PSI MAGAZINE COLUMN: APRIL 2014

This month Simon Banks talks to Steve Kimber. Steve is the Managing Director of Southern/Northern Monitoring Services. Over the last 30 years SMS/NMS has grown into one of the largest independent ARCs in the UK.

This month Simon Banks talks to Steve Kimber. Steve is the Managing Director of Southern/Northern Monitoring Services. Over the last 30 years SMS/NMS has grown into one of the largest independent ARCs in the UK.

What has been the most significant change in the industry since you started SMS/NMS?

One of the most noticeable changes to the industry is the sheer quantity of signals an ARC receives on a daily basis. Another is the increased level of micro-management of the industry through standards and statutory regulation. The security industry has successfully regulated itself through UKAS accredited inspection bodies for over 40 years. We now find that nonpractitioners on committees have determined that under EN’s the ARC will receive signalled conditions. Additionally, we are in the frustrating position of being put under pressure to take out business licensing that we do not meet the application criteria for.

How do your customers benefit from your multiple receiving centres compared with a single centre ARC/RVRC?

The national telephony infrastructure is such that even if you are not monitoring IP or GPRS signalling systems, an ARC or RVRC’s connectivity to the network is hugely exposed due the concentration of routing deployed by the national service providers. Because of this, it is essential to have a second centre that enables you to route traffic seamlessly without the risk of interruption to service. With SMS/NMS you get that guarantee of high integrity certification and two centres for the price of one.

Signalling technology has evolved dramatically over the years to reduce false alarms along with ARC filtering, can more be done?

It is important to present confirmed communication failures intelligently. Consumers cannot resolve or act upon an IP or GPRS network outage and only want to know when connectivity from their system to the ARC/RVRC has failed. The recent storms have highlighted weaknesses in many standby batteries during power fails, so it is vital that installers replace poor performing standby batteries as a matter of course. We provide an automated health check report to identify these systems, along with other poorly performing systems to proactively reduce false alarms.

Have you seen any noticeable trends in the signalling choices that customers are making?

We have seen a significant move to dual path signalling, especially where there is a family of products that allow a system to be up or downgraded. More recently we are seeing an increase in IP signalling trending with corporates leveraging the existing CCTV on-site to provide visual confirmation. This may be at odds with the same IP signalling providers offering more ‘traditional’ PSTN/GPRS combinations. DigiAir® has quickly become a favourite with our installers as it saves labour on site whilst offering the consumer a more robust solution.

What areas of security do you expect to see grow in the coming years?

Due to the rise of GPRS and IP signalling, the PIR is being increasingly replaced with a motion sensing webcam. This gives the consumer visual confirmation and allows interaction with the security system via a smart device. Regrettably, I believe we will see a growth in systems that result in 999 ‘confirmation’ calls after receiving images to smart phones. If stakeholders such as ACPO accept this as a valid alarm event, it has the potential to seriously undermine the credibility and function of a fully approved ARC and the URN procedure.

You Said It! 

“In addition to swapping our high risk systems to DualCom we are now offering our digi customers a free of charge upgrade to DualCom DigiAir®”.

Terry Roffey, Managing Director, Brook Security Ltd

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