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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.

Guard/security installation company acquires guard-tracking technology

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Yesterday Universal Protection, a $500 million guard company that also does security installation, acquired Heritage Security Services of San Diego. It also acquired a guard-tracking technology its CEO says is "game changing."

The deal brings 1,200 guards, but more interesting, it also brings with it a “proprietary and patented guard-tracking technology.” This is what really drew Universal into the deal, Steve Jones, co-CEO and COO of Universal Services of America, the parent company of Universal Protection, told me today.

He said that Heritage spent $6 million over the past five years developing this technology. Jones said Universal plans to introduce this technology in all of its locations

“Basically each officer carries a device and we can … put a geofence around the account. So we can tell where the guards are. [We know] if they go outside the fence, if they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, if they haven’t completed a task they’re supposed to do,” Jones explained. “We can take a customer account and show the customer point-by-point, minute-by-minute, where an officer was,” he said.

“And we get an alert if the officer fails to do something.”
 Jones said Universal will use the technology across its footprint “as a differentiator” initially, but there has been discussion of possibly “licensing it to guard companies who are in markets we are not in.”

The acquisition of Heritage makes Universal the dominant player in San Diego, LA and Orange County, he said. “From a Southern California standpoint, Universal has a commanding marketshare.”

In March, I wrote a story about Universal Protection in which Jones told me that Universal wants to have security installation capabilities (which are currently concentrated in California and the Carolinas) in every market where it has guards.

The company acquired SFI, and integration business last fall.   Jones said the company plans to complete another acquisition, which may include a security integration component, by the end of the summer.

“Stay tuned,” he said.

Fire alarm dealer left a great installation legacy

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

We all like to think that by the time we exit this world, we’ll have accomplished something great that we’ll be remembered by. But let’s face it, most of us are not going to make it into a Who’s Who or rate a Wikipedia page for what we’ve done in life. That’s why I found this tribute to fire dealer Larry Esch, who died last summer, so touching. It’s a good reminder of what really counts in life: getting the little things right—in this case, fire panel by fire panel.

Carter Rierson, president of Best Defense Security & Fire Protection of Waunakee, Wis., wrote the tribute and sent it to Security Systems News. He writes beautifully of a person who set a standard for quality when it came to life safety. Here’s what Carter had to say:
 

I am writing this letter to recognize an industry professional who went above and beyond to make our industry better. Larry Esch was the owner of World Security of Harvard, Ill., an NFPA 72 Code Committee member, and an industry veteran for nearly 40 years. Larry passed away last summer.

I met Larry through our fire alarm manufacturer’s dealer conventions where he instructed other dealers on the importance of setting a quality standard in their alarm installations.

In these sessions, Larry showed photos of poor, improper, and non-compliant installation examples, citing the codes and illustrating why the examples did not comply with the codes. He then continued on to show examples of very clean, professional code-compliant systems installed by his company. He noted the difference and educated the class on how his company had completed these installations.

Larry emphasized that he was not telling anybody in the class “how” to install an alarm, simply that it was important that EVERY fire alarm installing company set a standard on how they want their systems installed. He stressed that without setting a standard and ensuring the technicians installing the system follow that standard, quality cannot be guaranteed.

Shortly after his passing I received a call to service a fire alarm installed by Larry’s company.  I am a NICET level IV alarm professional with 21 years experience servicing thousands of fire panels, installed by multiple different companies, and this alarm was the cleanest, most organized, easiest to service installation I had EVER seen!

Words simply cannot describe how neatly every wire was terminated and labeled.  The installation was EXACTLY as he had shown in his training class. Although it was the very first time I had stepped foot on the job, his installation was so clean and easy to follow that I was easily able to service the system. I took photos of the panels and use them to illustrate proper panel wiring when training my technicians.  We use this as OUR quality standard!

Not only did Larry always make himself available to other alarm dealers with questions, he made the effort to make us all better at what we do. He always stressed, “Set a standard,” and lived by that standard himself.

