The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and Alcatel have entered into a $300 million, multi-year agreement, calling for the global communications solutions company to upgrade the healthcare provider’s communications infrastructure; as part of the agreement, Alcatel and UPMC will also establish a joint venture to develop advanced communications technologies and applications. The deal is France-based Alcatel’s largest enterprise transaction in North America.
UPMC, based in Pittsburgh, operates 19 hospitals with about 400 outpatient sites. The project, which will commence this year, includes the upgrade of UPMC’s wired and wireless data infrastructure, enterprise telephony system and contact center platforms to a new converged IP structure. The university has already installed several thousand wireless access points in anticipation and plans a total of about 30,000.
“UPMC saw that they had an issue with growing their business and remaining competitive in the market with their existing infrastructure,” said Eric Grubel, vice president for enterprise for Alcatel, North America. “They decided to form a strategic partnership with one vendor to replace their entire infrastructure. They saw an opportunity to become more efficient from an operational perspective by consolidating everything.”
“The biggest challenge was really getting a grip on everything they had,” Russo said. “Just putting in master routers and switches was only half the battle. We had to fundamentally change their business processes to make them more competitive.”
Bill Hanna, vice president of IT infrastructure at UPMC, said the new system will streamline and improve communication and enhance medical outcomes. “The design idea is to help people to virtually work together, wherever they are in the UPMC infrastructure. This will be a truly converged network.” —Susan Feinberg
Researchers at the University at Buffalo are considering how nanoelectronics could dramatically shorten, or in some cases eliminate, crippling electric power shortages. “Until now, we’ve had to do everything with wires, and that makes it very expensive,” said W. James Sarjeant, James Clerk Maxwell Chair professor of engineering at UB and director of UB’s Energy Institute in Buffalo, N.Y.
The engineers at the university are proposing to use wireless communications, by embedding tiny sensors at every point in electrical systems. The nanosensors would then send a real-time signal to a centralized computer, using wireless communications. It would monitor the power coming to every home or business in the system at every instant in time.
Such an embedded, low-cost, self-powered system would provide integrated prognostic and diagnostic capabilities, detecting problems and, in some cases, prescribing solutions. It would greatly expedite the time it would take to prevent cascading effects.
“This kind of system would save significant amounts of time and money by indicating where problems are occurring before the power actually fails,” Sarjeant said. “It would provide monitoring 100 percent of the time. To the best of our knowledge, such a system doesn’t currently exist.”
A key advantage of the wireless sensor system is that, because nanoscale sensors are very small and use low power, they could be designed into power components or retrofitted at a minimal cost, according to the UB scientists.
This system would cut back the enormous investment of time and money needed to get businesses and homes back online when they lose power for extended periods. For example, during inclement weather such as snowstorms, a wireless sensor system would show the utilities exactly where problems were occurring and would eliminate the need to dispatch electrical crews to investigate.
“We believe that the technologies to do this exist independently, and the idea is to bring them together in a manageable package,” said Jonathan Bird, UB professor of engineering and a project participant. UB scientists are currently seeking funding for their research. —Susan Feinberg
Security dealers, integrators and installers can learn how to expand their business opportunities and profitability at the inaugural Smart Home @ ISC Show, which will take place on March 28 through 30 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas. The event, part of the annual International Security Conference & Exposition West, one of the largest events of its type in the country, will showcase the latest technologies and products available for residential installation.
According to a recent report by Parks Associates based in Dallas, 70 percent of dealer revenues from residential sales currently come from traditional security systems and monitoring services, and the remaining 30 percent from advanced, nontraditional systems. This number is expected to rise dramatically over the next five years.
“Whether burglar alarms, closed-circuit television or intrusion detection, security professionals can offer their residential customers a lot more than just security systems,” said Dean Russo, group vice president, ISC portfolio of events. “There’s quite a bit of new technology that exists in automation of the home. These new low-voltage technologies work in a very similar way to how security technology works, so the dealer/installer is able to work with them.”
Security professionals can make their customers’ homes smart by integrating all of their systems such as lighting, heating and central vacuuming, Russo said.
The show, which is sponsored by the Security Industry Association (SIA) based in Alexandria, Va., will showcase the latest products in categories including home audio/video, home networking/communications and home automation controls.
Intrasonic Technology, a startup manufacturer of music distribution and communication products based in Richardson, Texas, will be an exhibitor at the show. “It’s a great way to get in front of 20,000 people,” said Robert Pinell, Intrasonic’s sales manager. “Security professionals need to stay a step ahead of the competition. We’re hoping to help them do that with our product.”
➤ Universities have become attractive targets for hackers who are taking advantage of the openness of the schools’ networks, their decentralized security and the personal information they keep on millions of young adults, The Associated Press recently reported.
➤ North American Video, Brick, N.J., recently completed the video surveillance and security system at the newly reopened Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Miss.
➤ Panasonic Security Systems, Secaucus, N.J., launched the National Open House Tour, a roving showcase of new video surveillance products and technologies for end-users, consultants, architects and engineers. The half day sessions are free of charge; see www.panasonic.com/security/openhouse.
➤ AVerMedia Technologies Inc., Milpitas, Calif., announced that its product, AVerDigi SA6416, was selected as a CES 2007 Innovations Design and Engineering Award Winner in the Integrated Home Systems/Security category.
➤ Middle Atlantic Products, Fairfield, N.J., said its entire line of solutions is now available in CSI MasterFormat Three-Part Specification. All Middle Atlantic Products specifications are available online and can be downloaded in Microsoft Word format, providing all necessary specifications in the MasterFormat standard for any application.
➤ The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) has awarded Johnson Controls Inc., Milwaukee, a $55 million contract to serve as the technology contractor for the construction of its $575 million, multibuilding Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
➤ Tri-Ed Distribution opened its new Pennsauken, N.J., branch. Tri-Ed is an independent wholesale distributor of security and low-voltage products
➤ Graybar, St. Louis, Mo., reported $3.78 billion in sales through the first three quarters of 2006, an increase of 18.9 percent over the same period last year. The company also posted a 70.1 percent increase in operating income over the first three quarters of 2005.
—Deborah L. O’Mara