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Honeywell launches easy-to-install bridge from home security to home automation

 - 
Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Honeywell today released a new product that the company says will meet the needs of millions of customers who want to add very basic, affordable home automation features to their home security systems.

Here’s what the company said in today’s release of its 5800ZBRIDGE device: “The newest member of Honeywell’s 5800 Series wireless devices, the 5800ZBRIDGE is an easy-to-install product that enables Honeywell security systems to control up to four Z-Wave devices.  It can automatically set back thermostats and turn lights on or off whenever security systems are armed or disarmed—helping homeowners save money and conserve resources every day by simply using their security systems.”

Jonathan Klinger, VP of marketing for the Melville, N.Y.-based Honeywell Security & Communications, told me yesterday that the product “will enable dealers to tie any Honeywell wireless security system to Z-Wave thermostats or lighting control modules.”

He said that the idea behind it “is to address the needs of the millions of households who either have or are about to have Honeywell security systems who are really just looking for basic energy management and lighting control.”

An example, Klinger said, is women living alone returning in the evening to dark homes they hope are empty. He said being able to turn lights on at the same time they disarm the house as they approach it, “provides them with reassurance.”

Mark O’Keefe, general manager for Honeywell’s StreetSmart, said in a statement in today’s release, “With the 5800ZBRIDGE, dealers can provide homeowners with the ability to save money on their heating and air conditioning expenses.”

Also, O’Keefe continued, with the 5800ZBRIDGE, homeowners “see more value in their security systems and are more apt to use them every day—making it an excellent account retention tool and new business driver.  It can also be easily retrofitted into existing Honeywell security installations to help dealers reduce attrition and close more business.”

The 5800ZBRIDGE is compatible with Honeywell’s LYNX and select VISTA control panels, the company said.

 

Shut down by Securitas Direct, Stanley is new Niscayah suitor

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Very interesting dealings in the past few days with Niscayah, Securitas and Stanley Black & Decker.

On May 16, Niscayah’s former parent company announces it wants to buy the company back for $907 million. At that time, Securitas CEO Alf Goransson was quoted as saying during a press conference that in hindsight, selling off Niscayah in 2006 wasn’t such a hot idea. The reason: to compete with other guard companies like G4S, Securitas really does need the integration and monitoring capabilities. Plus, Niscayah hadn’t grown the way it had hoped, so it was a good target. 

The deal made sense all around, analysts said.

And according to published reports, Niscayah’s largest shareholders—Latour, SakI and MSAB, who are also shareholders in Securitas—supported the offer.

But, yesterday Stanley Black & Decker announced it had upped the ante with a $1.2 billion cash bid, a deal that the Niscayah board of directors announced yesterday that it supported.

Stanley has said in the past that it wants to continue to grow its security business globally and has acquired a monitoring company and a couple of other commercial companies in U.K ,  as well as the former ADT operation in France in March 2010.

It also recently made a play for Securitas Direct, a European alarm company that was formerly a part of Securitas, according to several published reports.

Securitas Direct and Securitas Systems (which was renamed Niscayah) were spun off from Securitas the guarding company in 2007.

Stanley worked with private equity firms Carlyle Group and Clayton Dubilier & Rice in making a bid for the alarm firm Securitas Direct, but was beat out by a group of PE funds.  According to a statement by Securitas Direct, the PE investors are managed by Bain Capital and Hellman & Friedman, based in London. That group “alongside management, agreed to acquire Securitas Direct from EQT V for a total enterprise value of approximately SEK 21 billion [$3.4 billion] and a potential additional payment of up to SEK 0.9 billion conditional on the future performance of Securitas Direct.”

Back to the Stanley bid for Niscayah: Will other bidders enter? Will Securitas up its bid? Most analysts think more bidders is unlikely. 

In May Securitas said, in no uncertain terms that it Idid not intend to enter into a bidding war with rival bidders. And, according to Rueters and others, spokeswoman Gisela Lindstrand said on June 27 that Securitas' bid still stands, but so does a stance the firm will not enter a bidding war: "That is still the status. We will not do that,” she is quoted as saying.

