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ISC West 2015—The daily monitoring report

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Monday, April 13, 2015

Friday, Day 3

The last day, like the first, started off with a great meeting at the media stage. This time I met George De Marco, ESX chair, and talked about how the different ways booths look to bring in visitors, everything from booth design to attractions. 

Then I headed into the show floor for a meeting with Cliff Dice, company president and CEO, and Carol Enman, Dice SVP for strategic business. We talked a lot about the reception of Dice's cloud-hosted central monitoring software platform, now UL certified. "I actually thought there would be more resistance to it when we came out with it," Dice said, pleased with the positive reactions he's heard at the show.

Just after noon, outside the show floor, I did a video interview with Darryl Bray, sales manager for Security Central. We talked about the company's upcoming CSAA Five Diamond certification and increasing sales efforts.

I then went back in to the show to visit EMERgency 24's booth to hear about the partnership with BluePoint. I met with Patrick Devereaux, SVP of EMERgency 24; John Shales, partner at BluePoint; John McNutt, partner and CEO at BluePoint; and Terri Douglas, co-founder and principal at Catapult public relations firm.

My final meeting of this year's ISC West was with Larry Folsom, president of I-View Now, who told me about the company's latest integration with Honeywell's Total Connect.

I thought it was a great show. I look forward to hearing more from the people I met with, and seeing them at future shows.

Thursday, Day 2

Helping out at the Security 5k in Sunset Park was certainly not a bad way to start the day. It was sunny, with very little wind—all around a great day to get out for fresh air and a walk or run. On the ride back, I met Kevin G. Clark, global communications & PR for Genetec who was kind enough to point out some of Las Vegas' notable buildings along the strip for this new-comer.

One of the things I liked hearing from central stations at this show is what makes each of them stand out. My first show floor meeting of the day was with Acadian Monitoring Services, where I met with Jason Caldwell, national sales representative, Tim Newman, business development, and Kristin Hebert, security operations manager. "Where we really differentiate [ourselves] is our special focus on video monitoring and medical monitoring," Caldwell told me. The company also operates the second largest AES network in the country, according to Caldwell, which has seen a bit of growth lately. "We're seeing a lot of growth on that network now," with upwards of a thousand customer radios added recently, he said.

From there I went over to IDIS, one of the top 10 biggest booths at the show this year, to hear about what the company was doing with all the space. Right away, I met Benjamin Bryant, IDIS public relations consultant and Tara Farley, IDIS marketing and PR consultant. While at the booth, I was able to talk with a couple of people from 4sight imaging, one of IDIS' partners. Brook Jackson, managing director for 4Sight, and Marcus Boden, business development director,  talked with me about 4Sight's license plate recognition and gave me a demo. I also met with Young-Dal Kim, company CEO. 

Jens Kolind is the VP of external partnerships at Innovative Business Software. We spoke a couple of months back about SBN Cloud, the first UL-listed cloud-hosted monitoring automation platform. It was great to meet him and amazing to see what a UL central station could look like with SBN Cloud, below.

I met Kevin Helmig, president and CTO for Centra-Larm, and Scott Mailhot, VP of operations, not too long ago, but it was good to see them again and their first ISC West booth.

I circled back to the IDIS booth a little later, to talk with Keith Drummond, senior director of sales for IDIS America. He told that this event really signals the company's entrance to the American market, a key step in becoming a global company. While this regional launch was preceded by two others, UK and Middle East launches, the American extension of IDIS was planned before the first step outside of the company's native Asia region. Launching in America was a very strategic process, according to Drummond. "The one thing I'm letting people know is that we are here to stay." I got a chance to meet IDIS America president Andrew Myung on this second trip to the booth.

I briefly met Brett Springall, Security Central's CEO, at the media booth. He mentioned that the company has been increasing its sales team lately.

After that, I met with a.p.i. Monitoring's Lewis Jacobson, the company's director of dealer sales. He told me that a big thing for the company at this show is the release of their partnership with Numera's mPERS.

Monitronics' Bruce Mungiguerra, the VP of operations, told me that the company is moving to a new facility, 165,000 square feet large. This will be the consolidation of three different Monitronics buildings in the Dallas area under one roof. The new building will be three stories, which makes more sense for a central station than the current building's six floors. The new building is on a lake, with walking trails in the surrounding area, and two gym facilities. This will create "a campus environment that our employees can be proud of," he said.

One of the biggest things I heard about when talking with COPS Monitoring, is that the company is expanding in both staff and technology. In terms of staff, it is adding 30 dispatcher stations at its Florida center, with similar expansions planned for COPS' Tennessee and Arizona facilities, Jim McMullen, president and COO said. In technology, the company is upgrading its capacity to be able to handle as many as 3.4 million accounts. 

