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Thanksgiving time for sharing--and safety

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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

With the holiday approaching, I thought I’d share a couple of industry-related Thanksgiving news items that crossed my desk.

One is about the generosity of California-based Bay Alarm. Thanks to the efforts of company employees, more than 500 low-income families will be guaranteed a Thanksgiving feast.

The company said its employees have held fundraisers ranging from car washes to auctions this year “to continue their time-honored tradition of serving turkeys to families facing financial hardship.” The initiative was started by Bay Alarm’s Oakland branch office in 1998, and corporate headquarters matches the proceeds, the company said.

The money will enable employees this week to distribute over 500 turkeys and dozens of hams to families through a variety of nonprofit organizations that feed needy families and the homeless throughout the year.

On another note, the National Fire Protection Association has some safety advice as we cook our holiday turkeys and all the trimmings.

According to the NFPA’s education division, “Thanksgiving is the leading day of the year for home fires involving kitchen equipment.”

The NFPA urges families to keep kids out of the kitchen and away from the stove, hot liquids and foods. Also, check on your turkey and food on the stovetop frequently during cooking, and test your smoke alarms to make sure they’re working by pushing the test button.

Have a generous and safe holiday!

 

What's happening at the associations?

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Got my recent issue of CSAA's Signals, and boy was it chuck-full of news I could use. First, I see CSAA's brought on a replacement for Celia Besore by hiring Monique Silverio as the new director of marketing and communications. Avid readers of my blog (you know who you are, proud millions) will remember Celia left the CSAA in August and moved to a different industry. You'll also recall Celia was the first industry person I spoke with on the recommendation of my predecessor, Leischen Stelter.

Monique comes from a writing/editorial background (in trade papers, no less), so she's all right in my book. She also worked in the security equipment industry, serving as the director of communications for SIA from 1993-1994.

CSAA EVP Steve Doyle praised Monique in her hiring notice. "With her broad background in marketing and communications, non-profit and technical experience, Monique is a very welcome addition to the CSAA staff and family," Doyle said in Signals. "Communicating our message and marketing our programs is key for any association, and Monique's background is a great fit for CSAA."

I left a message for Monique (the first of MANY to come, I'm sure) to see how she was settling in. I'm certain I'll come to rely on Monique just as I relied on Celia for leads, info, connections and knowledge.

I actually just heard back from Monique. I like someone who returns calls promptly. This bodes well. She said she was settling in nicely and that the holidays were the right time to come aboard.

"It's only been a couple weeks now. We're working on some new webinars and we're wrapping up things for the year. It's a good time of the year to come on board because It's pretty quiet," Monique told me. "We're just ending a fantastic Fall Operations Management Seminar that had record attendance, so that's exciting. I just want to keep going and try and build on that success for next year get my feet wet and get to know the players."

Welcome, Monique!

Also from the current signals: ESX is all set for Charlotte, N.C. (I did not vote for Charlotte, but what're you going to do? I have it on authority from some native Charlotte-ians that there are plenty of really good restaurants there, so that's nice...) I've submitted my name for moderating a panel at this year's event, so keep your eyes open for more info on that.

For more information about ESX 2011, visit www.ESX.com. For more information on ESX exhibiting and sponsorship opportunities, contact Shannon Murphy at 508-618-4224 or smurphy@ae-ventures.com.

Signals also reported that this past year's CSAA Fall Operations Seminar in Anaheim, Calif. (hosted by Mace CSSS) had the largest attendance yet. I attended the Fall Ops Seminar in 2009 in Peabody, Mass., just a couple months after I started here at SSN. Signals has a nice contributed piece by State Farm Insurance superintendent of Central Station Monitoring Services Joe Miskulin. I've covered Joe's activities with CSAA before.

I found the sense of camaraderie at the 2009 seminar was palpable. Great news that attendance was up. Here's a place for those in the monitoring biz to learn from their peers and get in some valuable networking time.

