Subscribe to


Petrow appointed new Vector president/CEO

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New Vector president and CEO Pam PetrowI just got the release from Vector, which last week lost its long-time and much loved and lauded president John Murphy. Vector announced Oct. 19 that its board had appointed Pam Petrow, former EVP and COO of the company as the new president and CEO.

A release from Vector states that Murphy selected Petrow before his death and that her taking over is part of a carefully laid plan for the direction of one of the largest full-service alarm companies in the U.S. “The current appointment is the culmination of a carefully thought out succession plan for Vector Security,” the release reads. “Petrow will now be in charge of moving the company forward on the successful path which Mr. Murphy began when he became President and COO of Vector Security, Inc. in 1991.”

I have calls out to Vector to try and track Pam down and get some commentary from her on her plans for helming Vector into the future.

Congratulations to Pam.

I first met Pam at the 2008 CSAA Fall Operations Management Seminar in beautiful Peabody, Mass. (I used to live next door in Salem). I was immediately impressed with Pam's passion, pressence, professionalism and poise. I spoke with Pam again on various occasions in relation to her various roles at CSAA and Vector and in working out a computer-aided-dispatch protocol that has since become a new national standard. Pam won an award for her tremendous efforts on that project.

I'm looking forward to speeking with Pam again and getting some input from her on her new role.

Still time to register for the next two CSAA webinars!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

CSAA's holding a couple webinars over the next few days. I've attended them in the past and written about them. They've been time well-spent.

The first one is today and is on social media, which many have been discovering is a useful business tool. Today's webinar focuses on Twitter and LinkedIn, both used by yours truly daily for discussions of best practices, story leads, promotion of content, etc., etc.

The last one on social media was very informative and well-attended. I wrote about it here.

If you're interested in attending, you can register here.

Here's some  more info on today's webinar from CSAA:

"Attend the Next CSAA Social Media Webinar on LinkedIn and Twitter for Business 201 Wednesday, October 20, 2010, 3:00pm ET:

Speakers: Brandon Lilly, Bold Technologies and Kristen Plante,

A CSAA Signature Series Webinar:

Gain a deeper knowledge on how to use LinkedIn and Twitter for your business."

The next webinar is next week and follows up on the very first free webinar CSAA conducted. It will again be led by Attrition Busters president Bob Harris. Avid readers of mine will recall the times in the past I've speculated on Bob's potential connection to the A-Team...

I also attended Bob's debut as a webinar moderator for the CSAA. That was a good one, too.

Here's some info on Bob's webinar:

"Attend the Next CSAA Webinar 'From Satisfied to Delighted' Raising the Bar on Customer Loyalty' Tuesday, October 26, 2010, 2:00pm ET:

Speaker: Bob Harris, President Attrition Busters

A CSAA Signature Series Webinar:

From Satisfied to Delighted: Raising the Bar on Customer Loyalty

An energetic and interactive seminar conveying some fundamental tools which will empower employees and managers to raise the bar in terms of perceived “added value” in doing business with your company as opposed to your competitors."

Interested attendees can register here.


IP camera transmits images from Chilean miner rescue

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I got an interesting email this morning from VIVOTEK, manufacturers of IP cameras—who were at our TechSec Solutions Conference last year—that I thought you might be interested in, especially if you followed the recent rescue of the Chilean miners.

Seems it was a VIVOTEK fixed dome network camera that was attached to the rescue capsule. The camera helped the rescuers aboveground see what was going on around the capsule as they manuevered the capsule to rescue the miners.

Here's a link to their press release, where you can find more links to video clips. The cllips are interesting, though those of you in TVLand have probably seen them over and over already. I hadn't, due to the fact that we don't have a TV at home, [according to my teenagers, we're the only ones in America] so I only read about these things until someone actually sends me a link to a video clip. 

