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Mobotix in Atlanta

Monday, March 28, 2011

I’m in Atlanta today for the Mobotix East Coast partner conference, and we have a full day of presentations lined up. I wrote about Mobotix earlier this year when it announced it opened a new demo center in Manhattan. During that interview Steve Gorski—a veteran of Axis who joined Mobotix a year ago to raise the company’s profile in the Americas—told me what differentiates Mobotix,  is its “decentralized approach” where the image processing takes place in the camera itself instead of on a central PC.

Storage can also be done on the camera. The PC is used for viewing and controlling the camera and not for analysis or recording,” Gorski said. “And the bottom line is that means [the cameras] use less bandwidth, fewer servers or less costly servers, and because it’s megapixel, you need fewer cameras. Mobotix has its own VMS software with no licensing fee. However, he notes Mobotix is “good friends with the OnSSI, Milestone and other VMS platforms” and works well with their software.  Read more from that interview here.

From the looks of the reception last night, Mobotix has a pretty good showing here in Atlanta nine days before ISC West. There were about 100 non-Mobotix attendees at the reception and they’re expecting 150 during the program today and tomorrow.

They’re still working on launching their new channel partner program, which they’d hoped to kick off at ISC West. That kick off is likely to happen sometime after the ISC West, Gorski said.  And the company will have a big presence at ISC West. I remember meeting with Peter McKee at a small booth at ISC East three or four years ago. This year at West, Mobotix is going to have one of those 50-foot booths up front, I learned last night.

On the agenda for the day—which thankfully did not start at 7 a.m  as some agendas do—is the following:

Mobotix Welcome & Introduction Peter McKee - Global Marketing Director

Steve Gorski - General Manager Americas

10.00 am MOBOTIX Keynote Presentation Dr. Ralf Hinkel - CEO and Founder of MOBOTIX

11.15 am Facts & Figures Lutz Coelen - CFO of MOBOTIX

12.00 pm MxExpo Overview

MOBOTIX partners demonstrating MOBOTIX solutions

Steve Gorski - General Manager Americas

12.30 pm Lunch & Opening of MxExpo

1.30 pm MOBOTIX Features & Functions

MOBOTIX Hardware & Software

Examples & Latest Developments

Jörg Steuerwald - Project Manager

2.30 pm MOBOTIX USA Challenges & Potential Steve Gorski - General Manager Americas

3.00 pm Introduction to Case Studies Steve Gorski - General Manager Americas

3.15 pm Partner Case Study Presentations (Part 1)

3.45 pm Coffee Break & MxExpo

4.00 pm Partner Case Study Presentations (Part 2)

Here’s some more background on the company from my interview with Gorski:

Headquartered in Langmeil, Germany, Mobotix was founded in 1999 by CEO Ralf Hinkel. The company has 276 employees, and global sales of EUR 53.8 million ($73 million) in FY 09/10 (which ended June 30, 2010), a 20-percent increase over the previous year, according to the company.  Gorski said that IMSResearch ranks Mobotix first in global market share for megapixel cameras. In the EMEA region, IMS says Mobotix is second in terms of market share for IP cameras, he said.

With about 11 employees in North America, Mobotix has had a quiet presence here since the early 2000s. Gorski, who formerly worked for Axis Communications, was brought on last year to raise the company’s profile in North America.

IMS ranks Mobotix 10th in terms of market share in North America, Gorski said. He believes Mobotix can move to number five within a couple years. “The group of folks in the five- to 10 [ranked spots] are only separated by a few percentage points.” And, he said, Mobotix is growing fast. In the first quarter of Mobotix’ FY 2010 (July-September 2010) Mobotix sales in North America were 50 percent higher than in the same period last


Communications pathway refugees?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I got an email from Lou Fiore recently and got right on the horn with him. He told me all about some rumblings in Congress about auctioning off a certain section of the radio spectrum to help pay for a Public Safety Network.

No big deal, right?

Wrong... Unfortunately, the section of the spectrum they're looking at invading has an indigenous population already... The security industry.

Lou told me that back in the day in the late 60s, the security industry began using the frequencies in question, between 450 MHz and 470 MHz and that particular stretch of spectrum has become home to a lot of big players.

"We first got access to the 400s in the late 60s and we got frequencies set aside for us. And we were using them through the 70s and 80s, but with cell phones, many alarm companiess switched over and abandoned the 400s," Fiore said. "But then we started using the 400s for data. Then AES came along and really hit it hard with a solid application. And now this."

