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Intel invests $15m in Prism SkyLabs

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Prism Skylabs, a two-year-old startup founded by Ron Palmeri and 3VR’s Steve Russell today announced a $15 million Series B funding round led by Intel Capital, Intel Corporations’ investment and M&A business. The round included investments from Presidio Ventures, Triangle Peak, Data Collective, Expa, and some existing investors, Russell told me.

Prism Skylab is a cloud service that transforms any video camera “into visual merchandising, auditing and business intelligence tool that can be accessed in real time from any device.”

“On the business side, it’s hard to overstate the value of having [an investor] like Intel for a company like Prism,” Russell said.

The funding round was announced today in San Diego at the 14th Annual Intel Capital Global Summit where Intel awarded a total of $65 million in funding to 16 companies.

“At this conference we are able to look at how Prism might integrate with next-gen mobile devices [as well as the possibilities, for example, of using] new techniques in a data center that will allow us to increase our performance over 100-fold.”  

“The core of our business is the R&D and product work we do, and we’ll continue to invest in that,” Russell said, but the bulk of the funds from this round will be used for sales and marketing.

Since its launch, Prism has “brought on a host of interesting first customers, the new challenge for the business is to continue to serve the large customers we’ve won already and to build out our sales and marketing team to expand [the customer base] even further.”

Prism SkyLabs has “well north of 50 customers” that include Fortune 500 companies and well-known brands that fall into the category of “large distributed retail companies.”

“We solve one or two important problems for them,” Russell said. “We provide a set of data and instruments in the real world that heretofore you could only get for online properties. … The other value we provide is allowing global brands to peek in and better manage their stores,” he added.

“It’s the analytic and visual [capabilities] that are really the secret sauce,” he said.

Prism now has about 30 employees and Russell expects to double the size of the company within the next 12 months.

Prism raised $7.5 million in funding in October 2012.

“Intel Capital has long been known as a hands-on investor,” Russell said. Among the ways the investor will assist Prism include “providing networking and matchmaking [among] its truly vast portfolio [of partners].”

The Intel Summit “[has] been an incredibly productive and fun three days for us,” he said.

Women in Security: 2013 Special Report

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The editorial mission of Security Systems News is distinct from other publications in the security industry. We focus on breaking business news (as opposed to products, how-to information or case studies). More specifically, we focus on writing stories that will help our readers make good decisions about their businesses.

In our November issue, we will dedicate one story in each section of our publication—Commercial and Systems Integration; Fire Installation; Monitoring; Residential; and Suppliers—to a woman leader in security. In addition, two women leaders—a consultant and a legislative expert—are profiled in our General News section. Those profiles will also be online this week.

This year, we interviewed Terry Basford of 4b Technology, Elizabeth Hunger of SIA, Karen Head of Kratos PSS, Jennifer Jezek of York Electronic Systems, Betsy Francis of AT&T, Elle Daley of COPS Monitoring and Deb Spitler of HID.

It’s our annual Women in Security special report. This is the fifth year in row that we’ve compiled this report. We don’t go through a formal nominating process, so this is not a vote-driven selection. Rather, we ask our readers to send in nominations and then Tess, Leif and I decide who we’d like to profile.
 
I’m happy to tell you that we get more and more nominations every year. It seems like it’s not as difficult to find women leaders in all sectors of security as it was five years ago. The women who were nominated but were not chosen this year will, in many cases, be interviewed for SSN news articles in the future.

While the women profiled all have unique stories, there’s one noticeable common thread. They love their work and they’re making a difference in their respective workplaces. That’s the good news.

The not-so-good news is that we still hear about how women are “tested” in the boardroom or field because men assume they don’t understand technology, and we still see a paucity of women in the industry—across all sectors.

Read through the profiles in our Women in Security special report and you’ll notice how well this special report aligns with Security Systems News’ editorial goal of helping you make good decisions about your business.

There are plenty of studies that show that there's a correlation between the presence of women in a company's boardroom and profitability. Time after time, studies reveal that companies that have a higher percentage of women executives also have higher corporate profitability on average. Period. Here’s a good story about those studies.

Of course, it’s difficult to prove causation—to show that the reason one company is profitable is because it hires more women executives.

However, ponder that correlation as you read through this year’s profiles. We believe this industry can use more people like HID’s Deb Spitler, Kratos’ Karen Head and the others profiled here.

Hiring smart, ambitious people is a good business move. Making the extra effort to hire a few smart, ambitious women, may prove to be an even better move for your business.

IHS: More security systems in homes in next four years

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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The research group IHS believes—as others have predicted—that the penetration rate of home security systems in North America will rise in the next few years.

That rate has been stuck at 20 percent for the past couple of decades, but many have predicted that the “new entrants” into the industry, cablecos and telecoms, through their advertising and other efforts—will help finally move the needle on that particular statistic. IHS has jumped on that bandwagon in is its newly released report, “The World Maker for Intruder Alarms–2013 Edition.”

In a news release, IHS says that there is “realistic momentum with the growing trend to combine home automation and home security systems, on a single platform.”  

The report says that “the residential sector accounted for 40.7 percent of the $2.7 billion global intruder alarm market in 2012, and is forecast to be one of the fastest-growing verticals with a five-year compound annual growth rate of 5.3 percent from 2012 to 2017.”

In a statement, Adi Pavlovic, analyst for access control, fire and security at IHS “Home-management integration is gaining the most popularity in North America, which will increase the penetration rate of intruder alarm products into the residential sector. Europe also may not be too far behind, as energy-management features are making their way into more homes every year. Deployment in Asia, however, is expected to be the slowest due to its large multifamily-apartment culture and the absence of professional monitoring services.”

The story is different on the commercial side, according to IHS. “While the trend to integration is becoming popular in single-family homes, its progress in the commercial sector continues to be slow.” The research group blames the “lack of unified legislation across each technology platform” for the stagnation it sees in the commercial side, noting that  regions “with more lenient regulations, such as the Middle East, benefit from having the opportunity to integrate multiple systems into a single solution. Such an approach is not only more convenient, but also saves time and lowers costs by working with just one installer.”

IHS advises manufacturers “interested in integrated solutions should continue to focus on the residential market while integration in commercial applications remains sluggish, as the industry as a whole awaits standardization.”

 

ASIS 2013 roundup: Highlights from the show floor

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10/02/2013

CHICAGO—Security cameras features that give security directors “actionable, business intelligence” and take the potential for human error out of the equation were common themes at this year’s ASIS International, which drew more than 20,000 here to the McCormick Center Sept. 24-27.

ASG, guard company team up?

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

I received an announcement today from Davis Mergers and Acquisitions Group about super-regional security company ASG establishing a strategic relationship with Ray Cannedy Security & Investigations (RCSI), a guard company based in Wichita Falls, Texas. According to their website, RCSI is a provider of: patrol service, armed and unarmed guard service, courier service, and armored car service. Davis Mergers and Acquisitions Group represented RCSI in the transaction, the announcement said.

Integration companies partnering with guard companies is a trend we've seen lately. Securitas and Convergint partnered in 2011. Here's that story. Stanley partnered with U.S. Security Associates in April. Here's that story. And in 2009 guarding giant G4S got into integration with the acquisition of Adesta. Here's that story.  So I assumed at first that this was the same sort of partnership, except on a much limited basis. However, I just spoke to Ralph Masino, CFO at ASG, and he clarified that the deal was, in fact, a  small account acquisition deal.  RCSI historically has done both guarding and some limited alarm monitoring, he said. The company decided to shed its  alarm monitoring accounts, which were acquired by ASG, Masino said. RCSI is still continuing with all of its guard services.

 

 

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.

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