Tag Archives: Beacons

Security challenges in telecoms sector met head-on by access control systems

As Catherine Laug explains, the telecoms industry has grown at such a remarkable rate that it’s now a key part of our everyday lives. At present, the COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented requirement for almost all industries to operate a ‘working from home’ policy and to provide the general public with an increased access to online services, in turn making the telecoms industry even more vital.

A major impact of this fundamental change is the presence of a growing number of telecoms facilities, which are proving to be the cornerstone of service delivery. Equipment is often located in isolated areas, so strict access control systems are needed to keep any vulnerability to an absolute minimum.

Telecoms companies cover vast expanses of land to keep the service up-and-running for their customers. This involves several tens of thousands of plants and facilities, from mobile phone towers through to street cabinets for the wired network. This underlines the value of a standardised access control strategy to simplify access to all sites.

Now, maintenance technicians no longer need to worry about accessing the numerous facilities during their daily inspection rounds. Once configured, single electronic key solutions guarantee access to the right place at the right time, allowing technicians to focus their attention on the task at hand.

Specific access processes

For their part, operators are assured that their field teams, often comprised of sub-contractors, can carry out all maintenance work during specified times in line with their specific access processes.

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Most of the facilities requiring protection are outdoor sites particularly exposed to wind, sun, snow and sea spray. That being so, access control systems must be able to withstand corrosion caused by bad weather. End users can now specify a certified and conceptual solution to this challenge with cylinders that meet the requirements of the EN 1670 corrosion resistance standard with a, IP66-67-68-69 rating designed to guarantee maximum protection.

In point of fact, the latest generation electronic keys also use inductive technology for contactless information exchange between the key and cylinder. With this technology, the electronic key can transmit access rights to the cylinder even if the humidity at the site has corroded the surface of the lock. In other words, bad connections no longer prevent information from being transmitted between the key and lock.

At some telecommunications towers, access is restricted to those authorised to work at height. Software is now available that liaises with the operator’s information system, collecting select information from the various user profiles to limit access to authorised individuals. This allows operators to use the software to assign access rights for specific areas based on the technician’s profile and authorisation.

To improve on-site control activities, electronic keys work with specific apps and new technology (ie RFID and beacons, etc) to send technicians verification messages about their access rights or required safety instructions (such as wearing a helmet and abiding by the buddy system, etc).

Similarly, users can interact with the central system and submit on-site attendance reports and flag up anomalies errors, etc. These bespoke features are designed to meet ever-stricter security requirements in companies and, importantly, accommodate the latest Government guidelines.

Sub-contracting and shared access sites

Sub-contractors are an increasingly common fixture in both maintenance activities and emergency call-outs. Several officers may well require daily access to a number of scattered, remote facilities.

The access control system is further complicated by the fact that sites may be shared by different businesses. Water towers, for instance, are often used to support radio masts.

It’s now possible to deliver an effective response to multi-activity sites with just one electronic key being needed for countless locks. Officers no longer need to carry large bunches of keys between sites. Instead, they can access the right place at the right time with maximum security.

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Communication infrastructures may be the prime target for large-scale attacks wherein those parties involved are looking to compromise the country’s economic potential. They may also attract various types of vandal, tempted by the challenge of scaling facilities or the apparent vulnerability of street cabinets.

Today’s access control solutions are invaluable when it comes to protecting facilities from harm. Electronic cylinders and padlocks have CEN 1303 certification with the highest level of resistance to drilling and, therefore, vandalism.

What’s more, a lost or stolen electronic key can be disabled on a swift footing to prevent any unwanted intrusions. In certain solutions, the built-in reporting feature in the system software aims to report any attempts to gain access outside specified time ranges or in out-of-bounds areas, thereby detecting any anomalies.

Catherine Laug is Group Head of Marketing at LOCKEN

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Vimpex’s Identifire TriTone sounder certified by UL Laboratories

Vimpex’s Identifire TriTone sounder has been certified by UL Laboratories. It’s a move that signifies a strategically important development for Vimpex. The UL brand is recognised worldwide as a mark of quality, safety and reliability and affords Vimpex the opportunity to expand further into more export markets.

Managing director James Jones stated: “Vimpex’s selection of UL Laboratories for certification to EN standards is an important part of the business’ strategy in positioning itself to succeed domestically and further expand our already thriving export activities. With our factory processes and products approved and audited by UL Laboratories, the LPCB and Intertek, we can now lay claim to be the leading independent European manufacturer/distributor of evacuation and notification devices.”

