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by: Spencer Ives - Monday, June 22, 2015

Friday, Day 3

Today started on the show floor with a visit to All American Monitoring's booth. There I saw Lisa French, national sales representative, and Laura Hutchinson, national dealer support. I met both of them last month at the NEACC show where they were talking about the company’s MeyeView cameras. At this show they were showcasing the company's new proprietary GSM.

From there I headed to the Dice booth. Much like at ISC West, Cliff Dice, company president CEO, said that there was a good response to the company's hosted central station platform.

At Rapid Response booth I talked with Bryan Bardenett, the company’s senior account manager. He said what the company was talking about most at this year's ESX was the upcoming expansion to its Syracuse facility, adding 35,000 square feet to its current 40,000.

Michael Zydor, Affiliated's managing director, and Daniel Oppenheim, Affiliated's VP, said that one thing that kept appearing in their conversations with dealers on the exhibition floor was the 2g sunset.

From there I briefly stopped by the Acadian Monitoring Services booth and talked with Jason Caldwell, the company’s national sales representative.

Woodie Andrawos, NMC's executive vice president, mentioned the hot topic of DIY. When asked about the combination of DIY systems and professional monitoring, brought up in a Wednesday panel, Andrawos said professional monitoring is a must. "It has to be professionally monitored to be true security."

I stopped by the AvantGuard and Freeus booth again today, this time meeting Troy Iverson, AvantGuard's VP of sales and marketing, and Chris Pyle, Freeus VP of product. During this visit at the booth I heard more about AvantGuard's PERS Summit, to be held in Park City, Utah, this year at the end of September.

When I stopped by COPS Monitoring's booth, I heard more about the company's Mpower app, which David Smith, company said gives the dealer more information on their account activity, such as how each alarm was resolved or concluded.

At Security Central's booth I saw Darryl Bray again; we first at ISC West. Brett Springall, company CEO, talked with me about the company's latest promotion, a $50,000 incentive, up to that amount in free monitoring, for dealers that switch to their central station. Springall said that, when talked about with dealers, the offer got a pretty good response.

Luciana Harrison, Monitronics' Eastern regional sales manager, said that the show looked like it had some slower traffic, but it was still good for meeting dealers. The company is soon moving to its new campus Bre Otero, dealer sales and marketing coordinator for Monitronics, said that the process of moving each department started a week ago and will last about a month. One department is moving at a time to ensure minimum disruption for customers, Otero said, with the central station moving last. "It'll be great to have everybody back in one building," Otero said.

My final floor meeting was a brief discussion with Nik Gagvani, president of CheckVideo, and Ed Troha, company director of marketing, about Security Systems News' new conference, Cloud+.

As the show floor was winding down I headed to the closing keynote luncheon, featuring economist Alan Beaulieu, president of ITR Economics.  He projected that the economy would be pretty good for the next 15 years, with a dip around 2019. Many factors in this good economy had relevance for the security sector, he said; as the home market and mortgage lending rates look better more people will be buying houses. With a notable rise in disposable income, Beaulieu said that this could bring new installation opportunities for security companies. One market in particular he mentioned a growth in was the PERS space, with higher numbers of seniors expected in coming years. This comment made for a nice transition to my next event.

My last educational session of this year's show, "To PERS or Not to PERS," had a more intimate session than most. The speakers took chairs off the stage, turned off the projector and the microphones, and asked attendees to move up to the first row, making the session an impromptu "round table" based in questions and answers. Panelists included Yaniv Amir, president of Essence, Justin Bailey, COO of AvantGuard, and Daniel Oppenheim, VP of Affiliated Monitoring. Joe Miskulin, central station manager for State Farm, served as moderator. The panelists were in agreement that it is better to separate PERS operators from those handling traditional burglary and fire alarms. Special attention need to be given to PERS operators in terms of training and support; central stations should evaluate whether they can handle that in-house, or it would be best left to larger centrals with those capabilities.

Thursday, Day 2

At the start of Day 2, for me, was the panel “False Dispatch Reduction Update.” The panelists were Thomas Waugh, division chief, permit and code enforcement for Baltimore City in the Alarm Reduction Section; Kristine Walker, Alarm Services Manager for Vector Security; Derrick Jackson, dispatch reduction manager for Vector Security; and Maria Malice of Bonds Alarm.

