TMA’s ASAP-to-PSAP Program Marks its 79th and 80th ECCs

The Monitoring Association (TMA) is pleased to announce the addition its 79th and 80th municipalities to go live with its expanding ASAP-to-PSAP program. Launched in 2011 as a public-private partnership, TMA’s ASAP-to-PSAP service is designed to increase the accuracy and efficiency of calls for service from alarm companies to PSAPs.     

“TMA’s ASAP-to-PSAP program experienced nice momentum in 2020 with a new annual adoption record of 18 ECCs across the country,” stated TMA President Don Young. “As the network of ASAP compatible ECCs continues to grow, those not yet using the service are learning firsthand from their colleagues about the time and accuracy improvements that come with ASAP and therefore the enhanced capability for saving lives in the alarm response process. TMA remains proud to deliver this unique service to its members and accomplish their mission for providing professional monitoring capabilities to help better protect life and property in both residential and commercial settings.”

TMA welcomed its 79th ECC, the Cayuga County NY 9-1-1 Center and the 6th ECC in the state of New York to implement ASAP. Cayuga County first went live with Vector Security and Rapid Response Monitoring. A second wave of companies including ADT, Amherst Alarm, Affiliated Monitoring, AT&T Digital Life, Guardian Protection, Brinks Home Security, National Monitoring Center, Protection One, Security Central, Tyco (Johnson Controls), Vivint, and Doyle went live with Cayuga County just days later.

“This is a seamless procedure allowing alarm companies to transfer alarm activations and the data associated directly to our computer aided dispatch system”, said Denise Spingler, Cayuga County 9-1-1 Administrator. “This allows for a more expedited dispatch of emergency services.”

The Paradise Valley AZ Police Communications Center is the 80th Emergency Communications Center (ECC) in the United States and 4th ECC in the state of Arizona to implement ASAP. Paradise Valley went live with Affiliated Monitoring, AT&T Digital Life, ADT, Alert 360, Guardian Protection, Brinks Home Security, National Monitoring Center, Protection One, Rapid Response Monitoring (plus A3 Smart Home), Security Central, Tyco (Johnson Controls), Vivint, and Securitas over a two day period in mid-December.

sunset, sea, horizon

Just Announced – Verizon to Delay 3G Sunset until Jan. 1, 2023

AICC Chair Lou Fiore shared recently released news from Verizon of their delayed 3G Sunset target date today. In an article written by Mike Dano, Editorial Director for Light Reading, Verizon spokesperson Kevin King stated, “that’s the “absolute last possible date” for the shutdown.” Dano wrote, “Verizon continues to work to move customers off its […]

UL Revises Virtual Workplace Guidelines

Underwriter’s Laboratories (UL) has revised its March 16th Virtual Workplace Guidelines and seeks feedback from security industry practitioners prior to publication.

Since the initial release of the Guidelines, it’s become clear that health risk mitigation measures will likely be required for longer than any of us had anticipated. UL now seeks feedback from industry stakeholders that rely on UL Certifications as part of their own risk management programs to review the updated Guideline revisions, which are intended to better define virtual workplace security measures.

Please review the revised draft of the Virtual Workplace Guidelines.


Steve Schmit, Senior Staff Engineer, UL, will review the draft Guidelines TMA’s
Virtual Town Hall on Monday, April 20th at 11:00AM (EDT). You can share your questions and comments during the Virtual Town Hall and/or send your comments directly to Steve at steve.a.schmit@ul.com.

UL’s 2021 Monitoring Station Audit – Information Update

Steve Schmit, UL, prepared this update on 2021 Monitoring Center Audits and asked TMA to share it. You may download a PDF of the update from the TMA website.

The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 brought the concepts of remote inspection, virtual audits, and working from home into full-fledged practical use, at a speed few would have predicted. The experience was a dramatic demonstration of the value of collaborative problem solving and clear communications. In that spirit, UL would like to share plans for 2021.

Standards and Confirmation of Compliance

Developing requirements that aligned with COVID-19 public health risk mitigations brought focus and visibility to the Standards making process.  While the experience was new to many, TMA’s UL Standards committee has been productively engaged in driving change for many years and continues to work an active agenda intended to keep the Standards current and relevant.

As Standards change, UL’s Certification Programs do also, incorporating new technical requirements into the annual audit process for monitoring stations. The 2021 audit cycle will include focus on the last 2 sets of revisions to UL827, Standard for Central Stations Services

Work From Home

On October 27, 2020, UL827 was revised to adapt Sec 51, Operation During a Regional/National Disruption. These requirements were developed by a Task Group of monitoring industry subject matter experts and built on early UL Guidelines for operating during the pandemic (published on March 16). They achieved ANSI consensus through UL’s Collaborative Standards Development Process to become part of the American National Standard.

