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Convergence - Where Will It Lead?


Joe Harris

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blog-0964986001357772216.jpgCrossing of paths...

Alarm Transmission Systems (ATS) are increasingly adding capabilities that would traditionally have been performed by dedicated devices, for example CCTV verification.

At the same time Control and Indicating Equipment (CIE, or control panels in plain English) feature built in IP communication functionality and are giving us access to Home Automation integration and more.

This type of blurring of what would previously have been clear and distinct roles that equipment played is becoming much more common and is set to extend even further in the future.

We are already in a position where individual cameras and detectors of all types can communicate directly with the software at an Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) without utilising at ATS if they so wished.

Installers are being empowered with the ability to not only connect instantly to a remote CIE to analyse a potential fault, but to be in a position to connect directly to a detector or camera or any other component of a system to amend settings, re-enable or even repurpose a generic multi-purpose device to enable the maximum potential protection for clients at all times.

This type of convergence leads to some fantastic opportunities and will mean that the next few years will certainly be interesting. It will also however, mean that those whom are writing the standards to which we each adhere, will have to write them without constraints on the form of equipment utilised in some cases. A very tough ask of them when they are trying to give reasonably specific guidance.

Confusion or cohesion?

Given this merging of functions and the seemingly inevitable move towards every component being addressable where does that leave our suppliers?

Will there be a place for specialised equipment if the same function is provided to the same standard in an integrated manner by another supplier?

Does this lead to an eventual move away from processing of alarms by dedicated CIE at the protected property to instead provide processing 'in the cloud' at the ARC or any other centralised location?

Will instant and thorough control of remote devices by installers lead to a change in business models when attendance is much reduced?

Does dedicated equipment improve the structure of the overall system or benefit us in another way?

Will ATS suppliers be bypassed or will they 'lead the revolution'?

Will we see less competition as a result or more?

As always, please feel free to discuss, sharing your thoughts and views on this subject…

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Confusion!

Convergence brought me here and in the short time I've done this I've seen others like the IT industry join the CCTV and Telecoms and visa versa electronic markets. I'm currently installing a fire system into a new monitoring station that originated as a guarding co and they are using apps for alarms with no interest in standard. Alarm co going to electrical or home automation. So little cohesion witnessed here. And we're all to blame.

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Convergence requires integration of diverse products at the premises and delivery of the data from each of those systems to an operator screen or diagnostic platform. If you go the route of using an individual "manufacturers own" comms device for every panel, DVR, camera etc you won't get the "integrated" feel/performance needed for confirmation and management. You'll also get variances in the way these comms systems operate, protect the data (i.e. many different types of encryption and key management), are supported and approved. Asking the AMS at the ARC to "manage" the comms (polling, encryption/decryption, statistics, fault flood control etc) for every type of manufacturers device is a big task - and possibly undesirable. ARCs could end up with AMS software which is bloated, requires ever more regular updates and hardware improvements to manage such a diverse set of tasks. Using ATS providers to deliver the integration at the premises (i.e. a communicator with multiple data interfaces to legacy and modern equipment such as panels, DVRs, cameras etc) also requires a receiver or management platform in a hosted environment or at the ARC. The disadvantage for ARCs is that there is more equipment to manage, but the advantage is that those receivers are dedicated to a specialised task - taken the burden off the AMS which was designed specifically for event management. For installers, using an ATS provider to deliver a comms path for UDL to diverse platforms means that the security and dial up costs are taken care of - as well as the complexity of access to the site (either via a call or via the firewall). If using individual comms devices to achieve this the firewall configuration (or number of different types of modem) becomes unweildy, difficult to manage and undesirable for the end customer. A hard subject to convey everything in "text", but if our view is that if you want all your information delivered to an operator screen, and you want secure remote access to your devices then an integrated ATS provider approach can deliver you the "signalling architecture" you need.

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