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by: Rich Miller - Tuesday, July 10, 2012

They are powerful numbers: More than 18,000 acres burned, 32,000 residents forced to evacuate, and nearly 350 homes destroyed. The Waldo Canyon fire outside Colorado Springs is now under control, but not before leaving its mark as one of the most destructive in the state’s history.

It’s a long way from the sagebrush to Bay City, Mich., but that’s where DICE Corp.’s Disaster Recovery Center geared up to help any clients threatened by the Waldo wildfire and others in the region. DICE software is used to monitor thousands of homes and businesses in the Colorado Springs area.

“Having accounts in an area that could, at any time, be in jeopardy on a large scale … will cause intense management issues at the monitoring centers located in non-affected areas,” the company said in an email statement. “Part of the preparation we did on behalf of the recent Colorado evacuations was to make our Disaster Recovery Center available to receive signals from any of our clients if the [fire] was affecting their normal day-to-day businesses. In doing so, it provided an advanced storm mode, if you will, in which case the extra signal activity is removed from the center’s inbound circuits, which is really an expansion of capacity and services to the center.”

Melissa Courville, head of marketing and communications for DICE, said there were clients in the Colorado Springs area that did turn to the company’s DR center for assistance, but she was not at liberty to disclose who they were or to what extent they were affected.

Courville said the situation served as a reminder of when the company provided backup for a central station that was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina until it was able to rebuild.

“I’m humbled to say it was my first opportunity to step up as an emergency operator to dispatch,” she said. “To us it is only natural to offer our assistance, as we have done always and continue to do so.”
 

by: Rich Miller - Tuesday, July 3, 2012

For central stations wondering if they’ll ever be part of ASAP to PSAP, there was good news from ESX 2012: Progress continues to be made.

Show attendees got an update on the protocol at a seminar led by Mark McCall of United Central Control, Glenn Schroeder of the Security Network of America, Pam Petrow and Anita Ostrowski of Vector Security, and Melissa Courville of DICE Corp.

While ASAP might not be advancing fast enough to satisfy everyone in the industry, the panelists in Nashville listed a number of bullet points that detailed the gains. Among them:

—A CSAA-owned message broker is up and running at the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (Nlets) facility in Arizona. The server acts as a scrubber for transmissions being forwarded from monitoring companies to public safety answering points.

—A trademark process has been completed to certify the ASAP name and logo.

—ANSI version 3.3 of the protocol is currently live in Richmond, Va., and it is scheduled to go online in other pilot project locations by the end of the year.

—ASAP leaders have expanded their outreach to the PSAP community in 2012, with presentations to groups including the Texas Police Chiefs Association and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.

The three municipalities involved in the pilot project—Richmond, Va., York County, Va., and Houston—are scheduled to be joined soon by Tempe, Ariz., and James City County, Va. On the monitoring side, Alarm Detection Systems and ADT are in line to join pilot participants Vector Security, UCC and Monitronics.

McCall, director of information technology and facility security officer at UCC, told the seminar audience that central stations planning to become part of ASAP may find that the requirements “are a little bit more than what your operation is used to now.”

“Remember what we’re connecting to,” he said, referring to Nlets. “We’re connecting to the same network that every police department, every fire department and every emergency agency is connected to. Nlets is responsible for the integrity of that network, and for us as an industry to play in their sandbox, we have to meet their security requirements.”

On the plus side, most of those concerns were alleviated with the deployment of the message broker, McCall said. Other ASAP issues involving the preparation of automation vendors and CAD providers are being addressed, and the CSAA is creating a new website—www.asaptopsap.org—to keep interested parties informed.

“The materials are continually being added to and the CSAA will let everyone know when [the information] is ready for public consumption, as it will be sending out ASAP-dedicated email blasts to confirmed charter members at that time,” said Courville, co-chairwoman of the ASAP to PSAP Outreach Committee.

