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by: Martha Entwistle - Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday October 20, 2014, Kasese, Uganda

I woke up the Saturday, the first day of the Northland Challenge, thinking about Huck Finn. A convoy of Toyota Rav4s are our modern-day rafts and our Mississippi is the narrow roads and lush terrain of Uganda.

We traveled more than 300 kilometers on Saturday, from Entebbe to Kibale; and another 100-plus kilometers yesterday from Kibale to Kasese. 

Here’s a sampling of events from the first 48 hours: Cesar and Amanda had baboons jump on the top of their vehicle and refuse to jump off; Vivian and Tim’s car was surrounded by angry stomping, ear flapping elephants—and after the elephants finally, thankfully, left and they were able to get on their way, another angry elephant charged them; Pierre had a close encounter with a chimp during the chimp tracking. My partner, Guy, and I have traveled “the extra mile” but not necessarily on purpose. (We started off the challenge with a multiple-kilometer detour. Then, we refused to believe a local who told us we were way off course, and detoured even farther.)

We’ve also seen emerald green hillside tea farms, banana tree plantations, very rudimentary indoor plumbing in some locations; beautiful, smiling children; women in gorgeous, brightly colored dresses with coordinated sashes and headscarfs; and we've met many kind, helpful locals.

Not your average day in the office.

A key element of the Northland Challenge is that we only learn our destination for the day at dinner the night before. We’re told the destination and given a map of varying degrees of detail. For example, our destination for tonight is a campsite in Ishasha, part of Queen Elizabeth State Park.

The address? “Unnamed road.”

Then there are “challenge points,” things like: take a photo of a hippo or a photo of a landmark. Yesterday one of the challenge points was a photo of yourself at the marker for the equator with a stranger. We’re given a number of options for activities (ie. do a self-guided safari take a boat ride); some warnings (“this is not a race; don’t feed the lions; if you reach this bridge you’ve gone too far.”) We're encouraged to explore along the way.

How do the challengers react to this unstructured structure of the Challenge?  Echo told me she finds it interesting. During her travels, she said she remembers advice from her mother to think about the worst case scenario—if you can handle that, go for it. If not, it’s time to regroup.

Amanda told me she finds the lack of structure “freeing.” James observed that when you don’t have an exact route charted for you and a strict accompanying timeline, you worry less, he said.

Lacking very specific expectations, you’re free to discover, they say.

Mostly it’s just fun.

I’m sitting in the open air dining area of the lodge right now listening to challengers talking about the yesterday’s adventure and planning today’s. Would you have wanted to experience the encounter with the elephants? Who saw the black mambo snake? Will there be beer at the campsite?

Look for another blog in two days. No wifi at the campground tonight. In the meantime, check out Pierre’s blog and some great photos at www.northlandchallenge.com

by: Martha Entwistle - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

UPDATED: Oct. 17, 2014

Security, service and globalization. This is my last blog post from Maine for a little over a week. Tomorrow I’m boarding a bus, a plane and another plane on the way to Entebbe, Uganda, where I’ll join 27 others in the Northland Challenge—23 employees of Northland Controls and 5 others, like I, who work in the industry in other roles.

Northland Controls is a global systems integration company that I’ve written about many times. Here’s a link to their home page. And here’s a blog I wrote a while ago about successful systems integrators. Scroll down to find the part about Northland.

So what’s the Northland Challenge?

On first inspection it looks like an extreme team-building exercise. The group is broken up into teams of two. Every morning each team will be given a destination and a (paper) map, and some “challenge points”—places or points of interest—to locate during the day. Over the course of a week we’ll caravan across Southern Uganda and into Rwanda.

So, there’s definitely a team-building odyssey element to the Challenge, but at its core, the Northland Challenge is really an exercise in how to thrive as a worker and a business in today’s global economy.

Globalization is not something that’s just happening, it’s here, says Northland CEO Pierre Trapanese. If you want to be really good at doing business today, you need to take the time to understand other people’s points of view, their history, their cultures, and their infrastructure (understanding building codes and power requirements is particularly important in security.)

