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Smartvue gets $15m for IoTV play (Internet of Things Video)

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

NASHVILLE, Tenn.—Cloud video surveillance provider Smartvue announced this week that it secured $15 million in financing from Fortress Investment Group, a $67 billion firm.

I spoke to Martin Renkis, Smartvue founder and CEO, this morning and asked him what Fortress, which typically works with much larger companies, saw in Smartvue. Fortress likes Smartvue's vision of being "a major cloud platform in the video surveillance services business," Renkis said.

"[Fortress] saw what we saw, which is that [the Internet of Things] is going to be gigantic and someone is going to be the leader driving video surveillance services using the cloud," he said. Renkis and others believe that many of the "things" that will be connected to the Internet—cars and televisions for example—will have cameras or will "be video-enabled somehow."

Renkis describes Smartvue as a cloud surveillance and IoTV (Internet of Things Video) technology company, that will "develop the backbone for the storage, management, security and distribution of video for the Internet of Things."

Smartvue announced at ASIS 2014 that it is working with Western Digital, "which sells one million hard drives a day," to embed Smartvue software on their devices, so customers "who buy their NAS and want to save video to the cloud can do this with this software." Smartvue is also embedding its software on HikVision cameras, so no NVR is necessary.  

Of course, Smartvue has been in the cloud business since Renkis founded the company in 1998, "Since day 1, before it was called the cloud," he said. Fortress also likes the fact that Smartvue has "27 patents filed over the past 10 years to cover the technology we develop," he said.

Smartvue provides its platform "to telcos, cable companies, security companies [commercial and residential] ... to help them generate recurring revenue."

The new funds will help support Smartvue's current work with Internet Service Providers, cable companies, telecoms, IoT device companies and cloud storage providers. Renkis said Smartvue has had notable success selling platforms to telecoms which they sell under their own names. He declined to name the telecoms Smartvue is working with. The funding will also be used for engineering staff with the goal of creating more intellectual property, Renkis said.

Smartvue is privately held, based here, and has just under 100 employees. It has three main pieces of software: VMS software that it builds into NVRs and sells; Low-level firmware (or a lean VMS) that it embeds in cameras, gaming consoles and other devices; and, centralized global video platforms.

 

We’re looking for your best young integrators and end users

SSN accepts nominations for ’20 under 40’ awards
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04/28/2015

YARMOUTH, Maine—Take a look around at your co-workers and your customers. Who are the tech-savvy integrators and end users with the security smarts and drive to lead the industry of tomorrow?

How I Use My System: Joey Rao-Russell

Kimberlite’s president and CEO talks about her home security system
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04/24/2015

Joey Rao-Russell, Kimberlite’s president and CEO and a Security Systems News “20 Under 40” winner, has worked at Kimberlite for 13 years. She started in the accounting department, was named COO in February 2012 and then CEO later in 2012. She holds a degree in criminal justice and sociology, which made the security industry “a nice fit,” Rao-Russell said. SSN recently spoke with her about the system she uses at home.

The Great ISC West 2015 Roundup

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04/22/2015

LAS VEGAS—ISC West expected that the 2015 show would be the second biggest ever, and although no official attendance figure has been released yet, that certainly appeared to be the case. The expansive show floor was packed with exhibitors and attendees and busy even during the dwindling hours of the show Friday morning. SIA reported that attendance at its education sessions was up 18 percent over last year, up a whopping 91 percent since SIA assumed responsibility for the education program in 2010.

Goings-on at Guardian

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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Guardian Protection Services has been busy lately, rolling out a new funding process for dealers and a new mobile app for customers along with a rebranding initiative during its 65th year.

A meeting with Guardian at ISC West last week didn’t come off as planned, so this week I caught up by phone with Joseph Lininger, VP of marketing, to talk about recent activity at the super-regional.

Guardian will now pay authorized dealers on a daily basis as opposed to a weekly basis for the accounts it purchases. “If the account is approved on Monday, the dealer gets paid on Tuesday,” Lininger said.

The change in payment processing was made to boost dealers’ cash flow to help optimize their operations. Guardian invested in proprietary software to accommodate the change.

