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by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Over the past few years, the security industry has begun to embrace many new technologies—robotics, the cloud, biometrics, for example—but one company here in the U.S., Three Square Market, is pushing the boundaries of RFID technology by offering to implant tiny RFID chips—the size of a grain of rice—into its employees’ hands between the thumb and forefinger.

The chip would allow employees to not only buy snacks in the break room but also have their hands function as a mobile key to gain access to the building and other doors, which makes me think of the possible applications/ramifications within security.

Implanting chips in employee’s hands is already being done in Sweden, where an organization named Epicenter is having success with an increasing number of employees there opting to get the implant. Here in the U.S., Three Square Market says it has approximately 50 employees who are interested in getting the implant, and unlike in Sweden, the company is paying for the $300 procedure for its employees. Three Square Market partnered with a Swedish firm, BioHax International, to make the chip and is planning to sell the technology to other companies.

"Eventually, this technology will become standardized, allowing you to use this as your passport, public transit, all purchasing opportunities, etc.," chief executive Todd Westby wrote in a blog post announcing the program, noting that there is even potential for storing medical/health information, and for use as payment at other RFID terminals.

But one has to wonder what security vulnerabilities this could create, especially in protecting the data on that chip from being hacked, stolen and/or compromised, etc. Not to mention, the “creepy” factor here, as mass adoption of microchip implants is dubious, at best.

Maybe some day, like in the year 2112, but in the short term, I do think there is good fodder here for a futuristic sci-fi movie.
 

by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The PSA Security Network, a security and systems integrator cooperative with headquarters in Westminster, Colo., is accepting presentations through Aug. 4, 2017 for its TEC 2018 annual conference. Proposals can be submitted at www.psatec.com/cfp.

TEC 2018, which will be held at the Sheraton Downtown Denver in Denver, Colo., March 12-16, 2018, is a premier education and networking event for all professional systems integrators in the security and audio-visual markets. TEC features education and certification programs, networking, and dedicated exhibit hours designed to advance the skills and expertise of industry professionals nationwide. This training venue is open to all industry professionals and is designed to meet the educational needs of all employees within an integrator’s organization.

PSA Security Network’s president and CEO Bill Bozeman told Security Systems News that the move from Westminster—where the conference had been held for several years—to downtown Denver fro 2018 was needed to accommodate the growth of the show.

“The hotel [Downtown Denver Sheraton] is bigger, so we look forward to having everyone under one roof,” Bozeman told SSN. “In addition, I think some of our younger members and supporters are going to enjoy being in downtown Denver, where there is so much to do.”

The education program will deliver sessions tailored to physical security and audio-visual integrators focused on emerging technologies, critical issues in the industry, and tool development to augment attendees’ knowledge needed to continue to drive these industries forward. Sessions will be selected that serve a variety of disciplines including business management, sales and marketing, HR and recruiting, project management and operations, and installation and service.

Proposals are welcome for both certification programs and general education sessions for the security and audio-visual markets. All sessions must be unbiased and minimize commercial references and overt branding. Submissions are evaluated based on topic relevance, speaker expertise, and originality of the content. Additional guidelines are available within the call for presentations submission tool.

Accepted and approved presenters will receive complimentary registration to TEC 2018 and will have the opportunity to solidify their reputation as an industry resource and subject matter expert while expanding their own professional network and gaining access to strategic partnerships. PSA does not pay honoraria or expenses for accepted proposals.

by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The new Sandy Springs, Ga. alarm ordinance, which is set to be voted on July 18, is alarming many in the security industry as it looks to force alarm dealers to pay their subscriber's false alarm fees and fines.

“This makes as much sense as a car rental company being responsible for paying your speeding tickets if you get caught speeding in their car,” Dan Gordon, president of the Georgia Electronic Life Safety and Security Association (GELSSA), and owner of Ga.-based Gordon Security, told Security System News.

