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Stanley partners with guard company U.S. Security Associates

Companies expect to reap ‘several million dollars in ancillary business’ as result of collaboration
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04/22/2013

FISHERS, Ind.—Stanley Convergent Security Systems has partnered with U.S. Security Associates, the fourth-largest guarding company in North America.

IPVideo Corp. gets $12m investment

Capital will be used to hire 30, build video ‘fusion center’
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04/17/2013

BAY SHORE, N.Y.—IPVideo Corp., a VMS and PSIM provider that is launching a new video surveillance “fusion center,” has received a $12 million investment from Westbury Partners, the company announced April 12.

Authorities closing in on marathon terrorist suspect?

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Updated 3:40 p.m. April 17

Both CNN and the Boston Globe on Wednesday, April 17 reported that a suspect has been identified in the Boston Marathon terrorist bombing and that an arrest has been made or is imminent. Both backed off of that assertion about an hour later, and the Boston Police made a statement saying that no arrest had been made.

From the Globe:
“ …authorities have an image of a suspect carrying, and perhaps dropping, a black bag at the second bombing scene on Boylston Street, outside of the Forum restaurant.
Investigators are “very close” in the investigation, said the official, who declined to be named.That official said authorities may publicize their finding as early as this afternoon.The same official also said a surveillance camera at Lord & Taylor, located directly across the street, has provided clear video of the area, though it was unclear whether the image of the suspect was taken from that camera.  “The camera from Lord & Taylor is the best source of video so far,” said Dot Joyce, a spokeswoman for Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “All I know is that they are making progress.”

Most experts hope that crucial information will be gleaned from video—footage from city surveillance systems, local businesses and videos from the smartphones of those watching the marathon.

This morning the LA Times reported that analysts from the FBI are “sifting through more than 10 terabytes of data for clues about who might have placed the bombs near the finish line. The data include call logs collected by cellphone towers along the marathon route and surveillance footage collected by city cameras, local businesses, gas stations, media outlets and spectators who volunteered to provide their videos and snap shots, said the federal law enforcement source.
The FBI has flown analysts from field offices across the country to Boston to watch and log hundreds of hours of video, he said.

I asked Amit Gavish, GM, Americas, BriefCam, via email, what he thought the prospects were for finding clues in the various video footage taken in the area of the finish line. In addition to working for Briefcam, a manufacturer of video synopsis systems which enable the very quick review of hours of video [],
Gavish, is a CPP, with 16 years of security and military experience in the U.S. and Israel. He served as the Deputy Director of Security at the Office of the President of the State Israel and was in charge of physical and information security. Before joining BriefCam, Gavish was a risk management consultant specializing in risk assessment, development of emergency plans and training programs.

Gavish said it will be important to look at video footage taken days before the marathon: “In my opinion, the person was there before. The person who did this most likely did some dry runs before the event, even days before and probably was there hours before the event.”

He said the footage from Monday is likely “crowded to the point where you can’t see who put the device at the scene, and you have to go back a few days prior and see who was there … who looked suspicious, who was just walking by or loitering.”

He said there “are hundreds of cameras that could potentially have something. There are good cameras there—Boston PD, public cameras, stores in the neighborhood—but part of the effectiveness of the investigation is how fast you can get to something that you can work on,” he said.

I also did an email interview with Zvika Ashani, CTO of Agent Video Intelligence (Agent Vi). I asked Ashani how a product like Agent Video’s VI-Search would  examine video from multiple sources.

Vi-Search can be “used in an offline mode on cameras that are not part of a large pre-installed surveillance system. For example, video can be retrieved from a store or a gas station, which is in the vicinity of the event. This video can then be quickly processed by the software (at a rate of about 10x) and then searched using the same query structure.”

 
 

Video surveillance holds the key in Boston bomb probe

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Marcus Dunn was late for the phone call Tuesday morning, but there was no need to apologize (although he did so anyway). As director of government relations for the Security Industry Association, he had been in a meeting to discuss the bombings in Boston and it ran longer than expected.

Our conversation—we speak every month about legislative issues affecting the industry—quickly turned to Monday’s deadly attack. Less than 24 hours had passed and speculation was rampant about who had done it and why. There were few new facts, but police had started to sift through surveillance video that likely will be key to solving the crime.

That provided a silver lining, however slim, for Dunn.

“When these things happen, despite all the craziness, there’s a little bit of pride in being with an organization that often prevents these types of things or plays a large role in apprehending those responsible,” he said. “There are some critics of the technology and how there are cameras on the streets, but I think we’ve seen time and time again that they’re effective in preventing crime and certainly very effective in capturing perpetrators.”

Dunn said that was the case after bombs killed 52 people aboard three London trains and a city bus on July 7, 2005. The examination of CCTV images helped investigators identify the suicide bombers and arrest others connected to the attacks.