Finally, CSAA's recent edition of Signals reports that the next Annual Meeting will be held in Venice, Italy at the Molino Stucky Hilton... This past year's meeting was in Marana, Ariz., reportedly at the behest of CSAA members who felt the usual exotic locales (1999=Maui, Hawaii; 2000=Monte Carlo; 2002=Cancun, Mexico; 2003=Lana’i, Hawaii, etc., etc...) were too opulent during a down economy... I guess things are looking up! Maybe I'll finally be able to go to this one... We'll see.

Service vans deliver community service

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Friday, November 19, 2010

I’ve learned in my time writing about the industry that many security companies help the public in ways that range from teaching kids what to do if there’s a fire to raising funds for earthquake victims in Haiti.

Here’s another example of company helping out, with a bit of a different twist: Vector Security is using its service vans as roving billboards to provide a community service.

The Pittsburgh-based company made a commitment in July to sponsor Project Home Again, which aims to help return missing and kidnapped children to their parents through a public awareness effort. The campaign involves displaying posters of the children on service vehicles used by participating companies. Vector put the posters on its fleet of nearly 300 service vans and uniformed guard and patrol vehicles in the Mid-Atlantic States, and Ohio, Florida and California, the company said.

Now, just four months later, the company announced this week, six children whose posters were displayed on Vector Security vans have been recovered. 

During the first week of November, two Ohio children pictured on Vector vehicles were returned home safely, the company said.

Next, a Florida girl and Pennsylvania girl and two California siblings whose photos had been on company vans were recovered, according to the company.

Pamela Petrow, president and CEO of Vector, said the news illustrates the value of the project, which was championed by John Murphy, the company’s former leader, who passed away in October. “John stressed that Vector’s support of Project Home Again tied directly into his core corporate values,” Petrow said in a statement. She added, “John would be overjoyed by the news that one of his favorite public advocacy programs has worked so well to help preserve the lives and hopefully the futures of these children.”

Jennifer Holloway, president of the Dallas-based Holloway Security Consulting, summed up Vector’s program nicely in a recent Twitter comment: “Awesome use of service trucks,” she wrote. “We should all be thankful for companies who look for ways to help their communities.”

Get happy with National Electrical Code app

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Installers, picture this: You’re on the job and the fire marshal or building inspector says the system must do such and such because the National Electrical Code says so. You disagree. No one has a copy of the code on hand, but you have your trusty smartphone.

You whip it out and use the new smartphone app, NEC Changes, which highlights the changes between the 2008 NEC and the recently released 2011 NEC. You find the answer—and the argument ends.

That’s the sort of situation in which the NEC app, whose launching the National Fire Protection Association just announced today, could be very useful, according to Peter Ebersold, director of marketing, Notifier by Honeywell. The app contains more than 500 updates and modifications, all provided free of charge, according to the NFPA.

Ebersold said having the app on a smartphone on the job can save a trip to the office and changes in installation. Any problem, he said in an email communication, can be settled in “real time and the system is signed off sooner. Everyone is happy.”

Want to get happy? The NFPA says you can download the NEC Changes app free of charge, by visiting necchanges.boopsie.com from your smartphone.

 

False alarms and verification in the limelight!

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Okay, so it's not really the limelight, so to speak, but it is mainstream, and therefore pop! At least, it's a more pop context than the one in which I'm used to seeing false alarms and verification discussed (that would be Security Systems News' False Alarm Ordinance Watch column).

I've noticed something strange over the last few days... I've seen sizable stories in the mainstream media about false alarms, false alarm ordinances,  enhanced call verification and video verification.

These are stories aimed at end users that are talking about false alarm rates and ordinances in place as well as the different technologies available to alarm companies to combat false alarms. The mainstream media is talking with alarm company execs and industry experts. Makes me wonder if Security Systems News was on to something when we asked the association guys, "Should there be an appointed representative that speaks for the industry to the public?"

