LoJack, best known for helping bust crooks who try to steal your car is moving into people tracking with the launch, announced this week, of LoJack SafetyNet, which fills a market need for a solution that tracks and aids in the rescue of people who are at risk of wandering, including those with cognitive and developmental disabilities like Alzheimer's, autism, Down syndrome and dementia. The SafetyNet launch comes on the heels of LoJack's acquisition of Locator Systems, which provided technology to Project Lifesaver International (PLI), a network of more than 900 law enforcement/public safety agencies nationwide, which have been trained and certified in the use of electronic search and rescue technology. LoJack is now in the process of rendering Locator Systems technology more durable, eliminating equipment costs for law enforcement and public safety agencies, and establishing a working relationship with PLI. This seems like a natural expansion of the PERS market, and one that PERS providers could potentially get in on. It brings to mind a recent story I wrote on WindTrac and its admonishment that the industry do more, exploit all the avenues for growth before it, and go mobile. I'll be adding quotes from Paul McMahon at LoJack when I talk to him.
A story from ABC news affiliate WJRT in Flint, Mich. reports one city councilman pushing to assess false alarm fines against the alarm companies reporting alarms to police. Councilman Sheldon Neeley claimed in the story to believe that fees, currently charged to end users, should be shifted to the alarm company since they are the one's responsible for verifying the alarm and reporting it to authorities. Also, Neeley believes, alarm companies will be more capable of absorbing the cost. Critics, including Global Security owner Tonya Burns, of Neeley's proposal claim the added cost would simply be passed on to end users, anyway. "There are a lot of variables when you go into deciding what caused the false alarm. How can you label it [the alarm companyâ€™s fault] depending onâ€”for example in the city of Flint, we have a lot of vacant homes and the landlords donâ€™t heat the homes," Burns said. "They put security systems in them because they donâ€™t want the piping, the furnace, the items stolen out of them, but they refuse to heat it, and that sets off the false alarms." stay tuned for updates on this story.
VES announced Feb. 3 it had launched a new Web site that it promises has more information and is easier to navigate than previous incarnations. VES also promises further enhancements like a secure Dealer Area. It sounds like they're also going to be looking for site user input in the form of articles about installation and project experiences dealers have had. Interested dealers can submit their stories through the site. Here's what the release had to say about it:
If you have a story to tell or a site of specific interest please let us know we will be happy to consider it for inclusion on the site in the future. Remember this is your site which shoud provide information which you need, if you have any suggestions on how we can improve the site in future please let us knowMore information can be attained by visiting the site or emailing VES for more info.
HAGERSTOWN, Mdâ€”A public hearing held Feb. 3 found the Washington County Board of County Commissioners discussing a proposed false alarm ordinance. The ordinance as proposed looked to collect fines from consistent false alarm generators rather than punish, with a high yearly permit fee, all alarm users, most of whom, according to the Washington County Sheriffâ€™s Office, are not consistent repeat false alarm offenders. Washington County Sheriff Douglas W. Mullendore said the ordinance passed, but not as originally proposed. â€œThere were some modifications to it. We did agree to drop the fee for the initial permit, and we also dropped the business permit, as well as the reinstatement fees,â€ Mullendore said. â€œIt permits us to do the false alarm violation fees. Those are still established at $30 for residential, $60 for business." Mullendore said the first two violations result in a warning, while the third violation is when the fees kick in, adding $20 per residential violation and $25 per business violation to the respective base fees up to a maximum of $100 per violation for residential and $200 per violation for business. A recent story in the Herald-Mail claimed that business fines were capped at $250, but the Washington County Sheriff's Office assures me that $200 is the correct number. The new ordinance will take effect Jan. 1, 2010. â€œThatâ€™s because weâ€™re in the process of doing a consolidated emergency communications center,â€ Mullendore said, â€œand we wanted to be sure that was up and running before we try to administer this.â€ According to Mullendore, permits will still be required but will have no associated cost. If alarm owners choose not to get the appropriate permit there will be additional fees to pay. â€œThere would be a response the first time,â€ Mullendore said. â€œThe second time, if [a business owner with an alarm system] still hasnâ€™t gotten the permit, then it would be $60 violation fee.â€ Mullendore said that to his knowledge there were no industry professionals present at the public meeting, held here at the Washington County Administration Building. â€œThere were a couple of citizens there, but we addressed all their issues prior to,â€ Mullendore said. â€œThere were actually no public comments whatsoever.â€
The city of Wichita, Kan. has announced it will hold an informational meeting in conjunction with the Public Safety Corporation aimed at reducing false alarms. All alarm installation and monitoring companies with clients who reside or do business in Wichita are encouraged to attend the meeting, which will be held Feb. 20 at 2:00 p.m. at the Wichita Police Department. The Wichita PD asks that if you can not attend, or if you have questions regarding the city's ordinance or the false alarm reduction program, you contact them by email or call 316-268-4525.
