2013: Politics, Law & Standards
Ron Walters, Director, Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC)— The most damaging legislative issue facing the industry is the attempt by AT&T to destroy state licensing. Currently in Michigan and Arizona, AT&T is pushing full bore to destroy or gut state licensing in order to exempt themselves from provisions such as background checks and training. In many states this legislation has been in place for years and the effectiveness is based on years of negotiations. In other states the licensing is as new as less than one year. If this action is successful the industry will take a huge step backwards.
To demonstrate the level of the threat, AT&T used its influence to push a damaging bill through the Michigan Senate in just eight days! There is no better example to demonstrate the level of the threat than to recognize that most state licensing takes many years just to get out of committee. The challenge is for the industry to be successful in keeping licensing in place to overcome the influence and lobbying budget of these mega competitors.
Les Gold, Attorney, Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP — From a legal standpoint, I would consider reliance on the “cloud” and use of CCTV as the greatest concerns. The biggest issue is understanding what the cloud is, how is it utilized and the legal ramifications of industries relying on it, particularly with respect to confidentiality and exposure due to potential hacking and access to confidential information.
From a political standpoint, as long as terrorism remains a constant threat, the security industry will boom. Legislative bodies, which are underfunded, will look to capitalize and seek legislation and licensing to gain revenues. Standards will proliferate, as organizations such as SIA and the normal rating agencies look to provide standards to improve the quality of equipment and services. The security industry is in better condition than the government, which has bigger issues to solve. Our industry has privacy issues, competitive issues, IP issues and technology issues, all of which are solvable within the competitive nature of the industry.
Richard Bielen, PE Division Manager, Fire Protection Systems, National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) — Unless there is political pressure, legislation and laws that require security systems, it’s business as usual. New laws requiring security systems will definitely help the industry. It will bring it more in line with the current state of the fire protection industry. Although it has not done so historically, the security industry must embrace the development of codes and standards. The federal government, state government, cities and local jurisdictions have all mandated the installation of fire alarm systems for certain occupancies. This could also give the security industry the shot in the arm it needs.
Merlin Guilbeau, Executive Director, Electronic Security Association (ESA)— A major challenge for the security industry is the effort by a number of nontraditional companies, such as Verizon and AT&T, to promote legislation at the state level that reduces their responsibility as security providers and adversely impacts public safety. ESA will continue to promote a level playing field for everyone in our industry, with an emphasis on achieving and maintaining standards that ensure professionalism, consumer safety, and customer service.
The association will continue its push for federal legislation that will allow access to the FBI’s database for criminal background checks of potential security industry employees. ESA is also vigilant with regard to any federal regulations that might place an undue burden not only on security providers, but on small and medium-sized businesses in general. We also will continue to raise awareness of efforts by municipalities to enter the security industry space.
2013: Pressing Challenges
John Brady, President, TRG Associates Inc. — The costs and personnel changes that will follow from the implementation of the coverage requirements of Obama Care will be significant and impact the health-care and related benefit costs of all companies. To best be prepared, dealer and integrator companies must begin to get their arms around the upcoming changes and alternatives as to employee hiring, retention and benefit programs early in 2013. This is because the implementation choices will have to begin to be made in the third and fourth quarters of 2013 as provider health plans enter their annual renewal stages.
Perry Levine, Senior Director Business Development — Product Portfolio, Siemens Industry Inc. — Analog plain old telephone service [POTS] or public switched telephone network [PSTN] line interfaces are going away; it is a matter of when, not if. Strategies need to be put in place to migrate to an IP platform. Proper education and strategic planning is required to develop a migration plan to minimize costs and disruptions in moving to an IP platform. Now is the time to start this process before POTS lines as we know them are a thing of the past.
Tony Smith, President, Security Finance Associates — The biggest problem facing the industry is the attempt by NFPA [National Fire Protection Association] to create standards for security. This is certainly overreaching by this fire standards organization. Based on anticipated standards currently in discussion, passage will drive installation costs through the roof. The industry must make a concerted effort to stop these standards before they are adopted. It may already be a lost cause.
Alarm verification is another big issue. The more the industry promotes verification, the sharper the elbows of law enforcement to standardize the format. Other presumed issues like the emergence of cable/telco are really not issues but opportunities to bring new capital and expertise into a mom-and-pop industry.
Overall, security should enjoy robust growth in 2013.
Editor-in-Chief Scott Goldfine has spent more than 14 years with SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION. He can be reached at (704) 663-7125.
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