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PerformanceNet Blog

Fire and Security Alarm Central Station Monitoring (CSM) is a hot topic in the Northwest these days. The replacement of copper phone lines, with fiber optics and other digital transmission methods are causing many building owners and managers very big headaches. Several options exist to replace, or better utilize, your antiquated Digital Alarm Communication Transmitter (DACT) and everyone has a pitch why theirs is the best. As a systems Integrator, we see and hear them all. Our research has influenced us to believe that PerformanceNet technology, utilizing AES Radio hardware, is the best. You no longer need dedicated, dial-up, cellular or Internet services to your premises…at all. Alarm communications takes place via a UL Listed, self-healing mesh radio network. All necessary maintenance and upgrades are completely transparent.

  • I've been told I was a little windy in this blog...So, if you are just curious about the technology, jump to the bottom and run the annimation.

As with all technology, central station monitoring is moving to the next step…whether we like it or not. It used to be that dial-up or dedicated telephone lines were the most reliable (or only) method to report your fire, security and utility alarms to a Central Station for the dispatch of appropriate personnel. Unfortunately, with the “advance” of telephone companies to digital transmission via fiber optic media, the connection to the Central Station via dedicated or dial-up telephone lines has begun to crumble.

 

The first challenge is simple enough to grasp…if you replace any portion of the miles of “dedicated” copper that is used to connect a particular site to the Central Station with fiber optic cable, you interrupt the flow of current through the copper and render the connection useless.

 

The second challenge is a bit more complicated and much more difficult to diagnose when experiencing failure.  It used to be that when you placed a phone call (or fax…or Central Station transmission), a series of switches between you and the party to which you wished to speak would all physically connect copper lines for your analogue conversation (or transmission of data) to take place. We all remember the sound of a fax…the weird, screechy noise that made your skin crawl if you picked up the line by accident…that was analogue data (tones) being sent. Now we send digital packets of information rather than a series of tones. As you can imagine, legacy equipment and hundreds of thousands of Central Station accounts are still set up to transmit and receive these old style signals. Replacement of analogue transmission (via copper lines) with digital (via fiber optics or other digital transmission method(s)) means that the signal must be converted from analogue to digital (so that it can be sent via the new and improved fiber network) and back again, by several different phone providers along the way, so that the legacy equipment can understand the message. Those of us that have gone with VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) for our home phone will relate to how garbled this conversion can be. For instance, I was pretty impressed when I was able to get a text sent to my smart phone when a voice message was received by my new VOIP telephone answering service…but a little concerned when my Mother left me a message, something about a “red wig”, fortunately her tests had come back “negative”. Occasionally (often I think), this conversion is not very accurate and the information is garbled. Fortunately, Central Station receivers have a check process where the information is verified as reliable, or not, and will typically not accept the account information until it is considered complete and a “kiss-off” is sent to the DACT that confirms the message has been received…When this conversion does not happen correctly, a kiss-off is not sent, and the information will likely be sent over and over again…sometime to a degree considered to be “runaway” by the Central Station. Each time the call is made there is a charge from the phone provider and worse, when the quantity of calls is significant and from a coming from a number of accounts with the same issue, the Central Station becomes busy dealing with this “runaway” and may be distracted from other legitimate emergency information coming through.

 

The best solution is to provide the information to be sent to the Central Station as digital information in the first place and send it over an entirely digital transmission means from the protected premise to the CSM facility…rather than rely on the many different telephone providers to play nice and do a good job in converting back and forth from analogue to digital, depending on whether their piece of the network along the way is copper or fiber. The use of cellular transmission does this but also relies on cellular networks…The ones that we know and love for the “dropped call” and that charge by the call once over your “plan minutes”. Internet dialers are available for this purpose and offer a very good solution to those Customers that are capable of managing their network at a level worthy of transmitting Life Safety information (Fire & Security Alarms). Our experience has been that the radio network offers the best of all worlds. We provide a minimum of two IP Links, which provide Internet communications to the CSM facility, one primary and one for backup. Each link is connected to a different ISP (Internet Service Provider) and utilizes a dial-up connection as additional backup…so you basically have 4 different methods of failover. The network is maintained by a professional alarm service provider that appreciates the responsibility of Life Safety, as opposed to the inconvenience of a dropped call. This self-healing mesh radio network is famous for having survived hurricanes and wild fires while other forms of communications crumble. It was developed for demanding military applications, is UL 864 for fire alarm reporting and UL Grade AA for security.  Sooner or later, you have to make the move to a new technology for alarm monitoring. We’ve done the research and have put our resources into establishing PerformanceNet, utilizing AES-IntelliNet technology, and invite you to join us in the building of a network that will be there when you need it. Contact us for details.

 

Below is a short annimated explanation of how things work:

How Mesh Radio Technology Works