"We've been talking a lot about the econtract app" at the show, Michael Zydor, Affiliated Monitoring's managing director, said. Apps were the big thing this year, with a new end-user app, which takes functions from the company's previous end-user app and puts it into a newly made format, made much "simpler," according to Zydor.

Next, I met with Steven Schmit at UL to talk about new standards under the new version of UL827, published last Fall. Central stations will now need more redundancy and capablities and cybersecurity measures. This is the first time Cybersecurity has been directly involved in requirements, Schmit said. "Now with that in the standard we're going to have conversations about [central stations'] network security, how they keep their customers' data secure." The current plan is for these standards to be required by late 2016. I also met with Neil Lakomiak, director of business development and innovation, at the UL booth. Lakomiak and I talked about some of the other technologies that could see standards with UL, such as mPERS.

My final floor meeting was guided by Tiffany Coles, marketing manager for Bold Technologies. I started by talking with her and Chuck Speck, company president about the next version of its Manitou platform, Neo. From there, Tiffany and I walked over to White Rabbit's booth, where I met Rod Coles, White Rabbit's CEO, as well as Toby Prescott, White Rabbit's product engineer, and saw a demonstration of their products which are designed to lead DIY and home automation back to the central station.

After leaving the show floor, I attended Dynamark's party, held in the renaissance suite in the venetian—quite a view from the 36th floor. There, I met Trey Alter, president and CEO, and Hank Groff, senior VP of marketing and business development.

My final event for the day was to have dinner with Galaxy Control Systems at Carnevino in the Palazzo. It was nice to meet Rick Caruthers, company VP, and Luke Krawec, account executive with LRG Markerting. 

 

Wednesday, Day 1

As I've mentioned in previous blogs, this is my first ISC West show. Day 1 of the show went pretty well, from start to finish, I thought. I got the chance to finally meet some people in person whom I've talked to via phone about multiple times, like Christopher Denniston of Rapid Response and David Smith of COPS.

My day started with the "Meet the Editors" event at the media stage outside the show floor. Here I briefly met Jim McMullen, president and COO of COPS Monitoring. I also met two members of the CheckVideo team: Nik Gagvani, president and GM, and Ed Troha, director of marketing.

My first meeting on the show floor was with Christopher Denniston and Dan Gelinas of Rapid Response. Unlike every other person listed in this day's blog entry, Gelinas is one person I had met before, at Security Systems News' office in Yarmouth, Maine. I had a question on my mind for a couple of months; what is Rapid Response referring to in he company's ad which states that on "everything changes" on 4.15.15, today. When I met with Christopher Denniston, he told me that it referred to the company's new mobile apps for monitoring one or multiple PERS, updates on existing dealer and customer apps, as well as the increased redundancy in the company's relatively new California facility. The facility will be able to handle the company's entire account load at one time, he said.

All American's patriotic booth was the site of my second visit. The company decided to use ISC West 2015 to launch its My View brand of cameras specifically for its dealers. Bob Keefe, the company's president, told me that the company has spent a while testing the cameras. "We've been testing it with our sister company (EMG Alarm, a Florida-based installer), making sure the product was as good as we hoped it would be before we sold it to our dealers," Keefe said. I also met with Rob Keefe, company VP, and Tammy Zappa. Zappa said Bob Keefe is "constantly" looking for new items to offer dealers.

MKS's booth really represented part of its 30th anniversary changes, with the whole staff dressed in the company's new color scheme of orange and grey. I met with Bailey Bhogal, MKS' marketing specialist, Joe Ligouri, the CFO and COO, and Victoria Ferro, president. The company was recently awarded at the show. Ferro was named one of the 10 WSC Women of the Year on Tuesday. 

My last show floor meeting was with Alarm Monitoring Service, where I got the chance to meet Rick Jolet and Dera De Roche, the co-owners, as well as Bob Gates the company's VP of sales. Jolet is also the CEO, and Dera is the CFO. They talked to me about a few of the things that make their monitoring center unique. One thing that Dera pointed out was that the company has an answering service for its customers.

My evening was quite busy. After leaving the show floor, I went to Affiliated's cocktail reception in the lovely Lavo, in the Palazzo. Here I got a chance to meet Daniel Oppenheim, the company's vice president, Michael Zydor, the managing director, and Stanley Oppenheim, president of DGA Security.

From there, I went to the Bellagio's Hyde lounge for National Monitoring Center's annual event. I met with Michael Schubert, the president, Woodie Andrawos, the executive vice president, and Sharon Elder, NMC's vice president of sales. During my time at the event, I was lucky enough to catch the Bellagio's fountain show.

