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LifeShield customers to be ‘monitored by Protection 1’

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Yardley, Pa.-based LifeShield Security offers wireless digital home security systems that are easy to install and are professionally monitored. And now monitoring and installation for LifeShield customers is going to be provided by Protection 1, the second largest security company in the United States.

LifeShield today announced a new partnership with that industry leader. Here’s more from the company’s June 6 release:
 

LifeShield Security is pleased to announce a new strategic relationship with Protection 1, the second largest security company in the United States, that will leverage the five fully redundant UL certified central stations of Protection 1 by offering their services to LifeShield customers as "monitored by Protection 1."

With customers in all 50 states, LifeShield has built a significant national brand using innovative products, value pricing, and strong endorsements from Dan Marino and John Timoney, America's top cop. Protection 1 is known for its highly rated customer service and local presence in 60 key markets. The relationship will leverage the best attributes of both companies and accelerate residential subscriber growth.

"LifeShield Security has grown rapidly over the last couple of years, but we believe we need a local presence to expand our opportunity to grow even faster. Protection 1 has one of the industry's best reputations for local service," said Michael Hagan, CEO of LifeShield. "This relationship with Protection 1 is a win-win-win for LifeShield, Protection 1, and our customers. We both have an over 95% customer satisfaction rating, and together we give customers peace of mind with LifeShield's superior technology and Protection 1's state of the art monitoring centers."

"We are thrilled to partner with LifeShield Security," said Tim Whall, President and CEO, Protection 1. "They have brought affordable interactive services to the industry through their IP- and cellular-based products and mobile applications. Their team has a great track record in high growth Direct-to-Consumer Marketing. We think this industry is entering a new phase of growth and these types of strategic partnerships help both companies gain larger market share in a growing industry."

LifeShield also is known for making innovative use of popular culture to promote home security. Check out my blogs on the company's partnering with Airbnb and also the wide-ranging ways it taps into social media.

Axis and Salient partner with HP for VSaas

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

In an effort to bring VSaas to the masses and IP to everyone, IP video provider Axis Communications, VMS provider Salient Systems and storage and server company Hewlett Packard today announced a Video Surveillance as a Service solution.

I spoke to Scott Dunn, Axis’ director of business development for North America, this afternoon about the deal. Salient adapted and integrated its enterprise VMS solution for Axis’ “one click camera connection” to stream video from IP cameras and encoders to remotely housed hosted servers from HP.  

Dunn said Salient’s VMS “has dynamic resolution scalling to serve up video and live feed in a thumbnail [view], which allows you to see a lot of feeds very efficiently .. and with efficient bandwidth usage.”

“Ultimately, we want to deliver solutions to the integrator that will drive RMR for them, so … working with world-class partners [such as Salient and HP], we can deliver a total solution to integrators … that’s cost effective and can be easily installed,” Dunn said. “And they can sell it as a service solution very much like the alarm industry [has been doing with monitoring services] for years,” he added.

So what’s the difference between this marketing agreement and the deal announced at ISC West 2011 between Axis and EMC?   They’re both aimed at making hosted video a reality for applications small and big, but there are some other differences.

For one, Salient adapted its VMS for this solution. However, “the main difference is that EMC is hosting the video in its own data center,” Axis’ Domenic Locapo said. “HP is bringing [the solution] to its biggest hosting partners to do the actual hosting,” he added.

How do integrators choose? Axis is providing best-of-breed options. It's a matter of what works best for a particular integrator and application, Dunn said.   

Dunn said Axis’ central theme this year is: “IP for everyone … affordable, quality, IP solutions for every class of user.” He said a “cloud deployment allows everyone cost-effectively [to have] benefits of IP including HD, mobility, scalability.”
 
The announcement was made today at an HP partner event in Las Vegas (called HP Discover 2012). Dunn said that in contrast to fears several years ago that IT companies would take business away from physical security integrators, this deal shows that IT and physical security collaborations mean more business for both professions.

Rush bust-cam manufacturer not disclosed

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

You've probably heard that radio personality Rush Limbaugh has been memorialized in the Missouri state house with a bronze bust. Click here to see a photo.

Limbaugh was inducted into the “Hall of Famous Missourians” a couple of weeks ago in a closed-door ceremony, which, according to this AP report, had police posted at the door to prevent any disruption of the event.

Worried about vandalism of the bronze sculpture, the House spent $1,100 on a security camera to keep an eye on Rush’s bust. While the Limbaugh statue was paid for with private funds, taxpayer funds were used for the camera.