In essence, to go global, you need to understand the local.  

The Challenge, Trapanese says, is about “breaking down stereotypes, overcoming our fears of the unknown, and getting out of our shells to work with locals to find our way from one end of their country to the other without the use of technology.”

This year’s trip to Uganda and Rwanda is the third Northland challenge. In 2010, the group “raced across India in Tuk Tuks,” and in 2012 the challenge involved 4x4s and the Caucuses Mountains.

This year, the challenge has another, very important component: service.

“We are challenging ourselves to go a step further, to leave behind for the people we encounter an opportunity to accelerate their economic development and to thrive as individuals and as a community,” Trapanese said.

Specifically, Northland Controls is raising money to bring electricity to a part of Rwanda that has none. Working with San Francisco-based Firelight Foundation and a local installer in Rwanda, Northland is funding the installation of solar panels for 25 homes, a community center and a school.

Importantly, the solar panel project is designed to be a self-sustaining enterprise that will continue to bring electricity, jobs, and opportunity to the community.

This is the way it will work: A local provider will install the solar panels in 25 homes that currently used kerosene for power. Those families will pay the local solar provider a monthly fee equal to what they would have paid monthly for kerosene. After a certain period of time, the local provider will be able to install more panels in more homes, continuing to build an account base and recurring monthly revenue. It’s very similar to the alarm monitoring business model actually.

I’ll have more details about the solar panel projects in the next couple of days. But here’s some important information for you now.
Northland employees have raised about $35,000 and Northland has provided $10,000. You can help by donating any amount to the cause.

Here’s a link to the fund raising site .

More from the road tomorrow.

by: Martha Entwistle - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Last week, I wrote a lot about the battle for small business staring ADT and TycoIS, former sister companies that are now competing for a piece of the lucrative small business pie.

Following the Sept. 29 expiration of their non-compete, both companies used last week's ASIS show as a platform to announce their plans. There's a story in this week's newswire with details of TycoIS's plan. Here's a link to that.

Also getting in the act last week, was GOP Congressman John Mica from Florida. During a Congressional hearing about the breach of the White House perimeter, Rep. Mica told (now former) Secret Service Director Julia Pierson about his home security system and suggested that the White House consider installing an ADT system. He even had an ADT sign handy. Check out the video.

Jeez, ADT executives must have been bumming about that.

You have to hand it to ADT for their response: simple, respectful and with lots and lots of information about ADT's capabiliities: Here's the statement ADT released on Sept. 30.

"ADT Responds to Congressional Hearing on Secret Service
BOCA RATON, Fla.--ADT responds to Congressman John Mica’s comments about the use of services like ADT at The White House: ADT has been protecting homes for more than 140 years, and we are honored to be mentioned as an option to secure the most famous residence in America. With that said, we have the utmost respect for the security staff that works diligently every day to protect the President and our Nation.
About ADT
The ADT Corporation (NYSE: ADT) is the leading provider of electronic security, interactive home and business automation and monitoring services for residences and small businesses in the United States and Canada. ADT's broad and pioneering set of products and services, including ADT Pulse® interactive home and business solutions, and home health services, meet a range of customer needs for today’s active and increasingly mobile lifestyles. Headquartered in Boca Raton, Florida, ADT helps provide peace of mind to nearly seven million customers, and it employs approximately 17,000 people at 200 locations. More information is available at www.adt.com."

 

by: Martha Entwistle - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The 60th annual ASIS conference opened in Atlanta on Monday, Sept. 29.

The start of ASIS coincided with the expiration of the non-compete agreement between TycoIS and ADT. When Tyco and ADT split, the agreement stipulated  that Tyco could not serve businesses of less than 7,500 square feet and that ADT could not serve businesses greater than 7,500 square feet in size.  Those restrictions were void as of Monday and both ADT and TycoIS have been eager to talk about their plans to dominate small/medium sized business.