Gordon, as well as many security companies working in Georgia, including LOUD Security and Ackerman Security, are rallying others in the industry to pay attention to what is going on in Sandy Springs.

“If Sandy Springs passes this, which city goes next?” John Loud, president of LOUD Security Systems, told SSN, noting that he does not think this ordinance will help Sandy Springs reduce false dispatches.

“They outsource the collections to a firm called CryWolf (Public Safety Corporation),” Loud explained. “Their service includes collecting the assessed fines. The cost to Sandy Springs is the same, whether the bill goes to the end users of the alarm system or the alarm company. But the alarm company’s costs will increase. They will now have to bill their customers and establish a collection process, increasing the workload for their personnel.”

Loud and others in opposition to the ordinance believe this will actually cause an increase in the amount of false dispatches.

“Citizens will usually respond to citations from their local police or city municipality,” he explained. “If a vendor or service provider sends an assessment, they could very easily change monitoring companies and get additional false alarms through new providers. They can choose to never pay and continually change companies.”

He noted that this would result in more false dispatches as the end user would never be forced to change their behavior.

Loud also pointed out that the court systems of Sandy Springs will have a lot more cases. ”Either the alarm companies will be filing suit to collect monies from customers refusing to pay or the city will be pursuing alarm companies for nonpayment of fines they do not have the money to pay.”

He continued, “You will likely see many alarm companies choosing to not do business with residents/businesses that must comply with this ordinance. In Sandy Springs, most alarm companies charge only $25 per month. While false alarm fees can cost hundreds of dollars, the accounts receivable process will likely make it financially impossible for fire/alarm companies to take on such risk.”

He said that Sandy Springs could achieve greater reduction in the false dispatches if they would enforce all of their current ordinance provisions, such as:

- Follow the Enhanced Call Verification Georgia State law that went into effect in 2013. “The 911 operator could very easily ask for the two phone numbers the alarm company called prior to dispatch request,” said Loud.

- Do not allow dispatch on the subscribers that have not paid for previous fines—put them on a do not dispatch list.

- Do not allow dispatch for subscribers that have had 10 false alarms in a permit year.

- Activate the false alarm school the ordinance allows for, which will provide the training and prevention of future false alarms.

“Another step Sandy Springs could pursue is a higher fee structure for excessive false alarms,” said Loud. “This would force subscribers to either fix their system, teach others to use it properly or they could choose to stop arming their system. All three of the options result in reduced dispatches.”

He continued, “While I certainly see there are many ways to help unite with the City of Sandy Springs and help them achieve their ultimate goal of reducing false dispatches and wasting government recourses, I do not believe requiring the alarm companies to pay the fees is the answer.”

The GELSSA, along with strong industry voices like Loud's, are urging those in the industry to reach out to the mayor of Sandy Springs to voice their concerns, and for security dealers in the Sandy Springs area to attend the planned vote on July 18.

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by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The world market for professional video surveillance equipment grew by 3.9 percent in 2016, despite a drop in camera prices, according to recently published estimates from IHS Markit through its Video Surveillance Intelligence Service.

“This is a higher rate of growth than in 2015 (1.9 percent) but still low by historical standards,” Jon Cropley, principal analyst, video surveillance, IHS Markit, said in the announcement.

IHS forecasts a slightly higher growth in the global market for 2017—at 5.5 percent—and as a result, the world market will be worth $16.2 billion in 2017.

Accounting for more than 40 percent of global revenues measured in U.S. dollars, the Chinese market grew by 7.2 percent in 2016, according to IHS, which noted that exchange rate changes did play a role in suppressing a higher calculated growth in that currency (as the average annual exchange rate of the Chinese Yuan Renminbi to the U.S. dollar fell by 6.6 percent in 2016). In the report, Hikvision took the top spot in several categories.

“The world market excluding China grew by just 1.6 percent in 2016,” Cropley pointed out. “Demand for security cameras grew rapidly but prices fell considerably, affecting revenues. In fact, revenues declined in a number of countries.”

