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.”

Shared by: David Margulies, PRExperts

FirstNet Expands

FirstNet®, America’s public safety network, now covers more than 2.71 million square miles. As public safety’s network partner, AT&T* has moved quickly to bring more coverage, boost capacity and drive new capabilities for first responders and the communities they serve – rural, urban and tribal. In 2020, we added nearly 100,000 square miles to the FirstNet coverage footprint (that’s like covering the entire state of Oregon).

Today, more than 15,000 agencies and organizations – accounting for more than 2 million connections nationwide – have subscribed to FirstNet.

Read the full announcement on AT&T’s website – https://about.att.com/story/2021/fn_expands.html

Learn more about FirstNet certification for your company elsewhere on TMA’s website.

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.

FCC’s Chairman Pai Asks Congress to Repeal T-Band Mandate

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai reiterated his call for congressional repeal of the T-band auction mandate while also circulating a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would take the next statutorily required step to implement this mandate to his fellow commissioners.

“An FCC auction of the T-band is a bad idea,” Pai said. “But as of today, the law mandates that we do it. It’s unfortunate that commission resources must be dedicated to laying the groundwork for an auction that will likely fail. This is especially true at a time when we are making every effort to keep Americans safe and connected, including allowing expanded temporary use of this very spectrum to help first responders save lives.

“Fortunately, there is bipartisan legislation in Congress to repeal this mandate, including bills that couple repeal with 9-1-1 fee diversion reform as reported out by the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation of the U.S. Senate and the Subcommittee on Communications and Technology of the Committee on Energy and Commerce of the U.S. House of Representatives. I hope legislation passes soon, so first responders who rely on this spectrum no longer need to worry about a potential loss of or significant disruption to their mission-critical radio systems. I remain committed to helping Congress in any way I can to ensure that such harms to public safety operations do not come to pass.”

In 2012, Congress passed the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act requiring the FCC to reallocate T-band spectrum used by public-safety and private wireless licensees and “begin a system of competitive bidding” for reallocated spectrum by 2021. The FCC has compiled a record on the T-band that demonstrates that an auction is unlikely to yield sufficient revenue to cover the costs to move public safety users out of the band.

Pai first asked Congress to repeal the mandate late last year.

Professional Installation and Monitoring Associations Dispute Google’s Statement, “Security Systems Often Use Microphones”

Recent reporting by Business Insider, CNN Business and many other publications have highlighted the undisclosed, on-board microphone discovered in Google’s Nest Guard Security Device—raising serious privacy concerns among consumers. The Monitoring Association (TMA) and the Electronic Security Association (ESA), trade associations representing professionals who install and monitor security and life safety technologies in homes and businesses, call into question the validity of Google’s published statements concerning the use of microphones in security devices. According to TMA and ESA, statements such as, “security systems often include microphones to provide features that rely on sound sensing,” misrepresent the vast majority of today’s residential security systems installed throughout the country.

Since audio recording includes privacy and legal complexities, it’s not extremely common in residential installations. Security professionals and integrators consult with customers and ensure all federal and state laws are abided by.

“Adding audio surveillance can certainly make for a more robust system,” says ESA President, Chris Mosley. “We’re seeing exciting advancements in the audio surveillance category, such as acoustic sensors and microphones that can help us detect gunfire or when voices become elevated that could indicate potential violence. However, sweeping statements to infer that residential systems commonly have this feature are simply not accurate.”

Louroe Electronics, an ESA Member company and 40-year-old manufacturer of audio-based technologies concurs with this analysis. “Sound-based technology in security systems is common in law enforcement, institutional, and smart city installations. However, the use of microphones for surveillance in residences is extremely rare on account of heightened expectations of privacy,” says the company’s CEO, Richard Brent.

“Security systems are now an important part of the customer home experience in that we can integrate with audio assistance,” says Ivan Spector, TMA President. “However professionally installed and monitored security systems are not designed to record data and conversations unbeknownst to our customers.”

According to both associations, adding microphones and audio capabilities to security systems adds another level of precaution that must be taken to install the system in a way that protects the privacy of the consumer.

Professionally installed systems have the backing of technology experts who know the full capability of the system and its components and can appropriately safeguard these systems, so as not to compromise privacy.

Visit www.tma.us to learn more about The Monitoring Association or to  find an ESA security professional in your area, visit www.alarm.org.

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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, security systems integrators, and providers of products and services to the industry. 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. Learn more online at https://tma.us/about-tma/.

About the Electronic Security Association (ESA)

Established in 1948, ESA is the largest trade association in the United States representing the electronic security and life safety industry. Member companies install, integrate and monitor intrusion and fire detection, video surveillance and electronic access control systems for commercial, residential, industrial and governmental clients. In cooperation with an alliance of chapter associations, ESA provides technical and management training, government advocacy and delivers information, advice, tools, and services that members use to grow their businesses and prosper. Together, ESA member companies employ more than 500,000 industry professionals and serve more than 34 million residential and commercial clients. To find an ESA security professional in your area, visit www.alarm.org

ASAP Message Broker Goes “Live”

On Monday, April 16, the long awaited CSAA message broker server—a critical component of the Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP)—became operational in the production environment.
The City of Richmond (Va.) Police Department’s Division of Emergency Communications and Vector Security, two of the three original ASAP pilot participants, migrated to the CSAA message broker officially at 1 p.m. EST on April 16. The migration was seamless and transparent for the end users at both Vector Security’s and Richmond’s 911 PSAP, according to Bill Hobgood, project coordinator for APCO and project manager for the city of Richmond’s Department of Information Technology Public Safety Team.
Anita Ostrowski, Vector Security’s vice president for central stations, says that operators at Vector Security received very brief, informal training that was required when Vector migrated to the production message broker. No formal training or in-depth training program was required for Vector’s migration.
The message broker is a combination of hardware and software intended to perform a middleware function between Nlets and the alarm monitoring companies that want to take advantage of ASAP. It performs error checking and ensures that the transmissions from the alarm monitoring companies are properly formatted before sending the message to Nlets for subsequent forwarding to the appropriate state control point and ASAP-participating PSAP.
Notes CSAA Immediate Past President Ed Bonifas, vice president of Alarm Detection Systems and co-chair of CSAA’s ASAP Steering Committee, “This sets the stage for the future participation of additional alarm monitoring companies. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available.”