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by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Here's an article that emphasizes how important it is for security and monitoring companies to have good data entry people as well as systems designed to double check information. A woman who had been a loyal ADT customer for four years received a message on her answering machine that her alarm had been activated and police had been dispatched. The only problem? Police never showed up. ADT had the wrong physical address for this woman. But, as the article points out: The company may not have known where to send first responders, but it did know where to send the bills. "I received all my bills here. I had all my contracts that stated 307 [her correct address]. As far as I'm concerned, they had the right contract," she said. I can see her point. If she was receiving bills at the correct address why would she even question that the company had the wrong address listed in their system? I wouldn't. I know managing all this customer information is a major undertaking and ADT is obviously a huge company with hundreds of thousands of customers, but doesn't that mean they would have software or something in place to double check information in their system? Don't most central stations have some sort of means of verifying information like periodic calls, form letters or something? Perhaps I'm being too lofty with my assumptions. I think this article points out how important it is for monitoring companies, big or small, not to lose sight of the business they're in. Because ADT wasn't really protecting this woman's home, they refunded her four years worth of monitoring costs. That's $1,400 of lost revenue and may be pennies for ADT, but could be big bucks for you.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Here's a profile article by CE Pro Magazine about Wayne Alarm Systems in Lynn, Mass. The owner, who if you're at all keyed into the monitoring industry, will know as Ralph Sevinor posing in his well-known alarm museum. Even a relative newbie to the industry like me knows Ralph (but I always want to call him "Wayne"- Does anyone else have that problem?). The premise of the article is exactly the topic we here at SSN continually tout: How can security companies increase their RMR by entering the home automation space? I think this paragraph makes a good point about some of the insecurities felt within the industry: A company like Wayne Alarm Systems can't snap its fingers and start offering control, according to Sevinor. "It's a philosophical change," he says. "When somebody looks at a home automation system or a TV, they're looking at a life expectancy of two or three years. When somebody is looking at a security system, they're looking at 20 years." According to the article, Sevinor has tasked an employee (the other guy in the photo) to investigate the profitability of entering the "control" space, as CE Pro refers to it. This is probably a decent and smart business strategy and I hope the next article about Wayne Alarms (perhaps done by yours truly) will be about its entrance into the space. It would be a good, reassuring example for the rest of the industry, many of who are also on the fence about all this ding dang new technology, and proof that, yes, it can be done. Show us the way Ralph, I mean Wayne, I mean Ralph.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, July 9, 2008
Hard to believe the 4th of July has come and gone. I took a nice little trip to Ohio to visit the grandparents and ended up driving 16 hours straight back to the East Coast by myself. I was certainly cracked out on caffeine and loud music by the time I rolled in around 2AM. Certainly not a traveling strategy I would recommend. But, it's always nice to have a little time off work, which, by the massive amount of "out of office" replies I've received lately, I'm guessing many of you continue to enjoy. That's summer for you. I hope you got to enjoy 4th celebrations. I didn't get to see any fireworks this year, which I was sadly disappointed about. And, based on this news report out of Denver, others missed out on the show too. This guy had obviously spent a lot of money to buy his own holiday entertainment (or perhaps supplement his income since his entire garage was chock-a-block full of illegal fireworks). His burglar alarm went off, police showed up, discovered his stash and arrested him and ruined more than his weekend. Of course, no one was trying to steal his stash, just another case of a false alarm leading police to other violations. I sure bet he wished Denver had a stricter verification policy. Funny they don't include any statistics about how many unrelated arrests are made on the coattails of false alarm responses. I think someone oughta keep track.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Monday, June 30, 2008