For purposes of application within UL’s Certificate Program, Sec 51 was considered effective upon publication. During the 2021 audit cycle, UL staff will assess compliance for stations using remotely located operators under current COVID-19 mitigation conditions, and those stations that plan to do so in the event of future national or regional disruptions.

In early April, UL will publish details intended to clarify the evidence of compliance that UL auditors will look for during the 2021 audit.

As the nation’s vaccination campaign progresses, governmental emergency declarations and associated health safety guidance will change. Early indications suggest that there will not be a universal “all clear” lifting of scientifically based health guidelines, but rather a gradual reduction in social distancing metrics, with dependency on vaccination status, COVID variant emergence, and other variables. UL envisions working with monitoring stations to determine applicability of Sec 51 requirements, based on conditions in their location, with the goal of distilling universal guidelines for handling the dynamically evolving situation.

At the same time, TMA’s UL Standards Committee is making a UL827 revision proposal for requirements that would enable a monitoring-from-home option under any conditions. The Committee has addressed concerns brought forward during the emergency conditions discussions, but the proposal is in the very early stages of the consensus process.

If adapted, stations will continue to have a continued monitor-from-home option. However, stations should start planning for returning operators to in-station duty in the event that there is a gap between lifting of emergency conditions and adoption of non-emergency condition home based monitoring requirements.

Cybersecurity and Power Supply Requirements

On April 11, 2019, UL827 was revised to include new requirements for secondary power supplies and cybersecurity measures. These requirements were developed by TMA’s UL Standards Committee and went through 2 public comment periods as part of the consensus process.

UL’s pre-pandemic 2020 audit plan included focus on compliance with these requirements. Those plans had to be deferred when priorities shifted to operating safely within health and safety mandates.

As shared in the Summer 2019 TMA Dispatch newsletter, revisions were made in Section 11, Power Supply, and Section 17, Central Station Automation Systems. Material that could have potentially significant impact includes secondary power requirements in paragraph 11.5.1 and Table 11.1, and cybersecurity requirements in paragraph 17.15, along with its references.

For purposes of application within UL’s Certificate Program, these requirements will be effective 12/31/2022. This means UL Certification beyond that date is contingent on demonstration of compliance.

UL’s formal notice to Certification holders will be sent in early April and will include a plain language explanation of the requirements. In addition, UL will offer Town Hall style webinars (date/time to be announced shortly) to review the requirements and audit expectations.

During the 2021 audit cycle, UL staff will assess compliance status with the new requirements. Corrective action on any items of noncompliance will be assessed during the 2022 audit cycle.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact your UL auditor or any of the following:

Steve Schmit – steven.a.schmit@ul.com

Nancy Murphy – Nancy.Murphy@ul.com

Javier Olarte – Javier.Olarte@ul.com

TMA Releases Highlights of 2020 Achievements

As 2020 draws to an end, it is time to reflect on how our community has contributed to the advancement of TMA’s mission. Our annual achievements (listed below) may not be what we planned for or anticipated, but the list is substantial and we, as a community, should all be very proud.

With your support and participation this year, TMA has advanced the following initiatives:

