Changing how the security industry works with government

March 10, 2015
Louroe Electronics CEO Richard Brent discusses his work on the SIA Government Summit Planning Committee

Next month at ISC West in Las Vegas, Louroe Electronics CEO Richard Brent will be recognized by the Security Industry Association for his work on the Government Summit Planning Committee as he will receive the 2014 Committee Chair of the Year Award.

Brent said his work as a member of the committee began when he put a panel discussion together focused on energy and the security industry with topics that included things such as using LED lighting in conjunction with surveillance cameras. Following the success of the panel, Brent decided he would like to take on the responsibility of becoming committee chair with a goal of changing the way the industry looks at the government market.

“We tend to look at government as a source for projects in the security industry. I said let’s not do that this time. Why don’t we look at the government like you want to play us, we want to play with you, but let’s get to know each other on equal footing as opposed to I am always here with a hand out for procurement opportunity,” said Brent. “We took the senior leadership of the industry and they were the first panel, setting the tone for how do we want to work with government going forward. It worked out quite well. We had the undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security and there were probably six or seven other people from the DHS at the conference who said they were very interested in getting involved on the R&D side of what we do.”

In addition, Brent said that being a part of an influential trade association like SIA enables the industry to play a key role in the development of various guidelines and pieces of legislation. For example, SIA was recently able to provide the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission with some ideas regarding physical security for electric transmission lines and was subsequently asked to provide feedback regarding rail safety.  

“We became a subject matter expert as an association for the rail safety commission,” added Brent. “The Government Affair Committee, in particular, and then the association at large positions itself as when you have a question about security, physical certainly and to some degree logical and cyber, we a have a number of members to draw from.”

Brent said he encourages industry stakeholders – manufacturers, systems integrators or otherwise – to become a part of SIA and to also play an active role because what happens on Capitol Hill can have a wide reaching impact on the industry as a whole.

“What goes on in Washington affects our ability to apply and deploy our products. The standard by which technologies are measured often times comes out of federal government agencies,” he said. “Member join because we alone, unless you are a very large company, can’t afford to have somebody in Washington who is your eyes and ears and speaks for you on issues that are of concern. Joining is but a small fee relative to having a voice in the policy making and regulatory activities that affect our business directly.”

For those who feel they can’t make a difference by getting involved, even in a small way, Brent said that perception couldn’t be further from the truth.

“I was based in San Diego working for a small company and we built a brand new product and my comment to the VP of marketing was that you’re not going to sell very many of these because it is not in our jurisdiction to go out and put this into the market. He asked what would you do and I said get the rules changed,” explained Brent. “He said, ‘that’s crazy, no one can change the rules in Washington’ and I said if you think that way you’re going to get stuck. You’ve made multi-million dollar investment in new product and you can’t move it because the utilities are in control. Two energy policies later today and (that company is) in it.”

One example of the power of the security industry’s lobbying efforts can be traced back several years when electric utilities said that organizations need to turn off their computers after hours to reduce parasitic energy losses.

“You can’t turn off a security system when you go home, we need electrons. The association under Don Erickson’s leadership as head of government affairs at the time went and lobbied the energy committee and low and behold we get a pass,” said Brent. “We can use some electrons to stay in maintenance mode until an event triggers us to go on to use more energy. There are more stories of that than there are the stories of, ‘I can’t do anything; Washington is too big.’”