Central stations have more options to get UL-listed

Centrals using newer tech, like virtualization, now have path to certification
Wednesday, January 27, 2016

NORTHBROOK, Ill.—Underwriters Laboratories now allows central stations using newer technologies—such as virtualization—ways to become UL-listed.

Specifically, central stations will “have new options for compliance with 827, [and] those options should be better aligned with current technologies,” Steve Schmit, engineering manager for UL, told Security Systems News. “The technologies that central stations want to implement now, because it makes sense for them to do it, can be accommodated in the UL standard much easier than in the past.”

In January, UL released two certification requirement decisions—or CRDs—which are a performance-based interpretation of the UL 827 standard, as opposed to being technology-specific.

“We don’t want to paint the industry into a corner, where they can’t take advantage of something new because there’s a mismatch in technical specifications in the standard,” Schmit said.

These CRDs specifically address the incorporation of virtualization technologies into a central station. “The existing language in the standard makes it seem like use of VMs is prohibited. What we’ve put in the CRDs are the conditions under which it would be permitted. Virtualization technology is a way for central stations to make a lot more efficient use of their computer hardware.”

Another portion of these CRDs addresses partnerships between central stations, where central stations, sufficiently far apart, can provide back-up for each other.

“The rules for how you go about doing that have been clarified, simplified, and some additional options have been granted there,” he said. One change is the addition of specifications for sharing hardware between two companies, previously not allowed under the standard.

CRDs present an alternate path, alongside the standard, to UL certification, which are available immediately. “UL customers have the standard and the CRDs that work together, and we’re working to get those CRDs into the standard, but we don’t want to burden the industry with waiting all that time,” Schmit said.

Jay Hauhn, CSAA executive director talked with SSN about the CRDs. “Given the rapid evolution of technologies it’s not unusual for a standard to be technologically dated by the time the standard is finalized,” Hauh said. “What UL has done here in releasing these CRDs is very, very smart. … It allows technologies that bypass a recent standard to still be accommodated.”

The new CRDs will not affect the recertification of a monitoring center certified under the current UL 827 guidelines.