NFPA product development and innovation

NFPA will be a leader in offering wider and easier access to its basic codes and standards content and will employ a “digital first” approach that focuses on solution-based products and services. We will proactively manage our business to achieve this vision while advancing our safety mission and meeting the financial needs of the organization.

NFPA Content strategy

NFPA is a great organization and is in the unique and enviable position of being able to transform the codes and standards business to respond to changes in the external environment. We have the desire and the resources to expand our influence and have greater impact on fire and life safety.

We have had great success over the years using a business model in which the principal source of revenue was the sale of print editions of our codes and standards. That business model is no longer sustainable.

The internet has changed the way content providers conceive of, design, and deliver content across multiple and changing platforms. We can no longer conceive of products first as traditional “books” and then convert them to digital formats. Content must be originated and developed to take full advantage of the capabilities of digital products and platforms.

The internet has also profoundly changed consumer and public expectations and attitudes about the availability and cost of content and intellectual property rights. These changes are affecting all content providers but have unique additional implications for organizations like NFPA, whose codes and standards are frequently adopted by reference in the laws and regulations of city, state, and federal governmental jurisdictions across the United States. While we assert copyright in our codes and standards, along with the rights to control their distribution and sale, those copyrights are open to emerging legal challenges arising out of their unique status, when adopted by reference, as “law.” Apart from legal questions, governmental jurisdictions are now, more and more, providing citizen access to their laws online, and those jurisdictions will be seeking greater assistance and cooperation from NFPA in providing access to NFPA codes and standards that are referenced in their laws.  

While we will continue to assert our rights to own and reasonably control the copyrights in our codes and standards, we must positively embrace the emerging technological, legal, and policy challenges of the times. Our goal is to provide wider and easier access to our basic codes and standards content and to offset any potential lost revenues with new products and services that rely on our position as the authoritative developer and source of NFPA codes and standards. 

Guiding Principles
To achieve our vision, we set forth the following guiding principles, which must be communicated and accepted at all levels of the organization.

  • Codes and standards will always be the core of NFPA’s mission and the principal focus of NFPA’s new products and services.
  • NFPA will continue to sell some versions of our basic codes and standards, but they can no longer be relied on as our main revenue source.
  • NFPA will adjust our business model to accommodate the greatest access possible to basic codes and standards content to further integrate our business strategy with NFPA’s mission. Embracing wider and easier access allows us to reframe the current challenges as opportunities to create new products and revenue sources and to position NFPA as a recognized leader in meeting the evolving needs of customers (purchasers, constituents, governmental adopting authorities, and the public).
  • NFPA will seek new and improved ways to provide, enhance, and make available free access to our basic codes and standards content beyond our current RealRead access. In doing so, we will consider the potential for this access to act as “freemiums” that attract customers for other revenue-generating products.
  • NFPA will explore governmental adopting authorities as potential partners to enhance NFPA’s identity as the authoritative source of adopted codes and standards and to direct interested customers to NFPA.
  • NFPA will utilize our new product development investments and capital expenditures to foster our shift toward a “digital first” approach that focuses from the outset on designing products for digital presentation.
  • NFPA will focus development efforts on products that derive from our codes and standards and that incorporate original, proprietary NFPA content.
  • NFPA will focus both on developing products to meet the needs of existing customers and on funding activities to develop new customer segments and distribution channels.
  • NFPA will develop products that provide explanatory content, “just in time” learning, and customer workflow solutions.
  • NFPA will utilize Digital Rights Management (DRM) tools, where appropriate, to protect intellectual capital, achieve growth, and sustain our mission.
  • NFPA will develop products in which “findability” and accessibility through taxonomy-enabled tools are critical components; customers will value the ability to rapidly search, locate, and reference the specific NFPA content that is relevant to their needs.
Digital Rights Management policy

NFPA has made important changes to our Digital Rights Management (DRM) policy.

First, all of our PDF products will no longer be locked with the FIleOpen DRM utility. This policy change is designed to increase customer access to code. Many of our customers could not utilize the PDF products because of technical issues with mobile devices like iPads and android tablets. Still more could not use them because of corporate or government security measures. NFPA has not changed its license terms, so all PDF downloads are limited to a single user. Organizations that would like to host a copy on internal networks or have multi-user licenses can contact NFPA for licensed multi-user solutions.

The second change is to the watermarking tool. Until today, watermarks were pre-filled with the customer information on the purchasing account. Now, customers have two fields that separate “designated user” from “owner/purchaser.” This will greatly enhance purchasing through purchasing departments or agents. In addition, consultants, trainers and any other code user that buys a copy of the code on behalf of another can easily designate the proper user and owner of that purchase. This change will increase the ability of customers to protect their investment in NFPA products.

NFPA has made this change to make it easier to access code anywhere – on tablet, smartphone, or laptop. As more code users embrace mobile technology, NFPA wants to provide solutions to match your needs.

We welcome your ideas and suggestions
NFPA's new content strategy adapts to the changing needs of our industry. It redefines how we think about our core products and our customers. Please let us know your thoughts about new product ideas and how we refine existing products. Contact us directly at innovation@nfpa.org.
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