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COPS' David Smith talks about 'redundant staffing'

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Since I came into the industry, I have heard a lot about redundancy; making sure that everything runs smoothly, service is consistent, nothing is down for long. At the center of these discussions has always been the latest technology that adds new levels to that redundancy. On the show floor at ISC West, I heard David Smith, director of marketing and communication for COPS Monitoring, talk about an entirely different kind—redundancy of people. This is the task of trying to find the same types of operators that mesh well with the company’s goals and requirements to ensure that service at one location doesn’t differ from that of another.

"Redundancy from a technological standpoint is much more straightforward than redundant staffing. Successfully replicating a training program and maintaining consistent performance levels across multiple sites is much more difficult to master,” he said.

This is an important consideration for a wide-spread company like COPS, Smith said, but having multiple locations helps. COPS has 350 dispatchers, and adding more. It would be difficult to find that many people who fit COPS’ bill in the same place. “We have a very strong company culture that permeates the entire organization.”

“Creating a unique, desirable workplace is part of the culture at COPS, and has proven to be of high value to our employees,” Smith said.

It's a little easier to find the best candidates when looking for operators in the surrounding areas of six different locations, he said.

“Qualifying someone as the ‘right person’ to be a successful dispatcher is determined by more than education, experience, and attitude: we believe that COPS dispatchers must also have the proper blend of professionalism, personality attributes, ability, and sense of duty,” he said.

In addition, the company is increasing dispatcher positions at its locations—30 positions in its Florida facility, with similar possible expansions at the Tennessee and Arizona centers as well.

ISC West 2015—The daily monitoring report

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Friday, Day 3

The last day, like the first, started off with a great meeting at the media stage. This time I met George De Marco, ESX chair, and talked about how the different ways booths look to bring in visitors, everything from booth design to attractions. 

Then I headed into the show floor for a meeting with Cliff Dice, company president and CEO, and Carol Enman, Dice SVP for strategic business. We talked a lot about the reception of Dice's cloud-hosted central monitoring software platform, now UL certified. "I actually thought there would be more resistance to it when we came out with it," Dice said, pleased with the positive reactions he's heard at the show.

Just after noon, outside the show floor, I did a video interview with Darryl Bray, sales manager for Security Central. We talked about the company's upcoming CSAA Five Diamond certification and increasing sales efforts.

I then went back in to the show to visit EMERgency 24's booth to hear about the partnership with BluePoint. I met with Patrick Devereaux, SVP of EMERgency 24; John Shales, partner at BluePoint; John McNutt, partner and CEO at BluePoint; and Terri Douglas, co-founder and principal at Catapult public relations firm.

My final meeting of this year's ISC West was with Larry Folsom, president of I-View Now, who told me about the company's latest integration with Honeywell's Total Connect.

I thought it was a great show. I look forward to hearing more from the people I met with, and seeing them at future shows.

Thursday, Day 2

Helping out at the Security 5k in Sunset Park was certainly not a bad way to start the day. It was sunny, with very little wind—all around a great day to get out for fresh air and a walk or run. On the ride back, I met Kevin G. Clark, global communications & PR for Genetec who was kind enough to point out some of Las Vegas' notable buildings along the strip for this new-comer.

One of the things I liked hearing from central stations at this show is what makes each of them stand out. My first show floor meeting of the day was with Acadian Monitoring Services, where I met with Jason Caldwell, national sales representative, Tim Newman, business development, and Kristin Hebert, security operations manager. "Where we really differentiate [ourselves] is our special focus on video monitoring and medical monitoring," Caldwell told me. The company also operates the second largest AES network in the country, according to Caldwell, which has seen a bit of growth lately. "We're seeing a lot of growth on that network now," with upwards of a thousand customer radios added recently, he said.

From there I went over to IDIS, one of the top 10 biggest booths at the show this year, to hear about what the company was doing with all the space. Right away, I met Benjamin Bryant, IDIS public relations consultant and Tara Farley, IDIS marketing and PR consultant. While at the booth, I was able to talk with a couple of people from 4sight imaging, one of IDIS' partners. Brook Jackson, managing director for 4Sight, and Marcus Boden, business development director,  talked with me about 4Sight's license plate recognition and gave me a demo. I also met with Young-Dal Kim, company CEO. 

Jens Kolind is the VP of external partnerships at Innovative Business Software. We spoke a couple of months back about SBN Cloud, the first UL-listed cloud-hosted monitoring automation platform. It was great to meet him and amazing to see what a UL central station could look like with SBN Cloud, below.

I met Kevin Helmig, president and CTO for Centra-Larm, and Scott Mailhot, VP of operations, not too long ago, but it was good to see them again and their first ISC West booth.