IHS also found that the supply base for professional video surveillance equipment is gradually becoming more concentrated, although it remains highly fragmented compared with supply to many other markets.

“The top fifteen vendors accounted for 58 percent of revenues in 2016,” noted Cropley. “In 2016, a number of Chinese vendors continued to gain market share rapidly in regions outside China. They tend to offer products with low prices and this has been a major factor in average price erosion in those regions.”

The report also found that 59 percent of all security cameras shipped in 2016 were network cameras, and shipments of HD CCTV cameras more than doubled. Less than 1 percent of network cameras shipped were 4K-compliant, according to IHS.

Note: Check back for more on this report, including additional comments from IHS’ Jon Cropley.

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by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, June 28, 2017

U.S. households with professional security monitoring will generate nearly $14.7 billion in 2021, reaching a five-year CAGR of 4.7 percent from 2017-2021, according to Parks Associates’ Home Security NUMBERS research.

“Our last number from the fourth quarter of 2016 shows that 21.5 percent of broadband households, which is about 80 percent of overall households, have professionally monitored security,” Tom Kerber, Parks' director of IoT strategy, told Security Systems News. “So when you look at that number on an overall household basis, the number ends up being around 18.8 percent that have professionally monitored security.”

That is approximately 22 million households, and by 2021 Parks estimates that number will rise to 26.6 million, or 21.6 percent of households overall, having professionally monitored security, representing an approximately 3 percent growth rate.

“Over the last decade it has never been close to that 21.6 percent number,” noted Kerber. “In 2010, the number was 13 percent, so that is strong growth. Although from a conventional wisdom perspective it doesn’t sound like much, it is substantial. We had significant recovery from the recession from 2013-15, and now the growth is more modest, but it is still growing.”

When asked about the impact of the telecoms into the space, Kerber noted that Comcast is making waves.

“Comcast when they went public with their subscriber count at 957,000 as part of their annual reporting, that was substantial, representing a 40 percent growth over the prior year,” he said. ”Whether it is bundling with their core services, or subscribing people when they move, or more aggressive sales tactics mixed with their call center operations, they obviously have figured out how to move the needle in a substantial way. At a million subscribers, they are equivalent to Moni, or Vivint to some extent. So you can’t discount that type of success.”

He continued, “Telecoms, led by Comcast, are growing at a faster rate than the market is growing, so they are gaining market shares. And when we look at some of the smaller players, they are not growing at the same rate as others in the market, and we are trying to understand why this is happening through some current research that we are doing.”

Dina Abdelrazik, research analyst, Parks Associates, told SSN that some of the smaller local dealers “are a little more hesitant to provide smart home controls. I don't know if it is more of an infrastructure basis—they don’t have the employees to do so or the technological savvy to do so—but they are falling behind in terms of providing these controllers in the home that consumers are actively asking for. So, of course, if consumers can’t find it through their local dealer, they are going to look to those who can provide it for them.”
 

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by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Security Industry Association (SIA) announced this week the establishment of a political action committee (PAC) called the SecurityPAC, which was formed to bolster its advocacy efforts to fully engage within the U.S. political process on matters affecting the security industry.

The timing of this announcement couldn’t be better as it comes a week before the SIA GovSummit, a leading public policy forum for the security industry set for June 28-29 on Capitol Hill and at The Liaison Capitol Hill.

“SecurityPAC was established to strengthen the voice of the security industry on Capitol Hill, by enabling SIA members to support candidates for federal office who will champion issues that are important to the industry,” Joseph Hoellerer, SIA Government Relations manager told Security Systems News. “There are hundreds of trade associations in Washington with robust advocacy efforts and SecurityPAC provides SIA with an additional and important tool to advance the policy priorities of its members.”

The newly formed SecurityPAC will raise funds solely from SIA members to support candidates for federal office who champion important industry issues, and will support matters pertaining but not limited to issues such as homeland security, cybersecurity, federal procurement and critical infrastructure protection.

