The National Advertising Division (“NAD”) determined that SimpliSafe, Inc. supported certain advertising claims for SimpliSafe Home Security, including claims that the system is equipped with features to keep it functioning after an event which may disrupt the system and that SimpliSafe did not have a material connection with certain third-party endorsers.

Self-regulatory and dispute resolution programs

However, NAD recommends modification or discontinuation of other challenged claims, including dispatch speed claims that its system enables police to dispatch 3.5x ‘faster’, a monitoring and notification claim, and a battery life claim. NAD also recommended modifications to line claims, as well as to challenged endorsements and a testimonial. The claims were challenged by ADT Security Services.

NAD is an investigative unit of the advertising industry’s system of self-regulation and is a division of the BBB National Programs’ self-regulatory and dispute resolution programs.

Challenged Claims

The following are representative of the challenged claims:

Dispatch speed claims:

  • “We dispatch 350% faster”.
  • “We verify the alarm is real, so police dispatch 350% faster”.
  • Police respond “up to 3.5x faster”.
  • Implied claim that SimpliSafe alarms consistently result not only in the dispatch of emergency response services, but that emergency services arrive to aid customers 3.5 times faster than when using a security system from any other competitor.

Monitoring and notification claim:

  • “Our monitoring staff calls you the second trouble has been detected”.

Line claims:

  • SimpliSafe systems “Protects every door, room, window” and “Protects against intruders, fires, water damage, and more,” appearing on SimpliSafe’s website on both the homepage and on a comparison chart to “Traditional Home Security”, as well as in other contexts, such as SimpliSafe’s television, radio, podcast and social media advertising.

System protection claim:

  • “Prepared for the unexpected – Someone attacks the system? SimpliSafe is ready”.

Endorsements and Testimonials:

  • SimpliSafe is “the #1 home security pick of CNET, the Wirecutter, PC Magazine, the Verge and more.”
  • “Our monitoring service was named the best in the industry”.
  • “The best home security system”; “The most comprehensive . . . the most reliable”; “SimpliSafe belongs at the top of your list”; “a seamless system.”

Range and battery life claims:

  • “Unparalleled range. Most wireless security systems can’t cover your house. Ours can – up to 1000ft. range.”
  • The battery for SimpliSafe’s entry sensors lasts for almost a decade.

Dispatch speed claims

NAD recommended that SimpliSafe discontinue the challenged dispatch speed claims

NAD recommended that SimpliSafe discontinue the challenged dispatch speed claims, which expressly claim that its system enables police to dispatch 3.5x “faster” than customers who have other alarm systems. This recommendation was based on NAD’s determination that the evidence relied on by the advertiser was not a good fit for its dispatch speed claims because it measured “response” times (not “dispatch” times), and it did not collect data specifically measuring police response times to alarms from SimpliSafe customers or from any other competing system’s alarms.

NAD determined that the message reasonably conveyed by SimpliSafe’s system protection claim - “Prepared for the unexpected – Someone attacks the system? SimpliSafe is ready” – is that the SimpliSafe system is equipped with features to keep it functioning after an event which may disrupt the system. SimpliSafe demonstrated that such features exist to maintain the system’s functionality after an occurrence such as the loss of power or Wi-Fi, therefore NAD concluded that the claim is substantiated.

Verifying alarms

NAD recommended that SimpliSafe discontinue the claim that its “monitoring staff calls you the second trouble’s detected” because SimpliSafe had not demonstrated that its monitoring service calls SimpliSafe customers to verify alarms within a few seconds.

With regard to the challenger’s contention that SimpliSafe makes improper line claims throughout its advertising, NAD determined that much of the challenged advertising speaks generally to the SimpliSafe brand and system.

‘Whole Home Protection’

However, in certain contexts where SimpliSafe does not make it clear that certain performance benefits depend on which features and products the consumer elects to pay for, NAD determined that consumers may reasonably understand that they will receive the performance benefits from each of SimpliSafe’s products when not all of the packages available from SimpliSafe provide those benefits.

NAD found that, with respect to the top of the homepage on SimpliSafe’s website where claims state that SimpliSafe offers ‘Whole Home Protection’, protecting “every door, room [and] window” and protection against “intruders, fires, water damage and more,” those claims, in the context in which they are conveyed, disclose that different packages and configurations of the SimpliSafe system provide the claimed benefits.

‘Traditional Home Security’

NAD recommended that SimpliSafe modify its television, radio, podcast, and social media advertising

NAD, however, recommended that SimpliSafe discontinue the comparison chart to ‘Traditional Home Security’ on its website or modify it to accurately disclose the particular SimpliSafe packages that provide the claimed benefits, and avoid conveying an unsupported message about the benefits that traditional home security systems can provide.

