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On the Editor's Desk

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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by: Martha Entwistle - Wednesday, August 13, 2014

BRS Labs has a full plate in the next month--it's working on finding a new CEO, finding a spot to build its own cloud facility, and it's prepping for an IPO.

BRS Labs is a provider of “self-learning behavioral recognition software," which its sells as an enterprise software solution, for monthly lease, or as "software-as-a-service. BRS Labs president John Frazzini recently announced during a Fox Business News interview that the company--(which he said he has a stake in) would be doing an IPO.  In a news release, the company today announced that the search is on for a new CEO who will take charge of the IPO process.

It is also planning to move its headquarters to a new location in Houston and plans to build a cloud storage facility in that location.

The goal is to raise funds to move into more vertical market segments, the company announced today.

I hope to catch up with Frazzini at the ASIS show next month to get an update on these initiatives.

BRS Labs was founded by Ray Davis in 2005 and Davis has served as CEO since that time. He is stepping down as CEO but role will continue as chairman for the immediate future and will head up the search for a new CEO. Davis said in a statement that he will concentrate his search in Houston.

“The company plans to find a Houstonian who understands the value of a public company in this market, and who has previous operational experience leading a company through the process of going public,” according to a company statement.

BRS Labs’ is known for its AISight platform, an “artificial Intelligence-based analytics solution that teaches itself to recognize and alert on suspicious or unexpected behavior within massive volumes of data.”

In a prepared statement, Davis said he’s “always loved building and running companies and have done so for thirty-five years. Based on the growth we have experienced here at BRS Labs, the time is right for us to take the company public, and we need to bring in an individual who has expertise in this area. I will continue to serve in my role as Chairman until that person is comfortably in place and positioned to take BRS Labs to the heights we know it is capable of reaching.”

BRS Labs says it “owns an approximate 60 percent share of the video analytics market.”

It recently expanded into Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) industry for oil and gas as well as other Smart Utility Grids.

Further expansion into other vertical markets is planned. One of the reasons the company plans to go public is “to raise funds to expand into Information Security, Building Management Systems, and other big data applications.”

“Our Artificial Intelligence-based technology has dominated the initial market we applied it to: video analytics,” Davis said in a statement.

“It is now time to take this proven technology and address the other serious safety and security issues facing the world today. …We need to rapidly and simultaneously move into these new vertical markets to explore the many ways in which our technology can be used, while expanding our footprint in existing markets.”

 Davis said that access to public funds “will position us for simultaneous penetration into these markets and allow us to expand the company while producing exponential returns for our investors.”

BRS Labs currently works with third-party cloud providers, but it will provide in-house cloud storage to its customers once it moves to a new location in Houston.

In addition to its headquarters in Houston, BRS Labs has offices in Washington, DC, London, Sao Paulo, and Barcelona.

 

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by: Martha Entwistle - Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Distribution news this week: The Systems Depot has hired Scott Hay as president.

Scott is out of the office this week, but I expect to interview him next week. Hay comes to The Systems Depot from Protection 1, where he was operations manager for North and South Carolina. He's been in the industry for 20 years and has also worked at Iverify as director of installation. He was also the  founder and owner of Custom Automation and Security in Dallas, N.C.

In a prepared statement, Hay said that The Systems Depot is building a “National Technical Sales Center in Hickory for hundreds of associates and outfitting it with the latest in technical hardware, training tools, work stations; all designed for employee productivity and comfort.”

“The National Sales Center will be reaching out to more than 15,000 companies in the US,” the report said.

“When these in-house advancements are coupled with the broad product assortment currently provided to dealers and integrators nationally, and with our Depot Express same-day delivery, we are positioning ourselves for strong and sustained growth,” Hay said.

I look forward to getting more information about specific growth projections and plans from Hay when I speak to him next week.
 
Founded in 1996, in Winter Park, Fla., The System Depot moved here in 2000 after a series of mergers. It has locations in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, West Virginia and California.

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by: Martha Entwistle - Thursday, July 31, 2014

Speco Technologies, a video surveillance manufacturer based in New York, may be best known for its analog solutions, but it is well into IP-based technology these days.

Today, Speco counts 25 of the largest and most sophisticated independent integrators in the U.S as its valued resellers, with Protection 1 as one of its marquee customers.

These are relationships the Speco management team has actively pursued. And, their pursuit of integrators has just begun, they say. The company’s sales, engineering, marketing, training and management are eager to talk about what they’re doing daily to increase the number of security systems integrators who turn to Speco for easy to use, innovative IP-based video technology.

I visited Speco this week, got a look at their headquarters in Amityville, the manufacturing and training operation and had a chance to hear Speco executives talk about their strategy.  

In business since the early 1960s. Speco is a privately held business owned by the Keller family. The company went private on Sept. 10, 2001, the day before the horrific events of September 11, 2001.  

