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Judge: No sprinklers, no insurance payout

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Here’s a good argument in favor of fire sprinklers that I saw posted recently on the National Fire Sprinkler Association web site: “A judge has decided that the owners of a southern Indiana concert hall destroyed in an arson fire aren't owed any insurance money because they didn't properly maintain the sprinkler system. Brown County Judge Judith Stewart ruled that the insurance company had no obligation to pay for the $3 million fire.”

According to a television news story earlier this month, the judge’s ruling concerned the Little Nashville Opry in Nashville, Ind.

The story by WRTV Indianapolis Channel 6, said that “the Herald-Times of Bloomington reported the concert hall had received a nearly $10,500 insurance payment in 2006 to repair frozen pipes, but instead disconnected pipes to the sprinkler system.”

I recently wrote a story about the city of Chattanooga, Tenn. voting to require nightclub owners install sprinklers for safety reasons. This Indiana story underscores that in addition to installing sprinklers, making sure they’re properly serviced and maintained also is key.


Celebs tweet for security company’s charity drive

Monday, July 18, 2011

More and more security companies are making use of social media as a part of doing business. A recent announcement by Vivint, a Utah-based door-knocking security/home automation company formerly known as APX Alarm, is an interesting twist on the trend. The company is using Twitter to get celebrities and others to support a company philanthropic initiative.

Here’s what the company had to say in the announcement:

“What do actors Alyssa Milano and David Arquette, and NBC Dateline’s Chris Hansen have in common? They are all tweeting messages of support for their favorite charities, which are all Regional Finalists in the second annual Vivint Gives Back Project.

Vivint … launched its second annual Vivint Gives Back Project on April 26. During the first phase, participants nominated 2,382 charities in North America, and then voted for their favorites. The 100 charities receiving the most votes per region (Pacific, Mountain, Central, Eastern, and Canada) moved on to Phase Two as Regional Finalists.

Milano and Arquette tweeted messages of support for Surfers Healing Fund … and Hansen tweeted for the Kids With Food Allergies Foundation.

During Phase Two, fans of Vivint’s Facebook page can vote and make donations to any of the top 100 charities by visiting On select days during Phase Two, Vivint will match participants’ donations dollar-for-dollar up to $50 per donor, and $2,500 per charity … Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. EDT on August 27.”

The company said that the non-profit receiving the most votes overall would be awarded $250,000 and the top vote-getting charity in each of the five regions would receive $100,000 each.


SW24 to surveil cable company

Thursday, July 14, 2011

SW24 announced this week that it has an initial $250,000 agreement to provide a video surveillance system for cable company Mediacom in five states.

Plans are on the books for SW24 to eventually provide security for Mediacom offices, data centers and warehouse locations at more than 200 locations in 22 states, according to the company.

The deal includes system design, hardware training and installation assistance to Mediacom. Three beta sites are up and running currently in Nogales, Ariz., Des Moines, Iowa, and Middletown, N.Y.

After learning of the contract earlier this week, I had an interesting conversation with Des Smyth, president and founder of SW24 about his company. Smyth, is a former NYPD detective who started security solution provider SW24 after he retired from the force. He’d worked closely with property managers in Harlem and the Bronx as a detective with the NYPD. He liked working with these folks, and founded SW24 to help them solve the problems of managing high-rise apartment buildings and commercial buildings in New York City. The company manages 1800 front doors in the city and 22,000 cameras. in addition to apartment buildings, SW24 counts eight major hotels and two universities among its customers.

His company includes many veterans of the NYPD and FDNY.

Smyth considers his company a security company, but he points out that his customers—property managers and security directors of buildings all over the city—use his products services for more than just security, it’s a business tool that helps them manage their buildings, he says.

SW24 installs cameras and access control. Its main business is video monitoring (including virtual guard tours, and other services) through its Network Operations Center and has its own proprietary software to manage that. Smyth said he believes SW24’s NOC is the “single largest private surveillance network in the country.”

Smyth uses a variety of vendors including Honeywell and Keri Access systems, and cameras from Avigilon, Mobotix, Panasonic, and others. It’s also getting into the residential intrusion business and is building what it’s calling a fusion center as Dan reported recently.

SW24 also offers additional services such as guard services, investigation services and “criminal event management.” Not counting guards, it has about 85 employees, including 14 software developers.

 Every single customer has a maintenance agreement. Smyth said he doesn’t want to deal with deteriorating equipment and the maintenance agreement ensures that the hardware and the software across the network is working and up to date, he said. “Everyone on the SW network has the latest version of the software,” he said.


Pro 1 marries electronic and physical security

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Protection 1 Security Solutions is a leader in the physical security industry. But now, through its new partnership with LifeLock, an industry leader in identity theft protection, Protection 1 is offering customers a way to keep not only their homes secure, but their identities safe as well. It's an interesting solution that marries two different, but related, products.

