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Avigilon has video analytics news

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

There was lots of video analytics news today.

Avigilon, which acquired VideoIQ at the end of 2013, today came out with the first combined offering of VideoIQ and Avigilon products. Avigilon added Rialto to its portfolio. Rialto has three appliances (for IP, analog and thermal cameras) that will enable end users to add VideoIQ analytics to existing Avigilon or other manufacturers’ cameras. I have a call into Avigilon for more details.

Avigilon's analytics play is a good move according research firm TechNavio which announced today a new report that predicts global intelligent video analytics market will have a compound annual growth rate of 34.12 percent over the period 2013-2018.  

What will drive that growth? TechNavio said it’s the need for sophisticated tools to analyze the “unstructured data" generated by video surveillance systems, as well as increased security concerns.

The other, important driver is the “increasing demand for intelligent video analytics with business intelligence tools,” the report said.

“When operational data is integrated with BI features, companies can generate profits by identifying and implementing profitable projects, increase sales by applying fact-based selling tools, enhance customer loyalty, and retain customers by optimizing customer experience management,” said Faisal Ghaus, VP of TechNavio, in a prepared statement. “Organizations can use IVA solutions combined with BI tools to predict the future behavior of potential and existing customers, which is a major driver for the growth of the market over the forecast period.”

This all made me think about the very excellent educational session at TechSec 2014  “The IP camera of the future,” where there was lots of talk about the crucial nature of video analytics that work.

“The full potential of the business value of security cameras has yet to be realized,” said Ray Coulombe, an entrepreneur and CEO of SecuritySpecifiers.com, who moderated the panel.  “Analytics, big data implementation, and the proper mindset of security practitioners will develop to the point where security cameras, and other devices, will be viewed as a more integral part of the business fabric.”

The vendors involved with the TechNavio report were listed as: Agent Video Intelligence, Axis Communications, Honeywell, Bosch, Cisco. IBM, Infinova, Intellivision, Nice Systems, ObjectVideo, Verint, VideoIQ.

 

Women and security technology

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

I’m here at PSA-TEC in Westminster, Colo., where today I had a chance to catch up with Christine Lanning, president of systems integration firm IST.

Christine and her husband Andrew (CEO) founded IST, a PSA Security owner, in 1998. Here’s a story I wrote about the company a couple years ago.  This year, Christine was honored as one of this year’s Women’s Security Council 2014 Women of the Year.

IST just finished moving its headquarters to a new facility that they own, (and saving 30 percent owning rather than leasing, thanks mostly to favorable conditions for an SBA loan.)

It was a year-long transition for IST to deal with permits and build out the new headquarters. “That meant we were without a demo or training space [in house] for a year,” she said.

Christine said they didn’t realize how much they missed having those capabilities in house, for business and training, of course, but also because she’s a techy.

I asked Christine why she got interested in technology.

Her interest started early. Technology was something that was promoted and valued in her home as a child, she said. “Our weekend jaunts were to Radio Shack where we’d get circuit boards to solder LED lights to.”

In high school Christine was the only girl in an elective electronics class.

Christine has an undergraduate degree in business and a Master’s degree in IT. At grad school in Hawaii, she was one of three women out of 50 students in the class.

Christine met Andrew when they were both working at an alarm company in Hawaii. They left that alarm company to start IST. Christine ran the business side, until as the company grew, it became clear that the company techs didn’t understand IT—a necessity for IST, which always did systems integration. “In 2004, I took over operations. I still ran administration and accounting, but I was really pushing that IT knowledge to the staff."

She’d sit the staff down for “lunch and learns" regularly. “I’d have discussions with the staff about IT: What does ARP mean? Trace RT? How do you ping a device? We had conversations about how to do things.”

And she’d go out in the field and teach techs to mount cameras, program devices in the field, patch systems, configure servers.

Is her teaching style different from a guy tech? Perhaps. She describes her approach as collaborative. She may be the boss, but “what I’ve found is that people really respond when you talk to them as a peer.”

As I’ve written many times in this space, there’s a dearth of women in the security industry, but only a small percentage of the women in security have either a technical role or work closely with technicians and engineers. That may be starting to change however. Women are beginning to be welcomed—even recruited—into those roles, at least among the smartest integrators.

While Christine and I were talking in the lobby of the Westin Westminster, we saw Bethany Taylor, who I learned from Christine, is the director of operations for Dakota Security. She oversees the engineering group at Dakota. And, after the interview I ran into Kirsten Klokis, who works for Northland Control Systems. Kirsten came to Northland out of college and is learning all aspects of the business, including spending time in the field with the technicians.

