SIA Says: Buy Our Stuff, Stop School Shootings!

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jan 31, 2013

The US Security Industry Association is proudly speaking for all of us in a letter to President Obama, imploring more spending for SIA manufacturer's products and services.

SIA is seeking "reasonable public policy solutions that may help to avert such horrific attacks in the future."

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Comments (12)

In that five paragraph letter I counted over 7 mentions of buying new stuff, including 'spending', 'funding', and 'using financial resources'.

We get it, SIA.

But it's OK, because it's 'for the children'.

SIA is sacrificing for the children.

John - Isn't that what industry associations are supposed to do?

You mean shill for more spending, even if that does not increase the value for its customers?

I recognize that this is what they do. My issue is whether they should be doing that.

I find it particlarly hypocritical that they claim to be doing this for the children when those tactics will do very little to secure children and far more to line their own pockets.

John, What do you mean "those tatics will do very little to secure childern". Technology is used to help with "target hardening". Access control can make it more difficult for someone to gain access into a facility and mass notification systems can help provide a quicker response. What do these two technologies accomplish? They help to buy some time. Time, even if it is a few seconds could make a difference. Video surveillance does not "buy time", but it can provide situational awareness to responders, if they have remote access to the cameras. I think it is necessary for the security industry to educate decision makers about the benefits of technology as it relates to a comprehensive security program. I would not call this "ambulence chasing", but doing our part in making schools a safer place.

Thomas, you can see our original analysis of the limited potential impact and value of technology on school shootings here. In short, spending tens of thousands of dollars on an extremely rare occurence to buy a few seconds of delay when average response times are in the tens of minutes is a waste of money. If they intend to educate decision makers on that, I fully support it. However, I doubt that's what SIA intends to do here.

Thanks for the quick response, I reread the article you listed, and there is nothing in it that I disagree with. However, for example having a fire alarm system in a school is very expensive to install and maintain, and there is a remote chance of an occurance. Would you say having a fire alarm system is a waste of money? I encourage you to research how many deaths or injuries in K-12 schools were caused by fires as compared to shootings in the US in the past 10 years. Even how many fires ingeneral occured as compared to shootings. I know when you look at it logically the risk does not justify the cost benefit, even for a fire alarm system, but can a case really made that we should not do the best we can because of the expense, even if there is a remote possibility of an occurance, especially when lives are at stake. I actually foresee physical security requirements becoming part of the life safety code in our near future.

Thomas, I found this 2002 US FEMA report on school fire statistics. It states that there are ~5500 school fires per year, 43% of them indoors and 90% during school days - meaning ~2000 of them occur indoors when students are in school. That's about 10 on average per school day indoors. That's about 100 times more likely than a school shooting.

UPDATE: Here's a 2009 NFPA report which is line with the 2002 FEMA report, with a slightly higher total of 6,250.

Yes, but there have also been O deaths by fire from what I found. The incident in Sandy Hook, which is just one town over from where I live gave me a new sense of purpose in my profession and really made me believe that we can offer more then just "peace of mind" to our customers and really make a difference in this ever changing world. Even if its just one life saved, it would be worth all the money in the world to someone.

A big part of the reason there are zero deaths is because of fire systems.

It's hard to make the argument that increased electronic access control and video surveillance would make any dent in the number of deaths due to school shooters (especially the video side).

That is part of the BIG question. Right now it is all speculation and requires further analysis. Though my recent experiences with dealing with local authorites in our area the consensous goal is to "buy time" in active shooter stituations. What combination of polices, manpower, technology, and structural design elements best accomplishes that goal is up for debate. Thank you for this forum as it really assists in this process.

Thomas, I agree that buying time is key in mitigating the damage of a school shooter.

I disagree that 'right now it is all speculation and requires further analysis.' What more analysis is needed on whether security cameras buy more time? And is SIA going to deliver it?

It would be a huge waste of money if security cameras are proposed to mitigate school shootings. There are far less costly and more direct means to buy time (e.g., classroom locks).

Having a consortium of security technology sellers provide such analysis is going to result in biased and warped recommendations for their own products, as SIA's letter already shows.

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