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Morgan Hertel

New threat to RMR? Sizing up PhantomLink

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The headline on the news release is an attention-grabber: “PhantomLink technology pushes alarm monitoring to the cloud, threatens industry.” If that isn’t clear enough, the subhead rephrases it: “Cloud-based technology set to undermine traditional alarm monitoring industry.”

The PR piece from Phantom Data Services proceeds to trumpet the company’s new PhantomLink project, which encourages homeowners to monitor their own security systems for no charge via the Web. The project “leverages existing equipment, requires only a simple retrofit, and is offered for free with no recurring costs.”

“Nearly 80 percent of households in the U.S. have Internet access,” states Adam Peters, founder of PhantomLink.com. “So why are people still paying their hard-earned money to a central station to monitor their alarm? Just connect it to the Internet and monitor it yourself!”

The news release describes PhantomLink as a small, easy-to-install, build-it-yourself device that links an existing security system to the user’s wireless Internet connection. If the device senses an alarm, company servers alert the user with an email or a text message. Circuit schematics, interface specifications and instructions for using the “self-monitored security system solution” are available for free on PhantomLink’s Web page.

“Do-it-yourself alarm installers and electronics hobbyists are encouraged to participate in this project to develop and expand the capabilities of this technology,” the company states.

Visitors to the PhantomLink website will find all of the information mentioned in the news release, but little about the company promoting the device. Phantom Data Services is described only as “a New Mexico limited liability company specializing in website development and data-processing products and services.”

So is this the new age of monitoring? Is it time to mothball the central station and say goodbye to RMR? Will homeowners tired of “simply paying for piece of mind,” as the news release states, now opt for self-service?

Grammatical glitches aside, peace of mind is what many alarm customers are seeking. Millions have shown the willingness to pay a professional for it, even in a down economy. Do-it-yourself security will obviously appeal to some, but free doesn’t mean free of responsibility.

This also isn’t the first time the alarm industry has been down this path, said Morgan Hertel, vice president of operations for Rapid Response.

“This kind of stuff has been around for years,” Hertel told Security Systems News. “In the ’70s, it was tape dialers calling neighbors, work numbers and sometimes police departments. In the ’80s, we moved to pagers—you could get paged on alarms. Now we have email, SMS and IVR.”

While there is always something new coming down the pike, the bottom line remains the same for alarm companies: provide professional service at a competitive price and chances are you’ll stay in business. PhantomLink and other do-it-yourself offerings are unlikely to change that.

“The professional monitoring and installation companies are still here doing their thing,” Hertel said. “What most [customers] come to realize is that the cost of a monitored security system is so affordable these days, and is packed with so many features, that most people who take security seriously don’t ever consider [a DIY] solution.”
 

New VP looks to expand Mace CS’ footprint nationwide

Michael Joseph now overseeing California central
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08/22/2012

ANAHEIM, Calif.—Mace Central Station has seen its share of change in the past three years, including the acquisition of CSSS, a shift in CEOs and the recent departure of Morgan Hertel as vice president and general manager. As Hertel’s successor, Michael Joseph sees an opportunity and a challenge: instill continuity in the company’s operations and leverage the Mace name to expand nationwide.

Going mobile

The changing PERS market presents opportunities, challenges for central stations
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07/25/2012

America’s elderly population is increasing and is becoming increasingly mobile, with health care technology advancing in lock step. That fact hasn’t been lost on the monitoring world, which is gearing up for new revenue opportunities that will accompany the growth of personal emergency response systems (PERS) and mobile PERS devices.

Rapid’s expansion plans reach east and west

Company moving ahead with headquarters project, new central station
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07/25/2012

SYRACUSE, N.Y.—Double-digit growth at Rapid Response is fueling a two-pronged expansion strategy, with plans proceeding for a new central station in the western United States and $11.3 million of new construction proposed at the company’s headquarters here.

GPS ‘a different animal’ for central stations

Experts say mobile devices bring new challenges that require new approaches
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05/30/2012

YARMOUTH, Maine—What’s worse than a false alarm? A moving false alarm, according to panelists at a recent ESX webinar, who cited a growing challenge for monitoring companies as they move deeper into the world of GPS and mobile PERS devices.