They addressed various forms of reducing false alarms, including Enhanced Call Verification. Waugh and Jackson both spoke on noticing generally lower rates of false alarms in recent years. Malice said that without reducing false alarms, the next step for a city is verified response, “and that is not where any of us want to be,” she said.

I bumped into Jay Stuck today in the hall who introduced me to Steven Paley, president of Rapid Security Solutions based in Sarasota, Fla.

Speaking of chance meetings, I have been talking to SIAC for as long as I’ve been the associate editor at SSN and it was great to finally meet a couple of them face to face; Stan Martin, executive director, and Steve Keefer, national law enforcement liaison.

ESA and CSAA hosted a presentation on deceptive sales practices, featuring Diane Pruitt, recently solicited by a deceptive security company in Baltimore, Derrick Layton, a retired Baltimore police officer and another who was solicited with deceptive sales practices, Jay Hauhn, executive director for CSAA, Marshall Marinace, president of ESA, David Bleisch, Chief Legal Officer for ADT, and Casey Callaway, on the Council of Better Business Bureaus. Pruitt and Layton shared their recent experiences, both emphasizing how persistent the sales people were, even when being pushed out the door or shown a police badge. Hauhn noted that there is a difference between a door-knocking company, which is a fine practice, and the deceptive sales practices used in scams.

From there, I headed to the opening keynote luncheon. Before the keynote, Security Systems News’ Tim Purpura announced its latest conference Cloud+, focusing on cloud technologies and how it can be applied in the security industry. Retired US Army special forces officer Maj. Gen. James Champion then gave his keynote address, sharing some of his experiences with the Green Berets and his observations on leadership. “When people look at an organization, where do they look first? They look at the top,” Champion said; an organization’s leadership lets others know where it is heading. Champion also outlined what his cause, the Green Beret Foundation does; helping Green Berets transition into civilian lifestyles, which is often a slower pace than they are used to. At the conclusion of the keynote, ESA presented a check to Champion and the foundation for $5,000.

I stopped by EMERgency24’s booth to briefly meet Kevin McCarthy, the company's national sales manager. I spoke with him recently over the phone and it was nice to put a face to a voice.

Next to EMERgency24 was Essence’s booth—my next meeting. I saw Daniela Perlmutter, Essence VP and head of marketing, in the previous day’s panel on central stations entering the DIY market, and it was nice to hear a bit more about the DIY offerings that Essence provides. While there I also met with Yaniv Amir, president of Essense USA, Brian Katz, Essence VP of business development, and Ritch Haselden, VP of sales for Essence USA.

It seems like it wasn't too long ago that I was talking to AvantGuard’s Josh Garner about its sister company, Freeus, acquiring the PERS business of Securus. It was great to meet some of each team at ESX this year; Justin Bailey, COO of AvantGuard, Matthew Brandon, Avantguard’s national sales manager, Brook Winzeler, GM for Freeus, and Marc McGrann, National sales manager for Freeus.

I stopped by for a quick chat with Warren Hill, product marketing manager in the Americas for intrusion for Interlogix. He told me a bit about the company’s ZeroWire home automation hub and the UltraSync app that connects it with various devices.

From there I headed to the Telguard booth to meet with Pamela Benke, company director of marketing, and Shawn Welsh, VP of marketing and business development. They both told me a lot about their home automation technologies, HomeControl, as well as HomeControl Flex.

At the Quick Response booth I met Jeff Cohen, company president, Renee Trebec sales manager, and Mark Penwell, Business development and retention manager. Jeff Cohen described the main footprint of the company as being around the Midwest and the Great Lakes. The company has been family owned since 1969.

This show was the first time I’d met or spoken with Alarm Central; proof that I am always reaching out and hearing from more central stations. At the booth I met Jeremy Wyble, GM for Alarm Central, and Jeff Herdman, central station manager. “Our main focus is to allow our dealers to grow with us,” Herdman said. “[If] they grow, we grow.”