“We’re trying to determine what was deployed in the area in Boston and if a [SIA] member company had equipment deployed there,” Dunn said. “In London, it’s just decked out—there are cameras everywhere. That’s what they used [in 2005]. They were able to go through the surveillance footage very quickly.”

In the aftermath of Monday’s attack, there was also the realization that “soft targets” like the Boston Marathon will always be vulnerable. No matter what security precautions are taken, the risk can never be eliminated—at least not in a free society. With it comes a loss of innocence that deepens the grief.

“The marathon is one of those things that is very open, you can come and go,” Dunn said. “Those days are gone now.”

After SIA’s meeting Tuesday morning, CEO Don Erickson—who is also a marathon runner—echoed the thoughts of many with the following statement:
 
“As someone who has personally experienced the strong community spirit that exists on marathon days, I am incredibly saddened by the horrific events that tragically occurred yesterday in Boston. On behalf of SIA, our thoughts and prayers are extended to those who were injured and to the families of those who lost their lives on what should have been a day of accomplishment and excitement for the city of Boston. We extend our thanks to the first responders who acted so quickly to help the victims of this attack.”

Milestone reorganized into three divisions

New Silicon Valley office opened
 - 
04/16/2013

LAS VEGAS—Open-platform VMS provider Milestone Systems has reorganized into three business units. Milestone executives announced details of the company's new structure, which was instituted last summer, here recently at the annual Milestone Integration Platform Symposium.

Day 3 and done ISCWest 2013

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Monday, April 15, 2013

On Friday, April 12, Day 3 of ISC West, many were already heading to McCarren, but I was heading back to the show floor. And this year, though the crowd had thinned considerably, so were a lot of other folks.

Very decent crowd for Friday of ISC West.

While I had early rallies on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I didn’t have any official appointments until 10 a.m. on Friday. My first was with IMS/IHS’s Niall Jenkins. We caught up on a few things including plans for TechSec 2014. Yes, plans are underway, and Amy and I have some great ideas—you’ll hear all about them in September.

Next was a meeting with Matt Barnette of AMAG. I was supposed to go to the AMAG A&E and integrators’ event in March. Unfortunately, lengthy flight delays derailed that plan—so I spent some time catching up on some news announced at that event. AMAG is all excited about their new Symmetry SR series retrofit controllers, which can be used to convert competitor’s legacy systems to AMAG’s Symmetry solution. “Our engineers used our existing hardware platform and changed the form factor so it’s a direct pin for pin [upgrade] solution for traditional Casi Rusco solution,” Barnette said.

A couple of years ago, UTC (parent company of Casi Rusco) announced that it would end-of-life its Secure Perfect and Picture Perfect solutions and would transition those customers to a product called Facility Commander. AMAG considers this change in UTC’s roadmap as an opportunity to get those UTC (Casi Rusco) customers to instead transition to AMAG.

Back at the video studio, I did two more ssnTVnews interviews, one with Rob Hile, CEO of IFSS, an independent integrator in Florida and one with Levy Acs of American Integrated Security Group.

Hile and I talked about IFSS’s successful migration to a services-based model, and Acs and I did a follow-up interview on this story I wrote last month about his ambitious growth plans.

The rest of Friday was spent walking the show floor and hanging around the ssnTVnews studio chatting with folks who stopped by.

What was the theme of ISCWest 2013? There was continued talk about mobility and cloud. More manufacturers are figuring out how to offer the two and integrators are starting to see possibilities for making money offering the same. The big theme it seems to me, however, was optimism. There was a vibe at this show I haven’t sensed in many years and, frankly, it’s not what I was expecting after the not-so-crowded ASIS show last fall.

I heard the same from nearly everyone I spoke to. Good to see; nice to be a part of.

HID’s Hébert evaluates ‘move to mobile’

Annual HID Global Strategy Briefing at ISC West focuses on potential and pitfalls of mobile access
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04/15/2013

LAS VEGAS—A talkative crowd had gathered and a long line formed outside of a Venetian ballroom well before the doors opened for Denis Hébert’s annual HID Global Strategy Briefing and luncheon on April 11.

Drawing the line on tattoos in the workplace

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Twenty-five years ago, the only tattoo I remember seeing was the one on my father-in-law’s left bicep. It was a simple black anchor, a reminder of his Navy days, that hadn’t fared well over the years. Its once-sharp lines had morphed into blurry tentacles, an embarrassment that he kept covered with shirtsleeves even during the dog days of summer.

How times have changed. Ink art is now de rigueur, with nose, lip and cheek piercings often part of the package. You may not like the look or believe it’s wise given the bill that will arrive with advanced age, but that’s never stopped fashion before. It’s all the rage and it’s coming soon to a coffeehouse near you.

But what happens when the look goes beyond the baristas and it reaches your security company? If a sales rep’s stud earring gives way to a ring through the lip, or an operator’s ankle shamrock begets an arm’s length of more colorful ink, how will it affect co-workers? More importantly, how will it affect your customers?

