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by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Security Systems News' TechSec Solutions conference went very well this year—everything from the educational sessions to the weather. A highlight of the conference was having "20 under 40" Class of 2015 award winners in attendance. Eleven honorees from the integrators' class and six honorees from the end users joined us in Delray Beach, Fla. Included here are photos from the reception. You can find the complete collection of integrator profiles here, and the list of end user profiles here.

Above are the "20 under 40" integrators,  from left: Monitronics’ Barbara Holliday, CONTAVA’s Scott Ranger, Protection 1’s Matt Cooper, Advance Technology’s Rob Simopoulos, Northland Controls’ Henry Hoyne, Tech Systems’ Andy Chambers, Security Equipment’s Matt Vellek, Diebold’s Josh Long, Femac Security’s Corey Hendrix, Wayne Alarm Systems’ Shawn Crocker, Per Mar Security Services’ Brian Duffy, and SSN’s Martha Entwistle and Spencer Ives.

The photo on the left is the six end users who joined us, from left: Western Kentucky University’s Jeppie Sumpter, Beth-Israel Deaconess Hospital’s Christopher C. Moore, Marvel Studios’ Matthew Slatoff, City of Windsor’s Mike Cholubko, Mercedes-Benz Superdome’s Ross Bourgeois, and Comcast’s Reggy Timothee.

Thanks to all of our attendees this year, and another congratulations to all of our 2015 "20 under 40" winners.

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Ascent Capital Group’s stock price rose yesterday, on news of the ADT/Apollo deal.

I asked Imperial Capital’s Jeff Kessler about the stock’s jump and he characterized it as a “knee jerk reaction to the fact that the only other company in the United States that’s public, being traded, is being taken over.”

Yesterday (Feb. 16) Ascent’s stock price rose as high as 49 percent over its previous close of (Feb. 12) of $8.27 per share.  Yesterday’s high was $12.29. The stock closed at $11.00 and had been hovering around that price today.

Ascent’s stock price has been declining over the last 12 months. This time last year the stock price was $47.50.

Kessler pointed out that AlarmForce, another publicly traded alarm company, also saw a small increase after the news of ADT’s acquisition agreement. “If ADT is taken private [Alarm Force and Ascent] will be the only two publicly traded alarm companies,” he said.

Ascent Capital Group is a more well known peer to ADT, Kessler said, which is why Ascent’s price was affected more than that of AlarmForce.

“It will certainly have more people eyeing Ascent, to see whether or not there is some value in the Ascent monitoring capability for another buyer,” Kessler said. “Certainly I would think that private equity firms are looking at Ascent, because the stock has fallen down so far … but there’s no guarantees.” 

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, February 10, 2016

CSAA released a preliminary schedule for its 2016 annual meeting, to be held at the Marriot Resort on Marco Island, Fla., Oct. 22-26. Educational sessions will be held from Oct. 24-26.

CSAA wrote in its blog that long-time attendees will notices some changes. “The CSAA Board of Directors Meeting will be held on the first morning of the Annual Meeting, Saturday, October 22, with the Board/AHJ dinner that evening. CSAA committees will meet the morning of Sunday, October 23. The opening reception will take place Sunday evening,” the association wrote.

Each day of educational session has a theme: the theme for Monday, Oct. 24, is business management, for Tuesday it’s performance management, and for the final educational day—Wednesday, Oct. 26—it’s technology. CSAA said it will cover important topics for monitoring centers, including “workforce development, executive management, technology updates, and telecomm issues.”

You can view the full preliminary schedule here, which is subject to change. Housing information and registration coming soon.

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by: Spencer Ives - Monday, February 1, 2016

Day 2

The second—and final—day went really well down here in Delray Beach. The first session of the day was Ross Bourgeios, Assistant Chief of Public Safety, Mercedes-Benz Superdome/Smoothie King Center/Champion Square—all of the buildings on the Superdome campus. Bourgeios said he has "One of the coolest jobs in America." From Super Bowls to concerts, he has to figure out the security needs. "The security threat for Tool is different from the security threat for Barry Manilow."

"Cybersecurity threatens the physical security stronghold" brought attendees to look at the ways in which cybersecurity and physical security interact. Physical protection has a real impact on cybersecurity, Hikvision sales engineer Joe Coe pointed out. "If somebody gets access to [your equipment], they can install things locally that give them the ability to take that over." 

