Big deals shake industry for '08
Already, 2008 is looking to be a vibrant year for the security industry, especially if you consider the number of "deals" being made that shape our industry's future.
For starters, consider the acquisition of Bioscrypt by L-1 Identity Partners, the firm which previously had acquired the unified Identix-Viisage biometrics technology firm. Over two years ago Robert LaPenta said that he was ready to unify the then-fledgling biometrics industry, and he has held true to his word.
So, we have the biometrics industry consolidating, and it's interesting to see at the same time that there's been some consolidation in the remote video monitoring market. Just before the new year, iVerify announced it was purchasing a division of Magal (an Israeli firm) which offered full-service interactive monitoring. Like iVerify's own services, this Magal division offered remote video monitoring. Couple that with a steady number of requests from police for alarm verification and customers' requests for faster responses to security breaches, and you can see 2008 shaping up to be an even stronger year for interactive and video-based monitoring services.
The third thing I have seen is a report out from Copley News Service, which had a beat reporter on hand at CES (Consumer Electronics Show). They found an increase in high-tech security, safety and protection equipment being promoted to the consumer market. It's only anecdotal, but I read that as a sign that the consumer market is increasingly sophisticated and ready for technologies that extend beyond the basic alarm panel. If these three trends really take off -- growth in biometric technology, increased video/interactive monitoring, and consumer uptake of high-tech security devices -- then 2008 could be a very good year indeed for our industry.
Won't get fooled again?
The classic case of a uniform-swap and a bank robbery
If there's some sort of play book for bank robbers, this must be one of the tips: Swap your criminal clothes with a guard or police uniform and simply walk away with the money. It happened back in August in Roswell, Georgia at a BB&T branch. In that case, a man who was masquerading as a police officer and appearing to be working security at the branch simply robbed the armored car driver as he made the daily cash pick-up. Apparently, a similar activity occurred yesterday in downtown Washington, D.C., with a robber impersonating a cash delivery driver and walking away with over $100,000. The lesson is obvious: use credentials and verify identities of all workers and sub-contractors.
A little monitoring feedback
Charge more for web-based monitoring?
In last week's "Weekly Recap", I suggested that our industry should see Internet-connected alarm monitoring/communications and POTS-based monitoring/communications as two equal methods, and that fees for the two should be equal. One of our loyal readers wrote in and expressed his dismay that such a suggestion could mean less profitability. He wrote that his own central station was looking at upgrading to Web-connected monitoring, but he explained that it was going to cost him significantly more to make that transition than to keep customers on POTS.
He did recognize that the future of the industry lies down the Internet-connected path, but he said it would be foolish not to charge extra for this service. I should probably retract a little of my over-zealous call for equal pricing. The disparity in pricing will eventually be removed by market conditions, and it is probably fair (at this early stage in the game) to up-charge for this better service until Internet-connected monitoring is the standard, much as POTS still is. Readers, as always, thanks for your feedback, and keep those letters coming.
Reviewing HR 3179
Does a new bill mean more government business for integrators?
HR 3179, better known as the Local Preparedness Acquisition act, has been endorsed by SIA, but some have questioned whether the bill -- which would allow state and local governments to buy security equipment at reduced prices from the GSA-schedule -- would mean more business for their current, local integrators, or whether it would point state and local government security buyers to the traditional federal integrators who are adept at working GSA-type purchases. What do you think? Our quick poll is on the SIW homepage; tell us whether you think it would help or hurt the smaller, local integrators who may currently have these local government accounts.
Dumb criminal award
Stabbing yourself with stolen merchandise always gets applause
Occasionally, we recognize some of the dumbest criminals that make your lives easier. If only all LP cases were like this: A man entered a Michigan store and apparently shoplifted some hunting knives, placing them in his pants... While fleeing, the man tripped and -- big surprise here! -- the knives ripped into and disabled him, requiring a hospital visit and a misdemeanor charge. For that, Mr. Criminal, you get a big gold star. Thanks for helping out the loss prevention department.
Finally, we close with a look at our most read stories of the week: