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by: Ginger Hill - Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The last blog I wrote, “What your connected smart home IoT devices are really doing,” highlighted the fact that there are no security standards for IoT manufacturers to follow when creating networked devices. This should cause concern or at least pause for people using such devices, especially in their homes. But, just how aware are consumers about potential risks and do people actually trust the devices they use every day? 

ASecureLife conducted a survey of 300 Americans nationwide to determine how much participants trust the technology they use regularly in their homes as well as people’s biggest concerns related to smart home technology, home security and online privacy. The survey found:

1. A quarter of Americans are NOT concerned with being monitored online by criminals. This nonchalant attitude resulted in 23 percent of American households having someone victimized by cybercriminals in 2018, according to GALLUP

Additionally, in 2017, the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center received more than 300,000 complaints, totaling more than $1.4 billion in monetary losses for victims. 

2. Americans are more concerned about being monitored online by the government than by businesses.

3. Two-thirds of Americans believe their smart devices are recording them. While it’s time consuming, and to be honest, boring, thoroughly read a company’s terms and conditions so you know what personal information that company is collecting from you, and how they’re using it.

Tip: Adjust the settings on your smart equipment to maximize your privacy. For example, turn off Amazon Echo’s “Drop In” setting to prevent the it from automatically syncing and conversing with other Echo devices. 

4. About one in five parents would let Alexa entertain their kids while they’re away. WOW! Parents are actually trusting their children’s safety and security to the virtual world!? (We’ll be discussing this later on in this blog post! Read on!) 

5. Seventy-five (75) percent of Americans believe smart homes can be easily hacked, but 33 percent have and use some type of smart home technology. This indicates that consumers are indeed buying these gadgets. In fact, a joint-consumer survey conducted by Coldwell Banker Real Estate and CNET found 47 percent of Millennials, aged 18 to 34 years, have and use smart home products. 

6. Women are typically more concerned with home security than financial security, and the opposite is true for men. Participants were asked if they fear a home invasion more than identity theft: 53 percent of women participants said “yes,” compared to 44 percent of men.

Participants were also asked which of the following they would rather do: stop locking your doors or change all your passwords to “1234.” Men’s responses were split evenly, while 59 percent of women preferred to change their passwords to this all-to-common numerical sequence. 

7. Americans aged 55 and older are more protective of their financial security than their home security; the opposite is true for younger people. Participants over age 54 were asked if they feared home invasion more than identity theft to which 70 percent answered “no.” However, participants under age 34 were more likely to fear home invasion. 

While all the findings were eye-opening, for me personally, the one that haunted me pretty deeply was the one about Alexa “babysitting” kids. It’s one thing for parents to allow their children to use Alexa under their supervision, but to allow minors to access Alexa while they are away can be extremely dangerous, in my opinion and based on the news we see every day concerning criminals hacking into security systems, devices recording home-based conversations, apps giving away data to advertisers, and the list goes on and on. 

Question for you parents out there: Would you allow your children to access Alexa when you aren’t at home? Why or why not? 

 

by: Ginger Hill - Wednesday, April 24, 2019

As more and more people connect IoT devices to their homes, making them smarter, living machines, the more fodder hackers have to breach systems and gain access to consumers’ personal identifiable information, or even gain entrance into their humble abodes. The fact is, no security standards exist for IoT manufactures to follow when creating networked devices. 

Lawmakers and states are stepping up, looking at ways to help protect consumers.

Industry talk of late about protecting owners of IoT devices have circled around the Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2019 which would require the National Institute of Standards and Technology to develop new recommendations for device makers to follow. Even some states have created specific rules for IoT device creators to follow, such as California, that will require devices to be shipped with unique passwords or force users to set or reset passwords when setting up a device as of January 1, 2020.

But, are laws really the answer to this seemingly never-ending debacle? Shouldn’t the security industry come together as a whole to offer protection to consumers, their data and their homes? After all, we are in the business of protecting people while offering comfort and ease of living. I think a more proactive approach is in order, where device manufacturers step up to protect consumer data as well as empowering consumers to protect themselves.

