Answering a Cry for Help

A roundtable discussion of emergency phone and communications systems


Advanced security technology serves many purposes, from controlling access to a facility or a network to reporting theft and providing evidence of a crime in court. But security through the ages has evolved fundamentally as a response to one thing: a cry for help. While all security technology still metaphorically serves the purpose of responding to that cry, emergency phone and communications systems are some of the few that have continued to take their task literally. Through all their enhancements and increased functionalities, these systems still exist to hear and respond to a cry for help.

ST&D recently approached five experts in the emergency phone and communications sector to get their opinions on how this market is evolving and where it may go in the future.

Stephen Pineau has been president and CEO of Viscount Systems Inc. since 1997. Viscount has been manufacturing telecommunications and security systems since 1965, and until 1997 was a division of Telus, a Canadian affiliate of Verizon Communications. Previously Mr. Pineau was president of BMT, a security integration dealer. He has been involved in electronics and security for 15 years. His educational background is in economics.

Samuel Shanes is executive vice president and general counsel of Talk-A-Phone Co. , Chicago. A graduate of the University of Illinois and the University of Chicago Law School, he has been a close observer of the communications industry and changing technology, as well as the legal issues surrounding both, for many years. Mr. Shanes has authored numerous articles including "Expanded Roles for Security Resources," "Communicating Security in the Parking Environment" and "Safe and Secure at the Shopping Center."

Milton Sneller has been CEO of Trigon Electronics since early 2001. He has stimulated the development of more than 20 new products and a new patent application. Dr. Sneller was recruited by DDL Electronics in 1985 as its EVP and COO. DDL consisted of eight acquired subsidiary companies, one of which he was responsible for acquiring and all of which he was responsible for operating. Over the previous 10 years Dr. Sneller served as vice chairman, president and COO of the Taylor Dunn Corporation.

Elizabeth Chesnul co-founded Jeron Electronic Systems Inc. in 1965 in Chicago, Illinois. The shared vision of Ms. Chesnul and co-founder Jerry Chesnul was to design and produce high-quality security and communication solutions. Jeron's success is credited to Mr. Chesnul's engineering foresight and Ms. Chesnul's hands-on management style. She is one of the most respected and knowledgeable persons in the industry. As Jeron heads into its 40th year, Ms. Chesnul looks forward to the future, including the second generation of family growing the business.

Carl W. Gandolfo joined Code Blue Corporation as the midwest regional manager and was later promoted to national sales manager. Responsible for the sales effort in the United States and Canada, Mr. Gandolfo directs a force of three company district managers and 13 manufacturer representative organizations. His background includes 10 years of experience as a police officer and an education in criminal justice administration. Prior to joining Code Blue, Mr. Gandolfo was the director of sales and marketing for a vehicle recovery manufacturer in the Midwest.

ST&D: Many describe emergency phone and communications systems as low-end components in the total security scheme. Is this characterization appropriate?

EC: It is not appropriate. Many of today's emergency phone and communication systems, such as Jeron's Spectrum Series, feature state-of-the-art digital, full-duplex, non-blocking multi-talk paths. For those who may not know, full duplex is a feature that allows communication through a system without pressing or holding buttons. Unlike voice-activated systems, which only allow one path of communication to cross at one time, full spectrum allows for two paths of communication simultaneously. Two or more parties can speak and hear at the same time, while other systems allow for just speaking or hearing at any given time. These features allow clear communication in any kind of situation and environment. I would not call these low-end components, but like computers, a fundamental component.

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