Mace CSSS' Morgan Hertel agreed open auction of the 400s would have a big impact.

"This will effect systems ... that have been using UHF radio frequencies," Morgan said. "It’s a big deal since this is the area where those that didn’t want to use GSM are and have been using successfully for a decade or more."

Lou said every alarm dealer needed to get involved and write to the appropriate folks in Congress. 

Here's Lou's email in full:



Several bills have been introduced in Congress, both in the House H.R. 607and Senate S. 28 and S. 455 which could result in the auctioning of our valuable spectrum to the highest bidder. In the case of the House, the bill calls for the auctioning of the 450 to 470 MHz spectrum within which frequencies we use to transmit alarm signals from homes and businesses to our central stations. In the case of Senate, S. 28 and S. 455, these bills call for the auctioning of spectrum which could finance either the public safety network or raise money for other purposes.

ACTION NEEDED NOW: It is time to react and react aggressively to let our Representatives and Senators know that our industry and the service we provide will be seriously harmed and our businesses are at risk if our frequencies are auctioned.

Radio has become an important and growing component on how we move data either from sensors to control equipment or from premises equipment to central stations. In this current world where mobile cellular and broadband are invading our lives, the appetite for radio spectrum has become insatiable to the point where there is a high probability that Congress will attempt to invade our most important frequencies.

At risk are frequencies in the business band, namely 450 to 470 MHz, and the frequencies we use for short range devices in the 300 to 350 MHz band (Part 15 devices) and perhaps even at about 900 MHz (additional Part 15 devices). These short range devices are used for on-premises communications such as sensors and PERS devices. A comprehensive list is being compiled and will be presented to Congress.

Below is a link to two letters, one for Senators and the other for Representatives. You, your colleagues and employees should send the appropriate one to your Representative and your Senators. Personalize these letters as you see fit, but keep the basic message the same. Then place them on your letterhead or stationary. Make sure that your office or home address (whichever places you in the targeted members district) is on the letter. Below is also a link to a list of Members on the House and Senate Commerce Committees with jurisdiction over telecommunications issues.  The letter to the Representatives addresses H.R.607, while the Senate letter addresses broader spectrum issues.

*  If there is a member of the House or Senate from your state who sits on the Committees of jurisdiction, it is imperative that you send them the appropriate letter.

* BUT you should also send one to your Congressman and both Senators whether or not they sit on these Committees.


If you do not know the names and addresses of your Representative and Senators, a search at and respectively will yield their names and addresses.

Because of lengthy screening and security delays for the delivery of  US mail to congressional offices, the AICC asks that  letters supporting the AICC’s position on legislation be sent to CSAA at the address below so that we can hand deliver them to your senators and representatives.

Please send your SIGNED letter addressed to the appropriate member of Congress as follows:

By UL Mail:

Monique C. Silverio

Director of Marketing and Communications

Central Station Alarm Association

8150 Leesburg Pike, Suite 700

Vienna, VA22182

By FAX to:


By email

CSAA will collect the letters and deliver them to Congress.

Please contact Lou Fiore at if you have any questions.

So much has been happening in the industry as far as communications pathways are concerned. The FCC sunsetted AMPS, they're sunsetting POTS, there's been talk of GSM technologies phasing out, AT&T is buying T-Mobile, narrowing the competative field in the world of GSM (which may or may not be a big deal depending on who you talk with), and now this. As Lou said to me, "It was three years ago that we lost AMPS to a shutdown and many people migrated to these radio frequencies in order to not be beholden to a cellular carrier in hopes of getting away from future sunsets. It's like there's no port in the storm, here."

I also had a chance to speak with AES Intellinet president and CEO Mike Sherman. Avid readers of this blog will remember I've spent some time in the past talking with Mike about communications pathway alternatives as POTS has begun to go away, and GSM 2.0 has threatened to dwindle and broadband has had its problems.

