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by: Amy Canfield - Wednesday, February 4, 2015

DELRAY BEACH, Fla.—I’m writing this midway through the second and final day of our TechSec Solutions conference. So far, so great!

This is my third TechSec conference, and as always, I am impressed, albeit blown away, by the passion and commitment that participants and panelists have for the jobs they do.

My favorite part of TechSec is meeting and getting to know in person our “20 under 40” award winners. If you, out there in the physical security world, have any doubts about the future of the industry, you can rest assured it’s under control. These young people, the future security leaders, are more than smart and certainly dedicated to their profession.

Our keynoter, Brian Katz from Google, a “20 under 40” winner, was outstanding. Following his speech I don’t think he had a moment to himself. Whenever I’d look his way, he was surrounded by people asking him questions, seeking his insights. That’s what TechSec is all about.

During one of the sessions yesterday, “Who’s the boss of video surveillance? IT vs. physical security,” Les Paul Vernon, vice president, enterprise solutions, for Protection 1, and Kelly Klatt, area director of safety and security, Loews Hotels at Universal Orlando, stressed that having a good relationship with IT departments from the start of projects is the only way to go. It’s not us against them anymore, they said. Both benefit each other.

My panel, “NextGen: Security practitioners’ perspective” with David Avedikian from Southwest Airlines and Brad Reeves of A&P, was, without being biased in the least (!), a highlight of the first day. These two young pros, minus the third scheduled panelist who was stranded in snow-plagued Boston, talked about their biggest challenges of the past year and those they face in the year ahead; how they deal with emergency situations; and the security technology they want along with the technology they’re not all that interested in at the moment.

We capped off the day with the “20 under 40” awards ceremony. A great turnout along with great appreciation for the winners made for a fine evening in Delray Beach.

Today’s opener from Ralph Nerette, former 20 under 40 winner and director of security and emergency management for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, did much to shed light on what today’s end users have to deal with, especially when it comes to the unexpected. In the space of two weeks, Nerette and his team, in addition to their plethora of daily duties, had to deal with the fallout of an active shooter at a next-door hospital and the impending consequences of a huge storm bearing down on his area.

I also sat in on the “Student Innovation: Young Minds with fresh ideas” session, with Mark Robinton, the manager of technology innovation, strategic innovation team, for HID Global, and Jeff Hale, an MBA student at Chapman University.

And we’re not done yet! Stay tuned.

by: Amy Canfield - Tuesday, January 27, 2015

As what has been forecasted to be an epic blizzard bears down on us here in the Northeast—and from what the howling wind sounds like outside it would seem the forecast will come to fruition—we are making our final preparations for TechSec 2015 in sunny, warm, blizzard-free Florida.

We're thankful the storm is hitting now so as not to delay us from flying down to Delray Beach next weekend for what we expect to be one of the greatest TechSec conferences ever. (Check out the lineup ... )

Meanwhile, though, I have to think of some of our conference participants, those security folks out there in the blizzardy trenches. Just last week, Martha and I were speaking with Ralph Nerette, our second-day opening speaker—and also a recent past “20 under 40” award winner. Ralph is the director of security and emergency management at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston with excellent insights into the ever-growing health care security vertical.

Early during our conference call, Ralph said there had been a shooting next door at Brigham and Women’s Hospital that he was closely monitoring; it was having an impact on security at DFCI, what with all the police officers and police helicopters in the area and nearby roads cordoned off.

A few minutes later, he had to end our call to deal with the fallout at his hospital in the aftermath of the fatal shooting of Brigham cardiac surgeon Michael Davidson’s and the suicide of the shooter.

Giving Ralph some time to breathe, I sent an email to him this past Monday to reschedule our discussion in advance of TechSec. He responded quickly that he was in the middle of preparing his hospital for the blizzard, but that he would get back to us as soon as he could. He’s a busy guy, that Ralph.

Ralph is a dedicated professional, one of many whom you will meet at TechSec. His talk, “Five things you may not know about health care security,” will be moderated by the always entertaining Rob Hile, director of strategic accounts for SureView Systems. We are pleased to have both of them participate in our conference, along with all the many other dedicated, insightful security pros who are scheduled to speak and those who will offer ther expertise from the audience.

I look forward to seeing you at TechSec. And stay safe (and warm!) out there everyone!

by: Amy Canfield - Wednesday, January 21, 2015

NEUHAUSEN, Switzerland—Tyco has acquired “substantially all of the assets” of Commercial Wireless Systems International, it announced today in a prepared statement.

CWSI will be integrated into Tyco’s Fire Protection Products business unit, thus broadening Tyco’s offerings and expertise in wireless technology and systems, Tyco said in the statement.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Florida-based CWSI, in business for 30 years, develops wireless fire alarm and detection products. Its UL-listed products serve industrial, residential, hospitality, education, airports and other sectors.

