Virginia to Transform Communications for Public Safety; Governor Approves Buildout Plan for First Responder Network

First-of-its-Kind Solution Will Create Jobs, Spur Investment and Modernize Public Safety Communications across the Commonwealth

FirstnetOn July 11, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed a letter accepting the FirstNet and AT&T plan to deliver a wireless broadband network to the Commonwealth’s public safety community. This will make Virginia the first state in the country to “opt-in” to FirstNet and bring advanced technologies that will help first responders save lives and protect communities.

“I am proud that Virginia is the first state in the nation to opt in to this program that will help our first responders communicate during times of emergency,” said McAuliffe. “While this is only the beginning of the process, I look forward to the continued coordinated efforts among Virginia, FirstNet, and AT&T to provide public safety officials with innovative new technologies that will help them keep Virginians safe.”

FirstNet and AT&T will build, operate and maintain a highly secure wireless broadband communications network for Virginia’s public safety community at no cost to the state for the next 25 years. The FirstNet network will deliver innovation and create an entire system of modernized devices, apps and tools for first responders. TMA’s Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) is currently working with its members to identify issues and questions concerning the alarm industry’s participation in the network, in order to make AT&T aware of its position on these matters.

This is one of the most economical and technologically advanced decisions Governor McAuliffe will make for the Commonwealth’s first responders and the residents they serve. The network will transform the way Virginia’s fire, police, EMS, emergency management and other public safety personnel communicate and share information. Specifically, FirstNet and AT&T will:

  • Connect first responder subscribers to the critical information they need in a highly secure manner when handling day-to-day operations, responding to emergencies like the recent shooting in Alexandria or the 2014 Air National Guard F-15C fighter jet crash in Augusta County, and supporting large events, such as the Richmond Jazz Festival.
  • Create an efficient communications experience for public safety personnel in agencies and jurisdictions across the state during natural disasters like Hurricane Matthew, the Derecho storm of June 2012 or the 2011 earthquake with its epicenter in Louisa County.
  • Enhance network coverage in rural areas. This will benefit first responders and residents in areas such as Southwest Virginia, Southside Virginia, the Eastern Shore and more.
  • Drive infrastructure investments and create jobs across the state.
  • Usher in a new wave of innovation that first responders can depend on. This will create an ever-evolving set of life-saving tools for public safety, including public safety apps, specialized devices and Internet of Things technologies. It also carries the potential for future integration with NextGen 9-1-1 networks and Smart Cities’ infrastructure.

“I am extremely pleased that Virginia is choosing to opt in to the network,” said Fairfax County Fire Chief Richard Bowers. “Access to the network will provide us with additional tools to help ensure we can do our job when the time comes.”

The FirstNet solution that will be built in Virginia was designed with direct input from the Commonwealth’s public safety community. Since 2013, FirstNet has met with Virginia officials and public safety personnel more than 90 times to address their unique communication needs. This includes understanding the importance of maritime coverage and increasing coverage in rural areas of the Commonwealth as well as coordination with military and federal government users.

“Public safety has spent years advocating for a nationwide network following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and today, Governor McAuliffe is helping to answer that call by joining the FirstNet network,” said FirstNet CEO Mike Poth. “FirstNet will put modern technologies that citizens use every day – like smartphones and apps – into the hands of Virginia’s first responders, helping them help save lives and protect residents while creating a single, interoperable system across the Commonwealth and across the country.”

The decision enables FirstNet and AT&T to begin creating an entirely new wireless ecosystem for public safety communications.

Specifically, Virginia’s first responder subscribers will have immediate access to quality of service and priority to voice and data across the existing nationwide AT&T LTE network. Preemption for primary users over the AT&T LTE network is expected by year-end. This means fire, police, EMS and other public safety personnel will have dedicated access to the network when and where they need it – 24/7/365, like their mission.

“Governor McAuliffe is taking the first steps necessary to make public safety’s long-awaited vision a reality. Through his leadership, the Commonwealth of Virginia will serve as an important building block for the nationwide public safety broadband network,” said Chris Sambar, SVP, AT&T – FirstNet. “We take our responsibility to deliver this first-of-its-kind solution seriously. And we’re honored to bring the FirstNet Network to Virginia and connect its public safety community to the life-saving technologies they deserve.”

A video of the ceremonial letter signing is posted on on FirstNet.gov.

For more information on the the value FirstNet will bring to public safety,  visit FirstNet.com.

About FirstNet
The First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) is an independent authority within the U.S. Department of Commerce. Chartered in 2012, its mission is to ensure the building, deployment, and operation of the nationwide, broadband network that equips first responders to save lives and protect U.S. communities.

