SIA’s happy new year hinges on federal funds for schools, train surveillance rules

Other ongoing efforts remain on its agenda, too
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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

WASHINGTON—Federal funding for school security technology and surveillance requirements for train cars are among the Security Industry Association’s top priorities for 2015, according Jake Parker, SIA’s director of government relations.

School security is “the big one,” Parker said.

The industry has been lobbying Congress to allocate money for schools to install surveillance equipment and other physical security technology. Lately, funds have only been allocated for reports, research and assessments on school security.

SIA would like to see federal funding that was previously in place through the Department of Justice and the Secure Our Schools Act be restored, Parker told Security Systems News.

“After 2011 it fell off the radar, so we’re trying to get that restarted. We think it’s a good time to do that,” he said.

“There are a lot of members of Congress who are concerned that there hasn’t been a lot of assistance provided even though we’ve had a lot of security incidents at schools since Sandy Hook.”

SIA also plans to continue its work with the Federal Railroad Administration on requirements for video and audio security technology on passenger and freight trains, at least for lead train cabs.

SIA’s Transportation Policy Working Group met with FRA’s Rail Safety Advisory Committee in late October to offer information on camera technology. The working group drew from SIA members’ knowledge of the mass transit market, Parker said.

“We gave them the basic building blocks on video feeds and secure data storage,” he said.

The SIA group emphasized to the FRA committee that a number of light rail and subway systems across the nation have made fruitful investments in surveillance technology, he said.

It looks like audio requirements for trains may be off the table for now, but FRA is “moving forward” and hopes to have its camera requirements in place by April, Parker said.

If FRA doesn’t come up with its own requirements, pending legislation drafted by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., would have Congress require it, Parker added.

“Quite frankly, [FRA would] rather do it on their own,” he said.

In addition, SIA is keeping close tabs on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s efforts to establish mandatory physical security standards for utility substations. FERC in November published its final rule for physical security grid reliability standards. The rule, effective Jan. 20, calls for assessments and planning at key sites to be completed within 2015 and to be instituted by early 2016.

Several hundred substations would be impacted by the new standards, generating new business for security providers, Parker said.

Meanwhile, another new SIA focus is its venture with the Secure Identity and Biometrics Association to form the Airport Entry and Exit Working Group, which recently released an Identity and Biometric Entry and Exit Solutions Framework for Airports.

The framework’s purpose is to support the work of the Department of Homeland Security Apex Air Entry and Exit Reengineering Project. It urges U.S. Customs and Border Protection to deploy a cost-effective and efficient airport exit program for non-U.S. residents.

If SIA’s efforts to get a CFATS bill passed along with a separate effort to extend certain tax provisions, including a research and development credit for manufacturers, don’t come to fruition by the end of the 2014 lame duck session, they will also be priorities for next year, he said.