  • With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, TMA initiated many efforts to assist and protect our members:
    • When members contacted TMA about the potential impact of stay-at-home orders and social distancing on their UL-listings if their operators worked from home, TMA quickly and actively engaged with UL on the creation of virtual work-from-home guidelines. TMA and UL continue to collaborate on the development of a permanent emergency work-from-home standard.
    • As strict travel restrictions began to impact members’ capacity to provide service, TMA took immediate action to have Electronic Security and Life Safety Industry personnel declared as Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce. An appeal submitted to the White House and to the Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) by TMA and its Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) was successful and the industry was explicitly included in CISA’s “Guidance on the Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce: Ensuring Community and National Resilience in COVID-19 Response.” TMA continued to work with other industry associations to advocate incorporating the CISA Guidelines in States’ Stay-at-Home Orders.
    • TMA set up an expansive repository of COVID-related resources on our website in February 2020 to provide timely information and actionable tools to support TMA members in sustaining their businesses during these unprecedented times.
    • We initiated weekly Virtual Town Hall Meetings on March 24, 2020. Critical topics included virtual workplace guidance, government loans, insurance, and legal issues, among others. Coming ahead is a series of six Town Halls on CO and fire codes.
  • Almost 31,000 alarm professionals have now registered for the TMA Online Operator Courses. TMA launched six brand-new modules for the Online Operator Course Level 2, focusing on leadership, conflict resolution, advanced call handling, standards, enhanced technology, and cybersecurity. After presenting a webinar on Demystifying AI: How it Works and the Benefits for Video Monitoring in February, the TMA series of regular webinars was put on hold due to COVID. In production is a recruitment assessment tool to assist managers with screening operator candidates.
  • The ASAP-to-PSAP service continued to surge with 72 active municipalities, 22 ready for implementation and 27 alarm companies connected with five more in testing. These alarm companies recognize the value of the service’s heightened efficiency and accuracy.
  • TMA reviewed and updated of TMA CS-V-01-2020 Alarm Confirmation, Verification and Notification Procedures standard which was then approved by
  • TMA embarked on the development of a new ANSI standard, CS-AVS-01, Alarm Validation Standard, that will provide time-sensitive information to assist in determining the response level of a Call-for-Service and information that will support with real-time incident management through situational awareness.
  • Five new companies have joined TMA’s distinguished Five Diamond Program so far this year, and is on track to surpass 2019’s total designated companies, showing overall growth in the program.
  • TMA became the owner and administrator of the Installation Quality (IQ) Program at the end of December 2019. The newly-formed IQ Committee reviewed and updated the IQ Guidelines and other IQ materials and the program has just been relaunched.
  • Since both organizations have complementary missions, TMA is exploring a closer collaboration with the Partnership for Priority Verified Alarm Response (PPVAR).
  • With the support of TMA Committees, our staff converted the format of TMA’s Annual Meeting into a virtual event. TMA has also created OPS-TECH, a new event merging its Operations Management Seminar and Tech Summit. OPS-TECH will also be virtual and will include a first-time video surveillance day.
  • The Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) continues to represent member interests on many issues on Capitol Hill and to the FCC, including Net Neutrality, TCPA, 3G Sunset, robocall legislation, and the FirstNet initiative.
  • TMA continues to exercise its FirstNet certification role for the security industry, providing access to the FirstNet network to qualified alarm and monitoring companies.
  • Working with TRG Associates, TMA published its Wage & Compensation survey, now available for purchase.
  • TMA recognized Affiliated Monitoring for its technological innovation with our Marvel Award and Securitas Electronic Security with the Monitoring Center of the Year Excellence Award. Staff from AvantGuard Monitoring Centers and Alarm Detection Systems also received individual Excellence
  • TMA Dispatch, our quarterly print publication, took on a whole new magazine-like look and feel. We expanded editorial content to provide a broader scope of topical and timely news for TMA members.
  • TMA launched a new website in the summer of 2020, offering visitors an appealing new look and feel with streamlined navigation.
  • TMA Signals e-newsletter provided weekly TMA and industry news updates, along with professional development articles.
  • Our NextGen group continued to grow in numbers and increase its engagement, with a new column highlighting members in the TMA Dispatch, along with a dedicated webpage. One successful meet-up was held at an industry event earlier this year.
  • Our relationships with Public Safety organizations have continued to thrive in 2020 through our joint engagement in the development of TMA-AVS-01 and an informational panel presentation delivered to TMA members as part of TMA’s Virtual Town Hall series. Organization leaders provided insights into how our industry can best support their members.
  • TMA members re-elected four Board members whose terms were expiring — Justin Bailey, Brandon Niles, Joey Rao-Russell and Kevin Stone. Each will serve a second two-year term.

TMA would like to acknowledge and thank the many volunteers that allow us to succeed in elevating the professional monitoring industry. We look forward to another productive year with your continued support and engagement.

Georgia Joins List of States Banning Fines for Alarm Companies When Customers Generate a False Alarm

Atlanta, Georgia (April 1, 2021) – The Georgia General Assembly has approved a bill that would ban counties or municipal corporations from fining alarm companies for false alarms generated by a customer and through no fault of the alarm system’s contractor.

“This bill has wider implications than for just our industry,” said John Loud, Vice President of Electronic Security Association (ESA) and President of LOUD Security Systems. “The concept of fining a company for a problem caused by its customers is the equivalent of sending someone’s speeding ticket to Ford and sets a precedent that could be a threat to many industries.”

“These policies do little to change user behavior, deny the user the right to confront their accuser and access to due process, and fines an innocent party for the actions of another,” said Stan Martin, Executive Director of the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC).