 

Why Monitoring Center Personnel Should Attend TMA’s “Fall Ops”

By Chris Newhook, Central Station Manager, American Alarm

The Monitoring Association (TMA, formerly CSAA) is my number one resource – my one-stop shop — for industry feedback, as well as educational and operational best practices. As if this wasn’t enough, it also serves as the backbone of my peer network.

While its strength lies with its members, it is TMA’s sustained commitment to actively listen to that membership, gather the insight and effectively channel this wealth of knowledge into a platform for industry growth and development that serves as the organization’s greatest triumph.

For me, the culmination of its collective efforts manifests itself each year with the TMA Fall Operations Management Seminar.

Newhook

Chris Newhook (pictured second from right with trophy) was TMA’s 2014 Monitoring Center Manager of the Year.

The 2016 “Fall Ops”, with its theme Monitoring Excellence, was no exception!

TMA focused its usual world-class coordinative talents last year, directing a stellar line-up of speakers and timely topics ranging from ASAP-to-PSAP, PERS monitoring, UL Standards updates, and a real show-stopper on cybersecurity. The event was thoughtfully balanced with a selection of dynamic round-table exchanges and lively break-out group discussions.

The TMA Fall Operations Management Seminar is my annual reload – a getaway to assess my current objectives, develop my goals and rethink my direction; all in the company of the industry’s best talent.

TMA Fall Ops Tag 2017Register now for the 2017 Fall Operations Management Seminar, featuring tours of UL Headquarters and Walgreens Security Operations Center, November 5-7 in Rosemont, IL. Visit http://tma.us/2017-fall-ops/ .

ASAP Goes Live in Manatee County, FL

MASAP-Concept1Danatee County 9-1-1 recently became the 25th agency in the United States and second in Florida to adopt ASAP, the service that will save emergency responders precious moments when home alarms sound.

The Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP) allows outside alarm monitoring companies such as Brinks and Vector to send information directly to call takers in the 9-1-1 Call Center, shaving up to three minutes from call processing time. Homes alarms for fires, medical emergencies, burglaries and more will now result in an emergency dispatch more quickly with fewer chances for errors, according to Manatee County Public Safety Director Robert Smith.

“Every second matters in an emergency, so it’s incredibly helpful when a new piece of technology can save on time,” Smith said. “I’m proud of our Emergency Communications team for keeping us moving forward to continually enhance our level of service.”

Half of all Manatee County property owners with emergency monitoring systems — an estimated 75,000 homes and businesses — will benefit from the new technology according to Manatee County Emergency Communications Chief Jake Saur. That number will grow to 75 percent of Manatee County homes and businesses with an alarm system when ADT Alarm Monitoring joins the new protocol.

Watch video of Manatee County’s Jake Saur discussing the benefits of ASAP.

“This new technology eliminates the need for alarm companies to physically dial into the Emergency Communications Center to relay alarm information,” Saur says. “They’ll now electronically send alarm info to the ECC, reducing call processing times and communication errors. We’ll also improve efficiency in dispatching first responders to the alarm.”

Not all Manatee County alarm monitoring companies are part of the new program but as the technology grows, Saur expects more monitoring stations to participate.

ASAP is a computer-aided dispatch system for processing information from alarm monitoring stations that require an emergency dispatch. It was designed by The Monitoring Association (TMA) and the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO Int’l). For more information, visit www.tma.us/asap.

Media coverage: 

Fox 13: New system helps alarm companies communicate with 911
http://www.fox13news.com/news/local-news/265897784-story

Bradenton Herald: Changes at Manatee County 911 will save minutes in emergencies, officials say
http://www.bradenton.com/news/local/article159756704.html

News 10: Technology speeds up alarm calls to 911 by 2-3 minutes in Manatee Co.
http://www.wtsp.com/news/local/technology-speeds-up-alarm-calls-to-911-by-2-3-minutes/454436232

ABC 7: Faster response times to some Manatee County home alarms
http://www.mysuncoast.com/news/local/faster-reponse-times-to-some-manatee-county-home-alarms/article_80a29de4-61ba-11e7-a6a5-8b9f7a9fabf0.html

 

 

Ivan Spector is Voted President-Elect of The Monitoring Association

Membership Votes for New Officers at ESX 2017

Members of The Monitoring Association (TMA) chose their next president at the General Membership Meeting in Nashville on June 13: Ivan Spector, president of Montreal-based Sentinel Alarm Co. Sentinel has been in the security and critical monitoring business for more than 40 years and is a full-service, custom-designed ULC-listed and Five Diamond-designated monitoring station.

“I am very honored and humbled to serve in the position of President,” said Spector. “I look forward to continuing our successes and I thank all of our members for their support and participation.”

