ALARMA: Lance, tell us a bit about yourself and your involvement in Euralarm, the European Trade Association for fire safety and security?
Lance Rütimann: The role of Industry Affairs is in building, maintaining and utilising strategic relationships to support Siemens business strategy in both Solutions and Services businesses. But at the end of the day, my job often has a much wider scope, which I believe is to advocate for safe, secure and sustainable environments, where societies can develop, prosper and grow.
This ties in very well with my role at Euralarm. The Advocacy Committee defines and communicates positions on topics impacting the Industry. We achieve this through the consistent development of selected, strategic relationships with policy makers and opinion leaders, including other Industry associations. The interesting part is that we do that at a European, and sometimes global level!
ALARMA: Let’s make it simple, why should somebody join the Euralarm Symposium this year?
Lance Rütimann: I believe that today the conference became so widely known that it contributes to the development of the European Industry as a key player worldwide. So, this conference is the place to be to get insights about where the fire safety and security Industry is heading in the near future. Let’s not forget that this annual event is organised by Euralarm, the Industry’s main European representative body and trade association, the only one that is permanently based in Brussels, and is in direct contact with European governing bodies, the European standardisation platform CEN-CENELEC and the various lobbying bodies which are set in Brussels. So, it is evident that the Euralarm Symposium is where you can possibly find the best information that will be strategically important for your business.
The event really deals with the big trends and shifts in the regulatory and technological landscape that are already impacting our Industry or are going to touch every single business in any place in Europe in the near future. For example, Building Information Modelling, was a topic a few years ago. BIM is a digitally shared knowledge resource for information about a facility or building forming a reliable basis for decisions during its whole life-cycle. It is not yet a mandatory requirement from clients or even widespread in Europe, but it is meant to play a transformative role in our businesses in the coming years. You should look into it if you haven’t yet.
ALARMA: So, the Euralarm Symposium plays a key role in bringing these topics to the debate before anybody else does. Is that right?
Lance Rütimann: Exactly, and we are never shying away from controversial topics impacting the Industry and with a view to provide business relevance.
For this reason, in the course of five years, the conference has established itself as the most important event on significant market developments of innovative, legislative, regulatory and standardisation nature impacting one of the most successful Industries in Europe: which is electronic security and fire safety.
Although the Euralarm Symposium is aimed at Euralarm Members - companies within the industry and national associations across Europe - it is set to attract a large crowd in Bucharest. Notably, European stakeholders, both from institutions and advocacy groups are expected to join the conference.
"The Euralarm Symposium 2017 made a clear point that the fire safety and security Industry will be transformed by services standards and related developments in digitisation."
ALARMA: So, what will be the actual topic of the conference this year?
Lance Rütimann: Topics of the 2018 Euralarm Symposium have been chosen for their appeal to a wide audience. The common thread will be the continuing changing business environment, and how it can be addressed to offset the challenges that globalisation and technological developments have set for the Industry.
Those challenges are increasingly complex with noticeable technical and regulatory developments and a resulting demand on new skills. We will embrace this exciting time with confidence to find the answers that will drive the growth and successful evolution of the market.
The Euralarm Symposium 2017, which took place in London and was supported by the British Security Industry Association and the Fire Industry Association, made a clear point that the fire safety and security Industry will be transformed by services standards and related developments in digitisation.
By the way, digitisation has been a central message in the last three Symposiums, and of course, this year too!
ALARMA: The professional training and specialization of those working in the security technology area is a concern of EURALARM. Harmonization at European level of skills and competences is both a challenge and an objective. Could you explain to us the topic of the first session of the Symposium: qualifying to compete? And can you tell us what is the EURALARM vision for the market with the implementation of this Euronorm?
Lance Rütimann: In today’s market, and even more since the tragic events of the fire in Grenfell in the United Kingdom, one has to qualify to compete. Lack of qualification in the installation and maintenance of system can have some very, very bad consequences.
The EN 16763 Services Standard, one of the first to focus on the tertiary sector, which was strongly supported by all of Euralarm’s Member, was only a stepping stone. National players must now set out to outline how skills, experience and knowledge are verified.
I was lucky enough to take part in the development of this standard, and I can tell you that the focus was on creating a level playing field for all providers of services for the fire safety and electronic security markets with the same set of rules for all – from planning through to maintenance. But you also have to keep in mind that this quality standard cannot be viewed as a standalone: for example, it requires that a company has a certified management system in place and expertise in the respective application guidelines.
I strongly believe that the requirements of the standard will help with the evaluation and improvement of system operation. It has the potential to ensure that service providers have the right knowledge and adequate skills to manage and execute their tasks correctly. At the end of the day, this can only create trust between the service provider and his client. Last year, Alex Carmichael, Chief Executive of the British Security Systems and Alarm Inspection Board, predicted that CCTV and access control will probably be early adopters of the standard for this very reason.