So, I'm back from the ESX show in Nashville, and I must say, I had a blast. To start off the show they let me play with guns (for security guys, they really have no sense), but I felt surprisingly confident firing live ammunition at small flying discs during the TBFAA's skeet shooting event. A shout out to Andrew Stadler of Security Partners for his fine videography skills. video During the first two days of the show I attended several great educational sessions, my favorite being the Gen-Y session. Maybe I was just particularly engaged because I'm just on the cusp of being a Gen-Y-er myself (missed it by a year), but I thought it was interesting to hear how the security industry, specifically central stations, are dealing with us youngin's. Sophie Gravel, the director at Monitoring Station for Reliance Protectron did a great job presenting this topic. She was informative and engaging, and not presumptuous or assuming. The message I took away was about the importance of keeping Gen-Y engaged, continuing to offer education options, allowing flexible work schedules, that kind of thing. Very reasonable, I thought, and something all companies should be offering their employees, but that must be my youth coming through. One question I thought was interesting was: "What if you just don't like these kids?" Hmm...that could pose a problem. The premise of the question was why should management have to coddle and pay more attention to these newbies who will likely only stay for a year or two than the 15-year veterans who do their jobs without question? Gravel's answer: Because we have no choice. This is the next generation of workers. "This generation is just starting to impact the workforce in profound ways, changes need to happen in our culture and management style," she said. "This generation doesn’t expect, accept or understand the same rules as their predecessors ...They're looking for relationships with coworkers, looking for a fun environment. They like structure but don’t like to be in a box." I also got to sit down with Pam Petrow, the new COO of Vector Security. I really enjoyed our conversation and I think it was one of the most enjoyable and engaging interviews I've had in a long time. Plus, I really appreciate talking to high up women execs. They inspire me and Pam is at the top of my list. There was lots other industry things happening at ESX (obviously I was bad about blogging at the actual event), but on another fun note, I had a chance to go to the Grand Ole Opry and see Trace Adkins (he's a big country star, for those of you who don't know). He's also one of the biggest guys I've seen in a long time. I had a great time in Nashville and am a little disappointed the show is going to Baltimore next year. I bet they won't let you shoot guns in Baltimore and if you do hear gun fire, chances are you need to take cover.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Monday, June 23, 2008
Sometimes it's fun to laugh at other people's security ignorance, especially when no one gets hurt, but in this case we can only chuckle a little because it sounds like this dad just got lucky. This article (which was sent to me by a reader, and yes, I do have readers) is about a father who was awoken at 3 a.m. one morning by two police officers standing in his bedroom. Turns out this dad wasn't so vigilant about security and not only was the front door left ajar, but so was the garage door AND he had left the keys in the ignition of his truck. The police officers were apparently conducting a "public service campaign to remind residents to secure their homes to prevent thefts" and this was likely one of the grossest lack of security these officers had seen (hence it making the local paper). Oh, the article also notes the TV was left on, but that was probably because this dad was hosting a sleepover and there were four kids under the age of seven sleeping in the living room, so not only was he endangering his own kids, he was also risking someone else's offspring. The father said he feels violated by the police officer's intrusion, but he's probably just pissed that he got publicly outed as an incompetent parent. Further indication of this guy's character is in the paragraph noting that the kids were too scared to wake him up. Chances are that would be true of a lot of kids (a steadfast childhood rule is that you don't wake dad), but they were likely scared to death when two adults appeared in their living room after they had spent all night watching Freddie Krueger go on a murdering spree or whatever horror movies kids are watching these days. I bet those kids are catching some flak at school, too, since they'll never host a sleepover again, as no sensible parent would ever let their kid stay the night there. Poor kids, they can't help it if their dad is completely and utterly security-challenged.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Thursday, June 19, 2008
So, for those loyal readers out there who were likely missing my posts last week, I was off partying at Bonnaroo in Tennessee. That's right, I drove from Portland, Maine to Manchester, Tennessee despite current gas prices just so I could hang out with thousands of people under the blazing Tennessee sun. The music was great, the people watching even better. I was seriously 50 yards from Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam under the clear night sky and a nearly full moon. It was an amazing moment. Funny though, I'll be heading back to Tennessee, this time to Nashville for the ESX show, but for that trip my expenses will be on the company card, so hopefully I won't be sleeping in a tent and paying $10 for a 15-minute cold shower (I mean, really). Anyway, it's back to work and our August edition is all about central stations and the monitoring industry. So, as the monitoring maven, it's my responsibility to get all you folks to contribute our Source Book listing which will be a resource for dealers and integrators to find providers of contract monitoring services. And, it's free. Yup, that's right. If you're a contract or third-party monitoring station, follow the link to fill out a survey so you can be included: Central Station Survey link The deadline is June 26, so no procrastination.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Wednesday, June 18, 2008
