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NPR program rips industry over false alarms

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

American Public Media’s “Marketplace” weighed in on false alarms this week, with the featured guest delivering a decidedly unfavorable verdict for the security industry: Alarm customers might be better off relying on a dog.

Program host Kai Ryssdal interviewed Stephen Dubner of Freakonomics.com, who cited a litany of figures and study results that don’t reflect well on alarm companies. Here’s a bit of what Dubner had to say on the show, which aired on National Public Radio:

—“We talked to Simon Hakim, an economist at Temple who’s been studying this issue for a long time. He says that in a given year, U.S. police respond to more than 35 million alarm activations. … Something like 95 percent of them are false alarms and the cost is about $2 billion.”

—“Financial analysts say that industry leader ADT ... has an operating margin of about 25 percent on roughly $3 billion [in] annual revenues. So these false alarms pose what economists call a negative externality. That is, the provider charges you for the service, but then they pass along a big part of their costs to someone else. In this case, the police departments and the taxpayers who support them.”

—“Well, it’s probably a good idea to make the alarm companies more accountable in some fashion, including having them make alarms that don’t fail so often. … As for me, I think I’m just going to ditch my new alarm that seems to go off every five minutes.”

Dubner then referred to his new deterrent—growling can be heard in the background—and told Ryssdal, “Go ahead. Make my dog’s day.”

On the positive side, Dubner quoted Hakim as saying that alarm systems deter burglars to some degree, citing “the sign in the yard and the threat of the alarm and the police.” He also quoted Ron Walters, director of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, who said false alarms are SIAC’s “No. 1 priority. This is the one issue that we have decided has to be addressed.”

The incidence of user error was briefly mentioned, along with the move toward more video monitoring to verify whether an alarm call is legit. But that was about it for the bouquets, which points to the long-standing need to better educate customers and improve relationships with law enforcement to reduce false dispatches.

It’s either that or the doghouse.  

Mice and men: False alarms and blame in rural Maine

Sheriff’s office targets alarm companies over false dispatches
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04/03/2012

PARIS, Maine—A sheriff’s office frustrated by the cost of responding to false alarms is taking a tougher line with alarm companies. But the companies say they are being unfairly singled out for a problem that is typically the fault of residents—human or otherwise—at rural Maine addresses.

NFSA gets new president

Former Executive VP Russ Fleming chosen for post
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04/02/2012

PATTERSON, N.Y.—Russ Fleming is the new president of the National Fire Sprinkler Association. The NFSA board of directors voted March 2 to select Fleming, formerly NFSA executive VP and a 37-year veteran of the organization, for the post.

Onward through the blog: Day Two at ISC West

 - 
Friday, March 30, 2012

ISC West kept up a strong head of steam on Day Two.

It started at 7:30 a.m. with the Security 5K to benefit Mission 500, a nonprofit group that aids impoverished children. An impressive turnout of runners raised an equally impressive funding total, according to race organizers, and the group later said it had topped its goal of 500 children sponsored.

Then it was on to the show floor for another day of networking and discussion among the thousands, with no letup from Day One’s brisk pace. Here are a few details from my stops along the way:

— Secure Global Solutions announced a May 1 launch for a new app, Stages Metrix, that will give users tablet access to key central station performance figures.
— Keith Jentoft of Videofied provided an update of the growing alliance between insurers, law enforcement and central stations to increase arrests and reduce false dispatches with the use of video alarms.
— Cliff Dice of Dice Corp. detailed his company’s Matrix software, which brings video into a browser environment and opens the door to continuous RMR for integrators.
— Morgan Hertel, the new VP of operations for Rapid Response, disclosed that the company is planning to build a new central station in the West sometime in the next year.
— Gordon Hope of AlarmNet at Honeywell talked about the move to 4G and the June 1 release of the LYNX Touch 5100 wireless control panel with Wi-Fi communications module, which finds the best signal—2G, 3G or 4G—in the user’s area.

Like Day One, there was obviously much more, but I’ll put it to bed for now and gear up for tomorrow’s finale. See you there …  

 

Interface Security Systems buys Westec Intelligent Surveillance

Combined company is major independent managed service provider
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03/29/2012

LAS VEGAS—Interface Security Systems a St. Louis-based integrator, acquired Westec Intelligent Surveillance, Jeffrey Frye, Interface VP sales and marketing told Security Systems News on March 28.

Taking it all in at ISC West

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Quite the first day for a first-timer at ISC West, and for a first-timer to Vegas to boot. Now I can understand what all the fuss was about leading up to the show.

Day One started with a “Meet the Editors” session at the SSN booth—No. 27065, stop by if you get a chance—which was followed by a full slate of media gatherings and meet-and-greets. Here were a few:

— I got the lowdown from ASSA ABLOY on what it’s doing to fill the “medium security” gap for access control, or components targeting the void between $200 and $4,000. The company sees a growth market there and is moving to take advantage.