I stopped by Bold Technologies' booth for a brief chat with Chuck Speck, the company's president. Back in November, when he and Bold CEO Rod Coles founded White Rabbit Electronics, I spoke with them about the timeline for the company; they hoped to showcase White Rabbit at ISC West, which they did, and distribute by ESX. Updating that, Speck said they are pretty close to that timeline, and hope to be rolling it out soon. 

At UCC’s booth, I met Mark Matlock, and Ron Bowden for the first time. I talked with both of them not too long ago about UCC’s expansions. I also met Mike Lamb, who was in the “Innovative Training Techniques for Central Station Operators.” Lamb and I talked a bit more about Generation Y and the point that UCC hasn’t tried to tailor all aspects of its training to younger applicants. Instead, Lamb noticed that they gravitate more toward the company’s existing principles of creating a peer environment and working collaboratively.

It was great to see Mike Bodnar, Security Partners’ president, again, following my visit to their newest central station in Las Vegas. Security Partners recently hired Tom McNeil as VP of sales; he told me about a back-to-basics approach for the company, working more to develop relationships with customers.

My final floor meeting was with Rick Stevens, response center sales and technical support for International Response Center, based in Rockford, Minn.

Wednesday, Day 1

On my way to today’s first panel, I happened to run into a few people I’d either met or talked to before. First was Keith Jentoft, who I first met at the NEACC expo, near the end of May. Second was Robert Forsythe. It was great to put a face to a voice, after I spoke with him earlier in June about US Monitoring’s new app. Third was Jens Kolind, who I met back at ISC West.

My first panel of the day was “Monitoring for the DIY Market.” Jay Stuck, EXP and chief marketing officer of SecureWatch 24, and Daniela Perlmutter, Essence’s VP of marketing, were speakers. Joe Miskulin, central station manager for State Farm, served as moderator.

State Farm operates a proprietary central station to monitor its buildings across the country. From Miskulin’s perspective, DIY is a great solution for small proprietary centrals, due to the ease of shipping systems for DIY installation, and connection back to the central station. Another point that stood out to me was Stuck’s; that a big issue in professionally monitoring DIY systems would be customer service, knowing how to handle end-user questions. Perlmutter, who identified herself as an “avid” DIY user, said there is definitely value in the DIY market—evidenced by big entrants like Google—and professional security companies have the edge of experience and expertise.

I then went to the Networking and Public Safety Luncheon. At this event SIAC presented its William N. Moody Award, recognizing those with comendable devotion to the the alarm industry, to Ron Rothman whose retirement from Honeywell was announced in January. SIAC then surprised Stan Martin, SIAC's executive director with his own William N. Moody award for his service to SIAC. Also at the luncheon, ESA presented its 2015 Youth Scholarship to Douglas Leonard.

Also at this event, CSAA presented its inagural Public Service Award to Bill Hobgood, project manager for the public safety team in the City of Richmond, Virginia's IT department, for his work to promote the ASAP program.

Baltimore's Deputy Police Commisioner Kevin Davis then gave his key note address, filling in for Anthony Batts, the city's Police Comissoner originally announced as the keynote speaker. He talked about teh recent unrest in Baltimore and the important role security plays in identifying those "people who harmed this city." Davis reassured attendees that Baltimore is "a great city, and a safe city." He also identified body cameras as a security technology that many Baltimore police officers are in favor of. 

It was at the Networking and Public Safety Luncheon that I first heard about ESX 2016, to be held in Fort Worth, Texas, June 8-10.

On my way to the next panel, it was nice to see Michael Zydor, managing director for Affiliated Monitoring.

My second session was “Central Station Technology” with CSAA’s executive director Jay Hauhn, Bosch Security’s marketing manager Chris Larcinese, and IBS’ VP of external partnerships Jens Kolind. A lot of intriguing points were brought up. The cloud looks like it’ll be a big technology in years to come, according to Hauhn. Larcinese said, “In some regard, [cloud is] a logical progression of the technology.” Kolind said that one thing cloud provides central stations with is the benefit of not having to worry about upgrades or other programming matters.

In “Increase RMR with Video Monitoring Services” there were also some really interesting perspectives shared. Larry Folsom, president and CEO of I-View Now, presented a few things to keep in mind when considering video services, like the sales side, having a strategic vision, and doing the best monitoring for it using best practices. Michael Jagger, president of Provident Security and fellow panelist, gave examples of how he video monitoring it into his business. “It’s great business, it’s a great way to grow your RMR: through video,” said Tom Szell, final panelist and SVP for ADS Security.