LaserShield's massive marketing campaign hit daytime television audiences recently when it was featured on The View as one of several products promoted by Dr. Gadget (you know, that slightly crazed, high energy product promotion guy). Here's the YouTube link: Other than the star power of Dr. Gadget, I'm sure the ratings for that particular episode was fairly high as Sarah Jessica Parker was the featured guest and the Sex and the City movie was hot! So now stay-at-home moms, retired folks and Sarah Jessica Parker fans all over the country will be wanting a LaserShield system. Or that's the hope anyway. And, in typical daytime talk show fashion, everyone in the audience went home with a LaserShield system, too. LaserShield is all over the place lately. I heard an advertisement on XM Radio a few weeks ago and I'm sure they're using all sorts of other advertising channels, too. You don't typically hear about security in your day-to-day activities, but then again, LaserShield isn't exactly typical.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Thursday, June 5, 2008
ABI Research just released a new study reporting that the market for digital cellular transmission of alarm signals to central stations is expected to increase to 7.5 million in 2013. In 2007 digital cellular communication was at fewer than 2.5 million. That's three hundred percent growth in six years. Wow, integrators and manufacturers better be paying attention. The report cites the Feb. 18, 2008 AMPS sunset deadline as a significant driving force for the adoption of digital cellular communication (which, if you're reading this you certainly remember as the date that the FCC allowed cellular providers to discontinue the analog portion of their service). I think the adoption of cellular transmission is a given in this day and age, but that's just because I'm of the Millennium Generation and have owned a cell phone for a large part of my adult life. However, I realize there's a lot of hesitation and concern from security providers about the reliability of cellular networks, especially as primary communication methods. There's been more than one occasion when I've received the network-is-currently-busy-or-unavailable message from my cell phone carrier, so I think security providers are rightfully insecure. However, there isn't a lot of doubt in my mind that cellular communication will not only improve but will be largely accepted by the monitoring industry. That said, it's not always the cellular provider that lies the problem. During the whole AMPS scramble, I heard a lot of complaints (off the record, of course) directed toward manufacturers who were not releasing products in time to provide installers with a solution to replace AMPS units. But, I'm sure they're paying attention now.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Monday, June 2, 2008
Those Israeli's, they continue to make interesting contributions to the security world. According to this article, an Israeli company called Bio-Sense has developed a mathematical algorithm that can decipher between a dog's emergency there's-an-intruder-at-the-door bark and the routine let-me-out-I-need-to-go bark. The company is developing a dog collar for the consumer market which, when activated by the emergency bark, will send an alert to the homeowner or security company. There were no details about alert specifics and I imagine the probability for false alarms would be fairly high since, for example, my neighbor's dog seems to give that emergency warning bark every time someone walks by the building, but, the concept is fairly creative and I like the idea of Rex being more than just a physical threat and actually part of security. So, you think your little yippy dog can't hold his own as a guard dog? Well, Bio-Sense says it can work with any dog. "No matter a dog's breed, age or size, company executives say, the system can be trained to recognize the unique characteristics of the animal's emergency bark. So, there you go, finally Fido can earn those expensive doggie treats. But, if you're looking for a "real" guard dog, check out Titan in Martha's blog - Now that's the real deal.
by: Daniel Gelinas - Thursday, May 29, 2008
So i hear a good amount about remote monitoring in the security industry and i've seen plenty of demonstrations that should make me a believer, yet some doubt remains that the residential market will embrace it. However, yesterday i spoke with Paul Dawes, the CEO of iControl, about being selected as one of only two companies that have been publicly announced (out of a reported 1,700 who submitted applications) to develop an application function for Apple's iPhone. That means people with iPhones can select an icon on their application page to access their iControl functions including arming/disarming their system as well as home automation functions like lighting and entertainment control. You know, the cool fancy stuff. Back in April, iControl received $15.5 million in funding from Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, the venture capital firm which runs Apple's iFund that's designed to advance functionality and development of the iPhone. Part of the money iControl raised will be used to specifically develop the iPhone application. So not only is iControl part of the "cool" revolution in security, but they also get to do some cool things like attend Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference in San Fran on June 9 (where Apple is rumored to be releasing the next version of the iPhone, OS 2.0). However, Dawes didn't think the company would be demonstrating their new product, but I asked him to say hi to Steve Jobs for me anyway, but I doubt he'll remember.