The problem isn’t a lack of professionalism—it’s the image of a lack of professionalism. You can nip the problem in the bud by having a workplace appearance policy, but you’ll need to tread carefully to avoid running afoul of anti-discrimination laws. Cross that line and you could end up in court.

A great primer the topic was provided via email last week by Judge Ruth Kraft, chairwoman of the Labor and Employment Group at Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum. Here’s what she had to say:

Body art and piercings are personal expressions. However, in general, you have a great deal of discretion with respect to appearance standards. You can require that ‘ink’ and piercings not be visible. There is no legally established right for workers to display them in the workplace. Unless the employee can establish that they are indicia of religious or racial expression, tattoos and piercings are not protected under federal anti-discrimination laws.          

Therefore, you are entitled to establish policy. The best policy is one that explains itself in terms of reasonable business needs. Just as a manufacturer may require assembly-line workers to wear protective clothing and to tie back his or her hair for safety reasons, a pediatrician may ban hanging earrings or nose rings which could be torn out by a recalcitrant youngster or prohibit nail extensions which could harbor bacteria.

   The typical approach in establishing policies is a midground which limits restrictions to employees who have contact with the public and requires that the tattoos and piercings not be visible. This is the most practical to implement since it doesn’t restrict employee self-expression but simply limits what they can show at work. A policy which provides that, if an appearance standard is violated, the employee will be asked to correct it, including going home to change into clothing that covers the tattoos and/or piercings, puts workers on notice as to the consequences of their actions.  The policy should be enforced just as you enforce other behavior policies. If your rules call for progressive discipline, then you should follow the same steps for violation of the appearance policy, beginning with verbal warning and proceeding to written warning, etc.

  Caveat 1: If the tattoo or piercing represents a genuine religious or racial expression, then it may be protected under the federal anti-discrimination laws. The rights of observant Jews to wear yarmulkes in the workplace or of Sikhs to wear their turbans and beards have been upheld in the courts, except where such outward manifestations of belief could pose health or safety risks in particular occupations. There is limited case authority on this point, but I believe that the courts will differentiate between a volitional outward manifestation of belief (i.e., a tattoo of Jesus on one’s arm) which is not religiously mandated, and tattooing which is required of members of a bona fide religious or racial group.  

   Caveat 2: Be sure to enforce your policy consistently to prevent claims of unfair application or discrimination against a member of a protected class under the law.

For more information on workplace appearance policies, or to update or create one for your company, contact Kraft at RKraft@Kirschenbaumesq.com. For advice on how to remove tattoos, go to www.tattoohealth.org.

A central station in every home? There’s an app for that

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Using video technology to spy on Fido or your terrible teens while you’re away from home isn’t new. But now a California company has launched an app that will allow you to use a smartphone for the job, bypassing the need for a traditional IP camera system.

People Power, a Palo Alto-based software firm, is touting its Presence app as a way to monitor and protect the homefront for free via WiFi. “Use it … as a webcam, security cam, baby cam, party cam, you name it,” the company states on its website. “Customize and get meaningful alerts that give you [the] peace of mind you need knowing that loved ones are safe.”

The iOS app provides real-time audio and video streaming, motion-detection video alerts and two-way voice. The idea is that your outdated iPhone or iPad can be converted into a remote camera, with you as Big Brother—or Big Mother—watching it all on a similar device at your office or favorite watering hole.

And that’s all well and good. Like other DIY systems on the market that offer video, being able to see when Jimmy gets home from school or who is polishing off the last of the ice cream has its merits. As for Fido, now you can reprimand him from the cloud when he gets into the trash. Talk about Big Brother ...

Then there’s the protection angle. Users can program the app to record a 5-second video clip when motion is detected and then send them an email alert. If you have a collection of unused iOS devices, they can be arrayed to cover different areas of the home.

“We really are creating this disruptive app that really creates an inexpensive security system,” People Power CEO Gene Wang told the Los Angeles Times.

The translation is that the app user is now the central station. But does the average homeowner really know what that entails?

A number of questions immediately come to mind. For starters, what happens when Presence detects an intruder, or what the user thinks is an intruder? Should he call the police, or maybe a neighbor to check on the house? If it is an intruder and the intruder is hostile, what happens then? If the police are called and it’s a false alarm, how will municipalities handle that?

It will be interesting to see how it pans out. While Presence without question has some very attractive features—don’t forget that it’s free—taking it into the security realm comes with responsibilities that might be best left to professionals. As with most services, typically you get what you pay for.

IHS: Market for wireless infrastructure radios to hit $705m by 2017

Low-cost systems help drive growth
 - 
04/02/2013

LONDON—The market for wireless infrastructure radios used in video surveillance applications grew 11 percent last year, rising from $274 million in 2011 to $304 million in 2012, according to a study by the research firm IHS. Demand will continue to increase, IHS predicts, and global revenues will reach $705 million in 2017.

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