A group of computer scientists from Princeton University and the University of California, Berkeley created a tool called Princeton IoT Inspector, an open-source desktop application that passively monitors smart home networks, showing potential security and/or privacy issues. It identifies all IoT devices on a smart home network, shows when these devices communicate/exchange data with an external server, and determines which servers these devices contacted and if those communications are secure. According to the IoT Inspector website, the goal is to answer three questions:

  1. Who do your devices talk to?
  2. What information is gathered?
  3. Are the devices hacked?

Sounds great, right? Well, there are two cautions to be noted when using this tool. First, device names are included in the data sent, so that data will be accessible by Princeton. The app asks users to consent to this the first time the app is used. (Tip: Make sure your devices don’t include your name or any other personal identifiable information. If they do, rename them.)

Second, the research team is using a specific technique the “bad guys” typically use called ARP spoofing, a type of attack where a malicious actor sends false Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) messages over a local area network. Personally, I think it’s creative and smart to use the same techniques to beat the bad guys at their own games, turning malicious acts into something good. Just be sure you trust Princeton should you decide to use this tool. 

Currently, Princeton IoT Inspector is only available on macOS, but there is a waitlist for Windows, which will be released next month, and Linux to be released the week of April 24th, 2019.

 
by: Ginger Hill - Monday, April 8, 2019

It sounds cliché to say, but “I’m excited about ISC West this year.” This is my first ISC since returning to the security industry and while I have memories of sore feet, late nights and early, sleepy mornings, I gladly welcome all because that means I have the opportunity to get reacquainted with old friends in the industry, and see and interact with new security products and services. 

In addition to booth visits, breakfasts, happy hours and dinners, and of course, live tweeting @SSN_Ginger, I was invited by ADT to moderate their consumer privacy panel, “Consumer Privacy – How Can Security Lead the Way?” on Thursday, April 11th from 9:45 am to 10:45 am in the Sands Expo Center room 307. I cordially invite you to grab a cup of coffee and join myself along with panelists Kenneth Olmstead, internet privacy & security analyst, Internet Society; Brandon Board, chief information security officer, Resideo Technologies, Inc.; and Dylan Gilbert, policy fellow, Public Knowledge as we explore current practices and opportunities for the industry to strengthen their leadership in privacy standards. There will be an audience Q&A afterwards, so bring your questions and comments for our panelists. 

Check out my blog for daily recaps this week and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @SSN_Ginger for live show updates.

And, in the blink of an eye, ISC West 2019 has come and gone, and the happenings of those days will forever be written in security industry history. 

Leading up to the event, people are filled with excited wonder about seeing industry connections, making new acquaintances and establishing new industry relationships, and interacting with new and legacy products manufacturers display in their elaborate booths. 

At the event, SIA offers education sessions that qualify for CE hours; the security industry joins forces to raise money for Mission 500 to help underprivileged children and their families; companies host breakfasts, happy hours and dinners, some complete with awards as symbols of appreciation to their integrator partners; and the showroom floor is literally alive with a humming buzz of conversation and an unexplainable energy that attendees can’t help but feel. And, that’s just scratching the surface. ISC West is truly a “wonderland” for the security industry. 

Then, of course, there is the post ISC West reflection after everyone returns home, has time to rest and then think about the week gone by. The following is an excerpt from my ISC West daily diary with tid-bits from industry professionals: 

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

The day before the show floor opened, DMP hosted their 9th annual Owner’s Forum for its top 100 dealers, where like-minded executives and owners network and learn from acclaimed speakers on how to grow their business. Morning keynote speaker, Tim Whall, former CEO at ADT, imparted his knowledge to the room full of integrators, inviting them to think about why someone would buy from them. When employees are taken care of, this pride trickles down to the customers and profits will follow.

“How much effort are you willing to put into your business,” Whall asked. “Make it [your business] meaningful by engaging with your employees; they must know you care about them as people and your vested in their success. Develop and acquire the necessary tools for success, establish pride by formulating team goals and define employees’ duties so they can expand and grow.” 

Dealer attendees were awarded diamond, platinum, gold and silver level awards and a year in review video was presented, highlighting all of DMPs achievements, such as adding dealer analytics into Dealer Account, the company’s online platform for integrators; launching their video doorbell with audio and local storage on the device; and introducing LTE Communicators with a lifespan until the year 2030. 

The event concluded with the afternoon keynote speaker, Mark Murphy, CEO, Leadership IQ, who encouraged integrators to “clearly articulate to employees about their work performance so they know they are doing right.”