And here's a statement from VIVOTEK:

People around the world are breathing a collective sigh of relief with the news that the rescue of the 33 trapped Chilean mine workers has been a complete success. The greatest share of the accolades must, of course, go to the courageous miners and their anxious families, as well as the ingenuity of the engineers who quickly designed and built the transport capsule used to extract the workers from deep underground. However, it is also worth noting that VIVOTEK played an important role in this dramatic operation. By affixing an FD8134 fixed dome network camera to the rescue capsule, this integral piece of equipment was able to provide operators working at a ground level with a clear, real-time view of the conditions in and around the capsule as it made its descent to retrieve each miner and subsequently return to the surface. With its superb HD video quality and compact size, the FD8134 was the perfect choice, and the successful rescue and camera feed was broadcast in media around the world, including BBC and CNN. VIVOTEK is proud to have done its part to bring this amazing rescue effort to a happy conclusion and wish all of the miners best of luck.

Talking IP solutions and POTS problems

Monday, October 18, 2010

I noticed an ACCENT discussion string talking about "POTS trainsmission issues" going on lately and, of course it caught my attention.

The discussion started when Matt Bergeron over at NEXgeneration Central asked if anyone else out there in ACCENT land had been having problems with their POTS service. I spoke with Matt a while back about their sudden and successful growth this past year. Many people chimed in on the POTS transmission string and the discussion began to examin VoIP issues with alarm communicaitons.

Morgan Hertel at Mace CSSS said that he believed that bad POTS transmissions were a sign of the times as service providers attempted to save money which meant routing calls (including alarm signals) through--or at least partly through--VoIP channels.

"The industry in my opinion is not taking this seriously both with  working with carriers to provide a transition plan but also to  start educating the dealer trades with the bad news that what they have been using for the last 25 years is suddenly going to be changing," Hertel said. "I speak with central stations all the time and just about everyone I talk to is going through the same stuff all the time and as an industry we need to have a unified message to the dealers and installers so they can start the transition and training, otherwise if you all think the AMPS sunset was a challenge this is going to melt us down."

Of course, I've done a lot of writing about POTS and VoIP... Actually the last comment is from Stephen Kovacsiss from Bosch security. He wanted to let everyone know about a free VoIP solution Bosch has.

"We have found that many are not aware of the latest update to the Bosch D6600/D6100i receivers in response to VoIP/GSM issues, so we would like to make sure that you know that Bosch has made significant advancements in dealing with VoIP when using Contact ID, 4-1 Express, and 4-2 Express formats.  Using patent pending digital signal processing, Bosch receivers can now interpret signals that would previously have been dismissed because they did not meet the formatting requirements of the communications protocol. This new processing performs additional analysis on alarm signals that allows the receiver to decode signals that have been modified by VoIP or digital phone networks.  Our testing has shown error reductions of up to 76% in known problem sites," Stephen said. "These updates are available at no charge for all users of our D6600 (with D6641 line cards) and D6100i Central Station Receivers in Version 1.35 of our D6200 central station receiver software on the Bosch web site.  Click on the following link to be directed to the download site, or paste it into your browser."

Avid readers of mine will recall I did a story about this a few months back.

I also did a story on a new company out of Sugarland, Texas called ipDatatel that claims to defeat the IP communications problems.

Matt over at NEXgeneration said something that stuck with me as well, since it's something I've been speculating about for a while:

"We need to do all wireless radio solutions and divorce ourselves from the phone carriers totally!!!"

I've been wondering when someone in the industry is going to create a communications backbone owned by the industry--by a communications association, say--that serves the industry reliably like POTS did. Is such an undertaking possible? Or worthwhile?

While they get in on the ACCENT discussion, I also had contact recently with World Wide security, a New York-based full service alarm company with their own central station, Vision Monitoring Services. They had a thing or two to say about POTS transmission problems and VoIP issues as well.

“With copper lines, your voice is your voice," said World Wide operations and technical services manager Christopher Edgar. "With VoIP, your voice is captured, compacted and combined with other data such as alarm signals and runs it across the line.”

This is the same problem the guys from ipDatatel were telling me about.