Rapid Response hires Hertel, plans new central in West

New VP of operations says role at Mace CS ‘wasn’t what I signed on for’
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04/04/2012

SYRACUSE, N.Y.—Morgan Hertel, who recently stepped down as vice president and general manager of Mace CS, has joined Rapid Response Monitoring as VP of operations and is heading the company’s effort to build a new central station in the West.

Onward through the blog: Day Two at ISC West

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Friday, March 30, 2012

ISC West kept up a strong head of steam on Day Two.

It started at 7:30 a.m. with the Security 5K to benefit Mission 500, a nonprofit group that aids impoverished children. An impressive turnout of runners raised an equally impressive funding total, according to race organizers, and the group later said it had topped its goal of 500 children sponsored.

Then it was on to the show floor for another day of networking and discussion among the thousands, with no letup from Day One’s brisk pace. Here are a few details from my stops along the way:

— Secure Global Solutions announced a May 1 launch for a new app, Stages Metrix, that will give users tablet access to key central station performance figures.
— Keith Jentoft of Videofied provided an update of the growing alliance between insurers, law enforcement and central stations to increase arrests and reduce false dispatches with the use of video alarms.
— Cliff Dice of Dice Corp. detailed his company’s Matrix software, which brings video into a browser environment and opens the door to continuous RMR for integrators.
— Morgan Hertel, the new VP of operations for Rapid Response, disclosed that the company is planning to build a new central station in the West sometime in the next year.
— Gordon Hope of AlarmNet at Honeywell talked about the move to 4G and the June 1 release of the LYNX Touch 5100 wireless control panel with Wi-Fi communications module, which finds the best signal—2G, 3G or 4G—in the user’s area.

Like Day One, there was obviously much more, but I’ll put it to bed for now and gear up for tomorrow’s finale. See you there …  

 

Hertel named VP of operations at Rapid Response

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Morgan Hertel has been named vice president of operations at Rapid Response Monitoring.

That information, courtesy of a new posting on his LinkedIn profile, greeted me today as I packed up my laptop and headed out the door to ISC West. It marks a quick turnaround for Hertel, who just two weeks ago stepped down as vice president and general manager for Mace CS.

In a March 12 news release from Mace Security International, the company said Hertel’s departure was “for personal reasons” and that he would be “working closely with Mace CS in a consulting role over the next several months.” Hertel took over as director of operations at the company’s wholesale central station in Anaheim, Calif., shortly after the CSSS acquisition in 2009.

As for what lies ahead at Rapid, the 30-year industry veteran states on LinkedIn that he’s working on “several high-level projects and initiatives. … At Rapid Response I have many resources, some of which include a complete software development team, a huge IT and technical staff and one of the most educated and talented operations and finance groups consisting of almost 400 staff members.”

Hertel will be a panelist at ISC West at an educational session titled “NFPA 72: Are You Ready for the Changes?” If I can’t catch up with him before I get on the plane, hopefully I’ll get a chance to do so at the show. It will be interesting to see how his expertise comes into play at Rapid.  

Hertel steps down at Mace CS

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Monday, March 12, 2012

Morgan Hertel, VP and general manager of Mace CS, has stepped down for personal reasons, Mace Security International announced today. A replacement wasn’t named, but a Mace news release said Hertel “will be working closely with Mace CS in a consulting role over the next several months.”

Hertel, who was named director of operations at Mace shortly after the CSSS acquisition in 2009, could not be reached for comment. “Our clients remain in the very capable hands of the Mace CS professionals who have a high degree of technical expertise and training for the positions they hold,” he said in the company’s statement.

Hertel is a well-known figure in the monitoring world, with more than 30 years of experience and active service on many industry committees. He was a panelist for a discussion on cloud security at the recent TechSec conference in Delray Beach, Fla., and is scheduled to speak at ISC West at a session titled “NFPA 72: Are You Ready for the Changes?”

As for professional changes for Hertel, I hope to learn more soon.

 

Is your cloud provider secure?

TechSec panelists urge due diligence but say risk still resides with the customer
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02/15/2012

DELRAY BEACH, Fla.—Security companies questioning the safety of moving their data to the cloud can greatly reduce the risks by doing their homework about service providers and “practicing what they preach” about encrypting, a panel of experts told attendees Feb. 8 at the eighth annual TechSec conference.

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