NAD further recommended that SimpliSafe modify its television, radio, podcast, and social media advertising to avoid conveying the misleading message that all of the touted benefits and options are available with every SimpliSafe package.

Reviews of DIY systems

NAD also recommended that SimpliSafe modify the claim ‘Unlike other alarm companies, we verify your alarm, so police know it’s not a false alarm’ to remove the references to other alarm companies because SimpliSafe did not substantiate that other alarm companies do not have video verification.

With respect to the challenged endorsements and testimonials, NAD recommended that SimpliSafe modify its claim that SimpliSafe is ‘the #1 home security pick of CNET, the Wirecutter, PC Magazine, the Verge and more’ to clarify that the claim is limited to reviews of DIY systems.

NAD recommendations

Further, SimpliSafe informed NAD that it had permanently modified its advertising to discontinue references to Wirecutter’s review of SimpliSafe from 2018. Additionally, NAD recommended that SimpliSafe discontinue the claim that “Our monitoring service was named the best in the industry”, or modify the claim to disclose the date of the award.

NAD also evaluated whether the existence of an affiliate relationship between SimpliSafe and the publications whose reviews are referenced in its advertising requires SimpliSafe to disclose that relationship on its website in connection with that advertising.

SimpliSafe systems

Record indicates of no connection in commercial arrangements between the publishers and SimpliSafe

The record indicated that there was no connection between the commercial arrangements between the publishers and SimpliSafe, in which the publishers derive some revenue from SimpliSafe generated by sales of SimpliSafe systems from those affiliate links, and the editorial content from those publications referenced in SimpliSafe’s advertising.

Thus, NAD determined that the editorial content was sufficiently independent to conclude that there was not a material connection of the kind that may impact consumers’ assessment of the reviews of SimpliSafe’s products and require a disclosure.

Efficient crime prevention

Further, with regard to the testimonial from Chief Balog of the Genoa City (Wisconsin) stating “We use it to catch criminals. My force used SimpliSafe to stop a serial burglary ring. It still helps us catch criminals in the act today,” NAD recommended that SimpliSafe clearly and conspicuously disclose the material connection between Chief Balog’s police department and SimpliSafe.

NAD noted such a disclosure is required because consumers would reasonably assume that a police department purchases the equipment used in its operations and not expect that the equipment was provided free of charge with the possibility of a favorable testimonial contemplated.

SimpliSafe entry sensors

In addition, NAD determined that SimpliSafe has a reasonable basis for the claim that the battery for SimpliSafe’s entry sensors lasts for almost a decade, but recommended that SimpliSafe modify its battery life claim to include a clear and conspicuous disclosure that actual battery life will depend on the level of usage.

Finally, SimpliSafe informed NAD that, for reasons unrelated to the present challenge, it would permanently discontinue the claim “Unparalleled range. Most wireless security systems can’t cover your house. Ours can – up to 1000ft. range”.

Resolving disputes and advertising matters

NAD, relying on the advertiser’s representation that the claim has been permanently discontinued, did not review this claim on its merits. The voluntarily discontinued claim will be treated, for compliance purposes, as though NAD recommended its discontinuance and the advertiser agreed to comply.

In its advertiser’s statement, although SimpliSafe disagreed with some of NAD’s findings, it agreed to comply with NAD’s recommendations. SimpliSafe stated that it “believes in the self-regulatory process and supports NAD’s mission as a forum for advertisers to resolve advertising matters” and that it will “work to update its advertising in light of NAD’s recommendations.

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What Do You Need To Know About Thermal Imaging Cameras?
What Do You Need To Know About Thermal Imaging Cameras?