“One solution for transmission problems associated with alarm signals and VoIP switches are capture boards. The idea is to capture the transmission off the outgoing phone connection of the panel and convert that IP information and send it over the Internet. This is one idea the industry is working towards. If you have VoIP then you probably have Internet service. That makes IP signaling a possibility. The idea is terrific, but in practice it is difficult because every manufacturer uses its own protocols," said Dave Young, VP Vision Monitoring Services." The central station requires that manufacturers’ receiver equipment receive the signal. In traditional alarms it came down to format; as long as the receiver could handle the format, you could receive any manufacturer’s signals. The ideal solution for those products is a standardized transmission that allows a universal receiver to receive that traffic which the industry may or may not be working on. It is mind boggling that manufacturers cannot agree on a transmission protocol to send traffic to be handled by any number of devices—they all want to sell the razors and the blade, but not the razors that can handle any blade.”

Does anyone else have anything to say about IP communications? Problems or solutions? What's next?


The business case for booth boys at trade shows

Friday, October 15, 2010

Tess Nacelewicz here, the new associate editor of Security Systems News. I'll have my photo and bio on this blog next week.

ASIS 2010 has just finished, but my thoughts already are turning to next year. And I have a great idea for the ASIS 2011 show: more “booth boys.”

Before I showed up in Dallas for ASIS this week  – my very first trade show! – I had heard that “booth babes” were a feature of the experience.

Sure enough, there were a lot of attractive young women wearing tight clothing and big smiles at various booths as they handed out information or encouraged people to sign up for promotions and free prizes.

But I wasn’t expecting the booth boy. Yet, there he was when I went to Stanley Convergent Security Solutions’ booth: a good-looking, personable young man in swim shorts and a tank top, with a  surfboard as a prop. (Stanley went with an “oasis” theme this year, complete with music from The Beach Boys and a thatch-roofed hut.)

The booth boy (sorry, guy, I forgot to ask your name) put his arm around me as my editor snapped a picture.

Later, in talking to Stanley officials, they said a lot of other women had snagged him for photo shoots too. In fact, by midday on the first day of the show Stanley said it had a record number of visitors at its booth.

OK, maybe that wasn’t all due to the handsome surfer dude, but it got me thinking: Why weren’t there more booth boys?

Look at it this way. The booth babes, in addition to being pleasing eye candy and adding to the fun of the show, also have a business function. They attract more people to your display.

And yes, it was clear from the crowds at the show that guys still predominate in the industry.

But it’s also evident that the industry is attracting more women. They range from women in top management (such as three impressive women I met at the show: JoAnna Sohovich, president of Honeywell Security & Communications; Lisa Roy of Johnson Controls, vice president of global security strategy; and Jamie Haenggi, CMO at Protection One) to the women attendees at ASIS walking the floor to learn what you’ve got to offer.

So, next year, how about some more booth boys to help attract women to displays?

You need not consider it gender parity…it could just be good business!


Sad news for the security industry: CSAA past president John Murphy dies

Thursday, October 14, 2010

We at SSN received some sad news today through CSAA's signals. The security industry has lost an industry heavy-hitter with the passing of John Murphy.

CSAA on October 14 announced the passing of CSAA past president John Murphy from a protracted illness.

“Despite his courageous six year battle, John peacefully succumbed to his illness October 13, 2010,” Murphy’s wife Mary Murphy said in the CSAA announcement. “John passed at home with our children and myself at his bedside, and we now rest comfortably in knowing that John is finally pain free.”

In lieu of flowers, the Murphy family have requested donations be made to the Directors Fund in Clinical Cardiology in honor of Dr. Irving Herling at Penn Medicine. Donations can be made payable to The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania and should be sent to: Carol A. Forte, Executive Director of Development, Centers & Institutes, Penn Medicine, 3535 Market Street, Suite 750, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

A wake for friends and family is scheduled for the afternoon and evening of Sunday, Oct. 17, at McChesney Funeral Home on Main Street in Moorestown, N.J. A funeral mass will be held on Monday, Oct. 18 at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, 42 West Main Street in Moorestown. Interment services will be held at Lakeview Memorial Cemetery in Cinnaminson followed by a luncheon at Riverton Country Club.


