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Going phone-free: A ringing endorsement for ASAP

Bill Hobgood details Richmond’s experience leading an alarm ‘revolution’
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04/11/2012

LAS VEGAS—For Bill Hobgood, it’s easy to sum up the effectiveness of the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol: “We hate telephones ringing. We love ASAP.”

Can Tweets hurt your central?

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Social networking is a double-edged sword. It can be a boon to communication, but an ill-advised post can rebound to haunt you—and maybe your central—even if it’s quickly deleted.

So how do you manage the use of these sites and actually get them to help your business?

A CSAA webinar, “Social Media in the Central Station,” will take on the topic from 1 to 2 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 18. The session will be presented by Annie Roderick, monitoring center manager for Wayne Alarm Systems of Lynn, Mass., and Melissa Courville, a marketing executive with DICE Corp. and chairwoman of the CSAA Social Media Committee.

“Networking sites like Facebook and Twitter … give way to fast blurb results that can be easily found over the Internet at any time, sometimes linking to your business,” Courville said. “Not only are these social media outlets quick and easy to use, but they offer both helpful and hurtful connotations to business reputations.”

The webinar, adapted from material shared at the 2011 CSAA Fall Operations Management Seminar, will teach attendees how to harness the power of networking sites and how to address central station staff about their use. Case studies will be shared to illustrate the do’s and don’ts.

Space for the session is limited. To reserve a seat, go to the CSAA registration site.

Monitoring contract provision can stand in way of sale

If your third-party monitoring center has a right of first refusal on your alarm company, that can impede selling it to anyone else
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04/04/2012

LAS VEGAS—Read the fine print on your contract with your third-party monitoring center. You may find there’s a clause buried in it that says the monitoring center has the right to buy your alarm company before you can sell it to somebody else.

Barnes/SSN survey takes pulse of industry

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How did the wholesale monitoring industry hold up in 2011? Michael Barnes knows.

Barnes, founding partner of Barnes Associates, a consulting and advisory firm specializing in the security alarm industry, recently completed a joint survey with Security Systems News that involved the biggest players in the industry. It was the second year that Barnes has conducted the survey with SSN, and it provided some interesting insights.

Without completely tipping Barnes’ hand, let’s just say that the industry grew. I had a chance to find out more about it this week in conversations with two leaders of the monitoring world, Russ MacDonnell of Rapid Response and Don Maden of COPS Monitoring. They both confirmed what the Barnes/SSN survey found, and that bodes well for the industry.

I’ll have more about the survey soon, both on the SSN website and in the April issue.

CSAA webinars: The Central Station Alarm Association has two sessions on tap that promise to be of interest to members and nonmembers alike.

“Building a Partnership with Insurers,” scheduled for 1 to 2 p.m. March 14, will focus on how insurers are resurrecting the insurance/alarm industry/law enforcement triad for lower losses and greater profits. “Social Media in the Central Station,” set for April 18 from 1 to 2 p.m., will examine the benefits and hazards of Facebook and Twitter in the monitoring workplace.

For more information on either webinar, contact Stephanie Morgan at smorgan@csaaintl.org or call 703-242-4670, Ext. 15.

New head of the class at CSAA

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Whether it’s informing members about best practices, the latest technology or training that can help their bottom lines, the Central Station Alarm Association has made it a mission to constantly raise the bar. That bar got a boost this month with the appointment of Stephanie S. Morgan, the CSAA’s first full-time director of education and training.

In her newly created position, Morgan will be responsible for expanding the CSAA’s technical and professional training, and for building on its foundation of courses, workshops and webinars. She joins the organization after 10 years in post-secondary education as an instructor and administrator.

“She brings a depth of understanding of the theoretical and practical applications of education and training not only to CSAA, but to the industry as well,” Steve Doyle, CSAA executive vice president and CEO, said in a prepared statement. “No industry succeeds in the long term without goals to continually educate and upgrade its work force. Stephanie will bring a fresh perspective to our programs and long-term educational goals.”

