The Security Industry Association (SIA) shares this information in response to recent member inquiries on the topic.
In response to a request from SIA on behalf of its members last year, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) issued a clarification concerning whether IP security cameras qualify for a waiver of FTA-specific Buy America requirements. This general waiver has long been applied to many different types of information technology and other electronic products and components.
In the past few years, FTA grantees have experienced a great deal of uncertainty concering how this waiver, last updated in 2007, applies to today’s information technology products. SIA sought, and received on behalf of the industry, a clarification of this existing waiver—not a new waiver. The waiver applies only to transit projects that utilize FTA grant funding.
SIA made this petition to address an urgent problem affecting our members and transit agencies, and it was done with support of the public transit community. Despite the fact many prior projects incorporated IP cameras under the waiver, confusion eventually developed among FTA grantees concerning whether IP security cameras are considered qualifying IT equipment. The result was inconsistent and conflicting determinations and stalled projects, a challenge that not only affected suppliers and integrators but also transit agencies and ultimately the safety of the traveling public.
Under the auspices of the SIA Transportation Policy Working Group, SIA’s comments to the FTA stated that IP cameras have always qualified, and should continue to do so, based on existing law and regulations, and consistent with previous FTA determinations concerning the waiver as it applies to specific products. Our request was tailored to the specific criteria FTA uses in making such determinations. To summarize, we explained 1.) why IP security cameras are considered information technology products and 2.) how these products include the specific attributes FTA has considered qualifying for devices in prior decisions.
In this explanation, SIA provided several examples, including a relevant product configuration highlighting data processing functions. SIA also cited several previous determinations on a range of products, including a 2008 FTA clarification that DVRs qualify for the waiver. That determination was based specifically on the fact that a DVR “includes a microprocessor, memory storage and input/output capability” and “can be programmed to store, process and manipulate data.” These capabilities are clearly shared by IP security cameras as well as other information technology products.
Because IP cameras are clearly information technology products and meet the FTA criteria, SIA sought a determination that would ensure such products continue to be eligible by the waiver. Ultimately, the federal government agreed with this view.
This clarification resolves a critical regulatory logjam for SIA members and benefits all suppliers of IP cameras specifically for the transit environment. It also helps transit agencies across the United States avoid an obstacle to increasing security measures protecting citizens and travelers utilizing U.S. transportation networks.