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Change from ‘protection to connection’ driving values

But RMR, well-managed costs and low attrition remain ‘key metrics’ for success, a panel at ESX says
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07/03/2012

NASHVILLE—Connected services are changing the industry and creating new business opportunities but are also posing some challenges, such as enticing telecom and cableco players into the market, a panel of industry experts said at the Electronic Security Expo here last week.

Technology still top challenge for alarm companies, new ESA president says

John Knox takes helm amid advances that are reshaping the industry
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07/03/2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Competition from telecoms and cablecos is drawing a lot of attention in the security world, but keeping pace with technology is still the biggest challenge facing alarm companies, new ESA President John Knox said at the Electronic Security Expo.

ASAP to PSAP: Full speed ahead

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

For central stations wondering if they’ll ever be part of ASAP to PSAP, there was good news from ESX 2012: Progress continues to be made.

Show attendees got an update on the protocol at a seminar led by Mark McCall of United Central Control, Glenn Schroeder of the Security Network of America, Pam Petrow and Anita Ostrowski of Vector Security, and Melissa Courville of DICE Corp.

While ASAP might not be advancing fast enough to satisfy everyone in the industry, the panelists in Nashville listed a number of bullet points that detailed the gains. Among them:

—A CSAA-owned message broker is up and running at the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (Nlets) facility in Arizona. The server acts as a scrubber for transmissions being forwarded from monitoring companies to public safety answering points.

—A trademark process has been completed to certify the ASAP name and logo.

—ANSI version 3.3 of the protocol is currently live in Richmond, Va., and it is scheduled to go online in other pilot project locations by the end of the year.

—ASAP leaders have expanded their outreach to the PSAP community in 2012, with presentations to groups including the Texas Police Chiefs Association and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.

The three municipalities involved in the pilot project—Richmond, Va., York County, Va., and Houston—are scheduled to be joined soon by Tempe, Ariz., and James City County, Va. On the monitoring side, Alarm Detection Systems and ADT are in line to join pilot participants Vector Security, UCC and Monitronics.

McCall, director of information technology and facility security officer at UCC, told the seminar audience that central stations planning to become part of ASAP may find that the requirements “are a little bit more than what your operation is used to now.”

“Remember what we’re connecting to,” he said, referring to Nlets. “We’re connecting to the same network that every police department, every fire department and every emergency agency is connected to. Nlets is responsible for the integrity of that network, and for us as an industry to play in their sandbox, we have to meet their security requirements.”

On the plus side, most of those concerns were alleviated with the deployment of the message broker, McCall said. Other ASAP issues involving the preparation of automation vendors and CAD providers are being addressed, and the CSAA is creating a new website—www.asaptopsap.org—to keep interested parties informed.

“The materials are continually being added to and the CSAA will let everyone know when [the information] is ready for public consumption, as it will be sending out ASAP-dedicated email blasts to confirmed charter members at that time,” said Courville, co-chairwoman of the ASAP to PSAP Outreach Committee.

In the interim, she said inquires about the protocol should be addressed to Becky Lane (membership@csaaintl.org) or Monique Talbot (communications@csaaintl.org) at the CSAA.

Getting to know the media can improve ROI

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Erica Wood, co-owner and chief security officer of Dayton, Ohio-based American Fire & Security, said she kept getting turned down by a business newspaper in her community when she tried to get it to publish news about her company.

It wasn’t until she met with the publication’s editor that she found out the paper only wanted stories focused on business growth. Now Wood knows how to tailor press releases about her company to win the interest of that publication.

Talking to editors and reporters to find out what kinds of information they’re looking for was one of the tips offered during a panel discussion I moderated today at the ESX show in Nashville, titled “Maximize Your Media Relations ROI.”  The focus was on how to get favorable publicity to help market your company.

The session included lively discussion from audience members such as Wood, who shared their experiences and posed questions to the panel of public relations experts: Joseph Mitton, marketing coordinator, Select Security; Beth Welch, public relations manager, Honeywell Fire Systems; and Jay Stuck, chief marketing officer and VP, residential sales, Securewatch24.

