School Safety Grants
Fulfilling a SIA policy priority, Congress increased funding for key federal school security grants for fiscal 2020 that were established through the STOP School Violence Act. Funding was doubled to provide $50 million for U.S. Department of Justice grants to school districts and communities under the School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP) focused on security measures, and bringing total funding for programs under the Act to $125 million. In 2019, SIA led a coalition of groups in calling for an increase in SVPP funds to address unmet school safety needs, and provided additional info and analysis of the program for members.
Homeland Security Grants
Fulfilling another top SIA priority, enactment of the Securing American Nonprofit Organizations Against Terrorism Act provides long-term authorization for U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grants nonprofits and faith-based organizations for physical security measures to help secure their facilities against potential terrorist attacks. Additionally, for 2020 Congress provided $90 million for the program, a 50% increase over 2019.
Policy on Smart Cities
SIA is working to support a greater emphasis on public safety and security technologies as key components of smart city projects, as many of our communities begin to make these investments. Until recently most legislative proposals to provide grant assistance for such projects focused solely on transportation, energy efficiency, or mobility. In 2019, SIA worked with key legislators to ensure such proposals would allow smart city grant recipients to incorporate relevant security solutions as well, including H.R. 3156, the Smart Technologies Advancing Reliable Transportation Act, and S. 1939, the Moving and Fostering Innovation to Revolutionize Smarter Transportation Act.
FEDERAL AGENCY ENGAGEMENT
SIA was invited to participate in the National School Safety Foundational Elements Roundtable hosted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for input on development of the Federal School Safety Clearinghouse. This was recommended by the Federal Commission on School Safety to provide schools with a central repository for vetted best-practices on critical elements of school safety. SchoolSafety.gov was launched in 2020 highlighting physical security as one of these elements and including the Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS) Safety and Security Guidelines for K-12 Schools (4th Edition) as a key resource, features recommended by SIA, PASS and several other organizations and participants.
Public Spaces and Vehicular Attacks
SIA is working to raise awareness among policymakers of the important issue of countering vehicular terrorism, having supported the Vehicular Terrorism Prevention Act that increased related federal initiatives. In 2019, SIA joined the DHS Vehicle Ramming Prevention and Mitigation Working Group, lending member subject matter expertise to development of a new vehicle ramming mitigation guide for local communities that is under development.
SIA issued preliminary analysis to members after the first rules implementing the Section 889 federal procurement ban on certain Chinese video surveillance products were published and became effective Aug. 13, 2019, and hosted a webinar that included guidance for integrators, manufacturers and distributors.
SIA filed public comments on the initial rules and presented industry input on additional forthcoming implementing provisions at a July forum hosted by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) and other agencies part of the Federal Acquisition Regulation Council and a November industry meeting hosted by the General Services Administration.
Additional Member Engagement Through SIA Government Relations Working Groups
In 2019, subject matter experts participating in SIA government relations working groups helped craft SIA input on several other key federal initiatives. This included industry feedback requested by the Transportation Security Administration on the Next Generation Transportation Worker Credential specifications and industry input requested for updating the Unified Facilities Criteria for Electronic Security Systems used by the DOD. SIA working groups also developed comments on Federal Aviation Administration rules for operating unmanned aerial systems over certain conditions without waivers and provided requested input to the U.S. Department of State on development of voluntary guidance for the ethical export of surveillance-related technologies.
As a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), SIA was selected to serve as private sector chair of its Homeland Security Task Force, kicking off these duties in August 2019. With over 2,000 members, ALEC is the nation’s largest nonpartisan, individual membership association of state legislators. The task force will focus on fostering member education and developing model policies related to public safety, border security, school safety, critical infrastructure and other areas important to homeland security. In one example, SIA is working with ALEC members to develop model legislation for structuring smart cities programs.
Additionally, SIA weighed in on nearly 20 bills of interest to the industry throughout the states. This included testimony by SIA Manager of Government Relations Drake Jamali before the legislature in Massachusetts on policies surrounding facial recognition technology. Additionally, in Wisconsin, Virginia, Massachusetts and other states, SIA shared concerns voiced by numerous school safety organizations about the use of “barricade” devices in lieu of proven classroom security solutions that comply with life safety codes and ADA rules.