Protection 1 announced the new partnership this week. Here’s what the Romeoville, Ill.-based company had to say in its July 13 announcement:


“Protection 1 will offer the LifeLock service as part of their HomeCore security solution.  In addition, customers can add addition family members at a discounted rate. The addition of LifeLock to Protection 1 services falls in line with the company’s philosophy to provide customers with a full suite of life-protection services that go beyond the home.”

“We are seeing a trend where families are placing the importance of security on a different level than they may have several years ago,” said Tim Whall, President and CEO of Protection 1. “The concept of security goes further than a home security system and families are now looking for a comprehensive solution that protects them more substantially. We are pleased to now provide the industry’s best solution by partnering with LifeLock.”

Identity theft has topped the list of consumer complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for the 11th consecutive year, according to the agency’s annual Consumer Sentinel Network report. According to 2009 statistics from Javelin Strategy & Research and the FBI, an adult in the United States is nearly 8 times more likely to have their identity stolen than their home burglarized (estimated 11.1 million victims of identity theft and estimated 1.4 million home burglaries).”



Mobile biometrics on the rise?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

So I was reading through my SIA Update dated 7/7/2011 and came across an entry on biometrics. I thought it looked pretty cool, so I checked it out. I've been writing about biometrics for a while, covering smart building company FST21's solution SafeRise, which took awards at both ISC West and ESX for its converged use of facial recognition (See our upcoming source book on access control and biometrics), voice recognition and other technologies. I also wrote a while back about biometrics company Hoyos, which was speculating about the imminent arrival of facial recognition analytics built into smart phones. I even speculated about about whether or not biometrics would have any place in the future of the security industry.

Interestingly, I just picked up a tweet from GCC, Inc. president George Cohen pushing a story in the Wall Street Journal about police forces being outfitted with smartphone-based facial recognition apps.

The entry from SIA references a report from the Homeland Security Newswire, which itself if referencing a report from Goode Intelligence. The report says that the market for biometrics-based access control technology on smartphones and other smart mobile devices is set to see some growth over the next four years, growing from $131 million to $161 million by 2015.

The story talks about onboard fingerprint sensors and voice recognition software. That's pretty cool and I have to assume a whole lot more secure than simply dragging the little "locked" icon up to the top of my touchscreen.

I have to admit I found a some aspects of the math in the Homeland Security Newswire story a little wonky... That report claims in the headline that the market will grow 500% by 2015... I'm not sure how growing from $131 to $161 million is 500% growth, but arithmetic was never my strong suit.

The Homeland Security Newswire story does reference another story from June from, which doesn't mention anything about 500% growth. Nor does Good Intelligence's site say anything about percentages.

Regardless, biometrics on my phone would be pretty nifty.

Fire has ironic--and sad--twist

Monday, July 11, 2011

Some irony can be humorous, some dramatic and some tragic—when a person’s actions lead to sad consequences that are the opposite of what the person intended. I read two sadly ironic news stories this month. One involved motorcycles—and another one fire.

The first was about a New York motorcyclist who died July 3 riding in that state with 550 other motorcyclists to protest New York’s mandatory helmet law. According to a news report, the 55-year-old man hit his brakes, his Harley Davidson fishtailed and he went over the handlebars and hit his head on the pavement. He was pronounced dead at the hospital, but medical experts reportedly said the man would have survived if he’d worn a helmet.

Then there was this item, posted on the National Fire Sprinkler Association web site on July 5.

“In August of 2010, Mark Patterson, president of the Maine Home Builders and Remodelers Association, testified at a Maine Building Codes and Standards meeting against requiring sprinklers in new single-family homes. Less than a year later, [in June], Patterson's home was a total loss from fire according to the Sanford, Maine Fire Department.”

The NFSA quoted Patterson as stating at the meeting that the builders’ association was “not in favor of making sprinklers mandatory due to the costs which are estimated to be between $4,000 – $8,000.”

But on June 26, a fire destroyed the Sanford home of Patterson, co-owner of PATCO Construction, a construction company based in Sanford, according to Maine’s largest newspaper, The Portland Press Herald.

The newspaper reported that the home was a half-mile from the nearest hydrant, so a fire official “ordered tanker trucks to set up a water shuttle. The roof collapsed and the second floor collapsed into the first.”

The NFSA said on its site: “The house had no sprinklers installed and was a total loss, according to the Sanford Fire Department.”

I've got a call in to that fire department.


Another house on block in fraud case

Friday, July 8, 2011

There’s another housing development this month in the court case court case against Timothy McGinn and David L. Smith, two New York security alarm industry investors the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has charged with defrauding investors of more than $80 million in a Ponzi scheme.

Nancy McGinn, Timothy McGinn’s wife, has sold the couple's home in Niskayuna, N.Y., according to the Albany Times Union newspaper. “Half the proceeds from the sale, minus fees and taxes, will be held in escrow pending the resolution” of the SEC’s fraud case against McGinn and his business partner Smith, the paper said. The transaction was still pending and the sale price was not disclosed in court documents, the paper’s July 5 report said.