Mike agreed with Lou that absolutely now was the time to get informed and contact your congressmen. However, he also said the magnitude of the suggested auction was so great that he couldn't imagine it happening any time soon. Here's a bit of our conversation:

I guess in theory it could be a big deal, but I don’t really believe it will be ... If the government does this—auctions off this section of the spectrum—the purchasers will probably have to pay to relocate the occupants of the bandwidth they bought ... That is what nobody in Congress really understands ... They're making sweeping statements not really understanding what it would take to do what they want to do. Even if they do do this, their timeline is over the next 10 years ... Let’s take a look at the 450-470—that’s where the security industry is. It’s where the vast majority of Intellinet radios are. This is the people’s frequency. There are millions and millions of radios on those frequencies owned by everyone from your local flower shop to McDonalds. When you pull up to McDonalds or Burger King or Dunkin Donuts and they have these wireless radios they’re wearing in a headset when you pull up to get your coffee at the window? Those are all on these frequencies. If the government sells these frequencies, somebody is going to have to replace all these millions and millions of radios. Who can pay to dot that? And it goes on and on. In these frequencies, you’ve got the forestry service, you’ve got all the railroads. Are they going to replace every radio in every railroad in the United States? Are they going to replace every radio in every ranger station in every park in the United States? Not only that, it’s the petroleum industry, too. These users are entrenched. They’ve been here since 1960 and before. To move them would take billions and billions of dollars.

Get in the know and get involved.

Getting to know your AHJ

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Have you ever thought about stopping by your AHJ’s office just to say “Hi” and chat? A friendly visit like that could help increase understanding when it comes time to determine whether a fire alarm meets code.

That was one of the suggestions offered during a Webinar I attended yesterday entitled “establishing an effective relationship with your local AHJ.”

Sponsored by the Central Station Alarm Association, the Webinar was presented by Tom Presnak, UL senior staff auditor, and Mike O’Brian, a fire marshall with the fire department in Brighton, Mich.

The session noted that updates to standards, rapid improvements in technology and limited resources put pressure on not only those installing and monitoring code-compliant fire alarm systems but on the AHJ responsible for ensuring that buildings in a locale are safe. The purpose of the hour-long Webinar was to provide insight into some of the steps industry members can take to improve their working relationship with their AHJ. Tips included getting to know an AHJ and making sure that the technicians who interact with them are well-trained and knowledgeable.

Presnak pointed out that it’s important to learn about an AHJ’s background because that can vary widely.

For example, he said that in a large city, AHJ’s “may have no firefighting background, they’re strictly engineer types.”

Some might come from law enforcement, and “some are former alarm technicians, some sprinkler guys,” he said. Also, Presnak said, municipalities cutting back on spending in the economic recession have been putting their fire marshals back on active firefighting duty and tapping city building inspectors take over fire marshal’s duties.

“It’s a whole new experience for them,” Presnak said. “So, from an alarm company’s standpoint, it’s really good to understand who you’re going to be dealing with, and what their background and what their credentials are. You may have to do some education yourself.”

O’Brian added, “From an industry standpoint it’s important to understand how they got where they’re at.”

O'Brian said he was impressed when an alarm company owner came into his office recently with a vendor just to interact and talk about the vendor's product that the alarm company was considering. “It was a good way to spend some time with the alarm contractor,” O’Brian said. And he said that for alarm companies, “it’s a great way to get to know your AHJ.”

In the question portion of the Webinar, one participant said he sometimes has to deal with “fire inspectors who know less than the contractor,” and asked how to handle it when such inspectors get defensive and make an inspection difficult.

O’Brian responded: “It goes back to building up that inspector.”

He said, “What my recommendation is: Understand the situation and get through the inspection, but then find an avenue to come in and talk and become a resource to them in the long run.”


Stanley deal goes down in Georgia

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Stanley CSS announced yesterday that it’s acquired another Sonitrol franchise, Electronic Protection Network, of Savannah, Ga.

Terms of the deal were not announced. The deal includes “mostly commercial accounts including retail, restaurant, industrial, banking and education customers being serviced throughout Georgia,” according to a release.

:“As a Sonitrol franchise, the acquisition of Electronic Protection Network is a natural fit for us.—Stanley has over 52,000 customers using the Sonitrol technology across North America and the United Kingdom, so we’re happy to be adding Sonitrol of Savannah’s customers to the Stanley family,” said Tony Byerly, president Stanley CSS North America and United Kingdom Direct, In a prepared statement.

This is the first Sonitrol franchise acquired in 2011 by Stanley. Its last Sonitrol franchise acquisition took place in November, when it acquired two in Oklahoma.

Since Stanley bought Sonitrol in 2008, it’s been buying up the remaining independently owned Sonitrol franchise on an opportunistic basis. There are approximately 89 remaining franchises left. 

Stanley CSS has 300,000 commercial, national account and residential customers in North America.


