Security industry comes together during crisis

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03/25/2020

These are very strange and trying times we are living in. With many of us working from home, including sheltering in place and even self-quarantining for some, focusing on what matters most — family and health — is the real priority right now. But balancing staying safe and healthy with trying to sustain a business during these economically devastating times has become a major challenge for many security integrators, dealers and manufacturers, as the current crisis has turned everything, in the blink of an eye, on its head. We are all just trying to find our way day by day during this terrible, and at times frightening, new normal — post coronavirus outbreak.

In terms of the impact on the security industry already, overwhelming response to the SSN News Poll, which is still open, shows that companies are being severely affected. For example, preliminary results of the poll show that approximately 80 percent of respondents are being negatively affected financially because of the coronavirus, with 40 percent saying, “Yes, greatly,” and another 40 percent saying, “somewhat.” Another 80 percent said that their company’s supply chain has been impacted.

“While the economy may return in 6 months or less, the issue for the security industry is much larger,” said one respondent. “We are a finish contractor and projects need to be in finish stage for us to really make our money. The delays in projects and no new projects bidding is just going to hurt that much more and for much longer.”

Another noted, “Incoming calls for new systems and service calls have dropped off greatly. Some suppliers are not shipping product, and if they are the shipments are severely delayed.”

While commercial demand is significantly impacted, as companies limit access to business locations, another respondent pointed out, “Demand from residential customers, both for new activations and service appears to be steady.”

A call to action
While a crisis of this magnitude many times brings out the worst in us — hoarding toilet paper and hand sanitizers comes to mind — it also brings out the best in us, including the response by the security industry as a whole, which has been tremendous. The industry, including the Security Industry Association (SIA), the Electronic Security Association (ESA) and The Monitoring Association (TMA), is coming together to ensure that security professionals have the resources and support they need to help them get through these difficult times. SIA also created a COVID-19 and busintess continuity resurces page here, and ESA created one here.

In partnership with hundreds of industry executives, SIA, ESA and TMA are calling state leadership to ensure that essential emergency services are not suspended or impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. They 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:
•    Ensure that government policy reflects that companies providing essential emergency services and field service and dispatch remain operational.
•    Provide an exemption for electronic security, monitoring and life safety services as essential services in any shelter-in-place, quarantine or similar order.

SIA is continuing to collect signatures from executives at firms in the security industry. To add your firm to the letter, please email SIA CEO Don Erickson at derickson@securityindustry.org and affirm your consent to sign.

Security’s role "essential"
The purpose of the letter is to ensure that recent federal guidance becomes state and local policy, specifically the DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers.

Recently published guidelines from CISA and U.S. Department of Homeland Security provide “identification of essential critical infrastructure workers during COVID-19 response.” While these guidelines are not a mandate to state and local jurisdictions, SIA, ESA and TMA noted that “they do provide strategic guidance toward the unified effort to maintain the nation’s critical infrastructure, and as such we believe these guidelines serve an important role as communities respond with executive and legislative action.”

The list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” identified by CISA and important to our industry includes:
•    Workers supporting communications systems and information technology used by law enforcement, public safety, medical, energy and other critical industries;
•    Maintenance of communications infrastructure, including privately owned and maintained communication systems supported by technicians, operators, call centers, wireline and wireless providers, cable service providers, satellite operations, undersea cable landing stations, internet exchange points and manufacturers and distributors of communications equipment;
•    Installation, maintenance and repair technicians that establish, support or repair service as needed;
•    Workers who support command centers, including but not limited to network operations command centers, broadcast operations control centers and security operations command centers;
•    Data center operators, including system administrators, HVAC and electrical engineers, security personnel, IT managers, data transfer solutions engineers, software and hardware engineers and database administrators; and
•    Dispatchers involved with service repair and restoration

Help is on the way?
As I write this Congress is in the process of passing H.R. 6201, a bill that will provide economic stimulus and relief to the American workforce impacted by COVID-19. Some of the key provisions that will impact the business operations of security professionals include tax credits for employers, employee paid leave and unemployment insurance. Some key provisions include:

•    $500 billion to back loans and assistance to companies. Any company receiving a loan would be subject to a ban on stock buybacks through the term of the loan, plus one year. Executive bonuses would also be limited.
•    $350 billion to aid small businesses.
•    Direct payments to Americans of $1,200 for each adult and $500 for each child, with income limitations.
•    Unemployment insurance would be extended to four (4) months and bolstered by $600 weekly, with expanded coverage for more workers displaced by the coronavirus.

Click here for SIA’s detailed rundown of provisions in the bill that impact security professionals.

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