The CWSI acquisition “allows us to expand our reach through adjacent sales channels and in segments of the market where we have not been present,” Raj Arora, general manager, fire detection, for Tyco Fire Protection Products, said in the statement.

It also advances Tyco’s vision for the “Internet of Things,” he said.

by: Amy Canfield - Tuesday, January 13, 2015

U.S. Cellular’s OnLook Digital System, a self-installed security and home automation system, is now available in Iowa and in the Tulsa, Okla., market in U.S. Cellular retail stores, online and over the phone.  The system can be managed over a smartphone, tablet or computer, according to the company.

The OnLook Digital System is powered by Alarm.com's cloud-based software platform. It has three DIY package options available starting at $99.99 with a two-year contract. The options include Essential Security, Advanced Security and Advanced Security + Energy.

U.S. Cellular says that every package includes 24/7 professional monitoring and standard components such as a control panel, two door/window sensors, one motion sensor, one key fob, security signs and decals and 24/7 monitoring.

Customers will receive real-time notifications via their mobile phones if something is happening, the company says. Customers are also offered several security and automation accessories and add-on packages that allow customers to customize the solution to best fit their specific needs.

Industry analyst Jeff Kagan of Wireless told a number of news sources that “U.S. Cellular has not seen the kind of growth in wireless that larger competitors have seen in the last several years. So moving into this new market segment sounds like a good idea if it can help U.S. Cellular show solid growth again.”

U.S. Cellular is not alone seeing this as a growth opportunity in home automation and security services. Other companies, such as AT&T Mobility and Comcast Xfinity, see the same opportunity, Kagan said.

I have scheduled an interview to speak with U.S. Cellular to follow up on what this means for its future. So stayed tuned.

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by: Amy Canfield - Wednesday, January 7, 2015

ADT CEO Naren Gursahaney announced during an interview with Forbes magazine last month that ADT is “working feverishly to develop” a partnership with Google-Nest.

Despite that pronouncement in the national magazine, ADT since has been mum on the potential partnership. It told Security Systems News and other publications that basically, at any given time, it is in regular conversations with a number of tech companies about potential partnerships.

There is nothing to report at this time, an ADT spokeswoman said via email in response to an inquiries from SSN after the Fortune article appeared and then again on Jan. 6.

But Imperial Capital, in a report released Dec. 30, said an ADT-Nest partnership is “not a surprise … especially since Nest has been running its ‘work with Nest’ developer program for connecting its products with other smart-products with some of the same companies as ADT."

“Mercedes Benz, Jawbone, Whirlpool, Logitech and IFTTT are among the growing list of companies with which Nest is integrating. ADT is now working with many ‘new-age,’ cloud based technology companies—several of them overlapping with Nest. ADT needs to show investors that it has the full range of technology and services capabilities ranging from experts in installing the plain old telephone line (POTS) systems, to installers and servicers who have the ‘IT-IQ’ to make ADT into a technology leader in the residential alarm monitoring industry.”

A partnership between ADT and Nest “could open up a significant opportunity for ADT to provide professional monitoring for [Nest’s] Dropcam users (and potentially other DIY products in the coming quarters,” Imperial said in the report.

 

 

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by: Amy Canfield - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

New York-based Speco Technologies, which provides residential and commercial video surveillance, electronics accessories and audio products, has opened an online factory outlet store.

That’s right, a factory outlet store.

Security Systems News, being just down the road a piece from Freeport, Maine, one of the nation’s outlet meccas, knows a thing or two about factory outlet stores. A lot. But an outlet security store? Hmmm. That’s interesting. Is this a new trend?

Speco’s online outlet store will offer limited-inventory closeout and refurbished items at “bargain prices,” according to a statement from the company.

A perusal of the e-store site found a variety of indoor and outdoor cameras, monitors, NVRs and power supplies and switchers, among other products.  

Specostore.com is a full e-commerce site with SSL encryption, which allows users to browse and purchase products and track and follow up on orders, all through a secure login, the company says. All products sold through Specostore.com will have a 90-day warranty.

A call into Speco wasn’t answered by press time, but we’ll certainly update if we can.

by: Amy Canfield - Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pennsylvania's governor-elect, Tom Wolf, plans to use his own money to rent office space for state police security officers to guard him at his private residence, according to a Wolf transition team spokesman.

We here at Security Systems News would also like to know what security technology Wolf already has in place, or will be putting in place, at his home in light of this announcement.

An Associated Press report said that Wolf, who has has declined to live at the official governor’s residence in Harrisburg, will pay out of his own pocket to secure his personal residence in Mount Wolf, about 20 miles south of Harrisburg.

