FCC Will No Longer Issue Warnings

On May 1, the FCC adopted an Order ending its practice of warning most robocallers before issuing penalties for violating the law and for harassing consumers with unwanted robocalls. Such warnings were previously required by law until the TRACED Act was enacted in December 2019.

Specifically, under the prior statutory requirement, the FCC had to issue robocallers that did not otherwise fall within its jurisdiction warnings—formally called citations—related to their alleged violations of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (by, for example, robocalling cell phones without prior consumer consent) before the agency was able to move forward with an enforcement action. In addition, prior to the TRACED Act, any fine the FCC proposed for TCPA violations by robocallers could be based on violations that occurred only after the warning had been issued. While caller ID spoofing violations—namely, the use of spoofing to scam consumers—did not require warnings, the act of illegal robocalling by these scammers did.

In addition, the FCC action extends the statute of limitations during which robocallers can be fined for TCPA and for spoofing violations. Until now, the FCC had either one or two years, respectively, from the day a violation took place to propose a fine, and only the violations that took place within that timeframe could be included when calculating the proposed forfeiture. With this change, the FCC has four years to propose a fine for spoofing and intentional robocall violations. The Order also increases the maximum fines for intentional robocall violations.

“Robocall scam operators don’t need a warning these days to know what they are doing is illegal, and this FCC has long disliked the statutory requirement to grant them mulligans,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “We have taken unprecedented action against spoofing violations in recent years and removing this outdated ‘warning’ requirement will help us speed up enforcement to protect consumers. With strong enforcement and policy changes like mandating STIR/SHAKEN caller ID authentication and authorizing robocall blocking, we are making real progress in our fight against fraudsters.”

GA County Goes Live with ASAP-to-PSAP

The DeKalb County GA E-9-1-1 Emergency Communications Center (ECC) is the 66th ECC in the United States to implement ASAP and the 3rd ECC in the state of Georgia to implement ASAP.

DeKalb County went live on Monday, April 27th at 7am EST with Vector Security, then followed by Affiliated Monitoring, Guardian Protection, National Monitoring Center, Alert 360, Vivint, AT&T Digital Life, Tyco (Johnson Controls), Protection One, Brinks Home Security, Rapid Response and ESC. ADT is expected to go-live with DeKalb County in the near future. 

Learn more about ASAP-to-PSAP.

Industry Associations’ Joint Survey Results Reveal COVID’s Impact

In the last few weeks, TMA joined with ESA and SIA to conduct a nationwide survey of members in order to better gauge the impact COVID-19 has had on electronic security and life safety businesses. This survey confirms the electronic security and life safety is being negatively impacted despite its role as an essential service in our economy.

Quick Figures:

  • 21-30% loss of revenue is the median reported for all respondents
  • Less than 4% of respondents were denied the “essential service” label in their jurisdictions
  • 31-40% denial of access to job sites for service/testing/inspections/maintenance was the median for residential integrators, compared to 21-30% for commercial integrators

A cross-section of the industry represented itself in the responses as follows:

Market Segments Responses
Residential Integration 27%
Commercial Integration 49%
Monitoring Center 11%
Manufacturer 41%
Distributor 11%
Manufacturer Representative 5.7%
Individual/Specifier/Consultant 19%
Other Security Solution Provider 19%

Impact on the Industry Overall

Across the country and in every vertical, our industry is experiencing negative effects on revenues from state and local executive orders for residents to practice social distancing. Survey respondents reported a median loss of revenue between 21 and 30% due to the executive orders. More than 60% of respondents reported losing this much or more of their revenue.

While most companies are experiencing declining revenues, some are impacted more than others; about one in five respondents reported a loss of more than half their company’s revenue.

Although revenues have dropped, most companies are not hindered from doing business due to “shelter-in-place” and business closure orders. Less than 4% of survey respondents reported that their businesses were denied access as an “essential service” in their jurisdictions.

