Push the Panic Button

A look at three wireless options for mobile duress system transmission

The advantages: Because a life safety network does not need the high voice and data rate of Wi-Fi, most opt for a 900 MHz network designed to carry a moderate amount of data, while providing superior penetration and propagation abilities. The repeater-based 900 MHz technology is also ideal for indoor or outdoor location needs because of the repeater separation, system scalability and coverage zone.

Since the 900 MHz physical wavelength is longer than 2.4 GHz, the repeater infrastructure is significantly less than what would be required to convert a voice and data based 2.4 GHz network into a life safety equivalent.

Proprietary technologies are also, as a general rule, more secure than non-proprietary technologies. Because they are not accessible by the general public via off-the-shelf tools used to disable or interfere, either intentionally or not, these networks are much less susceptible to such interruptions and attacks.

The drawbacks: Like Wi-Fi and ZigBee, 900 MHz is a frequency range allocated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC); however, most 900 MHz systems are proprietary, which could be considered a negative characteristic by some. Another potential drawback is that 900 MHz is a U.S.-only standard. Wi-Fi and ZigBee are based on frequencies that have been adopted internationally for public use.


Mark Jarman is president of Inovonics. He has served in the security and wireless industry for more than two decades. Email him at mjarman@inovonics.com.