springfield, Mass., police sergeant quoted on the company’s website. “It makes your approach different.”

One problem, critics say, is that the system also can record other sounds of the city—doors slamming, cars honking, people arguing—while it records the gunshots. The Times said a ShotSpotter recording of a street argument in New Bedford, Mass., in December is likely to play a role in the case of two men charged with murder.

A defense attorney in the case said the recording could constitute a privacy violation and that the technology is “opening up a whole can of worms. If police are utilizing these conversations, then the issue is where does it stop?”

The company says that voices do not trigger ShotSpotter sensors, “which are placed in elevated locations in order to enhance their capability as well as ensure citizen privacy.” James Beldock, a company VP, told the Times that the system was not intended to record anything except gunfire and that cases like New Bedford’s were extremely rare.

The issue could end up playing out in the courts, but in the meantime, it’s likely that law enforcement will continue to turn to ShotSpotter and other gunfire detection systems as police budgets are trimmed and hosted subscription services become more available. It’s a monitoring trend worth watching.

Fire sprinkler industry to make history with new expo

 - 
Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mexico has a brand new fire sprinkler industry group—the Mexican Fire Sprinkler Association or AMRACI. Canada has the Canadian Automatic Sprinkler Association or CASA. And of course there’s the National Fire Sprinkler Association or NFSA, based in Patterson, N.Y.

Now all three groups plan to make history by hosting what is being billed as “the first ever North American Fire Sprinkler Expo,” to be held next April in Las Vegas.

In a statement, NFSA’s new president, Russ Fleming, said: “I am absolutely delighted that both CASA and AMRACI have agreed to partner with NFSA to host what will be the first ever North American Fire Sprinkler Expo. By bringing together fire sprinkler industry interests from all over the continent for the NFSA Annual Seminar and North American Fire Sprinkler Expo, for the very first time in the history of the industry we will have created a unique opportunity for contractors, suppliers and manufacturers from all over the continent to meet in one place to network, conduct business, discuss issues of common interest and to learn from the industry’s foremost authorities.”

NFSA said the expo—still in the very early planning phase—is be held in conjunction with its annual seminar being held April 4-6, 2013 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

For more on the event, go to NFSA’s website.

Eaton Corp. to buy fire & security parent company for $11.5b

 - 
Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Eaton Corp.—a $13.7 billion diversified power management company that provides electronic components for the aviation and transportation sectors and whose CISO Gareth Webley delivered the keynote address at TechSec 2011 —announced yesterday that it’s acquiring Cooper Industries in an $11.46 billion cash-and-stock deal. Cooper Industries’ Cooper Safety business is a provider of fire, security, and mass notification equipment, among other products.

Here’s a story Tess wrote in May 2011 about a new training/research center that its CooperNotification (which specializes in mass notification equipment) opened last year.

After the closing, Eaton will move no longer be incorporated in the U.S. It will be domiciled in Ireland, which is where Cooper Industries' is incorporated.

Eaton is talking about how the move will “significantly increase the capabilities and geographic breadth of the combined company’s power management portfolio and electrical business.”

However, a Rueters story pointed out that Eaton is one of several corporations (including Tyco Flow Control, a soon-to-be former division of Tyco International) that have made plans to move offshorte and expect to gain tax advantages from doing so.

Asked about any planned changes to the fire and security operations, an Eaton spokesperson told me that the company would not be commenting on elements of the Cooper Industries’ businesses until after the transaction closes in the second half of 2012.

And on the benefits of moving offshore, he said. “There will be some global cash management and tax benefits as well as some [business] synergies.”
 
Eaton Chairman and CEO Alexander Cutler will head up the new company, which will likely be called “Eaton Global Corp.”

Under terms of the deal, each Cooper stockholder will receive $39.15 in cash and 0.77479 shares of the newly created company. That combination is worth $72 per share based on Eaton's closing price of $42.40 on Friday. Cooper currently has 159.1 million outstanding shares.

Jensby out at Monitronics; Simon moves on to Brink's

 - 
Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mary Jensby, a well-known contributor to the alarm industry who served as central station and data entry director for Monitronics, is no longer with the company.

In a LinkedIn update posted on Monday, Jensby expressed thanks to all of her professional contacts for their "friendship and kindness… (I) appreciate all of your support in the loss of my job. … It has been my pleasure working with many of you through the ASAP project, FARA, TBFAA, NTTA and CSAA."