Todd Keller, Speco president and owner, said the business employs about 100 people. In 2008 it broke $100 million in revenue, today it’s “headed back to about $85 million” in 2014 revenue. The company is selling more products, but prices for many products have come down.

All of its products are assembled here at its headquarters in New York and most everything is engineered here or “outsourced in America.” Keller and other management believe that being family-owned gives Speco an advantage over corporations. "We have the flexibility to pursue ideas, to engineer, innnovate, design," TJ Dickson, VP sales and marketing said, adding that Speco constantly tests and evaluates, and re-evalutates its products. It does the same with competitors' products, he said.

It has a warehouse in Amityville and a new warehouse in Reno, Nevada which it opened in April. This new warehouse houses $3 million in inventory and enables Speco to get products to distributors in the west much more quickly and inexpensively.

Corporations use "voice of the customer" Dickson said. "They hear the customer, but I'm not sure they listen to the customer." Because Speco is not a giant corporation, it is able to implement changes quickly, he said.

Speco is well known for some signature products: two way audio; Digital Deterrent; inventing (Keller says) the bullet camera; its wall-mounted DVR. It's also known for private labeling its products for customers large and small. Keller said he'd much rather have an installer's name on a product than Speco's name, saying that if they sell more "Speco wins."

Speco is also well known for its "Intensifier" technology, which several years ago made it possible for analog cameras to "see" in the dark and low light conditions. This September Speco is planning an "all out blitz" to launch its Intensifier technology built into HD IP cameras, according to Peter Botelho, EVP and GM at Speco Technologies.

"It will be a very aggressive launch aimed at a target group of integrators," he said. Botelho said Speco has taken its time and "worked to get it right." Some competitors have similar technology, he said, "but it doesn't perform like ours and when you add [Speco's lower] price point, this is a potential big win for us in IP," he said.

Speco also last week released its SecureGuard Plus, a VMS that "provides access to multiple DVRs, NVRs and IP cameras for remote viewing, playback and other functions." It does not have licensing fees. Botelho said that SecureGuard Plus is "all American programming, American processing, and an All-American idea" that was developed with input from the SecureGuard User Group, which consists of 15 to 20 integrators.  He called SecureGuard Plus "a VMS with some serious plans to take it way beyond [the traditional] VMS." Future versions of this software will "have special features and integrate with some things that we believe others haven't thought of."

Where's Speco heading in terms of software engineering? Developing software that "runs all peripheral devices and does something with the all the data that's collected," Botelho said. "We are well positioned to move into that space," he said. Why? "More than anything we have a management team that has the ability to understand what's really happening at the installer level. ... and that comes from listening," Botelho said.

Speco "listens" in many ways. Its Tech Support department takes between 300 and 500 calls per day. At the end of every month, Speco takes the top 10 issues its Tech Support department has dealt with, assesses those issues, solves them with other department input if necessary and "turns them into a positive," Keller said.

It does the same thing with the products themselves. Speco has a 2 percent rate of return and defective rate of less than a half a percent. All of the returned products are assessed as well. If, for example, a number of products have been returned because they've been damaged by a lightening strike, this may not be a defect, but this is good information for Speco engineers to have as they design a newer version of the product, Keller explained. 

Speco also "listens" to its customers during training sessions. It has invested significantly in bringing its dealers to its headquarters for training. This year it has done more than 100 trainings so far in 2014. It has had 10 different distributors, dozens of independent integrators and all of Protection 1's national account managers to its headquarters this year.

Trainings held at the headquarters are the most effective, Dickson said, because Speco has a chance to talk about the company as well as the products.

Botelho said he also sees the trainings as "built-in focus groups" where engineering, marketing or sales people can learn what Speco customers are looking for.

However, it's important, Dickson said, to be able to execute on what you learn from customers. He said Speco can do this and cited a recent example of an integrator who wanted a special feature on its wall-mounted DVRs, a button that would flash and alerting a local store manager to push the button to download video. "We had it done, designed and the software written within a week. They were blown away," Dickson said.

 

 

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by: Martha Entwistle - Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Viscount, the access control system that is software-based and does not have a panel, will be highly visible at ASIS, according to CEO Dennis Raefield.

Raefield joined Viscount at COO in December of 2013 and became CEO of the company, replacing Steve Pineau, in January of 2014. In February, Viscount "raised $2.4 million in new cash in a  private placement." He's used that funding to "staff up" adding tech support and sales people including hiring Michael Pilato, as VP of sales and marketing. Pilato has worked for Schlage/Ingersoll Rand, Assa Abloy, Honeywell Security, and Sensormatic/Software House (now Tyco).

"We went from 26 to 36 employees," Raefield said. "We now have dedicated tech support from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on-call support 24/7," he said.

Viscount has been in business for 12 years, but its Freedom Encryption Bridge access control product is relatively new. It made traction with the federal government, in banking and it is  installed at Microsoft's GSOC.