Panelists Michael Campbell, president and CEO of MachineShop, Brian Lohse, director of sales, Secure-I, and moderator Steve Van Till, Brivo CEO, presented the final session of this year's conference: "Internet of things today and tomorrow." According to Lohse, the "real magic" happens when data gathered from multiple IoT sensors gets analyzed and interpreted into valuable information for the users.

Day 1

The first day started with a great keynote from Tony Cassell, global security director for Dropbox. He emphasized that trust is key when building out a company’s security. At Dropbox, he was told he could pick and choose the technology. To instill trust, he made the process transparent, detailing why certain technologies could be good for the company’s growth, or exactly why they needed to be changed out for better ones.  

“Biometrics: Battle of the body parts” four distinct perspectives of biometric technology were presented: fingerprint, hand geometry, facial recognition, and iris scan, each represented by a manufacturer specializing in the technology. A panel of four SSN “20 under 40” winners, Class of 2015, crowned iris scan the winner. Though, an attendee poll indicated a favor toward facial recognition as the most prominent biometric in the future.

Matthew Slatoff, VP of global security and content protection, for Marvel Studios presented on what it takes to protect a big-budget movie. Sometimes this requires badging and CCTV—traditional security measures. But, when it comes to content protection, you might have to get more creative—like using large umbrellas or parking a big bus in the way to block paparazzi.

In “healthy and wise?” Ashley Ditta, from Brigham & Women's Faulkner Hospital and Christopher C. Moore, of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Plymouth, Mass., talked about the specific challenges in securing a hospital. Ralph Nerette, director of security and emergency management for Dana Farber Cancer Institute, served as the moderator. Ashley brought up a tactic: following a specific technician regardless of company because they are the one who knows the building and its safety protocols.

Five of Security Systems News’ “20 under 40” winners, Class of 2015, talked about trends in the industry in “Next Gen integrators and end users face off.” A couple of the panelists said that relationships with manufacturers can help security companies and end users plan for the future by hearing about upcoming products.

The day wrapped up with the “20 under 40” reception. SSN was pleased to hand out awards to the 17 honorees who came to this year’s conference.

Monday, before the conference

I've made it down to Delray Beach, Fla., for this year's TechSec Solutions conference. To find out what's happening at the show, check back here for more information. 

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, January 27, 2016

TechSec Solutions is coming up next week in Delray Beach, Fla., Feb. 2-3, and there will be topics of interest for monitoring stations.

One session that affects all companies in the industry looks at cybersecurity, and how it threatens the physical security world. Joe Coe, sales engineer with Hikvision; Rodney Thayer, a consultant with Smithee, Spelvin, Agnew and Splinge; and Chris Pechkam will take the stage to talk about new vulnerabilities that arise from more internet connectivity.

In the “Next Gen integrators and end users face off” panel, five of SSN’s “20 under 40”—three integrators and two end users—will approach the outlook for new technology in physical security. I’m sure Josh Long of Diebold Security will bring in a good monitoring perspective on the future of the industry.

I’ve heard more than a few central stations talking about monitoring connected devices. “Internet of Things, today and tomorrow” will take a look at how prevalent the IoT has become in recent years.

Find out more about the show by clicking here. Hope to see you down there next week.  

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Alarm.com will continue to be the preferred supplier of smart home technology for Monitronics and its dealers, Alarm.com announced today.

“We are committed to giving our customers and dealers the best technology options available and our renewed partnership with Alarm.com positions us to continue to capitalize on the rapidly growing smart home and home automation services category,” Bruce Mungiguerra, SVP of Operations for Monitronics, said in a prepared statement.

“Alarm.com’s partner services are also key to efficiently supporting and managing accounts across our dealer programs, and help deliver the exceptional customer experience that is so important to our business,” Mungiguerra said in the release.

Alarm.com’s Partner Services Platform offers customer acquisition programs, streamlined installation apps, remote troubleshooting and support capability, and business advice.

Steve Trundle, Alarm.com’s president and CEO, said in the statement, “We place great value on our long-term strategic partnership with Monitronics and we are excited to reaffirm our commitment going forward so that we can each provide great services to the leading independent security dealers in North America.”

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Now that it is the New Year—2016—it is also the year of the 2G sunset, with the effective end date for 2G signals being Dec. 31 this year. A lot of people have been talking about it, such as how to prepare for it, how to approach mass radio conversions and when dealers need to start. Lately, I’ve heard that the 2G sunset will play a role in the 2016 acquisition market.

Specifically, I’ve heard that dealers that have not completed, or perhaps haven’t started, their 2G conversions may find it easier to sell their accounts to a company that can and is willing to take on the project.