ALARMA: I understand that Euralarm has been an important contributor to the development of the EN 16763 Service for fire safety systems and security systems. What is the state of implementation of the standard? Do you consider this standard to be an important step in the evolution towards a Single European Market?
More recently, building on the success of our Industry’s European services standard EN16763, the Services Section of Euralarm has successfully pushed through a new work item for a European standard on Remote Services for fire safety and security. This is a major success for Euralarm as it allows our Industry to remain at the forefront of the development of standards for services. This new development serves the purpose of ensuring that all service providers answer to the same requirements and deliver safe and secure customer solutions.
Besides, we know from Euralarm Services Section Members that the EN 16763 standard is working its way in the market and a number of countries are requesting its use in their country. What the services standard needs to push forward is a basis for suitable qualifications in the fire and security world, and this session will be all about pushing this forward. So, another point for discussion is that the Services Section has long had an interest not only on the development of European standards for services, where our Industry has been a precursor, but also in the actual qualification schemes existing at national level.
Central to this objective has been the regular update of a qualifications matrix, matching different trades with the bodies providing training and learning courses, the formal qualifications available, the existing check of competences and the percentage of the market that is compliant. A precise set of data has now been gathered for a number of European countries. Interestingly, the data provided from Members showed that there is currently no single benchmark of qualifications and certifications across Europe. That’s our newest challenge to address.
Finally, as our Industry was one of the first in Europe to develop a services standard, the EU Institutions and Industry’s Joint Initiative on Standardisation has asked Euralarm to help with the promotion of services standards into other areas. At present the group has just compiled a study to see what service standards are available from national organisations and which market sectors should be looked at.
"Providing digital services means the handling of vast amounts of data, but it also means that companies have to manage new cyber threats, data security issues and reskill their workforce."
ALARMA: There seem to be a strong ICT aspect to the question of future qualifications and services.
Lance Rütimann: The digitisation of services will cause major changes in the fire and security industry from the component level through to service offerings. New entrants into the market from the ICT Industry will increase competition. To adapt, our industries need to build up additive ICT skills within its workforce and adjust structure and processes.
ICT is already an integral part of fire safety and security systems. Telecommunication developments either wireless or fixed have introduced both new opportunities and threats. Alone the conversion of alarm transmission to TCP/IP has set a revolution in motion. I have been told that some companies in Romania are actually digital natives, starting directly with online services without ever going through the ‘offline stage’.
Providing digital services means the handling of vast amounts of data, but it also means that companies have to manage new cyber threats, data security issues and reskill their workforce.
ALARMA: This ties in with the second topic of the Symposium: keeping security secure and data compliant. Euralarm and CEN signed an agreement to strengthen their co-operation on standardization. Do you consider the development of a European standard on security risk management necessary? Given the latest developments in security, do you consider an integrated approach to physical and information security, cyber security and privacy protection necessary and possible?
Lance Rütimann: In light of existing international standards, I would question a need for an industry specific security risk management standard. It must also be noted that our products and systems are by their nature built on the principles of “safe & secure”.
The use of ICT in our products, systems, solutions and services provides clients with the new possibilities we have become familiar with through modern telecommunication. But this technology is open to enable interconnections, and therefore lacks the basic infrastructure to protect unauthorised and malicious access.
If we are to continue to provide secure solutions and services, then we must implement ‘Secure by design’ concepts. These concepts promise to reduce the cybersecurity risks in the fields of Fire Safety and Security through specific product characteristics in combination with project design measures that provide inherently secure system operation and services, both on-site and remote.
Through this, you can build an ‘as-a-service’ business model, incorporating cybersecurity needs and making ‘the cloud’ work for the security Industry. Finally, yes, you can never stress enough the importance of European and international standards in ‘making security secure’ and Euralarm’s ground-breaking work in that area.
ALARMA: This does not sound like your usual fear-mongering cyber-security conference.
Lance Rütimann: We do need to emphasise the need for awareness. With ever evolving cybersecurity risks, the fire safety and security Industry must continue to define and implement measures to protect its products and solutions. But beyond this simple imperative, there are potential business and regulatory impacts on the Industry stemming from these new technological trends.
Connected safety and security devices bring both opportunities and threats. Some companies have already developed their safety and security offer thanks to the possibilities unleashed over the past decade by the Internet of Things and Cloud computing. Two years ago, safety and security already represented about 20% of all connected devices and it is one of the fastest growing sectors in terms of device proliferation. For security companies, the Internet of Things offers an opportunity to develop the service aspect of their business and to go from offering one service to several services in different areas.