These are stories that quote industry guys from FARA and SIAC. These are news spots that highlight verification technologies (Hey, there's Corey Boggs, operations manager at Richmond Alarm Company, on NBC! (I interviewed Corey's uncle, RAC president Wayne Boggs recently when RAC expanded it's operations.) Corey's teaching end users all about Videofied, by the way... There's a new end user coming, one that's not afraid of technology, one that wants contact with a technologically advanced system and wants to help catch bad guys.), and educate average consumers about what's out there and available to them (And that's Safeguard Security's Travis Moss telling ordinary average viewers of ABC about verification technology.). And here's a story about a solution that's bringing live video feeds from local surveillance cameras into police cruisers (thanks for the tweet @SonitrolPacific!).

"It's nice to be on the cutting edge and to be known as people who are working with police departments," Corey told me on the phone. "What's weird for me is that my competition in Richmond really doesn't have a relationship with the police department--we dispatch them all day long, but the police departments have never been a group that we've done really well with, I don't think. We have all these false alarms and so they view us in a certain way. We've been able to address that and break down a few of those barriers in town. It's been fun." Corey and the gang over at RAC can be found at their site.

The fact that these news pieces were intended for end users, appeared in end user focused, mainstream media got me thinking once I got over that weird feeling... You know the one I mean... like when you were a kid and you'd see your Math teacher at the movies and you'd be like, "What are you doing here?  You're not a person... You can't be outside of school, going to see Robocop just like me."... Or maybe it's just me... Maybe you never saw Robocop ... or took math--I don't know your life.

Well, I got that same feeling seeing someone from RAC on NBC, and seeing Ron Walters quoted in a regular newspaper.

Anyway, I started thinking about how today's end user is different from the end user of yesterday. I think end users today want to know more,  be involved in more, understand more about everything that touches their lives. If there's an ordinance in place to control false alarms and penalize those who perpetrate them, they want to know where false alarms come from and what they can do to fight them. If they have a piece of technology (their security system, for example) as part of their lives, they want to not only understand how to turn it on, but interface with it and have as much control over it as possible. In fact, I've been hearing as much from industry luminaries like Monitronics' Mitch Clarke and American Alarm's John Tanner (pick up the October, 2010 and December 2010 issues of Security Systems News, respectively, for a look at SSN's feature "How I Use My Panel").

It makes me think more than ever that video and audio will be increasingly more common as time goes on. As technology improves and pricepoints come down. End users are going to start demanding it--especially if they're learning about it on their nightly newscasts.

It seems to me great opportunity lies in coupling different systems together, including security (along with two-way audio and video), home management, environmental controls, lifestyle stuff AV entertainment libraries, shopping lists, calendars, bill paying, etc., etc., and managing said systems through a mobile platform.

It's certainly time to embrace technology and bring everyone and every tool onboard to help fight false alarms.

Perks of the job

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Before becoming associate editor for Security Systems News this fall, I was a newspaper reporter in Maine. As part of my job, I sometimes met famous people. They ranged from President George H. W. Bush when he was in office (Members of the media got to power walk with him on the beach near his family home in Kennebunkport, Maine —he set a fast pace!) to actor Alec Baldwin (He came to Portland, Maine in 1997 to support a state clean elections law, and was just as handsome and personable in real life as on screen.).

When I switched jobs to cover the security industry, I didn’t realize I would continue to have an opportunity to meet well-known people.

For example, while attending the Honeywell First Alert Professionals Convention last week in Boca Raton, Fla., I and the hundreds of First Alert dealers in attendance got to hear from two speakers with national reputations.

One was the opening session’s keynote speaker Ross Shafer, a corporate trainer whose fascinating career has included hosting TV talk shows and writing a best-selling comedy cookbook, “Cook Like a Stud—38 recipes men can prepare in the garage with their own tools.” (We saw a video of him peeling a potato with a bench grinder!)

Shafer said he also helped launch the career of Bill Nye the Science Guy, the quirky engineer and comedian who strives to make the public scientifically literate. Shafer said that when he was host of a Seattle TV talk show in the late 1980s he had invited Nye, who liked to write jokes, to sit in on writers’ meetings for the show. One day, Shafer said, he was in a panic when Geraldo Rivera stood him up about 20 minutes to airtime, and he asked Nye to do an experiment on camera. Nye obligingly performed a demonstration involving liquid nitrogen and kitchen vegetables. As a video clip showed, instantly freezing an onion and smashing it on a cutting board is definitely quicker than chopping it! Nye also proved he was a natural on TV.