My final event for the evening, and Day 1, was COPS Monitoring's third annual "bonanza" at Gilley's in Treasure Island. Amidst good food, live music, and a bull-riding competition, I met Donavan Maden, the company's executive vice president, and David Smith, COPS' director of marketing.

Now I'm preparing for tomorrow's Security 5k!

 

Tuesday, before the show

After landing, my first meeting of the week was with Mike Bodnar, president of Security Partners, at the new facility—the next installment of On Location: Central Station. The station is brand new, having officially opened on Monday. There was certainly a "new" look to it, especially with slideshows of photos taken before and after the renovations. It was really interesting to hear from Bob Schott, Security Partners' director of information technologies, about items carried over from the buildings previous use as a government data center. I also met John McCann, who talked with me about the new line of exclusive Mace-brand products that Security Partners' dealers will be offering, among which is a diesel tank monitor. 

From there I attended Altronix's dinner, held at the DB Brasserie in the Venetian. Alan Forman, Altronix president, presented on the latest products from the company, including technology to monitor power supply. I also enjoyed meeting and talking to Kirby Han, Altronix Art Director and Rodney Thayer, a consultant with Smithee, Spelvin, Agnew & Splinge.

Prior to leaving

I'll be updating this page every day this week to stay current on my adventures at this year's ISC West. This is my first security trade show, and I'm looking forward to it. To hear about the future plans of central stations and monitoring companies, be sure to check back in!

Security Partners acquires 1 Time assets

AES radio network important in deal
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03/31/2015

HENDERSON, Nev.—Security Partners, a Lancaster, Pa.-based wholesale monitoring company, acquired equipment, accounts and staff of 1 Time, a third-party central station based here, Mike Bodnar, president of Security Partners, told Security Systems News.

Security Partners' upcoming plans in the west

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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

In February, Security Partners appointed Rick Guzman to the role of west coast operations manager, where he will be overseeing both the new Las Vegas facility as well as the Anaheim facility. I got to speak with Guzman, as well as Bob Schott, director of information technologies at Security Partners, about what this role will entail.

A big item currently on Rick’s plate is getting the Las Vegas location ready for its opening ceremony at ISC West.

In order to meet this date, Guzman is hoping to get the facility up and running by the beginning of April.

Anything special planned for the ceremony? Other than tours, there are a couple of surprises planned, Schott said.

“A priority is people. … Making sure that we have enough people to take care of both facilities, the current dealer base, and also to be prepared for the growth we’re looking at,” Guzman said.

Part of this growth might come from the ability to show the new facility at ISC West, they said.

“Rick is also going to be a key player in establishing that continuity between the four central stations, evaluating best practices across the organization and putting that into production,” Schott said.

Schott said this will involve weekly evaluations with the staff in each location, and “taking the best of what each of our four centers have to offer, and then translating that into a standard operating procedure for the entire organization.”

Another duty for Guzman is connecting both of these facilities with the network of Security Partners’ other facility in San Antonio, and headquarters in Lancaster, Pa. This involves a redundancy to a point where each location could handle communications from all four stations at one time.

Security Partners transitions to Manitou system

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01/14/2015

LANCASTER, Pa.—Security Partners installed the Bold Manitou platform with the CSS Aeonix Telephony and SecurVoice call recording platform at two of its operation centers, based here and in San Antonio.

Security Partners to open fourth location

Las Vegas as the strategic next step
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11/26/2014

LANCASTER, Pa.—Security Partners announced Nov. 25 that it is opening a new 7,424- square-foot central station in Las Vegas, adding to its national network of three other locations.

How I use my system

Talking panels and keypads with Bob Schott
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10/08/2014

Bob Schott was recently hired as director of information technology at Security Partners, a wholesale monitoring company based in Lancaster, Pa. In his new position, Schott will oversee all aspects of IT in Security Partners’ three central stations.

Security Partners, WAVE Electronics collaborate on rebate program

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09/24/2014

LANCASTER, Pa.—Security Partners and WAVE Electronics recently introduced the 4-Star Program, a collaborative rebate program between the two companies that gives security dealers a profit advantage for products purchased from WAVE Electronics with monitoring services fro

Security Partners to train dealers in managed video

With 40 percent growth in its video monitoring customer base, Security Partners now working with CheckVideo on new training program for video verification, video hosting and guard services
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09/17/2014

LANCASTER, Pa.—Nearly two years after launching its advanced services division, Security Partners, a wholesale monitoring company based here, is partnering with CheckVideo to help drive managed video sales.