SIA is actively working to get young people interested in technical entry level jobs in the security industry. It's launching a security degree program at a community college in New Jersey next year. And, SIA, ISC West and the Women's Security Council are creating a scholarship for a woman to attend the college program. Here's that story. Asked where else the industry should look for women who may be interested in security, Christine Lanning suggested women with a military background.

"They have great training, understand structure, and are used to working in a male-dominated environment," she said.

Honeywell ads 'Mad Men' worthy

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Honeywell’s recent advertising success is on a scale that would make Mad Men’s superstar adman, Don Draper, envious.

First, the company recently won a coveted Telly Award for a Tuxedo Touch music video that it introduced this past December during the holiday season. Also, it got actor John Slattery—who plays the suave but mercurial Roger Sterling on AMC’s Mad Men television series—to star in a new TV commercial where he demonstrates the voice control capabilities of Honeywell’s Wi-Fi thermostat.

The Telly Awards were founded in 1978 and honor the best and most innovative in film and video productions, web commercials, videos and films, and local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programs. Now, Honeywell recently announced, it has won a Silver Telly Award for the music video featuring Tuxedo Touch.

I blogged about that video, for which Honeywell actually commissioned a Nashville band, Telecommunicators, to create an original song, “You’re My Heart.”

In a recent post on Honeywell's The Security Channel blog, David Gottlieb, Honeywell Security’s global marketing communications leader, gave special thanks to the Telecommunicators “for the great song” that helped to win the award.

And check out the new TV spot featuring Slattery and the Wi-Fi thermostat. The theme of the spot is that the future is already here—with Honeywell.

The actor, sitting on a couch in a living room, talks about how voice control is the future. He says the word “beer,” and a pint glass appears on his coffee table. He says “dog,” and an instant pet appears on the couch next to him.

Then Slattery says, “Impossible? Maybe, but Honeywell’s latest innovation gives me hope.” Then he tells his thermostat he’s too hot, so it lowers the temperature in the room.

The ad has already aired on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and, what with Slattery’s Mad Men fame and the intriguing content, is sure to catch the eyes of viewers. And who knows … is another Telly Award in Honeywell’s future?

Video verification: a residential service?

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Video verification in the residential market—it was a topic that surfaced in some of the PPVAR panels I attended at TechSec, though the discussion had been picking up momentum well before that.

It really seemed to pick up last August, when Honeywell Security announced it was joining the membership ranks of PPVAR, a move that some saw as a sign of the “mainstreaming” of video verification.

That seemed to be the gist of Scott Harkins (president of Honeywell Security Products Americas) words in the prepared statement released at the time, in which he said Honeywell recognized that “video verification is an important product category as we look to the future of security.”

Harkins, who was a panelist at one of the PPVAR sessions at ISC West, for the most part reiterated that sense of optimism, saying there was indeed potential for video verification in the residential space. He did however add the caveat that, from Honeywell’s perspective, bringing the technology into the mainstream had to be done in a way that keeps such systems affordable to a mass residential market.

Keith Jentoft, president at Videofied - RSI Video Technologies and an industry liaison for PPVAR, has given me some leads in recent weeks about a few monitoring companies that are striving to fulfill the vision put forth by Harkins (EMERgency24, based in Des Plaines, Ill., is one of a few he’s mentioned).

In the days and weeks ahead, I plan to explore how some of these companies are taking video verification to a broader residential market, zeroing in on the strategies that have worked as well as the challenges. 

ESA takes to the Hill

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

ESA just wrapped up its annual Day on Capitol Hill, bringing to the attention of lawmakers several topics of consequence for the security industry, including school security.

The ESA has positioned itself as a partner with Security Industry Association in developing a comprehensive guide to help end users and legislators better understand what electronic security technologies they have at their disposal to bolster school security.

“Most school districts don’t know what type of security to install, and many legislators don’t understand all the technology that’s out there and what exists,” said Daniel Gelinas, who attended the event in his capacity as government liaison for Rapid Response Monitoring. ESA’s Electronic Security Guidelines for Schools, he said, were designed as an authoritative resource to address that knowledge gap.  

The timing of the school security guide is especially good, in light of the latest appropriations act cleared by Congress in January, which contains $75 million in funding for assessing methods to improve school security.

But ESA’s activities on the Hill weren’t limited just to school security matters. The association and industry members are also pushing for expanding the industry’s access to the FBI’s background check database, allowing security companies to better vet their employees for prior criminal activity.

Gelinas said the pair of bills addressing this (one in the House, another in the Senate) would not be a mandate. Rather, if enacted, they would allow security companies in the 26 states without the licensing requirement for the database to access it.

The organization was also in the Capitol promoting funding measures that would protect against elderly abuse through expanded use of video surveillance in nursing homes. Gelinas noted that this would not be a mandate for health care facilities, but would instead give concerned families the option to use electronic security systems to ensure that elderly relatives are getting proper medication and care.

The final area of focus for ESA was getting Congress to back a balanced approach for smoke alarms and other early fire detection systems, putting them on “the same footing as sprinklers” when it comes to receiving tax incentives and government grants, Gelinas said. That would involve amending the Fire Sprinkler Incentive Act to include life safety, fire and smoke alarms.

I plan to give more space to this final issue, and some of the aforementioned ones, in an upcoming legislative roundup.

ADI expands with smaller concept branches

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

National distribution company ADI’s newest branch office in Omaha, Nebraska features a much smaller layout and a new concept.  Assuming the “ADI Express” concept works well in Omaha, ADI will be opening up a lot of new branches in secondary markets, Michael Flink, ADI president told me.

The Omaha branch is ADI's 100th branch. “ADI has 99 regular-size branches in 65 major markets,” Flink said. Typically, ADI branches are about 8,500 square feet and have six or seven employees. The new ADI Express office is about “half the size, half the number of employees,” Flink said.

Every couple of years, ADI does real estate research. Recent findings led the distribution company to explore the idea of a smaller store in smaller markets. “Initially we thought the smaller stores would also have half the inventory as well, “ Flink said, but good design enabled ADI to carry “almost as much merchandise [in the smaller ADI branch as in the larger branches].”

“One thing we did not want to do is lose value in the what ADI offers,” he said. So, while most of the merchandise is moved behind the counter, the ADI Express still has a small training room, a 7/24 pick up room for dealers and a small show room. “Dealers like to come in and see, feel and touch the products,” he said.

In smaller markets a dealer’s staff may not get to travel to trade shows, but a local ADI Express showroom is a good place to see a variety of new products and technology, Flink said.
“It’s like bringing a mini version of a trade show into the branches,” Flink said. “We carry a lot of products.”

ADI currently offers 1,800 training classes. The smaller branches will enable ADI to bring more training to secondary markets. “We can get the manufacturers to come to the smaller markets for training, [because] we can fill up a class if they come.”

ADI plans to open up one more ADI Express branch in Q3. It will then take about six months to evaluate and tweak the smaller branch concept. Flink predicts ADI Express “will dramatically increase the number of markets we can open in,” he said.

Dealers are invited to attend the grand opening at the Omaha branch tomorrow, May 1.  The event will include training events, sales specials, and free giveaways. The ADI Omaha Express Store is at 12112 Centennial Road, Suite 7, in La Vista, Nebraska

Home alarm system of the ‘Blade Runner’ plays role in his murder trial

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I’ve written here before about former NFL star Aaron Hernandez, who is charged with killing his friend Odin Lloyd, apparently failing to realize his home security camera was recording him with a gun both hours before—and minutes after—Lloyd was shot to death last summer. Now a home security system could be a key piece of evidence in the murder case against another sports star, the “Blade Runner.”

The security system in the home of Oscar Pistorius, the South African double-amputee track star accused of murdering his girlfriend, came under scrutiny in his trial in Pretoria, South Africa in early April, news reports say.

Pistorius, 27, known as the "Blade Runner" for the high-tech artificial legs he uses, was being grilled by prosecutor Gerrie Nel when, according to Alliance News, “Nel went into details about whether the alarm system at Pistorius' home was in order and whether he had turned it off.”

“A functioning alarm would contribute to discrediting Pistorius' claim he mistook his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp for a burglar when he shot her dead through the bathroom door in February last year,” Alliance News said. “Pistorius said several times he was unable to remember all the details and complained he was tired.”

The Globe and Mail newspaper reported that Pistorius “acknowledged that he must have deactivated the house’s alarm system when he carried the injured Ms. Steenkamp down his stairs after the shooting, although he said he doesn’t remember it.”

And the Globe and Mail reported: “Nel said the alarm system was functioning and should have alerted him to any intruder. Mr. Pistorius said his external motion-detectors were sometimes removed when the house was painted, and ladders were sometimes left in the garden that could have been used to enter his bathroom window, but he admitted that he hadn’t checked on either on the day before the shooting.”

Pistorius, who lost his legs below the knee because of a congenital abnormality, was the first double-leg amputee to compete against able-bodied athletes in the 2012 London Olympics.

His trial began in March and is expected to continue into May.
 

Investor speculates on Monitronics outlook

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Greater visibility, broader market acceptance and (for some central stations) more wholesale monitoring accounts are just some of the benefits often mentioned in connection with the entrance of cablecos and telecoms into security.