EDUCATION AND OUTREACH
Congressional Briefing on the Role of Security Technologies in Smart Cities
In conjunction with the 2019 GovSummit, SIA hosted a briefing on Capitol Hill in coordination with the Congressional Smart Caucus, “Making Smart Cities Safer & More Resilient,” which examined the supporting role of security technologies within the broader framework of sensors in smart city ecosystems, and how they can be leveraged to support public safety, increase situational awareness, enhance emergency response and provide real-time information during natural disasters. The discussion included presentations from the City of New Orleans Real Time Crime Center and Axis Communications.
Capitol Hill Symposium on Vehicular Terrorism
In October, SIA hosted its Capitol Hill Symposium on Vehicular Terrorism, the second annual event to explore the threat of vehicular terrorism and use of related countermeasures like security bollards and other vehicle barriers to protect public spaces. The daylong event was attended by 85 industry experts, congressional staff and personnel from 10 different federal agencies.
Forums on Facial Recognition
SIA Senior Director of Government Relations Jake Parker spoke at the International Association of Chiefs of Police annual conference on “Identifying the Myths and Misconceptions of Facial Recognition,” joined by speakers from the New York City Police Department and IJIS Institute’s Law Enforcement Imaging Task Force. Along with members Panasonic and Rank One Computing, SIA also participated in a December Washington D.C., panel hosted by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. SIA staff also presented on this topic at the ALEC annual meeting and events hosted by the California Alarm Association, the Arizona Alarm Association and several member companies.
Congressional Site Visits
In 2019, SIA helped foster productive relationships between policymakers and the industry by coordinating congressional visits to member company facilities across the country, with a focus on policymakers addressing security-related issues. Among others these included Rep. Lou Correa (D-Calif.), who toured IDEMIA’s office and testing facility in Anaheim, California, Rep. Lori Trahan (D-Mass.), who visited Axis Communications Americas headquarters in Chelmsford, Massachusetts, and Rep. Yvette Clarke (R-N.Y.) who toured Altronix’s manufacturing facility in Brooklyn, New York.
NEW INDUSTRY COLLABORATION
In 2019 SIA Government Relations formed the Trade and Supply Chain Security Working Group to help educate SIA members on trade issues and issues impacting global supply chains used by various SIA members, helping guide SIA's actions on related policy developments. Activities have included identifying legislative or regulatory policy proposals that require SIA advocacy or education to SIA members, outreach to government agencies to ensure SIA may provide input into key proceedings and agency actions on supply chain policies that impact the security industry and outreach to international security organizations/associations for collaboration on joint projects.
2019 Federal Grants Guide
Each year, the federal government makes investments in critical capabilities to meet security requirements through federal grants, often awarded to states or municipalities that then spend that money on security requirements. SIA has compiled a list of key federal grant programs and related resources as a tool for SIA members and their customers, providing information on the programs that specifically support the effective implementation of security solutions.
Face Facts: Dispelling Common Myths Associated With Facial Recognition Technology
Use of advanced facial recognition technology has benefited Americans in countless but underpublicized ways – helping to find missing children, fight human trafficking, secure the border, find dangerous criminals, bring sexual predators to justice and thwart identity thieves. Rapid growth, particularly for commercial uses, has prompted important discussions related to data privacy and increasing transparency and accountability measures; however, recent calls for complete bans on facial recognition technology are based on a misleading picture of how the technology works and its real-world uses. Face Facts explains how the technology is used and addresses some of the common myths.
SIA Policy Priorities
SIA is actively tracking a wide range of policy issues for its members, to help them stay informed about policies that affect their businesses. Federal policy and state policy priorities are established by the SIA Government Relations Committee to guide policy advocacy efforts throughout the year.
The 2019 SIA GovSummit conference included a record 245 participants, including representatives from 30 different departments, agencies and programs. The impressive lineup of speakers, including DHS Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) Assistant Director for Infrastructure Security Brian Harrell and Federal Protective Service Deputy Director of Operations Scott Jones.
SIA GovSummit also included the fifth annual Capitol Hill day, in which more than 45 SIA members met with members of Congress to discuss legislative issues impacting the security industry. SIA also hosted a briefing event on safety and security technology with the Congressional Smart Cities Caucus.