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SW24 sees bright future for guards

 - 
Wednesday, February 15, 2012

“Guards, gates and guns.”

That was the standard for the security industry 20 years ago, as cited by Edward Levy, VP and global head of security for Thomson Reuters, during his keynote address at last week’s TechSec conference in Delray Beach, Fla. But while technology has clearly raised the bar since then, allowing many companies to reduce the number of boots on the ground, a contradictory fact remains: The age of the guard is not over.

To prove the point, look no further than the streets of New York, where SecureWatch24 has announced plans to move aggressively into guard services. The company was recently awarded a contract to supply unarmed guards at an Ivy League alumni club in Manhattan, and it intends to continue to push into this segment with its own training program.

“We’re moving into the guard sector in a big way,” said Jay Stuck, VP of sales and chief marketing officer for SW24, which specializes in property surveillance and video monitoring. “We think it’s pretty compatible with the technology initiatives we have going right now. Our view is that the two can work hand in hand. … At the end of the day, you’re still going to need guys in navy blazers.”

While Stuck sees a bright future for the guard segment, what does the rest of the industry think? You can weigh at rmiller@securitysystemsnews.com.

Jaunty talk about behavioral analytics

 - 
Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Scanning my inbox, and my SIA update this morning, I saw this perky piece from the New York Post, talking about Port Authority "brass" secretly deploying "military grade" and "science-fiction like" security systems

Sounded so intriguing, but the only real detail in the story is that BRS Labs (purveyor of behavioral analytics) is apparently working with the Port Authority down at the new World Trade Center.

Coincidentally, I'm speaking with BRS Labs brass John Frazzini on Thursday--so will have some more details for you then.

Experts shine on TechSec stage

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

While sunny Florida hasn’t quite lived up to its billing—blue sky has been scarce, at least so far —the eighth annual TechSec, a two-day conference being held in Delray Beach, is definitely meeting expectations.

Many of the security industry’s top players are here, and the presentations and discussions have been lively. The monitoring world was well represented at Tuesday’s session, with Morgan Hertel, VP and general manager for Mace CS, and Jerry Cordasco, VP of operations for G4S Technology, among the presenters. Do video analytics really work? Is your cloud provider secure? Those were among the topics debated, with some energetic exchanges between the audience and the experts on the dais.

Day Two kicked off with William Rhodes, a market analyst for IMS Research, giving TechSec attendees a look at what to expect in video surveillance technology in 2012 and beyond. The rest of the day features sessions on implementing current vs. emerging technology in long-term projects; PIV (personal identity verification) being propelled into the private sector; and SaaS (software as a service) and ROI for the end user.

The conference wraps up with the next generation of security practitioners discussing new technology and how it will affect the industry. Four members of Security Directors News’ “20 Under 40” class of 2012 are on the panel, including Whit Chaiyabhat, director of emergency management and operational continuity at Georgetown University, and Christopher Chapeta, physical security specialist for Chevron.

I had the chance to talk with both of them yesterday, and for anyone in the security industry skeptical of those who have grown up with the Internet, cellphones and social media, I have good news: If these folks are typical of those who will guide the industry in the future, it’s in good hands.

For those who couldn’t join the TechSec this year, there’s always 2013. And you can get a taste of what you missed in the coming days in SSN. 

Problems at Platinum redux

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I wrote last week about Platinum Protection suddenly laying off most of its employees. I’m still gathering information about what led to that abrupt Feb. 2 action by the summer model sales company based in American Fork, Utah, and want to make sure I have as many facts as possible before publishing a story.

I’ve yet to hear from anyone at Platinum in response to requests for comment. I’m told by a knowledgeable company insider—an employee who was among some 600 corporate, sales, technical and other staff let go last week—that the company kept on five or six employees to try to figure out what to with about 6,000 accounts that Platinum kept in house.

However, this person said the company at this point doesn’t have the finances or personnel to continue with its plans to bring on about 25,000 accounts this summer, as it did last summer. “You lose your sales force, you lose your entire company,” the employee told me. Other summer sales companies are busy signing up some of Platinum’s former sales reps and technicians, the person said.

The person said a company owner announced to employees last Thursday, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but Platinum is closing its doors and all employees are terminated effective immediately and I’m really sorry this happened.”

The employee said: “People were bawling. They had never been through something like this before. They didn’t know you could have a job for years and all of a sudden they tell you, ‘Sorry, you’re done.’ … There’s no severance, no nothing.”

