Vector Security’s Petrow Joins Philadelphia Contributionship Board

Vector Security President and CEO Pamela Petrow has been appointed to the board of directors of the Philadelphia Contributionship (TPC) Mutual Holding Co., the oldest property insurance company in the United States. Vector Security, based here, is a sister company of TPC. “We are pleased to welcome Ms. Petrow to The Philadelphia Contributionship Board of […]

TMA 2020 Achievement Highlights

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

  • 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. In production is a recruitment assessment tool to assist managers with screening operator candidates. 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.
  • 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 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 and the Board, 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.

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.

7 Tips to Enhance Virtual Office Efficiency

Special thanks to AICC’s Chairman Lou Fiore for sharing these tips with us today! It seems many of us are getting adjusted to working remotely in recent days. The TMA staff went fully virtual on Wednesday of this week. I, for one, was void of any desire to work at home or, in fact, remote from any location. I liked the routine, structure, and social aspects of working with others in an office. After (my first) three full days of working from my kitchen table, I must admit that I do like it! My dogs, Beau and Blue seem to like it too.

We hope that wherever you are calling “work” these days amidst COVID-19 – you are safe, healthy, and at peace!  Oh, and productive! Try these:

  1. Find a workspace
    Have a designated space to do your work. If you have a home office great. If not, you need to determine your workspace. Turn a spare room into a temporary office. Find the place you will focus on work. A designated workspace matters for a few reasons. It would help if you had a place for all your work materials. You may want to invest in wireless earbuds for the calls you will be making from your cell phone. If your kids are learning remotely, set a learning space for them. When you go to this designated space, you know that it’s time to work.
  2. Determine your mindset.
    Working from home requires a different mindset. To be more productive while working away from the office, we need to create the right mindset. It’s training our brains to focus on work during our scheduled work time. When your day ends, it time to shift to family and your time.
  3. Structure your day.
    Give your day structure and make a schedule for the day ahead. I recommend making an hour-by-hour schedule that includes your priorities and when you will work on them. You should schedule breaks throughout the day. Taking a 10-15 minute break gives your eyes a break from the computer screen and manages your energy throughout the day. If you have children at home, this is a great time to reconnect. You can show them what you do each day, your teaching focus, and responsibility. You can share time together during these breaks, including lunch. Most of us will be saving an hour a day from our commute to work. How can you use that extra hour for yourself?
  4. Stay connected with colleagues
    In the first few days, you may enjoy your time working remotely. But most of us may miss connecting with our co-workers. When creating your daily schedule, make sure you schedule a time to call a colleague, check your social channels. You may want to connect during one of your scheduled breaks or while having lunch. Technology gives us this opportunity with facetime, zoom calls. We don’t want to feel isolated, and we want to stay connected to others. Also, say hey, Alexa play my favorite radio station. You will remain attached to a broader community.
  5. Have designated work clothes
    We were laughing at work, saying it is going to be great to work in my pajamas or sweats. For those of us in sales and management, I am not suggesting that we suit up when we are working remotely. We need to be mindful and understand that the clothes you wear can determine your mindset. Yes, be comfortable, be aware. There is a mental benefit to getting ready for work and changing your clothes at the end of the day. It signals the brain to shift from work mode to family time.
  6. Reduce distractions
    One of the benefits of being able to work remotely is escaping workplace distractions. Sure it’s okay to throw a load of laundry in during your workday. Just avoid cleaning the whole house.. Just be mindful of any distractions, like turning on TV and scrolling through news feeds on Facebook. Why? It’s because multitasking doesn’t work. Switching between tasks can result in as much as a 40% loss of productivity, according to Dr. David Meyer in an American Psychological Association article. So stick to the schedule you created for the day so you can be more productive..
  7. Determine the end of your workday
    When working remotely, you may find it challenging to know when it stops. We all desire to achieve a work-life balance. I will finish following up on one more email, that leads to the next one. That’s why it’s essential to determine in advance when your workday will end—time to close your laptop or close your office door so tell your mind the workday has ended. Celebrate what you accomplished that day. Schedule your next days of priorities. You may find it helpful to note all that you have accomplished, including the most important priorities you set out for the day.

Until next week…From all of us at TMA!

 

5G is on the Move

Verizon hits goal of launching 5G in more than 30 cities
Re-post from The Verge, December 23, 2019
Author: James Vincent

One of the biggest barriers for 5G adoption is simply getting customers access to the new network. Carriers are racing to roll out 5G, and Verizon announced today that it’s reached its goal of launching the service in more than 30 US cities before the end of the year. In fact, 31 cities now have some access Verizon’s 5G network, along with 15 NFL stadiums.