As businesses, schools, hospitals and sporting venues look to safely reopen in a COVID-19 world, thermal imaging systems will play a critical role in helping to detect and distinguish skin temperature variations in people. Thermal surveillance, a mainstay of traditional physical security and outdoor perimeter detection, is now being deployed to quickly scan employees, contractors and visitors as part of a first line of defense to detect COVID-19 symptoms. In the coming weeks and months, the security industry will look to implement thermal camera solutions for customers, yet many questions remain as to the differences between different system types and how to properly install thermal imaging cameras. In this Q&A, Jason Ouellette, Head of Technology Business Development for Johnson Controls, answers several of these questions. Q: What are some of the different thermal imaging solutions available in the market to detect an elevated temperature in a person? For the general market, there are three types of these thermographic screenings. There is the handheld device, which is typically lower cost, very portable, and very easy to use. Typically, this is a point and shoot type of device, but it requires you to be three feet or less from the person that you're screening, which, in today's world, means the user needs to wear protective personal equipment. For the general market, there are three types of these thermographic screenings The second type of solution would best be described as a thermal camera and kiosk. The advantage of this system over a handheld device is this can be self-service. An individual would go up to and engage with the kiosk on their own. But many of these kiosk type solutions have some integration capability, so they can provide some type of output, for either turnstiles, or physical access control, but not video management systems (VMS). Some of the downside of this type of system is that it’s less accurate than a thermographic solution because it does not have a blackbody temperature calibration device and the readings are influenced by the surrounding ambient temperature, called thermal drift. So instead of being able to achieve a ±0.3ºC accuracy rating, this system probably provides closer to ±0.5ºC at best. Some of these devices may be classed as a clinical thermometer with a higher degree of one time accuracy, but do not offer the speed and endurance of the thermographic solution for adjunctive use. And then there are thermal imaging camera systems with a blackbody temperature calibration device. These types of systems include a dual sensor camera, that has a visual sensor and a thermal sensor built right into the camera, along with a separate blackbody device. This provides the highest degree of ongoing accuracy, because of the blackbody and its ability to provide continuous calibration. These systems can provide much more flexibility and can offer integrations with multiple VMS platforms and access control devices. Q: When installing a thermal imaging camera system what is the most important element to consider? Camera placement is critical to ensure the system works as expected, however the placement of the blackbody device which verifies the correct calibration is in place is equally as important. If the customer wants to follow FDA medical device recommendations for camera placement, both the height of the camera and the blackbody as well as the distance between these devices should comply with the product installation instructions. This takes into account the device focal range and calibration parameters in addressing the distance from the person undergoing the scan. Also, integrators should minimize camera detection angles to ensure optimal accuracy and install cameras parallel with the face as much as possible, and again in compliance with installation instructions. Integrators should minimize camera detection angles to ensure optimal accuracy The blackbody should be placed outside of the area where people could block the device and located more towards the edges of the field-of-view of the camera. You need to keep in mind the minimum resolution for effective thermographic readings which is 320 by 240 pixels as defined by the standards. To achieve this, you would need to follow medical electrical equipment performance standards driven by IEC 80601-2-59:2017 for human temperature scanning and FDA guidelines. Within that measurement, the face needs to fill 240 x 180 pixels of the thermal sensor resolution, which is close to or just over 50 percent of the sensor’s viewing area typically, meaning a single person scanned at a time in compliance with the standards for accuracy.  Along with height and distance placement considerations, the actual placement in terms of the location of the system is key. For example, an expansive glass entryway may impact accuracy due to sunlight exposure. Installations should be focused on ensuring that they are away from airflow, heating and cooling sources, located approximately 16 feet from entry ways and in as consistent of an ambient temperature as possible between 50°F and 95°F. Q: Once a thermal imaging camera system is installed, how do you monitor the device? There are several choices for system monitoring, depending on whether the solution is used as standalone or integrated with other technologies, such as intrusion detection, access control or video systems. For standalone systems, the ability to receive system alerts is typically configured through the camera’s webpage interface, and the cameras include abilities such as the live web page, LED display for alerting, audio alerts and physical relay outputs. When done right, these features will all follow cybersecurity best practices which is important for any network solution today, including changing default passwords and establishing authentication methods. The ability to receive system alerts is typically configured through the camera’s webpage interface These types of thermal cameras can also integrate with turnstile systems, VMS platforms and access control systems. This is typically done through the integration of a relay output, activated by a triggered temperature anomaly event on a thermal imaging camera which can then be used for activities such as locking a turnstile, or through access control and video systems to send an email or provide an automated contagion report for contact tracing. These capabilities and integrations extend the monitoring capability above that of the standalone solution. The camera can be configured to monitor a specific range of low and high alerts. Users can determine the actions that should be taken when that alert exceeds the preset low or high threshold. These actions include things like a bright and easy-to-see LED can provide visual notification through pulsing and flashing lights as an example. Q: What about system maintenance? Does a thermal imaging camera require regular service in order to operate accurately? First it’s important to make sure the system is calibrated. This can be done after the unit stabilises for at least 30 minutes to establish the initial reference temperature source known as the blackbody. Calibrations conducted before this warm up and stability time period can throw off accuracy. Also, as part of your system maintenance schedule you will want to perform a calibration check of the blackbody device every 12 months, along with following recommendations of the FDA and IEC. If you install the solution and don’t perform maintenance and the blackbody calibration certificate expires, over time there’s a risk that the device will experience drift and a less accurate reading will result. There’s a risk that the device will experience drift and a less accurate reading will result Q: What final pieces of advice do you have for either an integrator who plans to install a thermal imaging camera system or an end user who plans to invest in this solution? Before you buy a thermal imaging camera check to see if the manufacturer ships the camera with a calibration certificate. Also, become familiar with FDA’s guidance released in April 2020, Enforcement Policy for Telethermographic Systems During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Public Health Emergency. This document places thermal/fever products for adjunctive use under the category of a Class I medical devices and subject to its regulatory control. Driven by these regulations and categorisation, users need to understand specifically what is required to meet the required level of accuracy for successful detection. While thermal imaging camera systems are more complex than traditional surveillance cameras, they can prove to be a valuable resource when set up, configured and maintained properly.