Last week, I heard from John Loud, president of LOUD Security, that the conversion might play a role in 2016 acquisitions for the company.

This week, Doug Smith, president of the commercially focused business Redwire, shared a similar sentiment—that there could be opportunities to buy resi accounts as a result of the 2G sunset.

At Honeywell’s 2015 CONNECT, there was a discussion on how dealers should get started on 2G conversions. A recurrent point was that all alarm companies should have started by now, especially as some areas have already lost 2G signals.

One speaker at CONNECT, Spencer Smith of APS, said that his company hired additional staff—a technician and a coordinator—to focus solely on the conversion.

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Rapid Response Monitoring is holding a hiring event at the Destiny USA mall in Syracuse, N.Y. Rapid Response held a similar event about 12 months ago.

Christopher Denniston told Security Systems News that last year’s event was “a very big success, so we’re doing the same thing again this year.”

“We’re working on expanding the Rapid team on both coasts,” Denniston said. The company is looking to have a similar event close to its Corona, Calif., facility, he said, but hasn’t finalized the event yet.

Denniston talked about the company’s goals for this event. “We’re looking to fill over 70 positions immediately, and then once the expansion is completed, that’ll bring that total to over 100,” Denniston said. The company is working on expanding its Syracuse headquarters from 40,000 to 75,000 square-feet this year.

“The 70 openings are primarily newly created positions, but some will fill roles vacated through internal career growth,” he said.

2015 was a good year for the company, Denniston said; Rapid Response “added some significant international business [last] year.”

How much international business did Rapid Response do previously? “We provided monitoring for a few dealers in the Caribbean on a smaller scale, but we’ve expanded that. … Today, we are monitoring for dealers in Bermuda and Cayman.”

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Home Security Monitoring Center, a family-owned wholesale central station based in Stowe, Vt., is focusing on virtualization, “Putting more and more information up on the cloud,” according to company president Scott Trowbridge. The company mainly uses the cloud for business efficiency.

Trowbridge said that HSMC has been using the cloud for years, but named it as a priority moving into 2016 and beyond. “It’s not going to be done tomorrow. …  Having to commit to something like that is a very big choice. … It’s one of those things that doesn’t make you money, it just … saves time and makes you more efficient.”

The company uses the cloud to store information that is relevant for the “daily running of the business,” according to Trowbridge. Fewer computers means lower power consumption and fewer IT issues, “it makes us more cost-effective to push things into the cloud to some degree.”

The cloud makes the company more flexible, Trowbridge told me, both in terms of getting information and notifications to dealers as well as allowing staff access to information while not in the office.

“We’ve got to be very careful about how we put [information] into the cloud, and making sure that the most critical information—customer’s information—stays local so that it doesn’t get compromised,” he said.

In addition, by leveraging the cloud, workstations in HSMC are able to access a variety of functions from one spot, allowing employees to pick up their work at any location.

Trowbridge says that the company cross-trains its employees, “In order to keep things interesting and fresh, we try to rotate tasks out for our operators to … round-out the education.” These roles range from alarm monitoring to data entry and putting accounts on and off test. 

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by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, December 9, 2015

VIENNA, Va.—After CSAA announced its latest project with Verisk Analytics last week, I was interested to hear more about exactly the collaboration will cover. Keith Jentoft, chair of the CSAA/Verisk Exchange Committee (CVEC) and president of Videofied, told me that the project will develop a channel of communication between security companies and insurance providers, ultimately leading to a possible drop in attrition.

“What we’re doing here is, if you cancel [a monitoring subscription] there’s going to be a closed loop,” he said. “The insurer will, then, notify you that because you cancelled your alarm, your insurance is going up. So, it will have a real, direct effect on reducing attrition.”

The project will cover the value of separate security functions, such as water sensor with an automatic shut-off valve or video verification. This will mean incremental discounts for property owners, Jentoft said. All of the services that the CVEC is looking at are fully, professionally monitored, he said.

Verisk is the parent company to ISO, Jentoft pointed out, a group that works on risk ratings across the country, which can speed up the process of applying the valuations of security alarm functions. “We’re cutting years out of the implementation of this by working with Verisk.”

The project will be ongoing, according to Jentoft. “The tighter we get with the insurer, the more value we can create.”

The committee has a legal subcommittee and a technology subcommittee, focused on the data transfers between the two industries, which Jentoft said would be truly starting in January, “we hope to have some preliminary results by ISC West.”

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