“The establishment of the SecurityPAC follows the core mission of SIA, which is ‘to be a catalyst for success within the global security industry through information, insight and influence,’” SIA CEO Don Erickson said in the announcement. “The Security Industry Association’s political action committee will enable the association to do just that by adding a vital voice to the national dialogue during federal elections. With SecurityPAC, we will support crucial causes for the improved security posture of the entire country.”

Contributions to SecurityPAC are strictly voluntary and in compliance with statutorily defined regulations of the Federal Election Commission. SIA members with user credentials can access the SecurityPAC website at www.siasecuritypac.org. Employees of SIA member companies interested in gaining access to the site should contact Joe Hoellerer at 301-804-4714 or jhoellerer@securityindustry.org.

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by: Paul Ragusa - Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Day One

Excited to be in Nashville for ESX 2017, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary, returning to where it all started in the music city.

Started Day One moderating a very interesting session “CounterPoint of the Day: DIY Security - Passing Fad or a Real Opportunity?” featuring two great speakers—Megan MacDonald, vice president of marketing, My Alarm Center, headquartered in Newtown Square, Pa., and John Campau, president and CEO of Comtronics, headquartered in Jackson, Mich. 

I want to extend a big thank you to both of them for making my job easy by getting some great conversations and interaction going with the audience.

MacDonald, who was instrumental in launching My Alarm Center’s DIY division LivSecure, started the session by defining DIY.

In the DIY space, she noted, there are two distinctions—professionally monitored and then the systems that are completely DIY, including MIY or monitor-it-yourself.

"Those are the ones you buy on the retail shelf at [big box stores], and it is truly a DIY—you set it up, there is no professional monitoring component, and no integration with a third party provider; it is literally a do-it-yourself,” she explained. “As we refer to DIY in our business, it is a bit of a misnomer, because that is not what we do from a DIY perspective—that is MIY. What I refer to as DIY … is self installed professionally monitored systems, which is a lot of what we are going to talk about today, and that is what we do at LivSecure. So the customer sets the system up themselves but it integrates with our CRM and with our monitoring center just like a professionally installed system does.”

In terms of professionally installed systems vs. DIY, Campau said, “We are a professional installing alarm company going on 60 years, so DIY is not a threat for us; we embrace this.” He made a good analogy to someone who needs to have their house painted. Some will choose to paint it themselves while some will choose to hire someone to come and paint it for them.

In regard to whether DIY sales impact sales of the professionally installed side of the business, MacDonald noted, “LivSecure is a complement to our existing offerings and as a tool to close more sales, not to replace existing sales that we were already making. It is another option for our sales reps, and we will pay them a multiple of RMR, just like we would do on a professionally installed system.”

MacDonald said it is all about closing the sale—“selling the right product to the right person at the right time.”

“If we get a DIY system in the wrong hands, they will eventually deactivate,” noted Campau. “With DIY in particular, we’ve got a very low churn rate in our business; we are hyper-focused on keeping our customers.”

Both pointed out that by just having a DIY option, it opens the conversation and can lead to that potential DIY customer choosing to have the system professionally installed, which “is just a better sale, because that is a stickier customer,” said Campau, one who is more likely to use and add to the system and less likely to attrite.

“If you are getting into the business or launching this, I would be very firm and specific on what the process is and the requirements are for rolling a truck to a self installed system,” MacDonald said, noting that otherwise you are going to put yourself in a difficult situation of rolling a truck much more than you would like.

Campau said that if a customer has a problem and needs assistance, he will roll a truck, but for a $100 fee and a commitment to an additional year on the traditional two-year monitoring contract that he offers. “You'd rather have that convo before the sale, on the front end; don’t rush to get that sale.”

The discussion also covered RMR potential, which is in the $40 to $45 range, as well as branding, marketing and engaging the customer. Both agreed that the more engaged a customer is with their system, the less likely they will cancel the service and much more likely that they will add more services over time.

