Most dealers are familiar wireless intrusion detection devices – motion detectors and door/window transmitters, and the like – and understand the advantages of wireless. Because wireless eliminates the labor costs running of cable and trenching, the economic advantages are clear. Likewise, wireless avoids the difficulties presented by traditional hardwiring. Wireless devices can be simply mounted where they are needed, as they are needed, ensuring a timely completion and minimizing disruption.
Often wireless is employed in security installations to address issues that hard-wired solutions simply cannot. Some areas are nearly impossible to hardwire, like historic facilities with thick walls and high ceilings or large expanses of glass windows in entryways or foyers between departments. Other times wireless is necessary because the area that needs secured is mobile or seasonal. Whatever the case, wireless intrusion detection devices are often employed to solve problems that traditional wired systems cannot.
Wireless has potential well beyond intrusion detection. Understanding the breadth of wireless solutions can allow you to offer cost-effective solutions to problems others can’t solve and add simple applications that increase the size of any installation. When quoting a new job, understanding wireless allows you to be more consultative when working with your customers; when working with existing customers, understanding wireless allows you to upsell current customers as needs change.
The more you know about wireless applications, the more solutions you can offer your customers.
For instance, you might not have considered:
Wireless temperature monitoring is becoming more and more common in server rooms, sending an alert when the temperature rises above a certain threshold. The same can be applied to outbuildings or other places in danger of pipes freezing. Threshold temperature alarms from wireless temperature monitoring transmitters can be integrated directly into nearly any security alarm panel.
Temperature monitoring is also an increasingly attractive option for hospitals across the United States and clinical labs within the larger institutions. The benefit for clinical laboratorians can be significant: wireless monitoring takes less time than manual logging, is more efficient and provides more accurate and reliable temperature readings.
In the United States, the material cost to repair water damage ranges from $12 to $24 per square foot, with an additional labor variance dependent on the location. If the damage occurs in a multistory building, multiply the figure by the number of floors, ceilings and walls impacted. If water damage alone isn’t enough to warrant early detection, once material like drywall or wood gets wet it can create the ideal conditions for mold. With mitigation costs similar to that of water damage, total repair costs can quickly double.
There are many potential culprits that can cause water damage. There is the human factor allowing a sink to overflow, a slow leak from a pipe, a faulty toilet or leaking appliances and water heaters. Pipes can freeze and burst. A wireless water detection transmitter can integrated into almost any security panel to send an alarm as soon as water is detected, allowing the issue to be fixed before serious damage is incurred.
Panic buttons exist to protect individuals from personal harm and are usually integrated into security panels to provide instant alerts to internal security personnel or law enforcement in the case of an emergency event. There are two kinds of panic buttons: fixed and mobile. Fixed panic buttons can be installed anywhere in a facility — a receptionist’s desk, for instance — and tied to a location, which can be sent with the alert. They can be either wired end points or wireless. Mobile panic buttons are carried by staff and provide the same benefit: immediate notification in the case of an emergency event. They can be added to any security panel just as easily as fixed panic buttons.
The activation of a panic button can also be integrated to alert law enforcement and internal security and provide mass notification to everybody in the facility within seconds. When integrated into a complete security system, they can trigger pan-tilt-zoom cameras in the area to focus on the threat or even initiate a facility lockdown.
Most of us are familiar with the fire pull stations available to summon the fire department in the case of an emergency. Drawing on that, there are pull stations also available to summon the police. These operate in much the same way as a panic button, but whereas panic buttons are often discreet, police pull stations are usually clearly marked and illuminated.
Pull stations are usually located in common areas and/or outdoors. They are available to provide security to any person in the area. An example might be the outdoor common areas of a multi-family housing community or a business campus. If any member of the community were to find themselves confronted with an emergency situation, they would have the ability to call for help immediately without the necessity of their own dedicated panic button.