Panel members offered a number of tips. Welch urged use of social media sites like Facebook and Linked In to get information out about company news and also make connections. And she said to make sure that media outlets correct any mistakes they make in writing about your company online, because those kinds of stories “last forever.”

Welch said that sometimes sending a compelling photo along with a press release can help catch a publication’s interest.

When it comes to deciding what’s newsworthy enough about a company to put in a press release, Stuck suggested to the audience that they ask themselves, “So what?” If they can’t answer that question, he said, it’s probably not news.

Among tips from Mitton, a former television journalist, was to work to establish friendly relationships with reporters and editors, making it easier to pitch them story ideas.

ESX recorded the session—something it’s doing for all the seminars offered here—so it will be available online. I hope you’ll find what we had to say rewarding for your company!

The best of ESX: And the winners are ...

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Just off the show floor after a very busy Wednesday at ESX, starting with the CSAA Excellence Awards Breakfast. There were a number of great seminars throughout the day and the floor was abuzz with networking. I assume everyone saved a little energy for the ESX Crawl …

I’m about to get out there myself to sample a little of that Nashville hospitality, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the award winners who highlighted the day. For those who might have missed it:

CSAA Central Station of the Year: Vivint
Honorable mention: United Central Control

CSAA Central Station Manager of the Year: Amy Becht, Vivint
Honorable mention: John Williams, Alarmco

CSAA Central Station Operator of the Year: Gale Gordon, The Protection Bureau
Honorable mention: Jorge Rodriguez, Monitronics

CSAA Central Station Support Person of the Year: David Palacios, UCC
Honorable mention: Kate Brickner, Vivint

ESX also announced its Maximum Impact Award winners for 2012. Hats off to the following:

Overall winner: 2GIG Technologies Go! 2.0

Best Access Control/ID Systems—Access Control System: Interlogix TruPortal

Best Access Control/ID Systems—Biometrics: 3M Cogent MiY-Card

Best Access Control/ID Systems—Telephone Entry Control/Intercom Systems: Optex iVision Plus

Best Accessories & Aids—Dealer Company Software: DICE Matrix Tech Service

Best Accessories & Aids—Mobile Applications: SedonaOffice, SedonaFSU Web Edition

Best Accessories & Aids—Installation Tool/Tester: Salient Systems, Salient University eLearning

Best Alarm Equipment—Alarm Signal Transmission Equipment: Telguard Cellular Communications for 3G/4G Networks

Best Alarm Equipment—Annunciators, Bells, Sirens, Strobes: Metis Secure Solutions, Metis Secure ENS

Best Alarm Equipment—Enhanced Video Alarm: Videofied-RSI Video Tech, IP Upgrade Kit with Videofied Free

Best Alarm Equipment—Intrusion Alarm Control Panels: Interlogix Simon XTi

Best Alarm Equipment—Intrusion Sensors/Detectors: Honeywell Security Group 5816OD

Best Alarm Equipment—PERS Hardware: SilverFox Link Watch/Pendant PERS System

Best Alarm Equipment—Wireless Alarm Systems: 2GIG Technologies Go! 2.0

Best Central Station Equipment—Central Station Software: DICE Matrix Fire Inspection

Best Central Station Equipment—Remote Video Monitoring Equipment/Software: SureView Systems Immix Cloud

Best Services—Alarm Monitoring: Bold Technologies UniversalConnector

Best Services—Dealer Marketing Services: BlueStar Security Solutions FUSION

Best Services—Security as a Service (SaaS): Honeywell Security Group MAXPRO Cloud

Best Services—Video Monitoring Services: I-View Now

Best Video Security—Cameras: Altronix eBridge IP over Coax Adapters

Best Video Security—Video Analytics: CheckVideo, CheckVideo HD Megapixel IP Bullet Camera (CV135)

Best Video Security—Video Surveillance System: Axis Communications, AXIS Camera Companion

That’s it for now. The weather prognosticators are calling for a summer stew over the next couple of days in Nashville, so the ESX show floor will be the place to be. See you out there …

Telcos & Cablecos: Their strategies revealed

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Monday, June 25, 2012

I’m here in Nashville for the fifth annual ESX show and I’m currently prepping for three, count ‘em—three, panel discussions that I’ll be moderating tomorrow. I will show no moderation in moderating on Tuesday.