 

SIA summit information-packed

 - 
Thursday, June 23, 2011

I returned yesterday from the SIA Government Summit, which took place in Washington DC, June 21 and 22.

The summit is designed to give those in the security industry, both integrators and manufacturers, an update on what’s going on in the legislative and executive branches that directly affects the security industry.

There was a ton of information presented, and it seemed well targeted to the audience. If you’re a manufacturer or integrator who does business with the government or who would like to do business with the government, there was lots of how-to information packed into these two days.

Speakers included some heavy hitters (and engaging public speakers) like Jonanthan Cofer, principal deputy director, Pentagon Force Protection Agency; Thomas Celluci chief commercialization officer for DHS; Ralph Basham, former director of the Secret Service, TSA chief of staff, and former Commissioner of Customs and Border Protection; and Peter Pietra, TSA director of privacy policy and compliance.

I expect to write a few stories based on the summit, but here’s a description of one of the highlights: Celluci’s address.

Thomas Cellucci, chief commercialization officer for DHS, talked about how he’s helping DHS learn to do business with the private sector. “I looked at it from a business person’s perspective.”

He helped the new government agency (“DHS is only 8 years old, if it were a child it would be learning how to read and write and going into the second grade ... but it’s also a $70 billion enterprise.”) define its needs and wants, he explained. Once the agency was able to articulate that (“now it rolls off their tongues,” he said) then he could figure out how to get the private sector involved to help DHS solve problems.

The private sector will hear more and more about public-private partnerships from the Obama Administration, he said. “There’s never been a better time for the private sector to do business with the government,” he said. However, he said “Tommy (referring to himself in the third person) travels all over the world for DHS [doing outreach about how DHS wants to work with private sector companies] so the competition for private sector involvement has never been stiffer.”

President Obama will announce in the near future that the commercialization process that Cellucci developed for DHS, will be instituted as a pilot project across other government agencies, he said.

Specifically, Cellucci talked about the SECURE program. Here’s a synopsis of the program:

“The SECURE Program is an efficient and cost-effective program to foster cooperative win-win partnerships between the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the private sector. The Department works with the private sector to develop products, systems or services aligned to the needs of its operating components, first responders and critical infrastructure/key resources owners and operators, representing in many cases, large potential available markets. The Department posts detailed operational requirements in the form of an Operational Requirements Document (ORD) on this site to articulate specific requirements in conjunction with a conservative estimate of the Potential Available Market (PAM) of a given product, system, or service.

Private sector entities possessing technologies or products aligned to these requirements can use this valuable information to generate a business case and develop (at their cost) a fully deployable product or service after their verification of market potential. The Department assures that a product or service has demonstrated operational performance that meets a given private sector entity's published specifications through our review of recognized third-party independent testing data. This enables the private sector, through the free market system, to develop products and services that capture significant revenue opportunities and demonstrates to potential purchasers that the product does what it claims to do.”

He showed a short CNN video about a project where DHS asked the private sector to come up with a camera that could be be installed on mass transit and withstand blasts. DHS put out the request, 26 companies responded and within a month two companies developed prototypes. Ultimately, the agency was able to procure a camera, designed specifically for this purpose and the cameras cost $150 apiece. The whole process was completed within three months. The government will purchase a lot of these, so that private sector manufacturer is happy. DHS is happy, and the American taxpayer benefits from this cost efficiency as well.

Interested in this program?  Send Cellucci an email  asking for a “full response package.” Thomas.Cellucci@dhs.gov He said he’s willing to talk on the phone to companies about the best way to approach the department.

One word of advice he shared: It’s nice if you have “good customer service and you care about your customers” but DHS needs to know “what makes you different and better” than others. “How can you [make a product or provide a service] that’s better, faster and less expensive?”

On an entirely different topic: when I was at the summit, I learned that Ron Hawkins, communications manager for SIA, whom I work with frequently, is taking a leave of absence for about eight months. Ron is an Air National Guard reservist and he’s being deployed to Afghanistan. His last day at SIA is tomorrow. “I’ll be back in time for ISC West,” he told me.

Thanks, Ron, for your service.