EMERgency24, a central-station alarm monitoring company based in Chicago, announced on Jan. 30 that it had donated $1,000 through its Responder Reward program to the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department, Company 10, in Bethesda, Md., on behalf of Splaine Security Systems of Kensington, Md. This Responder Reward donation was made to acknowledge the fast response by the Cabin John Park Volunteer Fire Department (CJPVFD) to Patti and Michael Hellyerâ€™s home in Bethesda. The department's speedy response saved the couple's three dogs and substantially minimized property damage. The photoelectric smoke detectors installed by Splaine Security Systems quickly recognized the fire scenario and alerted EMERgency24 monitors who dispatched the authorities immediately. During the ceremony, CJPVFD Chief James Seavey said that incidents like this highlight the important role alarm-system installers play in keeping our communities safe and the value of having a security system monitored by a central station. â€œThis situation underscores the importance of having a monitored alarm system.â€ Sam Splaine, President of Splaine Security Systems, explained that security is a linear process. â€œIf any link in the chain fails â€“ the sensor, communication to the control panel, alarm transmission to EMERgency24, dispatch of the emergency responders â€“ then everything else is wasted. A smoke alarm monitored by EMERgency24 is so much more effective than a system that only has an audible alarm. If no one is home, the neighbors wonâ€™t hear your alarm because of the way houses are insulated, but they might hear the windows explode eventually. Unfortunately, by that time, most of the house is gone and pets have no way of escaping. That sums up the importance of having a monitored alarm system.â€ The purpose of the Responder Reward Program, according to Patrick Devereaux, Senior Vice President of EMERgency24, is to recognize firefighters who put out blazes and to draw attention to criminal apprehension when the police respond to EMERgency24 dispatches triggered by monitored alarm systems. "The EMERgency24 Responder Reward Program was developed to thank firefighters and police officers for the invaluable services they provide in communities across America. Police officers and fire fighters responding to alarms is a vital function that makes our communities safer," Devereaux said. EMERgency24, headquartered in Chicago since its founding in 1967, is a nation-wide provider of central-station alarm-monitoring services with branches in Detroit, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. The company monitors 165,000 subscribersâ€™ accounts.
Monitronics announced on Jan. 28 the launch of its new customer-account interface, MyMonitronics, aimed at bolstering the companyâ€™s online service offerings. The move follows on the heels of the sweeping overhaul of the companyâ€™s main website, www.monitronics.com. According to the press release, MyMonitronics was built in direct response to customer feedback. MyMonitronics lets users pay bills, download product user manuals, enroll in direct debit payment programs, and take advantage of business-referral rewards programs, among other features. The site also features video testimonials from Monitronics customers from across the country, and provides targeted alarm product information aimed specifically at families, single parents and seniors.
Following up on a Security Systems News story I wrote back in November, The Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International announced today (Jan. 26) the approval of an American National Standard to provide a standard data exchange for the electronic transmission of information between alarm monitoring companies and public safety answering points. Called the External Alarm Interface Information Exchange program, the new ANS was approved on Jan. 15 and is now an accepted standard and should, according to Pam Petrow of Vector Security be a boon to the industry. "I think it creates a great opportunity for the alarm industry and should be very cost-effective for the 911 industry to implement,â€ Petrow said back in Novemeber when the program was entering the ANSI standards testing process. The new ANS can be downloaded here.
ATLANTAâ€”Atlanta's City Council hopes to collect $3 million from people who have multiple false alarms at their homes or businesses. The 15-person council voted unanimously Thursday, Jan. 22 on a proposal that increases fines and simplifies the penalty process regarding fire and burglar alarms. â€œThe Atlanta Police Department supports the legislation on false alarms which will reduce the number of false alarm calls generated,â€ said Deputy Chief George Turner of the Atlanta Police Department in a statement. â€œThis will create additional manpower hours to respond to the present call volume and increase police visibility in the Atlanta communities.â€ While Atlanta has had false alarm penalties in place for a while, it has not collected any fine revenue since 2005. According to the proposed ordinance, a project of Councilmember Anne Fauver, Atlanta had $4.4 million in issued, but uncollected false alarm fines in 2002. From 2000-2004 Atlanta saw revenues of only $1.5 million in collected fines. The reason for the drop off in collected fines? Fauver claims the ordinance was too difficult to enforce and that police stopped giving citations. Fauver believes the new ordinance will help the city out of its current budget hole. â€œThe Cityâ€™s emergency personnel need to be available for valid alarms and for their primary purpose of protecting our citizens,â€ said Fauver in a release. The ordinance gives a free pass for the first false alarm, but after that, penalties escalate from $100 for the second false alarm to $1000 for any false alarms over six in a calendar year. Under the ordinance, citations would be enforced like traffic tickets through the city's municipal court, and would allow for appeals. The legislation will go into effect upon approval by the mayor.
Sonitec Corp. on Jan. 20 announced it had become a SafetyCare Authorized Partner and would soon begin the roll-out of SafetyLink, the companyâ€™s new personal emergency response system. I spoke with SafetyCare general manager Mike Bodnar last year on the growth coming in the PERS industry. SafetyLink customers in metropolitan New York will have the benefit of access to a 24-hour-a-day safety and security system at the push of a button. Unlike other PERS systems, the owner of a SafetyLink system gains instant two-way voice contact with a certified emergency medical technician at the National SafetyCare Response Center, based in Reading, Pa. Leslie Lief, president of Sonitec Corp., believes the partnership with SafetyCare will benefit end users and Sonitec dealers immensely. â€œWe've chosen to make a strategic and substantial investment in the SafetyCare product,â€ Lief said in a statement. Lief also said that a comprehensive website and a sales staff are being dedicated to SafetyLink now. Bodnar said Sonitec brought a strong industry reputation as well as a 33-year record of service in the New York area to the table. â€œWe're pleased that Sonitec recognizes the unique product offerings at SafetyCare, as we work to steadily revamp and improve the security industry in this country,â€ Bodnar said in a release. Sonitec is the most recent addition to a growing stable of security companies taking advantage of the growing PERS industry through the SafetyCare Authorized Partner Program. Other recent Authorized Partners include LifeCall, LLC, Independent Living Solutions, and Eastern Distributing, among others. Pictured below are SafetyCare general manager Mike Bodnar (left) and Leslie Lief, president of Sonitec (right). [caption id="attachment_1661" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="SafetCare general manager Mike Bodnar and Sonitec president Leslie Lief"][/caption]