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The 12th Annual Axis Press Breakfast, hosted by Fredrik Nilsson, vice president of the Americas, and Martin Gren, company co-founder, kicked off my ISC West-centric festivities with coffee, scrambled eggs and the key components of a smart city, which include safety and security, waste management, critical infrastructure and IoT/cybersecurity. 

“Can you ever have too many cameras,” Gren queried the audience, to which heads shook left to right, indicating the answer as ‘no.’ 

Gren agreed, but said that obtaining a permit to install a camera in a city is sometimes the most expensive part of the process. He offered this solution: “The more sensors you add, the more money you save because only one permit is needed.” 

Energized from the breakfast, I went onto the showroom floor to visit company’s booths, starting with Vintra, where I learned about FulcrumAI, the company’s AI-powered video analytics solutions. 

“There are a number of deep learning concepts that are producing false positives,” said Brent Boekenstein, CEO, Vintra, “but Fulcrum was built from the ground up using the company’s own AI technology, and it works on fixed and mobile systems.” Vintra created their own algorithms and they are able to explain exactly how the technology was built to integrators and end users. Coming in Q3 is a concept called “person re-identification,” in which body recognition will be used. 

Next, I spoke with Russell Vail, EVP – market development, Alula, who introduced me to BAT-Connect, a device that easily upgrades legacy security platforms into mobile by bridging intrusion, video and automation between smart devices end users already use. 

“This is hot for dealers because major investments were made into legacy systems,” Vail said. “BAT allows the use of mobile to arm and disarm legacy systems, for example, giving new life to older products.” 

I then sat down with Dan Cremins, global leader, product management, March Networks who is taking on the integrator challenge of RMR via a new version of Insight, a self-service portal that can be sold as a service for monthly recurring revenue. 

“Insight provides scalable, system administration via a closed-loop system to understand all health management of all cameras at all locations,” Cremins explained. “This provides complete visibility of the system,” so, for example, integrators can monitor customer cameras and send a report indication which cameras at specific locations are coming close to using up their warranty, enabling proactive security and excellent customer service to help prevent attrition. 

Additionally, March Networks integrated their POS with Shopify, making this their first cloud-based integration. 

The topic of video evidence was next on my agenda, so I met with John Gallagher, vice president of marketing, Viakoo. The company announced the release of its Video Assurance Service (VAS) that provides oversight, automatic problem detection and continuous diagnostics, empowering teams to resolve issues onsite or remotely. Delivered as a managed service, integrators can use it to build “new recurring income with an out-of-the-box solution that delivers value to customers,” Gallagher said. “VAS provides integrators with a digital connection to their customers, enabling preventative maintenance to be done remotely” which furthers end-user satisfaction. 

Dortronics brought scalability to access control via the 4800 Series Intelligent Interlock Controllers. “With these controllers, a maze of two to five locked doors can be created, or scale up to 128 doors, all functioning off one controller, as facilities expand,” Bryan Sanderford, national sales manager, Dortronics said.

By this time, I was getting a bit weary. As I walked to my next appointment with Kirby Han, art director, Altronix Corp., I was excited to see the company-hosted coffee bar and helped myself to an expresso with dark chocolate shavings before jumping into the topic of power supply. New to Altronix is the Trove Access and Power Integration Series, a rack-mounted solution with a removable backplane that allows installers to easily configure and test the system before installation.

“Trove comes as pre-assembled kits to make installation easier and running wires underground isn’t necessary, which is costly,” Han said. 

Next was a conversation with Nancy Islas, president of Maxxess Systems, to discuss the access control software arena, with the introduction of the Maxxess InSite, a security solution that combines machine intelligence with human intelligence via a managed mobile communication system to empower employees to report their suspicions. 

“The mobile app gives employees power to report,” Islas explained, “and adding the human element of reporting allows for early detection of potential threats.” Hence, taking a proactive approach to security. 

Also unique is the Maxxess panic button, a feature found on the mobile app, wirelessly in the cloud via physical IoT devices and as hot keys on a keyboard. 

Usually surge protection comes as an afterthought, but when investing in expensive security systems, it is a cost-effective insurance policy for protecting equipment. Ditek, a surge protection company, urges installers to at least offer surge protection to end-users or specify it at the proposal stage because it can reduce warranty claims and increase customer satisfaction. 

