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Women in Security: 2013 Special Report

 - 
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.

ISC West 2013: Day 1 & 2

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Lots of people on the show floor on Wednesday! 29,900 square feet of exhibit space and 1003 booths, is what I heard.
Wednesday started for me with the Axis Press Breakfast, where the network camera company introduced three new cameras and an upgraded Axis Camera Companion. In 2012, there were 60,000 downloads of the software, according to Axis’ Fredrik Nilsson.

The cameras of the future will be customized for customers with apps, the same way we currently customize our smartphones, Nilsson said. With that in mind, Axis also announced a partnership with the Wentworth Institute of Technology, a college in Boston, where students will design apps for cameras. One professor, Charles Hotchkiss, and two students, Joshua Ramirez and Nicholas Gelfman,  attended the breakfast and the two students talked about the apps they’ve already developed.

Gelfman is working on a 3D multi-tracking app that is intended to alert operators if someone is trying tamper with a camera. The app determines where an approaching person or object is distance-wise from the camera and sends an alert if it gets too close. Gelfman put it in simple terms for me: “Cameras see in 2D, this app basically allows it to see in 3D.”

Ramirez is a sophomore computer information systems major from Hanover, N.H., who is the station manager of Wentworth’s radio station WIRE. 
“I had a selfish reason for developing the app” he said. Students who work in the radio station are supposed to sign in and out when they come to work at the station, but they often don't do that, he explained. So Ramirez developed an app that automatically records the time that a student comes into or leaves the station, and it sends Ramirez an email alert under certain conditions.

He named the app Alibi. It "tracks students and if they log in, [the app] is their alibi to say that they were [at the station]," he said.

“It’s still a work in progress. I’ve spend six weeks on it but it was during exams and finals,” Ramirez said.   

Nilsson said that Axis didn’t give the students any ideas about kinds of apps to develop. They approach the project with no preconceived notion of what kinds of apps to develop. Axis has been amazed with the results, he said.

After the Axis breakfast, I did a video interview with Renae Leary and Matthias Ernst of Tyco Global Accounts were I got an update on how Tyco's global enterprise customers are standardizing their security systems across in offices spanning the globe.

At a press conference Bosch launched 110, count ‘em, 110 new video products and previewed its ‘4K Ultra HD’ camera. It also announced its integration partner program and is showing integration with 5 VMS providers in its booth.

Next, I interviewed Mark VanDover of Tyco IS for ssnTVnews. He talked about the progress the integration giant has made as a standalone entity over the past year and a half.

More mobile news: Jay Hauhn, Tyco IS Chief Technology Officer, also did an interview for ssnTVnews. We talked about Tyco’s launch of  MSM, Tyco’s Mobile Security Manager.

Next up was an interview with Tony Byerly, Felix Gonzales and Jeremy Brecher of Diebold, where I got to see a demo of their very cool “SecureStat” enterprise security platform. I heard about it at ASIS and saw if for the first time at the show. Here’s a YouTube video about the platform.

At a NICE press conference, Tony Ruiz, City of San Diego, talks about implementing NICE's Situator, to manage protection for its critical infrastructure, and for the city too. The implementation is new, but Ruiz said it's already saving training time and money for the city and taxpayers.

Back on the show floor, I met with Bryan Schmode, EVP of Global Sales at Avigilon. We talked about Avigilon’s the Adaptive IR in its new bullet camera, and the company's new Dallas headquarters.

Also had a chance to swing by Next Level Security Systems and talk to Bill Jacobs. I got to see some of the stuff I spoke to Bill and Jumbi Edulbehram about in this story.

Next I had a chance to visit with Stan Oppenheim and Dan Oppenheim at Affiliated Monitoring. Looking forward to seeing their new monitoring station the next time I get to NYC.

And, I wrapped up Day 1 after catching up with Will Schmidt and other CapitalSource folks.

THURSDAY, April 11

Is Thursday Day 2 or Day 3 of the show? Officially, it’s Day 2, but with so many events scheduled for Tuesday, it really is Day 3 for most of us.

Whichever day it was,  it kicked off brilliantly with the fourth annual Security 5K!

We had a different course this time. Rather than starting near the Fashion Show Mall, the 2013 start line was a half-mile jog or bus ride away from the Sands in an office park of sorts. The course was a completely flat out-and-back labyrinth of switchbacks. Best course yet in my opinion. It wasn’t exactly bucolic, but the office park was considerably greener and cleaner than past year’s courses, and it was fun to watch the crowd of runners ahead of you snaking back and forth around the park. And because of the switchbacks, the finish line appeared closer than it really was.

