The Security Week That Was: A Recap - April 8-14, 2006

If you're an installing dealer, part of your pitch is that simply having a monitored alarm system with police response is a crime deterrent. That 'pitch' isn't just sales talk, as our industry knows.

That theory was confirmed again this week when new data came out on burglaries from Dallas, Texas, and Fremont, Calif. The two cities went to verified response recently after much public debate. Fremont made the switch near the end of March 2005, while Dallas waited until the first of March this year to implement a policy that had been OKed in December.

Now data is surfacing which indicates that verified response -- while saving the cities on police response -- may have a hidden quality-of-life cost. A recent news report out of California indicates that Fremont's burglary numbers have seen a jump since verified response began there. According to the San Jose Mercury News, "Fremont police say there were 854 burglaries in 2004, compared with 977 burglaries during the first 11 months of the program, which went into effect in March 2005." (See the full report on the Fremont numbers increase.)

Similarly, the North Texas Alarm Association (NTAA) is reporting that burglaries in Dallas are up 17.9 percent in March 2006 as compared to March 2005 (see the NTAA's report), and is linking that rise with the city's new verified response policy. While it's hard to get a read on the Dallas numbers (there simply is not enough data yet to make long-term generalizations), it's not hard to understand the implications that these numbers could mean if they are long-term trends following verified response. It also implies that we have to stop false alarms before it gets to an ordinance level. We have work to do to keep this false alarm problem from becoming our industry's nightmare. Start with good equipment; add good training for your installers, and finally, make sure your customers fully understand how to use the technology in their homes and businesses.

Retailers, Beware!

SIW columnist and retail security/loss prevention consultant Liz Martinez just returned from a training session sponsored by the New Jersey Attorney General's office. As part of the knowledge she can share from that session, she recommends that retailers be aware of a scheme by organized retail crime group the "Yaks". Apparently the group tends to strike over holiday weekends (such as this one), and trips the alarm. They then wait for police response to come and go, deeming it a false alarm. Reportedly the group is then reentering the premises to commit a burglary. See Martinez's full report on this subject.

While we're on the topic of loss prevention, it's worth noting that ADT's Sensormatic group landed a big contract with Lowe's, the nationwide home improvement retailer. Lowe's is getting a major EAS system overhaul, using the Sensormatic SmartEAS Alarm Management Solution. The system combines data from various points (EAS detectors, cashier stations, POS systems, etc.) to give a clear loss prevention picture using the EAS system. The system is, at is core, a function of data mining -- taking the intelligence out of the high volume of cashier scans and EAS alarms that occur in a mega-retailer like Lowe's.

Coax or Ethernet - How about both?

Good technology is no benefit unless you can connect it, right? Security Dealer Assistant Editor Greg McConnell reported in this week about an interesting application of IP over coaxial cable that's being done at a N.Y. housing community. The implementation, handled by networking systems company Narad Networks allowed the N.Y. cooperative housing community to push network video over the exiting cable network -- formerly only the arena of analog cameras. The system ties in switches that send the data over the coax at a higher frequency than the regular coaxial data. See Greg's report here.

Getting Standardized?

One of the complaints about adopting biometrics from the standpoint of integrators and end users has been the lack of standards. The National Biometric Security Project is working to correct that problem. Earlier this week, the organization released its report “Biometric Standardization 2005 – Status, Progress and Plans”, which it hopes to continually pull biometrics into a data transmission and scanning format that can become applicable across the industry. What this means: It might be possible eventually that a fingerprint scan for a drivers license could be the same data in a usable format that you use to secure your corporate headquarters' data center.

Finally, a look at the most read stories of this past week: