The continued move to IP technology is a bonus for end users and customers who can reap so many more benefits than security alone, such as human resources functions, time and attendance and even analytics for retail and other markets. But one of the drawbacks, according to the systems integration community, has been learning the technology and how to deploy it effectively without spending too much time configuring it in the field.
Well, the manufacturers of the world have recognized this potential shortfall and are responding, with IP devices and connectivity that is becoming more intuitive, simpler to use and best of all—easier to install.
This week at ISC West 2013 in Las Vegas, it’s evident that many suppliers have been hard at work the drawing boards trying to address the concerns of the installing contractor. They understand that time is money, and a contractor may decide not to offer a new technology if it proves to be a headache for their technicians.
Across the board, in IP fire systems communicators, intercoms and even storage devices, IP connectivity is getting easier than ever.
New forms of fire communications
In fire products, which continue to move to GSM (Global System for Mobile) communications for primary and secondary signaling, ease of use is tagging along. According to Ken Gentile, product marketing manager for Fire-Lite Alarms and Honeywell Power in Northford, Conn., the company’s new 4G version of its IP/GSM fire alarm communicator “seamlessly connects to the dialer of any fire alarm panel with no additional configuration required, resulting in shorter installation times,” which of course equates to an immediate labor cost savings. The IPGSM-4G, highlighted by Honeywell Fire Systems America at ISC West, eliminates the need for POTS lines and replaces them with cellular/4G or Internet/IP communications.
The product also lends flexibility to the central station or third party monitoring provider. The IPGSM-4G’s dual path technology offers central station communication via any of the three configurable communication paths including GSM only, IP only or IP primary and GSM backup. It can be configured for cellular only operation to provide a quick solution for installations where phone lines or Internet service are unavailable. This multi-GSM platform communicator is also capable of transmitting fire alarm events over any of the three (2G, 3G or 4G) cellular communication platforms, depending on signal availability.
“In the next few years, there will be a significant change in fire alarm communications that will have an impact on many installations across the country. For those having already upgraded their customers to IP or wireless-based communications platform, it will be no surprise. For those waiting until the last minute, a hectic period of transition could be in their future,” said Gentile.
Honeywell Power currently offers the IPGSM-4G to any existing fire alarm control panel that has a DACT. It allows the installer to configure the communicator to talk to a central station over any of the three communication paths. By utilizing IP- or GSM-based technologies, the installer can select the appropriate communication path that meets their needs and effortlessly configure their fire alarm system to begin transmitting events.
Keeping it simple and effective
Intercoms and paging systems are increasingly IP based and Barix released and is showing at ISC West a simplified multi-point paging and intercom, designed to connect fixed and mobile devices and “strip away the complexity of IP,” said Johannes G. Rietschel, chief executive officer and founder of Barix AG. “The new paging solution allows integrators to set up multi-point systems in minutes,” he said.
The plug-and-play solution combines fixed and mobile paging to extend reach and capability, while removing configuration hassles typically associated with IP. Dedicated Barix paging firmware enables the paging master to automatically identify all zones and Barix IP hardware on the network, including other paging stations and receivers. In addition, a Barix iOS paging app enables iPhones and iPads as paging devices—cleanly integrating mobile capability into the overall solution.