Matt Virga, director of sales, LifeSafety Power, was my last visit of the day to discuss low voltage power solutions for access control solutions. OutSmart Technology provides visual voltage verification with a glowing blue LED light indicating 24 volts and a green light representing 12 volts of power. 

“With our efficiency of design, the integrator, installer and end-user all benefit,” Virga explained. “On the job, installers are able to simply switch a jumper from 12 to 24 volt or visa versa and end-users are provided with a unified solution.” 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

The SSN team got up around 5:30am to participate in the Mission 500 race … well, almost the entire team! I opted out this year because I was honored to moderate ADT’s consumer privacy panel and then I was off again to more booth visits. First up, Resideo by Honeywell, where I saw solutions such as Buoy, a leak detector and their next generation ProSeries, a portfolio of products for a self-contained security system, that captures Resideo’s four key elements: comfort, security, water management and air. 

Next, I went over to the ADI Distribution and was met by John Sullivan, vice president of sales. He explained that all products housed on the company’s shelves are color coded for easy identification. ADI has a “pick up anytime” room that is open 24/7 so dealers can rely on ADI to keep solutions at the ready. They also have a “quick pick up” where dealers can call in, go online or use an app to order products and the order will be ready for pick up in one hour. 

Hanwha Techwin offered me a tour of their booth, demonstrating their cameras and explaining that trends seem to be moving into AI cameras and Android platform cameras. 

ADT unveiled its new ADT Commercial brand at the show. “When a dealer calls into support there is a zero wait time and emails are answered within two hours,” Dan Bresingham, executive vice president, ADT Command said. 

My next stop was IRIS ID, a biometric access solution that scans a person’s iris as the credential. When I asked why the iris instead of a fingerprint or different biometric, Mohammed Murad, vice president global business development and sales for IRIS said, “The iris has 240 to 400 data points that are analyzed compared to approximately 30 in fingerprints.” 

Moving on along the show floor, Christy Roth, marketing manager – applications and solutions took me through a journey through an actual simulated retail store to demonstrate the company’s integrated solutions such as video paired with voice. Bosch offers a variety of products, so “we are focusing on what individual solutions can do when used in conjunction with our other solutions,” Roth said. 

As the day second was coming to an end, I stopped by and visited with LenelS2 and Interlogix. These companies were highlighting mobile credentialing, using mobile devices to operate access control, home and building controls, and video surveillance

My final stop was with Nortek/2GIG to interact with some of the technology that was featured in my article “Joe Roberts of Nortek Security and Control predicts industry trends.”

Friday, April 12, 2019

I greeted the last day of ISC West 2019 at the Women in Security Forum breakfast which consisted of sipping coffee and networking with women (and men) in the industry. The whole room was in awe and inspired by guest speaker Juliette Kayyem, Harvard professor and most recently, President Obama’s Assistant Secretary for Governmental Affairs at the Department of Homeland Security, as she detailed the exact location of herself and her newborn baby when she first heard about the 9/11 incident. 

After an inspiring morning, I was ready to return home and back to work, excited to research and write all about what I learned. 

 

by: Ginger Hill - Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Confession: When I was a kid, I ate way too many cheeseburger Happy Meals and played countless hours with Ronald McDonald, that purple lad, Grimace, and the mysterious masked Hamburglar on the old-school playground of yesteryear at McDonalds. 

This trip down memory lane leads me to what “Mickey D’s,” as I affectionally call the fast-food restaurant, is super-sizing on today — machine learning via the acquisition of Dynamic Yield, a Tel Aviv startup that provides algorithmically driven “decision logic” technology. The burger joint will be using this technology to meet and exceed the customer experience with innovation. Here’s how:

We all know the saying “time is money” in this swiftly paced world we live in, so the first deployment of the technology will be in McDonald’s drive thru to speed things up and increase sales. If the drive thru is moving slowly, a digital display could highlight simpler-to-prepare items to speed things up or likewise, when it’s slow highlight more complex-to-prepare, higher-priced food items. While customers grab a French fry out of the bag as they drive off and more fill the drive thru line, algorithms will be noshing on data — weather, time of day, local traffic, nearby events, historical sales data and data from other stores, for example — and then show customers on the display other popular items to prompt potential upsells as they place their order to a voice inside of a box. 

