Security as Seen Through a 50-Year Looking Glass
After a more than 50-year involvement in the electronic security business, after much deliberation I have decided to significantly curtail my private practice of law and also end my tenure on SSI’s Editorial Advisory Board. While not quite retirement, it is pretty close to it and will be effective by the time you read this. That half-century has included: being an employee and then a senior officer at Morse Signal Devices; many years as an attorney representing numerous electronic security companies; and a member of the Electronic Security Association (ESA), Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA), California Alarm Association (CAA) and Greater Los Angeles Security Alarm Association (GLASAA).
I have had the pleasure of representing or working with numerous companies and persons related to this industry, including participating in about 300 mergers and acquisitions, and writing hundreds of consumer agreements, as well as participating in governmental affairs, speaking at numerous meetings and conventions, writing articles for industry trade publications, and being on the advisory board of this magazine. I have had the good fortune to make some wonderful friends and from time to time help them achieve significant business and lifetime goals.
I started as a central station operator in 1960. We used McCulloch circuits, there were no computers, the residential market was a small fraction of the business and most companies serviced limited geographic areas. Personal emergency response systems (PERS) did not exist. But amazingly, what we did then to help protect businesses and residences from burglary, fire and other such hazards isn’t too much different than what we do today, and what this industry has done since the turn of the previous century.
While the scope of services and the methods for delivering those services have changed over the years, our mission is unchanged and we should never lose sight of it. It is this industry’s primary job to help mitigate the impact of crime and provide life safety from the threats of fire, smoke, carbon monoxide and other life and property endangering events. As long as the words “security,” “alarm” or “protection” are included in the names of the industry’s associations and the names of many, if not most, of its members that mission remains.
More than 60 years ago, the original Disneyland included the “home of the future,” and the “smart home” was being discussed in the 1960s. Perhaps visionary at the time, technology has caught up to the visions, and we have seen significant advancement of integrating these other technologies into the products and services traditionally offered, particularly in residences. Lighting and thermostat control, video and solar electrical systems are becoming integral components of providing home and business services.
Perhaps it won’t be too long in the future, when our trade organizations and trade publications consider changing their names and removing specific references to “security” or “alarm.” We are on the verge of the opportunity to provide a much broader range of products and services, much to the betterment of our communities and the enrichment of this industry.
It has been a fun ride!
Alan Pepper is an attorney with the law firm Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp.
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