My last session of the day was “Innovative Training Techniques for Central Station Operators.” Stephen Smith, the national professional development manager of customer care for ADT, shared some of his thoughts on ways to best train current applicants, particularly those of more recent generations. One suggestion Smith gave was to look at how learning styles are changing; between kinesthetic, auditory and visual.

Mike Lamb of UCC was stepping in for Mike Gelvin, UCC’s assistant central station manager, to represent the company on the subject at this panel. Lamb made one point in particular that really has stayed with me. He said that those of Generation Y, born between 1980 and 2000, like to know that there’s value in what they do. This shouldn’t be too hard to impress on them, Lamb said, when you address that the root of security monitoring is protecting the lives and homes of other people.

Today was definitely very educational for me, as a newer person in the industry. I’m really looking forward to hearing more tomorrow and walking the show floor. 

Prior to the show

I'm really looking forward to ESX, held in Baltimore this year. This is where you can find the most recent updates on what I've seen, who I've talked to, and what's cropping up in monitoring from the show. Check back later, as I will be updating the blog daily from the beginning of the show on Wednesday. Hopefully I'll see you there, feel free to email me if you think there is something I should keep an eye out for at the show.

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by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tunstall Americas on June 9 announced its acquisition of Kupuna Monitoring Systems, a PERS dealer based in Aiea, Hawaii. While the number of accounts and the price of the deal were not released, Allison Frazer, Tunstall Americas’ director of marketing, told me it was part of an ongoing company strategy.

Tunstall focuses on supplying and monitoring PERS devices for seniors. As such, Frazer said the company is actively looking to have a larger presence in warmer climates, which tend to have higher concentrations of seniors, Frazer said. “Hawaii alone has over 40,000 seniors who we believe can benefit from our services," she said.

These accounts will be monitored from Tunstall’s 87,000 square-foot “Connected Care Center” in Pawtucket, R.I. Kupuna’s accounts were previously monitored by Philips. 

Frazer said that Kupuna would start offering Tunstall systems, which it hadn’t done previously, and will transition all existing Kupuna customers to Tunstall equipment. 

"We are proud of the work we have done the past 10 years to support the elder community throughout Hawaii, and very grateful for the trust people have put in KMS,” Cullen Hayashida, president and founder of KMS, said in a prepared statement.

“We believe that our local service delivery and strong relationships with healthcare institutions and government agencies combined with Tunstall's world-class connected care monitoring products and services will create new opportunities to serve Hawaii’s kupuna and their families,” Hayashida continued, in the statement.

According to the release, Kupuna is the Hawaiian word for elder.

Tunstall also operates back up facility in Long Island City, N.Y.

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by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, June 10, 2015

I talk to central stations across the gambit—large and small, national and regional—but the one thing I always like hearing about is what makes each stand out. For Huronia Alarms, based in Midland, Ontario, that’s a low attrition rate and its status as a “boutique” central station.

Huronia has an attrition rate of about 4 percent, Kevin Leonard, Huronia president and CEO told me.“Most of that attrition is just because people have sold their houses. We don't have a lot of customers leave us [because they’re unhappy].”

“Because we’re smaller, we can do the oddball things. We do a lot of work for process plants like water treatment plants … where it’s not your typical burg or fire alarm that’s coming through. It could be a high-chlorine alarm, or a clarifier alarm,” Leonard said.

The company currently monitors about 6,500 accounts, mostly their own with some third party monitoring. Huronia’s account growth is both organic and through acquisitions.

Leonard said that an emerging market in the area is monitoring for seniors, as more people are choosing to retire within Huronia’s footprint.

Huronia’s central station is CSAA Five Diamond certified. In addition to security, it has departments in fire and life safety, home audio and theater, locksmithing. The company has about 50 employees, Leonard said.

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, June 3, 2015

The alarm monitoring industry is taking notice of the NFPA. There are two motions proposed for vote at NFPA’s meeting this year that could have a serious impact on the industry. This pair of motions directly refers to the NFPA 72 Nation Fire Alarm and Signaling Code, which, in the current draft of the 2016 edition states that listed central stations can be used for fire alarm monitoring. A group based in northern Illinois opposes this language, and seeks to alter it, giving local municipalities more authority in the matter.