Wolf, who takes office Jan. 20, will personally pay the rent for space in a building across the street from his home. Wolf transition team spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan told AP that he didn’t know if the security team would be allowed inside Wolf’s residence when he is there.

Wolf, who reported $1.3 million in adjusted gross income in 2013, also has turned down the governor’s salary of $191,000.

Security Systems News has a call in to Wolf’s transition team inquiring about any security technology he may be using. Stay tuned.

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by: Amy Canfield - Wednesday, December 3, 2014

New product introductions, sales and new orders drove SIA’s Security Market Index up to 74.6 in November, SIA reports.

That’s up from 72.3 in September and 62 in July.

Independent researcher Maddry Associates conducted the bimonthly Internet survey of nearly 100 executives from SIA member companies.

"Across the board, security companies indicated that they are feeling bullish about the performance of the security industry in the coming months," Ron Hawkins, SIA manager of special projects and partnerships, said in a prepared statement. "The survey's findings are consistent with the performance of the U.S. economy overall, with strong growth in the past two quarters providing hope that we are, perhaps, about to finally escape the post-Great Recession doldrums."

Executives participating in the survey gave this take on how they expected their companies to do during the next three months:

  • 38 percent, they would fare much better
  • 42 percent, a little better
  • 15 percent, no change
  • 4 percent, a little worse
  • 1 percent, much worse

The full results of the SIA Security Market Index are available to SIA members and can be found here.

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by: Amy Canfield - Monday, November 24, 2014

I couldn’t resist. I wrote about Honeywell presenting its annual Life Safety award at its Connect2014 event a few weeks ago.

But when I received a photo from Honeywell from the awards ceremony and remembered the moving tribute, I had to repost with some more details to give this amazing kid as well as the outstanding first responders in Palm Bay, Fla., their due.

Six-year-old Romeo Rodriguez, one of the recipients of the award, was instrumental in saving his friend, an 8-year-old girl, Kathy. He found her unconscious at the bottom of a swimming pool during a Memorial Day party. He swam to her, brought her to the surface and yelled for help.

Adults came to his assistance, called 911 and started CPR. A Palm Bay police officer, Amy Revis, was enroute. Upon her arrival, she instructed one of the adults to continue CPR while she applied an AED and followed its advice about how many shocks to give, if at all. Palm Bay Fire/Rescue arrived and took over. The girl started to show signs of life. She was taken by helicopter to a hospital and made a full recovery.

The young survivor was on stage at the Honeywell Connect2014 event to hand out the awards to her rescuers, and she gave a brief speech thanking them for the fact that she was alive. Romeo, who received a personalized fire helmet from the fire department in addition to his medal, showed grace and confidence way beyond his years in front of the audience of hundreds.

The audience, by the way, gave the first responders, the kids and the rescuing civilians a very long standing ovation.

Here’s an explanation of the event from TV news personality Larry King, who notes that it shows how a community “came together to save a young girl’s life.”

Bravo young Romeo, Roger Fox, Jana Watts, Officer Revis, Lt. Brian Gent, Driver Engineer Mike Kurrus and Firefighters Kevin Plunkett and Randy May. 

On this Thanksgiving week, I can truly say we here at Security Systems News are thankful for people like you.

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by: Amy Canfield - Saturday, November 15, 2014

ORLANDO, Fla.—“The Big Picture” was the focus of Honeywell’s annual event for authorized dealers, Connect2014.

The conference, held here, started Nov. 13, but the glitzy kickoff was on Friday morning with a general session that was quite a production, featuring a live orchestra, big screens, top execs, award winners and more.

Marek Robinson, president of the First Alert Professional and CSS Authorized Dealer programs, told the audience that “The Big Picture” means taking a step back and looking at everything that’s going on in the world and the industry. “How does it impact the industry? What are your resources to deal with it?” Those are the questions dealers should be asking, he said.

People are spending from three to five hours a day on their devices, said Ron Rothman, president of Honeywell Security, and they’re inundated with technology.  Honeywell and others have been waiting for this trend for a long time, but that also means a slew of new entrants are going after a piece of Honeywell’s pie—31 new start-ups just in October, he said.  However, the power of the Honeywell brand and the upcoming investments the company will make in technology, marketing and advertising will prevail, he said.

Alex Ismail, Honeywell Automation and Control Systems president and CEO, said Honeywell aspires to be the Apple of industrial companies when it comes to customer satisfaction and loyalty. A five-star customer experience was a recurring theme throughout the two-hour session. (More on that later.)

Inder Reddy, president of Honeywell Security Products Americas, reminded dealers that while they need to adapt to the new environment they also need to stay grounded in the fact that they are protecting families, homes and businesses. “Security is still central to the Connected Home and Connected Building,” he said.

