TMA Voice of the Customer: We Listened to You!

For the past 24 months, TMA has been acting on the findings of its 2015 “Voice of the Customer (VoC)” initiative. This is the report on actions taken to address issues identified as critical during the VoC.

Coming in September — Your chance to weigh in, again or for the first time, on the direction YOU want to see your association take in the future!

Marketing and Messaging Report 

In 2015, TMA (then CSAA) launched the “Voice of the Customer” (VoC) initiative to lay the foundation for the future direction of the Association. The initiative included surveys, conference calls, and in-person focus groups, in which TMA asked members to discuss the issues and actions they believed the Association needed to address to remain relevant and vital going forward.

One of the areas that rose to the top of the importance list was marketing and messaging. Members questioned whether the term “central station” was understood by the general public, and whether the Association needed to revisit its mission and membership structure in order to widen its scope of influence and strengthen its volunteer base.

Association committee members and staff took these findings and began collaborating on how best to address the concerns of the members. The resulting proposals were presented in spring 2016 for consideration at the General Membership Meeting held in June in Fort Worth.

At that meeting, members present voted to change the Association’s name to The Monitoring Association. The new name became official in March 2017. They also voted to add three new membership categories (Non-listed Monitoring Company, Non-listed Non-traditional Monitoring Company, and Security Technology Services Provider) and to adopt a new mission: to advance the professional monitoring industry through education, advocacy, and public sector relationships.

“Our members sharing their insight was the driving force for TMA to research and implement these monumental actions,” said Association president Pam Petrow. “The name change, new mission, and expanded membership categories were the direct result of leadership listening to what our members told us during the VoC process.”

Technology and Standards Report 

Across all sectors, members raised their concerns about alarm industry technology and standards.

Members felt that there was a critical need to keep abreast of technology developments, and suggested that the Association assist with providing more opportunities for user group training from associate members. In response, in May 2016, TMA launched a new Technology Committee. “The Technology Committee will be a resource for regular members to learn about technologies that impact their businesses, and a conduit for associate members to provide early awareness of technologically-innovative new products and services,” said Executive Director Jay Hauhn in Dispatch. The committee has since presented a series of “Tech Talk” webinars in coordination with TMA associate member companies on topics such as SD-WAN, Next Generation Firewalls, and Cybersecurity issues (available to members at no charge and archived on the TMA website). It has also worked closely with the Education Committee on the programs at ESX, the Annual Meeting, and Fall Ops to present cutting-edge technology sessions at these TMA events.

Promoting and adhering to standards are one way for an industry to demonstrate its quality and commitment to excellence to partners and the public. In the standards arena, members reported that while they thought TMA was doing a good job managing the standards process, there was not enough communication about activities and member resources. Subsequently the Standards committee, and its activities under retiring chair Lou Fiore and then-new chair Steve Shapiro, was spotlighted with a cover story in the Spring 2016 Dispatch. As the committee works to advance TMA, UL, and NFPA standards, as well as a remote station standard inherited from ESA, its members are committed to providing regular updates to be shared with the membership.

Committee Practices and Communications Report

Many of the initiatives of the Association are planned and coordinated by our various committees. VoC participants asked TMA to review committee practices and communications to encourage engagement and action. After this process, TMA took the following actions:

  • In 2016, committee meetings at the Marco Island Annual Meeting were moved from two days before the beginning of the education program to the day before, to help committee members participate and control travel costs. (This schedule continues in 2017 in Scottsdale.)
  • To encourage more cross-committee communication, in August 2016 committee chairs began participating in quarterly conference calls to share information and to seek support for committee initiatives. For the same purpose, at the 2016 Annual Meeting and 2017 ESX, certain committees began meeting jointly. (This will also be the case at the 2017 Annual Meeting.)
  • AICC is one of the most valued committees and members wanted to know about its activities. TMA began to include a quarterly AICC update in Dispatch and post AICC content on the TMA Blog and in TMA Signals.
  • A government relations committee was launched at the end of 2016 to help members stay informed about what TMA is doing on their behalf in this area. Regular updates are posted on the TMA Blog.
  • The committee portion of the TMA bylaws was reviewed and updated in early 2017.


Public Sector Engagement, Law Enforcement, Fire Protection, and ASAP Report

During the conversations, members made it clear that public sector engagement remains a priority and in fact, sets our association apart from others in the industry. Members felt that outreach efforts are important and that how the monitoring industry engages with first responder associations impacts many of TMA’s initiatives. Here are some of the actions we’ve taken to support this priority:

  • Our new mission, adopted in June 2016, explicitly states that public safety relationships are key to our efforts to advance the professional monitoring industry.
  • We relaunched the Public Safety Liaison Committee with a new chair, and subcommittee chairs for fire and law.
  • We continued to bestow the Public Sector Award, first announced in 2015, to a public sector individual who has made significant contributions to the ASAP program. (Check out the winners in 2016 and 2017.)
  • We have strengthened our relationship with NFPA. Executive Director Jay Hauhn committed to attending appropriate meetings to represent TMA, and we are taking steps to ensure all TMA member companies have an individual on staff who is an NFPA member.
  • Continuing outreach to PSAPs and state-level decision makers has led to significant growth in the ASAP program this year.
  • We continue to partner with SIAC and ESA to hold receptions for the fire chiefs, police chiefs, and sheriffs at their annual conferences (among other initiatives with those organizations), and the AHJ Open Forum remains a key part of our Annual Meeting.

Membership Report

It was no surprise that growing membership and providing value to members topped the list of priorities. Here are some of the actions that committees and staff have taken to support the VoC directives:

  • Increase efforts to engage the next generation of leaders
    The TMA NexGen subcommittee was established and the first meeting of young professional members took place at the 2016 Annual Meeting. Outreach and activities have continued in 2017 and more structured leadership development and mentoring programs are planned for 2018.
  • Refocus attracting members and show benefits of membership through more personal outreach
    The Membership Committee has analyzed current member benefits by membership category to promote TMA membership value and identify potential opportunities. TMA membership staff are contacting individual members for one-on-one conversations about TMA value. A targeted membership drive is planned for 2018.
  • Investigate new membership category to allow those without a Central Station to join the association
    Three new membership categories were proposed in 2016 and approved by the membership at the 2016 General Membership Meeting in Fort Worth. Promotion began in 2017 and we already have at least one new member in each of the new categories.
  • Succession planning across the board in consideration of next generation of leaders
    We have made a concerted effort to fill co-chair positions on the various committees and are considering ways in which young professionals can have better representation.
  • Re-develop Five Diamond Benefits Package and Marketing Tool Kit
    A Marketing Tool Kit to assist Five Diamond companies to promote their status was launched in 2016. The Five Diamond Committee is currently reviewing Five Diamond for ways to “put more teeth” into the designation and subsequently increase its prestige.

Education and Meetings Report

The topic of education, one of the most valuable benefits provided by any association, provoked a number of comments and discussions across all sectors. Since the VoC launch, TMA staff and committees have taken the following actions in response to members’ input:

  • Monitoring Centers value the online training program!
    A comprehensive review and re-write of the TMA Level 1 training is nearing completion. This was a major project, requiring tremendous amounts of volunteer and staff time.
  • Annual Meeting and Fall Ops programs should continue to focus on addressing industry threats.
    Addressed by the continued “reimagining” of the Annual Meeting education program, which has been greatly upgraded in 2015, 2016 and 2017 to provide high-level leadership and industry intelligence presentations. Fall Ops content has been planned with direct input from attendees through pre-event surveys and session evaluations.
  • TMA should consider offering training that provides educational credits that fully meet state licensing requirements.
    Part of the TMA Level 1 re-write has been a concerted effort to ensure that the course meets the highest bar for state licensing requirements. TMA is working to identify a provider of CEU accreditation for our online webinars and other courses.
  • Use more virtual education/conference events to allow participation and engagement for those with travel budget restrictions.
    TMA Signature Series and Tech Talk Webinars are now offered nearly every month. We will be piloting virtual product reviews in the next few months to introduce our members to new products and technologies.
  • Consider partnering with other online and classroom training providers to broaden course offerings to include business and management courses.
    TMA collaborated with CANASA to develop the CANASA 2017 Monitoring Station Symposium and with SIA to promote free Project Management/Budgeting webinars for TMA members. TMA vetted and recommended discounted customer service courses offered by Telephone Doctor that are directly related to TMA members’ needs.

TMA members, watch your email for the “VoC 2.0” survey in September!
Questions or comments? Contact communications@tma.us.

 

ASAP’s Summer Surge: NC, FL, WI and VA

24! Wilson County, NC: Wilson County became the 24th PSAP in the US and the 7th PSAP in North Carolina to implement the ASAP program on June 5. The state of North Carolina continues to lead other states with the number of ASAP implementations.

25! Manatee County, FL: Manatee County became the 25th agency in the US and second PSAP in Florida to adopt the ASAP program on June 26. Manatee County received excellent media coverage in concert with the ASAP impASAP-Concept1Dlementation.

26! Dane County, WI: Wisconsin became the eighth state to open the state message switch to accommodate ASAP traffic with the Dane County 9-1-1 PSAP being the first in Wisconsin and 26th agency in the United States to launch the program. The go-live on July 6 also introduced TriTech’s Inform CAD with an ASAP interface solution.

27! Newport News, VA: Newport News became the 27th agency in the United States and 5th PSAP in Virginia to adopt the ASAP program. Newport News went live with seven alarm companies (Vector,  Rapid Response, Protection 1, Vivint, Moni, Guardian, and Affiliated) on August 1, joined the next week by ADT.

The Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP), which was launched in 2011 as a public-private partnership, designed to increase the efficiency and reliability of emergency electronic signals from central station alarm companies to PSAPs. ASAP utilizes ANSI standard protocols developed cooperatively by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) and CSAA. With ASAP, critical life safety signals and accurate information is processed in seconds, not minutes, through the Nlets system of state-to-state PSAP communication, insuring that complete and accurate information is transmitted to the PSAP every time.

For more information on ASAP or to access ASAP resources (videos, webinars, training and outreach materials), contact asap@tma.us or 703-242-4670, or visit tma.us/asap.

 

ASAP Recognition Grows at APCO 2017

At this week’s APCO 2017 conference in Denver, The Monitoring Association (TMA) presented two opportunities for PSAPs to learn about ASAP’s winning formula for error reduction, cost containment and faster res2017 ASAP Pop Up Bannerponses to dispatch.

Dozens of PSAP representatives stopped at the TMA booth in the exhibit hall to discuss with TMA staff how the technology works and how it can be implemented.

About 75 conference registrants attended the special session “ASAP to the PSAP: A Win-Win for Public Safety and the Alarm Industry” on August 13. Subject matter expert Bill Hobgood, TMA Executive Director Jay Hauhn, and representatives from PSAPs in New York, Arizona and Washington, DC discussed how the program reduces 9-1-1 processing and response times to alarm events while eliminating telephone calls and miscommunication errors between monitoring centers and PSAPs.

ASAP progress and outreach efforts are seeing results. “What was different from our past appearances at APCO was that this year, there was a significant increase in PSAP personnel who had already heard about ASAP and had already taken steps to educate local decision-makers about its value,” said Hauhn. “We even had a number of PSAPs from states where ASAP is not yet implemented mention to us that they hoped to be the first in their state to do so!”

Jay and NENA Rob McMullen APCO 2017

TMA Executive Director Jay Hauhn, left, with NENA President Rob McMullen at the TMA ASAP booth at the 2017 APCO Conference in Denver, August 13-16.

 

ALAS Celebrates 20 Years, Recognizes TMA for Support

In July, TMA Vice President of Membership and Programs Celia Besore attended the ALAS Management Summit, the annual event of ALAS, the Latin American Security Association. The summit focuses on the executives and decision makers of Latin America’s most prominent security companies.

Reconocimiento a instituciones ALAS Celia July 2017

ALAS CEO Alberto Alvarez (far left) with TMA’s Celia Besore (center) and representatives from Al, UL, NFPA, SCALA (Smart Card alliance), CABA (Continental Automated Building Association) and CASEL ( Camara Argentina de Seguridad Electronica)  at the ALAS Management Summit. 

At the summit, ALAS celebrated its 20th anniversary and presented TMA, along with other industry partners, with commemorative gifts. TMA’s was inscribed: “On our 20th anniversary we would like to thank The Monitoring Association for being a valuable partner in our history.”

ALAS 20th anniversary gift to TMA

TMA congratulates ALAS on its 20th anniversary! Watch the video for a recap of the Summit.

Michael Arthur Bonifas (1993 – 2017)

BonifasObitPhoto

TMA is saddened to note the passing of Michael Arthur Bonifas, the grandson of TMA past president Bob Bonifas and nephew of TMA past president Ed Bonifas. Michael was born on August 30, 1993 in Aurora, IL to Dale and Jeanette Bonifas.  He died suddenly from a tragic fall on August 4, 2017 at the age of 23.  Michael graduated from Batavia High School in 2011. He graduated from the University of Kansas with a marketing degree in 2015.  He was employed as an account executive by FleishmanHillard in Chicago. Michael was an avid lover of the outdoors where he pursued his passions jncluding hiking, hunting, snowboarding, ice fishing. In lieu of flowers, the family wishes to honor his love of the outdoors with donations made to The Appalachian Trail Conservancy and specifying contributions in memory of Michael Bonifas.

Read Michael’s full obituary. 

 

 

Newport News, VA Goes Live with ASAP

Alarm users in coastal Virginia city to benefit from faster, more accurate emergency response

ASAP-Concept1DOn August 4, Newport News, Virginia became the latest municipality to go live with Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP), a technology that automates communication between alarm monitoring central stations and 911 centers, resulting in improved accuracy and speed of emergency response.

Transmitting data electronically speeds up alarm notification delivery and reduces the number of phone calls and processing times at emergency response centers. It also eliminates human error and miscommunication between operators; all pertinent data goes directly to first responders within seconds.

In areas where it is used, ASAP delivers alarm notification information from central stations directly to public safety answering points (PSAPs) via computer rather than by phone, eliminating the need for communication between monitoring center operators and 911 operators.

ASAP was created in partnership with The Monitoring Association (formerly the Central Station Alarm Association) and the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO). Vector Security was the first alarm company to use ASAP in the City of Richmond, VA in 2012. Vector Security assisted with implementation in Newport News by helping to perform extensive testing prior to the system going live.

“Alarm users in Newport News, including several hundred Vector Security customers, will benefit from faster and more accurate emergency response with the implementation of ASAP,” said Anita Ostrowski, Vice President of Central Station Services, Vector Security. “We hope the positive impact that ASAP will bring to Newport News will encourage other major 911 centers in the nation to adopt this technology as well.”

“As a security provider, we seek ways to promote ASAP’s value to municipalities and public agencies, and help other alarm companies implement it for the greater good of the industry and the safety of our communities,” she added.

In addition to Vector, the following alarm companies are now live with ASAP in Newport News: Rapid Response, Protection1, Vivint, Moni, Guardian, and Affiliated.  ADT will be going live next week.

Newport News is the fourth largest city in size in Virginia, with its boundaries encompassing 69 square miles. Within Virginia, Newport News joins the City of Richmond, James City County, York County, and Henrico County, which are already online with the use of ASAP technology.

Other municipalities that have implemented ASAP include Rochester/Monroe County, NY; Houston, TX; Washington, DC.; Tempe, AZ; Boca Raton, FL; Delaware County, OH; Bucks County, PA; and many others.

For more information on the benefits and features of ASAP, visit www.tma.us/asap or www.vectorsecurity.com/asap.

 

Warning: Alarm Industry Needs to Draw “Line in the Sand” Now

The Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC) is working to draw a line in the sand when it comes to the policy of municipalities fining alarm companies for false alarms. The most recent city to consider adopting the policy is Sandy Springs, Georgia (a suburb of Atlanta), which voted in July to begin fining companies on September 1.

“In most cases SIAC is able to move cities away from this type of policy through positive interaction with public safety and community officials,” said Stan Martin, SIAC Executive Director. “In a few instances we have had to engage legal counsel to make the case that these ordinances are unconstitutional.”

For example, such ordinances violate the due process clause of the Constitution because they make alarm companies responsible for the actions of a customer over whom they have no control. It would be the equivalent of fining Ford for a driver caught speeding in an Explorer. There are numerous other issues SIAC attorneys have raised based on the proposed ordinance and state law.

“These detailed letters from our legal counsel citing numerous relevant precedents in federal and state law are a key factor in getting cities to back away from fining alarm companies,” said Martin.

“The bottom line is that when positive interaction and information sharing doesn’t work, we need the resources to hire legal counsel to address specific ordinances,” said Martin. “This is a real threat to our industry — and unless we have the support from the industry to stop these ordinances now it will become a growing problem.

“Having an attorney to engage a city is always the last resort,” said Martin. “Yet, it is critical to prevent allowing a precedent to be set and preserving our right to conduct business on a fair and level playing field.”

Your contribution is needed now. Please visit SIAC to make a donation in support of the effort to protect alarm companies.

More Sandy Springs information:

Contributed by David Margulies