— Bill Hobgood, project director for the Department of Information Technology, Public Safety Team, for the city of Richmond, Va., gave a firsthand account of what ASAP can do for speeding the flow of information between central stations and PSAPs. If you’re still holding on to the phone as the future, Richmond’s experience will change your mind.

— Chris Holbert, CEO of SecuraTrac, told me how the company’s new app, SecuraFone, disables social media sites when in motion—hello, distracted teens—along with immobilizing email and texting. Other features include physical tracking and more importantly, emergency response for seniors. SecuraTrac is teaming with Mace CS to expand along this avenue in the future.

— Bosch acknowledged the hectic pace of the day with a 5 p.m. session that featured a truck giveaway and happy hour refreshments, which turned out to be a real crowd-pleaser. A great way to end a long day on the floor.

My day isn’t done yet—I’m about the step out the door to attend a UCC cocktail party—and Day Two and Day Three await, so I’ll sign off for now. Much more ahead, hopefully with a decent night’s sleep to take it all in. The young and lively door-bangers in the room next door may have something to say about that, though. This is Vegas, after all …    

See you in Vegas!

 - 
Monday, March 26, 2012

Getting ready today (Monday) to leave for ISC West--the three-day show that gets longer every year. I’m arriving Tuesday afternoon and have several meetings and events before the show floor even opens. I’m not complaining—I'm actually looking forward to these events.

Our newswire will go out as usual on Thursday morning, but Tess, Rich, Whit (managing editor of our sister pub Security Director News) and I will be tweeting from the show and updating our blogs daily, so go to the SSN and SDN homepages throughout the show to catch up on what we’re seeing at at the show

Today and tomorrow are the classic days for industry announcements, though folks, believe me, they are the worst days for company announcements. (I am complaining now.) I’m generally at the Portland airport when I see that something newsworthy has broken. It's a bad time to announce news. Everyone is traveling, so the news gets missed—by reporters and readers alike. Or it gets buried in news that was released and written in advance.

Of course, sometimes there’s news that you’re obliged to put out for one reason or another, but you really don’t want it reported. If that’s your situation, put that press release out Wednesday morning about 10 a.m. as the ISC West show floor is opening. It’ll get stomped on—at least for a little while.

So this is what the beginning of my show looks like: On Tuesday, after an on-time landing, I’ll be meeting with some folks about the ESX show (Nashville in June), heading to a SecuritySpecifiers.com event, checking out an Altronix press conference, swinging by the Women’s Security Council reception at Pinot Brasserie, and then going to another industry reception/dinner. See you in the hallways running from event to event.

For me, Wednesday morning will begin with the Axis Breakfast. I’m no fan of breakfasts before the show, but I make an exception for this annual early rally. Axis generally does a good job of keeping it short, informative and lively, and making execs available—plus they’ve made some interesting announcements in recent days which I’m eager to learn more about.

When the showfloor opens at 10 on Wednesday, Tess, Rich, Whit and I will be at our booth (27065) for an hour of "Meet the Editors". Please stop by and say hi.

I’ve got a couple booth visits and a press conference, after which time I’ll be moderating the WSC educational session “Sell yourself, but don’t sell yourself short.” Going to be an interesting discussion, plan to stop by.

Between booth visits, I’ll be interviewing Tammee Thompson—who on March 21 was named vice president and general manager, global security and fire for Johnson Controls on March 21; Niall Jenkins from IMS (which was acquired last week by IHS); Carey Boethel and Ken Francis, who a couple of weeks ago launched Securadyne, and PSA Security's Sharon Shaw.

There's much more, but you'll have to check back here for details.

One more thing, there’s still time to sign up for the Security 5k. Run for fun and make a difference in a needy child’s life.

Check back here for more from ISC West 2012.
 

SIAC offers e-notification for alarm ordinance changes

New Web feature automatically informs members about activity in their cities
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03/23/2012

FRISCO, Texas—The Security Industry Alarm Coalition is giving its members access to an upgraded online database to help them keep pace with ordinance changes that could affect the way they do business.

FCC steps up crackdown on cell jammers

Devices used to block wireless calls can also disrupt alarm signals
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03/23/2012

WASHINGTON—The Federal Communications Commission is stepping up enforcement to halt the sale and use of radio jamming devices, which can indiscriminately interfere with cellular 911 calls and wireless signals from alarm devices.

Barnes Associates/SSN release results of 2012 Wholesale Monitoring Study

Growth in 2011 is 5.7 percent, down slightly from 2010
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03/23/2012

YARMOUTH, Maine—By most measures, the economy is slowly improving. But that doesn’t mask the pain of the past four years, and for many sectors—the security industry included—the recovery has been a case of two steps forward, one step back. Caution still abounds and it continues to temper growth in jobs, investment and spending.

In the face of this sluggishness, how has the monitoring industry fared when it comes to keeping and adding customers? To find out, Barnes Associates, a consulting and advisory firm specializing in the security alarm industry, teamed up with Security Systems News for a second annual survey of wholesale monitoring companies.

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