Q: I just attended an association meeting in New York and the topic was VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). From reading your column, I know you?re well aware of its implications. What developments are you hearing on the subject?
A: While the Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) flagged this as an important issue over a year ago, it has finally reached a fever pitch as cable companies aggressively deploy VoIP and alarm systems are increasingly being affected. VoIP is a marvelous technology that allows low cost telephony. But. it can be detrimental to the alarm industry and dealers unless cable companies work together with them.
Alarm signals from already existing digital alarm communicators may not be compatible with the VoIP technology used by cable companies. Further, cable companies routinely defeat the line seizure capabilities of these systems. There are an estimated 20 million alarm systems in the United States that can potentially be affected.
There are three major pitfalls of VoIP. Two of these previously mentioned are: some signals may not propagate properly over a VoIP connection; and the customer may also have its line seizure defeated. Additionally, many VoIP boxes do not have any backup power.
Dealers need to alert subscribers to the downside of using VoIP and turn on periodic test signals. While this increases the cost of monitoring, it is the only sure way you can determine that the alarm system is operational.
You need to arrange these testing intervals with your central station since a more frequent test interval may tax a central station?s communications and processing systems. AICC and SIA (Security Industry Association) are trying to convince the cable companies to change their systems to permit proper interface to alarms. It is hoped, therefore, that VoIP is a short term issue.
Status of CSAA
Q: Enhanced call verification is another topic getting a lot of attention. Is the standard for it moving along? ACSAA CS-V-01 is a standard that is sometimes called ECV or ?Enhanced Call Verification.? Actually, it is much more than that. It sets a road map for all types of verification. Enhanced call or multi-call verification is just one of the several methods of verifying an alarm. Others are video verification, audio verification, cross zoning as well as the use of biometrics. The good news is this standard has finally become an ANSI standard. It can be found in its completed form on the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) website: www.CSAAUL.org.
A sub-committee of the CSAA Standards Committee is hard at work on development of a separate video verification standard. While this technology is referenced in CS-V-01, it is merely a mention with no details on its implementation. The CSAA video verification sub-committee is primarily dealing with central station procedures for video verification. Yet another committee, under SIA will deal with the premises hardware.
Louis T. Fiore is a consultant from Sparta, NJ. He is Past President of CSAA (1997-1999) and President of L.T. Fiore, Inc. His practice includes the use of wireless and the Internet for alarm monitoring as well as regulatory issues for security systems in general. He also serves as Chairman of Central Station Alarm Association?s (CSAA) Alarm Industry Communications Committee (AICC) and Standards Committee. He is the current chairman of the SIA?s Security Industry Standards Council (SISC) and a long-time member of the Supervising Station Committee of NFPA 72. Send your questions to Lou.Fiore@secdealer.com.