But that figure needs caveats. As we’ve noted before, while 5G certainly delivers blazingly fast speeds, actual coverage is spotty and Verizon’s network is no exception. (This is partly because the millimeter wave technology used to create America’s 5G networks doesn’t travel as easily as other methods.)

In our tests of Verizon’s 5G access in Chicago, for example, the network was only available in a handful of locations, and was inconsistent even when it did appear. And while Verizon does offer coverage maps supposedly showing where 5G is available in each city, even these aren’t always reliable guides. It just goes to show: 5G is definitely a work-in-progress.

In other 5G news…

Politico reports the White House has named Robert Blair a security adviser to his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, a key point person on 5G wireless technology.

The White House named Blair, who will continue to advise Mulvaney, a special representative for international telecommunications policy. He will support 5G efforts led by White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who has staked out support for a market-driven approach to 5G deployment amid administration debates over the best strategy.

TMA Aims to Reduce False Alarms

Since its founding in 1950, TMA has worked to create and grow relationships between its members and various public safety organizations, including first responders.  Nationally law enforcement responds to millions of calls to alarm systems where no crime or attempted crime has been committed. Research in this area tells us that over 75% of these false alarm calls are attributed to end user error rather than equipment failure.

The Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC) staff has worked with various jurisdictions to focus on updating the terminology that companies use to train new alarm users on how to manage their alarm systems.  Efforts in Phoenix, Arizona have reduced the number of false alarms significantly by helping users conquer their fears by using simple to understand vocabulary when explaining how their alarm systems work.  By reframing a technical manual into a language that is comfortable and straightforward, alarm users are stepping up.

Examples include moving from “arming and disarming your system” to “turning your system on and off” and “your home” instead of “the premises or protected property” and providing tips such as adding the alarm company to a customer’s cell phone contact list and having the customer use their cell phone as the primary contact number.

TMA, along with SIAC, law enforcement and member volunteers, created this course to help our member companies educate customers on how to use alarm systems responsibly: “2019 False Alarm Impact Awareness Training: How You Can Prevent False Alarms.” This 30-minute narrated customer training helps alarm owners identify the most common mistakes they make and how to avoid them.

The bottom line is false alarms cost you, your customers, and your community money and resources. Once customers are comfortable with their alarm systems, they will avoid false alarms and maximize their security investment.

Included in the review are how alarm systems work and what your customers can do to avoid mistakes that cause false alarms.

By avoiding false alarms, users will be able to get the most out of their alarm systems and not worry about fines or suspension of services.  Your customers can rest easy knowing that when unexpected emergencies occur, their alarm company is there to respond to any alarms generated from their systems.

As more homes become automated in the era of The Smart Home, more people are including alarm systems as part of their connected space.  Parks Associates recently reported in their May 2019 newsletter that professional installation continues to be the dominant choice for home security systems, but self-installation experienced strong growth in 2017 and 2018.   Self-installed DIY security systems are increasing as systems are set up to interact with the user through a mobile device or a computer.

False alarm reduction is everyone’s responsibility. By setting up easy to follow steps, and reinforcing communication with the monitoring center, everyone can benefit from protecting their home and avoiding false alarms.

For more information, contact education@tma.us.

 

TMA Welcomes Stanley Security VP to its Executive Committee

Security Industry Veteran and Leader Walker to serve as TMA Treasurer

The Monitoring Association [TMA] today announced the appointment of Steve Walker, vice president of Customer Service for Minneapolis-based Stanley Convergent Security Solutions, to the Executive Committee of its Board of Directors. Walker brings over 20 years of leadership experience in security operations and IT to his new role on the TMA Board of Directors.

“I have been proud to serve on the TMA Board of Directors for many years and have been grateful to be part of an organization that serves our industry in so many important ways,” Walker commented. “As I step into this new role, I look forward to helping and serving our leadership team as we navigate the waters of change in the years ahead.”

TMA President Ivan Spector remarked, “Steve’s vast wealth of industry knowledge and experience, coupled with his business acumen, is a tremendous asset to TMA as we look to grow, diversify, and keep pace with new technologies impacting our members. We are grateful for his continued service and his many contributions to TMA on behalf of our members.”

Walker’s career in security began at Honeywell Security where he followed its transition to private equity ownership (HSM Security). He later went on to work for Stanley Black & Decker. In addition to previous service on the TMA Board and his current co-chairmanship of the Surveillance and Video Verification Committee, Walker has served on the Board of Directors (past president) of the Partnership for Priority Verified Alarm Response (PPVAR).

TMA: 2018 Year in Review

Here are the highlights from a most eventful year. TMA thanks our members for your support and participation! January With an eye to safeguarding the interests of monitoring company customers, TMA begins the NFPA-72 engagement campaign to help ensure monitoring companies can perform the public safety services needed to protect lives and property. March TMA […]