The security week that was: 02/22/08

A weekly surveillance of news shaping your profession


A new biz approach for national-level security dealer

Earlier this morning, I was on the phone with David Happe, president of U.S. Install, a video security and home theater installing firm based in Minnesota. Happe's firm, which was founded in early 2005, has been acquired by Multiband Corporation, which happens to be probably the largest installer of DirectTV satellite TV services in the country. It was an interesting discussion, because David's firm had done things differently than both Multiband and the security dealers (Iike your own firm) out in the marketplace, and is in the process of reshaping its business for the future.

First off, prior to the acquisition announced this morning, U.S. Install had almost entirely used sub-contractors to do their installations, a model similar to the work done by Install Inc. Secondly, US Install had focused on what we might call "cookie-cutter" solutions. And that was just fine, said Happe. With his company's acquisition by Multiband (they'll still exist as a unit within Multiband), he's able to use actual W-2'ed employees and he can really standardize the quality of installs. Still, though, he's keeping it focused on simple systems and says he has no interest in trying to compete with the $5,000-and-up custom video and security projects that are the bread-and-butter for many dealers and integrators.

"I want to create the homogenized, McDonald's experience, where you order a cheeseburger and you know exactly what you're going to get," said Happe. And that's primarily what he intends to deliver on the home theater and video surveillance projects: 4- and 8-camera DVR-based systems that probably could be done by a savvy DIYer who simply doesn't have the time and inclination to pull the cables, configure the DVR and properly align the day-night cameras. By cross-training installers on DirectTV, home theater and video surveillance, Multiband's 11,000-plus employees are leveraged to their work capacity, and U.S. Install gains a bigger national footprint. It's an interesting tale of a unique business approach.

Speaking of mergers, HID Global announced that it and the Assa Abloy ITG were merging into one unit. Read about it here.

Screening: Done the way skiers do it
Denver tries out self-assigned lines for different passenger screening experience levels

Salt Lake City and Denver's airports have a novel approach to security screening. Like the ski slopes not far out of Denver in A-basin, Nederland and other local favorites, these airports are assigning color codes to the security lines. The airports are creating an "expert traveler" line, a "casual traveler" line and a "family/special needs" security line. The idea is that if you're a seasoned road-warrior biz traveler, you can jump into the black diamond "expert" line because you know how to quickly remove the laptop, untie the wingtips and get the ID and boarding pass ready.

Just like the ski slopes, there's no critical standard (you can try to ski the black diamonds even if you have the slope skills of a flatlander). Obviously, because the lines are self-assigned, you might find the guy who has knots in his shoelaces and who forgets to pull the wad of quarters out of his pocket in the so-called expert line, but I think it's a great start to improving the "customer service" element inherent in a TSA checkpoint.

Putting cellular on your panels
DMP recognizes potential of cellular communications for panels

Used to be, the phone line was the only way you could effectively communicate an alarm signal. Then came private radio/repeater networks (AES-Intellinet comes to mind) and the age of the cell phone -- the ever, ubiquitous, do-people-ever-hang-up cell phone. DMP understand that cellular communicators make sense for alarm systems, so the company launched a cellular expansion board for some of its popular panels this week. At the same time, the company created a cellular services firm "SecureCom" designed expressly for ease of hooking up DMP panels to a cellular network for panel communications. You still have the option of using other carriers.

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