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An overview of IP Alarm Signalling

Bold Communications : 01 December, 2008  (Technical Article)
Bold Communications answer some of the questions and dispels some of the myths associated with IP alarm signalling and notification technology
How does IP work? - IP signalling uses exactly the same infrastructure as browsing the Internet, or connecting to a central server in a large organisation. Signals are sent down an ethernet cable and via a router to their destination. The signals never go near the Internet though, only round it - using the broadband lines already in place for surfing the web, for signalling alarms.

Why change from analogue? - Analogue lines are less efficient than IP lines. Sending data in packets means the line capacity is greatly increased, offering a quicker and more efficient signalling solution.

Analogue lines charge every time a signal goes through them. For IP lines, once the rental is paid for, all signals are free - massive reduction in costs.

All signals transferred down IP lines are fully digital - transported in code. This removes any problems surrounding the reliability and fluctuation of analogue signals.

What does it mean for security? - The majority of companies now (SMEs and larger) already have an IP network in place - for sending emails or getting information off the web. Using this existing infrastructure to also transmit alarm data makes signalling and installation simpler. With no more waiting for dedicated analogue lines to be installed, and no more paying for them, companies are increasingly asking their installers to move towards IP.

How reliable is it for security? - There have been concerns in the past about network reliability - these are now mostly unfounded, however there are a couple of things to be aware of. Anyone using a Public Broadband network should carefully choose their ISP; considering amount and frequency of any downtime. Explaining your use of the broadband lines for alarm signalling, increasingly common for ISPs, should ensure reduction in downtime.

For those using a Private IP Network, increasingly IT managers and Security managers need to work together to find the best solution to ensure any downtime for system maintenance is completed during opening hours and that any downtime is kept to an absolute minimum.

In either case, GPRS signalling is available as a back-up; ensuring all signals are transferred through to the central monitoring station and lines are constantly polled, so the alarm receiver detects any transmitters that go off-line and notifies the control room.

How secure is it for security? - There have been concerns about alarm data being intercepted and about general network security. IP alarm signalling protects against this in two ways -

IP alarm signalling uses the infrastructure in place for browsing the web, however never communicates with the web itself. Always ensure network security is in place, but no viruses or worms or any other problems sometimes associated with the Internet, can get into your system via IP alarm signalling.

All data sent by the IP transmitters and receivers is fully-encrypted to the Advanced Encryption Standard 128 (approved by the US Secretary of Commerce). Any alarm data intercepted cannot be interpreted or forwarded by the interceptor, ensuring the highest levels of protection.

What about grading? - BoldNet IP transmitters can be configured to be Grade 2- Grade 4, depending on the application and requirements of your insurance company.

How easy is it to install? - BoldNet IP transmitters are available as either single or dual-path. In either case, they are as simple to install as a digi. Before the units are sent out to the installer, they are configured to communicate with the customer's receiver. Once on the network, the customer's network automatically recognises the transmitter, and assigns it an IP address (if DHCP enabled. Manual IP addresses also supported). At the transmitter end, all the engineer has to do is plug in an Ethernet cable and wire into any standard existing alarm panel with a digi output.

What do I need to receive it in the control room? - You will need a BoldNet IP receiver and alarm management software. BoldNet is compatible with the majority of alarm management systems you may already have in place, or with our Gemini security management software if required.

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