Like a virgin at ASIS 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Tess Nacelewicz, the new associate editor at Security Systems News here. We'll swap out my photo and bio for Martha's next week when we're all back in Maine, but right now, we're here in Dallas at the ASIS show.

Understand that I’m just three weeks into my new job as associate editor for Security Systems News, and so brand new to the security industry I feel proud when I can use the term “RMR” in a sentence. It’s the first industry acronym I learned, and about the only one I can throw around with any confidence.

And suddenly, my editor puts me on a plane and sends me to ASIS. Its proper name is ASIS International 56th Annual Seminar and Exhibits. But to me, it’s My Very First Trade Show.

Early Tuesday morning, I walked in the door of this giant, giant, Texas-sized room at the Dallas Convention Center. It had an entrance but it didn’t seem to have any back door…no matter how far you walked it seemed there were just more and more booths.

It was noisy, and there were lots of signs and video displays and music and logos. There also were crowds and crowds of people, many of them wearing matching color-coordinated shirts.

But one thing that stood out after spending a day talking to many of them was that they’re some of the most enthusiastic people I’ve ever met in my life. It seems that people in the security business are very passionate about their products. And one of them told me why. He said it’s a good feeling to sell products that save property and lives.

Among other things that stood out were the distinctive booths some companies had. Stanley Convergent Security Solutions went with an “oasis’ theme to convey how safe customers feel when in the company’s hands. They had a grass-thatched hut, surf music playing and a handsome young man wearing shorts and carrying a surfboard standing in front of the booth. He graciously posed with me while my editor took a photo.

Stanley president Tony Byerly said the company has been doing themed exhibits for five years and that they really draw in the customers. This year’s was the most popular yet, he said, with about 1,000 visitors by midday.

Another unique experience was attending a reception at the G4S Secure Solutions booth. Lined up sternly still in front of the booth were what looked like about 10 state troopers in khaki-colored uniforms with wide-brimmed hats. But then I learned that one of the services G4S offers is guarding and those “police” were some of the company’s employees.  With our perimeter well protected, we talked shop, drank beer and ate snacks.

I also learned Tuesday about how Honeywell Security & Communications wants to help homeowners be able to manage the energy needs of their households via their security panels, and saw Protection One’s new logo and heard about that company’s new initiatives for speedy service. I learned that getting into the fire alarm business has proved a good growth strategy for Diebold, and later saw a demonstration on the latest in fire alarm systems at SimplexGrinnell.

And I heard someone use the term “pull-through.” Now, if I can only figure out to use it in a sentence…

ADS' Mahler wins Lott Award: What's next for the CSAA past prez?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mel Mahler

I received a press release today announcing that CSAA past president and ADS Security chairman and CEO Mel Mahler has received the CSAA's Stanley C. Lott award. The award is given out annually to one whose "contributions have been significant over the span of their careers," according to the release.

Mel received the award at the CSAA's annual meeting, which wrapped last week in Marana, Ariz.

I spoke with Mel earlier today about his time as president of the CSAA, what the award means to him and to ADS customers and what the future holds for ADS.

Was this a surprise to you Mel or were you expecting this?

It was a surprise. When I was president of CSAA I awarded the Stan Lott Award twice and there were only three people that knew about it: Myself, CSAA executive director Steve Doyle, and the person that put together the trophy. It was very closely guarded. So, yes, it was a great surprise. It was an even greater surprise in 2005 when I got the Weinstock award from ESA, formerly NBFAA because I'm a former president of CSAA, not ESA. So in 2010 to get the same kind of high honor from CSAA meant the world to me.

What do you think led to you receiving this honor?

