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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 …

 

Tribute to John Mabry

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Monday, November 28, 2011

I wrote last week about the loss of industry icon, John Mabry, 74, who died Nov. 18 in a car crash.

I recently received a copy of his moving obituary, which recounts many of his numerous accomplishments, and also describes Mabry, a Florida resident, as “ a lovable curmudgeon” who will be “long remembered for his outgoing personality, wry wit, high integrity, patriotism and strong dedication to family and friends.”

The obit also recounts some of his trademark saying, known as “Mabryisms,” including “The slow buffalo drinks dirty water” and “It’s like spitballs against a battleship baby!”
 

Here is more from the summary of the life and career of this remarkable industry leader:

After earning his bachelor’s degree from Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., John joined the U.S. Navy where he served aboard the USS Ranger, CV-61, as a commissioned officer. While stationed in San Francisco, he met his future wife, Sue Dougherty, about whom John commented, “…I found my heart in San Francisco.”

Upon leaving the U.S. Navy in 1962, John launched a groundbreaking car wash franchise that eventually sold for over 1,000 times his original investment. In 1969, John founded the American Alarm Company that he sold to Honeywell, Inc. in 1983 …

From 1983 until 1993, John served as Vice President of Honeywell’s Protection Services Division and later Vice President of Sales and Business Development within Honeywell’s $3.4 billion Home and Building Control business unit. John was instrumental in advancing Honeywell’s expansion strategies that placed Honeywell in the forefront of the North American security market.

John served as president of Security Network of America (SNA) from 1993 through 2000 where he increased SNA membership from 20 to more than 40 UL listed entities, nationwide. Today, SNA has more than 82 member companies in North America representing more than $390 million annual revenue.

In 2003, John joined the board of directors of Integrated Alarm Services Group (NASD: IASG), Albany, NY. John was elected chairman of the board in 2006 with a mandate to restructure corporate management. As chairman, John was instrumental in replacing management, aligning priorities and resolving multiple financial issues resulting in a substantial increase of IASG’s share value. Later, John presided over the successful sale of IASG, valued at $140 million, to Protection One in 2007.

Throughout his career, John sought to bring cohesion to the security alarm industry. In 1972, John was appointed to the Board of Directors of the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA).  Later, John was elected CSAA president from 1981 through 1983.  Afterwards, John continued as an Honorary and ex officio Member of the CSAA Board.  Similarly, as a member of the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (Now Electronic Security Association), John’s, peers named him to the NBFAA’s Board of Directors. Recognizing John’s vision and leadership, John became President of the NBFAA serving from 1984 through 1986.  As President, John founded the NBFAA’s National Training School and grew membership to nearly 3,000 members.

Recognizing his many contributions to the alarm industry, John received the Morris F. Weinstock Person of the Year Award in 1983. The award acknowledged John’s leadership, outstanding achievements and his continued efforts on behalf of the alarm industry and the Electronic Security Association.

John received further recognition in 2004 when the Central Station Alarm Association presented the Stanley C. Lott Award to John. The Lott award is the CSAA’s most prestigious recognition of leadership and honored John’s exceptional contributions to and tireless support of the CSAA and its membership.

John actively served on several alarm company boards, including ADS Security, Nashville, TN; for 14 years; American Alarm and Communications, Arlington, MA for more than 10 years; and, the Board of Protectron, Inc., Montréal, Québec, Canada …

The obit says Mabry is survived by his wife of nearly 49 years, four children and 13 grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations are preferred to either of the following:

The Wounded Warrior Project
4899 Belfort Road, Suite 300
Jacksonville, FL  32256

The Tim Tebow Foundation
2220 County Road 210 West, Suite 108
Jacksonville, FL  32259

 

UL, Intertek announce support for ASAP

The testing labs find the program to speed the delivery of alarm notifications meets national standards
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11/22/2011

CAMAS, Wash. and FAIRFIELD, N.J.—The monitoring industry’s Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP) got a big boost recently when Underwriters Laboratories and Intertek both announced that the new program meets the requirements of the National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code (NFPA 72).

Industry 'visionary' killed in car crash

John Mabry was a CSAA board member and past president
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11/22/2011

YARMOUTH, Maine—Industry members are mourning the death of John Mabry, who died Friday in a head-on vehicle collision in Georgia while en route to visit family in that state. Mabry, Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) president from 1981-1983 and also a longtime ex-officio board member, is being remembered this week for his expertise and dedication to the industry, and for his warm personality.

Industry icon dies in vehicle collision

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Monday, November 21, 2011

I came to work this morning to a report of some sad news: John Mabry, a director and past president of the Central Station Alarm Association, died Friday, Nov. 18, in a car crash.

Mel Mahler of ADS Security, another CSAA past president and director, shared this message with Security Systems News:

“It is with deep regret and profound sadness that I share the passing of John W. Mabry.
 
While en route to visit his daughter yesterday afternoon, John was involved in a fatal head-on collision, according to the chief deputy of the Dublin, Ga. sheriff’s department. John was alone at the time of the accident.”
 
Here’s a synopsis from First Florida Capital Corporation, of which Mabry, a Florida resident, is listed as an affiliate partner, of some of his accomplishments in the industry.

“John W. Mabry, Jr. is past President of Security Network of America. Founded and built the American Alarm Company.  In 1983, Honeywell Inc. purchased American Alarm … John served as Vice President of Honeywell's Protection Services Division and later Vice President of the $3.4B Home and Building Control business unit … John serves on several alarm monitoring company boards, is past President of the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and founded the NBFAA's National Training School. John is a director and past President of the Central Station Alarm Association.”

I'll continue to report on this story as we learn more.

New consumer credit score rules a ‘headache’

Federal regs require alarm companies to explain to consumers why they were turned down
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10/13/2011

VIENNA, Va.—Strict new federal regulations governing how companies inform consumers that their credit scores were used to reject them will result in higher labor costs and other problems for alarm companies, said a legal advisor to the Central Station Alarm Association, which is based here.
The new requirements took effect this summer, and are a part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, a response to the economic recession. They essentially mean that security companies will have to spend more time and effort explaining to consumers why their poor credit ratings led to their being turned down as customers, said attorney John Prendergast, an advisor to the CSAA.

ESX reinvests $1m in security industry since 2008

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10/03/2011

VIENNA, Va. and IRVING, Texas—AE Ventures, the management company that produces the annual Electronic Security Expo for the Central Station Alarm Association and the Electronic Security Association, announced on Aug.

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