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Back in the saddle: Gearing up for Vegas and ISC West

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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

ISC West can bring on sensory overload, from the din of the crowd to the glitzy displays to the lower-limb fatigue that comes with keeping yourself upright for eight hours at a stretch. Throw in the never-ending (and endlessly varying) spectacle that is Las Vegas and you have a lot to wrap your head around.

It’s quite a scene, especially for industry newcomers. That was the boat I was in last year for my Vegas initiation, which I’m glad to say resulted in little long-term damage. Aside from sleep deprivation blamed on three nights of frat house auditions in an adjacent hotel room, I emerged none the worse for wear.

Now it’s time to gear up again.

The emails with “ISC West” in the subject line are already flying and appointments are being penciled in. For those who haven’t taken a close look at the calendar lately, it might come as a surprise to learn that a return to the Sands is only seven weeks away. April will be here before you know it, with much to prepare for in the meantime.

With that in mind, I started an ISC planner yesterday. It’s quickly filling up. The educational sessions alone are enough to keep attendees focused squarely on the show instead of what might await after-hours. Here are a few sessions that drew my interest:

— “Staying Connected: Leveraging the Cloud and Mobile Applications for Enhanced Security.” Everything in the world, security included, is going mobile. If you don’t believe it, ask anyone with a smartphone—assuming they’ll look away from it long enough to answer you.

— “Counterfeit Products in the Security Industry: A Very Real Problem for All of Us.” If you don’t think they’re out there, you’re wrong. And like other knockoffs, they’re probably only going to get more difficult to detect.

— “60 Sites, 50 Miles and 5 Key Lessons Learned: How One School District Made the Move to IP Video Surveillance.” In the wake of Newtown this will be a hot-button issue, with an obvious upside for security interests.

— “The Great Debate: What to Use, What to Lose.” Technology is exploding, but "assets" deployed improperly can become expensive liabilities. Jay Hauhn of Tyco Integrated Security and Fredrik Nilsson of Axis Communications will help attendees learn from others’ mistakes and successes.

There are more than 60 educational sessions planned, starting on April 9 and running for three days. There also will be three rotations (April 10-12) of networking on the 200,000-square-foot show floor, so heels are strictly optional (for this writer, anyway). Other common-sense advice for first-timers includes not skipping breakfast—it’s easy to go through a day at the show and realize at 5 p.m. that you haven’t eaten anything—and bringing a water bottle to stay hydrated. For a complete schedule and more survival tips, go to www.iscwest.com.

SAFE Security expands into DIY, with help from Honeywell

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wow! SAFE Security is really making news lately. First, it was acquired late last year by ICV Partners, a New York-based investment firm focused on lower middle-market companies.

Then, it announced earlier this month that it had just bought about 24,000 alarm monitoring accounts from Orem, Utah-based Pinnacle Security—a summer-model company the select assets of which Protection 1 recently purchased.

Now, SAFE announced today that it’s entering the DIY home security market by launching a new division, SAFE@home, that “allows homeowners to self install a Honeywell wireless security system with professional monitoring.”

Here’s more from a news release from the San Ramon, Calif.-based company, which has operations in 44 states:
 

SAFE Security, one of the nation’s largest security alarm companies has launched a new division, SAFE@home. This new division will enable a consumer to self install a wireless security system at their home with ease. This DIY home alarm system will include professional UL certified Five Diamond monitoring by SAFE Security and will not require a phone line. The home security system can be controlled remotely by a smartphone or tablet via Honeywell’s Total Connect. The system is available across the continental US.

“With an increased demand in the residential security market for a self installed alarm system coupled with increased technology that allows for a wireless security system to be setup in minutes, SAFE@home is well positioned to be a leader in the DIY security space,” said Paul Sargenti, SAFE’s President and CEO. “We’ve partnered with Honeywell to provide a state of the art wireless security system and will accommodate Wi-Fi for IP alarm communications. This will allow our customers to take advantage of being able to self-install their wireless security system. By enabling our customers to self install, they will save money by not requiring an alarm company to install the alarm system.”

Customers can select from 3 complete packages and add on additional hardware to best fit their needs.

I’ve reached out to Sargenti to learn more about all these developments. Look for more about SAFE Security on our site in the near future.

 

‘20 under 40’ winners will talk tech at TechSec

Four young security leaders to present
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02/12/2013

YARMOUTH, Maine—Four honorees from Security Director News’ “20 under 40” Class of 2013 will speak at TechSec 2013 next month in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Potter Electric touts new APS

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02/12/2013

ST. LOUIS—Potter Electric Signal has released a new addressable pull station, which stands out because it’s very easy to install and is extremely robust, according to the company, based here.

Security top concern for consumers interested in home automation

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02/11/2013

Sixty-two percent of consumers interested in learning more about home automation said security was their primary motivation, with 67 percent preferring professional installation over do-it-yourself systems when making a purchase, according to new research by the Consumer Electronics Association.

Former Interlogix president joins Guardian Protection

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02/07/2013

WARRENDALE, Pa.—Bob Haskins, former president of Interlogix, will fill a newly created position at Guardian Protection Services, according to a company announcement this week. Haskins’ responsibilities as Guardian’s VP of strategic planning and business development will include helping to expand the company’s dealer program, the announcement said.

