SSN poll takers favor national monitoring license

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Thursday, May 12, 2011

YARMOUTH, Maine—While there were strong opinions on both sides, a recent unofficial poll conducted by Security Systems News showed a clear majority of respondents favored national licensing.

Nearly 70 percent of poll respondents felt a national license would aid the monitoring industry, while about 20 percent felt national licensing was not the answer, and another roughly10 percent felt licensing of any kind was unneeded.

SSN asked readers to voice their opinion on ongoing efforts to implement a national central monitoring station license, and got some interesting feedback.

The current national licensing push comes after new-found momentum caused by the failed effort to enact a state license—Article 6-E—in New York.

SSN asked readers if the states in which they monitored required licensing, if they followed the licensing debate as it unfolded in New York, and if they believed a national license would be a boon to the monitoring industry.

Most of those who voted—a little more than 65 percent—said the states in which they monitored accounts already required licensing. A little more than 22 percent said their monitored states did not yet require licensing and a little more than 12 percent thought it was just a matter of time before every state began requiring licenses.

Some, while uncertain about a national license, felt state licensing hindered commerce.

“Licensing has become less about quality of service and more about individual states collecting fees. We understand that states need to collect from businesses, and we are not opposed to that,” said Dynamark Monitoring president Trey Alter. “However, restraint of interstate commerce only leads to higher costs for the consumer. Additionally, creating higher barriers to entry leads to more rapid consolidation and less choice for the customer.”

Asked if they paid attention to the state licensing drama as it unfolded in New York, nearly 60 percent said yes. Half that number—a little more than 30 percent—said no, while 10 percent said they didn’t know what Article 6-E was.

Voters tended to agree licensing was good for quality assurance, but felt a state-by-state approach was misguided.

“Licensing helps to build standards,” Mace CEO Dennis Raefield said. “One national license would be preferable to 40-plus state license requirements and will allow quality to rise.”

NationWide Digital Monitoring EVP and CTO Mark Fischer agrees.

“A national license relieves the central stations of having to have compliance administrators travel from jurisdiction to jurisdiction to take nearly identical tests and submit repeated sets of fingerprints,” Fischer said.

On the other hand, James Haas, president of Milwaukee Alarm, felt strongly that asking the federal government to get involved was a bad idea.

“To ask the federal government to set up a licensing program is like asking them to balance their budget,” Haas said. “It will be awkward, ridiculously expensive, do absolutely nothing and create more bureaucracy and add an additional 1 million square feet of warehouse needed to store all of the processed additional paper records that the public will have to pay for.”