Last week, TycoIS introduced Holis, an HD IP camera line that’s bundled with a security assessment, a mobile app and flexible financing options. I spoke to TycoIS's Mark Bomber about how that launch would help position TycoIS to move into this market. On Monday, Luis Orbegoso announced ADT's go-to-market plan. Here's that story.

On Tuesday, a group of TycoIS executives explained their company's plan to secure small business beachheads in five markets: Dallas, Chicago, two locations in Southern California and South Florida. The group included: Mike Moran, VP, Central Region; Dan Schroeder, VP Commercial/National Account Sales, North America; Hank Monaco, VP, Marketing; Mark VanDover, President; Tony McGraw, VP, Field Operations. The theme of their plan is to "go local" to effectively compete against local regional providers. Look for a full write-up on that announcement this week.

It will be very interesting to see how the battle for SMB shakes out. Will ADT or TycoIS prevail in this market, or will it be the regional independent integrator who wins out?

One person who's clearly in ADT's court is a Florida GOP Congressman, who made a pitch for ADT securing the White House. Check out this video. The guy even had an ADT sign handy.

Below is a roundup of my Day 1 and Day 2 meetings: 

DAY 1

My first meeting was with Axis Communications' Fredrik Nilsson and Kelley Brescia. Axis likes its themes.  At ISC West the company talked about the "power of four" and here at ASIS, they continued on that theme. Axis introduced its Q6000-E  “that’s four cameras in one” Nilsson said. It’s Axis’ new approach to a 360-degree camera.  It is made up of four 2 megapixel camera heads so it can “cover four football fields. Those four cameras offer a very unique way to do 360-degree camera and when you combine it with a PTZ …. you can trigger to zoom in without losing the overview of the football field [losing the overview when zooming is a common problem with 360-degree cameras],” Nilsson explained. The camera is ideal for city surveillance, retail parking lots, big school yards or critical infrastructure, he said. Axis got into access control last year with the intrduction of its door controller. This year it introduced a card reader, designed to work with its controller, which it developed with ASSA ABLOY. Axis also introduced its AXIS Camera Station S10 Recorder Series. AXIS Camera Station is preloaded on Dell servers and pre-configured to work with its cameras. This solution is the for the mid-size market, Nilsson said, which needs storage and wants and easy set up. Applications of 1 to 8 cameras can use the Axis Companion SD card, but installers of mid-sized applications (16 to 64 cameras) –who are moving from analog to IP—need a recording box, but they don’t want to spend time configuring servers, he said. And the fourth four? It's a "four lettter word--EASY [to install,use, etc]," Nilsson said.

At Protection 1's meeting room, which was off of the showfloor, but overlooked the showfloor,  I spoke with a group of folks including Jamie Haenggi and Christopher BenVau about several news items including the fact that its Network Operations  Center (NOC), has  received  "Cisco  Cloud  and  Managed  Services  Express  Partner  Certification  status." Just over 106 companies in the U.S. have earned this designation, and Protection 1 is now the only security company among them.

Alan Forman talking about new LINQ offering at Altronix. The company introduces its LINQ2 Network Communication Module, which provides remote control and real time monitoring and reporting of Altronix’s new eFlow Power Supply/Chargers.

Samsung introduced its Open Platform, which allows technology partners to use standardized APIs to develop apps and put them on Samsung’s WiseNet III cameras. The partners featured were LPR provider PlateSmart , storage provider Veracity and video analytics company AgentVI. Samsung's Tom Cook said "the camera becomes a full system, like a mobile phone."

At national integrator Security-Net's booth I spoke to member company executives John Krumme of Cam-Dex Security and David Alessandrini of Pasek, who told me about Security-Net's newest initiative called Ops-Net. It's a program where operations folks from Security-Net companies get together—either in person or remotely—to discuss ideas, best practices and to troubleshoot. Like Security-Net's Tech-Net and Sales-Net, this initiatives helps drive "more synergy and consistency across companies," Krumme said.

At Stanley Security a group of executives including Beth Tarnoff and Marty Guay talked about Stanley's "Together for Safer Schools" grant program, which the company has extended to higher ed. Higher ed is an important market that needs "really good precision around compliance, reporting, and policy standards," Guay said. Stanley's higher ed security solutions address that problem, he said.