Guardian also has released a mobile app for its customers who use the Alarm.com platform to control their homes. Developed for both iOs and Android, the app provides remote access to home security and automation systems through an Internet connection. Future upgrades will include more functions, added Guardian services and special messages.

The new dealer program and the app come on the heels of Guardian’s recent rebranding. A new logo and tag line—“At the Heart of Your Connected Home”—for resi and builder business divisions are in place to give customers “the correct perception of Guardian as a customer-centric technology firm specializing in security and automation while providing the most reliable, technologically advanced services to homes and businesses,” the company said in its announcement.

The rebranding project, which took a year to complete, was initiated to reflect the company’s evolution and position it for the future, Lininger said.

“We always keep our brand awareness at the top of our mind, Lininger said.

On Location: Central Station with Security Partners

Company to offer Mace brand products
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04/15/2015

LAS VEGAS—Security Partners officially opened its fourth central station here, following its November announcement, and now its dealers are going to offer a line of exclusive

ISC West 2015—My Day-by-Day Doings

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Friday, April 10, 2015

Wrapping it up at ISC West 2015/Friday/Show Day 3

I put in a phone call to Jake Parker, SIA’s director of government relations, about every other month. Jake gives me the rundown on activities on Capitol Hill that have direct impacts on the physical security industry. I then report on those impacts for Security Systems News. Jake is an invaluable source for SSN, but I’ve never had the chance to meet him face-to face until now. We finally sat down together at ISC West and had a friendly conversation along with discussing a few security topics thrown in for good measure. Thanks for making the time, Jake!

I met with three execs from BeOn, CEO Alexei Erchak, COO Arvind Baliga and VP of marketing Mark Komanecky. I was so intrigued by their new “preventative security” technology that our meeting extended beyond the designated 30 minutes. The technology targets the “impulsive burglar.” BeOn’s unique lightbulbs, which fit into regular, existing sockets, “learn” homeowners typical movements—on a daily basis, when do they turn on, for example, the front porch light, the master bedroom light, the living room light?  After the learning process, the bulbs turn on to naturally make it look like someone’s at home when the house is empty. The bulbs also have a microphone function that will respond to the home’s doorbell and will progressively turn on lights as the owner would if he or she were upstairs and had to make their way downstairs to answer the door. Eventually, The microphone function can also trigger the sound of a dog barking, music playing and more.  A Kickstart company, BeOn’s focus is on reaching security-conscious homeowners who, nevertheless, have no desire to install a full-fledged home security system. Check back with SSN for more info on this interesting new company …

Things were still going strong when I took a final stroll around the show floor. For a Friday, the third day of the show, it was bustling. I hope you all had a good show, I know I did.

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'Thursday/Show Day 2

My workday started out by volunteering at the Mission 500 5K/2K run/walk and ended at the Mission 500 awards ceremony, always so inspirational. Congratulations to the fundraisers and race winners. Security Systems News is proud to be a sponsor of this annual, important charitable event that aids children in need.

I did three video interviews today, first with experienced industry pro Joel "Disruptive" Matlin, whose new resi company, Think Protection, is right on track to be up and running in June. Next up was Don Moore of Moore Protection, or, as I like to call him, resi provider to the stars. He serves high-end clients in the Los Angeles area, from movie studio bigwigs to celebrities to other million- and billionaires.My third video interview was with Margaret Spitznas, general manager of family-owned Washington Alarm, based in Seattle. Each of my video interviewees had unique perspectives on the industry. Stay tuned to the Security Systems News website to watch the videos. You’ll learn a lot.

During a visit to Alarm.com, Anne Ferguson, senior director, partner marketing, and Matthew Zartman, director of communications, told me about the company’s multi-faceted Partner Resources program, available to their 5,000 dealers. They also discussed the impact of home automation on their company. In previous years, dealers who had been in the business for a long time—those with physical security at their core—were hesitant to embrace the smart home, Ferguson said. But now, much to their benefit, they get it, she said. They know that if they don’t take home automation “to heart,” someone else will be installing those services to their customers over the next three years. Alarm.com dealers are hungry for training, which Alarm.com is happy to provide, she said. At the same time, Alarm.com is paying close attention to expanding beyond the home. For example, through their "wellness" offerings, they can connect a customer with an elderly parent’s residence. The customer would be able to see if your aging-in-place mother opened her medicine cabinet by a specified time and would get an alert if she didn’t, which might signify she didn’t take her medication on time as prescribed. Home automation has transformed the security industry, Ferguson and Zartman said, and the industry is in a great position to prosper.