I’m still digging into whether this had anything to do with a recent lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, charging that the two men who provided the start-up capital for Platinum six years ago have been running a $220 million Ponzi scheme.

Platinum has stressed that Utah real estate magnate Wendell Jacobson and his son, Allen Jacobson, are no longer owners of the company, which was founded in 2006.

But what I’m hearing is that negative publicity generated by the lawsuit, filed this past December, did nothing to help Platinum financially.

I'll continue to report on this story. Stay tuned.

At one conference and thinking about getting organized for the next

 - 
Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I’m down in Delray Beach running our TechSec conference that started yesterday. We’ll be wrapping up tonight with our “last session,” a party outside by the pool where we’ll do some socializing and honor members of Security Director News’ 20 under 40, class of 2012. Click here to see who they are.

We have some coverage of the conference on the newswire—on the Mobile Apps session, Video Analytics session and the keynote—but we’ll have more stories online and in our printed publication in the next week.

As always, there’s been lots of great networking opportunities at TechSec. Among the many interesting things I heard about this morning was this from Ray Coulombe of SecuritySpecifiers.com. We were talking about how ISC West is fast approaching, and he told me about a new, free feature on his site, where you can map an orderly ISC West booth visit schedule.

Check it out. You go to the homepage

Click on the “Create ISC West Booth Visit plan,” button, enter the products that you’re interested in seeing. Voila! a nice, organized list of folks who make those products and their booth numbers.
Simple and slick. I’m going to be wicked organized this year.

Bay Alarm expands

 - 
Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bay Alarm of California, which says it is “the largest independently-owned and operated alarm company in the United States,” just got a bit larger, according to a news release.

Davis Mergers and Acquisitions Group of Long Grove, Ill. recently sent over the following tidbit:
 

Low Voltage Systems, located in Poway, Calif. has been acquired by Bay Alarm Company, with offices throughout California.

Doug and Kym Farkas were the owners of Low Voltage Systems. Doug Farkas will be staying on to continue to service custom-builder customers and to help grow the company.

Dorsie Mosher of Davis Mergers and Acquisitions Group, Inc. represented the sellers in this transaction.

I wrote recently here about Bay Alarm adding a new office and employees and its co-president being appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to a state board overseeing alarm companies.

I’ll try to learn more from Bay Alarm about the new acquisition.

 

'Train the Trainer' in Vegas

 - 
Friday, February 3, 2012

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.

That’s good advice for anyone who lets their hair down too far after the sun sets in Sin City, but it turns out central station managers attending ISC West can take something away from Vegas, too: certification as trainers.

Central Station University is offering the recently revised SIA-APCO Central Station Operator Instructor Course from March 25-28 at the Tuscany Suites and Casino. According to the CSU, the “Train the Trainer” course has been substantially updated to reflect changes in the industry.

“Central station technologies and procedures evolve constantly with the needs of our customers,” CSU President Dera DeRoche-Jolet said in a prepared statement. “We wanted to make sure the class reflects what current operator-trainees need to know.”

The course revisions cover newer monitoring systems, techniques for false alarm reduction, a more detailed explanation of alarm signal formats, and an expanded discussion of customer service.

For managers who can’t find the time to take the course in Vegas, a second session is scheduled in June in Orlando, Fla. Additional classes also will be offered later this year. For more information, call the CSU at 888-619-6970 or go to www.thecsu.org.

Problems at Platinum

 - 
Friday, February 3, 2012

Word is that Platinum Protection suddenly laid off almost all its employees yesterday. So, is the summer model sales company based in American Fork, Utah closing, filing for bankruptcy? And does this abrupt action have anything to do with a recent lawsuit filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, charging that the two men who provided the start-up capital for Platinum six years ago have been running a $220 million Ponzi scheme?

The industry is abuzz with such questions since the massive layoff yesterday. I haven’t yet heard directly from anyone at the company about what is going on. But The Salt Lake Tribune reported yesterday evening that a company official confirmed Platinum had dismissed 65 corporate employees and its sales and technical staff, leaving only a small management team to service existing customers. The official wouldn’t give the reason for the mass dismissal, the newspaper said.

Regarding the SEC lawsuit filed in December, Platinum has told SSN that it was as surprised as anyone about the accusations against Utah real estate magnate Wendell Jacobson and his son, Allen Jacobson, and said the pair no longer has any ownership in the company. But could some sort of negative fallout from the case have impacted Platinum’s financing?