Video in the home goes mainstream

Checking in on kids, elderly parents and pets facilitated by residential video surveillance
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09/02/2014

In the second decade of the 21st century, home security is no longer just about catching bad guys.

ESX roundup

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

With ESX 2014 in the rearview mirror, I wanted to combine some of my experiences into one summarizing blog of an event rich in educational seminars and insightful speakers. Here are some of the sights and sounds, in more or less chronological order:

How, in 2014 and beyond, does a security company remain relevant? That’s the question Safeguard Security CEO John Jennings addressed at the ESA eye-opener breakfast, urging audience members to free themselves from outmoded ways of doing and thinking about business.

Titled “Dinosaurs, Woolly Mammoths, Saber tooth tigers and you,” the presentation very directly explored strategies to help security companies avoid becoming, well, extinct. His recommendations? Promoting unorthodox perspectives, challenging the obvious and fostering divergent ideas. He encouraged listeners to emulate the disruptive, risk-taking attitudes prevalent in the tech startup culture—first by considering failure not as an endgame, but as an occasional and even necessary obstacle along the pathway to better ideas.

Jennings also told attendees to ask the tough questions about their businesses, and to be uncompromising about having employees who both perform in the field and elevate the atmosphere in the office.

Strategic planning, Jennings noted, can be relegated to the dustbin of history. In an industry so rapidly evolving and so hard to predict, such projects no longer constitute a good use of time. Oh, and organizational charts? Those can go too. Divisions between personnel need no longer be so neatly divided or even hierarchical, as leaders should aim to pool ideas from all levels of their management structure.

Jennings also made a persuasive and rather funny case for doing away with the term “central station.” “Central station—really?!” he asked with half-serious outrage. He then asked if anyone outside the industry actually knows what a central station is. He’s got a point. There’s something a little unsleek and Star Trek-y about the phrase. And that’s misleading; the facilities I’ve visited are nothing if not sleek.

In the afternoon I moderated a seminar featuring Tom Szell, SVP, ADS Security, Mike Bodnar, president, Security Partners, and Brandon Savage, SVP customer experience and operations at My Alarm Center/Alarm Capital Alliance. It was a good mix of perspectives, and the trio wasn’t shy about proposing some forward-thinking ideas. Savage urged attendees to make customer support not just a differentiator but the key differentiator at their companies. Szell affirmed that the interactive services revolution is an enormous positive for the industry, but said the next imperative is figuring out how to provide top-notch support for this ever-expanding array of services. With respect to the hiring and training process, Mike Bodnar encouraged attendees to identify people with the right mix of hard and soft skills, and added that the demand for operators with those characteristics is only going to increase.

From a monitoring standpoint, the panelists left no stone unturned: PERS, mobile PERS, installer apps, subscriber apps, the ASAP to PSAP program, customer surveys, video verification, and interactive services and the new expectations for customer support they’ve produced.

In the latter part of the session, the audience members posed some superb questions as well. Some asked how to extend the life of PERS accounts or how to develop the most effective and informative customer surveys. Others asked about the threat of DIY  / MIY systems and how best to cope with broader market awareness of these systems.

The ESX show floor kicks into full gear Wednesday. I plan to be there the next two days and to make a point of getting to as many of the educational seminars as possible. 

 

DAY 2 - ESX 2014

 

It had the feel of a seminar anyone in the monitoring space needed to hear. Moderated by Don Childers, COO of Security Central, the panel titled “IP, the Central Station and All that Jazz” got down to the brass tacks of what it takes to be a monitoring company in 2014. One of the ruling themes: You need to honestly assess the strengths and weaknesses of your monitoring company now to determine how well suited or not it is to be reliable hub of IP signals.

The panelist lineup included Sascha Kylau, VP central station solutions and services, OneTel; Morgan Hertel, VP of operations at Rapid Response Monitoring; and Mark McCall, director of IT, Security Central.

The “Internet of Things” movement was broached early in the session, with Kylau mentioning some possibilities for monitoring that might have seemed farfetched a few years ago but that now seem totally plausible. Pet tracking, mobile medical monitoring, mobile tracking, geo fencing, aggregating information from household appliances—Kylau touched on all these possibilities. Some of these services, such as PERS, are already well-established streams of RMR for some monitoring companies, and only stand to become more mainstream in the years ahead.

The panelists agreed that investing in quality ISPs and bandwidth will pay off in the long run. Hertel noted that during Hurricane Sandy, Rapid Response was hit was an astonishing rate of signals for two weeks straight. With such taxing scenarios in mind, he advised monitoring companies to invest in reliable, first-rate ISPs, and to work closely with automation providers to ensure their company can accommodate IP traffic in any set of circumstances. To that point, McCall added that it’s crucial to invest in a network monitoring platform that tracks signal information and informs you when the IP firewall is about to max out.