In the interim, she said inquires about the protocol should be addressed to Becky Lane (membership@csaaintl.org) or Monique Talbot (communications@csaaintl.org) at the CSAA.

by: Rich Miller - Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Just off the show floor after a very busy Wednesday at ESX, starting with the CSAA Excellence Awards Breakfast. There were a number of great seminars throughout the day and the floor was abuzz with networking. I assume everyone saved a little energy for the ESX Crawl …

I’m about to get out there myself to sample a little of that Nashville hospitality, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the award winners who highlighted the day. For those who might have missed it:

CSAA Central Station of the Year: Vivint
Honorable mention: United Central Control

CSAA Central Station Manager of the Year: Amy Becht, Vivint
Honorable mention: John Williams, Alarmco

CSAA Central Station Operator of the Year: Gale Gordon, The Protection Bureau
Honorable mention: Jorge Rodriguez, Monitronics

CSAA Central Station Support Person of the Year: David Palacios, UCC
Honorable mention: Kate Brickner, Vivint

ESX also announced its Maximum Impact Award winners for 2012. Hats off to the following:

Overall winner: 2GIG Technologies Go! 2.0

Best Access Control/ID Systems—Access Control System: Interlogix TruPortal

Best Access Control/ID Systems—Biometrics: 3M Cogent MiY-Card

Best Access Control/ID Systems—Telephone Entry Control/Intercom Systems: Optex iVision Plus

Best Accessories & Aids—Dealer Company Software: DICE Matrix Tech Service

Best Accessories & Aids—Mobile Applications: SedonaOffice, SedonaFSU Web Edition

Best Accessories & Aids—Installation Tool/Tester: Salient Systems, Salient University eLearning

Best Alarm Equipment—Alarm Signal Transmission Equipment: Telguard Cellular Communications for 3G/4G Networks

Best Alarm Equipment—Annunciators, Bells, Sirens, Strobes: Metis Secure Solutions, Metis Secure ENS

Best Alarm Equipment—Enhanced Video Alarm: Videofied-RSI Video Tech, IP Upgrade Kit with Videofied Free

Best Alarm Equipment—Intrusion Alarm Control Panels: Interlogix Simon XTi

Best Alarm Equipment—Intrusion Sensors/Detectors: Honeywell Security Group 5816OD

Best Alarm Equipment—PERS Hardware: SilverFox Link Watch/Pendant PERS System

Best Alarm Equipment—Wireless Alarm Systems: 2GIG Technologies Go! 2.0

Best Central Station Equipment—Central Station Software: DICE Matrix Fire Inspection

Best Central Station Equipment—Remote Video Monitoring Equipment/Software: SureView Systems Immix Cloud

Best Services—Alarm Monitoring: Bold Technologies UniversalConnector

Best Services—Dealer Marketing Services: BlueStar Security Solutions FUSION

Best Services—Security as a Service (SaaS): Honeywell Security Group MAXPRO Cloud

Best Services—Video Monitoring Services: I-View Now

Best Video Security—Cameras: Altronix eBridge IP over Coax Adapters

Best Video Security—Video Analytics: CheckVideo, CheckVideo HD Megapixel IP Bullet Camera (CV135)

Best Video Security—Video Surveillance System: Axis Communications, AXIS Camera Companion

That’s it for now. The weather prognosticators are calling for a summer stew over the next couple of days in Nashville, so the ESX show floor will be the place to be. See you out there …

by: Rich Miller - Tuesday, June 26, 2012

“Very impressive.”

That comment, made by a tour-goer gazing at the hardware at ADS Security’s central station in Nashville, pretty much summed up the sentiment of the rest of the group that visited the facility Tuesday afternoon as part of ESX 2012.

And it wasn’t just the equipment and monitoring capabilities detailed by the tour guides. It was more of what ADS President John Cerasuolo described as “a culture of recognition” at the company that has motivated its employees and translated into better service for its customers.

Cerasuolo greeted the tour group and gave a brief history of ADS, which was established in 1990 and now monitors about 70,000 accounts at its two-story headquarters. Scott Harkins, president of Honeywell Security Products, followed Cerasuolo with a few remarks about ADS and its success, with both men praising the partnership between the companies.

The tour group was then divided to allow for a more efficient look at the site. Stops along the way included a session with SSN “20 under 40” honoree Patrick Ritter, company VP and controller, who detailed improvements like the SedonaOffice daily dashboard that has helped the company keep better track of its accounts and make any necessary adjustments. ADS also provides laptops for all of its technicians, improving service and efficiency in the field, and it has established a Web portal to speed the payment process for customers.