Authorized dealer tenure awards were presented, and the general session wrapped up with a moving tribute to the folks who helped saved a little girl’s life—they received the Life Safety award. A 6-year-old boy, a nurse, a Palm Bay, Fla., police officer and the Palm Bay Fire Department all played a crucial role in resuscitating an 8-year-old girl who was found unconscious at the bottom of a swimming pool. She was on stage to present the awards to her heroes.

The second general session of the day featured a boisterous Rudy Wolter, director of the North America Region of Citigroup Security and Investigative Services and a key player in Honeywell’s End Users Group. A “five-star” experience for end users is “partnership, not perfection,” he said.  (More on this later, too.)

Raymond Dean, former president and founder of PEI and now senior vice president at MSA Systems Integration, spoke on treating customers as a company’s best assets.

“Take care of the customer and they’ll take care of you,” Dean said.

Visit customers regularly when there are no problems and they won’t associate you with negative connotations; don’t send new hires out to a homeowner without a formal introduction from someone they know; show respect, he said.

“Growth makes us complacent, the roots of our success get forgotten,” Dean said. Customers made you a success, don’t drift away from customer service, he added.

Keynoter Jeffrey Gitomer, a best-selling author and sales and customer service professional, gave a humorous and insightful talk to the appreciative crowd. He discussed the need to be adept at social media to boost company reputations and branding, because “the old way of selling doesn’t work anymore. Social media has changed the way you sell and serve forever.” (More on this later, too!)

I also attended three breakout sessions, the first of which was “Communication Strategies—2G, 3G, 4G and Beyond,” Dan Jarnigan of Guardian Systems, Dave Hood of EPS and Alan Buffaloe of Gill Security discussed their approaches to customer upgrades.

Next was a discussion on the Connected Home with Jeremy Bates of Bates Security, Larry Comeaux of Acadiana Security Plus and Rence Coassin of American Total Protection. The panel discussed tailoring “connectedness” to meet customers’ needs, while reminding customers that security comes first.

Honeywell’s Jan McBride presented “The next BIG THING: Emerging Technologies.” It’s not just wearable devices, she said, showcasing a number of other products—“not sure if they’re creepy or cool”— that could impact the industry. Those include Bluetooth-enabled gloves; smart appliances that can text you when, for example, your clothes are finished in the dryer and refrigerators that can track your eating habits; smart doorbells that allow you to “answer the door” via cellphone even when you’re not home; and home robots that can not only read to your children, but can remind you of appointments and take photos of your events so you can be in the pictures.

Eye-tracking technology, gesture recognition (to pull down window blinds, for example) are all here now, McBride said. “These trends will be a driving force in terms of home automation. The impact on our business is whether these things are of real value or are these applications a passing fad?”

On the final day of Connect 2014, Steve Means, district sales manager for Honeywell in Texas, encouraged dealers to leverage Honeywell’s services to grow their businesses. “Connected solutions are what your customers want, and it will be good for your business,” he said during the morning’s general session. From detecting mold to being notified when kids get home from school, along with myriad other applications, it’s the way to go, he said.

Russ Ackerman, district sales director for Vector Security, said his company’s RMR will be up 20 percent this year because of Connected Home. He doesn’t care about competition. “I don’t care what Comcast and AT&T are doing. Competition is for crybabies, sissies and whiners. I don’t want to compete. I want to dominate.” Connected Home will “help get us there,” he said.

New selling techniques are required. Where before Vector would use with its customers a “security evaluation questionnaire,” now it uses a “lifestyle analysis,” Ackerman said. Vector gives prospective customers a test drive of its products rather than “glossy pictures” of those products. It shares a two-way voice demo during the sales presentation.

“We’re closing 83 percent of presentations on the first call,” he said.

Other speakers during the general session drilled down on Connected Building for the commercial sector.

I attended two educational sessions later in the day, one on “Building Your Brand,” the other “Creating a Culture People Love.”

John Schwartz, marketing director for ADS, discussed a number of branding myths—for example, that branding is complicated, expensive and had to be done solely by marketing professionals; advertising vs. branding—advertising is pushing the message out, branding is solidifying that message; and social media’s power, both pro and con—“if someone is mad at you, they can go on every social media outlet and let everyone know.”

Sales people should be involved in branding, with input from customers, Schwartz said. Companies should pick one word they want to be associated with, such as “trust,” and take it from there, he said. Facebook can be used for “sideways selling:” let people know how your company helps the homeless or conducts other community service projects, he said.

At my final Connect2014 educational session, LOUD Security’s John Loud explained how his company, with 57 employees, has built its culture to be engaging and fun. It all starts with company leadership, he said. Events for employees, teamwork and recognition all matter, he said. (Read more about this later, too!)

Complete with a ‘70s Fever Costume Party and the Awards Gala, Connect2014 put on a big event in keeping with its “Big Picture” theme.

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