Next, I met with Tony Byerly, Jeremy Brecher, and Felix Gonzales, to talk about new features of Diebold's Secure Stat offering, which the integrator debuted at ISC West in 2013. Its new features enable "dynamic data aggregation" so customers can sort, see, and act on data. As an example of how Secure Stat could work for a retailer with 12 stores, Brecher showed how pages of data could be sorted [by the end user or it could be set up by Diebold] to provide pinpointed information about stores that were not opened on time. This kind of information is very valuable to a retailer, Byerly said, "that's lost revenue that has a real bottom-line impact to a retailer." This information can help a district manager with 12 retail stores, for example, to address those problems and make more money.

At G4STechnology, I met with Misty Stine who explained that the company's ECOE (energy center of excellence) in Chicago will help its energy clients "develop standards, prove out systems, [be a location where] we can bring customers in."

Sarah Semerjian and John Moss were showing off S2 Security's Mobile Security Officer. And, John Moss was talking about S2's engineering staff, which has tripled in size.

Avigilon's Mahesh Saptharishi has been promoted to CTO. The company was showing the latest release of the Avigilon Control Center (ACC) software.

I meet with Courtney Mamuscia at Verint and we talked about how Verint is endeavoring to have more collaboration among its three business units.

SightLogix' John Romanowich and Frank De Fina announced the launch of its Strategic Partner Program. Its first partner is Axis Communications. Read the story here.

DAY 2

I had a chance to meet Honeywell Security Products' new president Inder Reddy last week. Here's that story. He says the industry will be hearing more about Honeywell's focus on the customer experience.

I met Digital Watchdog's Mark Espenschied, president Wade Thomas and had a few minutes to catch up with Ian Johnston, whose company ISD was acquired by Digital WatchDog this year. Johnston continues to run ISD and also serves as CTO for Digital Watchdog. Johnston explained a new phrase he's coined "Caas" that's "camera as a sensor" and he uses it to explain capabilities of the company's products. He also showed me their new camera with four 4K sensors each producing 30fps, called 16K30fps, and an alternative camera (8MP30fps) with four 1080p sensors which each maintain their 30fps. Digitial Watchdog says competing cameras produce 6fps under optimal conditions.

With the company's infrastructure built out, several lucrative contracts and a FICAM approval in hand, Dennis Raefield says Viscount working on partnership with ECKey. ECKey's Paul Bodell and Robert Chevitz, an investor in both companies, were on hand at the booth.

Matt Barnette told me about how AMAG Technology is working with a data analytics company to "extend usefulness of security system."

I had a chance to meet Xentry Systems' Andre Greco, who told me more about the expansion and training of Xentry's sales staff to approach sales in the right way. Customers don't want to talk about product initially, he said. They're concerned about "cost, compliance & risk."

I made my way to the A Hall, not an easy task, to see Shawn Reilly of TechSystems Inc., give a lively presentation about access control "holes" in health care facitlities. I also had a few minutes to catch up with Sharon Shaw (of TechSystems and also on the TechSec Advisory board) about TechSec Solutions planning for 2015. 

At Genetec, Pierre Racz gave me an overview of several new Genetec products including its VOIP offering which he summed up this way: "We're the first and we're the best."

I caught up with Marilyn Hollier, president of IAHSS and director of security for University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers.

I met Deb Spitler at HID and got enrolled in HIDGlobal new Mobile Access, a product that's been in different stages of development for three years. It's a cool demo and worth stopping by the booth to try out. On Oct. 1 HID announced a Mobile Access pilot project at Vanderbilt University.

At an evening event, OnSSI’s Ken LaMarca announced that the VMS provider’s new integration with Samsung’s WiseNet III IP cameras, which is designed to “provide real-time situational awareness, deliver integral 360 degree camera dewarping for improved wide area coverage, and convey high capacity in-camera network video recording.”

On Day 3, I spoke to OnSSI’s Brandi Gill who filled me in on all of the benefits of the new integration.

