New Generation of Alarm Controls is At Hand

“New ideas pass through three periods: 1) It can’t be done; 2) It probably can be done, but it’s not worth doing; and 3) I knew it was a good idea all along!” – Arthur C. Clarke.

As we open the doors to another major security event (ISC East at Jacob Javits Convention Center in New York Oct. 24-25), security professionals anticipate many new and exciting products, features and services. It was not long ago that many of the products we will see at this year’s ISC East show were only a group of ideas.

It has become evident through the years that the really good manufactures are those that take suggestions from their customers, industry dealers and integrators, and turn them into new and exciting products. Many integrators have expressed frustration at times in waiting for new product features to come to fruition. However, that is often forgotten when the new products are quickly accepted and applied, making everyone’s lives more secure and enjoyable.

At this ISC East show, attendees will experience many hot new areas of technological advancement in alarm controls. Some of these areas include: advancements in alarm signal transmission; wireless technology; the use of integrated solutions; improvements in CP-01 false alarm features; VoIP transmission reliability; and home and building automation integration.

Communication Challenges Are Being Conquered
Today, there are many exciting choices for alarm control communications. In a major development, the government’s decision to allow cellular carriers to discontinue support of advanced mobile phone system (AMPS) networks has opened the door for new advancements in alarm signal transmission.

Gordon Hope, vice president, Honeywell Security and Custom Electronics, comments, “The decision of the FCC to allow cellular carriers to discontinue support of analog wireless networks on Feb. 18, 2008 – also known as the Sunset Clause – is forcing many companies to rethink how to communicate with central stations. Dealers who rely on AMPS to transmit their signals could find themselves in alarm limbo.”

Louisville, Ky.-based Honeywell has prepared for this communications transition with a new family of products that utilize GSM technology. GSM is an end-to-end solution that features leading-edge general packet radio service (GPRS) technology with short message service (SMS) backup. GPRS is a proven, reliable wireless communication method widely used in the cell phone market. It has a higher cell phone network priority, which minimizes transmission delays and increases the amount of data that can be delivered.

Hope adds, “GRPS is used as the primary communication path in Honeywell’s GSM solution, while SMS will be the secondary path for greater reliability.”

Using GPRS as the primary path allows dealers to upload and download to alarm control panels using wireless communications or the Internet. This technology solution will allow dealers to enjoy new communication features such as control of the alarm system via cell phone using text messaging, a laptop computer or a Web-enabled PDA.

The radio has a modular design, ensuring that if the technology changes in the future, a small radio-only board can be installed to replace the existing one without physically removing or rewiring the communicator. Honeywell’s GSM radio is self-contained and comes standard with a power supply and a rechargeable battery capable of providing 24-hour backup.

GE, Bosch and NAPCO Answer the Call
Bradenton, Fla.-based GE Security, in a joint effort with password-protected Web site, has introduced the Simon 3 GSM cellular module, which adds cellular communication capability to the residential Simon security system. The module uses the robust and reliable GPRS protocol on the GSM network, which is supported by more than 30 U.S. cellular network providers. The module fits in the Simon 3 housing.

The cellular module can be used as a backup if telephone service is not found or disconnected, or as a primary reporting device over digital cellular networks. The new cellular module reports to the central station using either Security Industry Association (SIA) or Contact-ID formats.

“This new Simon 3 GSM cellular module integrates fully and seamlessly with Simon, bolstering reliability, facilitating troubleshooting and enabling dealers to change control panel settings remotely,” says Jim Paulson, GE Security general manager, Commercial and Residential Solutions. “Dealers will no longer have to dispatch a truck to the customer site to reprogram a panel. That can now be done by an intuitive Web interface.”

The cellular module is wireless, so it is not vulnerable to phone line or Internet connection failures. With sophisticated power management algorithms built in, both the module and the Simon control panel will operate properly and function reliably, providing protection for more than 24 hours during a persistent power outage.

Upgrading an existing Simon 3 panel to the new GSM technology is easy with the modified rear housing that ships with the cellular module. The technician needs to simply replace the existing chassis with the cellular kit. The kit has a power cable and antenna with the module plugging directly into the printed circuit board.

NAPCO Security Systems of Amityville, N.Y., offers the Netlink and Starlink communication products and services with new alarm reporting options designed to answer the new trend in VoIP/no-phone-line residential market. One of the nice features of these modules is they work with all major brands of alarm controls.

NAPCO’s NetLink Net-Comm is a programmable control panel module that reports alarm signals over a transmission control protocol/Internet control protocol (TCP/IP)-based network. Data is securely transmitted using both NIST/AES encryption and dynamic IP addressing. The module provides a reliable and cost-effective solution for VoIP or cell phone-only customers and can be used as either a primary or backup alarm reporting system.

Regardless of the alarm panel brand, for backup communications or to protect against Internet interruptions, NAPCO’s Starlink RF wireless backup unit (SL1/12) will report alarm conditions to any central station. It does so by using a dedicated data-only network by Velocita, a subsidiary of Sprint Nextel. Starlink backup radio coverage spans the United States, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

The challenge of reliable VoIP communications has been tackled by Fairport, N.Y.-based Bosch Security Systems with its Conettix IP C900V2 dialer capture board. This universal control device will take popular digital dialer formats, such as Contact-ID, and reroutes the signals using UDP/IP-based data networks such as the Internet.

What’s nice is that the C900V2 is designed to work with most alarm industry controls and communication formats. Once the correct equipment is put in place, monitoring over the Internet is very fast, cost-effective and efficient. Circuit supervision is now done in seconds rather than 24 hours with a digital dialer. The design makes it possible to retrofit to an alarm customer’s existing panel as they are upgrading to a new Internet VoIP service.

Use of Home Automation and Integration on the Rise

A few years ago, the use of home automation features in an alarm control was a novelty. Many manufacturers rushed to make the features available only to find that few dealers wanted to complicate their installations with the extra features and customers did not understand what was available.

That has been changing as today’s PC/Internet-savvy customers now better understand that features such as lighting and energy control not only provide an extra convenience but can save money. The alarm dealer needs to carefully review the latest alarm controls that provide these exciting and now proven features.

The M1Gold control from Elk Products of Hildebran, N.C., allows security dealers to provide a wide variety of automation features for the technology savvy customer. This programmable panel can provide E-mail alerts on change of home or business status such as children arriving, temperature too high or low, and arrival of visitors. Supervision of the system is provided via Internet connectivity. Technicians will like remote programming and troubleshooting the control.

Trudy Phillips, sales and customer service manager for Elk, says, “Security is the pivot point for home and business automation. The security control knows when a home or business is occupied. With a smarter security system that incorporates all systems, the end result is cost savings for the end user. Energy management can save the customer a substantial amount – enough to pay for the monitoring contract and, eventually, the system itself.”

One of the key features of the M1Gold control is the fast learning curve on programming in plain English text. Complicated macros are easily programmed with the Elk rules engine.

GE Security is in the process of adding products that support what is referred to as the “connected home.” The connected home ties together appliances, heating and air conditioning, computers, security systems, smoke detectors, lighting, home entertainment devices, and more. The system lets users control them all via remote control from a telephone, cell phone, over the Internet, or at home, via wallmounted keypads and touch screens.

A connected home allows all the electronics and systems in a residence to work together and give homeowners access to their home from anywhere on the planet. “Imagine a situation where there is a fire. An intelligent house can shut off the HVAC unit to avoid feeding the flames with oxygen,” states GE’s Paulson.

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