The security week that was: 11/05/10 (post-ISC update)

A weekly surveillance of the news shaping your profession


Post-ISC Alarm News Update: False Alarms and Government Interference

ISC Solutions was held this week (Wednesday and Thursday) in New York City, and as a side event to the tradeshow, the Tri-Association Awards Dinner was held to honor industry leaders. Leo Guthart was one of the recipients (see who else was honored), and was recognized for his leadership at Pittway/ADEMCO and then Honeywell/ADEMCO. Guthart took the time to warn the audience, which was chiefly comprised of companies that manufacture, market and service alarm systems, that false alarms were the industry’s Achilles heel. Guthart is right, and at SIW, we can attest that two of our very popular columns in the last month have been about false alarm issues (see Jones’ column on the financial risk of false alarms and the Gunning/Lenander column which examines alarm response research).

Guthart challenged the industry to work harder to eliminate false alarms and to support organizations like the Security Industry Alarm Coalition. Speaking personally with SIAC’s executive director Stan Martin before the dinner, I think it’s a good time to advocate to our readers that you support SIAC, whether with monetary donations or even volunteer man-hours. For those of you who have been thinking about making a corporate donation to SIAC, do it now!

One of the common perceptions is that the only issue right now is false alarms and verified response policies. That’s wrong, says Martin. He says another issue SIAC is closely watching is outside Chicago. Three Chicago-area suburbs are working together to put in place their own alarm monitoring center. When this happens, said Martin, it’s common for the cities to not be an exclusive alarm monitoring provider at first, but once they have invested in their alarm monitoring and signal receiving equipment, they often find that they are losing money. Then to stop the financial bleeding of getting in the alarm monitoring business, the city council will pass an ordinance requiring all homes and businesses in their jurisdiction to use the city’s alarm monitoring, rather than the monitoring provided by independent businesses.

As a dealer or a monitoring company, you ultimately lose out on business opportunity because you then face an unfair advantage given to a government-owned business. (My joke back to Stan Martin was this: What is going to happen next, is the government going to buy GM?) As an end-user of alarm systems, you lose your ability to choose a provider and to switch providers if you are not receiving the service you desire. What’s worse, said an alarm systems engineer at the Tri-Association event, is that these cities rarely stay up-to-date on technology changes. He mentioned one city that couldn’t even support the very common ADEMCO Contact ID panel signal format. Again, this is why you should consider supporting SIAC. You can’t fight these issues on your own; you need help from people who know how to work with cities and law enforcement. Those people are SIAC.

Telcos continue to attack your turf
Newest one is Canada’s Rogers Communications

Rogers Communications is engaging in the home monitoring business. The company, which provides cell phones, home phones, TV and Internet services, wants to allows its customers to bundle home systems monitoring into current packages. The offering is being billed as a technology interface that would connect home systems like HVAC thermostats as well as security alarm systems into a home control point, and then would provide remote access and control of those systems to customers via apps on their smart phones. This news from Rogers patterns after similar news in the U.S. of telco/cable companies attempting to establish themselves in the security space. Rogers said that the offering will hit the market in early 2011.

In other news
Video analytics firm goes under, Cargo theft on rise, SIA's new board members

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