There are many more questions than answers at this point.

As for the layoffs, I talked yesterday to one of the employees just let go.

The person, who didn’t want to be identified, told me that employees had had “no warning whatsoever” of what was to come when they were called into a company meeting around 9:30 in the morning on Feb. 2.

The person said they were told company officials had made a decision “overnight” to close the company. Employees were told “we were free to go and they apologized for the inconvenience.”

There was “a lot of crying and emotion and shock,” the employee told me.

The person said that in addition to corporate staff, perhaps as many as 500 other employees lost their jobs.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported that one employee said company officials said they hoped to pay employees what salary they were owed within a few weeks.

But no severance packages were offered, according to the employee I spoke to. The company told employees they could file for unemployment.

“It’s a mess,” the employee said.

I'll continue to report on this story. Stay posted.

Object Video signs licensing agreement

 - 
Wednesday, February 1, 2012

There was an update today in video analytics provider Object Video’s patent licensing efforts. OV announced today that it has signed a global patent licensing agreement with Tyco Security Products’ American Dynamics business division.

You’ll recall that at ISC West last year, OV announced in April that it was suing Sony, Samsung and Bosch for alleged patent infringement

And, in June, it filed a complaint with the against the same companies with the International Trade Commission. That complaint seeks to bar Bosch, Samsung and Sony from importing and selling products containing software features and functions that allegedly infringe on OV’s patents.

OV CEO Raul Fernandez told me today that he can’t speak about the lawsuit, but he said the agreement with American Dynamics is the first of what he expects to be several similar agreements.

He said after the lawsuit and ITC complaints were filed, OV received “a series of inbound calls from [manufacturers] who wanted to understand the our licensing program.” He said there are “several negotiations ongoing [with manufacturers, but they’re not litigation-based negotiations” rather they’re manufacturers who have approached OV because “they’ve looked inward at their technology to see if there is a technology overlap with some of our patents.” This is OV’s preferred way to “approach licensing discussions but we are prepared to take another [legal] path if necessary.”

Fernandez said that the fact that Tyco is a “multi billion dollar, multi-national, multi-product line company that’s been in business a long time recognizes our innovations .. strengthens our case [for pursuing patent licensing] … it’s terrific for us.”

“Our American Dynamics business is developing a broad range of video analytics-enabled products,” said Warren Brown vice president of product management for Tyco Security Products. “As part of our pre-launch process, it was important to ensure that the growth we expect from these products would not be negatively affected by legal issues,” continued Mr. Brown. “This agreement with ObjectVideo gives us that certainty, allowing us to focus on the more important tasks of building great products that delight our customers.”

Asked how business is going, Fernandez said OV, which is privately held, had a good year with growth in its core software business and growth and backlog in its services side.

ADT runs afoul of California law

 - 
Wednesday, February 1, 2012

ADT has agreed to pay almost $1 million to settle a civil lawsuit brought by the district attorney of California’s Contra Costa County over contracts ADT had with residential customers in which it reserved the right to hike monthly fees after the first year. That violated a California law requiring residential consumers get written disclosure of all costs upfront, according to the state.

District Attorney Mark A. Peterson, who announced the settlement this week, said that under the agreement, ADT has said it will follow the law for future contracts and, in addition to a $950,000 civil fine, will pay restitution to some customers whose monthly rate increased during their initial contract term.

Here’s a more detailed account from the Contra Costa Times on the settlement:

A national alarm company agreed to pay a $950,000 civil penalty and provide restitution to some customers to settle a lawsuit by the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office, which claimed certain contractual terms imposed upon customers violated California law.

District Attorney Mark Peterson announced the settlement Monday with Florida-based ADT Security Services, Inc., which sells home burglar and fire alarm systems.

ADT required customers to enter into two- or three-year contracts, in which the company reserved the right to raise monthly fees after the first year. The lawsuit alleged that by failing to advise customers how much the rate increase would be, ADT violated contract disclosure requirements in California's Unruh Act.

The lawsuit further alleged that termination fees for customers who discontinue ADT service could exceed the remaining balance of a contract obligation.

Under the terms of the settlement, ADT will conform its future California contracts to the requirements of Unruh Act, which requires written disclosure to residential consumers of contract terms. In ADT's case, that includes the total price for monitoring services for the initial term of the contract, disclosure of the number of required payments during that term, and disclosure of the amount of each monthly payment.

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