Intrusion Detection: The Advantages of Wireless for Commercial Enterprises

Not since the September 11 attacks has wireless security been of greater importance than it is today for commercial and life safety applications. Unlike its wired counterpart, wireless provides increased flexibility, performance, reliability and confidence that makes it a leading choice for nearly all security applications.

Security executives’ budgets are tight and getting tighter. Those tasked with monitoring security are faced with increasingly shorter time frames to install and update security systems. With time constraints becoming more of an issue, wireless technology has become an invaluable tool. Due to the labor savings of not having to pull wire from the security panel out to the sensors, installation of a wireless security system saves time and money. Depending on the difficulty of the installation, these savings can be impressive, and there are some environments which simply can’t be hardwired at all.

Wireless security systems have been used in commercial, retail, financial and government institutions for more than 20 years. As commercial enterprises have become convinced of the reliability, value and dependability of a wireless approach, they continue to expand the use of wireless to additional locations, facilities and especially applications. Some of the most recognizable facilities and landmarks in the world have adopted wireless security systems for their buildings, providing a testament to the maturity and proven performance of the technology.

Functional advantages of wireless
Security systems that rely solely on wired connections perform adequately in static locations, but fixing conduit and stringing wire can be difficult or impossible in many commercial areas. Once the pipe is in place, it is nearly impossible to easily and quickly adapt to changing site plans or seasonal adjustments. Similarly, when a facility is upgraded during a warehouse expansion, for example, the installation cost for wireless provides significant savings. Here are some additional benefits to taking the wireless approach:

Avoid Costly Installs
Hardwiring a security system can be cumbersome, time-consuming and costly and some areas can be nearly impossible to wire. For example, take a distribution center with dozens of overhead doors. Implementing a hardwired solution would require pipe and conduit, the associated hangers, the wire carried inside the pipe, the labor to install the run of pipe and wire and even staging or lift equipment.

A wireless approach allows any commercial enterprise to easily adapt to facility adjustments, site plan changes or new monitoring requirements. Older facilities can present additional wiring challenges, due to thick walls, high ceilings and asbestos abatement issues. A large warehouse with a small out building with a new requirement to monitor for intrusion is the perfect place for wireless. Instead of paying thousands trenching from the main warehouse to the remote building, wireless devices are simply mounted where needed.

Reduce Maintenance
Supervision is the ability of a security system to monitor the health of the connection between the security sensor and the security panel. Wireless supervision automatically monitors the wireless link between the sensor and the security panels to ensure devices are operational without manual intervention. Intelligent wireless systems monitor the integrity of the wireless link between the transmitter and the receiver, as well as the status of the transmitter, providing battery and tamper information.

Provide Additional Functionality
Wireless also offers additional functional advantages. The most obvious example is a wireless security pendant that gives key employees the ability to trigger an alarm from anywhere in the building or parking lot. Pendants also can be used as safety buttons for employees who work alone in the event of an accident or emergency.

The economic advantages of wireless are clear, as in this example of a distribution center which presented numerous security challenges arising from multiple entry ways, material goods that need to be tracked and protected and other potential hazards.

A typical distribution center building is characterized by a large number of overhead doors where stock is off-loaded from either trucks or railcars and re-loaded onto freight vehicles for delivery. These facilities have very high ceilings, large open areas and millions of dollars of inventory. Given the amount of inventory that must be managed and tracked, these facilities are large by their nature, translating into multiple entry points that must be monitored. The primary focus is on monitoring against intrusion, including the access gates, the roadways to and from the building and the building itself.

The greater the number of monitored points, the larger the cost savings in implementing a wireless solution. Typical savings of $12,469 to over $51,000 per location are attainable, depending on the size of the facility and the number of monitored detection points. With labor and cable costs on the rise, these savings are likely to increase considerably over time.

Perfect for upgrades and retrofit
While most locations have an existing security and/or monitoring system in place, successful enterprises are usually performing a number of upgrades somewhere in their facilities. This continuous renewal of the underlying security system presents an excellent opportunity to examine the merits of implementing a wireless security solution.

While the number and types of burglary and intrusion detection devices can vary from example to example, the goal of each installation remains the same—to keep assets and employees safe and secure and to reduce losses from robberies and break-ins.

Wireless security has existed in commercial enterprises for decades. Early adopters started with wireless pendants and evolved their solutions over time. Business owners are finding that after they adopt the infrastructure to accommodate wireless sensors, they can easily scale the security system by adding additional monitored points to the platform, reaping greater economic benefits and boosting the system’s value overall.

About the author: Mark Jarman is the president of Inovonics. He has served in the security and wireless industry for more than two decades and can be reached at