Two years ago, Doug Farber, chief of security for the new World Trade Center complex, was one of our “20 under 30” winners. I spoke to him by phone a number of times, but due to work commitments—the construction project and its security implications were HUGE— he was unable to make it to that year’s TechSec conference to receive his award. A former Secret Service agent, Farber had impressed me with his passion for his job and his patriotism. Finally, finally, I got to meet him in person today. We talked about his challenges at such an emotion-ridden site—and we talked about his 9-month-old daughter! Doug is a great guy, a true patriot and professional, and I’m so glad we finally met up. Here’s to you, Doug! Keep doing what you’re doing so well!

At Genetec, I met with Andrew Elvish, VP marketing and product management, and Georges Karam, the new chief commercial officer. Genetec has so much going on. The company is growing, it’s introducing new products and is preparing to expand into market sectors it hasn’t broached before. Its Security Center upgrades and Cloud Link are on the cutting edge.

I did a spin around the show floor a couple of times during the day and was happy to see crowded booths and enthusiastic attendees, and this was even before the happy hours broke out! I’m interested to see the attendance data for ISC West 2015. Anecdotally, it’s been a very strong show.

I have a morning’s worth of appointments tomorrow, so stay tuned.

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Wednesday/Show Day 1

Home automation, device aesthetics, intuitiveness and ease of installation were recurring themes of the day as I made my way around the jam-packed show floor.

At Honeywell, Richard Conner, director of marketing for the SED Channel talked about the wireless trend for fire alarm systems. Requests for voice notification also have gone up, he said, along with making sure the devices look good. I also got demos of Honeywell’s Lyric and MAXPRO Cloud. Honeywell had a new booth design this year, with all of its products on interactive display in one big area, kind of like an Apple store. It looked great and was effective.

At the Nortek booth, Larry North, director of marketing, talked about the integration of 2Gig, GoControl and Linear products and how Nortek’s name change to Nortek Security & Control was a way to bring about cohesiveness and a closer relationship between the companies. Expect bundled, full-service sets from them in the near future along with PERS innovations down the road. Nortek’s booth had a new look this year, too, with all sister companies in one place. It also featured “A Day in the Life of Home Control.”

At the Z-Wave Alliance Pavilion, with nine member companies displaying their wares, alliance board member Avi Rosenthal also discussed home control. The ultimate goal is to have not just a connected home, but a true “smart home” that thinks for itself, he said. This is the year of industrial design, he said, with the focus on slick, European-style designs. “It’s the 'wife-acceptance' factor. She’s the one who decorates, so the devices must look cool on the wall,” he said. Form and functionality matter for all products, from sensors to switches to control panels.

Jim Vogel, VP of dealer services for ADT, said he’s excited by the company’s growth opportunities. He’s optimistic that the uptick in the housing market will mean more business for his company. (And its ad campaign featuring Ving Rhames hasn’t hurt a bit, either.) Pulse has taken off, he said, with 1.1 million ADT customers out of a total of 7.2 million using it. Meanwhile, ADT is “future-proofing” the Internet of Things, he said.

At OnGuard, product manager Brian Tripp had interesting info about intelligent elevators. In a high-rise apartment building, for example, a resident would swipe his access card, which would then identify which floor he needs to go to. The display would tell him which elevator car to take to make his ride up more efficient. That’s a win-win for both the user and for the building owner, who can cut costs by decreasing the time elevators are running up and down haphazardly. The user’s swipe also could alert his home automation system that the lights need to be turned on, thermostat needs to go up, etc.

I’d written about Icontrol’s new Icontrol One, designed for independent dealers, before, but I got to see it in action on Wednesday. Greg Roberts, VP of marketing, pointed out the usefulness of Icontrol One’s web portal, which allows the user to set up and revise the system, see alerts and easily find and watch video clips. “It’s a one-step stop for security for the entire home. The end user uses the web portal to do all,” he said. The portal, which is automatically updated so therefore doesn’t need to be refreshed, also offers the user a “home view” feature using the layout of his own home that shows the location of all the devices in the house and let’s the user monitor them from there. That feature also is available in 3-D. “Visual” people like that feature, he said. The system is intuitive, easy to install and, yes, its devices are especially designed to be aesthetically pleasing.