 

Monitoring company employs social media savvy to help those in need

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

I came across an interesting story in my Google Alerts this morning. Seems there's another security company--Texas-based Smith Monitoring--that's using social networking to both increase its brand awareness and help out those hard-hit by the recent tornadoes out in the mid-west. Specifically, Smith is donating money to victims of the Joplin, Mo. tornado that killed almost 200 people, injured many more and cost millions in damage. I wrote a story recently about another security company, Atlas Security, based in nearby Springfield, Mo. that's going above and beyond to help out as well.

We've written here at SSN before about social networking. I've covered webinars on how to use Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn in business. I read a blog post recently from JF Champagne of CANASA who said social media basically had no relevance in a business setting. Provident Security's Mike Jagger called him out, appropriately, in a following tweet ("Is CANASA trying to become even less relevant on purpose? The column on social media was embarrassingly ignorant," Mike tweeted to his 1,452 followers.)

People who want to help out can visit Smith Monitoring's Facebook page and click on the like button. When they do, Smith will donate $.50 to recovery efforts in Joplin. There's also an easy button you can click on to set up a "movement" by notifying your contacts of how they can help... the whole time, Smith is getting more clicks on their Facebook page, more "likes," more name recognition and positive press for their philanthropy. And the survivors in Joplin are getting much needed aid.

Here's a link to the story.

And here's a link to Smith's Facebook page.

They've got close to 1700 likes so far. Drop by today and give through a simple click.

 

Locksmiths, alarm installers dynamic duo

 - 
Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Saw this little article below in Locksmith Ledger magazine. Security professionals already are aware how developing a relationship with a locksmith can help enhance their business and vice versa, but it’s interesting to see the issue being discussed from a locksmith's point of view.

Here’s what the magazine had to say:

"Locksmiths looking to grow their businesses in a challenging economy might want to consider installing alarm systems. After all, security starts at home, and locksmiths have been securing premises, both commercial and residential, for decades (perhaps centuries) before electronic alarm systems existed.

It’s a natural progression for an alarm installer to point out to a client the value of good locks, or for a locksmith to point out the benefits of having an alarm system to every client with whom he comes into contact.

Alarm systems have been proven to be both a necessity for many people, and that a professionally installed alarm system deters crime.

Private security in the United States began in 1851, when Alan Pinkerton founded what would become the Pinkerton Detective Agency. By 2006 private security had grown to become a $150 billion per year industry.

The market for alarm systems, sold by the private security industry, is about $30 billion annually, growing at a compound annual rate of 7 [percent] to 8 percent."

 

Sprinkler know-how

 - 
Monday, June 20, 2011

How are your California residential sprinkler smarts?

If you’re not quite up on your code knowledge, the Academy of Fire Sprinkler Technology, based in Champaign, Ill., is holding a series of California residential fire sprinkler plan review classes this month in several locations in California.

The academy notes that the new rules from R313 went into effect for the state of California in January.

Class participants will learn about reviewing plans that are submitted in accordance with NFPA 13D, IRC P2904 and CRC 313, the academy said. “Attendees will leave with a firm understanding of the design requirements of the codes and the installation practices used by contractors, “ it said.

The academy says that at least two of the following industry experts will teach each class: Cecil Bilbo, Fire Sprinkler Academy; Steve Leyton, Protection Design & Consulting; Bob Caputo, Consolidated Fire Protection; and Ken Wagoner, Parsley Consulting.

Attendees can earn 16 CPD's by attending the two-day class sessions, which will run from 8:30 a.m.  to 3:30 p.m. both days, and cost $200, including lunch, the academy says.

The classes will be held on the following dates in the following locations: June 22-23, in Riverside, Calif.; June 27-28, in Burbank, Calif.; and June 30-July 1, in Hayward, Calif.

For more information or to register go to: http://www.sprinkleracademy.com/online-classes/california-residential-fire-sprinkler-plan-review/

 

No leis for summer sales in Hawaii

 - 
Thursday, June 16, 2011

Don’t let their Hawaiian shirts fool you. Despite their casual attire, members of the Hawaii Burglar and Fire Alarm Association were all business in a recent roundtable discussion with a Honolulu TV station as they voiced concerns that mainland security companies going door-to-door in the islands this summer are using deceptive sales practices.

