CAA Executive Symposium Delves Into Forces Transforming the Industry

This year’s panel included Lou Fiore (CSAA), Larry Folsom (I-View Now), Merlin Guilbeau (ESA) and Michael O’Neal (Linear).

The California Alarm Association’s winter convention in rainy San Francisco last week was a good one to say the least. The well-attended event featured a diverse line-up of educational sessions among other goings-on that kept professionals from across the security spectrum engaged and entertained. 

A personal highlight for me was the CAA Executive Symposium, which each year features industry thought leaders sharing their perspectives on industry trends and challenges. This year’s panel included Lou Fiore (CSAA), Larry Folsom (I-View Now), Merlin Guilbeau (ESA) and Michael O’Neal (Linear).

Moderator George De Marco did yeoman’s work introducing and structuring an enlightening discussion that focused on the disruption that is reshaping the industry. To help make clear the direction the panelists would take, De Marco invoked a Chinese proverb as food for thought: “A person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the man doing it.” 

The industry has reached an important tipping point, De Marco said. “It has crossed a threshold and is gaining significant momentum with end users. But the question is why? What has changed?”

To explore answers to those and other questions, De Marco called each panelist to the podium individually. What follows is an abridged account of some of their insights and industry projections.

Lou Fiore, an inductee to the SSI Industry Hall of Fame, currently serves as executive director of the Central Station Alarm Association and chairman of its Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC).

Fiore suggested the broadest transformation the industry is likely to experience will take place in the residential space, not commercial. Because the latter sector is very much code-driven and insurance-driven, he expects current business practices to mostly endure.

Among disruptive technologies on the horizon, Fiore described 5G as “yet another revolution.” This next major phase of mobile telecommunications standards is being pursued hard by South Korea, but the United States won’t see it appear until sometime between 2020-2025.

“I believe that it will totally change how we communicate, how our alarm systems communicate. I believe you will see cellular towers go away. You will see cellular transponders on every lamppost, inside buildings,” he said.

When the network is fully deployed, Fiore said, its capacity will allow for something in the neighborhood of seven trillion connections. That equates to approximately 1,000 connections for every man, woman and child on Earth. What do you do with a thousand connections? “What you do is monitor everything,” Fiore said. “You will have clothes that will have devices in them that will monitor your state of well-being. Someone will [receive a notification] that you are having a heart attack before you even know it.”

Fiore ventured those signals have to flow through some place, “why not it be a central station?”

Larry Folsom views the industry through two prisms. He is the owner of American Video & Security, a Las Vegas-based installing security contractor, and president of I-View Now, a provider of cloud-based video verification solutions and technologies.

Video verification is not only an entrepreneurial pursuit for Folsom, but a model which he believes the alarm industry – and the traditional installing security contractor’s place in it – hinges on. He sees the industry on the precipice of an “exciting time” where finally an end user’s system can be augmented with video verification capability without it blowing up the deal or creating a great deal of complexity at the site or at the central station.

The topic of alarm verification and police nonresponse is a contentious one to say the least. Folsom has found himself at odds at times with industry brethren who spurn anyone who the least bit suggests verification as a requirement for response isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Folsom has never perceived verification to be an adversarial evil.

However, he finally sees a necessary culture shift taking place that is helping fuel his positive outlook. “Today I think we are getting right with the idea that is getting easier to install, easier to sell. The perception issue that somehow verification was a threat to our existing accounts [is beginning to subside].”

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About the Author


Although Bosch’s name is quite familiar to those in the security industry, his previous experience has been in daily newspaper journalism. Prior to joining SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION in 2006, he spent 15 years with the Los Angeles Times, where he performed a wide assortment of editorial responsibilities, including feature and metro department assignments as well as content producing for Bosch is a graduate of California State University, Fresno with a degree in Mass Communication & Journalism. In 2007, he successfully completed the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s National Training School coursework to become a Certified Level I Alarm Technician.

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