Jensby came aboard at Monitronics in June 2007. She previously worked for T-Mobile and MCI WorldCom, according to her LinkedIn profile. In March, she was named the recipient of the 2012 Humanitarian Award from Mission 500 for her volunteer work in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. She received the award during a presentation at ISC West in Las Vegas.

Megan Weadock, communications specialist for Monitronics, said that Jensby's departure was announced on May 8. Weadock said the company was looking for a replacement "both internally and externally." No other details were announced.

Melissa Courville, head of marketing and communications for Dice Corp., served as co-chairwoman with Jensby on the CSAA's ASAP Outreach Committee. Monitronics is one of three alarm companies currently participating in the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol, along with Vector Security and UCC. Courville said the CSAA is evaluating who will fill Jensby's seat on the panel.

"Mary did a professional job of delegation where she was very organized and kept her information together, beyond being a sheer joy to work with," Courville said.

Ed Bonifas, co-chairman of the ASAP Program Committee, said Jensby "has been a great contributor to the ASAP Outreach Committee as well as a participant in the beta phase of the program. … (She) will undoubtedly land in another central station, carrying her knowledge to another participant."

Jensby could not be reached for comment, but said on her LinkedIn post that she hoped to be able to find another position in the security industry.

Simon moves on to Brink's: In another shift of industry personnel, David Simon has stepped down as SIAC's public relations chairman after being named the marketing communications manager at Brink's Inc. Simon said he will continue to contribute to SIAC, "blogging, posting to the website and Twittering, along with occasional other writing." Simon also served as the industry/law enforcement liaison for SIAC.

Opinions wanted: It's not too late to let the CSAA know where you stand on the future of the industry. The group is asking members to take a few minutes to fill out the "Emerging Trends in Security Monitoring" survey, which aims to determine where the industry is heading in areas including video monitoring and PERS. To participate, go to www.zoomerang.com/Survey/WEB22EUM64F659. The deadline is Friday, May 25. Those who respond will receive an executive summary of the report.

PBFAA celebrates its 30th at annual expo

 - 
Friday, May 18, 2012

Happy 30th anniversary, Pennsylvania Burglar & Fire Alarm Association!

The association is one of the oldest such organizations in the industry, according to its executive director Dale Eller. So it’s got a lot to celebrate and is using its annual expo in June to do that. Here’s more from a news release the group sent out today:
 

The PBFAA will host their 30th Annual Membership Meeting, Golf Outing and Exposition on June 6-7, 2012 at the Lancaster Host Resort in Lancaster, Penn.

The event will commemorate the 30 years of association activity through several member activities.

Kicking off the event on June 6th is the PBFAA's annual golf outing which will host over 75 golfers in a shotgun scramble format.  The outing consists of several hole-in-one contests, including a par 3 with a $10,000 prize hole.  Other contests include longest drive and closest to the pin on the front and back nine holes.  The golf outing concludes with an awards luncheon for all of the outing participants.

The evening event incorporates the annual membership meeting, election of officers and the presentation of association awards such as the Associate Member of the Year, the Annual Scholarship Awards and the Keith Ladd Leadership Award, followed by a buffet dinner and concluding with PBFAA’s renowned Casino Night.

The second day of the expo starts off with five seminar tracks covering technical sessions, business sessions, sales sessions and two hosted session tracks sponsored by Interlogix, and NAPCO Security.

PBFAA technical sessions cover diverse topics such as speciality fire detection, DVR/NVR selection, and understanding access control hardware.  

The business sessions include presentations on understanding your business numbers, building bridges with public safety and legislators, and updates on PA's HICPA law.

The sales sessions offer insights on how to identify your prospect’s pain, understanding interactive services and sales of video verification and other expanded RMR offerings.

The PBFAA will also offer a special "keynote" seminar session conducted by industry expert witness Jeffrey Zwirn titled, Alarm Science Bootcamp, which will educate attendees on the actions and inactions of their daily activities that can land them in court, trying to defend their business practices.

From noon to 4:00pm on June 7th the PBFAA will host its annual vendor exhibits featuring over 40 industry product and service providers. Intermixed throughout the vendor exhibits will be a networking luncheon for the attendees, along with a silent auction benefiting the Association’s scholarship program.  The exhibits conclude with the presentation of the vendor door prizes.

The association is based in Erie, Pa. For more information, call (800) 458-8512 (in state) or (814) 838-3093 (outside Pennsylvania), or email Info@PBFAA.com.
 