At Quantum Secure, I spoke to Rochelle Thompson about the company’s offering for the SMB market  a “Safer Secure Cloud Solution.”

On to PPM, a provider of “incident management software” to speak to Elaine O’Sullivan. While PPM might sound like a PSIM product, O’Sullivan told me: “we don’t want to be a PSIM.”  At the booth, O’Sullivan was telling customers about the newest version of Perspective V4.5, which includes more analytical and reporting options.  

My final meeting of ASIS was with executives from one of the industry’s key organizations: PSA Security. I had a chance to catch up with CEO Bill Bozeman and meet Kim Garcia, the new director of marketing. PSA Security has spent the past several months laying the groundwork to help its integrators get smart about cyber security. The group’s new training will be launched soon, and Security Director News and Security Systems News are  looking forward to covering PSA’s work in this very important realm.

And speaking of PSA Security, it was great to catch up briefly with some PSA Security owners, namely Christine and Andrew Lanning of IST; Pierre Trapanese, Guy Morgante and Henry Hoyne of Northland Controls, and Eric Yunag of Dakota Security.

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by: Martha Entwistle - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Breaking news with afternoon from Pittsburg: Intertech Security, is now a $41 million integrator after the acquisition, announced today of Accent Electronic Systems Integrators, which is known as Accent ESI, a privately-held integrator based in Bridgeville, Pa.

The deal brings Intertech 40 new employees including Paul Caruso, an owner and principal manager of Accent ESI, who will become VP and GM of the Accent Division.

Former Accent ESI employees will continue to work from Accent’s  Bridgeville, Pa and Akron, Ohio office for the immediate future.

I have not had a chance to contact Ron Petnuch, president of Intertech Security yet, but he said in a statement that the companies have complementary capabilities. A company statement said that Intertech’s “expertise in integrated security systems combined with Accent ESI’s expertise in fire systems, sound systems, networks, audio visual and intercom systems provides additional opportunities and products for Intertech’s growing customer base in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Florida and Texas.”

The statement said that Accent ESI has a “strong presence in the K-12 education market and new construction market” and said “coupled with Intertech’s experience in the end-user, client service market will enhance Intertech’s continuing growth.”

by: Martha Entwistle - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Readers: We're looking for your help.

As we've done for the past five year, SSN is preparing to do a special report about women in security.

We'll be choosing six women who work in different sectors of the physical security industry to profile. The profiles will appear online and in the November printed issue of Security Systems News.

The sectors correspond to the "beats" in our publication, which are: Suppliers [manufacturers]; Commercial and systems integrators; Fire installation; Monitoring; Residential Security; and General News. So, we're looking for women who are leaders in these different sectors of the industry. For the "general news" category, we're looking for women who work in the physical security sector, but do not fall into the other categories. For example, they could work for a lender to the security industry, an industry association, or they may be a consultant.

We're working on the November issue right now, so need your suggestions ASAP. Please email your nominations to me at mentwistle@securitysystemsnews.com.

Here are the profiles from 2013. Click on the name to read the profile:

Terry Basford, 4b Technology,
Elizabeth Hunger, SIA,
Karen Head, Kratos PSS
Jennifer Jezek, York Electronic Systems,
Betsy Francis, AT&T,
Elle Daley, COPS Monitoring,
Deb Spitler, HID

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by: Martha Entwistle - Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Honeywell today named Inder Reddy president of Honeywell Security Products Americas.  Reddy succeeds Scott Harkins, who accepted a new role within Honeywell in June.

Honeywell Security Products Americas is a provider of intrusion, access control and video surveillance technologies.

Reddy is out of the office all of this week, but Honeywell has promised me an interview in the next couple of weeks.

Reddy joined Honeywell in 2010 and most recently served as VP of global marketing for Honeywell Security Group for four years.

In a prepared statement Honeywell Security Group president Ron Rothman, praised Reddy’s “extensive business strategy experience and Honeywell portfolio knowledge.” 

