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Kratos has new SVP

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Don EricksonAt the PSATEC conference earlier this month, SIA CEO Don Erickson was talking about government opportunities for independent integrators large and small. The contracts and jobs are out there, Erickson said.

One of PSA Security’s largest integrators, Kratos Public Safety and Security Solutions’ Public Safety & Security division has created a new SVP position to go after the “growing DoD/DHS market.”

James Cotter, who has been with Kratos since 2007, has been promoted to senior vice president of the Government Solutions Sector.

In his new role, he’s charged with working with Kratos leadership “researching, identifying and ultimately captur[ing] those opportunities.”

Ben Goodwin, president of Kratos’ PSS division called Cotter an “idea fit for this position.”

SIA steps up fight for school security funding

Industry faces new hurdle on TWIC as report faults pilot program
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05/24/2013

WASHINGTON—The Security Industry Association has expanded its fight for school security funding, taking the issue to the House and asking the Senate to consider a stand-alone bill after grant money was denied during the debate over gun control.

Fire-Lite MNS wins top award

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05/16/2013

NORTHFORD, Conn.—Fire-Lite Alarms, a division of Honeywell, has earned the top mass notification system award in the Security Industry Association’s new products showcase competition, according to a company statement.

The "haves and have-nots of security integration companies"

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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

PSA TEC is in full swing. The action started on Sunday night, but I arrived late on Monday. Yesterday I spent the day (Tuesday) talking to PSA Security integrators and members and attending four different educational sessions.

I attended the State of the Industry panel, moderated by PSA Security CEO Bill Bozeman and featuring a large group of integrators and industry experts; a discussion on Big Data, Business Resiliency and Physical Security moderated by Chris Peckham of Kratos; a session on security finance moderated by Bozeman; and a session on how to adopt managed services, moderated by Sharon Shaw, of Integrators Support.

These folks covered a lot of ground. I’ll be writing more in-depth stories on some of the topics covered, but below are some highlights from the day.

Haves and have-nots

Bozeman started the first session of the day quoting Imperial Capital’s Jeff Kessler, who in a recent report wrote that increasingly the world of systems integration is dominated by the "haves" and the "have-nots." The "have" have an RMR base, are making a good margin on jobs, and are profitable. The have-nots have not moved into managed services and are surviving on installation revenue. Bozeman agreed with Kessler, recommended all read his report, and spent a great deal of time in this session and others talking about how all PSA Security integrators can join the "haves."

Know your verticals
Phil Aronson of Aronson Security Group, Ron Oetjen of Intelligent Access, and Eric Yunag of Dakota Security all said “deep focus” on your vertical markets is key. Yunag, whose Dakota Security is growing rapidly, said that his company made a strategic misstep 7 or 8 years ago when it decided to expand outside of the financial vertical. Banks are something that Dakota had grown to know very very well. The mistake the company made was not the fact that it expanded outside of that vertical, but it did so without the focus and understanding of other verticals.

The message from integrators on the panel was this: Focusing on different verticals is good, but get to know them. And don't delve into too many. How many verticals should an independent integrator focus on? Three, most agreed.

Mad about channel conflict? Look within
Another topic that came up was the problem of channel conflict and manufacturers going direct to end users. Jim Henry of Kratos, said it’s important for systems integrators to remember that manufacturers who go direct to end users fail. However, he noted, “it’s important that and end user sees you as a value, not a middleman making a margin.” Yunag added that if an end user is going direct in your coverage area “that’s your failure as a systems integrator.” You need to know what’s happening in your region, and if this kind of stuff happens take a look at your own organization.

Government Opportunity
Don Erickson, CEO of SIA, was banging the drum about the opportunity for integrators who want to do business with the federal government. Despite sequestration and budget problems, money is in the pipeline for K-12 projects, ports, transportation. “Consider the GSA Schedule program, it’s a very effective contract vehicle for doing business with the federal government.”

How to build an effective business?
During the State of the Industry, Ron Oetjen of Intelligent Access Systems broke it down this way: hire the right people and focus on your strategic plan.  Later, during a finance educational session that got pretty granular about how to make your business attractive to buyers, Kratos’ Jim Henry said that the businesses that he’s attracted to are the ones that are not for sale, the ones with a “clear vision and a mission.”

Boston bombing and video surveillance
In the aftermath of the Newtown gun massacre and the Boston Marathon bombing, Yunag said that now is a “significant watershed for our industry and the services we provide … in the next five to ten years, the way video surveillance is used will change,” he predicted.  The general public has seen, particularly with Boston, how video surveillance can be useful. Jim Henry said that the incident clearly demonstrated how video can be used for “actionable intelligence and business intelligence.” Further, he said, it's important to note that the ability to find the suspect was not because the camera in question was a certain quality or manufacturer,  but because it was a “well positioned camera installed by a professional.” This horrific event showed the world how video can be used, Yunag said, and it's incumbent on integrators now to have those conversations with law enforcement and others about how they can best take advantage of video and other physical security offerings to help prevent and detect situations like these.

There are many more highlights that I’ll report on later, now I need to get to the conference.

Connecticut governor to speak at SIA summit

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04/30/2013

WASHINGTON—Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy will be a keynote speaker at the Security Industry Association’s Government Summit, to be held here June 4-5 at the W hotel.

School security funding dealt setback as part of gun-control bill

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04/17/2013

WASHINGTON—Legislation to provide $40 million a year to improve security in the nation’s schools has bipartisan support, but it was dealt a blow after the Senate rejected an amendment to which it was linked: expanded background checks on gun purchases.

Video surveillance holds the key in Boston bomb probe

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Marcus Dunn was late for the phone call Tuesday morning, but there was no need to apologize (although he did so anyway). As director of government relations for the Security Industry Association, he had been in a meeting to discuss the bombings in Boston and it ran longer than expected.

Our conversation—we speak every month about legislative issues affecting the industry—quickly turned to Monday’s deadly attack. Less than 24 hours had passed and speculation was rampant about who had done it and why. There were few new facts, but police had started to sift through surveillance video that likely will be key to solving the crime.

That provided a silver lining, however slim, for Dunn.

“When these things happen, despite all the craziness, there’s a little bit of pride in being with an organization that often prevents these types of things or plays a large role in apprehending those responsible,” he said. “There are some critics of the technology and how there are cameras on the streets, but I think we’ve seen time and time again that they’re effective in preventing crime and certainly very effective in capturing perpetrators.”

Dunn said that was the case after bombs killed 52 people aboard three London trains and a city bus on July 7, 2005. The examination of CCTV images helped investigators identify the suicide bombers and arrest others connected to the attacks.

“We’re trying to determine what was deployed in the area in Boston and if a [SIA] member company had equipment deployed there,” Dunn said. “In London, it’s just decked out—there are cameras everywhere. That’s what they used [in 2005]. They were able to go through the surveillance footage very quickly.”

In the aftermath of Monday’s attack, there was also the realization that “soft targets” like the Boston Marathon will always be vulnerable. No matter what security precautions are taken, the risk can never be eliminated—at least not in a free society. With it comes a loss of innocence that deepens the grief.

“The marathon is one of those things that is very open, you can come and go,” Dunn said. “Those days are gone now.”

After SIA’s meeting Tuesday morning, CEO Don Erickson—who is also a marathon runner—echoed the thoughts of many with the following statement:
 
“As someone who has personally experienced the strong community spirit that exists on marathon days, I am incredibly saddened by the horrific events that tragically occurred yesterday in Boston. On behalf of SIA, our thoughts and prayers are extended to those who were injured and to the families of those who lost their lives on what should have been a day of accomplishment and excitement for the city of Boston. We extend our thanks to the first responders who acted so quickly to help the victims of this attack.”

ISC West 2013: Day 1 & 2

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Lots of people on the show floor on Wednesday! 29,900 square feet of exhibit space and 1003 booths, is what I heard.
Wednesday started for me with the Axis Press Breakfast, where the network camera company introduced three new cameras and an upgraded Axis Camera Companion. In 2012, there were 60,000 downloads of the software, according to Axis’ Fredrik Nilsson.

The cameras of the future will be customized for customers with apps, the same way we currently customize our smartphones, Nilsson said. With that in mind, Axis also announced a partnership with the Wentworth Institute of Technology, a college in Boston, where students will design apps for cameras. One professor, Charles Hotchkiss, and two students, Joshua Ramirez and Nicholas Gelfman,  attended the breakfast and the two students talked about the apps they’ve already developed.

Gelfman is working on a 3D multi-tracking app that is intended to alert operators if someone is trying tamper with a camera. The app determines where an approaching person or object is distance-wise from the camera and sends an alert if it gets too close. Gelfman put it in simple terms for me: “Cameras see in 2D, this app basically allows it to see in 3D.”