More than 400 finished the 5K and there was a big crowd for the 2K as well.

Most important, we raised more than $90,000. Mike Perkins of Anixter raised more than $7,000 with his company match. Jesse and Nicole Foglio raised $2,350, and Bob McKee raised $1,685.

Mission 500’s George Fletcher said that 650 people registered for the race. If each person raised $100, we would raise $65,000 before any extra fundraising efforts—something to think about for 2014.

Back on the show floor on Thursday morning I did an ssnTVnews interview with John Mack, managing director and head of M&A for Imperial Capital. We were talking about the availability of financing and the flow of PE money into the industry. Here’s an interesting statistic: More than half of the top 20 alarm companies are now owned or have majority ownership by private equity firms. Five years ago “it was just a handful,” he said.
It’s a great time for alarm company owners and integrators to refi their debt or make acquisitions, Mack added.

I stopped by the Stanley booth on my way to Denis Hebert’s HID Global Strategy Briefing, which was packed, as usual. Hebert gave a great presentation. His focus this year was on the opportunities and potential pitfalls the security industry needs to be aware of as access control goes mobile. The move to mobile will “redefine credential use and management” he said. As a result, “best practices” for end users and integrators will become more important than ever. Privacy is an increasingly crucial element for all stakeholders to consider, he added.

Next I met with George Farley at Observint Technologies. Owned by The Carlyle Group, Observint was formed in 2006 with the goal of acquiring security-focused companies. Observint acquired Supercircuits in 2006. It subsequently bought Security Cameras Direct, DIGIOP and SC Technologies. Last summer it helping LG Electronics relaunch its security products in the United States, and this past November it acquired access control provider infinias. Farley said the last six months have been “all foundational work for us. … [building] a comprehensive sale and support solution.” That was Phase 1, he said. Observint is in Phase 2 now, he said, which is centered on its distribution partnership. Digiop and Infinias had distinct partners before the acquisition, and Observint is finalizing relationships with a variety of distributors, Farley said. The next phase will focus on the dealer, “building a robust and differentiated program … that will include demand generation support and sales support.”

At Milestone, I spoke with Courtney Dillon Peterson, about the company’s new Arcus product  “It’s a super-streamlined VMS that’s only for our technical partners to embed, not Milestone.” Partners embedding the solution, and present at the booth were Veracity, which is offering “Coldstore Arcus” for enterprise customers; Lenovo EMC (formerly Iomega), which is offering two different versions of what it’s calling LenovoEMC NVR; and, Razberri, which is offering its “Netswitch” appliance. “They each target a different audience and each offer a different form of VMS,” Peterson said.

The bottom line differentiation for this product? That it’s multi-platform, Peterson said. “It runs on Linux, MacOS and Windows. Others are Windows-based.” The product is “versatile … [and will enable partners to sell a] preconfigured, pre-installed, simplified VMS,” she said.

Samsung is in the midst of a “massive hiring campaign,” Frank DeFina told me during our meeting. Samsung was talking about its new 6000 Series line of cameras driven off its “core WiseNet II chip.” The full line of cameras are “available in every skin. … are 2.4 megapixel, with full 1080p. The clarity is second-to-none,” Samsung marketing director Janet Fenner said. Among the analytics available in this line is a “defogging” analytics, which gets rid of smoke or fog.

Back at our booth, I interviewed Don Erickson, CEO of SIA, and SSN’s own group publisher Tim Purpura. We spoke about two collaborative efforts SIA and SSN are working on—the distribution of SIA’s “Fiscal Year Informer,” a quarterly insert available through SSN with information about government grants; and, a webcast series on security technologies, moderated by me, and featuring a variety of speakers. The next webcast is scheduled for April 24. Here’s a link to that.

I did two other video interviews. One with Matthew Ladd, president and CEO of The Protection Bureau. We talked about how The Protection Bureau is saving money by sharing certain operational metrics with employees.

The other interview was will Bill Savage, CEO of Security Control Systems in Houston, and one of Security-Net's original founders. Security-Net, a group of independent integrators that functions as a national integrator, is celebrating its 20th anniversary. We talked about how the group has grown  from 5 to 20 integrators and the efforts it makes to ensure its employees are up to date on technology.

Next, I spoke to Pierre Racz, CEO of Genetec about the company’s new cloud-based video surveillance as a service solution for small and medium sized businesses. This offering takes Genetec “out of its comfort zone … into the realm of small camera-count  jobs, the 6-14 camera jobs [that represent a huge growth opportunity] for integrators and installers,” Racz said.

Thursday ended with the Security 5K reception. Mike Keegan of Magnasphere, who was honored for his community service efforts, gave a simple and compelling argument for getting involved with causes like Mission 500, the beneficiary of the Security 5k. “The ripple effect [of these efforts] is incredible,” Keegan said.

 

Integrators, specifiers, manufacturers mix at AMAG Technology SES

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04/03/2012

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—With about 90 consultants attending, the AMAG Technology Security Engineering Symposium, an educational and networking conference held here March 4-7, was the largest in the event’s 11-year history.

RFI Communications expands operation

Systems integrator opens fourth branch office
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03/13/2012

SAN JOSE, Calif.—With a healthy book of business already in the Los Angeles area, RFI Communications & Security Systems, a Security-Net partner based here, has decided to open a fourth branch office.

Consultants, manufacturers and integrators mix at AMAG SES

 - 
Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I spent the past two days at AMAG Technology’s Security Engineering Symposium here in St. Petersburg, Fla.

It was the 11th annual AMAG SES event, with about 90 consultants in attendance. “We handpick the best consultants in the industry and invite them here,” AMAG director of business development Jody Ross told me. More consultants than ever before attended, she said, and about “45 to 50 percent of them were new faces.”

According to informal surveys at the event, business is good these days for the consultants. Eighty percent of consultants said they’re working on new business currently, as opposed to more jobs for existing clients. In a show of hands, about 75 percent said they are “busy or very busy” and about 40 percent say they’re looking to hire more consultants.

Ed Chandler of Security by Design, a frequent attendee at this event, said he checked up on improvements included in the new version (V7.1) of AMAG’s Symmetry access control and security management system. He also views the event as an opportunity to give product feedback to AMAG and other manufacturing partners who attend the event, he said.

Coincidentally, I’d just interviewed Ed’s wife and business partner, Lorna Chandler, last week. She will be SSN’s featured specifier in our “Specifically Speaking” column in the April issue of SSN. Each month, we do a Q & A with a different specifier, (supplied to SSN by SecuritySpecifiers.com), and I also had a chance to meet three other specifiers in person who are alumni of the SpecificallySpeaking column (Michael Crocker, Mark Peterson and Ted Wheaton)  

AMAG’s manufacturing partners this year, included HID and Stentofon, which have both been at all 11 AMAG SES symposiums. Dan Rothrock of Stentofon demoed a new (extremely audible) audio product called “Turbine.”

One point emphasized by Rothrock and AMAG at the event is that both are typically considered ideal for enterprise solutions, but both offer solutions for smaller applications,—that’s fewer than 16 readers for AMAG, and for Stentafon, “a two to 16-station IP-solution that doesn’t need a server or software licenses,” Rothrock said.  

Hawkeye Technologies showcased its Harmony web-based solution that enables users to interface with AMAG’s Symmetry solution using any device with a web browser.

SRI International Sarnoff  showed off its iris-readers, a walk-by solution and a handheld solution. I saw a demo where a guy’s iris was recognized when he was wearing tri-focal sunglasses. It’s not cheap, the readers run around $2,800 for the stationary readers and $20,000 for the handheld, but the price has come down substantially, and these guys claim that their solution—because it works at some distance (relative to other solutions) —is more valuable. Plus, they say it’s the most accurate biometric next to retinal scans and Stephen Piro, business development director for SRI said: “administration and recurring ownership cost is extremely low.”  It’s been implemented at an athletic facility at Auburn University and elsewhere. Niche-y but cool stuff.  

Assa Abloy brought its demo bus to the event. The focus was on its wireless lock lines, which I’d seen at ASIS and ISC West last year, and its new resi phones-unlocking doors solution—a collaboration between Verizon and Yale, which was introduced at the CES show in January, and some say may migrate into the commercial world.

NEC’s Miguel Llerena told me that specifiers and integrators need to take more of an interest in the “how virtualization will play a role in this industry. They need to be aware and prepared,” he said.
He said he’s working on eight access control systems, AMAG and others, that use a virtualized server. “Virtualization will happen first, then private cloud and then the public cloud,” he predicted, and suggested that integrators get certified on VM ware or other virtualization platform.

Other partners at the event included Innometriks, Intransa, Milestone,  and Winstead.

AMAG’s Tina Seraphin, who joined the company one year ago and is spearheading the company’s new professional services offerings, described the program, which she said was launched in response to requests from consultants.
 
