By Systems Solutions Group / Security Systems News / 0 Comments

By: Security Systems News

07/18/2018

Paul Ragusa

YARMOUTH, Maine—As technology continues to evolve at a rapid pace within security, monitoring companies and third party standards organizations such as UL are doing their best to understand what this means for central stations today, especially in regard to creating requirements that reflect the current state of innovation within the industry. 
In March, UL published a proposal to extend the effective dates for two sets of requirements that are new to the eighth edition of UL 827, The Standard for Central Station Services. The proposed effective dates—July 31, 2018 was extended to Jan. 15, 2019 and July 31, 2020 was extended to Jan. 15, 2021—align confirmation of new requirement compliance with UL’s annual audit program for monitoring stations.
“The new requirements in UL 827 have proven to be quite challenging,” Alan Cavers, managing engineer of UL’s Certificate Service business, said in the announcement of the extended dates. “Our monitoring station customers have made great progress, but in many cases, UL needs one more on-site visit to finish compliance determination. The current mid-year effective dates would require that UL establish separate engineering projects to assure the necessary work is completed prior to the effective date. Those projects would be outside of the annual audit program, adding extra cost and complexity to our customers’ experience. Adjusting the effective dates as proposed would simplify the process for all parties.”
Morgan Hertel, vice president of technology and innovation of Rapid Response Monitoring Services, told Security Systems News that the changes are long overdue.
“What came to be the final requirements were actually started back in early 2008, and I was on that original working group committee back then and it was really focused on—how do we take what was an evolving industry out of the archaic ages of serial cables and green screens and move that standard into what we have and need today,” said Hertel.
Chris Newhook, central station manager, American Alarm & Communications Inc., told SSN, “Overall, the changes are relevant and in sync with where the industry is going. The enhancement of security requirements, the delineation of some of the more redundant aspects shared between the two codes, the emphasis on reporting—it’s a long list.”
He continued, “But their changes and revisions are driven by the industry. It’s a challenge for UL as well, frankly speaking. Technology moves at such a blinding rate they have their work cut out for them trying to maintain their pace. Pending updates to this newest edition are already reviewing how we can process lower level signal activity, remote access to automation. All-in-all, these standards are very much living documents.”
Rod Coles, chief executive officer, Bold Technologies, agrees on the importance of these new standards. “There are some key things in there that we needed, like monitoring of devices, CPU usage, hard disk space—things like that everyone really should be doing but they weren’t,” Coles told SSN.
Changes and Challenges
One of the key concepts introduced in UL 827 is the Monitoring Equivalency Weight, or MEW factor, which is determined by how many and the type of accounts a central station is monitoring, with three levels and corresponding requirements for each.
“You have all of these accounts coming into what are becoming pretty significant size facilities today monitoring a lot of accounts and representing a pretty big chunk of what is being monitored out there, so having requirements for the size of the organization is pretty important,” said Hertel.
Newhook added, “The MEW calculation is straightforward enough but those companies that exceed a 100,000 or greater ‘weight’ are now on the hook to have a redundant site from which to monitor. That said, these changes are no surprise and have been coming for some time and most companies of that size likely already employ a back-up location at a ‘reasonable distance’ from their existing facility. Fortunately, those companies have until 2020 to be up-and-running.”
As Newhook points out, both the 827 and 1981 revisions posed a challenge to everyone—central stations as well as their automation providers—and many of the revisions were dependent on software upgrades.