More than 56% of respondents reported having to reduce hours or layoff less than 10% of their employees. On the other end of the scale, 13% of all respondents were forced to reduce hours, furlough or layoff more than 90% of their employees. Less than 4% of survey respondents reported that their businesses were denied access as an “essential service” in their jurisdictions.

Impact on Residential and Commercial Integrators

The median reported revenue loss due to COVID for residential and commercial integrators was 21-30%. The majority of integrators – more than 70% – lost less than half of their revenue.

The denial of access seems to contribute to income loss for most integrators, as more than 80% report some level of interrupted access.

Some business owners might wonder which verticals are faring better than others, as many companies have already pivoted into the commercial space. According to the survey results, the differences are significant but not as drastic as you might expect. The median loss of revenue reported by residential integrators was 31-40%, while the median loss of revenue reported by commercial integrators was 21-30%.

The reported levels for denial of access to job sites for service/testing/inspections/maintenance in each segment correlate with these figures, with residential integrators reporting a median denial rate of 31-40% while the median denial rate for commercial integrators was 21-30%.

Survey responses confirm the observation many have already made: gaining access to residential customers’ homes has been more difficult during this time than access to commercial properties, many of which are unoccupied due to social distancing measures. This could contribute to lower demand for residential services during the pandemic.

When asked how industry associations could continue to help businesses weather this storm, respondents most frequently expressed their desire for opportunities to connect and continued updates on the latest information related to winning business strategies, economic assistance and industry trends.

Visit TMA’s COVID-19 Resource Center. We encourage regular review of the resources we offer, and we will continue to keep members informed on all the latest developments that impact your business.

UL Seeks Feedback on Revised Guidelines

On March 16th, in response to a request from TMA, UL published a statement on Monitoring Station Certifications and continued operations as communities work to contain the impact of COVID-19. An initial set of guidelines for virtual workplaces was included for stations considering at-home operators as part of their contingency planning.

Since then, 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.

Review the revised draft of Virtual Workplace Guidelines that incorporate these initial suggestions. Because this version of the Guidelines is more technically specific than the original, UL would welcome industry feedback prior to publication.

Please send any input you may have directly to Steve Schmit, Senior Staff Engineer, UL.

Steve will also discuss the revised Guidelines and UL’s direction in the COVID environment during TMA’s Virtual Town Hall on Monday, April 20th.

TMA Members Named SSI’s SAMMY Award Winners

Security Sales & Integration announced the winners of its 2020 Sales and Marketing Awards (SAMMYs). The SAMMY Awards program, now in its 25th year, is the only one of its kind in the security industry to recognize and honor dealers and integrators for their marketing, business, installation, and overall excellence.

Typically hosted as a gala affair on the eve of ISC West in Las Vegas, the coronavirus outbreak forced ISC West 2020 to be postponed, moving the SAMMYs to the safe confines of the Internet.

Please join in congratulating the TMA members who won a 2020 SAMMY Award are:

Best Website Design
AvantGuard
Ogden, Utah

Best Promotional Giveaway Item
Wayne Alarm Systems
Lynn, Mass.

Best Promotional Video or Audio
Guardian Protection Services
Pittsburgh

Best Sales Brochure
Acadian Total Security
Lafayette, La.

Best Display Advertisement (Print or Electronic)
Acadian Total Security
Lafayette, La.

Best Overall Integrated Marketing Program Large Company
STANLEY Security
Fishers, Ind.

Installer of the Year (Large Company)
Vector Security
Pittsburgh

Integrated Installation of the Year (Large Company)
ADT
Romeoville, Ill.

Attend TMA’s Weekly Virtual Town Hall Meetings

To date, TMA has hosted two Virtual Town Hall meetings and we have an additional four scheduled. Attendance has been high and the interaction between members and key subject matter experts has been open and compelling, as we had hoped.
 
We will be hosting meetings at 11:00AM [ET] on each Monday of April [6th, 13th, 20th, and 27th). We may extend the schedule based on member needs.
 