Day Two

I started Day Two in the session “Must Know Future Trends of the Industry,” featuring two highly knowledgeable speakers in Speros Venios, VP of channel sales at Interlogix, and Michael Barnes, founding partner of Barnes Associates, an advisory and consulting firm that specializes in providing financing and acquisition related services to the security alarm industry.

Venios, who is responsible for the integration of security and smart home devices in the residential and commercial segments through the distribution, MSO and OEM channels, said that 50 billion objects are projected to be connected to the IoT by 2020.

“Connected homes will be the largest sector for IoT technologies,” he said, noting that by 2019 it is estimated to be a $490 billion market. “According to one survey, more than two-thirds of consumers plan to buy IoT technology for their homes by 2019.”

Despite all the disrupters, such as the cable, telecoms and tech companies in the market right now, “The security channel is well positioned to deliver these solutions,” Venios said, noting that they have an opportunity to be that trusted provider of both security and smart home products and services.

Barnes pointed out that over the past year his focus on operating performance and valuation trends in the industry—how product and technology is affecting the industry—has revealed three big trends: Faster product evolution and shorter lifecycles; a broadening array of capabilities and services; and a changing competitive landscape.

“The number of new products coming out each day is much faster than it was before and those products are expected to have shorter lifecycles … not because they’re not manufactured well, but because they’re going to be replaced with something faster, better or cheaper,” Barnes said. 

The broadening array of capabilities and services is “a wonderful thing for consumers and commercial end users of all types,” he said. “But, of course, it puts strains on those of you who are trying to provide those services—how do you pick which ones to offer, how do you package them and how do you price them?”

With all of the disruptors in the industry right now creating a changing competitive landscape, “Clearly technology is enabling some of these new competitors … that previously wouldn't have been a competitor in the industry,” he said.

Despite some of the challenges presented by the abovementioned trends, “This is a great time to be in the business,” Barnes said, noting that he sees nothing in the data that would tell him otherwise. “We look at, and we track hundreds of alarm companies and we try and track every deal that is going on in the industry, every dollar of capital that is being raised to support the growth for all of you.”

Next, I sat in on a spirited discussion, “CounterPoint of the Day: Cable Service Companies Are Here to Stay - What Impact Are They Having on the Industry?” which was moderated by ESX chairman George De Marco, and led by speakers Daniel Herscovici, Comcast's senior VP and general manager, and John Knox, owner and president of Knox Integrated Systems, who was elected as ESA president in 2012.

De Marco noted that the counterpoint forum is new to ESX this year, with the goal of getting everyone in the session involved in an interactive debate. A cushioned square, which had a microphone inside, was available to pass or throw around to anyone who had a comment or question.

De Marco started the discussion by asking Herscovici why Comcast entered into the security industry and how this has helped or challenged traditional companies.

Herscovici pointed out that Comcast is not only a direct-to-consumer home security solution but through the acquisition of Icontrol, it is also a platform provider.

“We entered the industry mostly because we saw a real opportunity to offer a great experience and leverage our current assets,” he said. “Comcast has 27 million household relationships through our Internet, video and voice products.” Plus, the acceleration of the connected home drove that as well, he said.

“More than half of our customers have never had home security before, so it is not that we are out there converting or doing a bunch of takeovers—a lot of our acquisition is new to the category, new to home security,” he said. “Awareness of what the possibilities are with the connected home security product on a broad scale and the awareness that we generate through our reach, through our consumers, kind of lifts all boats, and makes your conversations easier when you are selling.”

Knox said that he hasn’t personally seen any affect. “I don’t think that I have lost any customers to the cable companies,” he said. “I think it is more like what he [Herscovici] says: They are bringing more people into the market that weren’t in the market before.”

He continued, “Since I have been in the business, every five years someone has been putting me out of business. We have been living that our whole lives and we are still here. And if they don’t do a good job of supporting the customer, we are going to benefit off of that.”