The introduction of the legislation follows a bitter three-year fight after the City of Sandy Springs passed a punitive ordinance that fined alarm companies. The city’s success in defending the legislation in court caused the legislature to act. Only one other Georgia city, Brookhaven, followed Sandy Springs’ lead.

A number of other states have passed bills similar to the Georgia bill in recent years including California, Florida, New Jersey, Texas, Tennessee and Iowa.

“There has never been any evidence that fining alarm companies was any more effective than the model alarm ordinance that is widely utilized nationally and endorsed by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police,” said Martin.

“The model ordinance, which fines alarm users, obtains an average 60% reduction in false dispatches and impacts those causing most of the problems. In fact, 85% of alarm systems generate no calls to the police in any given year.”

Under the law companies are responsible for false alarms they cause due to faulty equipment or installation or failure to use a mandated system requiring two calls to an alarm site before notifying police.

“Common sense prevailed,” said Loud. “Our industry stands ready to work with any community that wishes to reduce unnecessary dispatches with a proven model and experts ready to assist.”

Governor Kemp is expected to sign the bill later this month.

Shared by: David Margulies, PRExperts

TMA Seeks Industry Support to Extend AT&T 3G Sunset

A message from Lou Fiore, Chair, AICC:

As many of you know, AT&T and Verizon have announced sunsets for their 3G networks. AT&T is calling for a sunset date of February 22, 2022 and Verizon is calling for a sunset of December of 2022 – 10 months later. Because of the Coronavirus many of our customers have been reluctant to have alarm technicians enter their homes and businesses so that we can upgrade their equipment to make them compatible with newer networks.

We need your help especially if your business is headquartered in one of the following states:

AK, AZ, CA, CT, CO, FL, HI, IA, IL, IN, KS, LA, MA, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, NE, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV

The industry is seeking a longer transition period before AT&T sunsets its 3G network. We are asking elected officials to reach out to AT&T and urge them to push back their sunset to December 2022 which would make AT&T’s sunset the same time as Verizon’s proposed sunset, citing the pandemic as the reason.

Linked here is a spreadsheet that includes the staffers of all the members on the House and Senate Telecom Subcommittees. House Members appear first, scroll down to the second page to find Senators. Please use the staffer’s email to contact the Telecom Sub-committee member.

Ideally, if your business is headquartered in a Sub-Committee member’s district or state, we would urge you to reach out to that member. Even if your business is not located in the member’s district but are from his/her state, they will pay attention.

To find out who represents your district go to:

Please let me know if you have any questions. Our lobbyist Bill Signer or I will endeavor to assist you. Thank you in advance for your help in helping our industry.

We are asking you to send the message below to your elected officials:

Dear Representative/Senator:

The burglar and fire alarm industry is seeking your help in urging AT&T to delay the shutdown of its 3G cellular network which is currently scheduled for February 22, 2022 – a mere 16 months from now – to December 2022. This would then have both Verizon and AT&T shutting down their 3G network cellular networks at the same time.

Our industry protects the safety, and property of over 30 million homes and businesses. Additionally, many seniors depend upon us to monitor their personal emergency response systems allowing them to live at home. Many of these systems were installed using the 3G cellular network and must be upgraded, otherwise they will cease to communicate once the 3G networks are shutdown. Historically, AT&T recognized the need for an appropriate time period when it moved from 2G to 3G and provided 4 1/2 years for that transition. The industry estimates that we now have upwards of 3 times the number of 3G devices to change out as we did in the past transition.

Currently, the change-out requires an alarm technician to enter the premise and upgrade the existing equipment. Unfortunately, with the Coronavirus pandemic understandably many of our customers have been reluctant to have us enter their homes and businesses. For six months and counting this has curtailed what was to be a two year transition. Realistically, we are looking at least another nine months before we will be able to resume our normal ability to upgrade these systems.

While AT&T has been working with the industry for the development of equipment that will allow consumers to self-install equipment that would upgrade home security systems, to date that equipment is still in the testing stage. While we are hopeful that the equipment will work, we are not certain it will or whether the manufacturer will be able to meet the demand in a timely fashion.

Accordingly, we are asking you to speak directly with AT&T and urge them to move back their 3G cellular shutdown date to December 2022 and make it the same time as Verizon’s shutdown. Failure to do so will put millions of homes, businesses, and lives needlessly at risk.

Include your address on the emails that you send so they know you are a constituent.

Again, thank you in advance for your help.

