Keeping Homes and Schools Safe in a Changing Environment
Why companies and associations—such as the Electronic Security Association and COPS Monitoring—are dedicating themselves to making homes and schools safe in an era with a constantly changing security landscape
- By Jamie Friedlander
- Jul 01, 2014
Every 14.4 seconds—about the time it takes to rinse your hands—a home
in the U.S. is burglarized. That means that during the roughly two minutes
it takes to brush your teeth, eight homes have been robbed.
The US clocks in with the highest burglary rate in the world,
meaning that Americans need to take home security seriously now more than
ever. The Electronic Security Association (ESA) realizes this pressing need
and has taken several initiatives to ensure homeowners can secure their property,
find the right security company and stay safe. In addition, monitoring
company COPS Monitoring has realized the need for state-of-the-art home
security, and thinks new technology, such as mobile apps, is here to stay.
Keeping Homes Safe
According to John Knox, the president of the Electronic Security Association,
home security is something ESA takes to heart.
“Home security is always going to be one of our focuses—we’re in the life
safety and security business, so it doesn’t matter where you go, that’s a core
business that we are in,” said Knox. “Bad things happen at home and bad
things happen at work, and we try to focus on that.”
The association has tried to focus on home safety through a handful of
recent initiatives, such as launching a partnership with BetterThanReviews.
com, an online service, to create a tool so that consumers can ensure they are
getting the best service possible. The tool, Alarm.org, provides safety facts,
allows users to find a trusted security company in their area and provides
information in the event that homeowners find themselves in an emergency
situation. “Our website, Alarm.org, is basically set up so that consumers can
get a lot of information,” said Knox.
ESA also provides a variety of resources on home security for both consumers
and those in the industry on its website. Most recently, it published an
article detailing how one can protect his or her home while on spring break,
as well as an article explaining what to do in the event of an actual burglary.
David Smith, the director of marketing and communications at COPS
monitoring, believes the home security world has been changing rapidly due to
emerging technology and mobile apps. “I think historically, residential alarm
systems were sold as a result of door to door sales through personnel,” he said.
“With the advent of smartphones and the fact that smartphones have been
put into almost everybody’s hands, everybody sees the access, control and the
things they can do, which has in turn driven the home security market.”
Smith points out that the increase in consumers adopting home security
technology may have occurred due to unique add ons (such as the ability to
turn off and on lights), but this is not necessarily a bad thing.
“Customers like the fact that they can turn on and off lights, open and
close doors, lock doors, arm and disarm the system and do things like that,”
said Smith. “It might be those add ons that are driving home security, but
regardless of what is causing the customers to adopt the home security—
whether it’s lock control or lighting control—the end result is that they’re also
COPS Monitoring—taglined “your hometown central station”—serves independent
alarm dealers in six central stations based in Arizona, Florida, Tennessee,
Texas and Maryland. The company monitors for over 3,500 independent
alarm dealers who themselves represent more than one million accounts.
A Changing Environment
Despite ESA’s efforts and initiatives in the home security market, Knox points
out that the changing communication landscape has become a great challenge
for the industry.
“I would say the biggest challenge for home security right now is being able
to reach our customers and being able to communicate with our customers,”
said Knox. “The pipeline is going away and we can’t operate the way we did ten
years ago. I think that’s very crucial and if the state of transmission is not reliable,
and phone companies are shifting to 2G, 3G, 4G and LTE, and we’re not
sure that our transmitter is going to work, we’ve got a big problem.”
Knox points out that the changing
communication landscape poses
a threat to the security industry as a
whole. “I think we’re very concerned
right now with how communication
is going to fall out over the next ten
years,” said Knox. “We’re very challenged
Smith, on the other hand, believes
the changing security landscape is an
exciting time for technology, especially
in terms of mobile applications.
“From a monitoring perspective,
I think the industry is growing rapidly,”
said Smith. “And I think that
there’s a focus on integration and
mobile access, which is causing the
explosive growth right now.”
COPS monitoring has two mobile
apps—one for the dealer and
one for the customer—that allows
both dealers and consumers to control
their systems. The dealer’s mobile
app, according to Smith, allows
them to, “put their entire database
in the palm of their hand and allows
them to search for accounts, put accounts
on and off test, and watch
the signals they send in real time.”
The consumer mobile app allows
the homeowner to have control over
their system while also allowing the
dealer to, “completely brand the mobile
app with their specific look and
feel.” Dealers can customize this app
with their company’s logo as well.
“Consumers are really looking for
more and more information, control
and interaction,” said Smith.
Securing our Schools
One sector of the industry that ESA
repeatedly devotes time to is school
security. In February of this year, the
association publicly announced its
support of the Consolidated Appropriations
Act of 2014, which would
include $165 million in funding for
school security. In addition, ESA published
“Electronic Security Guidelines
for Schools,” which gives schools advice
on what action can be taken for
school security at the local level.
“Property is a valuable asset for
us as human beings, but our children
are far more valuable than anything
we have. Parents worry about them
while they’re in school, and we have
to do what we can to make schools
a safe haven for them,” Knox said.
“It is very difficult because schools
as we knew them were open to the
public,” he said. “They were built in
the 1950s and 1960s with no kind of
plan for protecting access control or
making it hard for somebody to get
into the school. So it’s been a very
difficult task to protect them. And
then you also have to look at the fact
that many parents don’t want to go
through a check point just to take little
Johnny to school every morning.
So there are a lot of hurdles involved
in school security and it’s something
that we’re involved in.”
With board members from cities
throughout the country and chapters
from Alaska to Maine, ESA’s membership
and governance are ripe with
top players in the security industry.
It boasts a wide range of online resources
and programs, such as the
National Training School, the Security
America Risk Retention Group,
and annual events, including ESA
Day on Capitol Hill, ESX, the ESA
Leadership Summit and more.
This article originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of Security Today.