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by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, June 7, 2017

With the invasion of the telecom companies into the smart home space, security dealers have been faced with new challenges and battles as they try to compete for new business created by this new era of smart home connectivity and automation.

Whereas in the past when customers would turn to their security provider first to ask about smart home products, a new report from research firm Parks Associates shows that there has been a shift in homeowners’ purchase behaviors. Among current smart homeowners, 26 percent purchased their device from a retailer such as Home Depot, Walmart, or Sears, followed closely in second by security dealers, with approximately 20 percent purchasing these products through them.

Homeowners now have “more options, increased personalization, and enhanced value across the full spectrum of IoT experiences,” Dina Abdelrazik, research analyst, Parks Associates, said in the announcement of Parks’ annual report, Global Connected Living Outlook 2017: Building on the IoT. “Following early disruptions, many players are now rising to the challenge to create competitive solutions that better accommodate the needs of the connected consumer.”

Although the big retailers are getting a bigger portion of the pie, they are also raising awareness and educating the public, which is creating additional opportunities for dealers to be the channel through which smart home owners purchase all of these interconnected devices, many of which work in tandem with security systems and services.

For example, additional Parks’ research, which was unveiled at the firm’s 21st-annual CONNECTIONS Conference in May, shows that two-thirds of smart homeowners and shoppers want crossover applications that integrate with their home entertainment devices.

“Key crossover use cases include safety and security alerts popping up on a smart TV and video from networked cameras shared across the connected screens in the home,” Elizabeth Parks, senior vice president, Parks Associates, said in the press release. “In both cases, two-thirds of smart home owners and shoppers find these features appealing.”

Security dealers can also provide homeowners with a better level of interoperability and network security and stability, as Parks found that as more products are purchased standalone and then brought into a connected home, the risk of fragmented consumer IoT experiences increases.

“As consumers become more connected, their digital lives in many ways become more complicated, and solving this potentially fragmented consumer experience, addressing privacy concerns, and crossing traditionally separate boundaries will be the dominant challenges for companies in 2017 and 2018,” Abdelrazik noted.

Security dealers can and should be the ones to solve this problem, and from my conversations with dealers, many already are doing this, providing security as well as support, guidance and options to be that smart home provider as well.

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by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, May 31, 2017

CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. and SANTA ANA, Calif.—Allied Universal continues to diversify with the acquisition of ALERT Protective Services, a residential community security firm based in Sarasota, Fla.

“This is a company that does most of the high-end residential communities in South Florida,” Allied Universal CEO Steve Jones told Security Systems News. “Not only are they providing the security guard services but they do it differently where they use technology to help augment that, which is what we have been pushing toward and striving toward with our business.”

With a portfolio that consists of 95 percent residential condominiums and communities, ALERT Protective Services owns the homeowners association and residential lifestyle communities’ security space in Southwest and Southeast Florida. Founded in 2005, the company has more than $10 million in revenue and 430 employees, most of which will be joining Allied Universal.

“We are excited to join Allied Universal,” Jeff Haidet, CEO of ALERT Protective Services, said in the announcement. “Both companies embrace combining the use of state-of-the-art technology with manpower to provide an optimal solution to our customers. We also share the same passion and commitment to be the employer of choice for security professionals and provider of choice for security users.”

Similarly to Allied Universal, ALERT Protective Services offers integrated security systems and uniformed security professionals to work in tandem with a complete security program at community gatehouses, concierge desks, or security command centers. Some of these solutions include remote video monitoring, access control and an electronic patrol-reporting program that enables security professionals to report threats in real time and alert authorities if back up is needed.

“This was an opportunity for us to not only expand our footprint in Florida, but to really get a springboard on providing those security officer services along with remote video monitoring and the use of technology for ingress and egress around the community, which is where we want to focus on,” said Jones. “We are excited that we can leverage the technology applications that we feel are changing and enhancing the industry.”

Moving forward, Jones said the company still has a few more acquisitions up its sleeve.