There was an existing security camera in the state house rotunda, but Rush’s is the only bust with its very own camera, according to the story.

Missouri House Clerk Adam Crumbliss, who signed off on the purchase, is quoted as saying that the Rush bust-cam is serving as a beta for possible future video purchases. He’s quoted as saying that the House is considering installing cameras to broadcast its sessions live and the Rush bust-cam perfomance will help House leaders assess resolution and picture quality.

Curious about the manufacturer of the Rush bust-cam? About who installed the camera?  I spoke with Missouri House communications director Trevor Fox last week, and he said he’d get back to me. Called him again today.

Will let you know when I get a call back.

Alarm industry keeping pace with PERS

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

With baby boomers reaching age 65 and more of the elderly population living independently, personal emergency response systems have become the safety net of choice for millions of Americans. While central stations have been dealing with PERS for a few years now, the stakes are rising and the game keeps changing—think of GPS and two-way voice from a pendant. Technology has come a long way from “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” and training and procedures must keep pace.

The developments haven’t been lost on the Central Station Alarm Association. It has been working on establishing a standard for PERS technology and monitoring through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and is in the final stages of the process, Executive VP Stephen Doyle says in the latest edition of CSAA Dispatch.

“The CSAA board recognized that education and training on PERS would be needed if there is to be long-term credibility in the marketplace and with the AHJs,” he writes.

Few would disagree, but technology doesn’t sleep and people don’t always see eye to eye on where it is taking us. Looking farther down the road, who will serve as the gatekeeper for issues that emerge as PERS devices evolve beyond where they are today?

“With the formal promulgation of the … PERS standard and the training of PERS monitoring operators in the probable near future, it seems as though the time has come to consider forming a PERS Council,” Doyle says.

The council’s role would be to “help shape issues” specific to the interests of its members pertaining to PERS monitoring. Doyle said that the mission would be a natural for the CSAA.

“With the growth of the aging population, PERS monitoring and dispatch will become an increasing issue for the AHJs and the PSAPs,” Doyle says. “And who better to deal with the issues attendant to this technology than CSAA—as we have done very successfully with public safety entities for so many years.”

Council membership and other details are likely to be discussed at the CSAA’s midyear board meeting at ESX on June 25, according to Doyle.

Last call for ESX discounts: It’s not too late to get the early-bird discount for ESX Nashville. The deadline has been extended for one week, with lower registration rates available until Friday (June 8). To cash in, go to www.esxweb.com/register.

LifeShield socially savvy about home security

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Monday, June 4, 2012

A lot of companies talk about the need to employ social media to promote home security, but LifeShield Security doesn’t just talk about it—it’s really using the social online space in a wide variety of ways. It doesn’t just have a Facebook page, according to a recent company news release, but uses all kinds of social media, from virtual pinboards to viral memes and videos.

Yardley, Pa.-based LifeShield offers wireless digital home security systems that are self-installed and professionally monitored. I’ve written here before about LifeShield’s penchant for tapping into the popular zeitgeist. For example, LifeShield in 2010 brought on NFL Hall of Famer Dan Marino as an investor and to help market its product on TV. In 2011, the company added John Timoney—“America’s Top Cop”—as an advisor to help the company and customers protect against burglars with the aid of Timoney's inside knowledge of criminals’ minds.

Also, LifeShield last year piggybacked on the popularity of Airbnb—an Internet "bed-and-breakfast" service though which people can rent rooms or homes for vacations from private home and apartment owners—by offering a free home security camera promotion to Airbnb landlords.

Recently, LifeShield put out a release detailing its “multi-tiered approach” to social media to attract customers. Here’s more from the June 1 release:
 

LifeShield has learned how to connect with its users in new ways while also providing a social online atmosphere where customers can engage with each other.

"Popular contests, thousands of Facebook followers, and a growing library of viral videos show just how much consumers have come to love LifeShield," said Shannon Dominello, CMO, LifeShield. "Because LifeShield's wireless technology is as much a lifestyle choice as it is a financial one for customers, we have embraced social media as a way to reach out to them on a personal level and it has really paid off.  We now have a direct line into how they think, communicate and react to us as a company, as well as to general interest news and topics.  This helps us better understand our customers and ultimately, deliver a better product."

