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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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by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, December 2, 2015

CSAA is starting a new project with Verisk Analytics, a firm that studies data on insurance as well as other industries. The organizations will be “examining the impact of professionally monitored alarm systems on insurance risk,” according to a recent release from CSAA.

CSAA will combine its member alarm system data with Verisk’s proprietary insurance data. “Insights from this study could be used in filings for updated discounts with insurance department regulators,” CSAA said in the statement.

“This project is the most important collaboration between the alarm industry and the insurance industry in a generation. Working together with Verisk will quantify the value of security solutions to reduce risk and give the insurers a reason to offer their policy holders incentives for professionally monitored alarm systems,” CSAA president Pam Petrow said in a prepared statement.

Anthony Canale, vice president of Verisk Crime Analytics, said in the statement, “We’re excited to work with CSAA and use alarm system data to create risk models for our insurance stakeholders to help them quantify risk, reduce losses and improve their customers’ experience.”

Keith Jentoft, president of Videofied will be chair of the new CSAA/Verisk Exchange Committee (CVEC) that will be working on the project's data collection and analysis. Don Young, COO of Protection 1, was named the board liaison, giving the CSAA Board oversight and direction to the CVEC.

The late November announcement said that the project was approved on Oct. 11, during CSAA’s annual meeting.

by: Spencer Ives - Tuesday, November 24, 2015

It seems that Stanley Security has really been focusing on how it approaches monitoring lately.

Monday, the company announced its partnership with I-View Now, a cloud-based platform for central station video verification. Last week CSAA announced Stanley’s participation in its ASAP to PSAP program. Additionally, all of this is coming just weeks after Stanley announced its acquisition of SentryNet, a wholesale monitoring center.

Steve Walker, VP of customer service for Stanley said this could lead to other monitoring companies under Stanley—such as Sonitrol and SentryNet—joining ASAP as well. He noted that SentryNet is already integrated with I-View Now.

“The big advantage [of joining the ASAP program] is it reduces the time to communicate or dispatch on an alarm, so it just translates directly into an improved, faster response from the agency [and] it improves the accuracy of the agency response,” Steve Walker, VP of customer service for Stanley, told me.

Walker said Stanley has been working on joining ASAP to PSAP for about a year. First, the company’s automation software, IBS, needed to be integrated with the program. “We’re IBS’ first customer to successfully connect to the network,” he said. This work should make it easier for other IBS customers to join ASAP, he said.

I-View Now is integrated with many different DVRs and cameras, Walker said, and that’s a benefit for Stanley. “It greatly expands our product offering. … We don’t have to worry about integrating all of these different technologies into our software—all we have to do is integrate with I-View Now.”

Walker lauded I-View Now’s ability to allow end users to review a video feed at the same time as the central station after an alarm signal is sent. Stanley has also been working on this partnership for a year, he said.

Stanley has about 250,000 monitored customers in the United States, and another 80,000 in Canada, Walker said. Stanley is the second predominantly commercial business to join the program, after Diebold announced its participation last month.

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Executives from My Alarm Center will be sleeping on the streets of Philadelphia Thursday night, Nov. 19, participating in Covenant House’s Sleep Out: Executive Edition.

Covenant House is a homeless youth shelter, headquartered in New York. It holds sleep outs

Weather reports say that Philadelphia has a 100 percent chance of rain on Thursday and temperature in the low 60s, middle 50s overnight. “We look at it this way: These kids that are homeless, they don’t get to pick which weather that have to sleep out in,” Kelly Bond, SVP of business development, told Security Systems News.

What are the preparations? “They give us a card board box and a sleeping bag,” Bond said.

Bond will be participating alongside Amy Kothari, president and CEO and Anastasia Bottos, COO and CSO, in the annual event this year. The My Alarm Center team has already raised more than $17,000—the entire Philadelphia event already surpassed it’s $225,000 goal, almost hitting $230,000.

“This event not only raises substantial funds for Covenant House, but it helps build awareness of the difficult situations far too many children in our communities face. I feel so fortunate to be a part of it,” Bottos said in the statement.

“We are so incredibly honored to be able to contribute to this cause in a meaningful way,” Kothari said in a prepared statement.

Covenant House has locations across the U.S. as well as in Canada and several countries in Central America. Its sleep outs feature different groups, like mothers, Broadway actors, or the Executive Edition, in which all participants are C-suite in their company.

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, November 11, 2015

SIA and Security Systems News hosted a webinar last week, focusing on I-View Now and what video verification can do for alarm businesses. Presenters underlined the value and importance behind verification, such as the ability to provide police with more information before dispatch.

The panel, moderated by SSN’s VP and group publisher Tim Purpura, featured Larry Folsom, president of I-View Now, Michael Keen, VP of commercial sales for Protection 1, and Alice DeBiasio, general manager, cloud services at Honeywell Security and Fire.

I-View Now integrates disparate surveillance video into one unified interface for video verification, making the process easier on central station operators.

I-View Now is also integrated with home automation devices such as Honeywell’s Total Connect. Folsom said that consistency is important; as in having the same views for both the central station operator and for the end user checking in on their system.

Some devices, like cameras, are now sold I-View Now Ready, meaning that it can connect with the platform automatically, reducing the amount of install time.

Purpura asked the webinar audience, “What percentage of your current account base requires some sort of verification before dispatching police services?” Just under half said that verification is needed on less than 20 percent of their accounts. Twenty-eight percent need verification for 20 to 40 percent. Fourteen said between 40 and sixty percent of their accounts, and 9 percent said more than 60 percent of their accounts.

Some of these results could be due to non-response cities—areas that require verification before dispatching police. Although, Folsom said, “Additional information is just helpful regardless of the city’s response policy.”

Verification was more finely defined recently, Folsom pointed out, referencing the Texas Police Chiefs’ definition, established earlier this year

The panel also addressed the DIY market. Folsom pointed to the difficulty for 911 centers, that calls from cell phones often reach the wrong 911 center.

Folsom said DIY/MIY Market isn’t a threat, but instead an opportunity. Keen said that Protection 1 adopted DIY solutions as a way to reach customers outside the company’s network, and reach the “tech-savvy” customers that enjoys installing the system themselves. DeBiasio pointed to a potential to eventually upsell DIY customers to professional systems.

The full webcast is available on demand here.

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Saturday, Oct. 24

Alison Levine is a New York Times best-selling author, she worked on Wall Street for several years, and she has climbed the highest peak on each of the seven continents and skied to each of the geographic poles. She is also the second day keynote for this year’s CONNECT.

Levine translated her experiences climbing Everest—twice—into business advice. On her first attempt she did not reach the summit. Storm clouds were moving in, Levine told the audience, and she made the decision to turn the team around several hundred feet from the summit, knowing that there wouldn’t be enough supplies to try to reach the summit again. Levine stressed that it’s not always about following a plan, but reacting to the situation that’s important.

Levine did reach the summit on her second attempt. You don’t need to be the best or strongest climber to reach the summit, Levine said, “You just have to be relentless about putting on foot in front of the other.”

Following that was the next round of breakout sessions. Judy Randle, president at Central Monitoring, presented “Run your Business like a Franchise: Why Policies, Processes and Procedures are Important.” Randle outlined the different manners for establishing systems within a business, like setting up checklists, creating manuals on company culture as well as rules for individual roles.

A main objective is giving staff a measure of what’s expected of them, so they can be held accountable. Having employees initial checklist items instead of crossing them off also makes them accountable, she said.

An attendee of the session pointed out that these tactics are about managing processes, not people—to which Randle agreed.

Before heading into my last educational session, I met another one of the Wayne Alarm Systems team, Zachary Preman, company sales consultant. 

During this session block, I attended “Twitter Tales/Facebook Follies/Let’s LOL with LinkedIn.” To start, Jason Lutz, a business development manager with Honeywell, said that this presentation would be more like a panel; it featured Rebecca Matson Purtz, director of business development for Matson Alarm, Kristin Milner, director of marketing at ADS Security, and Alison Shiver-Hime, residential sales and marketing manager from Shiver Security Systems.

Shiver-Hime started the session with the point that companies should have a “media calendar,” updating certain content on certain days or specific media. For example, on Mondays, Shiver Security posts about benefits of having a system, and on Wednesday’s they share “dumb criminal” stories.

ADS has been on social media since 2009, Milner said. She mentioned several ways the company has positively used social media, including Facebook, blogging and sharing images and videos. Milner also addressed social media outlets that haven’t worked for ADS, such as Pintrest and only sharing product-related posts.

Matson Purtz said that Matson Alarm primarily uses Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The company sees the most engagement with “scary stories,” statistics on crime for local cities.

Over lunch, I had a very nice conversation with John Colehower, managing director of Mergers & Acquisitions, about the sessions of this year’s CONNECT. He found yesterday’s keynote, Jason Doresy to be particularly valuable.

After lunch, I ran into Michael Duffy of Per Mar Security Services again. I chatted with Duffy and Jim Dewitt, president of Legends Security & Sound, about topics like DIY and the 2G sunset panel from yesterday. Just as I was heading out, I met John Cerasuolo of ADS Security. 