Ramirez is a sophomore computer information systems major from Hanover, N.H., who is the station manager of Wentworth’s radio station WIRE. 
“I had a selfish reason for developing the app” he said. Students who work in the radio station are supposed to sign in and out when they come to work at the station, but they often don't do that, he explained. So Ramirez developed an app that automatically records the time that a student comes into or leaves the station, and it sends Ramirez an email alert under certain conditions.

He named the app Alibi. It "tracks students and if they log in, [the app] is their alibi to say that they were [at the station]," he said.

“It’s still a work in progress. I’ve spend six weeks on it but it was during exams and finals,” Ramirez said.   

Nilsson said that Axis didn’t give the students any ideas about kinds of apps to develop. They approach the project with no preconceived notion of what kinds of apps to develop. Axis has been amazed with the results, he said.

After the Axis breakfast, I did a video interview with Renae Leary and Matthias Ernst of Tyco Global Accounts were I got an update on how Tyco's global enterprise customers are standardizing their security systems across in offices spanning the globe.

At a press conference Bosch launched 110, count ‘em, 110 new video products and previewed its ‘4K Ultra HD’ camera. It also announced its integration partner program and is showing integration with 5 VMS providers in its booth.

Next, I interviewed Mark VanDover of Tyco IS for ssnTVnews. He talked about the progress the integration giant has made as a standalone entity over the past year and a half.

More mobile news: Jay Hauhn, Tyco IS Chief Technology Officer, also did an interview for ssnTVnews. We talked about Tyco’s launch of  MSM, Tyco’s Mobile Security Manager.

Next up was an interview with Tony Byerly, Felix Gonzales and Jeremy Brecher of Diebold, where I got to see a demo of their very cool “SecureStat” enterprise security platform. I heard about it at ASIS and saw if for the first time at the show. Here’s a YouTube video about the platform.

At a NICE press conference, Tony Ruiz, City of San Diego, talks about implementing NICE's Situator, to manage protection for its critical infrastructure, and for the city too. The implementation is new, but Ruiz said it's already saving training time and money for the city and taxpayers.

Back on the show floor, I met with Bryan Schmode, EVP of Global Sales at Avigilon. We talked about Avigilon’s the Adaptive IR in its new bullet camera, and the company's new Dallas headquarters.

Also had a chance to swing by Next Level Security Systems and talk to Bill Jacobs. I got to see some of the stuff I spoke to Bill and Jumbi Edulbehram about in this story.

Next I had a chance to visit with Stan Oppenheim and Dan Oppenheim at Affiliated Monitoring. Looking forward to seeing their new monitoring station the next time I get to NYC.

And, I wrapped up Day 1 after catching up with Will Schmidt and other CapitalSource folks.

THURSDAY, April 11

Is Thursday Day 2 or Day 3 of the show? Officially, it’s Day 2, but with so many events scheduled for Tuesday, it really is Day 3 for most of us.

Whichever day it was,  it kicked off brilliantly with the fourth annual Security 5K!

We had a different course this time. Rather than starting near the Fashion Show Mall, the 2013 start line was a half-mile jog or bus ride away from the Sands in an office park of sorts. The course was a completely flat out-and-back labyrinth of switchbacks. Best course yet in my opinion. It wasn’t exactly bucolic, but the office park was considerably greener and cleaner than past year’s courses, and it was fun to watch the crowd of runners ahead of you snaking back and forth around the park. And because of the switchbacks, the finish line appeared closer than it really was.

More than 400 finished the 5K and there was a big crowd for the 2K as well.

Most important, we raised more than $90,000. Mike Perkins of Anixter raised more than $7,000 with his company match. Jesse and Nicole Foglio raised $2,350, and Bob McKee raised $1,685.

Mission 500’s George Fletcher said that 650 people registered for the race. If each person raised $100, we would raise $65,000 before any extra fundraising efforts—something to think about for 2014.

Back on the show floor on Thursday morning I did an ssnTVnews interview with John Mack, managing director and head of M&A for Imperial Capital. We were talking about the availability of financing and the flow of PE money into the industry. Here’s an interesting statistic: More than half of the top 20 alarm companies are now owned or have majority ownership by private equity firms. Five years ago “it was just a handful,” he said.
It’s a great time for alarm company owners and integrators to refi their debt or make acquisitions, Mack added.