Shafer said the corporate lesson from the story is: “The folks that work for you have talents that you’ve never leveraged.”

The other nationally known speaker was Marc Klaas of the California-based The KlaasKids Foundation. The foundation was established in 1994 to protect children following the 1993 kidnapping and murder of Klaas’ 12-year-old daughter, Polly Klaas.

Klaas accepted a special community service award with which Honeywell honored the foundation, and praised the role the security industry plays in helping to stop crimes against children.

At the conference, Honeywell also gave community service awards to 18 security companies. Their efforts may not be known nationwide, but Joe Sausa, president, First Alert Professional, said the companies stand out in their communities for the public service work they do, which ranges from teaching children about fire safety to sponsoring self-defense classes for women.

The companies receiving awards were: Ackerman Security Systems; ADS Security; Alarm Protection Services; ASG Security; Central Monitoring Services; Certified Security; Dial One Security; Engineered Protection Systems; Grupo Hefestos; Guardian Protection Services; Holmes Electric Security Systems; Koorsen Fire Security; OneTouch Security Plus; Per Mar Security Services; Secas; Secure US; Sentry Alarm; and Worldwide Security.

 

Diebold woos Henry Bros

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Seems Diebold was among some serious suitors for Henry Brothers, but with the "Go Shop" period expiring at midnight last night, Kratos appears to have won.

HBE and Kratos announced the $45 m. merger agreement in October. At that time it began a 40-day Go-shop period where HBE was able to entertain offers from other suitors.

Henry Brothers announced this morning that it had amended its merger agreement with Kratos Defense and Security Solutions. The original agreement, was for $7 per share. That agreement's been upped to $8.20 per share in cash.

According to a Kratos statement, "The Agreement and Plan of Merger was amended, and the merger consideration and termination fee were increased, as a result of HBE notifying us pursuant to the terms of the merger agreement that they have received an acquisition proposal from Diebold, Inc. (Diebold), a publicly traded company with significant presence in the New York/New Jersey market. Pursuant to its proposal, Diebold offered to acquire 100% of the outstanding capital stock of HBE for $8.00 per share in cash. The Diebold proposal did not include a financing contingency."

The Kratos statement says it's filed a definitive proxy statement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and HBE's Shareholder Meeting to vote on the proposed transaction is scheduled for December 9, 2010. Dec., 9  "is also the date that we expect to close the transaction. The executed Amendment will not change the December 9, 2010 HBE Shareholder meeting date, or the expected transaction closing date."

A Henry Bros. statement gives some details about the 40-day go-shop period. It says that during that time, HBE's financial advisor, Imperial Capital, contracted 117 potential transaction partners "at the request of and on behalf of HBE". Of those, 11 parties went further in the process, entering into confidentiality agreements, and were alllowed to review non-public information about HBE.

As the result of that process, "on Nov. 9, 2010, a third party submitted a non-binding proposal to acquire all oft he outstanding shares of HBE common stock for $8.00 per share."

The HBE statement, says "HBE is permitted to continue to have negotiations and discussions with this third party with respect to its acquisition proposal ... As the third party has not completed due diligence to date, its proposal is subject to, among other things, completion of due diligence review and negotiating the terms of a definitive agreement."

That seems to indicate that a Diebold deal is not totally dead, right? However, the HBE statement also says: "HBE's Board of Directors has not withdrawn, changed or otherwise modified its unanimous recommendation in favor of the proposed merger with Kratos. The stockholder meeting to vote on the proposed merger between HBE and Kratos has been scheduled to take place on December 9, 2010."

I've got calls into Imperial Capital and HBE and Kratos, so will report back with more information.

