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First day at NFPA: SimplexGrinnell and Tyco split; Siemens guarantees no false alarms; and social media ROI

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How the Tyco International split this fall will benefit SimplexGrinnell; Siemens’ no-false-alarm guarantee; and how to maximize your ROI using social media are among things I learned about at my first day here at the annual NFPA Conference & Expo, being held in Las Vegas this week.

I started Tuesday morning at a pre-show reception where SimplexGrinnell president Bob Chauvin talked about Tyco International’s pending split into three publicly traded companies Oct. 1. The new companies will be ADT North America residential security business, Tyco Fire and Security, and Flow Control.

SimplexGrinnell, a Tyco International company, will be part of Tyco Fire and Security, “a global, mostly commercially-focused fire and security company,” Chauvin said.

“I think for us and for the life safety industry it means some very positive things,” Chauvin said. “What one is that we’ll be the only pure-play company that is singularly focused on the commercial fire and security business globally. Many play there, but I like to call it the privilege-of-focus opportunity: We have the opportunity to uniquely focus just in the life safety and security business.”

Secondly, he said, “SimplexGrinnell will be a significant part of this new company,” which he said is expected to do about $10 billion in sales, have almost 70,000 employees in about 1,200 locations and serve about 100 countries.”

Chauvin said he was excited and predicted that “our business will thrive with the change.”

SimplexGrinnell also was touting its eservices platform at the show, which it described as an “advanced suite of integrated web-based technologies can provide more value to customers through improved efficiency, added productivity, and lower life-cycle costs.”

Over at the Siemens booth, that company was promoting its long history of innovative technologies and its no-false-alarm guarantee.

Ron Ouimette, a Siemens product manager, said Siemens believes it is “the only company in the industry that offers a no-false-alarm guarantee. If trucks are rolling and there’s no fire, we pay.”

Company officials said the company has had that policy since 1997 because Siemens is so confident in the quality of its products.

Among the products the company is promoting at the show is its new ASAtechnology. ASA stands for Advanced Signal Analysis and its fire and fire and carbon monoxide detectors use “state-of-the-art forward/backward light scattering technology,” the company said.

The detectors also have two thermal and two optical sensors. All those features, combined with a built-in algorithm that allows for detection profiles that can be easily tailored for spaces as diverse as an office and an industrial warehouse give them very fast, reliable detection capabilities, the company said.

I also attended an educational seminar titled “Taking Your Social Media Presence to the Next Level.” It featured Lauren Backstrom, NFPA social media manager, and Michael Hazell, division manager, Web, for NFPA.

Among the surprising things I learned is that baby boomers aren’t as social media averse as we’re often made out to be. Backstrom said that while 89 percent of the members of Gen Y use social networking, and 79 percent of Gen X use social networking, baby boomers aren’t too far behind at 72 percent.

In fact, Backstrom said that boomers are “the fastest growing adopters of social media at this point.”

That’s something to think about when figuring out what customer bases you want to reach through social media.

ITC to take up OV vs. Samsung Bosch next month

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I had a quick conversation last week with Object Video CEO Raul Fernandez, about the company's recent announcement that it has signed another licensing agreement, this time with Vivotek. 

Earlier this year, OV announced that it had signed similar agreements with Sony and Tyco’s American Dynamics.

Fernandez said the fact that Vivotek decided to do a portfolio-wide agreement speaks to the fact that more and more products will be built with video analytics already onboard or will be video-analytic enabled.

OV is suing Samsung and Bosch through one legal process with the International Trade Commission and it announced last month that it had filed suit against Pelco in the U.S. District Court in Virginia.

The discussion between Vivotek and OV was prompted, Fernandez said, by OV’s Amnesty offer, which it announced just before ISC West.

The five-day ITC trial with Samsung and Bosch will start on July 18, Fernandez said. A judgment will not be announced until November, however.
Fernandez is optimistic that OV will prevail in this trial. “[We’re saying that their products] made outside the U.S. have features [for which we] have patents … they’re attacking the patents [and saying they’re not valid],” Fernandez said. “But only one [claim] has to survive. One claim does it all… it leads to an injunction of the product. It’s a highly risky proposition,” he added.

Fernandez said OV will be announcing another agreement in the near future.

Samsung, Bosch and Pelco have previously declined to comment on the OV lawsuits saying that they do not comment on ongoing litigation

SIAC honors Mahler, Malice for service and perseverance

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Longtime alarm industry leaders Mel Mahler and Maria Malice padded their laurels last week with SIAC’s 2012 William N. Moody Award, which pays tribute to those in the industry who exhibit “integrity, fairness and perseverance in the face of adversity.”

Mahler, chairman and CEO of Nashville, Tenn.-based ADS Security, was a charter board member of SIAC and is currently co-chairman and treasurer. He oversees daily operations and has helped the group clear a hurdle that long defied it: establishing a better relationship with police agencies around the country.

“SIAC’s success in building bridges to law enforcement, creating new standards for equipment and encouraging best practices in alarm monitoring and regulations would not have been possible without Mel’s dedication,” SIAC Executive Director Stan Martin said in a prepared statement. “We are pleased to add the Moody Award to the many awards Mel has received for his leadership.”

Malice, VP of special projects for COPS Monitoring and president of the Arizona Alarm Association, was instrumental in getting a statewide licensing law enacted in May in Arizona. [http://www.securitysystemsnews.com/article/arizona... [Link - statewide licensing law enacted in May in Arizona.] Alarm dealers there will soon be able to operate with one license, replacing a web of local regulations that subjected many companies to duplicative background checks and paperwork.

“No one has faced more challenges in a single year than Maria Malice,” said Jon Sargent, industry/law enforcement liaison for SIAC. “Opponents constantly tried to undermine her efforts [on behalf of the AzAA]. Maria rallied the troops, fought back with facts and traveled to numerous meetings to help elected officials understand the issues.”

Mahler and Malice will receive their awards June 26 at the ESX IceBreaker Luncheon in Nashville. Congratulations …

Say “cheese”: The Wisconsin Electronic Security Association has bestowed its annual Bill Cooper Award on Dave Simon, who recently stepped down as SIAC’s public relations chairman after being named marketing communications manager at Brink’s Inc. The Cooper Award embodies “the ultimate in hard work and fun, tenacity and getting the job done, but with a lighter side,” said Mike Horgan, former WIESA president.

Kratos personnel moves

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Kratos announced  this morning that Jack Turley has joined the company as VP of Strategic Development, responsible for all marketing, vertical market development, and strategic alliances for systems integration business. .

Most recently, Turley was the VP of Sales & Marketing for Gallagher Security, and before that, he was VP of Sales & Marketing for Aronson Security Group, the West Coast ASG.

In a prepared statement, Kratos PSS president Ben Goodwin said: "Jack has a strong background in marketing with many innovative programs for various facets of the security sector in his previous roles and will work to enhance the Kratos|HBE brand to support our key initiatives."

In other Kratos news, Kratos CTO Chris Peckham has joined the TechSec Advisory Board. We have a couple other new members of the board as well; we'll be making a formal announcement before the end of the month.

LifeShield customers to be ‘monitored by Protection 1’

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Axis and Salient partner with HP for VSaas

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rush bust-cam manufacturer not disclosed

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will let you know when I get a call back.

Alarm industry keeping pace with PERS

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LifeShield socially savvy about home security

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Monday, June 4, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Good news from The Hill

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Friday, June 1, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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