Preparing the way for IP

SSN Staff  - 
Thursday, January 28, 2010

LOS ANGELES—IP Alarms founder Steve Nutt has a warning for dealers and centrals during this time of change from analog to IP: “Losing dealers and centrals remain stuck in their analog world.” To help with the transition, Nutt is launching this this month the Virtual Monitoring Dealer Program. The program is the fruition of months of helping end users and dealers find affordable and simple solutions to the VoIP/security conundrum in which a switch to high tech VoIP service oftentimes renders security systems impotent. “It became perfectly clear that if we could provide IP monitoring solutions to dealers who were looking to upgrade and move their existing accounts and at the same time introduce the dealers to new subscribers wanting to upgrade to IP, then we had the makings of something very promising,” said Nutt. “We decided to launch the Virtual Monitoring Dealer Program.”

IP Alarms, on its website, promises: “Whether you are a Monitoring Center, Alarm Dealer or End User, IP Alarms can help you migrate from monitoring security, fire or medical alarms over telephone landlines to reliably monitoring them over the Internet.” Nutt said the industry needed a solution now, to prepare for the imminent all-IP world. “The electronic security industry is generally very slow to adapt to new technologies and this has proven to be the case for IP alarm monitoring,” Nutt said. “Sure, the big boys are all geared up for it but most centrals and the vast majority of dealers are not.” The Virtual Monitoring Dealer Program provides dealers a managed IP-monitoring solution that works with their old equipment and allows them to upgrade their accounts to IP without a large upgrade cost.

Mark Fischer, VP and CTO of New York Merchants Protective Co., said IP Alarms’ program worked because it provided affordable options for the company’s clients, including those with Nationwide Digital Monitoring and Smith & Wesson. “Phone companies are going to IP-based communications and when they do that, they gain bandwidth, but they do so by dropping packets, and they can throttle the bandwidth based on demand. When a human being is talking on the phone and you drop a packet, it’s not a big deal, but when digital communications are going on and you drop a packet that doesn’t work, because you need every one of those ones and zeros for the signal to make sense,” Fischer said. “What IP Alarms does is it takes a standard control panel, converts it into IP using a very inexpensive adapter and transmits the translated signal to a virtual receiver at the central station, which looks to the automation platform like a standard receiver and the alarm just comes in … They keep their own control panels and their own dialers. We’ve found that when we tell people you need new equipment they don’t like it.”

Why isn’t everyone offering this kind of translation-to-IP solution?

“There is technically nothing to stop any other company out there doing what we are doing as long as they are able to develop and produce their own IP communicators and gain the acceptance of the central stations,” Nutt said via email, claiming most manufacturers want to rope dealers into using proprietary hardware and software. This can get very cumbersome and expensive. “The panel manufacturers will not give their IP protocols to any Tom, Dick nor Harry … It makes it technically difficult and very expensive for a central station to provide support for all the panels that their dealers use. Dealers are also being forced to use a particular brand of IP communicator and subscribe to a single IP network, which many of them do not like. We have focused on producing universal IP devices that can upgrade any alarm panel to IP.”

More information on the Virtual Monitoring Dealer Program will be available soon from www.ipalarms.net.