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Remote doormen: No jacket required for RMR, but mind your data

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Does anyone remember Carlton, the heard-but-never-seen doorman from the forgettable ’70s sitcom “Rhoda”? Little did anyone realize it, but the character was destined to become a model for RMR more than 30 years later: a remote gatekeeper providing access without the need for actual flesh and blood at the doorway.

Carlton and his real-life colleagues have increasingly given way to remote doorman service, with access granted after audio and video review by a central station operator. Depending on the technology that has been installed, the operator can also escort a person through the building after allowing entry. It’s typically safer and cheaper than a 24/7 doorman, and it negates the need for mindless chitchat.

The problem lies in the recording of the encounter, or more specifically what can happen to the data after the encounter. A security company generating RMR from a remote doorman needs to know what regulations are in place to govern the surveillance and what can happen if they don’t meet the letter of the law.

Industry attorney Ken Kirschenbaum took on the topic in a recent online missive that serves as an effective primer for anyone looking to dip into this stream of revenue. Here’s a bit of what he had to say:

The service necessarily has to be concerned with state video and audio laws. Video laws vary; some are rooted in voyeurism laws and others refer to using another’s picture for commercial gain. Audio laws are more similar and are either one-party consent or all-party consent. 

“As with any video or audio system or services, you run the risk of misuse. You also can’t escape the likelihood that other non-consenting people may be in the range of the equipment. For example, while escorting the mailman or the pizza delivery guy in the building, the operator may pick up video or audio of a tenant or others in the corridors or lobby. While the mailman may understand that he is talking with an operator who can see him on video, others [who] may be picked up and recorded are not so advised, and in any event have not consented.

“The real problem is not in the listening or recording, but in the improper use of the data. If data is not disclosed to anyone, then no one is the wiser. It's when the data [becomes] public or it is used for an improper purpose—such as blackmail—that you need to be concerned with violation of the video and audio laws and the consequences that flow from such improper conduct.

For more information on the audio and video laws that could affect your company, click here.

Does retail sell security short? Readers split on value of stores

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06/25/2013

YARMOUTH, Maine—Selling home security at retail stores is one of the hottest trends in the industry. Comcast, AT&T and Lowe’s are among the big players doing it, and some smaller companies are carving a niche there as well. But the majority of SSN poll respondents see it as something else: a fad that won’t be supported in the long run by customers.

ADT taps former telecom exec as new CIO

In the newly created position, Kathleen McLean will use IT strategy to support business operations
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06/24/2013

BOCA RATON, Fla.—The ADT Corp. recently created a new position—that of chief information officer—and has appointed a former telecom executive to the position.

Simon says it's time to cooperate with your local PD

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Giving your customer list to law enforcement makes sense.

That statement seems to fly in the face of convention for the alarm industry, which hasn’t exactly been cozy over the years with the boys in blue. But Dave Simon, writing recently for the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, makes a compelling case for doing so.

Simon argues that there are far more benefits to cooperating with law enforcement than erecting barriers. Despite concerns in the past that sensitive information about customers could be compromised, that hasn’t happened, he said. And he draws another conclusion (agree with it or not) in this age of surveillance: Police departments will eventually get the lists anyway, so why not partner with them as good citizens?

The bottom line, Simon wrote, is that SIAC believes the cooperative approach bears more fruit. Here’s more of what he had to say:

Besides being nice, alarm dealers are actually helping customers in those cities where they provide the lists. Why? Because the list helps the PD do their job, ensure compliance and get systems registered. All that means a better-run alarm management program, improved enforcement and increased public safety. That’s good for the alarm dealer because customers have fewer false dispatches, saving them expensive fines and the risk of losing police response.

SIAC promotes cooperative problem-solving. This is a great example of how we can be supportive and help local jurisdictions—particularly the police department—conserve resources. We’ve found that even the largest national companies give lists. Cooperating with law enforcement is not a novel idea. Supplying customer lists should be an extension of our continued cooperation to ensure well-executed alarm management programs.

Simon invites opinions on the subject, pro or con, at siacinc.wordpress.com.

Security-Net focuses on high-level certification

National integrator has $375 million in revenue
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06/17/2013

LAS VEGAS—Security-Net, a national integrator made up of 20 independent integrators, believes the need for high-level certification for its employees “has never been greater,” Bill Savage told Security Systems News.

Home-sprinkler requirements don’t dampen housing starts

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06/14/2013

QUINCY, Mass.—Homebuilders often oppose state or local laws requiring home fire sprinklers, contending the added expense will negatively impact housing construction. But now positive new housing statistics from California—where home sprinklers are mandated—refute that claim, according to a spokeswoman for the National Fire Protection Association’s Fire Sprinkler Initiative.

Selling alarm gear? Meet your match on new website

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Looking for a pair of used Osborne Hoffmann 2000 receivers? How about a mix of Philips Lifeline 6800 and 6900 PERS units? Or maybe you have a security item to sell but you don’t want to pay to list it?

Welcome to AlarmClassifieds.com. It’s the brainchild of Josh Garner, CEO of Ogden, Utah-based AvantGuard Monitoring, who launched the free website in May because he saw a need for it among his dealers and in the industry at large.

“Last year, I had a number of our dealers who emailed me a list of equipment or tools that they were trying to sell, and they asked me to broadcast out to our entire dealer base that they had these items for sale,” he said. “I knew there had to be a more effective way for dealers to sell things to other dealers. So I went out and bought the domain.”

In addition to providing classified advertising space, the website features a directory where people serving the alarm industry can list their names (or the names of their companies). The classified ads expire in 30 days, but the directory items stay online for a year. All listings are free.

“I envision every vendor who is serving the alarm industry would want to put a directory listing up specifically in their category,” Garner said. “Why wouldn’t they? It’s free advertising.”

Categories on the site include brokers, consultants, manufacturers, marketing, software providers and RMR-enhancing services. There are more than 20 categories listed, and Garner said if you have one to add, “tell us and we’ll create it for you.”

Garner modeled the site on the popular KSL classifieds that serve Web customers in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming. KSL is the NBC news affiliate in Salt Lake City that has basically replaced Craigslist in the region with the advertising section on its home page, he said.

“If you want to buy something, if you want to sell something, you go to KSL.com for free,” he said.

The only mention of AvantGuard on AlarmClassifieds.com is small text block and company logo introducing the website. There is no other display advertising.

“This isn’t about revenue,” Garner said. “It’s a service to my dealers, but it’s really only a service to my dealers if the rest of the industry uses it. It’s about giving something that’s of value to the industry that I think is needed.”

PERS Summit to keep pace with mobile technology, telehealth

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06/10/2013

PARK CITY, Utah—The second annual PERS Summit will reflect changes that are attracting more alarm dealers to this growing market for RMR, including advances in technology that are making personal health management increasingly mobile.

DMP panels ‘newer, faster, more improved’

A dealer hails their speed, extra features and affordability
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06/07/2013

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.—A new series of control panels from Digital Monitoring Products benefits dealers because the panels have extra speed and features and are affordable, according to the operations manager for Atlas Security, based here.

IFSS services revenue soars after business restructure

CEO Rob Hile says construction margins are in the mid-20s, services margins are between 40 and 70 percent
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06/06/2013

FORT MYERS, Fla.—After restructuring Integrated Fire and Security Systems to “go after services business,” CEO Rob Hile said the company increased its services “by $155,000 or a total of 16 percent of our revenue, just by really focusing on it.”

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