29 May 2013

IP technology: Setting a new course for alarm panel communication

Not only has internet technology changed the way people communicate with each other, it is also the force behind “always on” communications between end-users and their alarm systems.

That’s according to Ingo Mutinelli, national sales manager for Elvey Security Technologies, who says broadband technology is being increasingly utilised by high-end alarm manufacturers and installers heeding the public’s need to improve their personal security levels.

“Forty years after the first cell phone call was made, the cell phone has become an indispensable part of everyday life,” he says.  “Its technological prowess has elevated it to the ranks of a mini computer capable of performing a wide range of functions far beyond conversations and texting.”

And he believes its utilisation in fields such as alarm monitoring is likely to gain momentum this year on the back of significant movement in the internet and telecoms space as predicted by World Wide Worx MD Arthur Goldstuck.  Quoted in an article titled “What to expect in 2013” by ITWeb’s online editor Martin Czernowalow, Goldstuck foresees “an explosion in data consumption and internet usage”, which he predicts will change the way people expect businesses to communicate with them.  He’s also expecting the number of experienced internet users in South Africa to rise this year, as well as what he calls a “tipping point” in smart phone sales in the country.  “For the first time, in 2013, more smart phones than feature phones will be sold (in South Africa) and every one of those phones will be an internet-connected phone,” he said. 

This, avers Mutinelli, reinforces his belief that IP technology is the way forward for the home and personal security needs of South Africans, among whom are 8,5 million internet users
[1].  “Fibre optic cabling is replacing copper wire, which when stolen – and this happens in South Africa all the time – renders communication between alarm systems and control rooms useless.  IP-based communication as well as increasingly affordable internet access and the healthy growth of residential ADSL installations around the country makes it possible for end-users to enjoy 24/7 internet alarm monitoring without the cost or inherent problems of a conventional land line.” 


The GSM/GPRS Alarm Communicators come with a host of benefits, not only for end-users but also installers, he notes further.  “The GPRS channel of the GSM network offers full data reporting and remote management, which save on installation time and costs.  Through the use of DSC’s DLS IV downloading software, installers can remotely programme and configure the control panel, change user information, retrieve historical records and generate status reports and maintenance details.  What’s more, the saving of costs associated with sending signals over telephone lines will pay for the alarm communicator, which has minimal data transmission costs attached to it.  And its 128-bit AES signal encryption ensures the highest level of data security of any alarm communicator on the market.”

He’s also impressed with features such as instant communication to the control room from the alarm panel without any of the traditional latency problems associated with PSTN communication. 

DSC’s wireless alarm communicator 

To this end, DSC’s GS2060 GSM/GPRS Wireless Alarm Communicator, which he describes as an ideal security solution for both residential and commercial environments. “As more and more homes and businesses abandon traditional phone lines in favour of VoIP (Voice over IP) or mobile phones, so the demand grows for alternative delivery methods for alarm communications,” he explains.  “The GSM/GPRS Wireless Alarm Communicator offers alarm reporting paths which can be combined through the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) as well as the GSM/GPRS channels.  What’s more, it’s able to utilize the GPRS data channel as a back-up to ensure high speed, reliable and secure alarm communications.  With this feature, any concerns about phone line disruption can be permanently put to rest.”

DSC’s new dual-path alarm communicator

DSC’s internet and GSM/ GPRS Dual-Path Alarm Communicator is the next level in alarm signal delivery, declares Mr Mutinelli.  “This amazing piece of technology utilizes existing internet connections and the GPRS data channel of the GSM network to ensure high speed and reliable alarm communications.  When connected to the compatible alarm panel, installers can combine alarm reporting paths through PSTN, internet and GSM/GPRS channels, thereby eliminating the need for dedicated phone lines and the accompanying risk of line interruption.”

The GSM/GPRS backup feature dispels fears about internet service or equipment disruptions owing to the fact that the communicator alarm signal can be sent to either the primary receiver, or to both the primary and backup receivers at the central monitoring station, thereby providing a fully redundant solution, he points out.

Panel compatibility

Those with concerns about their existing panels being incompatible with Sur-Gard System III base stations can make use of the T-Link Universal IP Alarm Communicator, says Mr Mutinelli.  “This is a valuable addition to the T-Link family of internet/network alarm communicators since it is able to utilize existing IP networks.  Simple and cost-effective to install, it will communicate with any control panel (including third party manufacturers) that uses Contact ID format.”

The result is a fully supervised security solution that provides flexibility and an always-on, two-way line of communication, further enhanced by the TL300 communication stream, which requires only a limited amount of network bandwidth.  This, according to Mr Mutinelli, ensures that the integrity of the data being transferred never becomes compromised.  In the interests of security, the module utilizes industry-leading, 128-bit AES encryption, polling and hardware substitution protection.

The communicator connects directly to the telephone output of a control panel, creating a TCP/IP connection that sends predefined Contact ID codes to the central monitoring station. To ensure dependable and timely event notification, reporting is sent to two different receiver IP addresses.  This back-up feature ensures that communication will continue should one of the IP addresses go down.  Mr Mutinelli says the module can also be programmed to communicate events to two different e-mail addresses, which can be associated with a personal computer, pager, enabled mobile phone or personal digital assistant (PDA).

Monitoring stations

Monitoring stations using the DSC base station enjoy many benefits.  “As oak trees grow from acorns, so many successful monitoring businesses start small, sometimes even in a garage,” says Mr Mutinelli.  “No matter how humble the premises, though, a security company has a moral responsibility to its clients from the outset to respond swiftly to alarms.  He believes that the best investment is a system that can be expanded as the company grows, and preferably one that uses individual line cards.  “Phone and network line cards can be used to create one integrated monitoring solution,” he explains, adding that this type of system not only reduces start-up costs but makes for easy expansion since the number of line cards can be increased as the business grows.

Another critical element of a control room is a disaster recovery system that will take over operations in the event of a power or communication failure, he continues.  “Should there be a system failure, the primary central monitoring station can then reroute communications to its receivers, thereby preventing down time and ensuring that activities continue as normal.”

To this end, he recommends the Sur-Gard System III, saying that Sur-Gard has long set the global standard for monitoring station alarm equipment.  “The receiver has been designed for easy and economical expansion of a control room.  It can be configured to run from one to up to 24 line cards, and by combining phone and network line cards, the system becomes a single, integrated monitoring solution.”  The benefits of this include increased account volume and improved signal processing as well as consistent, up-to-the-minute information from the CPM polling feature.

The System III makes use of SG-DRL3-IP line cards to ensure top level security alarm monitoring, he notes further.  The cards, which are FIPS/NIST, UL AA High-Line Security and ULC Level 3/4/5 listed, offer 128-bit AES encryption and an anti-hack design that isolates internal communications from external data transmissions.

The IP line card receives alarm information from the control panel over a LAN/WAN or internet network.  The result is higher line security than conventional dial-up panels as well as quicker information transmission from control panel to monitoring station since dialling and handshaking is not required.



“IP technology is current and improving every day,” concludes Mr Mutinelli.  “More and more households are having ADSL lines installed, leaving the way clear for installers to offer IP alarm communication to end users wanting to significantly increase their levels of security. Accordingly, we urge security companies that offer monitoring services to embrace the future today, in the interests of their clients’ safety and their businesses’ growth.”




Prepared and Submitted by Priyesh Jagjivan

Elvey Security Technologies

Tel – 011 4016734

Email - Priyesh.jagjivan@elvey.co.za


[1] http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats1.htm

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