That seems a bit “big brother” in my opinion. I know when I get “hangree,” I’ll order whatever I want, no matter what a digital screen tells me and no matter how long it takes to prepare. But, I digress. 

Beyond the drive-thru, McDonald’s is currently using geofencing around its stores to know when a mobile app customer is approaching and how to prepare their order accordingly. 

The company is toying with the idea of adding the personal touch, turning their mass collection of data into usable information. Think in-store kiosks, mobile order and pay, customers identifying themselves to the store to personalize their hamburger experience, license plate recognition (LPR) that allows the system to identify a specific customer as they approach and adjust the menu based on their specific purchase history, and more. 

Of course, with what sounds like the most glamorous fast-food dining experience ever, I see two major types of risk involved: 

Privacy: The possibility of sensitive data being compromised, like credit card numbers, names, email addresses, phone numbers and real-time location identification is not only real but happens daily, threatening physical and financial safety and security.

Ethical issues: There’s a fine line between personalization and suggestive selling/influencing someone to buy something. While McDonald’s could personalize the experience and perhaps quicken the ordering process by displaying previously ordered items in the form of touchscreen ordering, they could also display only the most expensive items previously bought in an effort to increase sales without the customer being the wiser. 

Digital Yield will remain independently operated, even after the McDonald’s acquisition, and according to Wired, the offer was over $300 million, which makes it the restaurant’s largest purchase since its acquisition of Boston Market in 1999. 

I did the math based on the price of a single Big Mac in the Dallas, Texas area being $3.99. Adding this technology will cost McDonald's approximately 75,187,969 in Big Macs.

What other security risks can you think of related to this technology?

by: Ginger Hill - Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Times are exciting and abuzz here at Security Systems News, with thoughts of ISC West and preparation taking place for booth visits, video interviews, happy hours and dinners, and connecting/reconnecting with industry professionals to learn about new trends and offerings available for security. Personally, I enjoy talking about industry trends, new technologies and where people predict the industry to be heading in the future. It’s quite fascinating when you stop to think about just 10 years ago and how far the security industry has come since. 

The Security Industry Association (SIA) shared the top eight technological advancements the organization feels is most significantly impacting physical and cybersecurity and public safety. Here’s what to look for on the showroom floor: 

  1. Cloud – Video surveillance as a service (VSaaS), specifically recording, storage, management, analytics and monitoring solutions in the cloud, especially residential video with low camera counts, according to Joseph Gittens, director of standards, SIA, via ISC West’s website.
  2. Artificial Intelligence (AI) – analytics applications for automated motion and trespassing detection, advanced algorithms performing identification and categorization within scenes and systems, and leveraging data from multiple sensors to help reduce false alarms and enhance home automation. 
  3. Robotics/autonomous systems – improvements in robotics and drones around AI, power storage and mobility, in which many companies are allowing users to pay for services provided by these security solutions.
  4. Mobile credentials – SIA predicts the public will become comfortable using these credentials to complete transactions other than access control. In turn, more commercial security installations should be seen along with systems migrating into unified systems that grant and manage access. 
  5. Security audio – specialized solutions that monitor and apply analytics to audio. Audio can also be a lucrative value add-on to video security systems. 
  6. Facial biometrics – look for solutions that provide acute verification accuracy and more affordability with these solution offerings.
  7. 5G LTE – glimpses of mobile video security solutions with public safety and smart cities applications. 
  8. Voice control – new home security and home automation products with existing or “coming soon” integration with voice control/smart speaker providers.

Let’s go on a treasure hunt at ISC West 2019! When you see one of these technologies in action on the showroom floor, take a picture or short video and tweet it to our hashtag #SSNTalks and tag our editors @SSN_Editor and @SSN_Ginger! 

by: Ginger Hill - Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Our May 2019 News Poll got me really thinking about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), and the possibilities. My previous AI-related thoughts have been around Watson, the IBM-created, question-answering computer system that answers in natural language, and robots, and how AI can take over the world one day, according to some! Spooky! But, I wanted to know if AI is a legit, practical application for security-related functions, so I scoured the internet and found some exciting and unique, currently deployed uses. 

Physical Security

According the to China Morning Post, AI is revolutionizing physical security in Asia. It can detect people acting out of the ordinary and flag them, and then transmit that information to a command center, where human operators can make an informed decision. Additionally, AI and high-definition cameras can work together to first communicate to a human that a smoke detector, for example, has been activated, with the cameras identifying the exact location of the fire. 