“What’s happening in Chicago is that some of these communities are operating their own monitoring center. … This [code] would enable that community to have an effective monopoly on alarm monitoring,” said Kevin Lehan, executive director for the Illinois Electronic Security Association and EMERgency24’s manager of public relations.

Lehan noted that, while the authority pushing these motions is from Chicago, it is still a national code. “This is a nationwide problem. If this can happen in Illinois … it could happen in [any community].”

Jay Hauhn, CSAA's executive director, agreed, saying that if either of the motions passed, “other municipalities may see it as a revenue opportunity and also seek to prohibit the use of non-government monitoring centers.”

“The big problem is: This is happening in Illinois, and it’s being challenged by the Illinois fire inspectors,” Ed Bonifas, executive VP of Alarm Detection Systems, told me. “The fire departments that feel this way the most can come out in force, because it happens to be here.”

The vote will be held at the NFPA’s 2015 meeting, at McCormick Place in Chicago, June 25. In order to vote, you must have been a member of NFPA before Dec. 25, 2014, and you must be there in person to vote.

“Right now the language that is in place … for the revised 2016 edition states that the AHJ shall allow central stations to provide this service,” Lehan said. The first motion, 72-8, seeks to alter this language, adding the prefix "When permitted by the Authority Having Jurisdiction,” again giving the AHJ the ability to disallow independent central stations as an option for fire alarm monitoring. This motion would revert the language to how it appeared in the previous, 2013, edition.

The second motion affecting this code, motion 72-9, would entirely strike the line referring to central stations, 26.5.3.1.3, from the code. CSAA, as well as others in the industry, are pushing for a negative vote for both motions.

“If either one of those motions passes, customers will not necessarily … have the ability to use UL-listed monitoring centers for their [fire monitoring],” Hauhn said. 

“The alarm industry here in Illinois has been struggling with the fire service that wants to monitor alarms and prevent alarm companies from doing the same,” Bonifas said. “It’s my contention that there’s a huge conflict of interest when the authority—the fire department—is participating in the business, and then is able to be the one to decide who else can participate,” he said.

A negative vote on both motions would not exclude municipalities from providing monitoring, but instead, ensure that listed central stations are an option.

“All the monitoring industry is trying to do is level the playing field so that government run monitoring centers must meet the same high standards that commercially operated monitoring centers adhere to,” Hauhn said.

“The 2016 draft of the code that’s being considered right now has new language in it that says that listed central stations can monitor alarms. … That sets up a competitive landscape; government can monitor alarms, and private companies can if they follow the code,” Bonifas said. “Competition is good for the consumer because it creates better pricing, but it also creates better service."

by: Spencer Ives - Friday, May 22, 2015

Yesterday, May 21, I headed down to this year’s Northeast Security Systems Contractors Expo, in Marlborough, Mass. It was great to catch up with some of the companies I met at ISC West, and meet some new ones. In central stations, the biggest theme I heard about was that regional shows help monitoring centers get to know their dealers, in person and face-to-face.

Just as I was starting my first lap of the show floor, I briefly met Russ Ryan, organizer for the show.

After that, I ran into Jessica DaCosta, director of sales for ESA, and chatted about the upcoming ESX show.

I also met with Worthington Distribution’s Nolan Male, director of training. Worthington is a security disitributor based in Tafton, Penn., in the northeast part of the state.  

I met with a few members of the Affiliated Monitoring team out in Vegas last month, but at this show I got to meet Jesse Rivest, company territory manager. Rivest was recognized as one of SSN's "20 under 40," Class of 2013. He mentioned that the Northeast Security Systems Contractors Expo is a good way to stay in touch with current dealers, and get to know prospective ones.

At Alarm Central’s booth, I got to meet the company’s vice president, Kerry-Anne McStravick. She told me about the benefits of being a smaller central station—Alarm Central monitors around 40,000 accounts, she said—like getting to know dealers on a more personal basis. Alarm Central is based in Quincy, Mass.

