When GSM comes to mind, many initially think of its use as a mobile network used by over three billion people worldwide, according to the GSMA, an association that represents the worldwide mobile communications industry. O ne may also be familiar with the functionality of a Subscriber Identity Module, or what most refer to as a SIM card. Yet its use has gone beyond just that of a mobile network. Today, GSM is a primary tool for many wireless alarm communications systems.
“Central station monitoring has traditionally been used to monitor physical security systems, such as burglar alarms, fire alarms and life safety systems,” explained Michael C. Petty, vice president of Sales for GuardTrax, Intergis, Cranford , N.J. “GSM and GPRS open an entirely new market for central stations. Central stations and monitoring companies can now offer monitoring services to private security firms that are constantly struggling to monitor and manage their field security forces.”
What exactly is GSM?
Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) is a radio network that includes General Packet Radio Service (GPRS). These standards for transmission of data have been around for years, originating in Europe and are dependable global cellular standards. While not the only standard of wireless transmission available, central stations have seen an increase in use of GSM technology. Most commonly, it is used as a network in which the central station can alert a homeowner directly to his mobile or handheld device in the case of a home burglary after first getting an alert to the central station. The availability of enhanced services such as e-mail or SMS notification add convenience and value to the operation of the system.
According to Gordon Hope, general manager for Honeywell's AlarmNet and Total Connect Solutions, Melville, N.Y., broad standard acceptance was one of the reasons Honeywell designed its latest alarm radios around the GSM standard.
“GSM is a solid solution for not only life safety signals, but it deals with the future disruptive choices consumers are making relative to their phone service and Internet connections,” explained Hope. “Customers choosing to cut costs where possible are moving to less expensive VoIP phone service or Internet providers. What's nice about the security industry installing GSM radios for life safety is that the consumer can make their own decisions about their phone and Internet providers without impacting the reliability and flexibility offered by GSM radio solutions. It is becoming more apparent that not all VoIP or Internet solutions provide the same level of dependability for the delivery of life safety signals that GSM does, so the benefits are big.”
Earlier wireless products used the same process, according to Hope, but the technology was limited in the amount of data it could transmit. “GSM by contrast can send a lot of data which now offered a backbone for value added services,” explained Hope. These services, he said, will produce the next wave of selling opportunity in the industry, despite the downturn in the economy.
For Intergis, GSM is just another positive application that helps them provide real-time response through their GuardTrax solution. In turn, GuardTrax provides central stations an opportunity to serve the guard services industry by monitoring the movements and activity of field service personnel, according to Petty.
“For years, central stations and monitoring companies have sought an alliance with private guard service companies, yet there has never been a way for these two different groups to support each other,” said Petty. “GuardTrax uses GSM and GPRS data transmission to enable central stations to get into the security officer monitoring and management business.”
Some systems have built-in abilities to transmit and receive data from multiple communications devices or technologies. These new systems allow end-users unlimited lifestyle conveniences when coupled with sensors and even video cameras. The trend in the desire and acceptance of these systems will continue and the ease of installation through the use of wireless technology helps the dealer future proof its security installations.
Offering unique security and communications systems is now a way of life for Ron Webb, system designer, Interface Security Systems, Earth City , Mo.
“We try to differentiate ourselves through solutions and applications other than front door and back door installations.” One of the ways Interface is getting ahead, Webb said, is keeping up with the trend of customers getting away from using copper lines. “People do not want to maintain an extra line if they are not using it.” As a result, traditional security transmission to the company's central station had to be rerouted and this is where GSM and GPRS come in as either a backup or primary source of communication. Interface, Webb said, uses cellular and Internet backup on a Honeywell developed product which allows for the various modes of communication to be accommodated in the panel. The panel will instantly transmit the information back to the central station or the end-user depending on the information needing to be relayed.
Webb said one of his customers currently uses their system as an alert for when children arrive home from school—a text is sent directly to the cell phone from the system once the child enters in their code at the home. Another client maintains a vacation home's humidity and temperature levels through sensors. If a problem occurs, service, maintenance or other providers can be let into the home remotely and the residence locked up similarly after they've gone.
Mobile communications help central stations monitor non-critical events, keeping customers in touch remotely and in an instant.
Mobile Alphabet–Defining GSM and GPRS
GSM is a cellular network allowing users to connect to it by searching for cells in its vicinity.
The Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) is estimated to be in use by 80 percent of the global mobile market, according to the GSMA.
GSM networks operate in various frequency ranges to send information from the mobile to the base station.
The General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) is a network for the transmission of data which uses existing GSM network to transmit and receive TCP/IP based data to and from GPRS mobile devices.
The year 2000 marked the launch of the first commercial GPRS services, according to the GSMA. GPRS was added to the GSM cellular network to accommodate increased data capabilities and speed by the system.