Larry taught an important lesson and set a standard we can all learn from.  Our industry needs more Larrys!  He made a difference.

 

New partnership links alarm industry, police, insurers

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What may have seemed like a pipe dream to many a few years ago—getting the alarm industry, the law enforcement community and the insurance industry on the same page—is now reality with the Partnership for Priority Video Alarm Response.

The new public/private partnership brings together all of the stakeholders in property crime to reduce losses and increase arrests through the use of video intrusion alarms. Among the participants are the National Sheriffs Association and the National Insurance Crime Bureau, with Don Young of Protection 1 and Steve Walker of Stanley Convergent Security Solutions representing the alarm industry on the PPVAR board.

"We are beginning to have credible data with encouraging results of arrest rates hundreds of times what is found with traditional alarms," said Keith Jentoft, coordinator for the partnership and president of RSI Video Technologies. "We have been working with many alarm companies, law enforcement and PSAPs, as well as insurers who ultimately pay the bill for property crime. This partnership will help gather real-world examples of what is working best for all the stakeholders."

Jentoft said large third-party monitoring companies have also gotten on board, including CMS, UCC and Rapid Response. On the law enforcement side, the Los Angeles Sheriffs Department—the second-largest police organization in the country—has joined and has designated a representative.

"If you ask people, nobody has ever heard of an organization that has brought together all of the stakeholders, so we're pretty excited about it," Jentoft said.

I'll have more soon on the partnership in the online and print editions of SSN.

ADT adds another to management lineup

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

More post-split news from ADT: It recently made another management lineup announcement about a new chief marketing officer, Tony Wells. Wells doesn't have a security background—his previous experience has been at companies as diverse as 24 Hour Fitness and Nissan—but is skilled at marketing and communications, according to a news release. This latest ADT announcement follows on the heels of management changes it announced just three weeks ago.

Here’s more from the April 27 announcement, as reported by PRNewswire:

SCHAFFHAUSEN, Switzerland—Tyco International Ltd. today announced that Tony Wells will assume the role of chief marketing and customer officer of The ADT Corporation, to be created upon separation from Tyco later this year.

"Tony's hiring is another example of our commitment to bringing top-tier talent to our management team as ADT prepares to become an independent public company," said Naren Gursahaney, current president of Tyco's ADT North American residential and small business security segment and future chief executive officer of The ADT Corporation.  "Tony brings best-in-class marketing and digital expertise, strong customer engagement insight and a deep understanding of ADT's subscription-based business model. I am confident he will play an integral role in further enhancing our brand and driving our strategies for growth."

Mr. Wells, 47, joins ADT from 24 Hour Fitness, where he served as executive vice president and chief marketing officer since 2007. At 24 Hour Fitness, he was responsible for marketing communications, public relations, oversight of 24hourfitness.com, member services and retail products/services.  Previously, Mr. Wells served as vice president, client services for VISA USA, Inc., where he was directly responsible for global relationship management for HSBC and USAA Banks.  Wells joined VISA USA as vice president, partnership marketing, where he oversaw daily operations and management of Visa's sponsorship, event and alliance efforts. Mr. Wells also held a variety of marketing positions at other major brands, including General Motors R*Works, Mills Corporation, and Nissan North America, Inc.  A former Marine infantry officer, Mr. Wells received a B.S. degree from the United States Naval Academy and a management certificate from Johns Hopkins University.

Don Boerema, who had been serving as ADT's chief marketing officer, has assumed the new role of chief corporate development officer. In this role, Mr. Boerema will be responsible for corporate strategy, market development, business development, mergers and acquisitions and new business units.

Upon separation from Tyco International Ltd., The ADT Corporation will be a leading provider of electronic security, interactive automation and related monitoring services for residences and small businesses in North America. … Headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, ADT employs 16,000 people at nearly 200 locations.

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