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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Pet owners lapping up security

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The American Pet Products Association reported this spring that Americans spent nearly $51 billion on their pets. The organization said that's an all-time high—and security dealers, you should be aware the pet market is a “purr-fect” marketing opportunity for you.

Honeywell pointed that out in a blog posted today during National Pet Week, which runs May 6-12. Angela Remmert, a media specialist with Honeywell Security, writes that 72.9 million homes have pets and that many owners consider their pets family.

And she said Honeywell has many products that will appeal to such pet owners. “Our wireless pet immune sensors have been providing pet owners with interior protection since 1998. Then, the technology had pet immunity up to 40lbs. Today, our IS2500 Series ups the detection with selectable immunity for animals weighing up to 80lbs. Our CO and smoke detectors offer life-saving benefits and our outdoor contact can be placed on a gate to notify the owner if a gate is left open. With environmental sensors, you can even alert them to a low temperature or flood so they can ensure a safe environment.”

She also goes on to talk about a program Nashville-based ADS Security has to developed to protect pets: “ADS Security understands what pet owners are looking for from a security company.  In fact, they’ve created a program around it. It’s called ADS Pet Alert & Watch Systems (PAWS) [and is] designed … to keep pets safe in the home when owners are away. The program monitors smoke and CO levels and the monitoring center also keeps pet profiles on file for those who want to give additional info to help emergency workers remove pets safely in an emergency. In addition, they also have distributed hundreds of PAWS rescue decals across the Southeast, which are available to all pet owners within their service area.

One of the most popular parts of the program is Honeywell Total Connect, which they market as pet cams. From the road or at the office, these animal lovers can check in and actually see their loved ones, whenever they like. If you haven’t seen it already, take a minute to watch our video … You can embed it on your web site or YouTube channel to reach the pet owners in your area.”

(You can check out Angela’s blog here.)

So, if you have yet to put your mark on the pet security market yet, consider National Pet Week a good time to think about doing so!

AT&T bringing home security in Dallas and Atlanta this summer

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Monday, May 7, 2012

It’s official now …. AT&T plans to bring its home security/home automation offering to Atlanta this summer … and also to Dallas, the Dallas-based telecom announced today. It’s the start of a nationwide launch, the company said.

AT&T’s Digital Life services will be professionally monitored from AT&T owned and operated 24/7 monitoring stations, the company said in a May 7 news release.

The company announced this morning that it plans to begin trials of Digital Life in Atlanta and Dallas this summer. Connected devices offered will include cameras, window, door, smoke and carbon monoxide sensors, thermostats and appliance power controls, the company said.

I learned late last year that AT&T planned to come to Atlanta, where its new Digital Life Services division will be based. Although the company declined to confirm the move at that time, I talked to John Loud, president of the Georgia Electronic Life Safety and Security Association and owner of Kennesaw, Ga.-based Loud Security Systems, who said he had learned about the plan from an AT&T representative.

According to a report in The Dallas Morning News, an AT&T spokesman said that its Digital Life offering will benefit from “AT&T’s involvement with a smart home startup company called Xanboo,” which it acquired in December 2010.

Just a year ago, Security Systems News reported that AT&T was terminating its Xanboo dealer agreement. AT&T wouldn’t comment on what the company was going to do with the Xanboo technology, but there was speculation then that AT&T was going to get directly involved in the security business.

I'll continue to report on this story. Here’s more from AT&T’s release:
 

AT&T Plans Nationwide Launch of Wireless-centric Home Security and Automation Services

Checking on the welfare of loved ones, protecting your home from intruders, fire or water damage,  unlocking a door for the repairman or changing the temperature setting on the thermostat – and doing it from wherever you happen to be, here or abroad  – can be as easy as if you were right at home.

AT&T today announced plans for a new portfolio of all-digital, IP-based home security monitoring and automation services.  Called AT&T Digital LifeTM, , the services will give users unparalleled control and security of their homes using any web-enabled device, PCs, tablets and smartphones, regardless of wireless carrier.

AT&T plans to begin trials in Atlanta and Dallas this summer.

Managed by a newly created Digital Life group, the remote monitoring and automation portfolio will feature web-based access to automation, energy and water controls, as well as professionally monitored security services.

“The AT&T Digital Life service has the potential to take home monitoring and home security solutions to another level,” said Larry Hettick, Research Director, Consumer Services, for Current Analysis. “The service promises to be as robust as anything in the marketplace today backed by the trusted AT&T brand. I am particularly impressed with its IP-based wireless platform, plans for a nationwide offering, and a wide range of devices that can be monitored and viewed from any carrier’s wireless or wireline Internet connection. These consumer-friendly capabilities will help grow this industry.”

AT&T Digital Life will feature a robust lineup of connected devices like:

    Cameras
    Window/door sensors
    Smoke, carbon monoxide, motion and glass break sensors
    Door locks
    Thermostats
    Moisture detection
    Appliance power controls

The devices will be wirelessly enabled to connect to the IP-based AT&T Digital Life platform inside the home.