There was also a lot of talk about technology that I won’t detail here, and well-deserved trumpeting of employee training—all 28 full-time operators are certified CSAA Level I and Level II at the Five Diamond central, the tour group was told.

The kudos reflected the culture of recognition that Cerasuolo spoke of, which has translated into a low turnover rate among operators—the average tenure is 7.6 years—and a long list of rewards for performance companywide.

 “I’ve been here four years and I absolutely love it,” one tour guide told me.

What company owner doesn’t want to hear that?

by: Rich Miller - Monday, June 25, 2012

Off and running shortly in Nashville for ESX, which promises to be the biggest and most informative edition in the event's five-year history. The show returns to its roots this year after stops in Pittsburgh and Charlotte, and people are already talking about the ESX Crawl. There will be a lot of business before the pleasure, though, and here are a few highlights:

—The ESA Eye-Opener Breakfast on Tuesday will shine the spotlight on Security System News' "20 under 40" Class of 2012, young professionals who are already making their mark on the industry and likely will continue to do so for many years to come. They'll share stories of how they've gotten to this point in their careers and talk about the people who have helped them get there.

—Later in the day, show attendees who want a backstage look at a CSAA Five Diamond central station will get their chance when ADS Security opens its doors for a tour of its monitoring facility in Nashville. The session is sponsored by Honeywell Security Group.

—Who will head home with the CSAA's Excellence Awards for 2012? Find out at the group's annual breakfast Wednesday morning, with awards for Central Station of the Year, Manager of the Year, Operator of the Year, and Support Person of the Year.

—Learn the latest on the evolution of ASAP to PSAP at a Wednesday morning session featuring Ed Bonifas of the CSAA and Alarm Detection Systems. Vector Security, UCC and Monitronics have taken the reins during the pilot phase of the program, but the CSAA had 75 other companies waiting to adopt ASAP at the beginning of 2012. It's an exciting time for exciting technology that is advancing every day.

That's just a taste of what ESX is serving up this year. There is a long list of seminars at www.esxweb.com, and there will be four days of networking on the show floor. And the Crawl, of course. I'll be doing my best to make the most of it. See you there ...

by: Rich Miller - Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The big, bad cable giants and telecoms are riding into town, aiming to steal your horses and accounts and whatever else they can toss a lasso around. Everyone knew the day was coming, but now that it’s here, are you prepared to hold your ground? Do you really have what it takes to compete, or will you forever be at the mercy of the black hats?

Rest assured there’s hope, and you can tap into it at ESX. A number of sessions are planned to help alarm companies deal with this new landscape by staying technologically savvy and by offering what has long been seen as the silver bullet for the industry: superior customer service.

At the ESA Industry Luncheon and Annual Meeting on June 28, Kristen Simmons, managing partner at Lightswitch and former VP of marketing for Mazda North America, will share her expertise about what it takes to earn customers and turn them into advocates for your business. Simmons led Mazda’s “Zoom Zoom” ad campaign and also founded LiveSmart Security, a boutique provider of home security services.

“Over the next five to 10 years, one factor will become ever more critical to the success of manufacturers, security integrators and monitoring companies alike: the customer experience,” Simmons said in an ESX news release. “New technology and integrated approaches have enabled a far more captivating experience for security customers than the traditional ‘detect and respond’ model. Leveraging these capabilities will be an enormous catalyst for customer loyalty, RMR growth and bottom-line profitability.”

On the technology side, at least a dozen sessions are planned at ESX to help attendees take on the telecoms and cablecos. A recent addition to the schedule features Patrick Egan, owner of Lancaster, Pa.-based Security Partners, who will host a series of interviews with industry leaders on how alarm companies can compete with the big boys entering the market. Egan will talk with each executive for about 15 minutes, then open the floor for a 15-minute Q&A.

The sessions are scheduled to run from 1:30 to 6:30 p.m. on June 27 at the Security Partners booth (No. 725) at the Nashville Convention Center. Seating is first come, first served. Executives on board so far include Kirk MacDowell from GE, Lance Dean from 2GIG, Gordon Hope from Honeywell, and Jay Kenny from Alarm.com.

“With all the buzz in the marketplace, we think this is going to generate a lot of interest,” said Joseph Mitton, marketing coordinator for Security Partners.