I stopped by the Stanley booth on my way to Denis Hebert’s HID Global Strategy Briefing, which was packed, as usual. Hebert gave a great presentation. His focus this year was on the opportunities and potential pitfalls the security industry needs to be aware of as access control goes mobile. The move to mobile will “redefine credential use and management” he said. As a result, “best practices” for end users and integrators will become more important than ever. Privacy is an increasingly crucial element for all stakeholders to consider, he added.

Next I met with George Farley at Observint Technologies. Owned by The Carlyle Group, Observint was formed in 2006 with the goal of acquiring security-focused companies. Observint acquired Supercircuits in 2006. It subsequently bought Security Cameras Direct, DIGIOP and SC Technologies. Last summer it helping LG Electronics relaunch its security products in the United States, and this past November it acquired access control provider infinias. Farley said the last six months have been “all foundational work for us. … [building] a comprehensive sale and support solution.” That was Phase 1, he said. Observint is in Phase 2 now, he said, which is centered on its distribution partnership. Digiop and Infinias had distinct partners before the acquisition, and Observint is finalizing relationships with a variety of distributors, Farley said. The next phase will focus on the dealer, “building a robust and differentiated program … that will include demand generation support and sales support.”

At Milestone, I spoke with Courtney Dillon Peterson, about the company’s new Arcus product  “It’s a super-streamlined VMS that’s only for our technical partners to embed, not Milestone.” Partners embedding the solution, and present at the booth were Veracity, which is offering “Coldstore Arcus” for enterprise customers; Lenovo EMC (formerly Iomega), which is offering two different versions of what it’s calling LenovoEMC NVR; and, Razberri, which is offering its “Netswitch” appliance. “They each target a different audience and each offer a different form of VMS,” Peterson said.

The bottom line differentiation for this product? That it’s multi-platform, Peterson said. “It runs on Linux, MacOS and Windows. Others are Windows-based.” The product is “versatile … [and will enable partners to sell a] preconfigured, pre-installed, simplified VMS,” she said.

Samsung is in the midst of a “massive hiring campaign,” Frank DeFina told me during our meeting. Samsung was talking about its new 6000 Series line of cameras driven off its “core WiseNet II chip.” The full line of cameras are “available in every skin. … are 2.4 megapixel, with full 1080p. The clarity is second-to-none,” Samsung marketing director Janet Fenner said. Among the analytics available in this line is a “defogging” analytics, which gets rid of smoke or fog.

Back at our booth, I interviewed Don Erickson, CEO of SIA, and SSN’s own group publisher Tim Purpura. We spoke about two collaborative efforts SIA and SSN are working on—the distribution of SIA’s “Fiscal Year Informer,” a quarterly insert available through SSN with information about government grants; and, a webcast series on security technologies, moderated by me, and featuring a variety of speakers. The next webcast is scheduled for April 24. Here’s a link to that.

I did two other video interviews. One with Matthew Ladd, president and CEO of The Protection Bureau. We talked about how The Protection Bureau is saving money by sharing certain operational metrics with employees.

The other interview was will Bill Savage, CEO of Security Control Systems in Houston, and one of Security-Net's original founders. Security-Net, a group of independent integrators that functions as a national integrator, is celebrating its 20th anniversary. We talked about how the group has grown  from 5 to 20 integrators and the efforts it makes to ensure its employees are up to date on technology.

Next, I spoke to Pierre Racz, CEO of Genetec about the company’s new cloud-based video surveillance as a service solution for small and medium sized businesses. This offering takes Genetec “out of its comfort zone … into the realm of small camera-count  jobs, the 6-14 camera jobs [that represent a huge growth opportunity] for integrators and installers,” Racz said.

Thursday ended with the Security 5K reception. Mike Keegan of Magnasphere, who was honored for his community service efforts, gave a simple and compelling argument for getting involved with causes like Mission 500, the beneficiary of the Security 5k. “The ripple effect [of these efforts] is incredible,” Keegan said.

 

'Doomsday' averted, but security industry still wary of sequestration

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03/20/2013

WASHINGTON—Sequestration hit on March 1 with more of a whimper than a bang, but the uncertainty it has caused continues to affect security companies that count on federal funding for initiatives in the field.

More states looking at requiring CO detectors in schools

SIA says recent incident at an Atlanta school highlights need
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03/20/2013

SILVER SPRING, Md.—A carbon monoxide leak at a school in Georgia in December sent more than 50 students and staff to the hospital—and the Security Industry Association says it also has drawn attention nationwide to the need for CO detectors in schools.

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