Morgan recently completed her doctorate in rhetoric and composition, with a concentration in technological literacy, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Five Diamond club: Congratulations also go out to the Crime Alert Monitoring Center of San Jose, Calif., which recently received Five Diamond certification from the CSAA. Crime Alert is one of fewer than 150 centrals nationwide to have earned the distinction.  

Vance in Vegas; Five Diamonds for Johnson Controls

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The last time SSN caught up with Mary Jo Vance, in April 2011, she was contemplating taking the summer off to “ride cross-country on my Harley” after leaving CenterPoint Technologies. Vance, better known in the industry as MJ, recently let CSAA members know she is “alive and very well in Vegas” after landing a new gig: manager of 1 Time Inc.’s new central station in Henderson, Nev.

MJ says she’ll have more details soon about her latest endeavor, but the company is still building its website and sorting through “new ideas and new adventures. … Right now we can’t give you the full picture.”

MJ served as vice president of operations and business development for CenterPoint for three years before what she described as an amicable departure last spring. A well-known and respected leader in the industry, she received the CSAA’s Manager of the Year award in 2007 and the Presidential Award from the Fire Marshals’ Association of Missouri in 2010.

Five Diamonds for Johnson: Congratulations to Johnson Controls’ central station in Milwaukee, which recently joined an elite group by earning Five Diamond certification from the CSAA. The station is among 132 of roughly 2,700 centrals nationwide to have received the distinction, according to the CSAA’s website.

To qualify, all of Johnson Controls’ central operators had to pass a CSAA online training course, proving their proficiency in alarm verification, PSAP communications, knowledge of electronic communications equipment and the standards of Underwriters Laboratories, Factory Mutual, the National Fire Protection Association and other organizations.

“This prestigious certification reflects the dedication and determination our central station operators bring to the job to help protect the many corporate customers we monitor every day in the U.S.,” Paul Pisarski, manager of field support and remote operations for the company’s Building Efficiency unit, said in a prepared statement.

Calling all duffers: Looking to get into the swing at ISC West before everyone hits the show floor? Then this one’s for you: the ninth annual Alarm Research and Educational Foundation (AIREF) golf tournament, scheduled for Tuesday, March 27 at the Revere Golf Club in Las Vegas.

The Electronic Security Association created the nonprofit AIREF in 1977 as a way to help raise money for industry research. Funding for the foundation is derived almost solely from the golf tournament, which promises players “a casual golf outing” with other industry professionals while supporting AIREF in the process.

To register for the tournament, visit www.airef.org. For more information, call 203-762-2444 or email Pat Remes at premes@airef.org.

Former Honeywell exec Cornett to head PERS company

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

 

The private equity firm Generation3 Capital is getting into the PERS game, announcing this week that it has acquired LogicMark, a Virginia-based designer and manufacturer of medical alarm systems. Generation3 was joined in the deal by Promus Equity Partners LLC, according to a Gen3 statement. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Adding to the news is the fact that LogicMark is bringing aboard former Honeywell execs Ben Cornett, who will be the new CEO, and Kevin O’Connor, who will serve as president. Both formerly worked at Honeywell Security Group, as president and vice president of global sales, respectively. Most recently they have been involved with EZ Watch, another company in Chicago-based Gen3's portfolio. Cornett is still serving as CEO, while O'Connor has moved on full time to LogicMark.

“The PERS market is growing rapidly in both the durable medical equipment and security channels,” O’Connor said. “We are excited to be involved with LogicMark and have the opportunity to work with some new customers in the DME market, as well as working with some old friends in the security market.”

What are Cornett’s views on the PERS world? I’ll learn more in an interview with him this week, with a story to follow.

CSAA webinar: For anyone with a hole in his (or her) dance card Jan. 18, the CSAA has announced that it will be the new date for a webinar on “Social Media Marketing and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).” The online session will feature panelists Yvonne Grahovac of Alarm.com, and Richard Hahn of Bold Technologies. Register at https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/164912682.  