Leading an integration company: Tips and stories at PSA-TEC 2012

 - 
Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I arrived late in the afternoon yesterday in Westminster, Colo. for one of my favorite events of the year, PSA-TEC.
 
The conference,  which started on Sunday and runs through Friday, was well underway when I arrived. Lisa Cole Miller, PSA Security Network marketing director said attendance is up about 10 percent over last year with more than 65 integrator companies here. (Some of those companies send up to 10 employees.) In addition, there are consultants, end users, and more than 40 vendors exhibiting on a show floor here.

“When you think about it, it’s a bargain,” Miller said, “For $500, you get breakfast and lunch, four days of classes, a trade show and parties.”

I arrived in time for PSA Security CEO Bill Bozeman’s presentation “What every integrator needs to know about being an effective executive.”

This class is part of the PSA Leadership Institute, which PSA launched in October at the PSA Convention in Puerto Rico. Here’s a story with details about the program.

It was the end of the day and Bozeman spoke for more than an hour about the highlights of the business book “The Effective Executive,” which was written 40 years ago by Peter Drucker.

I’m not one for long presentations—but Bozeman is a good speaker. Ever hear an engaging preacher give a good sermon? He’s got a little bit of a preacher’s cadence, and he tells some pretty funny stories too.

There were about 50 integrators and a few vendors in the room for his presentation. Bozeman’s clearly taken to heart one of Drucker’s tenets: “if you’re going to call a meeting, make if effective.”

Highlights of the talk included:

—“Manage yourself.” To lead you’ve got to show discipline—show up on time, have passion for what you’re doing.” Bozeman told a story about visiting a PSA member who’s business wasn’t going well. Bozeman said he was not surprised that business was bad when he visited the office.

“The shades were drawn, there was no light, the owner was walking around [hunched over, with his hands on his forehead, looking like the sky was falling]. And the employees were doing the same thing—walking around like zombies. It was the most depressing place I’ve ever seen.”

—Drucker said he never, in 45 years, came across a single, natural executive who didn’t have to learn how to be an effective executive. It’s something you need to work on.

—Identify company objectives, how you spend your time, and don’t let people waste your time. Focus on the positive and motivating your people.

Pierre Trapanese, owner, Northland Control Systems, as an example of effective executive. Trapanese (who will be speaking at the conference today and who spoke at TechSec in 2010,  bought a small integration company “that needed  a lot of work” Bozeman said and turned it into a fast growing company.

“Through leadership and vision, he’s grown that company beyond what [anyone] thought was possible,” Bozeman said.  Recently, Trapanese chose an annual goal for the company. “This year we’re going to have fun,” is what he said, according to Bozemen. “He’s got people knocking down his doors wanting to work there, and he doesn’t pay the highest salaries in the areas.”

—Manages to peoples’ strengths, and surround yourself with people who have strengths that you don’t possess.

—Veto hiring anyone with substance abuse problems or who’s dishonest in the least.
  
—Read the fine print, hire legal counsel.
—“Don’t take pride in being King Kong… become more visionary and less the doer.”

Time to head over to the conference. There’s an M&A panel at 8, followed by a panel of successful integrators  and fast-growing integrators, a panel on market drivers, and one on social media. I’ll have more tomorrow.

Home energy where the money is—billions of dollars of it

 - 
Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I’ve written before about how huge growth is expected in the home energy market, and now a new report is predicting growth that's even greater—in the billions by the end of this decade. It’s more evidence that security companies selling home automation along with security are on the right track.

The home energy management market will exceed $2 billion in annual revenue by 2020, according to a forecast by Pike Research, a market research and consulting firm that studies clean technology markets worldwide. The Pike report says the home energy management market was $93 million in 2011.

And, as one market analyst has told me, security companies are uniquely poised to take advantage of that growth because of their close relationships with customers.

In a news release, Colorada-based Pike Research predicts:

“The home energy management market will make steady progress over the coming eight years. It will be driven by government mandates, utility programs, and a growing number of consumers looking to manage their energy bills. Also, a combination of consumer desire to be more ‘green,’ home construction and retrofits with energy management objectives, and new technologies surrounding plug-in electric vehicles will help stimulate the market.”