Corporate risk and responsibility

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I had an interesting conversation this morning with a consultant named Dan O’Neill, president and CEO of Applied Risk Management, which has offices in Stoneham, Mass., and in the DC area as well. His specialty is in risk assessment and policy and procedure development. And, he said he works across all verticals but targets airports, colleges and universities, hospitals, power companies and major corporations.

We were talking about the tragedy in Japan and I asked him if any of his clients were thinking anew about how a possible power plant disaster might affect their business, and he said, yes.

This is something our sister publication, Security Director News, wrote about last week. Leischen spoke to Dan Weiss, a partner in McGann Global, and former CEO of Infrastruct, about the tragedy in Japan and business continuity planning in North America.

Dan Weiss said that it's always important for businesses to plan for worst case scenario. O’Neill said he was contacted by a corporate client who asked him to reassess the client’s emergency response plan’s suitability in the event of a nuclear meltdown at nuclear plants.

He said it’s interesting topic to re “Of course we look at the building and the building envelope and what to do with the security systems, O’Neill said. But decisions decisions also need to be made about the company’s corporate responsibility. Who, for example, should a corporation evacuate in an emergency. “They have a responsibility to protect the employees, but those employees also have families and pets and mothers and fathers...”

O’Neill pointed out that the probability of nuclear power plant disaster, along the lines of what’s happening in Japan, and affecting other businesses, is very, very low. It’s not the kind of scenario businesses generally think about, but worse case scenario is clearly important to think about.

Pinnacle at home with charity

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

I wrote here in December about Pinnacle Security helping to build homes for residents of Honduras through its new charitable initiative called Pinnacle: Securing Hope. Now the company’s latest project under the initiative has involved helping build a home for people in the company’s own home city of Orem, Utah. 

Pinnacle, one of the leading summer model residential security companies, announced on March 16 the completion of a project in that city in partnership with Habitat for Humanity. Members of Pinnacle's installation department volunteered their time to do the final work on a home that had been built but needed inside finish work before its new owners, a single mother and her two children, could take occupancy, the company said.

The 12 Pinnacle volunteers finished indoor painting, installed appliances and completed trim work in the house, according to the company.

“We found out about the project through Habitat for Humanity of Utah County and were really pleased to have the opportunity to participate," Stuart Dean, VP of corporate communications for Pinnacle Security, said in a statement. “We have enjoyed serving all over the country, but there is something special about being able to help right here in our backyard.”

“Habitat for Humanity depends on volunteers like Pinnacle's team to complete and further our mission,” said Rachel Wyatt, Habitat's volunteer coordinator, in a statement. “We always appreciate companies and individuals that are willing to step-up and get the project ready for a deserving family.”


The company said its Securing Hope initiative, announced in fall of 2010, has included building homes and installing solar panels and electricity in Honduras, and becoming the first corporate sponsor for Sustain Haiti, a local NGO focused on rebuilding earthquake ravaged Port-au-Prince with sustainable assistance. Company teams are planning a trip to Haiti this spring to continue rebuilding efforts as well as a trip to Africa to build homes and install electricity, the company said.


Calling all women in security

Monday, March 21, 2011

If you’re a woman who works in the security industry, we probably know each other, or we’ve seen each other.  I’m kidding, of course, but it does seem that way sometimes. There are not a lot of women working in security. I’ve been at industry conferences and—many times—been one of 20, 10, sometimes only two women in the room.

That does seem to be changing. I started working in security in 2005 and each year I interview more women for stories and I see more women at industry events. And, even if the increase is statistically small, I’ve met some very cool, smart and interesting women. JoAnna Sohovich, Lisa Roy, Jamie Haenggi, Sharon Shaw, Aisling MacRunnels, Kerry Egan, Jennifer Hollloway, and Shandon Harbour are just a few who come to mind.

In some ways, the dearth of women is not surprising. As I wrote in a special report “Women in Security” in January 2010, most women don’t grow up dreaming of a glam job in security. It's not a huge industry compared to others, and it's not on many people's radars. Most women who end up here either had parents in the industry, came from law enforcement/military backgrounds, or ended up here accidentally. And all of the women I spoke to for that report had had mentors (the vast majority of whom were men) who guided them in their security careers early on. Those women chose to continue working in the industry because they like the work. There are are challenging, high-paying, important jobs to be had in this line of work.