To check out the full list of ESX seminars, go to www.esxweb.com. See you in Nashville …

by: Rich Miller - Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Longtime alarm industry leaders Mel Mahler and Maria Malice padded their laurels last week with SIAC’s 2012 William N. Moody Award, which pays tribute to those in the industry who exhibit “integrity, fairness and perseverance in the face of adversity.”

Mahler, chairman and CEO of Nashville, Tenn.-based ADS Security, was a charter board member of SIAC and is currently co-chairman and treasurer. He oversees daily operations and has helped the group clear a hurdle that long defied it: establishing a better relationship with police agencies around the country.

“SIAC’s success in building bridges to law enforcement, creating new standards for equipment and encouraging best practices in alarm monitoring and regulations would not have been possible without Mel’s dedication,” SIAC Executive Director Stan Martin said in a prepared statement. “We are pleased to add the Moody Award to the many awards Mel has received for his leadership.”

Malice, VP of special projects for COPS Monitoring and president of the Arizona Alarm Association, was instrumental in getting a statewide licensing law enacted in May in Arizona. [http://www.securitysystemsnews.com/article/arizona... [Link - statewide licensing law enacted in May in Arizona.] Alarm dealers there will soon be able to operate with one license, replacing a web of local regulations that subjected many companies to duplicative background checks and paperwork.

“No one has faced more challenges in a single year than Maria Malice,” said Jon Sargent, industry/law enforcement liaison for SIAC. “Opponents constantly tried to undermine her efforts [on behalf of the AzAA]. Maria rallied the troops, fought back with facts and traveled to numerous meetings to help elected officials understand the issues.”

Mahler and Malice will receive their awards June 26 at the ESX IceBreaker Luncheon in Nashville. Congratulations …

Say “cheese”: The Wisconsin Electronic Security Association has bestowed its annual Bill Cooper Award on Dave Simon, who recently stepped down as SIAC’s public relations chairman after being named marketing communications manager at Brink’s Inc. The Cooper Award embodies “the ultimate in hard work and fun, tenacity and getting the job done, but with a lighter side,” said Mike Horgan, former WIESA president.

by: Rich Miller - Tuesday, June 5, 2012

With baby boomers reaching age 65 and more of the elderly population living independently, personal emergency response systems have become the safety net of choice for millions of Americans. While central stations have been dealing with PERS for a few years now, the stakes are rising and the game keeps changing—think of GPS and two-way voice from a pendant. Technology has come a long way from “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up,” and training and procedures must keep pace.

The developments haven’t been lost on the Central Station Alarm Association. It has been working on establishing a standard for PERS technology and monitoring through the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and is in the final stages of the process, Executive VP Stephen Doyle says in the latest edition of CSAA Dispatch.

“The CSAA board recognized that education and training on PERS would be needed if there is to be long-term credibility in the marketplace and with the AHJs,” he writes.

Few would disagree, but technology doesn’t sleep and people don’t always see eye to eye on where it is taking us. Looking farther down the road, who will serve as the gatekeeper for issues that emerge as PERS devices evolve beyond where they are today?

“With the formal promulgation of the … PERS standard and the training of PERS monitoring operators in the probable near future, it seems as though the time has come to consider forming a PERS Council,” Doyle says.

The council’s role would be to “help shape issues” specific to the interests of its members pertaining to PERS monitoring. Doyle said that the mission would be a natural for the CSAA.

“With the growth of the aging population, PERS monitoring and dispatch will become an increasing issue for the AHJs and the PSAPs,” Doyle says. “And who better to deal with the issues attendant to this technology than CSAA—as we have done very successfully with public safety entities for so many years.”

Council membership and other details are likely to be discussed at the CSAA’s midyear board meeting at ESX on June 25, according to Doyle.

Last call for ESX discounts: It’s not too late to get the early-bird discount for ESX Nashville. The deadline has been extended for one week, with lower registration rates available until Friday (June 8). To cash in, go to www.esxweb.com/register.

by: Rich Miller - Wednesday, May 30, 2012

ShotSpotter, produced by a company that bills itself as the “world leader in gunshot detection,” added to its media credits this week with an article in The New York Times. But while many police departments are singing the praises of the acoustic monitoring technology, it continues to raise concerns about how far law enforcement can go to do its job.