 

Honeywell First Alert: Sohovich sets sights on “Never”-land

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Friday, November 12, 2010

Here, at the Honeywell First Alert Professionals Convention in Boca Raton, Fla., I found I had a little something in common with JoAnna Sohovich, president of Honeywell Security & Communications: Neither of us had attended a First Alert conference before.

The Connect to Success 2010 Convention, with some 700-800 First Alert dealers in attendance, is running from Nov. 11 to 14. I’m new to writing about the security industry, so hadn’t been to the conference before.

Sohovich has been in her new job just a few months, so this was her first conference too. In the address she gave this morning as sessions got underway, she noted that a First Alert Professionals program has been ongoing for 21 years. Some of the dealers in attendance this year have been part of the program since that time, Sohovich said.

“I want to start out by thanking all of you for your business, for your partnership and for your loyalty to Honeywell,” Sohovich said.

But after acknowledging the past, Sohovich devoted most of her talk to the future…to how to capture that part of the market she called “the nevers,”—people who don’t have security systems and say they will never want one.

Only about 20 percent of the approximately 100 million households in the U.S. and Canada have security systems, she said. Sohovich said that “the nevers” are in that other 80 percent of households, “the Holy Grail…that we’ve been trying to penetrate for years and years and years.”

She said, “Security and life safety has a prime position for delivering technology to homeowners and to building occupants. We’re positioned physically in the space in a way that we can deliver information, we can meet needs and we can generate a lifestyle that’s based on technology.”

She said some people say “technology is evolving in such a way that will leave…the security dealers behind” … and that the “Cisco’s and the Google’s of the world will own technology information and systems in homes and commercial buildings.”

However, Sohovich continued, “I would say: Don’t count us out of that.” She said that the dealers working with Honeywell are not only entrepreneurial, but also innovative and will be able to deliver security, safety and lifestyle solutions for customers into the future.

She gave video as an example of  “a natural outcropping of our existing portfolio.” Currently, she said, it is sold as an upgrade to Honeywell security customers.

But she urged dealers to think about video as “a stand-alone option to capture customers that we’ve never had before and to invest in the future of our businesses.”

Such customers include “the nevers” who would not want to invest in anything they think of as an alarm system, she said. “They don’t even have watches… because they can tell the time on their cell phone,” Sohovich said.

However, she said, those same people would be interested in watching what their pet does at home during the day, or would like to know that their teenager got home on time, or if a package got delivered to their home without their having to type in “a 37-digit number on the UPS web site.”

Sohovich said: “There are things that people value today beyond safety and security that are really more about lifestyle and technology, information and connectivity, that you can access even if they don’t want a security system today.”

She said that Total Connect Video is the answer, “with video events pushed to your smart phone.” She said that would enable customers to see everything from “Fluffy” wandering around the house to children arriving safely home to packages being delivered. And they can do that with secure encryption to protect their privacy, Sohovich said.

All they need, she said, is a video camera, a wireless access phone and a Total Connect account.

Sohovich said that promoting stand-alone video will not only grow RMR for dealers, but provide them with “future security customers” who might want security systems at other points in their lives, such as when they get married, have children or take on the care of aged parent.

“They’ll turn to you because they’ve already got a security provider,” Sohovich said.

In other words, they would leave “Never”-land—and sign up for a security system.

 

Checking out Tyco news

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy to have the Internet back up and running here in Yarmouth, Maine.

Taking a look, just now at Tyco's news this week: The financial report, which was released on Monday. Here's the press release on Tyco's earnings And their agreement to sell the electrical and metal products business. Here's that release.

I saw a couple of interesting stories about the Tyco financials  this week including This one from Rueters

 

 

Checking out Tyco news

 - 
Thursday, November 11, 2010

Happy to have the Internet back up and running here in Yarmouth, Maine.

Taking a look, just now at Tyco's news this week: The financial report, which was released on Monday. Here's the press release on Tyco's earnings And their agreement to sell the electrical and metal products business. Here's that release.

I saw a couple of interesting stories about the Tyco financials  this week including This one from Rueters

 

 

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