I circled back to the IDIS booth a little later, to talk with Keith Drummond, senior director of sales for IDIS America. He told that this event really signals the company's entrance to the American market, a key step in becoming a global company. While this regional launch was preceded by two others, UK and Middle East launches, the American extension of IDIS was planned before the first step outside of the company's native Asia region. Launching in America was a very strategic process, according to Drummond. "The one thing I'm letting people know is that we are here to stay." I got a chance to meet IDIS America president Andrew Myung on this second trip to the booth.

I briefly met Brett Springall, Security Central's CEO, at the media booth. He mentioned that the company has been increasing its sales team lately.

After that, I met with a.p.i. Monitoring's Lewis Jacobson, the company's director of dealer sales. He told me that a big thing for the company at this show is the release of their partnership with Numera's mPERS.

Monitronics' Bruce Mungiguerra, the VP of operations, told me that the company is moving to a new facility, 165,000 square feet large. This will be the consolidation of three different Monitronics buildings in the Dallas area under one roof. The new building will be three stories, which makes more sense for a central station than the current building's six floors. The new building is on a lake, with walking trails in the surrounding area, and two gym facilities. This will create "a campus environment that our employees can be proud of," he said.

One of the biggest things I heard about when talking with COPS Monitoring, is that the company is expanding in both staff and technology. In terms of staff, it is adding 30 dispatcher stations at its Florida center, with similar expansions planned for COPS' Tennessee and Arizona facilities, Jim McMullen, president and COO said. In technology, the company is upgrading its capacity to be able to handle as many as 3.4 million accounts. 

"We've been talking a lot about the econtract app" at the show, Michael Zydor, Affiliated Monitoring's managing director, said. Apps were the big thing this year, with a new end-user app, which takes functions from the company's previous end-user app and puts it into a newly made format, made much "simpler," according to Zydor.

Next, I met with Steven Schmit at UL to talk about new standards under the new version of UL827, published last Fall. Central stations will now need more redundancy and capablities and cybersecurity measures. This is the first time Cybersecurity has been directly involved in requirements, Schmit said. "Now with that in the standard we're going to have conversations about [central stations'] network security, how they keep their customers' data secure." The current plan is for these standards to be required by late 2016. I also met with Neil Lakomiak, director of business development and innovation, at the UL booth. Lakomiak and I talked about some of the other technologies that could see standards with UL, such as mPERS.

My final floor meeting was guided by Tiffany Coles, marketing manager for Bold Technologies. I started by talking with her and Chuck Speck, company president about the next version of its Manitou platform, Neo. From there, Tiffany and I walked over to White Rabbit's booth, where I met Rod Coles, White Rabbit's CEO, as well as Toby Prescott, White Rabbit's product engineer, and saw a demonstration of their products which are designed to lead DIY and home automation back to the central station.

After leaving the show floor, I attended Dynamark's party, held in the renaissance suite in the venetian—quite a view from the 36th floor. There, I met Trey Alter, president and CEO, and Hank Groff, senior VP of marketing and business development.

My final event for the day was to have dinner with Galaxy Control Systems at Carnevino in the Palazzo. It was nice to meet Rick Caruthers, company VP, and Luke Krawec, account executive with LRG Markerting. 

 

Wednesday, Day 1

As I've mentioned in previous blogs, this is my first ISC West show. Day 1 of the show went pretty well, from start to finish, I thought. I got the chance to finally meet some people in person whom I've talked to via phone about multiple times, like Christopher Denniston of Rapid Response and David Smith of COPS.

My day started with the "Meet the Editors" event at the media stage outside the show floor. Here I briefly met Jim McMullen, president and COO of COPS Monitoring. I also met two members of the CheckVideo team: Nik Gagvani, president and GM, and Ed Troha, director of marketing.

My first meeting on the show floor was with Christopher Denniston and Dan Gelinas of Rapid Response. Unlike every other person listed in this day's blog entry, Gelinas is one person I had met before, at Security Systems News' office in Yarmouth, Maine. I had a question on my mind for a couple of months; what is Rapid Response referring to in he company's ad which states that on "everything changes" on 4.15.15, today. When I met with Christopher Denniston, he told me that it referred to the company's new mobile apps for monitoring one or multiple PERS, updates on existing dealer and customer apps, as well as the increased redundancy in the company's relatively new California facility. The facility will be able to handle the company's entire account load at one time, he said.

All American's patriotic booth was the site of my second visit. The company decided to use ISC West 2015 to launch its My View brand of cameras specifically for its dealers. Bob Keefe, the company's president, told me that the company has spent a while testing the cameras. "We've been testing it with our sister company (EMG Alarm, a Florida-based installer), making sure the product was as good as we hoped it would be before we sold it to our dealers," Keefe said. I also met with Rob Keefe, company VP, and Tammy Zappa. Zappa said Bob Keefe is "constantly" looking for new items to offer dealers.

MKS's booth really represented part of its 30th anniversary changes, with the whole staff dressed in the company's new color scheme of orange and grey. I met with Bailey Bhogal, MKS' marketing specialist, Joe Ligouri, the CFO and COO, and Victoria Ferro, president. The company was recently awarded at the show. Ferro was named one of the 10 WSC Women of the Year on Tuesday. 

