The Communications Evolution
September 09, 2014
Two technologies are better than one. The impact of evolving communications technologies on security systems.
When we think of a security system, it’s tempting to think of the components we touch, like control panels, keypads, and sensors. But you can’t see or touch the most essential part of the system – communication.
Let’s consider the basic organization of security systems: when an alarm event occurs, it’s conveyed from the control panel – the brain of the security system, to the central station. The central station then informs emergency responders. Keeping the communication link intact is vital, since a communication’s failure can render a security system useless.
So, how does it all work?
You might not realize it, but you’re already a communications expert. If you’ve ever had to select a cell phone’s plan, set up a home internet connection, or decide whether to keep landline phone services, you’ve dealt with many of these issues facing security industry.
Let’s consider some technologies: telephone, VoIP, cellular and internet.
In the 1970s, disco ruled. And landline devices were simply known as phones. The network serving them is called POTS, for Plain Old Telephone Service.
The gold standard in POTS infrastructure isn’t gold, it’s copper. Copper wire in telephone lines transmit signals quickly. But POTS isn’t failsafe. A wire cutter or a storm is all it takes to disrupt a line.
By the 2000s, consumers bopped at the price of the telephone service – enter Voice over IP or VoIP which converts analog signals to digital signals that are conveyed via internet. VoIP presents problems for security, including signal distortion and the lack of established standards.
Then, cellular communications expanded. Today, cell phones are everywhere. How do they work? Cellular radio networks divide land into regions called cells, defining available frequencies per cell.
Radio signals are transmitted from a device to base stations. Cellular radio networks can transmit security alarm signals. These wireless networks are tamper-resistant and fast. They require power, but backup batteries can be used.
We all know that broadband internet is essential for business and life. It can be key for security as well. A cost effective solution, internet offers feature functionality, but requires power and connection speed varies. That’s a lot of information, so let’s review:
Communications technologies includes POTS, VoIP, Cellular radio systems and internet. Each can be used for security systems.
So what should you do?
Rely on more than one. That’s the idea behind using a dual technology approach, which combines internet and cellular systems. This approach combines with the Honeywell’s AlarmNet Network Operating Center to deliver a solution made robust to redundancy.