Earlier this year, in February, a judge ruled that a vacation home in Vero Beach, Fla. that Smith and his wife bought 10 years ago be sold to help benefit investors.

In the case of the McGinn house, according to court documents, a judge ruled July 1 that Nancy McGinn could keep approximately $7,000 from the sale of furniture in the house for herself as living expenses.

Magistrate Judge David Homer, in his ruling in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of New York, noted that the SEC opposed Nancy McGinn’s request to keep the furniture sale proceeds, but he said that New York State law would allow her to keep $5,000 of the sale anyway, and the receiver for the company would only get $2,000 at most.

McGinn and Smith were principals of McGinn, Smith & Co., an Albany-based investment firm that conducted investment dealings in the alarm industry. The SEC contends that from 2003 to 2009, the pair diverted funds into financially troubled entities and also into their own pockets, and to pay for exotic dancers on McGinn’s You Only Live Once cruise ship business.


Who will end up with Niscayah?

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Who's going to end up as the parent company of Niscayah? Will it be Stanley Black & Decker, a company that's well known in North America, but thought of as a power tool company, rather than a security company, (from what I hear anyway) over in Europe? Or will it be Niscayah's former parent, Securitas, which, in recent days, extended the time frame for its offer, but also said said it won't up its $907 million stock offer?

It seems logical that Niscayah would go for Stanley's $1.2 billion cash offering, but t's not over til it's over of course. Stanley's offer commences on July 25 and is currently set to expire on July 29. Some one else could theoretically make an offer in the meantime. Highly unlikely, of course, but possible.

Whichever way it goes, these two guys will have a lot of say: Melker Schorling, and Gustaf Douglas. Schorling and Douglas are the two largest shareholders of Securitas, and, according to Bloomberg, they're among the top six largest shareholders in Niscayah. Schorling is chairman of the board of directors for Securitas, and number 743 among the "world's billioinaiires" according to Forbes.

Forbes ranks  Douglas as number 488 among the world's billionaires. Both Douglas and Melker endorsed the Securitas offer when it was made in May. They have not commented publicly on whether they believe Niscayah should now accept the higher offer from Stanley.

Energetic growth for super-regional

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Select Security, a super-regional based in Lancaster, Pa., lately seems like the “Energizer Bunny”: It keeps growing and growing and growing.

One of the top 100 security companies in the nation for the past three years, Select Security, a Honeywell First Alert dealer, has made several acquisitions and piloted a summer sales program, all of which have led to record growth, the company said.

Now, according to a recent announcement from the sales, service, and monitoring security company, it has been named by Central Penn Business Journal as one of the top 50 fastest growing companies in central Pennsylvania.

Here’s more from Select Security:

“The CPBJ Top 50 list represents the best of the best when it comes to businesses headquartered in central Pennsylvania. In order to be eligible for consideration, companies are required to show revenue of at least $500,000 in each of the fiscal years ending 2008, 2009 and 2010, as well as revenue growth in 2010, as compared to 2008. The list ranked the companies according to revenue growth over the three-year period, with both dollar and percentage increases taken into consideration. This ranking formula led to the list of winners, including Select Security.

“Select Security has shown enormous growth over the past few years and I think that reflects the reputation we have built in the community,” said company president Patrick Egan. “Our customers see the quality of our work and recommend us to their friends and neighbors, which is the best kind of advertising.”

Egan said he expects to see the company make the [CPBJ] list again next year, as it continues to put emphasis on its best-in-class customer service and the latest technological breakthroughs.”



Verifying alarms and catching bad guys north of the border

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I was watching the tweets roll down my Twitter page the other day when I picked up on a tweet from Mike Jagger, president of Vancouver-based Provident Security. He was touting some verification work his company was doing and showing how verifying alarms can improve response times and lead to more arrests, which can increase a security company's value proposition and certainly improve relations with the local police.

I've written a lot about verified alarms and priority response for alarms that use video or audio to verify suspicious activity.

RSI's Keith Jentoft has done a lot of PR for the idea of proactively verifying alarms to gain priority response and to help police out. Most recently, I sat down with Keith and Major Eddie Levins of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg PD. They giving props to companies that verify.

Very recently, analytics provider Cernium joined with Sprint (I'm pretty sure this is the first use of CDMA in the security industry) for a solution that Cernium says could garner priority response from police.

I asked Mike about whether or not Provident used the Videofied solution.

"Videofied is one of the products we use," Mike told me. "We've branded the service NightOwl and choose the hardware required depending on the client's requirements."

We've talked with Provident about their business model, which is a little different than the average alarm company, before, and recently, Provident  Operations Centre manager Jane Swinglehurst was spotlighted in SSN's annual 20 Under 40 listing. Jagger himself is an alumnus from the class of '08.

Nice work on the verification and apprehensions guys (and better luck next time you face off against the Bruins!)! Keep it up.