Due to the outstanding support we’ve received for these meetings, and some concerns over the bandwidth and security of the Zoom platform, we have decided to present all future meetings on GoToWebinar.
  • If you have already registered for future meetings, you don’t need to do anything. TMA staff is transferring all current registrations to the new platform and you will receive a new confirmation with login instructions from GoToWebinar shortly.
  • If you have not registered, and would like to take part in our future Virtual Town Hall meetings, please register online.

ESA, SIA & TMA Urge Public Safety Leaders to Consider Importance of Electronic Security, Fire, Life Safety & Monitoring Services

The Electronic Security and Life Safety Industry Associations call on state leadership to ensure that essential emergency services are not suspended or impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

The Electronic Security Association (ESA), Security Industry Association (SIA), and The Monitoring Association (TMA) have partnered to circulate a letter drawing state public safety leaders’ attention to the essential emergency services provided by electronic security, fire, life safety and monitoring companies and ensure that those who depend on them are not adversely impacted during the evolving situation with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter, which has already garnered more than 450 signatures from industry CEOs, company owners and leaders, highlights the critical functions of alarm response centers for monitoring, saving first responder resources, alerting businesses to potential break-ins or troubles, monitoring and notifying customers of health emergencies, following industry standard best practices and more.

The letter’s two requests for state leaders are to:

  1. Ensure that government policy reflects that companies providing essential emergency services and field service and dispatch remain operational
  2. Provide an exemption for electronic security, monitoring and life safety services as essential services in any shelter-in-place, quarantine or similar order

[Note: TMA is continuing to collect signatures from executives at firms in the security industry. To add your firm to the letter, please provide your information online. If you have any other questions, email TMA Executive Director Celia T. Besore at cbesore@tma.us and affirm your consent to sign.]

DOWNLOAD

DICE Corp Presents Solutions for the Challenges of Remote Working

Register now to attend our next Virtual Product Review (VPR) presented by DICE Corporation, March 26th.

The coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed the way many organizations operate for the foreseeable future. As governments and businesses around the world have recommended self-quarantines, social distancing, and office closures, remote working has become a new reality. Operational changes have impacted the alarm industry significantly. Monitoring stations handle thousands of life safety calls and interactions every day and no matter the circumstances, customers rely on operators to respond without interruption. In this presentation, we will explore the importance of establishing a disaster recovery and remote working plan and how you can support your customers when it matters most.

After this presentation, you’ll:

  • Understand the benefits of disaster recovery plans and remote working
  • Understand the necessary steps to implement a disaster recovery and remote working plan
  • Understand how telecom and PBX plays a critical role in remote working

Speakers:

  • Cliff Dice, President and CEO
  • Avi Lupo, Executive Vice President 

Register now to attend this FREE VPR.

Urgent News From UL for Monitoring Centers

UL Statement on Certifications to the US Alarm Monitoring Industry

As developments around the coronavirus COVID-19 continue to evolve, UL has been asked how health risk mitigation techniques might impact Alarm Service Certifications, especially those that involve quarantine, social distancing, work from home, and similar.

At UL, our driving mission is to help create safe living and working conditions for all of our constituencies. This value shapes our Standards and program policies. The emergence of the COVID-19 virus presents a new challenge, but by working together, we can find ways forward.

As in the past, after natural disasters such as hurricane Katrina, superstorm Sandy and others, actions taken to maintain monitoring operations may temporarily be out of sync with the current language of UL827, Central Station Services. In emergency situations like these, know that UL’s primary concern is for the health and safety of your staff and customers. If circumstances prevent you from complying with the written requirements of the Standard for staffing a station, we simply ask that for now, you document your station’s alternate procedure and when it went into/out of practice.