"Our biggest deal is with the Department of Homeland Security, the CIS (Citizens Immigration Services) Group. [Freedom] is installed all over the country in 30 different sites and the plan is to roll out 200 more sites in the next year," Raefield said.

Freedom is doing well for two reasons, Raefield said. "One. It's highly secure from hacking for a very simple reason. The traditional [access control] panel has a database ... that is highly vulnerable to hacking. ... What we did is very simple. We took that database out of the panel," he explained. "We use a little thing called a bridge that converts all information at the door ... sends it to the company's own computer. Our software is on their server and the server makes the decision [about access]." This makes the IT director much more comfortable than a traditional access control system where a security appliance that is out of the IT director's hands is hanging on the company's network, he said.

Because the Freedom access control system is behind a company's firewall, it is as secure as any other application on an end user's network, Raefield pointed out.

Raefield noted that the recent Target data breach which received so much publicity and resulted in the firing of the Target CEO "was not a frontal assault on the IT infrastructure" but rather a "backdoor breach"—the result of a stolen HVAC contractor's password. That kind of backdoor breach cannot happen with this access control system, he said.

The second reason the federal government likes Freedom, according to Raefield, is that "our little bridge is much less expensive that anyone's panel. ... "You take out the expensive control panel and the dedicated computer for security and you now have a significaly lower total cost of ownership," he said.

The security director now can worrry about physical security instead of managing hardware and computers, he added.

Viscount Systems did about $4.1 million in revenue in 2013. About $3 million of that came from Viscount's legacy telephone entry system, a product called Mesh Enterphone, which is used in highrise buildings. It's been a "stable bread and butter" product for Viscount for 12 years. Raefield is also investing in that product, making it "high end with a touch screen." It can also be integrated with the Freedom access control system. The remaining $1 million in 2013 revenue was from Freedom, which Raefield said went from $0 to $1 million in one year. Raefield expects Viscount, which is a publicly traded company based in Vancouver, to do "between $6 and $8 million" in revenue in 2014.

Asked about whether Freedom can be used as a managed access control system, Raefield said yes. "The long term strategy is that [Freedom] will be able to be managed on site, in the cloud, any of the above, because it's all software."

Viscount is currently working with major integrators such as Stanley, Convergint and Johnson Controls. At ASIS, the company plans to make its case from a big booth to the integrator community that "this is the next direction and a smart direction," Raefield said.

Pilato said that Freedom has been rigorously tested by the federal government, it has shown itself to be "secure, scalable architecture" and it's ready for wider deployment in the commercial market, in K-12 schools, in banking and elsewhere. "ASIS will be the official commercial launch of Freedom," Pilato said. "The commercial side of the house is ready for prime time."

 

 

 

 

 

 

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by: Martha Entwistle - Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Interesting piece of news in my inbox this morning having to do with research that VMS provider Milestone Systems (recently acquired by Canon)  is working on.

The VMS provider is working with Technical University of Denmark (DTU), Aalborg University, Securitas and Nabto, on a research project that looks at using video for operational intelligence.

The news release said that Milestone is putting some of the research into practice already. From the release: “Research that is ongoing in a 3-year project to develop technological innovations is already paying off: the latest release of Milestone XProtect 2014 launched a new metadata framework that vastly improves the speed of searching and analysis with the video software. … Milestone's software manages video for security uses, but can also support and optimize activities in production, logistics, marketing, sales, healthcare, intelligent buildings, environmental control, and other analytical applications. Thanks to the XProtect open platform architecture, other companies are integrating software applications with Milestone's video management software to adapt it for particular operational needs in different business sectors.”

The Danish National Advanced Technology Foundation provided funding (DKK 15 million) for the project. The goal is “to interpret the recorded video material so the content can be described automatically.”

In a prepared statement, Hans Jorgen Skovgaard, Milestone VP of R&D said:
"We are still in phase one and expect to present to the market several new solutions for searching in metadata—the framework has already been released in XProtect 2014. During the next phases, we will do research among other things on how the software can learn to distinguish between normal and abnormal activity in video images. This means video surveillance can proactively give an alert before an incident occurs, and further enable use as a business tool in many more operational scenarios. … For example, if there is an accident or an assault at a bus station, the police or security personnel can search for the exact area where the incident happened by linking GPS coordinates with the video recordings from the buses, and within a few seconds they will have the relevant recording of the offender or other people involved.”
 
The release says that the metadata technology “can also be used with mobile phones as moving security cameras where GPS coordinates and compass information can be stored with the video. Operators thereby will know precisely where the video was recorded. Used in this way, mobile phones can increase security and safety, and threatening behavior can easily be proven. The technology can also be used as evidence of pollution emissions, for resolving insurance claims, or many other applications yet to be explored.”

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