When I spoke with All American Monitoring at ISC West, I heard about its new offering: cameras under the company’s MeyeView brand. Lisa French, national sales representative, and Laura Hutchinson, national dealer support, told me that there had been a great response to the cameras since their announcement last month at ISC West and during demos at this expo.

Rapid Response is another company I got to meet at ISC West, but it was great to see Danial Gelinas, Bryan Bardenett, company senior account manager, and Ron Crotty, in charge of new business development/corporate training. Bryan told me that a big benefit to regional shows is getting to know dealers in their area, and hearing about the issues and concerns affecting that area.

I got the chance to briefly catch up with COPS Monitoring. Bart Weiner, COPS’ senior account executive, also mentioned the benefit of regional shows to connect on a more personal level with dealers and “put names to faces.”

I stopped by Centra-Larm’s booth. Scott Mailhot, company VP of operations, and I talked about the eye-catching booth design, which I could recognize from the sidewalk—before even entering the show. This booth design is the same one that made its premier at ISC West last month.

Daniel Shaw is the assistant central station manager for NEXgeneration Central, based in Providence, R.I. He told me a bit more about the company, defining the footprint for its 35,000 accounts as predominantly on the east coast.

Keith Jentoft, president of RSI Video Technologies, walked me through the company’s various camera models and the variety of places they can be applied.

Tom Camarda, national sales executive for U.S.A. Central Station Alarm Corp., gave me a demo of the monitoring center’s recent integration with SmartTek, putting a GPS tracking and monitoring service into an app.

My day in Marlborough ended by talking with Keith Jentoft again. This time we spoke a bit about PPVAR, and the importance of finding common definitions—like the Texas Police Chiefs Association did in early April.

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I couple weeks back, I wrote an article on the perimeter security market—primarily Technavio's projection that it will rise between 2015 and 2019. Jack DeMao, the CEO for Electric Guard Dog, called me today to talk about the report, how it matches up with his company, and trends from his side of the industry.

Electric Guard Dog offers solar-powered electric security fences, designed to “deter people at the fence line.” His interest was piqued when he saw exactly that style of perimeter security mentioned by Technavio as a trend in perimeter security.

DeMao has seen a rise in perimeter security first hand, he told me, citing between a consistent growth at his company, year after year. “I would say that people have greater interest to keep the bad guys out at the fence line,” he told me.

A new trend for his business, he said, is more IoT-type requests; “Like most security solutions, [customers] want to be able to turn their fence [and] their security systems on and off with their smartphones, and get information as to what’s going on at their site.”

Electric Guard Dog started offering smartphone abilities two or three years ago, DeMao estimated. At first, between 10 and 20 percent took this option. By 2015, that percentage has jumped to around 90 percent, he said. 

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, May 13, 2015

I saw that Allegion had some interesting news, recently finalizing its acquisition of sliding- and folding-door company Brio, based in Syndey, Australia. I got the chance to hear a bit more about it from Franklin McClelland, Allegion’s VP of business development.

“Brio and Allegion have a strong relationship in New Zealand as well as in Australia, where [the companies] have worked on projects together,” McClelland told me in an email interview. “As we started having more strategic dialogues with Brio’s parent, we came to realize that Brio is very complementary to Allegion: They are involved in specifications for door hardware, and there are synergies in terms of channel.”

Brio’s current GM will still manage the company in its Australia location, McClelland said. “We are working with a great management team [at Allegion], who will continue to grow Brio while creating a complementary platform for the other Allegion lines.”

Brio has an office in Rochester, New York, and has a “growing US presence,” according to McClelland.

Terms of the finalized deal, announced May 4, were not released.

Allegion’s announced the finalized acquisition of Zero International, a little over a month before, on April 1. Zero is a New York based provider of commercial door and window products.

“The Zero International acquisition allowed Allegion to expand its presence in the door and hardware accessories market, and there are synergies in terms of specification and channel,” McClelland said. “The new Zero suite of products gives Allegion an increased emphasis on green building applications that support heating and cooling efficiency, as well as delivering the sound dampening and fire and smoke sealing solutions that commercial customers are seeking.”

“Zero, [like Brio], has a global footprint we can leverage and strengthen for our customers,” McClelland noted.

