With the noise they emit, sirens and alarm bells may deter an intruder or attract the attention of a passerby, but who responds to these alarms? The cost of hiring security officers to patrol a property 24/7 is prohibitive and a luxury few businesses can afford.
Offsite monitoring provides peace of mind by ensuring security personnel are alerted when an alarm is activated so a response can be initiated, security guards dispatched, or emergency services summoned. The alarm system is connected to a central monitoring station via a traditional analog phone line, a cellular network, a radio network (GPRS/GSM), or - as is becoming increasingly more common - an IP path, which is then used to send signals from the alarm control panel to the monitoring station. Operators can see what type of alarm is coming through and take appropriate action.
All ICT system controllers include an onboard Ethernet adapter with built in IP reporting functionality, with standard 2-door controllers also including an onboard modem to communicate alarms via a traditional telephone line.
Making the move to IP Monitoring
When alarm systems first started reporting to a central monitoring station, they used a dialler which would initiate a phone call to a central monitoring station. The dialler would use a series of pulses or beeps, or DTMF (Dual-tone multi-frequency) tones to communicate, much like morse code.
As alarm monitoring became more popular, the industry settled on a number of standards or protocols for communication. The most popular of these protocols has been ContactID which sends a string of numbers representing account, area and input.
Technology has improved, and these systems have adapted to the digital world. IP alarm monitoring achieves the same thing as ContactID - it transmits an alarm message to a central monitoring station - only it does this across the internet.
The advantages of IP Monitoring
Copper phone lines are costly to maintain, while a fully IP solution utilizes your existing internet connection which can provide significant savings. It also doesn’t 'tie up' the internet connection the way an alarm dialler does with a phone line, and uses such a small amount of bandwidth that it can sit on your existing network without any noticeable effect on other traffic.
Another key feature of IP monitoring is that it is essentially always online. Many alarm diallers only test once every 24 hours, or sometimes once every 5 days! With IP monitoring, message transmission is almost instant, and a lost connection can be detected in 90 seconds or less.
Take this a step further with ArmorIP
ICT's ArmorIP protocol takes a ContactID message and encapsulates it inside a TCP/IP message. It also adds additional information where available, such as panel name, event time, serial number, user name, and much more. This data is all transmitted to the monitoring station across the internet.
The message can be received at the monitoring station either by the existing receiver (if it is IP capable), or by the ArmorIP software. The ArmorIP software has the advantage of being able to display all of the additional data that comes with the ArmorIP protocol. This means that names of users, areas, and inputs are transmitted to the monitoring station as they are seen on site, so there are no mismatches between what the monitoring station and what the people on site are looking at.