Mike Hackett, SVP sales and marketing for Qolsys, also emphasized the intuitiveness, ease of installation and good design looks of his Internet of the Home. Users—and installers— immediately understand and appreciate the value of the plug-in devices, he said. One feature that stood out for me was the easy way to change both the setting labels and voice instructions from English to French or Spanish. With two touches on the control panel all the information is translated. Dealers no longer have to figure out how many French or Spanish models they need to buy, Hackett said. It’s all in one.

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PRE-SHOW

Before the official kickoff of ISC West 2015, I spent Tuesday afternoon at the DMP Owners Forum and then attended the Women in Security Council reception and awards ceremony.

At the DMP forum, keynoter Patrick Thean spoke on "Rockefeller Habits: How to Differentiate, Execute and Win!" An international speaker and author, Thean is a serial entrepreneur who founded, among other companies, Metasys. He most recently co-founded and is CEO of Gazelles Systems and is the creator of Rhythm Software, designed to assist companies in setting and executing strategic plans for growth. There are three ways for companies to improve, he said: eliminate mistakes, shorten cycle times and improve business models. He also emphasized the importance of articulating core values and purpose and making sure the right people are in the right jobs. A strategy and execution plan should fit on one page, and that goes for companies that are startups all the way up to multimillion firms, he said. He provided attendees with a worksheet to help formulate those goals, create a leading indicator to drive results and a format to track progress. 

Next up was Deputy Chief Paul Calvaruso of the Akron, Ohio, Police Department, who talked about his recent experience instituting verified alarm response in his city. The department was facing layoffs due to budget constraints, and he knew it had to better manage its calls for service. Alarm response was "the low-hanging fruit," he said; he was looking at a 98.5 percent false alarm rate. For advice, he visited the Las Vegas P.D., which already was making use of verified response. He was told to include local alarm companies in his "campaign." He did so, and their advice was valuable, he said. Six months after Calvaruso got the program in place, 22 percent of the burglary and robbery alarms were verified and manpower hours were saved. He stressed that his department is "very supportive" of monitoring stations, which have a key role to play. Even if homeowners can get alarm alerts and video verification via smartphones, most don't have their phones available to them 24/7. Video verification is where the industry is headed, he said, and "I'm very glad we did it. I hope to continue to have good relationships with alarm companies. It's been a heck of a ride."

I then sat down with three dealers for an informal round-table discussion on their challenges and opportunities and how they differentiate themselves from their competitors, both big and small. Michael Hackett, president and CEO of Hackett Security in St. Louis, Mo.; John Bazyk, director of sales and marketing for Command Corporation in E. Granby, Conn.; and Dustin Reeves, sales manager for Blue Ridge Security Solutions in Anderson, S.C., had many good insights, which you can read about here. Teaser: Video verification will change the industry.

Early in the evening, there was a great and enthusiastic turnout for the Women in Security event. WSC director Rhianna Daniels Hile introduced the Women of the Year Award winners and encouraged attendees to spread the word about the good work that WSC is doing. She's always looking for sponsors for WSC, she added, so get in touch with her about that. 

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I'll be updating this post daily from ISC West, so please check back to find out who I met with, what cool technology I saw and how much money I lost on the slots. (OK, just kidding about the last one; I learned my lesson last year!)

Vivint makes Forbes list of 'Best Employers'

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04/10/2015

PROVO, Utah—Forbes has put Vivint on its inaugural list of “America’s Best Employers.”

Vivint is the top-ranked security and home automation company on the list of 500.

Mission 500 corporate responsibility, humanitarian awards

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04/09/2015

MIAMI—Residential security and home automation provider Fluent Home, based in Edmondton, Alberta, Canada, has received the 2015 Mission 500 Corporate Social Responsibility Award.

UT Denton wins Stanley’s Safer Schools grand prize

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04/09/2015

INDIANAPOLIS—The University of Texas in Denton is the grand-prize winner in Stanley Security’s Together for Safer Schools Grant Program.

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