Making Systems More User-Friendly

The latest and greatest security solutions don’t mean squat if they are too complex for end users to operate. Technological innovation is wonderful, but we must incorporate operational simplicity to achieve security’s peace-of-mind objectives.

Put Yourself in Users’ Shoes

More systems installed today require access to supporting software applications. This can be access or CCTV management software, Web pages and remote mobile apps on smartphones. The Section 508 tenets are interesting in that they were originally designed as performance standards for EIT vendors supplying products to the General Services Administration (GSA). However, if we look at some of these requirements they can give us insight into making software and PC applications more user-friendly.

Let’s take a moment to review what we, as alarm techs, dealers and integrators, can do to make our systems more user-friendly. Do you only specify keypads with a dimple on the ‘5’ key? Do you arrange printers at a workstation so people in wheelchairs can easily get to them? Are your fire alarm pull-stations and alarm keypads not more than 54 inches up on the wall? Do you have a usability and accessibility checklist for new installations and takeovers? I think you get the picture.

Bob Dolph has served in various technical management and advisory positions in the security industry for 30+ years. To share tips and installation questions, E-mail Bob at [email protected] Check out his Tech Shack blog at www.securitysales.com/blog.

<p>This general purpose compact relay enables control of high current draw devices such as door strikes, sprinkler valves, electric dampers, motors and more from any device producing a low voltage output signal. Photo courtesy Elk Products</p>Tech Talk Tool Tip

An interface relay may not at first be thought of as a tool. It is, however, the perfect and very versatile tool to interface alarm inputs and outputs to a variety of special user devices such as those with audible and visible functionality. That is why I am featuring the old reliable ELK 912 module (elkproducts.com).

How about using a relay to trip a bed shaker device to get a deaf person up when smoke det
ector goes into alarm? The product is a high quality 12VDC relay with SPDT (Form ‘C’) dry contacts. It features low current draw, positive or negative activation and is suitable for general purpose switching of devices or high current loads.

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About the Author


Bob is currently a Security Sales & Integration "Tech Talk" columnist and a contributing technical writer. Bob installed his first DIY home intercom system at the age of 13, and formally started his technology career as a Navy communication electronics technician during the Vietnam War. He then attended the Milwaukee School of Engineering and went on to complete a Security Management program at Milwaukee Area Technical College. Since 1976, Bob has served in a variety of technical, training and project management positions with organizations such ADT, Rollins, National Guardian, Lockheed Martin, American Alarm Supply, Sonitrol and Ingersoll Rand. Early in his career, Bob started and operated his own alarm dealership. He has also served as treasurer of the Wisconsin Burglar and Fire Alarm Association and on Security Industry Association (SIA) standards committees. Bob also provides media and training consulting to the security industry.

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