That about wraps up my Honeywell CONNECT 2015 experience. I’ve had a great time here in Scottsdale, and look forward to hearing more about Honeywell and its authorized dealers in the future. 

Friday, Oct. 23

I started out the second day of CONNECT by meeting Duncan Hubbard, central station manager for Holmes Security Systems, at breakfast, along with two people from Ackermany Security Systems: Teresa Reynolds, national accounts manager and Terrail Brown, commercial accounts. Also at the table was James Neeley, owned of Allied Security.

Marek Robinson, Honeywell’s president of authorized dealer programs, opened the first general session by thanking those dealers who participated in Honeywell’s first charity incorporated into CONNECT, packing hygiene kits for a homeless shelter for young adults.

The session also introduced some large concepts: the connect home, connected business, and the idea of “fast forward”—what the industry will look like in the coming years. Connectivity is going to grow, said Inder Reddy, Honeywell VP of global marketing, but “As systems get more complex, our job is to demystify them.”

Todd Rief, GM of the newly formed Honeywell Security and Fire division, shared his perspective, placing emphasis on partnership, execution, and innovation for the future.

Robinson then introduced the first guest speaker, John Cerasuolo, president and CEO of ADS Security. Cerasuolo stressed the importance of preparing your company to adapt, in light of the difficulty of predicting the future. His advice for this included staying informed about industry trends, investing in your people and picking the best partners.

Following Cerasuolo, Dave Sweeney, CEO of Advantech, came on stage to talk about other strategies of planning for future growth. He pointed to the next generation, and attracting members of it by staying active on social media and creating a positive company culture.

Lastly, Bob Pearson, president of W2O group, continued with the topic of social media, impressing the value of representing your company on it as well as the low cost of it.

My first session for the day was Barry Epstein, president of Vertex Capital, presenting “Timing Your Exit: An Update on Multiples and the Multiple Threats to Your Account Base.” A prevailing message was that private equity groups are currently—and will continue—showing strong interest in the security industry. Epstein also discussed DIY and telecoms as among forces threatening RMR bases.

From there I went to the session “Net Promoter,” presented by Todd Julien, director of sales for Doyle Security. The company has been using the Net Promoter Score, based around the question of whether customers would recommend Doyle to a friend or relative, to gain a “window” into how their clients view them.

Understanding this metric can show who’s likely to promote and refer business on to others, as well as which customers are most displeased. Doyle first started monitoring its NPS in 2011, and has seen it rise 20 percent since then.

At lunch I enjoyed speaking with Troy Dillard, president and CEO of Dillard Alarm Company—one of the companies awarded with Honeywell’s Circle of Excellence award earlier in the day.   

Just before heading into the second general session, I met Scott Haynes, president for Seacoast Security, and Steve Haynes, company VP—others who had come to CONNECT all the way from the great state of Maine.

In the second general session, Alan Stoddard, Honeywell senior director of marketing started by identifying four “pillars” of the connected home; it needs to be open to bringing in other technologies, well integrated, easy to use and still remain secure.

From there, Rick Koscinski, Honeywell’s sales leader—central, talked on the connected business and its many opportunities, twice that of the connected home, he said.

Alice DeBiasio then presented on Honeywell’s views toward the cloud. Mirroring Stoddard, she pointed out four pillars to cloud: accessibility, cost effectiveness, scalability, and fast implementation.

Robinson then came on stage to introduce CONNECT 2015’s first keynote speaker Jason Dorsey, a best-selling author focused on Millennials. Dorsey, in a comedic and high-energy presentation, highlighted differences between Millennials, Gen Xers, and “Boomers,” such as cell phones, work ethic and learning styles of Millennials alongside training techniques for them.

Of the first afternoon sessions, I went to “Three Strategies to Combat Attrition,” presented by two from Alarm Capital Alliance: Kelly Bond, company SVP of business development, and Jason Grelle, VP of business development.

Grelle first defined attrition simplistically as “loosing customers you once had.” From there Bond further subdivided attrition into two groups: gross attrition and net attrition, the latter factoring in customers gained as well as those lost.

There’s two other groups of attrition: ordinary, and extraordinary. “Ordinary” is events outside of the company’s control, such as the death of a customer, while “extraordinary” attrition is something a company can control, like poor service.

Two other key points were that understanding attrition is important to knowing the sellable value of the accounts, and tracking attrition can reveal problems or the opportunities to better help customers who haven’t been paying.

My final session for the day was “Radio Transmission and WiFi Communication Strategies,” presented by Quentin Gunther, a business development manager for Honeywell, and Spencer Smith, president of Alarm Protection Systems.

One main theme to the session is that transferring accounts to 4G in preparation for the 2G sunset takes a specific and detailed plan. Smith shared his experiences, highlighting the best result from bringing on one coordinator and one technician, specifically to handle the task of 4G conversion.

On the topic of Wi-Fi communications/IP signals, Gunther said that, in recent years, reliability of internet connectivity has increased as well as customer acceptance of the internet as a main mode of communication.

Thursday, Oct. 22

I arrived in Phoenix about 4 p.m. local time, got to the hotel with plenty of time for the opening reception. I had a great time meeting new folks and seeing some familiar faces, all while hearing about expectations for this year’s CONNECT.

It was great to meet John Loud, President at LOUD Security System, and chat about how the CONNECT event has changed over the 10 or so years he’s been attending. He says this year brings more educational opportunities.

Dave Hood, president of First Alarm and a 19-year veteran to Honeywell’s annual gathering, also told me that more education has been a trend.

Per Mar has been in headlines lately; with its recent acquisition of Northern Safety and Security, and Brian Duffy, Per Mar’s president—electronics division, was named a 2015 SSN “20 under 40” winner. Tonight, I met both Brian Duffy and Michael Duffy, company president, in person.

From Honeywell, I briefly chatted with Angela Remmert, company media specialist, Tony Martin, marketing communications, and Steve Mott, video editor.

I briefly talked with Chuck Speck, president of Bold Technologies, who said that the company’s seen some good growth this year. Bold should be on track to add 50 central stations to its automation this year, he said.

I got the chance to meet Barry Epstein, president of Vertex Capital. Tomorrow he’s presenting “Timing Your Exit: An Update on Multiples and the Multiple Threats to your Account Base”—I look forward to attending it.

Bart Didden, CEO of USA Central Station, is one of the people I’ve spoken with but—until now—hadn’t met face-to-face.

Robbie Robinson, a detective with the City of Phoenix intvestigating repeat false alarm offenders, was telling me about his perspective on current problems in false alarms. One example he gave of a current issue was commercial businesses being mislabeled as home residencies, misleading responders to thinking its misinformation when they arrive at a storefront.

It’s always nice talking with Mike Keegan, here representing Security America Risk Retention Group. We first met back in Baltimore during ESX.

Phil Dumas, president of Unikey, told me that the company has some interesting integrations coming up.

I briefly met All Guard's David Coon, company sales leader, and Sean Cooke, account manager.

From Criticom Monitoring Services, I got to meet Jennifer Marshall, the company’s business development support rep, as well as Jackie O’Neil Townley, CMS business development rep.

It was nice seeing Jeff Kahn, COO at Wayne Alarm Systems, again. Last time I saw Kahn was when I visited Wayne’s headquarters in Lynn, Mass.

I also chatted with Brent Franklin, president of Unlimited Technology. 

Scott Srolis, national sales director for URC, was telling me a bit about the company's approach to the smart home: integrating connected devices into remote controls.

I had a nice talk with Gary Hutter as well. Hutter is the VP of Western Alarm Services, based in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., on the far western side of the state.

Wednesday, Oct. 21

Tomorrow, I’m making the trip from Maine to Scottsdale, Ariz., to attend this year’s Honeywell CONNECT conference. Check back in on this blog to hear about encounters and sessions from the show, as I’ll be updating it daily.

A few sessions have caught my eye right off the bat. “Timing Your Exit: An Update on Multiples and the Multiple Threats to Your Account Base,” and “Twitter Tales/Facebook Follies/Let’s LOL with LinkedIn,” both sound really interesting. Feel free to let me know which sessions you think will be the biggest.

If you’ll be at the show and have something new or exciting happening with your company, feel free to email me at sives@securitysystemsnews.com or send me a message through the Honeywell CONNECT 2015 app. If you’ll be there, I look forward to seeing you in Arizona!

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Bold Technologies has launched its new cloud-based automation platform, Manitou Cloud Services, and is working to add 30,000 accounts to it by the end of the year, Rod Coles, Bold’s president and CEO, told Security Systems News.

Designing the service to be UL compliant was the company's top priority, Coles said, and it is currently in the process of attaining that certification.

Coles said the release of Manitou Cloud Services was sooner than he expected and credited a rise in consumers’ confidence in cloud-based systems. “Hosted solutions seem to have a better reliability than individual service because they have so much redundancy.”

“The first installations will be on our existing Manitou platform,” Coles said, but the cloud automation will also be ready to use Manitou Neo, the next version of Bold’s central station automation, to be released in 2016. Coles estimated its release to be around ISC West 2016.

Bold first talked about the service at its annual Users’ Group Conference in early August, Coles said, and now has a couple of clients transitioning.

Bold has experience with hosted services, according to Coles, through similarities with the company’s disaster recovery center—a separate cloud-based center that Bold has been offering for years.

The cloud center will be based in Colorado Springs, Bold’s hometown, because of the area’s small risk for natural disasters and its location between both coasts, the company said.

Manitou Cloud Services can make operations easier for Bold users, according to Coles. “We’re getting to the stage now where people [have] to replace their hardware, every few years. They're also having to employ staff to look databases, to look after operating systems to make sure that these things are running 24/7. All of these [issues] go away when you have a hosted solutions.”

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Fire Monitoring of Canada has been working to increase awareness of its offerings outside of fire monitoring, Kevin Allison, GM for FMC told me.

“Obviously, we do installations of fire alarm monitoring, sprinkler monitoring—those are our primary focus, in terms of what we do,” he said, “But we also do—and the thing people might not know about us just given the [company’s] name—typical security installations and monitoring, CCTV, both IP and analog [services], access control, card access … nurse call systems.”

“Our name says fire monitoring, which is great from that perspective, because it is primarily what we do,” said Allison, but the company excels in many other areas as well, he added. At the same time, the company wants to maintain its core business in fire monitoring, Allison said.

Increasing awareness of FMC’s full service abilities will be an ongoing initiative for the company over the next 12 to 14 months, he said. The company gets its message out through radio and digital advertising, he said.

The company first increased awareness efforts about a year ago and the proportion of business other than fire and monitoring has increased, he said. Currently, about 70 to 75 percent of FMC’s business is fire and monitoring focused; about a year ago it was closer to 80 percent.

Allison said that much of FMC’s business is with buildings required by code to be monitored. FMC’s monitoring center is ULC-listed, CSAA Five Diamond, and based in St. Catherines, Ontario. 

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, September 23, 2015

New Orleans is looking at outsourcing its false alarm fine management and collections to CryWolf False Alarm Solution from Maryland-based Public Safety Corp, according to a report from The Times – Picayune for Greater New Orleans.

This particularly interested me because, just last week, I spoke with SIAC’s executive director, Stan Martin, about the process of automating false alarm connections, following a report that Pittsburgh was considering it.

When talking with Martin he said it was a great practice, one that SIAC recommends.

Martin said that increased collection efforts, through automating or outsourcing the process, can have a positive effect on reducing false alarms. Properly administrated fines provide offenders with an incentive to change their behavior.

I greatly look forward to following up with Public Safety Corp. about CryWolf and how it can help a city with false alarm management. CryWolf has worked with cities such as Atlanta, Los Angeles and Sante Fe, N.M., according to its site. 

by: Spencer Ives - Wednesday, September 16, 2015

DIY and MIY—Monitor-It-Yourself—have been big topics lately. Gavin Tanner, VP of marketing for the new startup DIY security company Novi, told me that Novi is looking to “bridge the gap” between the DIY and traditional security companies.

Tanner said that Novi bridges this gap by offering a spectrum of options, ranging from MIY, pay-as-you-go monitoring, and constant professional monitoring. 

I recently saw a report comparing Novi to nationals like Vivint and ADT. A primary difference is Novi doesn’t charge monthly fees, installation costs or have contracts, while traditional security companies do. I wanted to take a closer look at the main differences is both installation and monitoring.

Novi’s product, the Guard, incorporates a camera, smoke detector, motion sensor and into one device. The Guard is battery operated and connects to a hub linked with the user’s router. It has not been officially released, Tanner said, but roll out should begin in the next 6 weeks. The most basic model of Novi’s system is entirely DIY install and MIY.

“We offer you the DIY benefit of self install … there’s no contracts, there’s no monthly fees to use it,” Tanner said. “That being said, we have additional features that you can add-on, features that you would often find at a traditional security company like ADT.”

“We [will] offer professional monitoring at a monthly rate, [but] there’s still no contract—you can opt out at any time. We offer cloud storage—which, again, [has] no contract.” It can also incorporate a cell connection, he said.

Tanner said Novi’s monitoring would be at a third party monitoring center, though he declined to say which central station.

Novi is currently exploring a pay-as-you-go option for professional monitoring as well, Tanner said. As examples of pricing, Tanner estimated full monitoring would cost around $8 to $12 dollars per month, or $4 to $5 per week.

Tanner said that the company is exploring how to give customers the option of professional installations, through installers close to them. 

Novi is based and manufactured in Orem, Utah.

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