Monitoring: NBN Co Gets Hands On
THE move also underscores the reality that, along with access control and video surveillance installers, electronic security techs will need to operate in networked environments – or talk their end users into wireless-based monitoring solutions. Australian Security Industry Association chief executive officer Bryan de Caires told iTnews recently that the progression to a telecommunications network based on Ethernet optical-fibre compromise alarms that relied on copper networks to provide their power and signals. This would risk Australians homes and businesses.ASIAL had reason to be concerned on behalf of its members and their customers. A meeting last year with NBN Co saw the organisation referring all enquiries about systems integration and testing to the Australian Communications Alliance, which was formed to provide a unified voice for the Australian communications industry. ASIAL had sought answers from broadband network architect NBN Co and the Communications Alliance on key issues including:* Adherence to standards that dictate alarm requirements* Emulation of the existing copper phone network and its capabilities* What will happen to alarms during NBN upgrades?* Standard signals for alarms that may be served by different network providers* remote configuration by low-speed, dial-up modems* A lab to test alarms against the new optical fibre network.While the ACA has the responsibility of leading the comms industry to convergence, it was hardly equipped to deal with the hands-on technical issues alarm monitoring people were so concerned about. ASIAL’s concerns over the impact of the NBN are wide ranging. De Caires said the changes to a networked environment could lead to malfunction that would be annoying to users or in some cases could be life threatening. Another fear is that there will be a loss of redundancy in the event of network failure. “Under the fibre-optic system there won’t be that redundancy and backup. So if it goes down no one will know,” de Caires said. “There’s a million alarms that will have to migrate across.de Caires said the industry needed to do something about the issue now and not just wait until the NBN is connected and alarms cut off. “We believe they need to think that through and work out what the new standard will be.”de Caires told iTnews it would take three to five years to move Australia’s alarm and monitoring infrastructure to fibre.”There won’t be the technicians out there to do it and I’m not sure there’s enough qualified technicians out there and the systems are becoming more complex so you need more specialised people to do that.”A particular concern for ASIAL and it monitoring station and bureau monitoring members is seamless support for medical alert solutions, which rely on the PSTN network for either primary or backup communications. de Caires said most at risk from dysfunctional alarms were the sick and elderly – a failure of their medical alert systems while they were incapacitated could put their lives at risk, he said. Most monitoring systems required two-way phone services to ring back the patient or alarm in an emergency.And de Caires pointed out that placement of the junction box might also present problems. Many junction boxes are located in accessible locations on verandahs or the sides of buildings. In city terraces junction boxes can even located on the outside of buildings at street level. “If the connection is on the outside [of the premises] someone could just unplug it so it would need to be in a secure box because if you’re a burglar you could figure it out.”The big issues was that owners of soon to be obsolete PSTN alarms must now upgrade or replace them, he said. All one million of them. Along with the technical challenges, another issue for ASIAL is whether or not there are technicians enough to get the job done in time. NBN Co told iTnews that service providers and vendors including security firms “will have the opportunity to test and integrate devices with the NBN Co [adaptor] prior to deploying them in the field”.”NBN Co is in fact taking a proactive role in addressing the migration of legacy systems to the NBN in consultation with industry, vendors and customers,” a NBN Co spokesman said.”While NBN Co has secured premises for the network operations and test facility, the fitout of the facility will take several months to complete.”The primary purpose of the test bed is to give [service providers] the opportunity to test the integration of their services with the NBN.”Comms Alliance working groups.”de Caires told iTnews he welcomed the chance in NBN Co’s policy but was yet to receive official confirmation.Meanwhile, in a letter sent to ASIAL, the Australian Communication alliance said that although there were problems in the past with similar network rollouts’ impact on legacy alarm systems, it was confident that a solution would be found by its working groups looking at audio reproduction, boxes that housed the optical termination points at the premises, quality-of-service and the network operators themselves.But it would not commit to maintaining copper services that evolved through “convention” and were not part of published standards, such as supplying voltage when the electricity grid failed.”Equipment that relies on network or service characteristics that fall outside the relevant specifications but are present as an incidental by-product of the current technology may not continue to function,” the alliance wrote the security industry.It’s understood that NBN Co has begun work on an analog telephone adaptor to bridge the old copper-reliant systems to the new Ethernet network.