Changing the Landscape
Wireless intrusion makes a big splash in commercial applications
- By Neil Evans
- Mar 01, 2015
In the past, wireless intrusion systems typically have not been the first choice
for commercial applications in North America. Wireless intrusion solutions
have been perceived as complicated systems with time-consuming installs,
and the possibility for strong interference and constant on-site maintenance.
However, as technology continues to advance, it has changed the landscape
of wireless intrusion and opened the door for commercial applications—making
wireless intrusion not only a viable option, but an ideal solution.
Interference and Privacy
Reliability and interference are long-standing concerns with wireless installations
for commercial users with people and assets to protect, but evolutions in the technology
have addressed many of these concerns. Frequency hopping, an advancement
in technology, enables for coverage of larger areas with fewer repeaters,
stronger communication and better signals.
Frequency hopping allows an intrusion device, such as a motion detector, to
hop around channels within the specified frequency at a constant pace to find the
clearest signal, making it difficult to hack or penetrate because it’s constantly moving.
It takes a large frequency band, such as the 912-918 MHz band, and divides
that into 50 channels, meaning less interference and increased robustness.
Adaptive path technology then finds the most efficient path to the intrusion
panel so that, together with frequency hopping, devices always communicate optimally.
With adaptive path technology, if the repeater or path in which the device
is talking to the panel becomes blocked or disrupted, the device will automatically
find the easiest and best path to speak with the panel without third-party
troubleshooting. With a high transmission range, reliable wireless communication,
transmission of images and audio clips can be achieved within / up to 2km / 2187
yards-line-of-sight. These technologies work together to ensure alarm events are
not missed or misread, while extending the range of the signal.
In addition, although 128-bit encryption is nothing new in the intrusion space,
coupling 128-bit encryption with frequency hopping adds another line of defense
when it comes to privacy, particularly for commercial applications that are concerned
with hackers or other impedances. This proven frequency technology is
also used by Bluetooth technology and is part of 4G, the fourth generation of
mobile telecommunications technology used in mobile devices today. These technologies
together mean such systems are sniff proof.
Another advancement that has made wireless intrusion systems a successful solution
for the commercial market is two-way synchronous communication (TDMA).
With traditional one-way devices, an alarm device sends a signal to the panel, saying
it detected motion, for example. There is no communication between the two,
and there is no way to know if the panel received the signal. Two-way devices allow
for back and forth communication.
TDMA communication makes for an ideal commercial solution because there
is less noise and each device can talk and understand each other without talking
at the same time, particularly useful for applications with a significant number of
devices. Ordered time slots for each device minimize collisions between signals and
allow for more devices in an application.
But, not all two-way communication works flawlessly. While a stronger bond
is created between devices with two-way communication, strong interference, such
as created by other devices and equipment in the area, can create issues. That’s
where dividing a large frequency band into multiple channels teamed with 128-bit
encryption, ensures reliability and privacy.
Installation and Maintenance
Privacy and reliable communication are a must for commercial intrusion applications,
but perhaps just as important is the installation and maintenance of the
systems, which add to every business or location’s bottom line. Advancements in
wireless intrusion have addressed these issues as well, making such systems desirable
for commercial applications.
During the maintenance and troubleshooting phases of a project, full two-way
communication comes in handy. The panel can give commands to each device,
rather than only being able to accept a signal from it, and opens the door for powerful
diagnostics and total remote management.
In addition, the adaptive path nature of cutting-edge wireless intrusion systems
is a benefit not only during everyday use, but during installation and changes or
renovations to a site. Installers no longer have to wait to install devices until an
entire site has been completed or renovated and all equipment has been put in. In
the past, problems could arise when a motion detector or other intrusion device
was placed in a building and then renovations were completed or new machinery
was installed that later caused disruption or interference with the alarm signals.
With new technology, intrusion systems can be installed at any phase of a construction
project, because the devices will automatically troubleshoot transmission
problems to speak with the panel.
Traditionally, installing large numbers of intrusion devices for a commercial
application has been time-consuming and complicated, requiring the installer to
go to each device, manually enroll it and determine whether the panel can hear it.
Newer technology allows installers and end users to do all this remotely. Installers
can adjust and check on initial settings, troubleshoot sensitivity levels and diagnose
problems, without having to go to each device in person.
A quick enroll process displays a placement test right on each device during
installation so that the installer can see via an LED light what the signal quality is
without checking placement results on the keypad. Technology such as this saves
both installer and end user time and money, as well as faster troubleshooting and
less down time.
The Green Factor
A secondary benefit to the efficiency of all these advancements, including adaptive
path technology and frequency hopping, is significant battery savings. Because
the intelligent intrusion devices find the easiest and closest way to speak with the
panel, battery power isn’t wasted on inefficient paths of communication or signals
that go nowhere.
Technology allows for battery savings by using less power with standard batteries,
so commercial users don’t have to spend additional money on high-capacity
batteries, just to see longer battery life. Battery life ranges from five to eight years,
depending on the device.
Gone are the days when commercial applications shied away from wireless
intrusion because of interference issues, communication problems, complicated
installations or frequent troubleshooting. All of these technology improvements,
including the convenience of easier maintenance and troubleshooting,
battery savings, and of course, highly reliable devices,
have made wireless intrusion systems a strong contender for commercial
This article originally appeared in the March 2015 issue of Security Today.