While news reports frequently cite authorities in mainland states complaining about the sales tactics of out-of-state summer-sales-model companies, it’s unusual to see the issue being highlighted in Hawaii. I’ve got a call in to the Hawaii association to learn more about the problem there and what the association is trying to do about it, but Hawaii is six hours earlier than we are here in Maine so haven’t heard back yet.

Here’s more from the KHON2 TV news report, which doesn't name the specific companies allegedly using deceptive practices:

“They will represent themselves as being from a local company and that they’re there to upgrade your system, which can't possibly be the truth,” said Mary Paulson, an official with Security One and vice-president of the local alarm company trade association.

In May Hawaii’s Better Business Bureau received 844 inquiries about alarm companies doing business within the state.  Many of the inquiries were tied to door-to-door sales.

BBB spokesman Timothy Caminos told Khon2 there have also been complaints about high pressure sales pitches and deceptive practices.

“They promise a lot of things but they won't leave a simple thing like a business card,” said Caminos.  “There are complaints that do allege that the companies mislead the consumers.”

Paulson said one of the most common practices for fly-by-night companies is to deceive potential customers about the length of alarm monitoring contracts.

“I've had a customer that they told them six months, but it turned out to be a sixty month agreement,” said Paulson.  “It wasn't until that they read their contract that they realized what they were really getting into.”

HBFA members also claim some mainland companies mislead customers into thinking the salesperson that arrives at the door works for a local alarm firm.

Some residents of Olomana in Kailua experienced the high pressured sales tactics first hand.  Bob Brown and Pat Patterson of Ululani Street were approached by a salesman last month around 8:30 at night.

“It was like, ‘Do you care about your family?’  You know he tried to play on any little paranoia,” said Brown.

“He couldn't produce a business card,” added Patterson.  “Basically he was telling me it was free, it was a free system (and) that all I had to do was put a sign in my front yard and tell my neighbors or whoever inquired about it.”

 The story also also said the local firms say they have found instances of “shoddy workmanship” when it comes to installation. They contend the mainland technicians are untrained and some may not have had criminal background checks.

 

Resi video on the rise? Some say yes, and maybe that's a good a thing.

 - 
Thursday, June 16, 2011

So I got my SIA Update email this morning and I have to say, I'm liking the work SIA's doing here. There's no reporting like what we do at SSN, but they're doing a really nice job of tracking important issues and trends and blasting them out in a daily email.

Anyway, today I noticed a particular entry on resi video monitoring. According to this story, residential video is on the rise. I've been writing about video—traditionally used more commonly in commercial and municipal applications—for quite a while, and it looks like video may be crossing over more into the resi market. I wrote a story recently about video, security and access control converging in a residential high-rise application that may just be evidence of a new trend. The story from the SIA email notes that the technology is accessable and the price points are coming down. Video pricepoints have been coming down according to many I've spoken with. My fearless editor Martha also recently blogged down in Charlotte at ESX that some security folks were forecasting a sizeable uptick in resi video over the coming years.

What have you noticed out there, avid readers? Are you installing or monitoring more residential video? I'm curious.

Of course, something to which I've paid a lot of journalistic attention is the ongoing movement of municipalities advocating a priority response for verified—either via video, audio, or dual zone, or eyewitness verification—alarms. Why, just recently at the ESX show in Charlotte, N.C. I sat down briefly with RSI Video Technologies' Keith Jentoft and Major Eddie Levins of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg PD. Levins affirmed that if there's event based video tied to an alarm, police respond faster… It just makes sense.

"We're much more excited about the captures and arrests than we do about going up to the same places and rattling the doors," Levins told me. "We get a lot of repeat offenders, too, so when we get the chance to actually apprehend these guys, it reduces our overall workload. We respond better when there's better information. Our policy's so strong now, that even with alarms that we've cut off due to excessive false alarms, when there's better information like video, we respond. A crime in progress, no matter where it is trumps everything."

They told me that the CMPD has an official policy to upgrade a situation in which video surveillance is a factor. Dispatchers in the municipality are advised to enter any calls where the alarm monitoring company has actual live streaming video of subjects in the premise or on the perimeter as a breaking and entering call to residence or business.