“There were some pretty significant changes that they used in the new software to address the 1981 and 827 requirement,” Newhook explained. “So it is a challenge because we have had to train all of our people on that and then we’ve got to make sure that the software integrates with our system of record—our accounting and sales software, for example. And because all of that information is now dropping down to a new database through a new API, there are a lot of plates spinning.”
He continued, “Our central station has had to corral resources in IT and Facilities to make sure we are hitting the marks required. Network security and topography, communications platforms, access, as well as our infrastructure at our location comes into play on this.”
Coles added, “With UL 827 we had to take account of that in our cloud data centers but the bigger changes were in 1981, which really affected us more as a software company. There were things that we had to do in our software for it to be compliant and to be honest it was one of the more major updates that UL has done. Some of things that they focused on in 1981 were encryption, security networks, VMs (virtual machines), which are becoming more of a fact of life but were not covered with 1981 prior to this. A lot of the things that we have done within our software are on the reporting side of things. Part of the other requirements was being able to monitor things that are happening within the equipment the automation software is running on, including things like CPU capacity.”
Coles pointed out that the emergence of cloud technology has also impacted standards. “We’ve got a lot of customers on the cloud now and we just opened our second data center because we flew through the UL requirements and had to open a second one,” he said, noting that one of the key advantages of the cloud is immediate redundancy. “So if you are a small central station with a few thousand connections, you have that redundancy that usually only the bigger centrals have.”
Staying Relevant
One of the challenges for UL, Hertel noted, is getting these standards to a level “that even moderately conforms to what other data standards are like today.”
Hertel still works closely with UL and the industry to drive change and relevant standards.
“UL is trying to figure out how to stay relevant, and has been getting feedback from the industry they serve on what they need to do to be and stay more relevant moving forward,” he explained. “For example, they’ve hired some people that are in the network security space, and they’ve hired some outside engineers and some newer people to come in and take a look at this new paradigm, and I think that they will eventually get there.”
Coles agreed: “UL has done a lot in the last five to 10 years to bring their level of understanding of IT up, and I think they are doing a whole lot better and have definitely improved their game.”
“We need UL to be a part of the equation,” added Hertel, who noted that it is key that the industry has a third party organization that not only has minimum standards but is a partner who provides more of a value proposition.
“They have to be much more performance-based and prescriptive based,” Hertel said. “They have to look at how to create processes, requirements and standards that address the new business model of today, because it is different.”
Coles sees cybersecurity as one area where UL can provide increased guidance moving forward.
“We see customers hit with viruses and ransomware, and that kind of stuff, and I think UL can do a whole lot more in regard to standards for central stations in this area—bring it under the umbrella of some of the UL standards for central stations,” said Coles.
In addition to cybersecurity, Coles said that new technologies also pose a challenge for UL when it comes to creating standards and requirements for central stations.
“The big area that is going to change things is artificial intelligence,” Coles noted. “At what point is AI going to be making decisions that affect people’s safety? Where is that line drawn? I see a future—I don’t know how far in the future it is—but I can see a future where a central station could literally exist in the cloud, including most of the operators—why not? AI is going to change the way that we do business in every area, but in particular because you could have artificial intelligence making decisions on people’s safety. AI will revolutionize our industry and it is closer than people think.”