SAFE Security acquires 24,000 accounts from Pinnacle

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02/06/2013

SAN RAMON, Calif.—SAFE Security announced this week that it has acquired about 24,000 alarm monitoring accounts from Orem, Utah-based Pinnacle Security. The accounts represent $1.1 million of RMR, according to SAFE, which is based here.

Should you dread a UL audit?

Not if you’ve done your homework and you know what to expect, two specialists tell the CSAA
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02/05/2013

VIENNA, Va.—For central stations pursuing UL certification or expecting their first audit, there can be uncertainty and maybe even a touch of anxiety. It’s an important benchmark—will your facility be able to stand up to the scrutiny?

Deadly shooting follows low-priority alarm in Colorado Springs

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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

It was what the Colorado Springs Police Department calls a Priority Three alarm: A minor incident “requiring a response that is dispatched based on the availability of patrol units.” What followed was the nightmare scenario dreaded by police, alarm companies and alarm users alike.

According to CSPD spokeswoman Barbara Miller, a security alarm was triggered at the home of David Dunlap and Whitney Butler at 11:10 a.m. on Jan. 14. The alarm company, ADT, then called Dunlap’s cellphone and left a message for him to call back. At 11:18, ADT called police to notify them about the alarm.

Based on department policy to reduce the burden of false alarms in the city, officers were not dispatched.

“We had no units available,” Miller told Security Systems News. “We do priority calls. … If there is a ‘crime in progress’ call [with a life-threatening situation], those are first. If it’s a human-activated alarm or a panic alarm, that’s also a high priority. We would respond immediately to that.”

At 11:25, Dunlap returned ADT’s call and was informed about the alarm, but he did not call police, Miller said. Thirty-five minutes later, CSPD responded to a report of shots fired at the couple’s Bassett Drive address. Police say Dunlap and Whitney were killed as they entered their home by 17-year-old Macyo January, who was arrested three days later and charged with first-degree murder.

Miller said the incident calls attention to a common and potentially dangerous oversight by alarm users: If an alarm is activated, they should not assume there will be an immediate response from law enforcement.

“Many times, the alarm company will notify the owner that their house alarm has been activated. If that person returns to his or her home to check on the alarm, they must be extremely cautious and vigilant,” she said. “For instance, if they notice a front door that might be slightly opened or a broken window, or see a suspicious vehicle parked outside their home, we would strongly recommend that they call 911 so an officer can check for a possible burglary in progress or burglary that just occurred.”

Miller said that Colorado Springs police will respond to any activation when there is evidence that a crime has been committed—“i.e., a responsible party is on scene and has told the alarm company there is a broken window at the residence or business. Another example would be an alarm service indicates they have video surveillance inside of the business and they can see someone inside of the location.”

Ron Walters, director of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, told SSN that virtually all police agencies, even those with scaled-back response policies, handle human-activated alarms “at a fairly high priority.” That goes for video intrusion alarms as well, but as Walters pointed out, there is only so much a security company can do.

“Alarms are designed as a deterrent and cannot stop a crime from happening,” he said. “The best deterrent remains the threat of response by a well-trained and armed police official.”

Pinnacle Security fined more than $500,000

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Monday, February 4, 2013

Summer-model Pinnacle Security is getting a fresh start after traditional-model home security giant Protection 1 recently purchased select assets from the company.

The deal has great potential, according to an alarm company owner who has married both models.

But it appears that problems from Pinnacle’s past continue to dog it. According to news reports, the Utah-based company now has to pay $525,000 as the result of a lawsuit filed by California’s Contra Costa County, charging Pinnacle with deceptive business practices.

It's not the first time Pinnacle has been sued over such issues.

Over the years the company has been accused in a number of states of deceptive sales practices. Last fall, for example, Pinnacle agreed to pay a $1 million fine in a settlement with the state of Illinois for such alleged violations as “slamming” customers and even hiring felons as sales reps.

According to a news report, the following information was released from the office of Contra Costa County District Attorney Mark A. Peterson. It said that the civil judgment against Pinnacle, in addition to the payment of penalties and costs:

 

o    Requires Pinnacle’s sales representatives to refrain from making false and misleading statements during the door- to-door sales presentations.
o    Prohibits Pinnacle sales representatives from telling consumers that they will get free or discounted products or services if they allow a Pinnacle sign to be placed in their yard.
o    Prohibits Pinnacle sales representatives from telling consumers that sales representatives are engaging in “seed marketing, advertising, marketing, or increasing Pinnacle’s visibility in the neighborhood”.
o    Requires that Pinnacle sales representatives comply with section 17500.3 of the Business and Professions Code by immediately verbally identifying themselves, who they work for, and what they are selling.
o    Requires that Pinnacle use contracts that comply with California’s Unruh Act and federal regulation Z pertaining to retail installment contracts by disclosing, among other things, the total price of the alarm monitoring service for the initial contract term of years.
o    Requires that Pinnacle use Spanish language contracts for customers to whom the sales presentation was made primarily in Spanish.
o    Requires that whenever a sale is made to a customer who already has monitoring equipment installed by another monitoring service provider, that Pinnacle shall not remove that customer’s existing monitoring equipment until such time as the three-day cancellation period (applicable to door-to-door residential sales) has expired.
o    Puts limits on the amount of contract termination fees that can be charged to customers.
o    Requires the payment of restitution to certain customers; and
o    Requires that Pinnacle adopt specified provisions to monitor the future conduct of their sales representatives.

 

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