So I was excited to learn recently about a new group that’s being formed: the Women’s Security Council, which is designed to be “a network of successful professionals empowering women to realize their potential as industry leaders.” For starters, they’ll be offering online and on-site networking programs, educational discussions and Webinars, and special events.

The group is having its grand debut at ISC West this year. Sound good?You can sign up for updates here.  You can also email for more information directly at Soon you’ll be able to become a member online, as well as at WSC events. Membership is $50 annually for regular membership and $75 annually for charter (founding) membership. The group will have membership forms at networking receptions, and will take checks on site or bill later.

 Remember to put these two events on your ISC West calendar:

1.WSC at ISC Kick-Off Networking Reception, April 5 at the V Bar in the Venetian Hotel, 6-8 p.m. RSVP to (The group is still looking for sponsors for this event)

2. ISC West educational session on April 7 1-2 p.m. “The Woman’s Handbook to Professional Success in the Security Industry”

See you there!


Appealing to a wider demographic through multilingual products

Monday, March 21, 2011

I got a release this morning letting me know that Honeywell had announced the release of its new Spanish language version of the LYNX Plus keypad.

I’ve written before about security industry entities broadening their demographic reach through expanding into languages other than English.

Good for Honeywell. Not everyone speaks English. As one who speaks English, has studied French, Russian and Spanish and knows a few words in Greek, I have to say I applaud any company that embraces a multilingual outlook to widen the accomodated demographic.

I’ve also written about the LYNX Plus before. It won a Maximum Impact Award from ESX last year. The new Spanish version is a combination control panel, keypad, siren, dialer, two-way voice system and speakerphone that has an internal GSM radio that lets dealers offer RMR-generating services like Total Connect.

Total Connect, of course, is the mobile aspect so many end users today are looking for, according to many with whom I’ve recently spoken.

The LYNX Plus can communicate using standard phone lines, IP transmission and GSM. Such versatility is something I’ve written about before, as well. With POTS lines disappearing and the Federal Government mandating a sunset of the PSTN, wireless solutions are a big thing these days.

Of course, I still think the security industry should design, implement and completely control its own communications path in order to truly overcome the uncertainty that comes with having to rely on another, non-security company’s technology to function.


Vivint vibrant

Friday, March 18, 2011

The Utah-based summer-model giant that recently changed its name stands out in its home state for generating revenue and growing at a rapid pace, according to the Utah Valley Business Quarterly.

Vivint, formerly APX Alarm, which rebranded Feb. 1 as a way to highlight its big push beyond home security into home automation, announced this week that it had garnered top spots in the magazine’s “third annual UV50 rankings of Utah Valley’s leading companies. The company ranked No. 2 among Utah County companies for revenue performance and No. 11 for its rate of growth.”

According to a Vivint press release, the magazine’s 2011 30 fastest-growing companies ranking was compiled by the magazine’s editorial team based on companies’ percentage revenue growth over a three-year period from fiscal year 2008 through 2010. The magazine’s top 10 revenue companies ranking was based on 2010 revenues.

“The UV50 honors the economic engines of Utah Valley — and Vivint is no exception,” Briana Stewart, the magazine’s managing editor stated in the release. “In addition to ranking high on our top revenue list, the stalwart Provo company graces our fastest-growing category, which is no easy feat considering their impressive revenue. BusinessQ offers a big congratulations to Vivint. We look forward to seeing them on the UV50 for years to come.”

“In the midst of a sustained economic downturn, we are pleased to achieve the dual honors of being among Utah County’s leading revenue companies and the fastest-growing companies,” said Todd Pedersen, Vivint CEO.

Vivint operates throughout the United States and Canada and has more than 5,000 employees and services about 500,000 customers.


Mace getting closer to pure play

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mace Security International took another step toward becoming a pure-play security company when it announced this week the sale of its Lubbock, Texas carwash.

The car wash sold for $1.7 million and the company netted $300,000 in cash after “paying off a mortgage for $670,000,  a 50 percent payment of $675,000 towards the $1.35 million promissory note with Merlin Partners LP and closing costs,” according to a press release.

This leaves two car washes of the 51 car that Mace originally owned.

Of the two that are left, one is “under an agreement of sale and an additional car wash under lease,” according to a press release.

I spoke to Mace CEO Dennis Raefield this fall, and he said that the company would be shedding all of its security assets early in 2011.

In a prepared statement, Raefied said: “This sale reduces our already low debt levels even more and continues our strategic focus towards the security industry."