LifeShield is present on the Web in multiple ways for customers and potential customers to get involved and have some fun. A sampling of LifeShield's social media presence includes:

•    Infographics on topics like Best Guard Dogs, Residential Home Security and others that deliver real data and information in an easy format with clever images that's fun to read.
•    Facebook page with thousands of followers.  Activity spikes around frequent contests and giveaways where consumers can win the latest tech gadgets.
•    YouTube Channel for Fan and How-To videos for hooking up your LifeShield system. Customers post new videos regularly offering tips and techniques for fellow customers on best ways to install and unique ideas    on securing different areas around the home.
•    Home Security Blog covers crime and home security articles in the news as well as lifestyle and general interest stories.
•    Family and Parenthood Blog for general interest stories geared to Moms.
•    Viral memes and videos is a page listing helpful and entertaining home security "shorts" to help keep the bad out of your home and neighborhood. Samples include "Bad Home Security Ideas" and "Protect what You Love" videos.
•    DIY Pinterest images to interact with customers through virtual pinboards. We pin everything from wireless tech gadgets to DIY home tips.

 

Good news from The Hill

 - 
Friday, June 1, 2012

The Security Industry Association  this morning announced some good news for the industry. The House on May 30 passed H. R. 1299, the Secure Border Act.

Thanks to SIA’s efforts in the past year, the bill includes provisions important to the security industry.  As SIA’s press release put it: The bill “promotes the use of a comprehensive technology plan for major surveillance and detection technology programs, including a justification and rationale for technology choices and deployment locations."

I spoke to Marcus Dunn, SIA’s director of government relations, this morning and he had more good news:  Prospects are good for passage in the Senate.

The bill passed on suspension in the House—that means that it was passed by a supermajority on a voice vote. When bills are passed on suspension “the assumption is that it’s non-controversial,” Dunn said.

“Given that, we should have the ability to get it passed in the Senate,” he said. "If Congress can get [bills passed] without too much hassle before November, they are generally interested in doing that,” Dunn said.

If the Senate is able to do the same thing as the House, (it’s called unanimous consent in the Senate) the bill won’t have to go to conference and can quickly be signed into law by the president, Dunn pointed out.

The measure will be sent to a Senate committee early next week, although there is a process where the bill could skip committee assignment and go straight to the floor calendar for a vote, according to SIA's manager of government relations Stephen Holton.

"We are monitoring this legislation closely and intend on weighing in with comment once the proper committee jurisdiction is determined," Holton told me in an email.

Here’s some more information from the SIA news release:

“The bill was introduced by Rep. Candice Miller of Michigan, by recommending strategies that feature video cameras and other security technologies, ensuring that the use of electronic physical security equipment would be a priority within the Department of Homeland Security’s border security strategies. H.R. 1299 promotes the use of a comprehensive technology plan for major surveillance and detection technology programs, including a justification and rationale for technology choices and deployment locations.

“The Secure Border Act will direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to submit to Congress a comprehensive strategy for gaining operational control of the international borders between U.S. ports of entry, and also calls for the development of a five-year plan to ensure the vision of complete operational control is being met in border areas
The strategy will propose, among other things, staffing requirements, infrastructure investments, and the use of unmanned aerial vehicle, detection, and security equipment.
The bill is awaiting introduction into the U.S. Senate, which goes back into session on Monday, June 4.  SIA will restate its support for passage of this measure to the appropriate Senate committee once the jurisdiction of this bill is determined.

New ADT Pulse app gives customers personalized 'Home View'

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Friday, June 1, 2012

ADT announced today it’s offering a free upgrade for users of ADT Pulse, which it launched in October 2010. ADT's new automated “Home View” application will allow customers to “remotely interact with home devices via a personalized floor plan viewed on a mobile device or the Web,” the company said in its June 1 release.

Here are more details from the release:
 

This additional software feature allows ADT Pulse customers to easily and quickly map a virtual floor plan of their home and then remotely monitor and interact with their ADT Pulse devices via any web enabled PC, iPhone or iPad.

Once a customer sets up Home View via their personal ADT Pulse sign in page, they can view color-coded icons of their security devices, lights, thermostats and cameras. By clicking on the icons, customers can easily control their home’s lighting, climate and many small appliances. And if they have cameras, customers can quickly view real time video by simply clicking the video icons. A Home View video demonstration is available at www.ADTPulse.com/Home-View.

I’ve got a call in to Boca Raton-based ADT to find out more about how this new app can help dealers gain more business.

 

Gunfire pinpointed, then privacy debated

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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

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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

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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.

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