I'm interested to keep my eye on this and see whether video becomes a normal part of residential systems.

 

Mace makes progress

 - 
Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Mace Security International, which has had its share of distractions as it works to become a pure-play security company, has reached a court agreement to settle one of those headaches. 

In addition to owning wholesale monitoring companies CSSS and The Command Center, and being a manufacturer of security prodcuts, Mace Security International is the owner of Mace Personal Defense (producers of the Mace spray.)  Late in 2010, the U.S. Attorney for Vermont conducted an investigation into the personal defense spray business regarding alleged violations concerning the storage of hazardous waste from 1998 to 2008 at the personal defense spray headquarters in Bennington, Vermont.

One June 2, Mace announced that the Federal District Court for Vermont accepted the guilty plea of Mace Personal Defense, Inc., (producers of Mace spray) to one felony charge of storing hazardous waste at its Bennington, VT facility and to pay a fine of $100,000.

In a prepared statement, Dennis Raefield, Mace’s CEO and president said:  “Our Board of Directors and I are satisfied with the resolution of the environmental charges that related back to 1998 through 2008. At no time was there any leak or risk to the public, and the site has been fully remediated with new environmental safety policies and procedures put into place.”

From the press release: "On November 16, 2010, the U.S. Attorney filed a one count indictment charging Mace Security International, Inc. and Jon Goodrich with a felony of storing hazardous waste without a permit under 42 U.S.C. Section 6928(d)(2)(A). Mr. Goodrich is the President of Mace Personal Defense, Inc., the Company's defense spray division located in Bennington, Vermont. The Company resolved the indictment brought against it through a Plea Agreement entered into between Mace Personal Defense, Inc. and the U.S. Attorney. On May 26, 2011, the Court accepted the Plea Agreement and the guilty plea of Mace Personal Defense, Inc., to one count of violating 42 U.S.C. § 6928(d)(2)(A) (Storage of Hazardous Waste Without a Permit). The Court also imposed a fine of $100,000 (the "Fine") and a court assessment of $400 against Mace Personal Defense, Inc; $34,000 of the Fine was paid on May 26, 2011, and two additional installments of $33,000 each, are due on July 4, 2011 and January 4, 2012. The Company guaranteed the payment of the Fine. The United States dismissed the indictment that was brought against the Company and agreed not to prosecute Mace Personal Defense, Inc. (excluding the charge to which Mace Personal Defense, Inc pled guilty ) or the Company for any criminal offenses known to the United States Attorney's Office of Vermont as of the date of signing of the Plea Agreement committed by the Company or Mace Personal Defense, Inc. in the District of Vermont relative to the storage, shipment, handling or disposal of hazardous waste, including any associated record keeping or reporting offenses. Mace Personal Defense, Inc was placed on probation until the Fine is paid in full. The charges against Mr. Goodrich are still pending and are being defended by Mr. Goodrich."

Where wire and fire meet the road

 - 
Tuesday, June 14, 2011

ADI, a supplier of security and low voltage products, is holding a “Wire to Fire Roadshow” around the country this month and next.

ADI, which is based in Melville, N.Y., says it is hosting a series of training events across “to help our partners provide end-to-end fire solutions to their customers.”

The company said, “The one-day events will feature technology from leading manufacturers including Silent Knight, System Sensor and Honeywell Genesis Wire. Attendees will have the chance to see and test the latest solutions, receive product discounts and enter raffles to win fire products.”

ADI Wire to Fire events, of which all sessions run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will be held at the following locations on these dates: 

Hackensack, N.J., June 15

Dallas, June 16

Elmsford, N.Y., June 23

Elk Grove, Ill., June 28

Kent, Wash., June 29

Tampa, Fla., June 30

Gaithersburg, Md., July 7

Portland, Ore., July 8

Raleigh, NC July 12 10am – 2pm

ADI Charlotte, N.C., July 13

San Francisco, July 19

Allston, Mass., July 19

Louisville, Ky., July 20

St. Louis, Mo., July 21

For more information, visit www.adilink.com

 

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