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Making the Move to VoIP Technology

To observe a mandate requiring that all new emergency phones with network capabilities comply with voice over IP (VoIP) standards, the town of Oyster Bay (N.Y.) upgraded its analog emergency phones with a more reliable solution.




After the configuration of the VoIP emergency phones was complete, all phones were registered with the WEBS Contact mass notification server, enabling WEBS Contact to send audio broadcasts to VoIP phones. The VoIP-500 emergency phones are used primarily as emergency communications devices, but can also be paged at high volume, exceeding 90dB, to deliver site-specific instructions to individual units, groups of units, or all-at-once.

WEBS Contact allows emergency personnel to issue targeted audio alerts to pre-defined segments of the facility with a few clicks of a button. At the same time, the system can deliver SMS messages and E-mails to groups of recipients viathird party gateways.

As part of the project, Talk-A-Phone designed an emergency phone tower that can accommodate two CCTV cameras on a T-shaped camera arm. Using two CCTV cameras on the same tower opens up unique video surveillance options and widens the operator’s view of the surroundings. Another approach would be to use a 360-degree awareness camera paired together with a pan/tilt/zoom (p/t/z) camera.

According to McCaffrey, “Many of the call-boxes are equipped with surveillance cameras, which are recording the events and can be viewed at the operations center at the same time. Live video feeds can provide updated information to the first responders and public safety staff who are responding to an incident.”

Both cameras installed on the same tower can be activated by Talk-A-Phone’s VOIP-500 emergency phone using the phone’s auxiliary contacts. A p/t/z camera can be moved to a preset location on events such as the call being placed or assistance being summoned.

The town of Oyster Bay continues to add Talk-A-Phone units throughout the area. “We are very happy with the system,” McCaffrey says. “It has proven to be reliable, vandal-resistant and it projects a positive image of safety and security at our facilities.”

Extensive planning and staged testing of the entire system by LPC’s technicians gave the town of Oyster Bay IT department peace of mind. When the day came to flip the network switch to the ‘ON’ position, everything came online as anticipated. Thanks to LPC’s efforts the people of Oyster Bay can benefit from the township’s public safety initiative.

Hurricane Irene Puts System to Test

Not long after LPC Inc. finished the installation at the parking facility and town’s recreational areas, the emergency communications system was tested against the elements. Hurricane Irene ravaged the entire East Coast in September 2011; it brought loss and massive destruction along the way. It was estimated that five million homes were in the dark without certainty of when electric power would be restored.

President Barack Obama issued a state of emergency declaration for many parts of the battered coast, freeing federal disaster funds and tasking the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to coordinate the disaster relief efforts.

During challenging times like this, emergency communications is critical. The survivability of equipment can be the difference between life and death. Hurricane Irene put Talk-A-Phone’s emergency communications equipment to a harsh test.

Many emergency phone towers and wall mounts are located on the town of Oyster Bay’s south shore beaches, which were affected the most during the hurricane. In the aftermath, LPC was quick to respond to the maintenance call on the emergency phone system. The outcome of the service call was not as grim as expected.

“When the hurricane came, the tides were so great that they lifted the entire deck two feet,” Eggers says. “We didn’t think any emergency communications equipment would survive. To our surprise, all Talk-A-Phone’s phones were still functioning even after being completely submerged into water and beaten hard by the debris and wind!”

All south shore beaches and most north shore beaches remained closed for clean up operations and until the power could be completely restored. The Oyster Bay community worked hard to bring the town back from Irene’s devastation.

Some of the VoIP-500 emergency phones that took the most damage due to their proximity to the ocean were returned to the Talk-A-Phone factory for examination. None of the emergency phones, towers or wall mounts were affected by the hurricane, even as the water surge brought massive amounts of sand and debris, destroying weaker structures along the way. An important emergency lifeline was preserved and stood strong in the face of a hurricane.

Samuel Shanes is chairman of Talk-A-Phone Co.

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Article Topics
Fire/Life Safety · Vertical Markets · Fire/Life Safety 2 · Exclusive Web Features · Talk-A-Phone · VoIP · All Topics
Exclusive Web Features, Talk-A-Phone, VoIP


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