I'll have more on this, but it’s an extensive, structured program that provides a variety of extra support for integrators. “More frequently, we’re finding consultants are writing into specifications that professional services must be included in the project,” Jody Ross said. “It’s a safeguard, an extra layer … everyone can sleep better at night.”
 
There were also about 19 integrators at the AMAG event, as well as PSA Security’s Bill Bozeman. This is the second year that integrators have been invited to attend some of the consultant sessions yesterday and to participate in a kind of mini-conference which is scheduled to take place today (March 7). They’ll hear from AMAG and AMAG partners, but they’ll also have a consultant/reseller panel discussion and break-out sessions.

AMAG did this with five resellers last year, and decided to expand the number of integrators this year. The discussion will focus on the best ways to work together, Ross said. Last year both the consultants and integrators said it was “valuable to get input from the other side,” she said.

One integrator, Dan Kilgore of RFI Communications, attended consultant sessions on March 6 and was looking forward to the joint sessions today.

“I wanted to hear what they are being presented with and what we’ll be presented with tomorrow. If I can understand how they get to their frame of mind, that might help me to be a better resource to them,” he said. While it’s important to maintain a separation between the consultant and integrator, the two professions “oftentimes live in separate vacuums,” and that’s not helpful for integrator, specifier, end user or manufacturer, he said.  
 

Pilot shows smartphone potential

HID: Other applications in the works
 - 
01/30/2012

IRVINE, Calif.—With the announcement today of the completion of its smartphones-as-keys pilot project at Arizona State University, HID officials hope more integrators will begin to investigate how NFC-enabled smartphones might fit into their access control offerings in the future.

More love for 'phone as credential'

 - 
Monday, November 7, 2011

Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies, manufacturer of Schlage contactless smart credentials and readers, released a report today that says “two-thirds of American college students are interested in using their cell phone in place of an ID card.” The press release I received said it was “independent research undertaken by Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies” but it did not include hard numbers, sample size or information about margin of error. While I assume I could get those numbers from IR, in this case, I’m not skeptical at all about their findings, even without seeing their numbers. If anything, I’d guess their numbers are low.

The press release points out that “people will almost always notice that their phone is lost faster than noting a card is missing.” During a presentation at ASIS, where HID CEO Denis Hebert, talked about their NFC pilot project at Arizona State University, Hebert said it takes a student like six minutes to realize that they lost their phone, whereas it could take up to 24 hours to realize they lost a key.

The release said that nearly half of all students identify their cell phones as their favorite personal electronic device. Again, that’s probably an understatement--and it's not just college students who are attached to their phones. Here’s a funny NYT OpEd from a month ago about how iPhone owners’ response to their phones is more akin to love than anything else.

Back to the release, in a statement, Beverly Vigue, Ingersoll Rand Security Technologies VP of education markets said: “There are a great number of early adaptors in the college population that are already sold on cell phones being a credential, just like they were sold on the use of smart cards and biometrics previously … [this] ties in nicely with the budding discussion of NFC (near field communication) which will inevitably end up on cell phones. No Visa card; no MasterCard card…only your cell phone will be needed for cashless payments or to show your identity.” Further, she notes that  “the solution is still in the testing phase and not yet ready for mass commercialization … plus, it is hard to determine what the phone providers will charge for having this attribute.”

So a variety of manufacturers are clearly all over this new technology, but how soon will phone credentials be ready for prime time in the commercial market?

Funny you should ask. This is one of the many topics that will be discussed at TechSec 2012 (Delray Beach, Fla. Feb. 7&8). One session: “The Smartphone: ID of the Future,” will explore NFC and its use for various physical access control applications. In addition to the ASU pilot, HID is doing pilot projects with non-education end users, and those end users will be at TechSec to talk about whether the love for “smartphone as credential” is just as strong in verticals other than education. More important, Hebert, the end users and an integrator will discuss what it will take to move this technology into the maintstream and what this emerging technology will mean for integrators' bottom line.

HID wants to help with new gov’t deadline

Federal agencies must be fully FIPS 201 compliant by October
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05/10/2011

IRVINE, Calif.—HID is spreading the word to government agencies and the integrators that serve them that it wants to help them comply with a new deadline for FIPS 201.

HID Global announces agreement to acquire ActivIdentity for $162m

Pending acquisition targets accelerating requirements for converged access solutions
SSN Staff  - 
10/12/2010

IRVINE, Calif.—HID Global, a provider of solutions for the delivery of secure identity, on Oct. 11 announced parent company ASSA ABLOY has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire ActivIdentity for $3.25 a share or approximately $162 million.