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A chat with SIAC’s Stan Martin

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Friday, September 6, 2013

This morning I had the opportunity to chat with Stan Martin, executive director of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition. He proved to be a valuable font of information about the current state of the alarm industry, in particular the three-pronged relationship involving alarm monitoring companies, law enforcement and municipal governments—all of which play huge collaborative roles in responding to legitimate alarms and mitigating false ones.

When I asked him what he considers an ideal alarm ordinance, it became abundantly clear just what kind of challenges an effective alarm ordinance has to address. A whole constellation of considerations go into curbing false alarms. 

“We’ve studied alarm management issues for twenty plus years, and we know what best practices will reduce these unnecessary dispatches,” Martin said. “We list them in our model ordinance.”

A model ordinance, Martin said, should require all alarm systems to be registered with local police. It should mandate the use of Enhanced Call Verification, or two-call verification, a protocol that requires alarm monitoring stations to attempt to confirm a signal is valid before requesting dispatch. It should require that panels feature the newest equipment standards, meaning they are compliant with the ANSI/SIA CP-01 Control Panel Standard – Features for false alarms—a standard that minimizes the single biggest cause of false alarms: human error.

Martin also emphasized the tremendous importance of strict enforcement of an alarm ordinance, but acknowledged that enforcement measures vary by municipality, and are often dictated by local politics—particularly with respect to the number of free responses permitted. The SIAC recommends no more than one or two free responses. It also recommends suspending response once a fixed number, generally between the range of six and 10, has been surpassed. 

Martin says this curtails chronic abuse and holds some of the larger commercial entities accountable. “You do need to stop responses,” he said. “Otherwise, the higher-end clients, commercial clients, banks in particular, will just write the check. They consider that easier. It’s the cost of doing business. But when police say they’re not going to come any longer, they have to take some kind of corrective action.”

Jason Hart named Identive CEO

Identive to focus product line on cloud and mobile, invests in sales and marketing for push into commercial market
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09/04/2013

SANTA ANA, Calif.—Jason Hart on Sept. 3 was named director and CEO of Identive Group, a provider of secure identification solutions for building, network and information access. Hart replaces Ayman Ashour, who resigned from his executive role but remains as chairman of the board.

Does RMR tell the whole story?

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Today, Ken Kirschenbaum, an industry attorney, broached the topic of valuation in the alarm industry in his email to subscribers. In the monitoring space, a company’s valuation is based “exclusively on a multiple of RMR,” Kirschenbaum explains. A reason for this is that, in a sale, an alarm company isn't selling its ongoing business so much as its subscriber accounts. 

While the RMR multiple can shed light on the value of a company on the verge of a sale, it doesn’t tell everything. In fact, as Kirschenbaum explains in the preface to an article by Dorsie Mosher of the Davis Group, RMR multiples can fall into a wide range based on several variables, such as contract stipulations, as well as financing and accounting decisions within the company. 

This is why investors and financial institutions tend to prefer EBITDA—earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization—to RMR. They regard the former as the more telling valuation metric, says Mosher, because, simply put, the figure is less prone to flux due to uncontrollable variables. Through EBITDA, investors can get a better idea of how much cash will be generated to pay debts and finance future growth. 

“A company can have $1 million in RMR and still be losing money, which is certainly not what the investor is looking for,” Mosher writes.

Kirschenbaum, for his part, believes EBITDA is not about to replace RMR multiples as the primary valuation metric in the alarm monitoring space. But when it comes to mergers, acquisitions and financing, it’s worth keeping in mind that RMR isn’t the only valuation category all parties are taking into account. 

How I Use My System: Talking panels and keypads with Phil Yereck of Future Security Controls

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09/04/2013

Phil Yereck, project coordinator and senior technician at Mississauga, Ontario-based Future Security Controls, entered the security industry after stints in the data and communications fields.

Honeywell joins PPVAR

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Over the weekend, the Partnership for Priority Video Alarm Response, a public-private partnership comprising stakeholders in property crime, announced the addition of a major manufacturer to its membership ranks. The company? Honeywell Security.

After speaking with some in the industry involved with PPVAR, including Keith Jentoft, president of Videofied and RSI Video Technologies, it is increasingly clear to me why this carries major implications for the future of video monitored alarm systems. A recurring theme I’m hearing is that Honeywell’s decision to come on board with PPVAR reflects significant progress toward “mainstreaming” such systems.

In a PPVAR statement, Donald Young, president of PPVAR and chief information officer at Protection 1, said the following: “Honeywell will help us in our efforts to strengthen our partnerships with law enforcement using monitored video alarm as a mainstream solution.” In the same statement, Scott Harkins, president of Honeywell Security Products Americas, stated: “Honeywell is pleased that the PPVAR supports continued police response to all burglar alarms. We also recognize that video verification is an important product category as we look to the future of security.”

If you synthesize these two statements, PPVAR’s message becomes clear. The organization encourages the mainstream adoption of video verification alarm systems in both commercial and residential settings, since this appears to be the trajectory monitored alarms are on. But what’s also apparent in the statement, particularly through Harkins’ quote, is that both the organization and its members remain firmly positioned as allies of the monitored alarm industry and its stakeholders in general—whether we’re talking about video monitored alarm systems or traditional ones. PPVAR's emphasis is on priority response. 

With monitored video alarm systems becoming more affordable, it may only be a matter of time before video verified alarm systems reach a tipping point in their adoption. It’s a development that some in the industry, as well as in law enforcement, will hail—especially as municipalities across the country continue to search for ways to mitigate false alarms.

Honeywell’s membership status with PPVAR only helps advance the industry closer to that adoption tipping point. On that front it is a major illustration of progress. Equally instrumental for achieving broader adoption, however, could be PPVAR’s positioning itself not as a threat to the existing, largely non-video installer base, but as an ally. 

IP forwarding services seeing greater demand

As IP panels proliferate, central stations are finding more reasons to have their own IP addresses—and to resell individual IP addresses to their dealer base
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08/27/2013

YARMOUTH, Maine—As the IP revolution continues to reshape the alarm industry, those in the monitoring space are finding some non-traditional ways to boost RMR and improve operations in an increasingly IP-centric world.

Potter: 'Finally, a fire alarm panel designed specifically for sprinkler monitoring'

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08/23/2013

ST. LOUIS—Potter Electric Signal Co. has just introduced what it believes is a first: a fire alarm panel designed specifically for sprinkler monitoring.

Former Security Networks CEO Rich Perry mulls next move

Perry looks to 'find the right situation, grow another business'
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08/21/2013

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.—With the Aug. 16 close of the Monitronics-Security Networks deal behind him, former Security Networks CEO Rich Perry is taking some time off, but he’s spending some of that time thinking about his next venture in the security industry.

Security Partners acquires Response Center USA

The deal provides redundancy, and is expected to increase number of dealers taking advantage of managed services offerings
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08/21/2013

LANCASTER, Pa.—Security Partners, a wholesale monitoring company based here, has acquired San Antonio, Texas-based Response Center USA, a move that adds “better than 100 dealers” to its network, Mike Bodnar, president of Security Partners, told Security Systems News.

ADS buys Security Services

The super-regional plans a larger purchase in a new market this fall
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08/21/2013

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Forging ahead with its planned acquisition strategy, ADS Security has acquired Savannah, Ga.-based Security Services, its second fold-in this year.

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