The panelists didn’t just discuss the equipment investments in the central station IP domain. They also touched on the human capital aspect of the business, which is evolving in proportion to the technology. Hertel said Rapid Response now employs a 25-person IT and software development team.

Later in the day I caught up with Jeremy Mclerran, director of marketing at Qolsys. The company’s big news at the show was the launch of its new user interface intended to make the customer experience more consistent and sleek. To that end, the new look is a rousing success; it’s an uncluttered, clean, visually appealing interface. McLerran explained that Qolsys is so closely integrated with Alarm.com that remodeling the company’s own interface to make it closer in alignment with that platform’s look and feel “just made sense.”

Though the new look features flat, monochromatic icons, McLerran pointed out that the changes aren’t just cosmetic. The company’s intent was to design a “forward-compatible” panel that interoperates with a host of wireless radios and has a slew of home control functionalities already embedded. Qolsys also managed to elicit some guffaws with its anonymous banner ads adorning the escalators: “1980 called. It wants its panel back.” The banners also encouraged industry members to take a deep breath and  “just say no” to rubber button keypads.

In the afternoon I met with Dave Mayne, VP of marketing at Resolution Products, which today announced the release of its new Helix panel, scheduled to ship everywhere in December. Mayne said the panel reflects Resolution’s goal of creating a panel that reduces the amount of time dealers need to spend servicing accounts, while giving them a pathway to adding new home control functions. The Helix employs software and interactive services from SecureNet. It will ship to a select group of early adopters in July, he said.

I also spoke with Kirk MacDowell, VP sales, intrusion-Americas, at Interlogix, about the company’s recent acquisition of Ultra High Speed, a technology provider of telecommunications infrastructure equipment. The move expands the company’s global intrusion portfolio in the residential and small- to medium-sized retail verticals. A big draw, MacDowell said, was that UHS was a “proven, developed and launched” service.

First thing tomorrow morning I’ll be attending the ESX Rise and Shine breakfast, where I’ll be listening closely to what some of the new entrants to the industry have to say about their go-to-market strategies and their vision for the security industry of tomorrow. I’m eager for this session, and from what I’ve heard from attendees, I’m not alone. I expect to see few if any empty seats.

 

Day 3 - ESX 2014

 

The final day of ESX began with a highly anticipated panel moderated by ESX chair George De Marco. The panel was intended to showcase how some of the new security entrants envision the direction of the industry.

The lineup included Adam Mayer, VP strategy and new business development, Time Warner Cable; Gene LaNois, GM, Nest Labs, Pro Channel; and Mike Hackett, VP sales and marketing, Qolsys.

De Marco did not refrain from asking the tough questions, or in other words, the questions the audience wanted to hear. In view of Google-owned Nest recently acquiring Dropcam, he asked LaNois if he thought third-party monitoring centers and installers would remain crucial components of security, or if DIY systems would factor them out of the equation. The response from LaNois, and from the other panelists who chimed in, were not exactly discouraging for installers or monitoring personnel. Yes, both LaNois and Mayer agreed the DIY market was poised to take off. But they also agreed that for more complex integration projects, installers will still be in high demand, and will continue to play a major role in shaping the industry moving forward. The key takeaways of the panel were that lifestyle services and monitored security can and will share a symbiotic relationship, and that DIY systems, while a threat to central station RMR, are not necessarily going to destroy the entire central station model. If anything, they might just modify it.

After the seminar I caught up with Telguard’s Shawn Welsh, VP marketing and business development, and Pamela Benke, director of marketing, to discuss the company’s new cellular alarm communicator for CDMA networks, the TG-1 Express CDMA. Welsh said the product goes along way toward expanding the company’s residential reach, turning rural or hilly regions, where cellular coverage can be spotty, into more viable zones for Telguard’s services. Compatible with Verizon’s 3G/4G wireless networks, the CDMA alternative is being marketed as a replacement to soon-to-be obsolete GSM products. Telguard is making the product eligible for the company’s Upgrade Incentive Program, which allows dealers to receive $25 for replacing GSM units.

On my final day at ESX, I got wind that the Partnership for Priority Video Alarm Response met its ESX deadline for developing video verification best practices. Mark McCall, IT director at Security Central, Keith Jentoft, president at Videofied-RSI Technologies, and Peter Tallman, program manager at Underwriters Laboratories shed some light on their roles in the process, and on the numeric threat evaluation criteria outlined in the new recommendations.

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