However, to quote IBM’s Paul Ionescu, “if compromised, smart building devices could have a profound impact on our physical surroundings and could allow a malicious actor to cause damage without any physical access to the building.” Cyber Security is a key issue within the manufacturing and installation processes. It is urgent to implement ‘security by design’ our connected devices, rather than to graft on cyber security measures as an afterthought.
So, some people are surprised by those reports, but that is what we do at the Euralarm Symposium. The event is designed to be an eye opener in terms of the opportunities for companies in terms of business, even though the existing issues with cyber security have to temper that excitement.
"Euralarm Members within standardisation body CEN/TC 72 are questioning the impact of a newly enforced standardisation procedure on the quality of fire detection products across Europe."
ALARMA: The third topic seems to take us deeper into the European regulatory landscape and Euralarm’s work in Brussels.
Lance Rütimann: Regulating Construction Products, the title of the third session, is a direct reference to the EU’s Construction Product Regulation, or CPR. This might just sound like another far-off European policy but, actually the CPR is the driving document behind any European harmonised standard related to fire safety.
Euralarm’s CPR Task Force is studying the influence of the CPR on the harmonised standards for Fire Safety. The objective is to develop a common understanding of how the regulation impacts the market today and how to deal with the problems that Technical Committees such as CEN/TC 72 and 191 are facing. The Symposium will be the occasion to present and discuss the findings by Euralarm, and reach out to EU stakeholders.
ALARMA: I am still not sure what the CPR actually is and the problem with it. Could you elaborate on this?
Lance Rütimann: Sure. The main objective of the CPR is to make the EU’s Single Market work better and improve the free movement of construction products in the EU, by laying down harmonised conditions for marketing construction products. Where the CPR logic can very easily apply for certain construction materials, it has had a negative effect on the standardisation of fire detection and alarm products.
Euralarm Members within standardisation body CEN/TC 72 are questioning the impact of a newly enforced standardisation procedure on the quality of fire detection products across Europe, and Euralarm is determined to work hand in hand with the European Commission for a joint solution on the long term.
Last year, a letter of the European Commission’s DG GROW to CEN/TC 72 has raised questions among the members of the group, mainly representatives of the electronic fire safety industry and standard certification bodies, over their capacity to adapt to new standardisation procedures in their sector. The procedure has the potential to put the safety of European citizens into question.
The official European Commission letter informed CEN/TC 72 members about the discontinuation of pass/fail criteria used when testing fire detection and fire alarm systems. The pass/fail testing approach is contrary to the one favoured by the Construction Products Regulation (CPR), based on ‘classes of performance’.
The performance approach supposes greater regulatory prerogatives for EU Member States: from Euralarm member’s standpoint, this endangers the Single European Market for electronic fire safety and security products and could result in lower levels of safety for EU citizens depending on their country of residence.
ALARMA: What about the Security Industry? CERTALARM for example has a special interest in Romania. ARTS has supported and promoted it in numerous events and in the Romanian security market. Can you tell us what is the state of development and acceptance of CERTALARM? Is it likely to become the European certification mark for the security technology market? How many countries recognize CERTALARM at the moment?
Lance Rütimann: Over the past year Euralarm has continued to collaborate with both EFSG, the association of certification bodies of Europe working in the fire and security sectors, and Certalarm where we have representatives in its board. Whereas in the beginning CertAlarm was accepted in six EU countries, it has now gained acceptance in the following 12 countries: United Kingdom Ireland France Spain Portugal Norway Austria Denmark Finland Netherlands Switzerland Italy. Regarding Certalarm’s future development, it is a function of legal acceptance versus Market acceptance, which is why Euralarm has decided to support Certalarm through marketing activities. It is for certain that Pan-European-Certification as a goal in the Euralarm Security Section’s strategy but we have still to define how to achieve the next steps.
ALARMA: You actually made it sound pretty interesting. But let me ask you: beyond the information that you will get access to during the Symposium, what other good reasons would you have to come to Bucharest?
Lance Rütimann: Two years ago, when we asked the Euralarm community which comprises some 200 people at this point, what is the main added value in being part of the association, one of the answers we got the most is: the networking opportunities. So, for the Euralarm Symposium, the whole event is built with a broad and inclusive approach, which will allow the security and fire safety community to discuss a variety of up-and-coming topics impacting the Industry.
Another good reason to be there is to get your voice heard, not only by the audience and colleagues from the Industry who will be attending the event, but by our interlocutors at European level. The minutes of the meeting will be translated into a booklet, which will use in our lobbying activities towards the EU Commission and Parliament, but also in our interactions with our partners CEN-CENELEC, Orgalime, of which Euralarm is a member, and a variety of other European stakeholders. So, anybody can get a say in the debate, and influence how we go and talk to the important players in Brussels, where the Euralarm Professional Team is based.