EC: Jeron's communications products, including emergency phones, are already digital. Integration to wireless phones, two-way radios, wireless emergency call pendants, pocket pagers and other such devices has already been accomplished. Wire consumption itself in communications and security systems has greatly been reduced. Years ago a wire was needed for every single line, much like the visual of an old switchboard. Now as few as two lines can be run that are controlled by a central computer. Analog has some uses, but it has already been supplanted by digital. I see fiber optics as the next step forward after digital.
SS: From Talk-A-Phone's standpoint, this question is related to the homeland security issue and the issue of integration. Talk-A-Phone is now releasing a new product called WEBS, or Wide-area Emergency Broadcast System. WEBS integrates into one of our towers a Talk-A-Phone emergency phone, blue light/strobe, and optionally a PTZ camera, with high-power paging. The administrator can connect to the paging either by RF or though a telephone line. The RF receivers are available in virtually any licensed band that the facility is currently using, and they enable the security office to call a single tower, a group of towers, or all towers simultaneously. The emergency phone itself can also be on its own RF link.
... We are all familiar with emergency broadcast systems from the Cold War days. These systems continue to be installed and used to alert entire towns or even cities of natural disasters such as tornados, deploying power paging of up to 2,400 watts. WEBS is designed to address security issues such as smaller-scale chemical accidents at a university, fires or terrorist attacks against soft targets such as shopping centers, schools and office complexes.
If an emergency call is placed to security to report an incident, the strobe immediately starts flashing. As soon as the call is answered, the emergency phone automatically tells security where the call is coming from. Depending on the nature of the incident, security can not only dispatch appropriate personnel, but can page the exact area where the call is coming from, telling people in that area what to do. Security can also then separately page surrounding areas, telling people in those areas what action they should take, such as avoiding a certain location due to a certain problem. By combining these two technologies we have enhanced the power of each to deal with scenarios we could not have imagined two years ago.
Marleah Blades is managing editor of ST&D. She can be reached at Marleah.firstname.lastname@example.org .