“We’ve got a pretty robust pipeline of deals that we are looking at—some in the technology space and some in the traditional manguarding space—and we hope to announce a few more before the year is over that will help us to diversify our company and bring more value to our clients.”

With headquarters in Santa Ana, Calif., and Conshohocken, Pa., Allied Universal has more than 150,000 employees across North America.

by: Paul Ragusa - Wednesday, May 24, 2017

The Security Industry Association (SIA) recently announced its establishment of the SIA Public Safety Working Group, which will be chaired by Steve Surfaro, industry liaison, Axis Communications.

“This working group has been in the works for quite some time,” Surfaro told Security Systems News. “SIA began working on public safety through some work with the Homeland Security Science and Technology group, and it was thought that one of the best ways to really serve the security industry and public safety industry was to come up with a very agile and focused working group.”

According to SIA CEO Don Erickson, the goal with standing up the SIA Public Safety Working Group is to develop recommendations to improve the safety, security, and sustainability of cities and communities using technology, as well as provide advocacy of public policies in support of the group’s mission.

"As new and developing technologies undergo trial and testing or enter the field in use by public safety agencies, it is critical that the security industry maintain its voice in the appropriate adoption and deployment of these technologies," Erickson said in the announcement. "SIA members are uniquely qualified to provide council alongside active practitioners in police, fire, emergency medical services and other disciplines to maintain the safety and security of our cities and communities."

Erickson is excited to have Surfaro as the inaugural chairperson for the SIA Public Safety Working Group. “His connections throughout the security industry are exemplified by his achievements, for example, as chair of the Security Applied Sciences Council for ASIS International," he said.

The working group will involve a number of different key entities within the security and public safety spaces, including practitioners, solution providers, systems integrators and specialty manufacturers.

“The most important thing to realize is the PSWG is going to have equal representation across all interested parties, by both practitioners and solution providers, especially SIA members,” said Surfaro. “The mission is to provide guidance through education and publications, including special education sessions and events at ISC West and ISC East, for example, as well as a centralized repository of subject matter experts who have already had success overcoming public safety security challenges.”

In addition to looking at emerging technologies, such as autonomous systems and unmanned vehicles, the working group is creating a Tactical Solutions Handbook, a working document that will be the working group’s “first deliverable,” said Surfaro.

“A while ago with Homeland Security Science and Technology we had some great success together with SIA in publishing a Video Quality handbook,” he explained. “But now things are not just about video—they are about access control, acoustic sensing and signal detection, thermal imaging, screening techniques, body worn cameras, license plate technology, explosives detection—to name just a few.”

He continued, “Everything that we are going to put into this handbook is going to be equally used by both public safety and corporations with high risk, which will be able to get guidance for hardening their facilities as well.”

The working group should have four- to five chapters of the handbook ready by the fall, said Surfaro. “Each chapter will have a structure where a SME leads each chapter, and then has contributors,” he explained. “And then each of the contributors for the other chapters are going to be reviewers on the chapters they did not write, which will add to the collaborative nature of the handbook.”

Surfaro said the handbook will benefit greatly from having so many different perspectives. “We need to be agile enough to be able to work with multiple practitioner groups and leverage the SIA membership, which is very far-reaching with a lot of solution providers, and they will have a tremendous opportunity to contribute to the working group and to this handbook.”

Another goal with the handbook is to provide a guide for matching the different types of emerging threats today with an appropriate tactical solution. “So it will be a nice use-case method where the security industry will learn more about what is happening in public safety and public safety will learn about how many of the solutions that they need to defend against these emerging threats already exist,” said Surfaro.

Since the announcement, SIA and Surfaro have already gotten a great response from those interested in contributing. “In the past week alone, there are many who have reached out to SIA and myself pledging interest in the working group,” said Surfaro. “And it has been a wide variety of folks—systems integrators, solution providers, as well as those who are involved in law enforcement and fire. Working within a consensus-driven environment is vitally important with a group like this.”

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