Figures of the Zero acquisition were also not released.

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, May 6, 2015

When I asked UL’s engineering manager, Steve Schmit, how the ISC West show was going, he said he spent a fair bit of the show discussing the recent updates to UL827, now including requirements for cybersecurity.

“Now with [cybersecurity] in the standard, we’re going to have conversations about [central station’s] network security, how they keep their customers safe,” Schmit told Security Systems News. Cybersecurity is something previous standards hadn’t formally  required, he said.

These cybersecurity measures include firewalls, intrusion detection systems, “risk assessment, developing a mitigation plan, to deal with those risks, and putting that all into practical application,” Schmit said.

UL spent five years developing the latest standard, released in October, Schmit said. It currently has a future effective date of late 2016.

Cybersecurity is a topic that is coming up more in the physical security industry. SSN readers earlier this year pointed toward this trend. CSAA’s annual meeting will even start with a keynote on the subject

Is now the time cybersecurity will start concerning central stations? Has it always been a priority?

I’ve heard from some in the industry that this could really impact monitoring centers looking to get—or—keep UL certification. If you have any insight or opinion on the changes, reach out to me and let me know. My direct line is 207-846-0600 ext. 254, email: sives@securitysystemsnews.com.

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Bold Technologies, a central station software provider based here, has hired 14 people in the last eight months, company president Chuck Speck told me, more than doubling its standard rate of five or six new employees per year.

“Most of [the employee growth] is spurred by bringing new customers on,” Speck said. Bold added staff to its new fulfillment department, which works on implementation with new customers, he said.

The fulfillment department was started out of continual customer growth, Speck said. “We’ve put on about 60 new central stations a year … [for] around 8 years. You have to grow your infrastructure to support that kind of growth.”

Bold will soon reach a total of 61 employees, Speck said, already surpassing the company’s one-year goal of 60, set in January. Seven of these employees were added in the last five weeks, and only two of the newest 14 hires were replacements, Speck said.

“The industry is changing enough that there are new needs in the industry,” Speck said. He cited cybersecurity and home automation as examples.

“Cybersecurity is now one of our newest forays,” Speck said, mentioning Manitou’s integration with WebProtectMe, announced at ISC West 2015. It allows central stations to monitor Internet activity for residential customers, alerting them if users such as children access unauthorized sites or chat rooms with known predators.

The WebProtectMe integration has been submitted for an ESX Innovation Award, Speck said.

Bold addresses home automation through partnering with White Rabbit Electronics, a home automation company founded by Speck and Rod Coles, Bold’s CEO. Through integrating Manitou with White Rabbit’s Smart Hub, linking the platform with the company’s entire line of products. “Bold’s integration with White Rabbit is one that we’re very excited about,” Speck said.

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Since I came into the industry, I have heard a lot about redundancy; making sure that everything runs smoothly, service is consistent, nothing is down for long. At the center of these discussions has always been the latest technology that adds new levels to that redundancy. On the show floor at ISC West, I heard David Smith, director of marketing and communication for COPS Monitoring, talk about an entirely different kind—redundancy of people. This is the task of trying to find the same types of operators that mesh well with the company’s goals and requirements to ensure that service at one location doesn’t differ from that of another.

"Redundancy from a technological standpoint is much more straightforward than redundant staffing. Successfully replicating a training program and maintaining consistent performance levels across multiple sites is much more difficult to master,” he said.

This is an important consideration for a wide-spread company like COPS, Smith said, but having multiple locations helps. COPS has 350 dispatchers, and adding more. It would be difficult to find that many people who fit COPS’ bill in the same place. “We have a very strong company culture that permeates the entire organization.”

“Creating a unique, desirable workplace is part of the culture at COPS, and has proven to be of high value to our employees,” Smith said.

It's a little easier to find the best candidates when looking for operators in the surrounding areas of six different locations, he said.

“Qualifying someone as the ‘right person’ to be a successful dispatcher is determined by more than education, experience, and attitude: we believe that COPS dispatchers must also have the proper blend of professionalism, personality attributes, ability, and sense of duty,” he said.

In addition, the company is increasing dispatcher positions at its locations—30 positions in its Florida facility, with similar possible expansions at the Tennessee and Arizona centers as well.

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