Financial Security

Shoplifting literally costs billions of dollars here in the United States, which trickles down to honest consumers who end up paying more for goods and services. Vaak, a Tokyo-based company, spent more than 100 hours showing their AI system closed-circuit television footage of honest shoppers and shoplifters. The system can now identify suspicious activity based on more than 100 aspects of shoppers’ behavior including gait, hand movements, facial expressions, clothing choices and even “restless” and “sneaking” behaviors. Store employees are alerted of suspiciousness via an app and they can decide what to do. 

Life Security

Paris-based startup, Pharnext, was founded by Daniel Cohen, who “mapped” the human genome and demonstrated it is possible to use Big Data and automation to speed up the processing of DNA samples. Today, Cohen is using AI to analyze and map the chain of reactions of disease in the body. With this information, he and his team are combining existing drugs, known as “repurposing,” to create therapeutic effects that each drug lacks on its own. His overall goal is to use existing medicines to treat all disease, preventing the design of new medicines. 

Cybersecurity

Post-doctoral research fellow at Stanford University, Dr. Srijan Kuman, is developing an AI method — REV2 — to identify online conflict using data and machine learning to predict internet trolling before it happens. (Trolling is an action by a person who posts inflammatory and often deceptive and disinformation online to provoke others to respond on pure emotion.) Kuman uses statistical analysis, graph mining, embedding and deep learning to determine normal and malicious behaviors. His method is currently being used by Flipkart, an online store, to identify fake reviews and reviewers, and he was able to accurately predict when one Reddit community will troll another. 

Be sure to check out our editor’s blog that talks about worldwide spending on AI systems to reach $35.8 billion in 2019, according to International Data Corporation. 

 

by: Ginger Hill - Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Based on analyst firm Gartner’s research, 20.4 billion Internet of Things (IoT) devices will be deployed by 2020; that’s more than double the world’s population! Hackers tend to gravitate toward the weakest link in the security chain, and because more and more IoT devices have questionable defenses, they make easy targets. This has caused the U.S. government to take notice.

To date, there is no national standard for IoT security, leaving it up to each company to decide how they want to security their connected devices. So, on Monday, March 11th, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives members introduced the Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act. If passed, this legislation would set minimum security standards for connected devices used by the government in an effort to prevent the federal government from purchasing hacker friendly devices. 

While the legislation won’t set security standards for all IoT companies—just the ones wanting to win federal contracts— it could provide a baseline of best practices for all connected device manufacturers to consider. 

Should the bill pass, here’s what would happen: 

  • Security standards from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), such as secure development, identity management, patching and configuration management, would be required; 
  • NIST would review every five years; 
  • All IoT venders selling to the U.S. government would have a vulnerability disclosure policy, allowing government officials to learn when the devices are open to cyberattacks.

 

Do you think this legislation would compel all connected device makers to adopt these security requirements or just the ones wanting to do business with the government? 

 
by: Ginger Hill - Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Venturing off to Coronado Island, right outside of San Diego for MercTech 5 was an exciting adventure into the open architecture world of physical security. Various trends were identified, company announcements made, valuable networking with security companies was experienced as well as education and fun. 

To kick off the conference, Matt Barnette, president, Mercury Security, announced that this year, the company will be formally converting to HID Global and they are always looking for new partners. (HID Global purchased Mercury Security, an OEM supplier of controllers for physical access control, in 2017.) Thus far, Mercury Security has kept their original logo, with the added phrase: “part of HID Global.” 

Serra Luck, VP end user and consultant business, HID Global followed with three major trends in the physical access control market: the evolution of identity; service oriented and convergence of video, biometrics, access control, lighting and more to be controlled by a single device. Luck identified what she termed “BIMruption,” building information modeling in which a wholistic view of a building, including its vulnerabilities, can be seen before the structure is actually built. This enables the simulation of possible terror attacks, physical breaches, structural integrity and more so that security consultants, integrators and end-users can become even more proactive in preventing security-related issues.

Donna Chapman, consultant relations business development manager, ASSA ABLOY compared how she “talks up” security consultants to their partners. She likens it to doing taxes. 

