Define New Models
Network Communications are integral part of new security systems
- By Ronnie Pennington
- Nov 01, 2015
Now is an exciting time to be in the business of security integration.
The quality of surveillance images are getting better in
a variety of configurations ranging from megapixels to multisensor
panoramic to thermal imaging cameras. There are also
new integrations between entire functional subsystems, such as
surveillance monitoring and access control, that have the potential to dramatically
improve overall situational awareness. And perhaps most exciting of all, there are
new capabilities based on analytics, such as motion detection and license plate ID,
that move intelligence outward toward edge devices and free up central processing
for higher-level tasks.
These new developments aren’t just bells and whistles—they are open pathways
for improved detection, functionality, and all-weather reliability and are changing
the way systems are designed and implemented.
Power is the Foundation for Every System
There’s an old Internet joke (or myth, perhaps—some people maintain it actually
happened) in which someone calls a software company’s tech support line complaining
that their word processing software had suddenly stopped working. The
tech support representative patiently runs through a long process of asking about
details of the hardware and operating system set-up, what the screen was displaying,
and checking connections before the caller says he can’t actually see whether
the monitor is correctly connected because it is too dark in the room. It turns out
that the entire area is experiencing a power outage. The intended punch line of the
joke is when the staffer instructs the caller to carefully disconnect the system, repack
it and return it to the store—because, the staffer says, the caller is “too stupid
to own a computer.”
In most versions of this story, the tech support staffer is, as expected, fired, but
perhaps for the wrong reason. His own assumptions about the status of the power
contributed as much to his wasted time as the ignorance of the caller. His own assumptions
caused him to skip over the simplest conclusion, and instead begin a
troubleshooting process for a more complex, albeit more common challenge. The
bottom line is that security integrators want to be—and should be—more informed
about the status of the system’s power before a customer experiences downtime.
It is not difficult to see how this situation happens. It’s easy to focus more sales
attention on the bells and whistles, because they are visible to users and are delivering
impressive new capabilities. But the responsibility as manufacturers, system
designers and installers goes beyond bells and whistles, to ensure compatibility,
reliability and other high-profile system attributes.
In truth, most of us in that situation would not have asked the caller the key
question first—“do you have power in your building?” The reason: because the
power grid in the United States is fairly reliable, and sustained outages are rare.
For critical systems, a basic uninterrupted power supply (UPS) is typically specified
with confidence that it will reasonably ensure that the system remains up and
running. But that may not be the case.
Today, we can—and should—do more than just include a UPS to ensure system
reliability. A UPS is an acceptable solution to bridge short-term utility power outages
but continues to leave the security system vulnerable due to the failure of an
integrated low voltage power source.
As experts agree, low-voltage power supply issues do not develop as suddenly as
one may think. They are often the result of an overload condition or other stress
factor that, if detected early enough, could be eliminated or managed in such a
way as to completely avoid the problem. In many cases, the power supply is not the
issue and could be attributed to other causes and devices, which for example, may
be drawing excessive power. This condition could have been detected if the system
was monitored remotely. Deploying power supplies capable of communicating
over the network can resolve these issues with notification functionality.
Think More like Network Managers
Pro security system management challenges are not so different from the challenges
that confront network communication managers in the IT department. As
the security industry continues its migration from analog to IP based surveillance
and access control systems, the trend is to deploy Ethernet connected products
Some recent advances in network integration rely on just this kind of communication
between subsystems. However, even these networked surveillance solutions
have mostly excluded advanced communications with the core products that make
up the foundations of these systems—power supplies and transmission products.
To ensure robust system reliability, the power supplies and transmission devices
Remote monitoring, programming and control.
- Strong diagnostic and reporting capabilities.
- The ability to group multiple products and locations based on user-defined
goals and parameters.
- E-mail and/or simple network management protocol (SNMP) notification to
send trap messages to authorized personnel when exceptions in an IP device’s
operation or status are detected.
- All status, event notifications and device programming changes should be recorded
in a detailed event log.
Monitoring Power Improves Reliability
Fortunately, new communications solutions are available for power supply and
transmission products that enable remote monitoring, control and reporting, filling
this need for increased network communications. Multiple power and transmission
products at different sites can be easily integrated, managed and controlled
remotely. Having these feature benefits, future systems will have greater reliability
and return on investment (ROI). For installing dealers, this means the elimination
of service calls and system downtime complaints, and the creation of new RMR
With new power supply and transmission devices that can be deployed with
networked status and diagnostic capabilities, security professionals have the tools
to deploy truly unified, comprehensive, networked solutions. These foundational
components are raising the standard for integrated security and surveillance. Diagnostics
and instant notifications of issues empower end users
and contracted maintenance service providers to address issues
quickly and efficiently. As a result end users’ security is also increased
dramatically around the clock.
This article originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of Security Today.