Stay safe,

Lou Fiore
Chair, AICC

 

New Dialing Procedure for Texas Customers

Shared by AICC

Ten-digit dialing instituted to facilitate access to National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (Source: Texas Public Utility Commission)

LUBBOCK, Texas (NEWS RELEASE) – Starting on April 24, 2021, Texans with phone numbers in the 254, 361, 409, 806, 830, 915 and 940 area codes should get in the habit of dialing 10-digits (area code + telephone number) for all local calls.

On July 16, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission  issued an Order (FCC 20-100) approving 988 as the three-digit abbreviated dialing code for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The Order requires all telecommunications providers (including telecommunications carriers, interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol [VoIP] providers, and one-way VoIP providers [covered providers]) to make any network changes necessary to ensure 988 access by July 16, 2022.

Several Texas area codes (254, 361, 409, 806, 830, 915 and 940) have numbers with a 988 prefix.  Therefore, those areas must transition from seven-digit to 10-digit local dialing. (Areas shown in yellow on this map are not affected by this change.)

April 24, 2021 marks the beginning of a “permissive dialing period” in which callers in those area codes can still complete a call with seven-digit dialing. When that period expires on October 24, 2021, only calls dialed with ten digits will be connected.

After the permissive dialing period, local calls dialed with only seven digits will reach a recording prompting them to hang up and dial again using both the area code with the seven-digit telephone number.

What other changes need to be made?

Important safety and security equipment, such as medical alert devices, and alarm and security systems must be programmed to use 10-digit dialing.  Many systems operate on 10-digit dialing by default, but some older equipment may still use seven-digits.  Please contact your medical alert or security provider if you are not sure whether your equipment needs to be reprogrammed to accommodate the upcoming change to 10-digit local dialing.  Any needed reprogramming of alarm and home security equipment must be done during the permissive dialing period from April 24, 2021 to October 24, 2021 to avoid interruption of those services.

Some other examples of services that may need to be re-programmed are:

  • life safety systems or medical monitoring devices
  • PBXs
  • fax machines
  • Internet dial-up numbers
  • fire or burglar alarm and security systems or gates
  • speed dialers
  • mobile or other wireless phone contact lists
  • call forwarding settings
  • voicemail services and other similar functions

Customers should also ensure the area code is included in all other places where a telephone number is displayed like their websites, personal and business stationery, advertising materials, personal and business checks, and even personal or pet ID tags.

What will remain the same?

  • Telephone numbers, including current area code, will not change
  • The price of a call, coverage area, or other rates and services will not change due to the dialing change
  • What is a local call now will remain a local call regardless of the number of digits dialed
  • Customers will continue to dial 1+ the area code + telephone number for all long-distance calls
  • Customers will continue to dial a prefix (such as “9”) when dialing from a multi-line telephone system (e.g., in a hotel, office building, etc.) as required
  • Customers can still dial just three digits to reach 711 (relay services) and 911 (emergency services)
  • If 211, 311, 411, 511, 611, or 811 are currently available in one’s community, they can still be dialed with just three digits
  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can still be reached by dialing 1-800-273-TALK (8255) even after the 988 code is in effect.

Beginning July 16, 2022, dialing “988” will route calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Customers must continue to dial 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) to reach the Lifeline until July 16, 2022.

To learn more, visit the North American Numbering Plan Administrator (NANPA) website at https://www.nationalnanpa.com/transition_to_10_digit_dialing_for_988/index.html, email NANPA at 988@somos.com with questions about the dialing procedure change, or visit the FCC website at https://www.fcc.gov/suicide-prevention-hotline.

TMA Welcomes its 74th ECC to its ASAP-to-PSAP Service

On Wednesday, October 7th, the Raleigh – Wake County NC Communications  (RWECC) went live with TMA’s ASAP-to-PSAP service. It is the 74th ECC in the United States and 10th ECC in the state of North Carolina to implement the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP).

RWECC went live with Rapid Response at 8am EDT followed by Vector Security, Quick Response, ADS, Alert360, Tyco, Affiliated Monitoring, National Monitoring Center(NMC), AT&T Digital Life, Brinks Home Security, Protection One, Guardian Protection and Vivint. ADT, CPI Security, Security Central, Holmes Security and Wegmans Security will go live with RWECC in the near future.

The Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP), launched in 2011 as a public-private partnership, is designed to increase the efficiency and reliability of emergency electronic signals from monitoring companies to PSAPs. ASAP utilizes ANSI standard protocols developed cooperatively by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) and The Monitoring Association. With ASAP, critical life safety signals and accurate information are 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.

To learn more about the service, including its current service areas, go to https://tma.us/programs/asap/.