“Can I do taxes,” she asked the audience, hypothetically. To which she answered, “yes, but am I up-to-date on all the tax regulations…no, and that’s ‘ok’ unless I get audited. So, it’s easier and safer to have my taxes done by a professional…same with security consultants.”

The two full days of the conference continued on with valuable education as well as meetings with various Mercury Security partners, followed by amazing dinners and networking events. Partners were available in various suites in a “speed dating” type of format, 45 minutes in length, where security consultants learned about their solutions as well as got their questions answered. 

A consultant roundtable took place, in which hot topics were discussed, one of which was the adoption of Open Supervised Device Protocol (OSDP), a communication standard developed by the Security Industry Association (SIA) to improve interoperability among access control and security devices. Security consultants were also concerned with specifying manufacturer’s certifications, asking if companies could possibly add certification numbers or some sort of identification so each certification is easier to “spec.” 

As the event concluded and I began to reflect, one of the most valuable takeaways from the whole conference emerged. Steve Wagner, president of Open Options, said the following during a speed dating session: “Everyone employed with Open Options is empowered to make decisions on behalf of customers; if a mistake is made with any such decisions, it will be to the benefit of the client.” This customer/client-first mentality, in my opinion, is a big piece of the pie that security companies must incorporate into their culture for maximum success. 

 
by: Ginger Hill - Wednesday, February 27, 2019

This week, I’m spending time in the Country Music Capital of the World, Nashville, hanging out with everyone at MIPS 2019, a conference organized by Milestone. After quite an eventful experience at the DFW airport — maintenance issues, delays and arriving a bit late to the conference — I’m happy to report it was all worth it!

Yesterday was jam-packed full of amazing speakers, new announcements from Milestone and their partners, and of course, hand claps and “yee-haws” to celebrate. Today promises even more highly beneficial content and a one-on-one interview to discuss the new Milestone Marketplace, an online experience to explore proven applications, hardware, and services that work with XProtect; connect with technology partners; and find the solution to deploy.

Be on the lookout for my MIPS 2019 roundup piece and follow me on Twitter @SSN_Ginger for live updates. To get caught up on yesterday’s Tweets, search with SSN’s new hashtag #SSNTalks.
 

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by: Ginger Hill - Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The love of smart speakers is permeating the world, as more and more people are introducing these devices into their homes for various reasons—to listen to their favorite tunes, search for real-time and factual information, listen to news, chat with the voice assistant for fun (I mean, it’s pretty cool to play trivia with Alexa!), and use alarms and timers, and more. So, to do all these activities, what are people looking for in a smart speaker?

After surveying more than 13 percent of Internet users with smart speakers in their households in November 2018, from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, India, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, IHS Markit found:

•    27 percent said the most important feature is “integration with services and devices;
•    25 percent said a “questions and answers” feature; and
•    24 percent indicated “sound quality.”

Of the respondents with access to smart speakers powered by Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, they were more likely to rate integration as the most important feature because they positioned their digital assistants as smart home hubs, primarily because both platforms leverage their own entertainment offerings, such as audiobooks and streaming music.

Fateha Begum, associate director, IHS Markit, revealed the following information from the survey in an announcement:

•    Sound quality and integration is usually equally important among consumers, especially for those with Bose, JBL, Link, Panasonic, Sony and other traditional audio brands.
•    Smart speaker households in India and Brazil selected sound quality as the most important factor.
•    Amazon Echo and Google Home owners said answering questions was top of their list.

Across all markets surveyed, it seems Amazon Echo is making a bigger splash among households. Those owning Amazon Echo devices were more likely to have multiple devices and on average, 21 percent accessed two Echo speakers with 15 percent accessing three or more speakers. Only 15 percent of Google Home owners had access to two Google speakers with an additional 15 percent accessing three or more speakers.

In my opinion, the key takeaway from this survey was stated by Maria Rua Aguete, executive director, IHS Markit, “Operators now understand the importance of having their own digital assistants, to maintain and control the customer experience and network usage.”

As the semi-proud new owner of an Echo Show, 2nd Generation, I enjoy Alexa for the little things—playing games and listening to music, and I appreciate the concept and lure of smart speakers and AI, but for me, and maybe it’s my undeniably strong Texas accent, Alexa just doesn’t understand me! 

For more research on the smart speaker craze, click here.
 

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