"AT&T Digital Life will change the way people live, work and play -- and meets a clear need in the market,” said Kevin Petersen, senior vice president, Digital Life, AT&T Mobility.  “The service is smart, simple and customer centric– freeing homeowners to do the things they want to do without compromising on the things they need to do to care for family and home.”

Unique Digital Life Trial Features

AT&T Digital Life will include numerous unique features and benefits:

    Professional installation of the platform, sensors and other devices
    Integrated, wirelessly enabled platform that combines home security and automation capabilities
    AT&T owned and operated 24/7 security monitoring centers
    A state-of-the-art user interface application, which allows customers to customize a solution based on individual needs, and the ability to manage and control their services from the U.S. or while traveling abroad
    The option to experience and purchase the service in AT&T’s distribution channels, including AT&T company-owned retail stores. The service will also be made available for purchase on att.com when available commercially.
    The ability to add more features and services after the initial installation, hassle free

The Digital Life platform includes built-in AT&T mobile internet service and will also be capable of Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, and wired broadband connections. Trial subscribers can use their own wired broadband solution with the Digital Life system and can access the service and remotely control the products from smartphones, tablets and PCs, regardless of carrier.

“We’re planning a unique suite of services, from start to finish, that will give homeowners control of their property and their possessions through an easy to navigate user interface,” Petersen said.  “Our focus is on providing our customers with a comprehensive home security and automation solution that offers the best possible customer experience, and uses the most advanced mobile internet technology on the market to make their lives easier and keep their families and property safer.”

In February, AT&T announced plans to launch an SDK for international providers to equip global service providers with capabilities to offer customizable, web-based home automation, energy and security services to their subscribers.

 

9-11 first responder: Mass notification 'might have made a difference that day'

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Friday, May 4, 2012

I just got back from an emergency management seminar in Burlington, Mass. sponsored by Notifier by Honeywell. The May 3 event opened with remarks from Thomas Von Essen, who was New York City’s fire commissioner at the time of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, about the importance of mass notification/emergency communication systems.

Von Essen spoke for only about 10 minutes, but hearing from someone so involved in the experiences of that terrible day about how mass notification/ECS might have changed the outcome in some way really made his message hit home for me.

Von Essen said that after the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 1993—when a truck bomb exploded below the North Tower—the emergency plan “was to keep everyone in one building if something happened to the other one.”

On Sept. 11, 2001, that plan proved fatal for some occupants of the South Tower, which was hit after the North Tower. Von Essen said that because of the plan—and the erroneous belief the South Tower was the safer place to be, even though it ended up collapsing first—when occupants of that tower reached the lobby, emergency responders sent them back up.

“Many people followed instructions. Those people were lost that day,” he said.

After 9-11, Von Essen said, “I saw a presentation on mass notification and emergency communication systems [which allow for a variety of real-time response plans based on a range of different emergency events], and I thought, ‘Wow, this is what might have made a difference that day.’”

The seminar was sixth of a series of eight such seminars being offered around the country, Peter Ebersold, Notifier’s director of marketing, told me. “It’s really an opportunity to get out and educate,” he said. The remaining two seminars are later this month, one in Walnut Creek, Calif. and one in Redmond, Wash.

The seminars, which are being taught by Jack Poole, a fire protection engineer and member of the NFPA 72 Technical Committee and which offer CPD credits, are drawing everyone from fire dealers to engineers to end users.

I got the chance to speak to some fire dealers attending.

Among those I met was Ara Beurekjian, president, Fire Command Systems of Peabody, Mass., which started in 2010 and has four employees.

One interesting project that his company is currently working on is a new Residence Inn by Marriott at Fenway Park in Boston, home of the Red Sox. He said that project involves the installation of a new Notifier smoke/CO detector with a sounder. The fact that the new product was available “was one of the factors that allowed us to provide a solution for them,” Beurekjian told me.

He said the advantages include the fact that it’s a single device, it’s fully intelligent and involves less wiring, so is easier to install and less costly for the end user.

I also spoke to Jim Yantosca Sr., founder of Northeast Integrated Systems of Malden, Mass., and his son, Jim Yantosca Jr. The company will have been in business 30 years this August and has between 15 to 22 employees.
Among the company’s clients are high rises and higher education campuses in Boston and the surrounding area.

They said mass notification is becoming an increasingly robust market in the area, and that a mass notification system can readily be added to an existing fire alarm system, even if it’s two decades old or so. Northeast made such upgrades at Gordon College in Wenham, Mass. and at Northeastern University in Boston, Jim Yantosca Jr. told me. “We had them up to a situation where they could use mass notification within days.”

I also talked to Jack Welch of Wel-Design Alarm Systems of Wilbraham, Mass., a company founded by his father in 1978 that now has about 18 employees. The company, whose biggest verticals are education, prisons and hospitals, also opened an office in Rhode Island last year, he said.

He said one trend he’s noticed in fire right now is that a lot of public projects that were put on hold during the recession now suddenly have the green light. “The public sector in the fire world” is where there’s a lot of business right now, Welch said.

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