Functionality Beyond Security: The Advent of Open Platform Cameras
Functionality Beyond Security: The Advent of Open Platform Cameras

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic marks the biggest global disruption since World War II. While the ‘new normal’ after the crisis is still taking shape, consumers are apprehensive about the future. According to a recent survey, 60% of shoppers are afraid of going grocery shopping, with 73% making fewer trips to physical stores. Returning to the workplace is also causing unease, as 66% of employees report feeling uncomfortable about returning to work after COVID-19.  Businesses and employers are doing their best to alleviate these fears and create safe environments in and around their buildings. This also comes at tremendous costs for new safety measures and technologies – including updates to sanitation protocols and interior architecture – that protect against COVID-19. Costs in the billions that most businesses will face alone, without support from insurance and amidst larger, macroeconomic challenges. Saving costs and increasing security But what if building operators, retail shop owners, and other stakeholders could save costs by leveraging new functionality from their existing security infrastructure? More specifically, expanding the use of current-generation security cameras – equipped with AI-driven image analysis capabilities – beyond the realm of security and into meeting new health regulations. This is exactly where video analytics algorithms come into play. And in the next step, a new evolutionary approach towards open security camera platforms promises new opportunities. Security cameras have evolved from mere image capturing devices into complex data sensors Over the past decade, security cameras have evolved from mere image capturing devices into complex data sensors. They provide valuable data that can be analyzed and used in beneficial ways that are becoming the norm. Since 2016, Bosch has offered built-in Video Analytics as standard on all its IP cameras. On one hand, this enables automated detection of security threats more reliably than human operators. And on the other hand, video analytics collect rich metadata to help businesses improve safety, increase efficiency, reduce costs, and create new value beyond security. Expanding Camera Functionality Beyond Security Today, we have ‘smart’ security cameras with built-in video analytics to automatically warn operators of intruders, suspicious objects and dangerous behaviors. The rich metadata from several cameras on the same network can also be consolidated by making use of an intelligent software solution. It offers so-called pre-defined widgets to provide business intelligence by measuring area fill levels, counting building occupancy and detecting the formation of crowds. In combination with live video stream data, these insights enable heightened situational awareness to security operators. What’s more, operators are free to set their own parameters – like maximum number of occupants in a space and ‘off limit’ areas – to suit their needs. These user-centric widgets also come in handy in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Specific widgets can trigger an alarm, public announcement or trigger a 'traffic light' when the maximum number of people in a space is exceeded. Building operators can also use available intelligence such as foot traffic ‘heat maps’ to identify problem areas that tend to become congested and place hand sanitizer stations at heavily frequented hotspots. At the same time, the option to perform remote maintenance on these systems limits the exposure of technicians in the field during the pandemic. Again, the underlying camera hardware and software already exist. Cameras will be able to ‘learn’ future functionality to curb the spread of the coronavirus Looking ahead, cameras with video analytic and neural network-based analytic capabilities will be able to ‘learn’ future functionality to curb the spread of the coronavirus. For instance, cameras could monitor distances between individuals and trigger voice announcements when social distancing guidelines are violated. Facial recognition software can be trained to monitor personal protective equipment (PPE) compliance and sound alerts for persons entering buildings without masks. The technical requirements are already in place. The task at hand is to deliver these new functionalities to cameras at scale, which is where open camera platforms hold the key. Why Open Camera Operating Systems? When it comes to innovating future camera applications that extend beyond security, no hardware manufacturer should go at it alone. 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In 2018 Bosch started a fully owned start-up company, Security & Safety Things, and became one of five founding members of OSSA (Open Security & Safety Alliance). With more than 40 members, the Alliance has collectively created the first Technology Stack for “open” video security devices. This includes the OSSA Application Interface Specification and Compliant Device Definition Specification. An open camera platform for innovating future functionality  Based on OSSA’s common APIs, collective approach on data security and core system requirements for video security cameras, the first camera manufacturers were able to build video security cameras that adopt an open platform principle. Further fueling innovation, OSSA focused on driving the creation of one centralized marketplace to unite demand and supply in the market. Camera devices that are built in accordance with OSSA’s Technology Stack, so-called “Driven by OSSA” devices, can benefit from this marketplace which consists of three pillars: a development environment, an application store, and a device management portal. Security & Safety Things has advanced OSSA’s open camera platform concept, built this marketplace for the security and safety industry and has developed the open OS that powers the first “Driven by OSSA” devices. Making it quick and simple to customize security solutions by installing and executing multiple apps This year, Bosch, as one of the first camera manufacturers, introduces the new INTEOX generation of open platform cameras. To innovate a future beyond security functionality, INTEOX combines built-in Intelligent Video Analytics from Bosch, an open Operating System (OS), and the ability to securely add software apps as needed. Thanks to the fully open principle, system integrators are free to add apps available in the application store, making it quick and simple to customize security solutions by installing and executing multiple apps on the INTEOX platform. In turn, app developers can now focus on leveraging the intelligence and valuable data collected by analytics-equipped cameras for their own software developments to introduce new exciting possibilities of applying cameras. These possibilities are needed as smart buildings and IoT-connected technology platforms continue to evolve. And they will provide new answers to dealing with COVID-19. The aforementioned detection of face masks and PPE via facial detection algorithms is just one of manifold scenarios in which new apps could provide valuable functionality. Contact tracing is another field where a combination of access control and video analytics with rich metadata can make all the difference. 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Recognizing The Importance Of Security Officers To Promote Safety
Recognizing The Importance Of Security Officers To Promote Safety