My last show floor meeting was with Alarm Monitoring Service, where I got the chance to meet Rick and Dera Jolet, the co-owners, as well as Bob Gates the company's VP of sales. Rick is also the CEO, and Dera is the CFO. They talked to me about a few of the things that make their monitoring center unique. One thing that Dera pointed out was that the company has an answering service for its customers.

My evening was quite busy. After leaving the show floor, I went to Affiliated's cocktail reception in the lovely Lavo, in the Palazzo. Here I got a chance to meet Daniel Oppenheim, the company's vice president, Michael Zydor, the managing director, and Stanley Oppenheim, president of DGA Security.

From there, I went to the Bellagio's Hyde lounge for National Monitoring Center's annual event. I met with Michael Schubert, the president, Woodie Andrawos, the executive vice president, and Sharon Elder, NMC's vice president of sales. During my time at the event, I was lucky enough to catch the Bellagio's fountain show.

My final event for the evening, and Day 1, was COPS Monitoring's third annual "bonanza" at Gilley's in Treasure Island. Amidst good food, live music, and a bull-riding competition, I met Donavan Maden, the company's executive vice president, and David Smith, COPS' director of marketing.

Now I'm preparing for tomorrow's Security 5k!

 

Tuesday, before the show

After landing, my first meeting of the week was with Mike Bodnar, president of Security Partners, at the new facility—the next installment of On Location: Central Station. The station is brand new, having officially opened on Monday. There was certainly a "new" look to it, especially with slideshows of photos taken before and after the renovations. It was really interesting to hear from Bob Schott, Security Partners' director of information technologies, about items carried over from the buildings previous use as a government data center. I also met John McCann, who talked with me about the new line of exclusive Mace-brand products that Security Partners' dealers will be offering, among which is a diesel tank monitor. 

From there I attended Altronix's dinner, held at the DB Brasserie in the Venetian. Alan Forman, Altronix president, presented on the latest products from the company, including technology to monitor power supply. I also enjoyed meeting and talking to Kirby Han, Altronix Art Director and Rodney Thayer, a consultant with Smithee, Spelvin, Agnew & Splinge.

Prior to leaving

I'll be updating this page every day this week to stay current on my adventures at this year's ISC West. This is my first security trade show, and I'm looking forward to it. To hear about the future plans of central stations and monitoring companies, be sure to check back in!

Five Questions: Melissa Hansen

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01/27/2015

Melissa Hansen, the director of training for COPS Monitoring in Williamstown, N.J., started her career with the wholesale monitoring provider as a dispatcher 19 years ago. She now oversees COPS’ complete training program across its six central stations, including educating new employees, CSAA Five Diamond certification, proprietary training for dispatchers, customer service and disaster preparedness instruction. She also is one of this year’s Security System News’ 20 under 40 winners. In early January, Security Systems News caught up with Hansen and asked her five questions.

Small Texas company makes big strides

Former Devcon exec attributes success to strong work ethic
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01/14/2015

CROWLEY, Texas—After hitting the ground running in July 2013, Sentry Security Solutions anticipates big financial gains this year.

COPS Monitoring looks to help veterans

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11/11/2014

WILLIAMSTOWN, N.J.—COPS Monitoring announced, on Veteran’s Day, a new initiative in helping veterans. This is in line with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s Veterans Coming Home initiative, designed to support veterans. “We welcome both veterans and civilians with the appropriate traits to apply at our six central stations,” said Jim McMullen, president and COO of COPS Monitoring, in a prepared statement.

'20 under 40' 2014—Melissa Hansen

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10/21/2014

Melissa Hansen, 38
Training manager, COPS Monitoring, Morristown, N.J.

COPS Monitoring wins CSAA central station of the year award

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07/08/2014

VIENNA, Va.—The Central Station Alarm Association has named COPS Monitoring the winner of the CSAA 2014 Excellence Award for central station of the year, according to a new release. The honor was bestowed at ESX 2014 in Nashville, Tenn.

COPS bringing more information to customers' fingertips

The grouped access enhancement allows subscribers to place up to five accounts on test at once from a mobile phone
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05/21/2014

WILLIAMSTOWN, N.J.—COPS Monitoring is enhancing its mobile subscriber access product—called MPower Me—by introducing “grouped access,” which allows customers to view and manage multiple accounts from their smart phones at once.

COPS Monitoring offers IP and cellular monitoring for Paradox panels

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01/09/2014

WILLIAMSTOWN, N.J.—COPS Monitoring now offers IP, SGM and GPRS monitoring for the entire line of security and access control products it offers from Paradox, the company announced Jan. 7.

COPS Monitoring closes autumn dealer tour

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11/19/2013

WILLIAMSTOWN, N.J.—COPS Monitoring, a nationwide provider of alarm monitoring services, has finished a tour of dealer meetings at its six central stations, the company announced Nov. 19.

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