Using System Smarts to Your Advantage

End-users can monitor events and plan responses

Standard “tools” in current security and low-voltage equipment and peripherals allow installing contractors to more accurately pinpoint events so the end-user can plan an appropriate response. Systems are smarter than ever, and electrical contractors can use the vast array of technology to their advantage and to help the customer with applications.

In nearly every facet of security equipment manufacturing, the latest technology includes savvy software and built-in functions that perform not only normal security, but system supervision, checks, monitoring and transmission.

Closed-circuit television surveillance (CCTV) is one of many areas of low-voltage in which you can use new technology and capabilities to provide more intuitive services and enhanced security. Combined with Internet and wireless capabilities, CCTV is an all-around intrusion detection solution.

With these tools, end-users can more accurately monitor events and plan responses and can react to potential security hazards or breaches before the fact, providing an added edge to protection and detection.

Piggyback and integrate

Customers not only can view selected cameras over the Internet, Ethernet or other method of transmission, but they can also extend the technology for use over the cellular network. Perseus Wireless, San Diego, unveiled at the International Security Conference & Exposition a technology that uses a video server and a company’s existing WiFi/Ethernet/LAN connection to transmit 15 frames per second of secure video over the cellular network to a cell phone. “These live, high-quality video feeds serve many purposes for the end-user,” said Marshall Merrifield, president/chief executive officer and co-founder of Perseus. “Real-time, full-motion video can be delivered to mobile phones anywhere, anytime. A warehouse owner can supervise employees over the cell phone, check on activity, or assess security,” he said.

Advanced MPEG-4 compression is deployed to produce the images, and the video server can be connected to existing security cameras, CCTV systems and DVRs over the standard cellular network, beefing up the intelligence of cameras in retrofit applications.

Camera intelligence

iOmniscient recently introduced a patented heuristic algorithm to its IQ Surveillance Systems. The product enhances the intelligence of an existing CCTV system. With it, a CCTV camera can be programmed to find tiny objects in a crowded area, or alert personnel of objects within the field of view that are suspicious or not considered part of the normal scene. For example, the object might be a small suitcase left behind a planter or next to a desk—which has the potential of being a bomb, said Dr. Rustom Kanga, chief executive officer. The system can also be used for behavior tracking, with images available via a PDA or other wireless device, he added.

System smarts keep getting better, especially in the area of camera surveillance. Cameras are available in ultra-high resolution mega pixels, with IP technology. IQinvision, San Clemente, Calif., recently introduced a camera that allows each unit to record and playback images without client software. The camera records using standard FTP network storage capabilities.

In every product category, innovation continues to bring intuitiveness to security and access control is no exception. Products combine technologies such as magnetic stripe and proximity, meeting different operating standards d in one credential. Cards also offer different levels of security and access as well, depending on the individual user.

New fire smarts

A sound fire protection and life safety plan also includes new systems and services with supervision. As part of fire code compliance, building owners must physically inspect each fire extinguisher, and this can be a costly endeavor in labor and manpower.

MIJA Inc., Rockland, Mass., recently introduced an active monitoring technology for fire extinguishers. With solid-state electronics housed in a standard spiral wound Bourdon tube pressure gauge and a sensor module, the fire extinguisher becomes a fully supervised component of a monitored alarm system. The unit also has a supervised output for signaling an alert to a monitoring panel when the extinguisher is removed or pressure falls below an acceptable level. The Utah State Fire Board recently amended its state fire code to permit electronic monitoring of fire extinguishers in lieu of 30-day inspections, and other authorities—in Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire and New Jersey—have given the go-ahead. “Fire equipment industry studies show that 90 percent of inspections don’t happen,” said John McSheffrey, vice president of business development. “By implementing electronic monitoring 24/7, safety is increased and liability is reduced.”

From surveillance to intrusion detection to fire supervision and more, system smarts are proving that there are many ways to secure a facility effectively, and new technology can make it happen.

Editor’s note: As this issue went to press, the International Code Council approved the automatic fire extinguisher monitoring method as acceptable supervision in lieu of 30-day physical inspections. EC

O’MARA is the president of DLO Communications in Park Ridge, Ill., specializing in low-voltage. She can be reached at 847.384.1916 or

About the Author

Deborah L. O'Mara

Freelance Writer
Deborah L. O’Mara is a journalist with more than two decades experience writing about security, life safety and systems integration, and she is the managing director of DLO Communications in Chicago. She can be reached at

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