The company also said: “HEM products can be viewed in five groups, or segments, along a continuum that moves from paper bills (a mailed statement from the utility showing a customer’s energy usage as it compares to households nearby), through standalone HEM systems, which include some device-level tracking and automated device control capabilities, up to networked HEM, comprising auto-pricing response capabilities, demand response (DR) load control, and home automation controls. Of these, networked-HEM revenue will see the strongest growth (76.8 percent CAGR), as utilities attempt to drive volume sales of networked HEM systems in order to make DR and time-of-use pricing schemes feasible.”

Key piece of ASAP puzzle now in place

 - 
Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The CSAA has taken the next step toward bringing more participants into the fold with the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol by going "live" with a computerized message broker in Arizona.

The server at the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (Nlets) in Phoenix serves as a scrubber for transmissions being forwarded from monitoring companies to public safety answering points. It checks for errors and ensures that the information is properly formatted before sending it to the appropriate state control point and PSAP.

The Central Station Alarm Association reported that Vector Security and the 911 center for the city of Richmond, Va., switched to the message broker in mid-April. The move was seamless for the end users at Vector and at Richmond's PSAP, according to Bill Hobgood, project manager for the city's Public Safety Team.

Anita Ostrowski, Vector's VP for central stations, told the CSAA that operators at Vector required only very brief, informal training before the move was made to the server at Nlets.

Vector, UCC and Monitronics are the three alarm companies currently participating in ASAP, which speeds alarm notifications by providing information to 911 centers via computer instead of a phone call. Three municipalities are involved in the pilot program: Richmond, Houston, and York County, Va.

Ed Bonifas, vice president of Alarm Detection Systems and co-chairman of the CSAA's ASAP Steering Committee, told an audience at ISC West that Tempe, Ariz., was the next city signed up for the protocol. And there is plenty of industry interest: The CSAA had 75 companies waiting to adopt ASAP at the beginning of 2012.

With the message broker fully operational, one more hurdle has been cleared.

"This sets the stage for the future participation of additional alarm monitoring companies," Bonifas said. "Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available."

Report: G4S to shed some operations for $174 million

 - 
Monday, May 14, 2012

Mega-security company, G4S—which does systems integration, guards and monitoring— has done a lot of acquiring in recent years domestically and some selling abroad.   According to a Reuters report this morning, it’s about to do some more selling—but not in North America, in Denmark.

The report says says G4S is preparing to sell its “alarm centres in Denmark” I’m assuming “alarm centres” are monitoring operations, but guess they could possibly be alarm installation companies. I’ll get some clarification on this.

The report says G4S will keep its guard operations in Denmark. “Several private equity firms” are reportedly interested in buying and the deal is expected to be work “more than 1 billion Danish crowns ($174.13 million), “

Here’s some more from the story:

“Security firm G4S is preparing to sell a large part of its Danish operations in a deal that is expected to be worth more than 1 billion Danish crowns ($174.13 million), Danish financial daily Borsen said on Monday.

Borsen cited banking and legal sources familiar with the matter as saying that G4S was close to a sale of its alarm centres in Denmark, but would keep its Danish uniformed guards business.

“G4S has not been able to earn decent money from the infrastructure part (of the business) in Denmark so now they are selling it,” a source representing a potential buyer told the newspaper.

The paper said that several private equity firms were interested in the operations that G4S was selling. The paper said the sale would be similar to divestments of operations in Norway, Poland and Sweden that G4S has carried out after the company failed last year to acquire Danish outsourcing firm ISS in a 5.2 billion pounds ($8.4 billion) deal.
In March, G4S said it would return to targeting emerging markets, including Brazil, China and India, following the failed ISS takeover attempt. ($1 = 5.7429 Danish crowns) ($1 = 0.6212 British pounds) (Reporting by John Acher; Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford)”

ESX offers inside look at ADS central

 - 
Wednesday, May 9, 2012

ESX attendees who want to get an inside look at a CSAA Five Diamond central station will get their chance on June 26 when ADS Security hosts a tour of its monitoring facility in Nashville.

A motor coach will take tour participants from the Nashville Convention Center to ADS headquarters, where the company's latest monitoring technology will be on display. After the tour, ADS will host a cocktail reception to meet company staff and discuss operations at the central.

ADS serves more than 70,000 commercial and residential customers throughout the Southeast, providing burglar, fire alarm, video surveillance and access control systems. Each central station operator at ADS is Five Diamond certified.

The tour, sponsored by Honeywell Security Group, runs from 4-6:30 p.m. Space is limited. The cost is $75 if registration is received by June 1 and $100 thereafter. For more information, go to www.esxweb.com.

Pages