Well, I'll tell you, back seven years ago, when I was asked to come in as president of CSAA, I was reluctant, because I didn't have my really excellent team I have in place now, and I knew that job was going to be very time consuming. Four past presidents of CSAA came together in a meeting and told me, 'Mel, you have to do this, it's very important. You bring a different perspective that we need now. That was Ron LaFontaine, Bob Bonifas, John Mayberry and Ralph Sevinor ... I'm glad now I did it, and I would encourage anyone that has that opportunity to step up and do the same thing.

Does this award say anything to your ADS customers?

I think Stan Lott is really the one who brought Five Diamond as a designation to CSAA and today, we now have over a hundred Five Diamond central stations, and we were the number five Five Diamond... So to get this award--which is about more than just Five Diamond--connects us to him. Right now Five Diamond is really the hallmark of the industry.

What's on the horizon for you and for ADS?

I think now that I've got the team together--I've got a great president in John Cerasuolo who is on top of the day-to-day--it really gives me the opportunity to concentrate on acquisitions. As you know we just completed our 15th new location in Jackson, Tennessee. Now we go from Kentucky all the way down to Melbourne, Florida. And it really frees me up to do these acquisitions. I'm also on a number of industry boards--I'm on the board of American Alarm in Arlington, Mass., Lowitt Alarm in Long Island, Gilmore Security in Cleveland, Habitec Security in Toledo. If I didn't have this team here, I wouldn't be able to do these things. I also have a great partner in Bill Hunt in Pittsburgh. He's been with me for 20 years now--since we started--and he allows me the time to do all these things. I see lots of opportunity now for more acquisitions.

ASIS before the show: Flir sheds light on night

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Martha's photo is still on this blog, but this is Tess Nacelewicz, the new associate editor of Security Systems News. We'll be updating the photo next week. In the meantime, I hadn't been on the job for more than ten days before heading off to my very first security show and last night I went to my first pre-show event.

You’ve seen the images of what soldiers see when they wear night vision goggles. Suddenly, figures and buildings usually hidden by the pitch black of the night are as visible as they are in the day, although in kind of an eerie green glow.

Now imagine if you could see things at night the way you do in the day, in color and without the weird green glow. That’s what I did last night in Dallas, when Flir – a thermal-imaging company based in Portland, Ore. that specializes in finding commercial applications for military technology –demonstrated its new Color Night Vision cameras at the Las Colinas Country Club.

It was the night before today’s start of the ASIS 2010 conference in Dallas and I and some other security industry writers were getting a sneak preview of what Flir had in store for the show.

We stood on a balcony overlooking the golf course. On the balcony were some cameras, including a standard security camera and a Color Night Vision camera, hooked up to video screens.

It was dark so we couldn’t see much as we looked out over the golf course. The standard camera reflected the dark situation – its screen was black.

But then we looked at the screen of the Color Night Vision camera. It revealed the golf course almost as if it were still afternoon. We could see the green of the grass, the purple flowers on a bush  – and two Flir employees standing on the course about 100 yards away.

The standard security camera hadn’t given us a clue those guys were there. For all we could tell from its black screen of information, the golf course was empty.

Imagine the security implications: a person or car couldn’t sneak up on your property in the dark because the of Color Night Vision camera would reveal them in living color.

Or, as Bill Klink, VP of Security and Surveillance for Flir, puts it: “We solve challenging imaging situations.”

I’ll be interested to see the reaction Flir gets at the show when it demonstrates its Color Night Vision camera and also a new high-resolution thermal imaging camera to others.


More verification talk and the evolution of personal/mobile security

Thursday, October 7, 2010

I got an email from Sean O'Keefe of Texana Security today. Sean has been an advocate of RSI's verification solution Videofied for a while. I wrote a special report  a while ago on verification and higher priority response for alarms that are verified. In that story, Sean made a bold statement: O’Keefe said Texana actually has gone so far as to get all their customers to agree to a new Texana policy: police will not be notified of alarms that are not video-verified. “Part of our dealer program is that we deeply subsidize the equipment, so that a dealer can get this stuff now for almost the same price as other equipment,” O’Keefe said. “There really is a difference in police response time ... We had 11 apprehensions in a two-month period—that’s a lot … I tell police I have a technology here that can significantly reduce false alarms, increase apprehension opportunities and creates a safer response environment for responding officers. In 30 years I’ve never received the kind of response from law enforcement that I get with this.”