The system, developed by SST Inc. of Mountain View, Calif., pinpoints the location of gunshots by triangulating the sound via sensors mounted on utility poles, buildings and other structures. It produces alerts that detail the number and exact time of the rounds fired, the position of the shooter (or shooters), and their speed and direction of travel if they are moving.

Cities can buy the equipment from SST and monitor the alerts themselves, or they can contract with the company to do it for them. Technicians at SST assess each alert to determine its accuracy, then send it to the appropriate PSAP “within seconds,” the company says. SST claims a 99 percent accuracy rate in differentiating gunfire from other loud noises like fireworks or cars backfiring.

Proponents say ShotSpotter speeds the response of police officers to the scene of a shooting, bolstering arrest rates, deterring additional crimes and saving the lives of victims who otherwise might have died. “Now when we pull up on a scene, we have 100 percent knowledge if there was actually a shot,” says a Springfield, Mass., police sergeant quoted on the company’s website. “It makes your approach different.”

One problem, critics say, is that the system also can record other sounds of the city—doors slamming, cars honking, people arguing—while it records the gunshots. The Times said a ShotSpotter recording of a street argument in New Bedford, Mass., in December is likely to play a role in the case of two men charged with murder.

A defense attorney in the case said the recording could constitute a privacy violation and that the technology is “opening up a whole can of worms. If police are utilizing these conversations, then the issue is where does it stop?”

The company says that voices do not trigger ShotSpotter sensors, “which are placed in elevated locations in order to enhance their capability as well as ensure citizen privacy.” James Beldock, a company VP, told the Times that the system was not intended to record anything except gunfire and that cases like New Bedford’s were extremely rare.

The issue could end up playing out in the courts, but in the meantime, it’s likely that law enforcement will continue to turn to ShotSpotter and other gunfire detection systems as police budgets are trimmed and hosted subscription services become more available. It’s a monitoring trend worth watching.

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by: Rich Miller - Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Mary Jensby, a well-known contributor to the alarm industry who served as central station and data entry director for Monitronics, is no longer with the company.

In a LinkedIn update posted on Monday, Jensby expressed thanks to all of her professional contacts for their "friendship and kindness… (I) appreciate all of your support in the loss of my job. … It has been my pleasure working with many of you through the ASAP project, FARA, TBFAA, NTTA and CSAA."

Jensby came aboard at Monitronics in June 2007. She previously worked for T-Mobile and MCI WorldCom, according to her LinkedIn profile. In March, she was named the recipient of the 2012 Humanitarian Award from Mission 500 for her volunteer work in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. She received the award during a presentation at ISC West in Las Vegas.

Megan Weadock, communications specialist for Monitronics, said that Jensby's departure was announced on May 8. Weadock said the company was looking for a replacement "both internally and externally." No other details were announced.

Melissa Courville, head of marketing and communications for Dice Corp., served as co-chairwoman with Jensby on the CSAA's ASAP Outreach Committee. Monitronics is one of three alarm companies currently participating in the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol, along with Vector Security and UCC. Courville said the CSAA is evaluating who will fill Jensby's seat on the panel.

"Mary did a professional job of delegation where she was very organized and kept her information together, beyond being a sheer joy to work with," Courville said.

Ed Bonifas, co-chairman of the ASAP Program Committee, said Jensby "has been a great contributor to the ASAP Outreach Committee as well as a participant in the beta phase of the program. … (She) will undoubtedly land in another central station, carrying her knowledge to another participant."

Jensby could not be reached for comment, but said on her LinkedIn post that she hoped to be able to find another position in the security industry.

Simon moves on to Brink's: In another shift of industry personnel, David Simon has stepped down as SIAC's public relations chairman after being named the marketing communications manager at Brink's Inc. Simon said he will continue to contribute to SIAC, "blogging, posting to the website and Twittering, along with occasional other writing." Simon also served as the industry/law enforcement liaison for SIAC.

Opinions wanted: It's not too late to let the CSAA know where you stand on the future of the industry. The group is asking members to take a few minutes to fill out the "Emerging Trends in Security Monitoring" survey, which aims to determine where the industry is heading in areas including video monitoring and PERS. To participate, go to www.zoomerang.com/Survey/WEB22EUM64F659. The deadline is Friday, May 25. Those who respond will receive an executive summary of the report.

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