A recent Wholesale Monitoring study by the Barnes Associates (co-sponsored by the CSAA and SSN) largely attributed the 19 percent growth the segment enjoyed in 2013 to the influence of the new entrants. To be sure, there seems to be a prevailing belief that the rangy, big-money advertising campaigns of such companies can be the proverbial “rising tide that lifts all boats.”

That’s not to say there’s no ambivalence. That was apparent enough in a recent SSN News Poll that dealt with the topic. A number of readers expressed concern about the long-term viability of smaller players in the home security space, given the influx of these major corporations who have already made inroads into the home through Internet and cable, and thus have that previously established “stickiness.”

That ambivalence was also reflected in a recent analysis by Rajiv Bhatia on Seeking Alpha, a crowdsourced platform for investment-based ideas, who discussed what the new market players could mean for Ascent Capital, the holding company of Monitronics. Bhatia acknowledged that the company faces “increased competition” from the large new cableco/telecom entrants, which he says are gaining traction despite unsuccessful forays into the market in the past.

Regarding Monitronics’ business model, Bhatia offered a mixture of encouraging and somewhat cautionary words:

“While management and sell-side analysts believe that Ascent is better insulated from competition via its dealer-only business model, Ascent faces upward pressure on the multiple it pays for its dealer contracts from competitors. Additionally, its growth through its internal channels is weakening.”

Those multiples, he noted earlier, are based on an RMR multiple of 50. Ascent faces “upward pressure on the multiple it pays to acquire contracts,” he said.

With more than 1 million subscribers, Monitronics trails only ADT in terms of marketshare in the alarm monitoring space. It will be interesting to watch what happens to the market presence of both companies as the cableco/telecom ads continue to appear on our television screens.

ISS is growing, expanding and rebranding

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

ISS is growing, expanding and rebranding

Integrated Security Systems of Miami is getting ready to add 10,000 square feet of space to its headquarters here.

“We’re growing into new territories, but our back office and design center [work] is all done here,” Jeff Nunberg, ISS CEO said.

“We’re finalizing plans with the architect now,” Nunberg said. “In ten months we should have the new space.”

In business since 1962, ISS is a PSA Security owner,  that does CCTV, fire, access, and life safety and mass notification systems. It specializes in design-build projects and has in-house engineering, consultation, AutoCAD, construction and service departments.

ISS has two branch offices and employees “stationed throughout Florida and the Carolinas,” he said. ISS has more than 70 employees; its revenues exceed $20 million,  

The company is also getting a new look. ISS has a new logo that was designed by a student.

Nunberg said he’d spent two years and “tens of thousands of dollars” hiring professional ad agencies to design a logo for his business, but he was not happy with any of the designs.

“I wanted something that hit me emotionally,” he said. “Something iconic, so when you see it, you know it’s us.”

Last November, Nunberg spoke to fashion students at a Florida art college about running a business, as a favor to his cousin who works at the college. “While I was there I asked if they had a graphic art department and she said yes.”

Nunberg ended up sponsoring a logo contest. Tiffany Campos, the student-designer of the winning logo received a $1,600 scholarship, and ISS finally got a logo that Nunberg is excited about.

The logo will figure prominently at ISS’s expanded office, on its new Web site, its 60 vehicles, all of its literature and lapel pins and “other trinkets we give out,” he said.

It’s a big project and it’s “reinvigorating employees,” he said. “Change is good.”

“At the end of the day, we’re a service company and it's hard to copy our model, what we deliver,” he said. However, he believes the logo will “help my business stand out even more,” Nunberg said.

 

 

San Diego central earns Five Diamond Certification

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Alarm Relay, a UL-listed alarm monitoring company based in San Diego, became the latest central station to earn Five Diamond Certification from the Central Station Alarm Association, the company recently announced. Fewer than 200 central stations in the country have the certification.

Among the most rigorous requirements for completing the Five Diamond program include the commitment to random inspections by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as FM Global, Underwriters’ Laboratories or InterTek/ETL, and central stations must also comply with quality criteria standards developed by those same organizations.

Five Diamond Certification also testifies that 100 percent of central station operators at a given company have been certified through the CSAA online training course, which covers all phases of central station communications with law enforcement, customers, and fire and emergency centers.

For an operator to achieve certification, they must demonstrate (among other things) proficiency in alarm verification, which helps reduce false dispatches, and in communications with Public Safety Answering Points.

That latter requirement is bound to be vitally important as central stations around the country forge more partnerships with PSAPs, allowing the ASAP to PSAP program to expand. 

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