Security systems must be carefully designed to meet the needs of everyone in the modern home, from the young to the elderly. A residential security system can be as simple as a basic intrusion detection, through to a fully monitored system that opens and shuts every door and window in the home and sends out a panic alert. Regardless of what level of security system you are deploying, will it operate reliably during blackouts and alert someone when things are not working as planned?

The functions and connectivity of security systems has changed significantly over the years. In Australia, we have almost fully transitioned from the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN), which provided every premises with a standard telephone line that worked during a blackout. This allowed a whole plethora of “over-the-top” services, such as medical alert systems and back-to-base alarms, to be provided over the PSTN. All you needed was an alarm system with its own battery back-up and, during a blackout, the alarm system could notify the monitoring station that a mains power failure had occurred. This meant if you did not receive a follow-up notification to indicate the mains power was back on, then you knew you had a problem and could not rely on the alarm system.

These days many of these over-the-top services have migrated to the mobile network, changing how the system communicates to the monitoring station. If you still have an alarm system that is monitored during a power failure the question is, how does the system notify the monitoring station that the power is off? If no message has been received, the alarm can no longer be deemed functional.

A “run of the mill” system will not notify you when something is not functional. This can be a significant liability for the purposes of monitoring the elderly, those with disabilities or those requiring 24/7 monitoring. Additionally, how do you manage a system that provides CCTV and access control? These services often use a broadband connection that is not powered by the telephone exchange as the PSTN was.

Support offered for the uptime of the system, and the carrier network itself, are now crucial to the design and implementation of today’s safety and security systems. Figure 1 shows an additional piece of hardware is needed to support the carrier service, as well as essential equipment to provide security and safety functions needed during a blackout.

Figure 1 Supporting essential systems

The hardware design is important, but you’ll also need a reporting system to indicate when any of the elements fail. It will need to show when the power mains is up or down, as well as the status and power level of the batteries.

If you are deploying a security or safety system to give people peace of mind, make sure you have informed them of all the options. While monitoring functions can drive up the overall cost of a system, this price can be justified, as it provides a higher level of safety and security for their loved ones.

The market is flooded with a wide range of security products, including do-it-yourself or self-installed alarm systems that can report to a mobile device. While they are inexpensive, there is a strong case for enlisting a certified cabler to install a security system. A customer will get the assurance that all the equipment and systems are built to Australian standards, as not all DIY solutions are. Professional cablers are more qualified to deliver a solution that ensures the safety and security of those the system is designed to protect and alert.