The panel discussions center on three different topics—careers in security, new technology impacting your business, and the new entrants into the security industry. However, when I did conference calls with the three different groups of panelists, the conversation inevitably touched on how to effectively compete against the AT&Ts and Comcasts of the world.  

The new entrants will, no doubt, be a recurring theme in many of the educational sessions, discussions in the hallways and probably in the watering holes on Broadway in the evenings.

Another theme in my panels and others is the importance of IT know-how in security companies. It’s something security systems integrators have been talking about for many years, but it’s now becoming a crucial skill for the average security company that does residential, small business and light commercial as well.

On a related note, we’ll also be discussing security company’s back office operations and processes during a couple of my panels. Is your office IT infrastructure up to snuff?

Here’s what I’m up to on Tuesday:

9-10:30 a.m. YSP Eye Opener Breakfast in the Renaissance Ballroom: We’ll be honoring the members of Security Systems News’ “20 under 40” Class of 2012 and the Security Industry Mentors. After that, I’ll be moderating a panel discussion about careers in security with Mel Mahler, CEO of ADS, and one of the five Security Industry Mentors; Mike Jagger, CEO of Provident Security, SSN “20 under 40” Class of 2008; Laurie Jackson, VP, gaming sales for NAV.

1:45-3 p.m. Technology Trends Impacting your Business in Room 204.  We’ll be talking about mobile apps, managed services and what you need to do internally to ensure that your business is ready to offer these services. On the panel: Wells Sampson, CEO of American Alarm; David Carter, managing director of Security Networks of America; Lou Fiore, chairman of the Alarm Industry Communications Committee

4:45-6 p.m. The New Competitive Landscape: Telcos, Cable Companies and Beyond in Room 204. We’ll talk about the new entrants’ strategies and timelines to scale their business. What do you need to know to compete? On the panel: Joe Nuccio, CEO of ASG; John Loud, president of LOUD Security; and, Tom Kerber of Parks Associates.

Tuning up, tuning in for ESX Nashville

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Off and running shortly in Nashville for ESX, which promises to be the biggest and most informative edition in the event's five-year history. The show returns to its roots this year after stops in Pittsburgh and Charlotte, and people are already talking about the ESX Crawl. There will be a lot of business before the pleasure, though, and here are a few highlights:

—The ESA Eye-Opener Breakfast on Tuesday will shine the spotlight on Security System News' "20 under 40" Class of 2012, young professionals who are already making their mark on the industry and likely will continue to do so for many years to come. They'll share stories of how they've gotten to this point in their careers and talk about the people who have helped them get there.

—Later in the day, show attendees who want a backstage look at a CSAA Five Diamond central station will get their chance when ADS Security opens its doors for a tour of its monitoring facility in Nashville. The session is sponsored by Honeywell Security Group.

—Who will head home with the CSAA's Excellence Awards for 2012? Find out at the group's annual breakfast Wednesday morning, with awards for Central Station of the Year, Manager of the Year, Operator of the Year, and Support Person of the Year.

—Learn the latest on the evolution of ASAP to PSAP at a Wednesday morning session featuring Ed Bonifas of the CSAA and Alarm Detection Systems. Vector Security, UCC and Monitronics have taken the reins during the pilot phase of the program, but the CSAA had 75 other companies waiting to adopt ASAP at the beginning of 2012. It's an exciting time for exciting technology that is advancing every day.

That's just a taste of what ESX is serving up this year. There is a long list of seminars at www.esxweb.com, and there will be four days of networking on the show floor. And the Crawl, of course. I'll be doing my best to make the most of it. See you there ...

Showdown at the cableco corral? ESX has ammo

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The big, bad cable giants and telecoms are riding into town, aiming to steal your horses and accounts and whatever else they can toss a lasso around. Everyone knew the day was coming, but now that it’s here, are you prepared to hold your ground? Do you really have what it takes to compete, or will you forever be at the mercy of the black hats?

Rest assured there’s hope, and you can tap into it at ESX. A number of sessions are planned to help alarm companies deal with this new landscape by staying technologically savvy and by offering what has long been seen as the silver bullet for the industry: superior customer service.

At the ESA Industry Luncheon and Annual Meeting on June 28, Kristen Simmons, managing partner at Lightswitch and former VP of marketing for Mazda North America, will share her expertise about what it takes to earn customers and turn them into advocates for your business. Simmons led Mazda’s “Zoom Zoom” ad campaign and also founded LiveSmart Security, a boutique provider of home security services.

“Over the next five to 10 years, one factor will become ever more critical to the success of manufacturers, security integrators and monitoring companies alike: the customer experience,” Simmons said in an ESX news release. “New technology and integrated approaches have enabled a far more captivating experience for security customers than the traditional ‘detect and respond’ model. Leveraging these capabilities will be an enormous catalyst for customer loyalty, RMR growth and bottom-line profitability.”

On the technology side, at least a dozen sessions are planned at ESX to help attendees take on the telecoms and cablecos. A recent addition to the schedule features Patrick Egan, owner of Lancaster, Pa.-based Security Partners, who will host a series of interviews with industry leaders on how alarm companies can compete with the big boys entering the market. Egan will talk with each executive for about 15 minutes, then open the floor for a 15-minute Q&A.

The sessions are scheduled to run from 1:30 to 6:30 p.m. on June 27 at the Security Partners booth (No. 725) at the Nashville Convention Center. Seating is first come, first served. Executives on board so far include Kirk MacDowell from GE, Lance Dean from 2GIG, Gordon Hope from Honeywell, and Jay Kenny from Alarm.com.

“With all the buzz in the marketplace, we think this is going to generate a lot of interest,” said Joseph Mitton, marketing coordinator for Security Partners.

To check out the full list of ESX seminars, go to www.esxweb.com. See you in Nashville …

New Bold module monitors Twitter, Facebook

Tracking social media could mean more revenue for central stations, company says
 - 
06/06/2012

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.—Bold Technologies is rolling out software that will allow customers to monitor traffic on Twitter and other social media sites, potentially opening the door to a new revenue stream for central stations

Alarm industry keeping pace with PERS

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

With baby boomers reaching age 65 and more of the elderly population living independently, personal emergency response systems have become the safety net of choice for millions of Americans. While central stations have been dealing with PERS for a few years now, the stakes are rising and the game keeps changing—think of GPS and two-way voice from a pendant. Technology has come a long way from “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” and training and procedures must keep pace.

The developments haven’t been lost on the Central Station Alarm Association. It has been working on establishing a standard for PERS technology and monitoring through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and is in the final stages of the process, Executive VP Stephen Doyle says in the latest edition of CSAA Dispatch.

“The CSAA board recognized that education and training on PERS would be needed if there is to be long-term credibility in the marketplace and with the AHJs,” he writes.

Few would disagree, but technology doesn’t sleep and people don’t always see eye to eye on where it is taking us. Looking farther down the road, who will serve as the gatekeeper for issues that emerge as PERS devices evolve beyond where they are today?

“With the formal promulgation of the … PERS standard and the training of PERS monitoring operators in the probable near future, it seems as though the time has come to consider forming a PERS Council,” Doyle says.

The council’s role would be to “help shape issues” specific to the interests of its members pertaining to PERS monitoring. Doyle said that the mission would be a natural for the CSAA.

“With the growth of the aging population, PERS monitoring and dispatch will become an increasing issue for the AHJs and the PSAPs,” Doyle says. “And who better to deal with the issues attendant to this technology than CSAA—as we have done very successfully with public safety entities for so many years.”

Council membership and other details are likely to be discussed at the CSAA’s midyear board meeting at ESX on June 25, according to Doyle.

Last call for ESX discounts: It’s not too late to get the early-bird discount for ESX Nashville. The deadline has been extended for one week, with lower registration rates available until Friday (June 8). To cash in, go to www.esxweb.com/register.

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