In June 2016, the Central Station Alarm Association voted to change its name to reflect changes in the industry it serves. This March, CSAA plans to officially change its name to The Monitoring Association. SDM recently spoke with CSAA’s Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Elizabeth Lasko, about what the change means and how the association arrived at this juncture.
SDM: What led to CSAA’s decision to make the change?
Lasko: The vote was the result of more than a year’s work by leaders and members of the association. We found that our members are aggressively expanding into monitoring beyond security systems, and the use of the term “monitoring center” is growing as a result. We also confirmed that the term “central station” no longer has wide recognition outside our industry. Our industry is such a critical part of public safety — we want the public to know who we are.
SDM: Briefly describe the mission of The Monitoring Association.
Lasko: We have a new mission statement — to advance the professional monitoring industry through education, advocacy and public safety relationships — that was developed by one of our volunteer committees and accepted by the members at the same time as the new name, in June 2016. The mission reflects our goals to provide resources that support our member companies and help them grow their businesses; to bolster the industry as a whole through initiatives such as government relations, standards and AHJ partnerships; and raise awareness of the value of professional monitoring to the general public.
SDM: What is the main idea the name change indicates?
Lasko: It indicates that one mark of a successful organization is the ability to honor the past but recognize when changing times necessitate changes to name, mission, structure and other important issues — and that our leadership believed it was important that our name more accurately reflects our mission.
SDM: Is this a reflection of a shift within the industry?
Lasko: Yes, and certainly within our membership. Though monitoring life safety events in the traditional central station model remains our core business, our members now monitor much more than traditional fire and burglar alarms; they monitor temperature, medical devices, access control, and more. We believe the name “The Monitoring Association” allows room for the association to encompass all the areas our members are beginning to monitor and any into which they may move in the future.
SDM: Is this a change in name only, or will the organization be changing its focus or enhancing its mission?
Lasko: This is not the first time the name has been changed since our incorporation in 1950 as the Central Station Electrical Protection Association; we became CSAA in 1989. I would say the name change reflects an adjustment in mission and focus necessitated by changes in the industry.
SDM: Approval for this change happened last summer; what kept it from taking place until now?
Lasko: We are undertaking a complete review of our entire bylaws; the name change and new mission are parts of that. We also looked at member categories, the way our board of directors is set up, etc. We should have everything complete this year, and it seemed to make sense to officially change over at the same time. Also, there are just a lot of details to deal with when rebranding.
SDM: I will be writing “2016” on my checks until about March. How long before you stop having to catch yourself halfway through saying “CSAA”?
Lasko: The last time I oversaw a name change, it was for the then-104-year-old National Association for Music Education. I was really surprised at how quickly most folks, myself included, adjusted to the change. We’ll see how we do here — you will see a lot of references to “The Monitoring Association (formerly CSAA)” for sure!