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By: Security Systems News

Company continues to grow while expanding its services and product offerings

07/18/2018

Paul Ragusa

LILLINGTON, N.C.—Boon Edam Inc., a global company that specializes in security entrances and architectural revolving doors, continues to experience double-digit growth year over year, building on momentum created in April at ISC West 2018 where the company highlighted the expansion of its Enterprise Customer Group, a range of new integrations and advances in its entrance technology.
Mark Borto, president and CEO for Boon Edam Inc., told Security Systems News that the growing adoption of anti-tailgating and piggybacking entrance technology by Fortune 50 companies is helping the company in advancing its position as a market leader in the Americas in security entrance solutions.
“While we have held the lion’s share of the Americas market for security entrances since 2012, according to IHS Markit reports, we are moving ahead now on a number of business fronts,” Borto said. “Enterprise sales have become a major market for us as a result of our expanded focus on global standardization and deployment. At the same time, we are integrating the most advanced technologies with the combination of biometrics and anti-piggybacking solutions, addressing some of the most pressing challenges for risk mitigation.”
One of the ways the company has been able to sustain double-digit growth for almost a decade, Borto said, is by serving American corporations in their global locations. “So as the standards that have been set by companies here in the Americas have been taken overseas, we’ve gone along as the preferred vendor and we are supporting those products overseas. That has been a real shift that we have seen from large corporations in the last five or six years, as many times the risk and liability concerns are similar no matter where you go.”
Borto pointed out that entrances are often overlooked in terms of potential for a breach.
“What we are really starting to experience in the last five years is a recognition that that entrance does have the potential to be breached in a way that is not necessarily noticed, as oftentimes tailgating is an act of kindness or politeness as the person is assumed to be an employee,” said Borto. “So with the convergence of physical security and cybersecurity, we are now seeing attention coming back to the fact that the simple tailgating through a secured entryway has the same level of risk and attached liability as if you got into the company through some cyber breach.”
And with connected technology built into the companies two primary security entrance products, “customers can access the operating data and in some cases even make some adjustments to the operating parameters remotely into those products,” Borto explained. “And if desired they can provide that access to us so we can help with troubleshooting any operational problems or issues or service requirements. And we have now expanded that platform to enable dozens or hundreds of units that a customer has deployed across the country or world to be accessed from one site or portal and they can choose which entrances they want to look at.”
The company is in the process of adding that connected platform to its other product lines. “And from there we will continue to monitor what it is that brings value to our customers with this info and I think with the whole idea of IoT and big data, managers and executives are being presented with reams of info, so from a management perspective it becomes: How do you sift through that and pull out the info that can be actionable in a useful way?”
With this increased connectivity and recognition of risks and liabilities, it has also driven the need for users to focus on both data security and on hardening entrances and perimeters.
“In terms of compliance, we took the step last year of bringing in an industry expert, a security consultant who has been involved in that heavily for the last decade and has been in the industry for close to 30 years,” Borto pointed out. “So we are deploying him specifically to meet with customers and talk about compliance and regulatory requirements, which includes education on the cybersecurity piece, as we want to be a thought leader in the industry to help grow the market.”
Borto noted that the key to Boon’s success overall is its unwavering focus on its customers.
“One of our advantages of being privately held is it has allowed us to put resources toward serving those customers in ways that perhaps a publicly traded, quarterly earnings-driven company can’t do, and that distinction has been very important for us,” he said.
 


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By Systems Solutions Group / Power Engineering / 0 Comments

By: Power Engineering

A Power Engineering Exclusive: The American Society of Safety Engineers reports workplace safety has plateaued over the last decade.  This is true of the power industry, although significant strides have been made to protect workers. However, we cannot claim victory until we can drive the injury rate to zero.

 



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By: Science Daily

Engineers have shed new light on a scientific mystery regarding the atomic-level mechanism of the sulfur embrittlement of nickel, a classic problem that has puzzled the scientific community for nearly a century. The discovery also enriches fundamental understanding of general grain boundaries that often control the mechanical and physical properties of polycrystalline materials.

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By: Security Systems News

Formerly with Dahua, Fenner takes on newly created role at ISS

07/11/2018

Paul Ragusa

WOODBRIDGE, N.J.—Seasoned and highly respected executive Janet Fenner, formerly with Dahua Technology U.S.A., was recently hired by Intelligent Security Systems to take on a newly created role as chief marketing officer.
“I am extremely excited to join the ISS team as they are such a progressive and forward-looking company,” Fenner told Security Systems News by email. “The physical security industry is shifting toward a software-centric system model as IP devices continue to be recognized as commoditized edge devices. ISS is driving new software solutions that enable and provide AI and predictive analysis—capabilities that users want, yet few companies can actually provide. Look for new and exciting developments from ISS as we continue to differentiate our position as the thought leaders in software solutions for the physical security industry.”
In her new role at ISS, Fenner will be responsible for all marketing activities globally, including the development and execution of new branding and positioning strategies to support new business initiatives. Fenner reports directly to ISS CEO Aluisio Figueiredo, and has also been appointed to the ISS Executive Director’s Board, the most senior committee in the company, reporting to the full board.
“We are excited and proud to have Janet join the ISS team,” Figueiredo said in the announcement. “Janet’s extensive industry experience and proven marketing, branding and alliance-building skills will help to contribute to our continued growth and expansion.”
Prior to Dahua, Fenner served at Hanwha Techwin America (formerly Samsung Techwin) and the Brady Corporation. She is also an active supporter and an advisory board member of Mission 500, a charitable organization focused on the professional security community’s efforts to assist children and families in need across the U.S.
Fenner was also recently recognized as one of the security industry’s top female leaders and newly appointed to the Security Industry Association’s Board of Directors.
Intelligent Security Systems, based here, and with offices worldwide, specializes in video management and video analytics software. ISS also provides a comprehensive line of digital security and surveillance video solutions, allowing for centralized command and control of an entire enterprise security network.


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