Look for my interview with Reddy in an upcoming newswire. I’m also hoping to meet Reddy at ASIS at the end of the month.

by: Martha Entwistle - Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Controlled Products Systems Group, a Denver-based distribution company that bills itself as the “largest wholesale distributor of perimeter access control equipment in the US,” on Sept. 2, was acquired by The Duchossois Group.

CPSG distributes perimeter access control and gate automation security systems. It has more than 10,000 SKUs and 31distribution centers, and serves more than 4,000 dealer-installer customers.

I have not had a chance to catch up with the folks from the Duchossois Group  or CPSG yet, but the new release I received said that Duchossois, based in Elmhurst, Ill. is a privately held, family-owned operating and investment company that has “significant investments in the access control solutions market.”

CPSG will continue to be run as a stand-alone business led by Brian Huitt, President. CPSG’s headquarters will remain in Denver, Colorado.

“Being acquired by TDG gives us long-term stability and access to the resources and infrastructure of a larger, focused parent company,” Huitt said in a prepared statement. “I am excited to continue growing CPSG through leadership products, total solution consultation, and unrivaled technical expertise and customer support.”

Investment banking services are provided by Harris Williams.  
 
Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

by: Martha Entwistle - Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Since we're coming up on the long weekend, and saying good bye to summer this week, I thought I'd go easy on mergers and acquisitions and prep for ASIS stuff, and instead use this space this week for a couple of videos you may be interested in.

Yup, it's more ALS ice bucket challenge videos. This time, starring folks from integration firms and central monitoring stations.

You may be getting tired of seeing everyone and her sister pouring buckets of ice over their heads, or you may not. Either way, you've got to love the fact that this challenge is raising some serious cash to battle a horrible illness, and helping educate the general public about ALS. Here's a link to the ALS Web site, which has some information about the disease and the origin of the challenge.

And here are some of your collegues in challenge mode:

Here's a link showing Emergency24 Senior VP Patrick Devereaux .



And here's a link to a bunch of Dakota Security folks partaking in the challenge.

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by: Martha Entwistle - Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Going to ASIS? Interested in meeting with Security Systems News or Security Director News while you're there?

Amy Canfield (lead editor for Security Systems News' sister publication Security Director News) and I will be at the show Sept. 29 through Oct. 1 and have just started booking appointments. We get way more requests for appointments than we are able to take. Below is some information about how we set our schedules and some ideas about what we want to see and who we want to talk to at trade shows like ASIS.

SSN and SDN do have a booth on the show floor. (#4610) That's an OK place to leave a note for us, or to pick up the latest issue of Security Systems News, but you're unlikely to find Amy or I there.

We'll be in the educational session or out on the show floor. We'll be checking out products, for sure, but mostly trying to catch up with our readers. For Amy, that's the end users. Have a great new product and want to get Amy to come check it out? A good way to get Amy to stop by is if you have one of her readers--an end user--in your booth who she can speak to.

For me, I'll be looking at new products, especially new product categories  (as opposed to the newest version of a product you've manufactured for years.) And, remember we're not a product publication or a how-to publication. Security Systems News aims to help its readers--the integrators--make good business decisions that will increase their bottom line. We're also interested in manufacturer's businesses. Business trends you're seeing, new intiatives within your company, what you're doing that's new for the channel--that stuff is more interesting to us than the 3.7 version of your flagship product.

Having a press conference? Great. Let us know when and where it is. Please try to have it during the show hours, and let us know what the press conference is about. One company sends us an announcement before every ASIS, ISC West, and ISC East inviting us to their press conference. Asked what the press conference will be about, we get an email saying that they'll be announcing that later. There are others who want us meet with "someone from their company," but they won't tell us who.

Don't be those companies!

Amy and I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible, learning about your businesses (and in some cases seeing the 3.7 version of your flagship product), so email us. Let us know why the readers of Security Systems News and the readers of Security Director News would be interested in the news you're sharing at ASIS, and we'll try to fit your into our schedules. Often, if we can't fit you into our schedules, we can schedule a call after ASIS.

 

 

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