In his email this morning, Sean passed on a customer testimonial and some Videofied clips showing the solution doing what it was designed to do: verify a potential apprehension opportunity and help lead to an arrest.

From Sean's email:

"I thought you might find the following message and accompanying videos interesting.  There has been a rash of thefts at building supply warehouses during the past couple of years.  I  have been advised by law enforcement that many of these thefts are being carried out by organized crime syndicates.  As you can deduct from the following customer testimonial, we replaced his “standard” video system  (after he had experienced several undetected break-ins) with the Texana Video Verified system and as the videos indicate were able to facilitate the detection  and apprehension of two (not four) intruders."

Regardless of where you stand on the verified vs. non-verified debate (is it okay to trumpet higher police priority for verified alarms? Something I've written about before) you can't argue with results: in this case video verification got results.

Here's the testimonial (from the alarm dealer) Sean references:

"Building Supply Centers/Warehouses have been a frequent target of thieves.  On 10/6/2010 Texana received 'video' intrusion alarms from one of our customers (Roofing Materials Supplier) and transmitted the alarm to Dallas PD.  Dallas PD responded immediately and apprehended four individuals.  Following is an unsolicited testimonial from our customer.  Note the customer indicates he had experienced 5 previous break-ins that were undetected by a conventional CCTV system.  This is yet one more example of the effectiveness of a 'video verified' alarm system coupled with priority response from the police department."

And here's the testimonial from the end user:

"Attached is a video stream from the security system we installed in Dallas last year after the string of burglaries. The new system  last night worked just as advertised and  resulted in 4 people being arrested for theft.  The system has an infrared perimeter cameras that when the infrared is broken sends this 15 second video stream to the security company that monitors it 24/7 and if they determine if the cops need to be contacted. They did and dispatched the police and the cops caught the 4 guys in the act and arrested them."

Again, I don't advocate for either a verified (either by video or by audio) alarm system. I don't have an alarm system myself--neither verified nor traditional.

I DO like hearing what all of you think, however. I think that as consumer electronics get more advanced, end users are going to demand more technology and more personal involvement in monitoring... Look at Total Connect and other smart phone type apps.

I'm actually working on a story right now about a company that's turning smartphones into monitored, mobile two-way audio units for personal security.

I wrote a story back about GPS tacking company Wind Trac in which a couple security executives said monitoring companies would have to start offering mobile, personal tracking services and be ready to embrace more technologically advanced solutions.

From that story:

"Doug Harris is director of public relations at Wind Trac, a provider of real-time GPS-based tracking and monitoring systems for asset tracking, fleet management, child tracking, lone-worker protection, elderly tracking, weapons tracking, medical alert, and personal safety applications. Harris said that such a lack of attention on the part of the traditional security industry to sell and monitor GPS-based tracking and monitoring systems has allowed his company to flourish. 'We’ve taken a very reasonable and a very reasonably-priced approach that most people don’t.' It’s this willingness to 'protect the family, protect them where they go,' to go mobile, that will set Wind Trac apart, said Harris. 'Individuals can save a bundle getting out of the conventional monitoring culture and that’s the secret to our success.'

Mike Simpson, president of Bay City, Mich.-based security software developer Dice Corporation, agreed that the time was right for traditional security companies to expand their reach· 'I think the point is that the technology is becoming more mobile, less costly, more reliable and easier for central stations to be involved in the monitoring part of a solution,' Simpson said. 'I have been saying for a couple of years now that the really smart central stations will become general monitoring centers, if they aren’t that already. This is the result of moving into the monitoring of devices that go beyond traditional security services.'"

I wonder how long it will be before a company comes up with a way to use a smartphone's camera to send video feed to a central station in connection with a panic button activation? I welcome your thoughts.