Gunshot detection systems use acoustic and infrared sensors to immediately detect firearm discharges. They can even pinpoint the location of the gunshot on a map and provide the shooter’s movements as he or she moves through the facility. Because the profile of a gunshot is so specific and most detection systems use a combination of different types of sensors, false alarms are nearly nonexistent.
Gunshot detection is available for both indoor and outdoor applications. The greatest advantage is the ability to send an alarm within seconds of a firearm discharge, alerting law enforcement and anybody in the area, without the need of human intervention. As with panic buttons, a gunshot detection system can trigger cameras, which, combined with location information, provides critical information to both law enforcement, as well as security and staff within the facility. Also like panic buttons, they can be integrated to initiate automatic lockdowns.
Access control for primary entrances is a common and important component of security systems. However, uncontrolled openings — often doors that open only from the inside or are meant to remain locked — regularly go overlooked. In one high-profile recent active shooter event, the shooter propped open an exit door and used that to bring in a number of weapons, which he then used to murder two dozen people and wound scores more. In the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, it was an open door alert that led to discovering the shooter’s position.
Any uncontrolled opening can be easily monitored with a door/window security sensor added to any security system or control panel. This would provide immediate notification if the door is opened, alerting staff. As with both panic buttons and gunshot detection systems, cameras could even be triggered to provide video of whomever has opened the door.
There are even opportunities for wireless devices in outdoor applications. Photobeam detectors, for instance, offer a battery-powered, wireless point-to-point perimeter solution. These are most often used to create a security perimeter beam system in outdoor locations, often along a perimeter fence. Because the photoelectric detectors are battery powered, there’s no need to run power to them, so that trenching and the running of cable is eliminated.
Photobeam detectors are particularly useful in high-value outdoor locations where there is not a significant security presence. For instance, the utility substations that make up our country’s electrical grid have long been known to be a soft target for vandals, copper thieves, and even terrorists. Perimeter protection can send alarms the minute there is an unauthorized intruder at a substation.
An example of a more esoteric solution can be found in pulse counting applications. Pulse counting transmitters are most often used for water, gas and electric submetering applications, but they can also be used for any counting application, from turnstiles to measuring the performance of devices or processes to provide benchmarks for improvement.
For example, applying pulse counting to building energy use can allow the building’s energy performance to be measured over a period of a time so that opportunities for improvement can be located and energy savings verified.
Carbon monoxide detection
There’s a reason carbon monoxide gas is called the silent killer. It’s odorless and colorless, and victims quickly become so disoriented that they are unable to save themselves by either exiting the building or calling for assistance.
Because of this, carbon monoxide detectors have become nearly as ubiquitous as smoke detectors, though until recently they have not been available as components of a fully functional security/fire system. Now, however, wireless carbon monoxide detectors exist that can be integrated into nearly any system, sending alerts whenever carbon monoxide is detected. The best of these new carbon monoxide detectors meet the UL 2075 (Gas and Vapor Detectors and Sensors) and California State Fire Marshall (CSFM) regulatory approvals.
These are only a few of the applications available. The reality is that with the flexibility of wireless transmitters, the number of applications are nearly endless. Universal transmitters are available that are designed for use with almost any standard contact or sensor. These have been integrated with everything from miniature curtain passive infrared screens to protect museum exhibits to activating windows to release police canines.
Knowledge of wireless can allow you to expand not only the number of solutions you can offer, but also the range of your potential customers. Even those who have systems already in place can easily benefit from wireless solutions.
One of the greatest advantages of wireless technology is its flexibility. Wireless add-on receivers allow most wireless devices to be seamlessly integrated with almost any security panel. There are also many types of serial receivers and even IP gateway, designed to allow their integrability into nearly any system.
Whether you are consulting with a new customer or upselling a current customer, a better knowledge of wireless solutions can only increase your value to them.
Michael Um is a senior product manager at Inovonics and a member of the SIA RISE program, a networking group that fosters the careers of young professionals in the security industry. The group is available to all young professionals under 40 or individuals who have been in the security industry for less than two years whose companies are members of SIA. Learn more about RISE and how you can get involved.