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CSAA EVP Steve Doyle to retire

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07/09/2014

VIENNA, Va.—Steve Doyle, executive vice president of the Central Station Alarm Association, an organization he has led for 22 years, will retired in October, according to a CSAA news release.

COPS Monitoring wins CSAA central station of the year award

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07/08/2014

VIENNA, Va.—The Central Station Alarm Association has named COPS Monitoring the winner of the CSAA 2014 Excellence Award for central station of the year, according to a new release. The honor was bestowed at ESX 2014 in Nashville, Tenn.

New door-knocking scams prompt ethics code revisions

ESA revises its code of standards to specifically prohibit posing as a ‘preferred monitoring company’ for alarm manufacturer
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06/25/2014

NASHVILLE—ADT says unscrupulous door-to-door sales reps have some new scams and the Electronic Security Association has updated its code of ethics to specifically ban them.

Talking keypads and panels with Brandon Savage

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06/11/2014

NEWTOWN SQUARE, Pa.—While in college at Brigham Young University, Brandon Savage, senior VP of customer experience and operations, Alarm Capital Alliance, was introduced by one of his professors to Chad Christofferson, who had won the business school’s entrepreneur of the year award for his startup company, SafeHome Security.

San Diego central earns Five Diamond Certification

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Alarm Relay, a UL-listed alarm monitoring company based in San Diego, became the latest central station to earn Five Diamond Certification from the Central Station Alarm Association, the company recently announced. Fewer than 200 central stations in the country have the certification.

Among the most rigorous requirements for completing the Five Diamond program include the commitment to random inspections by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as FM Global, Underwriters’ Laboratories or InterTek/ETL, and central stations must also comply with quality criteria standards developed by those same organizations.

Five Diamond Certification also testifies that 100 percent of central station operators at a given company have been certified through the CSAA online training course, which covers all phases of central station communications with law enforcement, customers, and fire and emergency centers.

For an operator to achieve certification, they must demonstrate (among other things) proficiency in alarm verification, which helps reduce false dispatches, and in communications with Public Safety Answering Points.

That latter requirement is bound to be vitally important as central stations around the country forge more partnerships with PSAPs, allowing the ASAP to PSAP program to expand. 

Verified alarm? Definitions vary

Does ECV or cross-zoning qualify as a verified alarm? CSAA, PPVAR work toward new comprehensive verification standard
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03/05/2014

HENDERSON, Nev. and VIENNA, Va.—It’s likely that a new comprehensive verification standard will surface sometime in 2014. The Central Station Alarm Association is in the process of developing such a standard for all manner of verified alarms, and the Partnership for Priority Video Alarm Response, since its inception, has been gathering best practices toward that end.

Digital Life, Imperial Capital join PPVAR

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Several organizations recently joined PPVAR’s growing membership roster, but two of the new additions are particularly striking. Digital Life, a home management platform from AT&T, is now on board, according to Keith Jentoft, an industry liaison for PPVAR. This comes about seven months after Digital Life earned CSAA Five Diamond certification.

Investment bank Imperial Capital also joined the organization. This is doubtless an interesting development as well, with Imperial being the organization's first member from the private investment side. In a certain sense, an investment bank showing interest in video verified monitoring seems unsurprising, given signs of the technology's more mainstream direction, plus the technology’s ability to drive higher average revenue returns per customer. Additionally, when a private investment bank allies itself with a best-practices organization, it suggests their interest in the value proposition runs fairly deep.

The group also added The Illinois Alarm Association and the Michigan Association of Police Chiefs as members—both organizations the likes of which we've become more accustomed to seeing engage with PPVAR, an organization focused on pooling knowledge from members in both public and private sectors.

As PPVAR forges ahead toward its goal of written standards for video verification, I’ll be keen to see what kind of bearings its new members have on the organization’s direction. Will the addition of Digital Life compel other cablecos and telecoms to join? And with respect to Imperial Capital, I’m curious to see what kind of role they play in promoting PPVAR’s cause. Will their membership generate further interest in video verification from other private investment groups?

The organization is convening in the coming days, Jentoft said. After they do, I hope to get a clearer picture of where the organization is at this stage of the process.

New role for Jay Hauhn

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jay Hauhn, chief technology officer and VP of industry relations at Tyco Integrated Security, has been named president of CSAA. The announcement was made at the organization’s recent annual meeting in Quebec City. Hauhn, who most recently served as vice president for the organization, assumes the role held by Robert Bean, whose term expires this year.

Hauhn is actively involved in several industry organizations. Since 2011, he has served as chairman of the board at The Security Industry Association, a role in which he has executive responsibility for all interaction with industry associations, regulatory agencies and state and federal governments. His current term as Chairman of the Board at SIA ends this year.

Hauhn also sits on the board of directors at the Security Industry Alarm Coalition, and he is chairman of the Electronic Security Association’s government relations committee.  

I’m scheduled to speak with Hauhn later this week about his expanded role at CSAA. In that interview, I’ll discuss some of Hauhn’s short- and long-term ambitions as the newly minted leader of the organization.

Is the 2G sunset causing outages?

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Friday, September 27, 2013

AT&T’s 2012 announcement that it would phase out 2G service left most in the alarm industry, well, unfazed. With wireless technology, such changes come with the territory. Moreover, it’s not the alarm industry but the mobile phone industry that dictates network “sunsets.” As Lou Fiore, Chairman of the Alarm Industry Communications Commission, put it in a recent conversation: “As long as you go cellular, there is no endgame here.”

A few months after the initial announcement, AT&T attached a deadline (Jan 1, 2017) to its 2G sunset. Since that time, the AICC has established a regular line of communication with AT&T, which sends a representative to attend the organization’s quarterly meetings.

AT&T informed AICC that, while interim changes would take place in advance of the 2G sunset, the changes would not affect the alarm industry. AICC members, Fiore said, were “skeptical.”

“We tried to impress upon [AT&T] the fact that our control sets hang on the wall, and if you change the operating parameters of that network, it may not work anymore,” Fiore said. “You can’t ask the homeowner to move the unit around to see if it works.”

Fiore, who is in the process of gathering information regarding possible outages for units tied to AT&T’s 2G network, said that in given locations, customers might still get 2G coverage but that there’s a chance it “won’t be as deep as it was before.”

Fortunately, there are some steps alarm companies can take to mitigate outages. Companies can switch to AT&T's 3G or 4G network by choosing matching hardware from a cellular alarm communicator, or to one of AT&T's competitors (the 3G and 4G networks of Verizon and Sprint are an option, Fiore said). Certain companies may be able to go with a wired network, but this is highly contingent upon business model, Fiore noted.

Still three years from the deadline, AT&T’s 2G sunset promises to be a story with several more chapters. I’ll be watching closely to see what kind of ripple effects it has on the industry.

TrendNet: A Cautionary Tale?

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Hundreds of TrendNet customers found out the hard way that products they purchased, billed as home security cameras, weren’t all that secure. In January 2012, a hacker was able to breach TrendNet’s website, circumvent security credentials and access some 700 live-camera feeds monitoring inside customers' homes. Many of the videos were then disseminated on the Internet, a curious fact by itself in light of the complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission, which said security flaws in the cameras allowed for the “unauthorized surveillance of infants sleeping in their cribs, young children playing, and adults engaging in typical daily activities.” The online community continues to recover from the trauma of being exposed to such tedium.

But for obvious reasons, customers were unnerved. The FTC wasn't happy either. The oversight committee’s complaint alleging that TrendNet misrepresented its software as secure and failed to adequately protect its customers resulted in a settlement, which was reached last week, according to multiple reports.

The story reached mainstream news. Unsurprisingly, it’s on the alarm monitoring industry’s radar as well, as I discovered in a short conversation with Stephen Doyle, executive vice president and CEO of CSAA. Doyle said he just returned from an Alarm Industry Communications Committee meeting in which 65 industry members were briefed by an industry lawyer on the legal ins and outs of the TrendNet snafu.

In terms of pertinence to the industry, the case seems fringy in some respects, relevant in others. It’s true, after all, that TrendNet cameras are unattached to alarms, and designed specifically for remote monitoring of homes via smartphones and other mobile devices. But it's relevant to the industry insofar as it deals with a few topics in the forefront of people's minds.

One of those topics is the viability and security of do-it-yourself monitoring systems. Another is cloud security, a topic that stands to grow in significance with the spread of IP panels, and as more companies migrate information and services to the cloud. Whether a company’s data becomes more or less secure when it’s transferred to the cloud is a hot-button industry debate with little consensus. Cloud adoption is likely to expand, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be skeptics. Either way, the TrendNet case perhaps intensifies the debate.

At TechSec 2014, Jeremy Brecher, VP of technology, electronic security at Diebold, will tackle some issues in this vein as part of the educational program, while also exploring ways security companies can thrive in an increasingly cloud-based environment.

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