Partisan bluster and the threat to centrals

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Friday, December 9, 2011

How could the alarm industry have gotten caught up in the partisan bickering over extending the Social Security payroll tax cut? It’s a long story, but here’s the quick pitch:

A bill proposed in February by Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y.—the Broadband for First Responders Act of 2011— contained provisions that threatened the alarm industry, namely an FCC auction of bands of spectrum used by centrals. The revenue would help offset the reallocation of the “D-Block” of spectrum in the 700 MHz range for a public safety broadband network, a byproduct of the communication problems experienced during the Sept. 11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina.

Auctioning spectrum used by centrals would be hugely problematic for the industry on many fronts, a fact not lost on the Alarm Industry Communications Committee. The AICC, working with police and fire protection groups from around the nation, has been lobbying the FCC about the potential problems, and surprise—apparently the frequency provisions have been dropped from the latest version of the bill. There are other messy details, of course, but you don’t need to hear about how sausage is made, at least not from me.

So this is good news, right? Well, I just got off the phone with Lou Fiore, chairman of the AICC, and it seems that another beast has raised its head: Next Generation 911. This addition to the House bill would allow alarm signals to be sent directly to PSAPs, including signals from PERS devices. The alarm industry currently screens these calls, 99 percent of which don’t require the dispatch of emergency services, according to Fiore. Removing third-party monitoring would have an obvious consequence, he said: “It would bring 911 centers to their knees.”

In the grand tradition of lawmaking, the Next Generation 911 provision is now tied in with the legislation to extend the Social Security payroll tax cut—again, think sausage—on which Democrats and Republicans have not exactly been seeing eye to eye. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has vowed that lawmakers will not go home for Christmas until the deal is done, so that means the AICC’s work isn’t done. There likely will be more developments next week, and probably more down the line on other measures that could undercut centrals. “It’s like weeds popping up in the garden,” Fiore said. “You have to keep looking.”

Stay tuned …

 

Signal pathway key challenge for new CSAA leader

Bob Bean takes on ASAP, proposed auction of radio frequencies
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12/07/2011

VIENNA, Va.—Bob Bean, the new president of the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA), learned the value of effective communication early in his career. Currently vice chairman and director of Honolulu-based Alert Holdings Group, he took a simple and direct approach to taking ownership of the company nearly 30 years ago: a lunchtime conversation and a handshake.

ASAP, PSAP, PSIM, SIAC …

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

At first it just looked like a big bowl of alphabet soup, but as the “new guy” at Security Systems News, I’m starting to get my head around it. In the first few weeks at my post I’ve had a chance to hear from some of the organizational leaders in the industry—Ed Bonifas, Stan Martin, Bob Bean—as well as many others who have helped me get my feet wet. There’s long list of folks who I haven’t talked with, though, and a long list of companies that I’d like to know more about, so I have some work to do.

This blog is part of that process, and it would be great to hear from those in the know if I don’t dial you up first. Any industry developments, large or small, count me in: rmiller@securitysystemsnews.com, or 207-846-0600, Ext. 254. I look forward to getting to know everyone.

On the email front: There was a real gem circulating among CSAA members recently about Hedy Lamarr, the Hollywood siren and screen legend. It turns out she was also quite the inventor, co-patenting spread spectrum radio, a technology that would eventually lead to today’s cellphones, Wi-Fi and GPS. And did I mention her torpedo guidance system for the U.S. Navy?

L.A. Times writer Adam Tschorn said it would be like crediting Farrah Fawcett for developing Google’s proprietary search algorithm. But truth is stranger than fiction. Richard Rhodes chronicles Lamarr’s little-known work in his new book, “Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, the Most Beautiful Woman in the World.”

And that’s Hedy, not Hedley, “Blazing Saddles” fans …

 

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