As we come to the close of another year, it’s time to reflect on some of the stories that grabbed headlines during 2012. This year, there were a number of different events – from mass shootings to business restructurings and acquisitions - that will shape and impact the industry for years to come. Here are our editors’ picks for the top news stories of the year (listed in chronological order):
Ex-TSA chief rips agency practices in book
Earlier this year, former TSA Administrator Kip Hawley called out the agency’s current practice of enhanced pat-down searches and pushed for a scaled back list of prohibited items in a new book entitled, "Permanent Emergency: Inside the TSA and the Fight for the Future of American Security." In an interview with SIW, Hawley said that the much-maligned agency needs to “get back on the same page” with the flying public, which has started to tune it out. Among his recommendations to improve the relationship between the TSA and travelers is “an immediate” scale back of the prohibited items list. "Change the rules! It’s literally as simple as that," Hawley explained. "You take the prohibited items list, you get out your red pen and you just go through the list and take out everything but bombs, guns and toxins. It takes a real risk management approach because when I did that at TSA – the couple of times I did it – we had to get an act of Congress to change the prohibited items list and we heard about blood running in the aisles when we tried to put scissors back on."
AT&T makes push into home security and automation
Following in the footsteps of other telecommunications and cable firms such as Comcast, AT&T announced plans in May to roll out a new home security and automation offering to customers under the banner of “Digital Life” services. Kevin Petersen, senior vice president of Digital Life for AT&T mobility, said that the company believed the industry was ripe with opportunity given the evolution of wireless technologies. While the announcement may have been cause for concern to some alarm dealers, most people in the industry saw it as “a rising tide lifts all boats” scenario given the awareness that AT&T would undoubtedly bring to security with any marketing campaign. "This is not something new to AT&T. They have tried (home security) one or two times before… but I think they’re of the ilk if first you don’t succeed, try, try again and I believe the climate now is considerably different from what they’ve tried in the past," ESA Industry Affairs Committee Chairman Bob McVeigh said at the time. "They’ve got a real shot at making this one successful for them and their business and I believe they’re going to be successful in this effort."
Aurora, Colo. movie massacre
The country was gripped with fear earlier this summer when a man entered a midnight screening of the “The Dark Knight Rises” and opened fire on the crowd of moviegoers, killing 12 people and injuring 57 others. The accused shooter, 24-year-old James Holmes, faces multiple charges of murder and attempted murder in connection with the shootings. The killings created uneasiness for many people about going to the movies in the week and months that followed the tragedy and also sparked new debate about increasing security at movie theaters nationwide. Click here to listen to SIW Editorial Director Steve Lasky and Officer.com Editor-in-Chief Frank Borelli discuss the implications of the massacre.
Investment firm buys Vivint for $2B
Home security and automation services provider Vivint was acquired earlier this fall by investment firm Blackstone for $2 billion. The acquisition was the culmination of a company rebranding strategy that the Utah-based firm, formerly known as APX Alarm, launched more than two years ago to transition from an alarm installation company to a provider or home technology services. "We do a lot of other things besides security and some of them are very capital intense," said Vivint co-founder and CEO Todd Pedersen. "You install a solar system and its $20,000 a system. Now we’re only installing like 20 systems a day, but it’s a lot of capital and we intend to get to hundreds of installs a day at some point. Really, the Blackstone move is partnering with a group that is right there at the top of ability to access the capital markets and the credit markets in an efficient way to help scale the company."