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North America owns 70 percent of mobile video surveillance market

A robust American market continues to dominate the global share on the strength of school bus and police car verticals
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10/07/2013

LONDON—By a vast margin, North America remains the dominant sales region for mobile video surveillance equipment, according to a recent report from IHS, a global market research firm.

NFPA 2014 National Electrical Code now available

Changes include new language on fire resistant cable systems, modular data centers and surge protection for emergency systems
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09/30/2013

QUINCY, Mass.—The 2014 National Electrical Code, available in digital format and as a hard copy, contains changes of import to dealers and installers.

Is the 2G sunset causing outages?

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Friday, September 27, 2013

AT&T’s 2012 announcement that it would phase out 2G service left most in the alarm industry, well, unfazed. With wireless technology, such changes come with the territory. Moreover, it’s not the alarm industry but the mobile phone industry that dictates network “sunsets.” As Lou Fiore, Chairman of the Alarm Industry Communications Commission, put it in a recent conversation: “As long as you go cellular, there is no endgame here.”

A few months after the initial announcement, AT&T attached a deadline (Jan 1, 2017) to its 2G sunset. Since that time, the AICC has established a regular line of communication with AT&T, which sends a representative to attend the organization’s quarterly meetings.

AT&T informed AICC that, while interim changes would take place in advance of the 2G sunset, the changes would not affect the alarm industry. AICC members, Fiore said, were “skeptical.”

“We tried to impress upon [AT&T] the fact that our control sets hang on the wall, and if you change the operating parameters of that network, it may not work anymore,” Fiore said. “You can’t ask the homeowner to move the unit around to see if it works.”

Fiore, who is in the process of gathering information regarding possible outages for units tied to AT&T’s 2G network, said that in given locations, customers might still get 2G coverage but that there’s a chance it “won’t be as deep as it was before.”

Fortunately, there are some steps alarm companies can take to mitigate outages. Companies can switch to AT&T's 3G or 4G network by choosing matching hardware from a cellular alarm communicator, or to one of AT&T's competitors (the 3G and 4G networks of Verizon and Sprint are an option, Fiore said). Certain companies may be able to go with a wired network, but this is highly contingent upon business model, Fiore noted.

Still three years from the deadline, AT&T’s 2G sunset promises to be a story with several more chapters. I’ll be watching closely to see what kind of ripple effects it has on the industry.

Integrators get a sales edge with edge storage

More manufacturers offering video recording on the camera itself
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09/27/2013

Steve Gorski has experienced some déjà vu at recent trade shows. As GM Americas for Mobotix, a network camera company that takes a decentralized approach to storage, Gorski has been evangelizing the benefits of storage onboard the camera for a while.

Integrators get a sales edge with edge storage

More manufacturers offering video recording on the camera itself
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09/27/2013

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Skyhawk Security completes acquisition

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

In another illustration of the industry’s evolution, Baton Rouge La.-based Skyhawk Security, which offers remote video monitoring, IP camera systems and access control systems for commercial customers (most in Louisiana, but some as distant as California), acquired local IT firm Big Networks. With the purchase of the firm’s assets and intellectual property, the Skyhawk Group (the name of the merged company) will have an in-house IT unit to supplement its security offerings.

The move establishes an interesting hybridized security company in the Louisiana capital. Brett Lofton, one of three managing members with Skyhawk, said the acquisition, in addition to bringing in an “in-house IT decision maker,” also presents some major cross-selling opportunities, particularly with respect to some of the clients the company inherited through the Big Networks buy.

Lofton said some of these accounts could potentially be a boon to Skyhawk’s security business. “We’ll certainly be cross-selling and trying to get in front of them to talk about [our security offerings],” Lofton noted, adding that this applies especially to companies with guards—customers who could find the security services palatable. Commercial customers may find value in the prospect of replacing or supplementing nightshifts with video monitoring, Lofton said.

Skyhawk also plans to explore cross-selling its hosted access control service, which Lofton believes is gaining traction. It will be interesting to follow what kind of role video monitoring and access control play in the company’s primary near-term plan: organic growth—much of which could be fueled by business in its own backyard. Stay tuned for more on Skyhawk’s plans and near-term goals in Louisiana and beyond.

Axis enters access control market

AXIS A101 Network Door Controller introduced at ASIS; will launch first in U.S. market, during Q4 of 2013
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09/24/2013

Updated on Sept. 26 with an interview with Fredrik Nilsson, GM Americas for AXIS Communications.

CHICAGO—Network camera provider AXIS Communications is now also a provider of network access control.

SIA eyes federal budget resolution

Sequestration could be a factor in determining funding for major security grant programs
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09/24/2013

WASHINGTON—The crisis in Syria only further roils what was already expected to be a turbulent few months in Congress leading up to the holidays. Despite the din, the Security Industry Association has developed a plan to advance some of its own objectives, of which there are many.

Who are today’s women leaders in security?

Security Systems News editors look for input on annual special report on women leaders in the security industry
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09/23/2013

YARMOUTH, Maine—The November issue of Security Systems News will include the annual special report entitled “Women in Security.”

PERS: What we know, what we don't

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The projected expansion of the PERS market will be fueled by several realities playing in its favor. First and foremost, the demographics, highlighted by an aging baby boomer population, are compatible with growth in the PERS space. Similarly, PERS devices make seniors better equipped to remain in their homes and possibly reap considerable cost savings. The market is relatively resilient. The technology is simple. One of the biggest barriers to entry may be tapping into the right marketing channel, Josh Garner, CEO of AvantGuard Monitoring Centers, told me in a conversation we had earlier this year on the state of the PERS industry. The marketing hurdle is not to be underestimated. But it also seems far less an obstacle than, say, mastering the technical ins and outs of a product truly difficult to integrate or install.

These are all PERS-relevant realities of which the industry already has a fairy sound understanding. While much is known, many questions still linger with respect to the future of the market. That much became clear in a recent conversation with Barry Epstein, president of Dallas-based Vertex Capital.

One question with many ramifications for the market: what will reduce the annual attrition rates for PERS devices? Will it simply come down to a broader (and younger) customer demographic? Metrics are far from perfect, and the market is still green from an acquisition standpoint, but Epstein says the attrition rate for PERS devices hovers somewhere between 24 and 36 percent. Even at the lower end of that spectrum, these rates are not conducive to huge RMR value, and they could make private equity firms leery about getting involved, at least right now. A huge ancillary question to the one posed above will be what kind of innovations, on either the dealer or manufacturer end, can companies make to reduce these less than sterling rates.

Another question: Can smaller alarm companies do PERS? Or is the market going to remain the province of larger dealers or wholesale monitoring companies who can afford to support a PERS-only division? To what extent will traditional alarm companies have a share in the space at all? Epstein, who recently moderated a panel at the PERS Summit in Park City, Utah, said the conference naturally featured an abundance of PERS dealers, but only a small fraction of them had alarm accounts.  

The development of this market will be worth watching closely. When will the acquisition tipping point occur? What will be the force behind it? What factors, as yet undeveloped, stand to drive the market’s upward trajectory? And what about mobile PERS units?

In a broad sense, we're mostly sure where the PERS industry is going. But regarding specifics, questions abound.

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