UL is working with industry to develop reasonable guidelines and alternative operating methods for scenarios such as the current COVID-19 outbreak. An initial draft is attached to this statement and will be updated as improvements are identified. These guidelines will eventually form the basis of revisions to UL827 to address pandemic-type scenarios better.

Please note that for US based stations monitoring National Industrial Security System accounts, any deviations from UL827 language need to be discussed with and approved by the relevant US federal security agency with jurisdiction.

UL’s current understanding is that due to the high risk nature of these systems, many Federal Security Agencies will not approve of monitoring outside a UL Certified Central Station operating room. If such monitoring is not available, it is likely defense contractors will have to react in the manner prescribed by the applicable security manual for instances where monitoring is not available or not employed.

At this time, we encourage monitoring stations to make contingency plans for operating in environments where operators are not able to physically come together to monitor signals in a central station operating room. There is a meaningful risk that the rapid spread of COVID-19 could trigger governmental movement and assemble recommendations/controls that would preclude normal station operation.

If you have questions or concerns, please contact Steve Schmit, steven.a.schmit@ul.com, 847-420-8032

In the current COVID-19 mitigation environment, central stations may be challenged to operate in strict compliance with UL Standards. UL expects that stations will make every reasonable effort to exercise options available in UL standards. However, in cases where delivering ongoing monitoring services requires alternate procedures, we request that stations document those procedures and be prepared to share them with UL if/when necessary as a basis for maintaining their UL Certification.

As a last resort, some stations may be considering use of home based operators to process signals. Based on input from industry, UL recommends considering the following guidelines.
Note – For US based stations monitoring National Industrial Security System accounts, any deviations from UL827 language need to be discussed with and approved by the relevant US federal security agency with jurisdiction.

UL’s current understanding is that many Federal Security Agencies will not approve of monitoring outside a UL Certified Central Station operating room. If such monitoring is not available, it is likely defense contractors will have to react in the manner prescribed by the applicable security manual for instances where monitoring is not available or not employed.

VIRTUAL WORKPLACE GUIDELINES

These guidelines are designed to provide procedural guidance to operators who perform job duties at alternative work sites, most specifically at home offices. The virtual work arrangement requires remote operators to be self-motivated and work well with minimal supervision. The following guidelines apply to the virtual environment:

  • Virtual workplace operators should be provided with a computer. Home/personal computers shall not be used.
  • Connections between virtual workplace computers and central station automation systems shall be made through a secure, encrypted virtual private network (VPN)
  • Internet speed may be affected by others in a home using the same internet. This may require an virtual workplace operators to suspend use of the internet by other individuals in the home.
  • Multifactor authentication should be required every 24 hours.
  • When not on shift, computer should be in shutdown and put in a secure place. This is to prevent any damage of theft of the computer.
  • When processing alarms the computer should be setup as not to allow others to view the monitoring screen or any other information.
  • When walking away from computer while on shift lock the screen so others cannot gain access to the monitoring window.
  • Virtual workplace operators are expected to have an appropriate workspace that is suitably designated for work and segregated in order to eliminate distraction and noise.
  • Due to the nature of virtual work arrangement, operators may not provide primary care for a child or dependent during the on duty hours except in the case of an emergency. The focus of an operator’s core working hours must remain on job performance and meeting business demands.
  • Virtual workplace operators are advised not to release their home address and telephone number to non-employees of the company.

Download PDFs:

  1. COVID-19 Statement & Guidelines for the Alarm Monitoring Industry in US
  2. COVID-19 Statement & Guidelines for the Alarm Monitoring Industry in Canada

Coronavirus Response Toolkit – U.S. Chamber of Commerce

The U.S. Chamber has compiled CDC’s coronavirus recommendations for businesses and workers across the country. American businesses are encouraged to follow data-based guidance from the CDC and state and local officials. Visit the link below to find a shareable graphics based on the CDC’s latest guidance for businesses and employees. Share these assets on social media, websites, and other channels, and send them to your colleagues and employees. 

ACCESS THE TOOLKIT