Ivan Spector Portrait May 2017 lowresIn addition to his ownership of Sentinel Alarm, Spector is a leader in advancing alarm management in both Canada and the United States. For CANASA, he has served on the Board of Directors, was national president, and chair of the Response Committee. In that role, he proved instrumental in driving many false dispatch reduction initiatives. He was a founding member and longtime board member of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC). Currently, he serves on the Executive Committee of TMA.

Spector is a Superior Court of Canada-acknowledged and accepted expert witness. He is a graduate of McGill University in Montreal. He and his wife Jodi reside in Montreal and have four children.

In addition to the election of Spector, officer positions for the next two years were proposed and accepted by vote of the membership: Don Young, ADT; Morgan Hertel, Rapid Response; and Steve Butkovich, CPI will become vice presidents of the Association and Alan Gillmore IV, Gillmore Security, will become treasurer.

“Congratulations to Ivan and our other new officers,” said TMA President Pamela J. Petrow. “I have had the pleasure of working with all of them during my presidency, and know that the Association will be in very good hands under their leadership.”

These leadership changes become official at the conclusion of the TMA Annual Meeting in Scottsdale October 7-11.

In addition to voting on these leaders, members approved several proposed changes to the Association bylaws sections pertaining to officers and committees. The revised bylaws are posted online at tma.us.

About The Monitoring Association
The Monitoring Association (TMA), formerly the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA), is an internationally-recognized non-profit trade association that represents professional monitoring companies, including those listed by a TMA-approved Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratory, such as FM Global, Intertek/ETL or UL. Incorporated in 1950, TMA is legally entitled to represent its members before Congress and regulatory agencies on the local, state and federal levels, and other authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) over the industry. TMA’s mission is to advance the professional monitoring industry through education, advocacy, and public safety relationships. www.tma.us. For more information, contact Elizabeth Lasko at TMA, 703-242-4670 x 16.

Washington State’s Interpretation on Alarm Monitoring Taxation Questioned

Issue: Movement by the state of Washington to start charging sales tax on monitoring.

Recent audits by the Washington Department of Revenue (DOR) in Washington State have raised questions about an Excise Tax Authority (ETA) issued on March 7, 2014 regarding the sales tax implications for alarm monitoring companies and dealers.  At the center of the interpretation is the definition and application of a “Digital Automated Service” or DAS, which is subject to sales taxes.  DAS is defined as “…any service transferred electronically that uses one or more software applications . . .”  As explained in the ETA, an exception to a DAS is for services that require “primarily human effort.”

The ETA then proceeds to provide three examples with calculations that it used to determine if the “primarily human effort” exception applies.  In the first two examples the DOR indicated the alarm monitoring would be subject to sales taxes, yet in the third example, the DAS exception for “primarily human effort” would apply.  In reality, all three examples point to the same type of monitoring service, yet they are interpreted differently in the ETA.  Consequently, DOR audits of alarm monitoring companies have resulted in different determinations, subjecting at least one alarm monitoring company to sales taxes for all monitored accounts, and being subject to back taxes (and penalties) for up to three (3) years.

All alarm monitoring companies and dealers who operate in the State of Washington are urged to review this ETA carefully and seek the counsel of your tax advisor.  Efforts are underway with ESA and TMA members in Washington to work with the DOR and prevent inconsistent determinations from individual audits in the future. We will post updates on the TMA blog in the coming weeks.

 

 

Annual AICC Communications Survey Open Now

For the sixth consecutive year, AICC Chair Louis T. Fiore is coordinating the annual AICC Communications Survey. “The results have been used to inform regulators of our [industry] communications needs,” he says. “It only works if the response is robust. So please participate!”

This survey focuses on the percentages of monitored accounts using POTS (plain old telephone systems), VoIP digital dialers (DACT), or other technologies either as a sole method of transmission or in conjunction with another technology. The ten-question survey will take no more than a few minutes to complete. Participation is not limited to TMA or AICC members — industry-wide input will strengthen the findings. Input is anonymous and individual answers will be kept confidential.

Find the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/R9SH7JC

Fiore will share results following the August 11 closing of the survey.

Change in California ACO Licensing Requirements

The California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS) recently made a significant change to their alarm company operator (ACO) licensing requirements. In order to obtain or renew an ACO license with CA BSIS, they now require that the company provide an in-state address. According to the bureau, the reason for this change is to ensure that the bureau has the ability to inspect records without traveling outside the state of California. A residential or commercial address is acceptable. There is no exception granted for out-of-state monitoring companies.

Thank you to Kate Fisher of new TMA member Compliance ManagHead shotement Solutions, LLCa company that provides clients in the electronic security systems industry with a customized and cost effective solution for managing their compliance needs, for forwarding this information to TMA.

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