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What retailers want: Day 1 of Innovision 2011 focuses on the future of video

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02/07/2011

CABO SAN LUCAS—During the first day of Innovision 2011, an event sponsored by digital video manufacturer I3 International, there was significant focus on how retailers are using video and what they anticipate wanting from video in the future.

A $55 million painting gets stolen and you're still arguing security is too expensive?

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The lack of security in museums continues to astound me. If I were in the security consulting or integration business, I would be quick to start adding museum security to the sectors that I focused on because there seems to be some serious need out there. And, frankly, it seems like a pretty easy sell. How hard is it to show an impressive ROI for an organization that houses millions (if not billions) of dollars worth of valuable goods?

I just read this article that thieves walked into an Egyptian museum and walked out with Vincent van Gogh's still life “Poppy Flowers.”

None of the alarms meant to protect the artwork in the museum sounded. Only seven of 43 security cameras were working. Just 10 people visited the museum that day and guards were scarce enough that the thieves were able to drag a couch underneath the painting to stand on while cutting the $55 million painting from its frame in broad daylight.

It's not like they scaled the wall, cut a hole in the roof and entered through an air duct, Mission Impossible style. No. They walked in during business hours, moved a couch underneath the painting and just cut out the painting. Not exactly genius stuff. How is it possible that no one saw that? And this is a museum that houses $1.2 billion worth of art (or actually $55 million less than that now).

And even after this heist and the obvious failings of the museum to protect its assets, people are still arguing against security:

Julian Radcliffe, founder of The Art Loss Register, which maintains a database of stolen artwork, says properly protecting artwork is no simple task. It requires costly technological safeguards, such as burglar alarms and camera surveillance, and guards in every room.

“It's a very expensive and complex operation to keep security at a high level,” he says. “That does not excuse the bad security but it's not cheap and easy.”

Well, no, it's not really all that complex. Apparently this museum already has existing cameras (43 to be exact, only seven of which are actually working!), so some sort of infrastructure must already be there. And how complex is it to hire guards to stand in a room and make sure no one pushes a couch up against the wall so they can rip a painting out of its frame?

Hmm, I'm sure you security consultants and integrators can work your magic and make this not sound soooo complex. And is it cheap? Well, no, I wouldn't say cheap, but it's a whole lot cheaper than losing a $55 million painting, right? Actually, what I think they call that is a good investment.

Hotel security system fails, alarm co. sued, but how much blame should security dept. have?

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I began my security reporting career focusing on the third-party monitoring side of the industry as the associate editor of our sister publication, Security Systems News. One of the biggest issues for that beat was ensuring that these third-party companies provided adequate monitoring of residential and commercial customers, which, when you have thousands and thousands of accounts, is by no means simple. (Check out Dan's blog and the monitoring page for continuous reporting on this sector).

And every so often a story would hit the mainstream media that a customer had been paying for an alarm system to be monitored, but it wasn't working properly. This, of course, was never good news and contributed to the public's skepticism about the security industry.

Now that I live on the end user side of life, I can better understand the frustration of not getting what you're paying for. Take, for example, this story out of New Jersey where a hotel employee was viciously attacked while on duty. The woman managed to hit a silent panic alarm during the course of the attack to alert police, but guess what? It wasn't working and the police never showed. Fortunately, the woman managed to escape to a guest room, but sustained significant injuries and trauma from the incident.

The article points out that the alarm company, Vanwell Electronics, who installed and then outsourced the monitoring of the system, was aware that it wasn't working properly, but didn't do anything to fix it.

"Vanwell knew for 16 weeks the (security) line wasn’t properly connected and did nothing about it," said her lawyer, David Mazie.

Yep, for 16 weeks it wasn't working. Disgraceful, I know.

The alarm company has agreed to pay the woman $2.5 million to settle the lawsuit. I suppose it's good to know that these companies who aren't doing their jobs (and are making everyone in the security business look bad), are being forced to pay up.

But, my question to the end user community is: How much responsibility do you have in ensuring that your security systems are working properly? Most end users employ some sort of integrator to put these systems in place, but ultimately isn't it the responsibility of the security department to make sure the job is done right? What type of policies do you need to have in place to make sure things are working properly?

While I agree with this settlement, that it is largely the fault of the security company for not taking care of this problem, what responsibility does the hotel security department have in this? It is, after all, the hotel's assets and the hotel's people at risk.

ISC West kicks off with booths up, attendance strong

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03/24/2010

LAS VEGAS—With 916 booths, slightly more than last year, and crowded aisles, ISC West is preliminarily being labeled a strong show this year by attendees and exhibitors. “It’s back up there, getting toward 1,000 booths again,” said Fredrik Nilsson, general manager, Americas, at Axis Communications.

Security guards with kitchen knives

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

I was listening to NPR this morning and heard a story about the pirates who hijacked a Saudi oil tanker and are demanding $25 million in ransom. But, the part that made my security-honed ears perk up was the fact that these ships have little to no security at all. Actually, that's what the NPR story was focused on too. There's a security company, Anti-Piracy Maritime Security Solutions, which, for $30K will send three unarmed (yep, you read right, unarmed) security guards to protect the ship and "scare away potential pirates." I mean really? In this day and age when we're equipping college and mall security officers with weapons, why is someone nervous about arming people to protect millions and millions of dollars worth of oil? It seems preposterous.
The pirates seem to have a pretty good business plan going on, I'll give them that. They show up at the boat, wave around their big scary guns, demand millions of dollars and off they go. Truth be told, these pirates seem to be pulling a fast one over these ship owners. I mean, even if they captured and "stole" this boat with its oil, would they have the means to sell its contents? Obviously there's a market for oil, but it seems like there are some logistical issues with getting rid of 2 million barrels of crude oil, but what do I know.
Anyway, in the interview when asked why his guards don't have weapons, the CEO of the company said something ridiculous about having access to kitchen knives or something? I mean I'm not a huge fan of guns or anything, but I think if someone's going to pay you to ward off pirates (as glamorous as it sounds) then you should probably have the means to do so. I know Johnny Depp wouldn't back down to a bread knife.