The security week that was: 08/08/08

Looking forward at the market: Guards and high-tech vision

You're paying $4 a gallon for gas. Your customers (or your bosses, if you're a corporate head of security) aren't as willing to invest capital for infrastructure spending, and you're making your own business financially lean and mean. Well, just when the national media has filled our heads with very dire outlooks on the economy (not fully unfounded, mind you), there's a bit of good news for the industry.

First, a report from The Freedonia Group predicts continued growth for the security industry, especially in the guarding services sector. In a news report posted on SecurityInfoWatch this week, we looked at some of the factors contributing to this. Public perception of crime in a down economy and outsourcing of guard services seemed to be leading the pack. Security services firm Day & Zimmerman told our staff that they think the Freedonia report is accurately predicting growth for the next few years. Also, if guard services acquisitions are an indicator of a strong industry, then you can chalk up another vote for strong growth: Andrews International has just acquired Seventrees.

Another positive indication for any technical industry is when innovation occurs.

Case in point for innovation: A week ago, BRS Labs entered the U.S. video analytics market. According to John Frazzini, president of BRS Labs, the company's approach is markedly different from other competitors. "The [existing] vendors have been using a rules-based approach, such as a 'line trespass'," said Frazzini. The problem with that approach to video analytics, argues Frazzini, is that it can require extensive customization to work with changing scenes, lighting, distances, shadows and more. Frazzini says his firm, BRS Labs, approaches video analytics with an "adaptive learning system." The BRS system is designed to learn the scene over time to understand what is "normal" and what isn't. The system is sold as software (think centralized architecture for this solution) and it can connect with an existing system and existing cameras. Look for this company to really hit the market in mid- to late-September.

And finally, I feel good about our industry when I hear about new dealer programs launching. At the ESX 2008 tradeshow (the NBFAA/CSAA show in Nashville this past June), we reported on the Smith & Wesson alarm program. Today we tell you about a new one: The AT&T/Xanboo dealer program. When a brand like AT&T gets into our market, I take it as a very good sign, and the program is pretty neat because it has the ability to add home automation controls and remote video monitoring (via PDAs and phones or laptops) to existing alarm system installations.

More industry news
Door-to-door alarm sales; Vendor loses data sensitive to TSA; more

Door-to-door alarm sales just can't get a break. APX Alarm, a Utah company known for hiring college students to do summertime door-to-door alarm sales, just can't stay out of the news. We reported a few years ago about trouble the alarm firm was facing with outcry in local media outlets, but at ISC West 2008, company execs met with SIW and said that they had the company on the right foot again and that loose-gun sales reps had been reigned in. However, a local news media report this week puts them in a bad light again. The homeowners' claims are often tough to substantiate and this has me wondering: Do people simply associate door-to-door with scams because they don't like pushy solicitations? One thing I do know: as a homeowner myself, the first thing I think when someone comes to my door soliciting something is that they might be "casing my home" for a burglary. Maybe door-to-door isn't the best model for alarm sales to begin with. [Incidentally, as I wrote this, I received a phone call from an alarm inspector for a major Southwestern U.S. city who was investigating door-to-door alarm sales and issues of false alarms due to improper installations by what he called "trunk slammers".]

In other news, the government is close to putting together final details about the anthrax attacks of 2001 (see our timeline of events in this case). ... Verified Identity Pass lost a laptop with enrollment information for the Registered Traveler program. That hurts VIP, because they are on a temporary hiatus for enrollments now. It's even more embarrassing; just before the news of the stolen laptop, the TSA had seemingly endorsed adoption of the Registered Traveler program by lowering fees. ... The Olympics kick off today in Beijing, and we've compiled a quick photo gallery of pre-Ceremonies security. ... Finally, universities are reconsidering security for professors and researchers, since faculty members' research may sometimes be opposed by extremist members of special interest groups.

We close as always with a look at the "most read" stories of the week: