Loudoun County, VA Implements ASAP

Technology Increases Accuracy and Reduces Response Times to Alarms   

Loudoun County became the twenty-ninth PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point) in the United States and the second in the Washington, DC area to go live with the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP), a technology that allows alarm companies to transmit alarms to both the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office and Loudoun County Fire and Rescue communications centers without making a phone call.

This week data from residential and business alarms can now be transmitted electronically, allowing dispatchers to process an alarm in a fraction of the time it would normally take to process an alarm via telephone from an alarm monitoring company. “This new system will eliminate call volume from alarm companies and transmit alarm information to our emergency communications center in three seconds,  ultimately reducing the response times of first responders,” said Loudoun County Sheriff Mike Chapman.

ASAP will not only improve the accuracy and the speed of emergency response times, but eliminate potential human error and miscommunication between 911 dispatchers and alarm monitoring company operators.  “In any emergency, response time and accuracy is critical,” said Chief Keith Brower with Loudoun County Fire and Rescue. “By directly transmitting the information all pertinent information goes directly to Loudoun’s first responders within seconds,” added Chief Brower.

Loudoun County went live with the ASAP program at 9:45 a.m. on Tuesday, October 10, with Vector Security. By the end of the day, Affiliated Monitoring, Rapid Response, and Protection One were live, with Guardian, Vivint, Monitronics and ADT expected to quickly follow.

ASAP was created in partnership with The Monitoring Association (and the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials (APCO). Fore more information, visit ASAP. 

Call to Action – The Threat to Central Station Service

A Call to Action from TMA Executive Director Jay Hauhn

TMA members participate on Standards Development Organization (SDO) committees in the development of standards that impact our industry. Despite our best efforts, SDOs occasionally adopt standards language that is harmful to TMA members. Such standards actions can also restrict the service provider preferences of fire and security practitioners, or, may not be in the public’s best interests. When onerous language is enacted, it is crucial that TMA has a strategy to work within established SDO processes to respond appropriately.

TMA members, your immediate attention to a current situation is requested. Three years ago the 2016 edition of NFPA 72, The National Fire Code, was modified to include language that negatively impacted NRTL-listed Central Stations. The language in the code was amended to support municipalities that prescribe through an alarm ordinance what monitoring entity is allowed to monitor fire alarm signals in their municipality. More often than not, that is a single monitoring facility owned or contracted by the municipality. Our effort to overturn this change to the 2016 National Fire Code was unsuccessful.

NFPA 72 is updated every three years. A proposal was submitted by a TMA member to amend the 2019 edition of NFPA 72 to allow NRTL-listed Central Stations to monitor fire alarms without unfair obstruction. The technical committees responsible for the 2019 edition of NFPA 72 have essentially completed their review of changes to the code, and our member’s proposal was rejected. TMA plans to contest this at the June 2018 NFPA event.

It is important to note that standards typically define a minimum requirement. Allowing a higher level of performance that exceeds the minimum requirement is the normal practice. It is unusual for language in a standard to require that a higher level of service require specific approval. This is particularly onerous given that NRTL-listed Central Stations are the gold standard of fire alarm monitoring.

If you are a NRTL-listed Central Station, this issue directly impacts the life safety services you provide your customers. TMA’s effort at the 2015 meeting was defeated as the issue was unfairly portrayed as usurping an AHJ’s authority. We must have sufficient TMA representation at the June 2018 NFPA meeting to contest this action. Our effort to amend the 2016 version of NFPA 72 failed because TMA did not have sufficient representation attend the 2015 meeting and vote.

If monitoring fire alarms is part of your business, you should consider your presence mandatory at the June 2018 annual meeting. Without your attendance, fire alarm monitoring by NRTL-listed Central Stations can be significantly curtailed!

TMA member companies need to send associates to the NFPA meeting in June of 2018. In order to vote at the June Technical Meeting, the attendee must have been a member of NFPA for six months. NFPA membership is an individual membership, not a company membership. The annual cost to belong to NFPA is $175 per individual.

Preparing for action is not complicated

While we know that our member companies all have employees that belong to NFPA, we do not have a database that reflects the names of the actual NFPA members. It is impossible at this time to determine how many members will attend. We will be working to compile that data.

To vote at the 2018 meeting, an attendee must have been a member of NFPA by December 1, 2017.

Please assure that your current employees who are NFPA members renew their membership for 2018 by December 1, 2017.

Join or renew NFPA membership now.: http://catalog.nfpa.org

Please have additional employees join NFPA by the December 1, 2017 date. Joining does not mean the employees will be obligated to attend the June meeting. However, the six month membership requirement requires joining NFPA by December 1. Being proactive is only $175 per employee.

The 2018 NFPA meeting is in Las Vegas at Mandalay Bay. Las Vegas is an inexpensive travel location if you plan ahead. Many attendees stay at Luxor and Excalibur where rates are typically under $75 a night. There is a tram between those hotels and Mandalay Bay. Most attendees there to attend the voting session will only need to stay one night.

TMA needs to track participation. Please provide Celia Besore, TMA’s vice president of membership, with information on your current NFPA members, as well as information on those who have joined as a result of this Call to Action. TMA will release updates frequently between now and December 1. You can reach Celia at 703-242-4670 x18 or cbesore@tma.us.

Thank you for your support and action.

Jay Hauhn
Executive Director and CEO
The Monitoring Association

AICC Fall Meeting Welcomes Members of Congress

On September 7, the Alarm Industry Communications Committee hosted its fall meeting in Washington DC and welcomed two Members of Congress with important connections to telecommunications legislation and regulations.

Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN) currently serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is a member of the Communications and Technology, the Health, and the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittees.  She spoke about disaster preparedness and Hurricane Harvey, noting that any natural disaster affects the alarm industry. She noted that the whole country needs to be connected to broadband — the lack of it is “not fair to small towns, rural areas which are struggling to survive” — and the need to rewrite the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

Later in the meeting, Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, addressed the AICC members primarily on the issue of Net Neutrality. AICC members noted that they are participating in the comments process. Walden said his committee is “fully committed to finding a legislative solution that takes care of bad behavior but does not suppress innovation.” He noted that reauthorizing the FCC as an agency needs to happen before the Telecoms Act can be addressed.

AICC Fall 2017 Walden Fiore Hauhn Signer

From left: TMA Executive Director Jay Hauhn, AICC Chair Lou Fiore, Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), AICC lobbyist Bill Signer

Following the representatives’ remarks, AICC members were able to ask questions and put forward their concerns as an industry of small businesses regarding the Telecoms Act, Net Neutrality, and FirstNet.

Wisconsin’s Dane County Looking for a “Dial Mover” with ASAP

Paul Logan Dane County PSAPOn July 6, Dane County, Wisconsin became the 26th agency in the U.S. –and the first in the Badger State–to go live with the ASAP program. Dane County 9-1-1 Center Operations Manager Paul Logan took some time to review the ASAP implementation, which included being the first PSAP to use TriTech’s Inform CAD with an ASAP interface solution and also working with the state Justice Department which manages the state switch.

Asked why Dane County implemented ASAP, Paul said, “We’d been interested in ASAP for a long time, thinking it could have a significant positive impact on our operations. Every PSAP is looking for ways to improve answer times, and decrease the likelihood of errors, and ASAP seems to fit into both of those areas. We decided at budget time a few years ago to ask for the money to buy an interface and get the project rolling.

“Overall, the process has been painless,” he continued. “We worked with our CAD vendor (Tri-Tech) on the interface. It was a learning experience for everyone since we were the first customer to make the request. We’re excited to help make it right for those Tri-Tech customers who will follow. Having [ASAP Subject Matter Expert] Bill Hobgood involved was key to making it happen. Bill obviously has the answers to the tough questions.

“We also worked closely with our state Department of Justice who manages the message switch. Internally, our technical staff worked with all our ASAP partners to make sure it would work, and we’re happy that we finally are live.”

While Logan says that it’s a bit early to say how ASAP is impacting operations, he adds that with ADT, Tyco and other companies coming online soon, he expects to see an impact. “I’m really looking forward to being able to says it’s been a huge dial mover for us,” he concluded.

WASAP-Concept1De’ll check back with Paul Logan in a few months to report on Dane County developments.

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.

 

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.