The general public doesn’t give much thought to the important role of security officers in creating and promoting safer environments. The low-profile work of security officers is vital to protecting people, places and property. During the pandemic, newer aspects to that role have emerged. Security personnel have been called on to perform diverse tasks such as managing queues at the supermarket, safeguarding testing centers and hospitals, ensuring food deliveries, and supporting police patrols. The British Security Industry Association (BSIA) and two other organizations in the United Kingdom are joining forces to raise awareness of the work of security officers and to recognize the vital importance of the duties they perform. BSIA, a trade association, includes members who are responsible for 70% of privately provided UK security products and services, including security guarding, consultancy services, and distribution and installation of electronic and physical security equipment. BSIA, the Security Institute and the Security Commonwealth Joining BSIA in the awareness campaign are the Security Institute, a professional security membership body; and the Security Commonwealth, which is comprised of 40 organizations from across the security landscape with common objectives to build professionalism, raise standards and share best practices. “The recognition of security officers as key workers is the start of a re-appraisal of what service they provide to the community in keeping the public safe and secure,” says Mike Reddington, BSIA Chief Executive. “As we exit lockdown and have to navigate public spaces again, [security officers] will have a crucial role in supporting public confidence. We are working closely with the Police and all other public bodies to find the best way to achieve this.” Security officers acknowledged as key workers The campaign will showcase security professionals as a respected, valued, professional service provider and a key worker that is acknowledged and embedded in daily lives. The British Security Industry Association (BSIA) and two other organizations in the United Kingdom are joining forces to raise awareness of the work of security officers “Great effort has been invested in the professional standards and capabilities of frontline [security] officers, and they have proven their worth during the coronavirus crisis in the UK,” says Rick Mounfield, Chief Executive, the Security Institute. “They, along with the wider security sector, deserve to be recognized, respected and appreciated for the safety and security they provide across the United Kingdom.” “[We are working to] build professionalism, raise standards and share best practices, and I hope this campaign can make more people recognize the changes we have all made and continue to make,” says Guy Matthias, Chairman of the Security Commonwealth (SyCom). The industry will be reaching out to companies, professionals, and organizations in the sector to participate in the campaign. The hope is that, over the coming weeks as lockdown is eased, the industry can play its part to ensure that the country emerges with confidence to start to recover and build for the future. Private security more important than ever The campaign will showcase security professionals as a respected, valued, professional service provider Across the pond in the United States, law enforcement professionals are facing a crisis of confidence during a time of civil unrest as protestors call to “defund the police” and to otherwise undermine and/or recast law enforcement’s role in preserving the peace and ensuring public safety. If an upshot is that public policing is starved of resources, the role of private security to supplement their mission is likely to increase. In short, the role of private security is more important than ever on both sides of the Atlantic. Public recognition of that role is welcome, obviously. In any case, the importance of their role protecting people, places and property has never been greater.