Chiron Security Communications: Security communications professionals




AoIP is transforming the world of alarm monitoring

October 17th 2012

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AoIP is transforming the world of alarm monitoring – what does this remarkable market shift mean for you?

Eight years ago, when the first systems started to appear allowing Alarms over IP (AoIP), there were
concerns as to whether this new and untried technology was reliable enough to be an acceptable tool for the security sector.

Fast-forward to 2012 and the market couldn’t be more different. Now, in nearly every country in Europe, AoIP is the preferred technology.

There has been a steady realisation that sending alarms over IP (via Ethernet, broadband or mobile
technology, such as GPRS or 3G) offers significant advantages to both the industry and its customers.
Not least IP is now generally accepted as being more reliable than the old PSTN/ISDN systems it replaces.
This year, putting an official ‘stamp of approval’ on this revolution, the new European Standards for Alarm transmission which require greater encryption and dual path, favours AoIP.

The two related markets at the centre of all this change, the AoIP technology market and the AoIP vendor market, are both maturing rapidly. They are rationalising and providing users with a good choice of stable and proven systems. As one of Europe’s major players we have seen this at first hand, watching as
vendors have entered the market, seeing the market rationalise, and watching again as players have left.
I have seen small, local vendors offering proprietary solutions in Australasia, Europe, the UK, the US and South Africa, all attempting to enter this market.

Many developers think that AoIP is easy, and up to a point it is. But only up to a point. We have seen many solutions developed in back rooms or garages but they rarely last long. The fact is that a PCB and a simple piece of software only takes you so far in a marketplace where developing a robust solution that really works, especially across dual path, is not easy.

In addition, the real challenge of meeting vital EN regulations, and other local insurance regulations, weeds out the weaker vendors. These developers also find it difficult to develop solutions that measure up to the higher security grades.

A problem with local manufacturers is that often they are restricted to producing hardware only in their own country and so only in small volumes. As a result, new trends and price pressures are increasingly weeding out these local vendors who simply don’t have the resources to compete in international markets.

The requirement to day (and the rising bar to entry in these local markets) is to provide a full set of features, as good as those offered by the top multinational suppliers. AoIP has revolutionised the way in which we look at transmitting alarms and monitoring lines. Twenty years ago it was thought satisfactory just to send an alert and to notify a line failure. But once you switch to IP a wider range of possibilities opens up for the monitoring centre, installer, maintainer and user.

If these new facilities are available, then why accept the same services you had 20 years ago, offered by vendors who have failed to adapt?

So where should you start, if you are looking for a new AoIP system?

The thing to check first is the total system cost. This may be an obvious point, but it’s still worth emphasising: the equipment cost itself is only part of the equation. Why buy a cheap dialler if it is then going to cost you each month to use it, and if it is low on features? You are probably entering a three year or five year contract, so add up all on-going costs for the full period before you decide which system is best value.
You should choose the one which has a low life cycle cost not just a low headline equipment cost.

As part of this important calculation, look for a system which has a full feature set of remote support,
software upgrades, etc. because these can save you a lot of expense.

I know from travelling around the world that many installers justify the use of a fully-featured dialler simply on the basis of the cost savings offered by remote maintenance and diagnostics.

Those who service and maintain systems invariably tell me this same thing: that the savings they make on just one maintenance visit to a client more than justifies the price of the equipment.
For this reason alone, when buying AoIP you should factor in all the systems’ features and estimate what they might save you.

AoIP is already used successfully in high level security systems (for governments, military, and banks) and middle level security systems (for retail, SMEs and similar).

Now we are seeing the next stage of this remarkable story of technical advance, with residential panels emerging with GPRS and soon 3G. For this reason AoIP is important to everyone in security industry, from the installer, through to the maintainer and the monitoring centre. With all its benefits and advantages AoIP cannot today be ignored.

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