JamesJonesVimpexUL

James Jones: md at Vimpex

Vimpex’s new Identifire TriTone sounder can be flush or surface-mounted and is available in red or white. With three low frequency tones and an output of 92-96 db(A), it’s the ideal product for wall-mounting applications.

TriTone is part of a large and growing range of Vimpex alarm sounders, beacons and system accessories available to end users.

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Eaton simplifies fire systems with BiWire Ultra and CPD training

Eaton is aiming to simplify the installation of fire alarm systems in smaller premises with the launch of a two-wire system. The company’s latest fire alarm system, BiWire Ultra, is designed for fast and efficient installation in buildings such as primary schools, small hotels, offices, restaurants and retail stores where a standard conventional system would have typically been installed.

However, unlike standard conventional systems, the BiWire Ultra enables all detectors, Call Points and notification devices to share the same zone wiring, thereby reducing cabling requirements by up to 50%.

To support the launch of the new system, Eaton has developed a new CPD certified seminar on two-wire systems. The CPD aims to help electrical engineers and installers better understand the different types of fire systems available and how two-wire can save costs compared with a conventional system.

Chris Anderson, business leader for fire products at Eaton, told Risk UK: “Our new BiWire Ultra system has been designed with simplicity in mind. It’s quick and easy to install, reducing cabling costs and the time spent programming and operating the system. Feedback from our customers so far has been extremely positive.”

EatonBiWire

Intuitive fire alarm control panel

BiWire Ultra comprises an intuitive fire alarm control panel alongside a range of complementary devices including Call Points, a five-in-one fire detector plus a range of EN5423-approved beacons and sounder beacons.

BiWire Ultra is the latest addition to Eaton’s comprehensive suite of life safety solutions, which aim to help building owners and managers meet their safety obligations in the most effective and efficient manner.

Available in two-, four- or eight-zone variants, the system can support up to 52 devices per zone. Wiring faults are easily found by initiating a flashing LED indicator on the detector nearest the fault.

Supplied with a back-up battery to ensure the correct ratings and reduce complexity, the central panel has an attractive appearance and a simple user interface. Conforming to the requirements of BS 5839-1, commissioning and maintenance is straightforward. It’s easy for one person to carry out testing and ensure the healthy state of the system, as is required by the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order of 2005.

Additional functionality of the system includes a class change facility for schools, which automates the class change bell via the fire alarm, expansion card support for fire alarm routing equipment and fire protection equipment and an interlink relay for connecting two panels together.

Anderson added: “The BiWire Ultra range is the first of its type to offer EN5423-approved beacons so, whatever the risk assessment, premises fitted with a BiWire Ultra system comply with the latest standards for fire notification. However, the legal and moral obligations of fire safety are not only concerned with installation, but also ongoing maintenance and testing. BiWire Ultra is designed to make that process straightforward. With all of this in mind, we believe this range will appeal to a diverse cross-section of small and medium-sized premises where owners need protection without problems.”

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Community cinema in Dulwich protected by Fire-Cryer Voice Sounders from Vimpex

The former St Thomas More Community Centre in East Dulwich, London is now home to a new three-screen cinema with a café-bar and a courtyard garden.

Refurbished in 2015, the East Dulwich Picturehouse and Café offers diverse programmes catering for all sections of the local community and is equipped with the latest digital and satellite technology, enabling live broadcasts of the best performing arts productions from around the world.

As part of the refurbishment project a new fire alarm system was installed, together with Vimpex’s EN 54-3 approved Multi-Message Fire-Cryer Plus Voice Sounders to ensure timely building evacuation in the event of fire.

The fire alarm system was designed and commissioned by Southern Fire Alarms in partnership with consultant LTS International and installed by DW Electrical.

Artist's impression of the East Dulwich Picturehouse Cinema

Artist’s impression of the East Dulwich Picturehouse Cinema

“There’s a high level of noise pollution in today’s modern building environment,” explained David Fell, sales director of Southern Fire Alarms. “Fire alarm bells, sirens, sounders, security alarms, public address systems and mobile ringtones are just some of the cacophony of noises that bombard building users on a daily basis. The confusion of tones means people can become complacent and ignore safety-critical alarms.”

Fell continued: “From experience, we know that the addition of unambiguous voice messages that are heard and understood vastly reduces this confusion. Fire-Cryer Voice Sounders deliver this as a very cost-effective solution when compared with standalone voice evacuation systems.”

A total of 35 Mini Fire-Cryer slimline base sounders have been installed under ceiling-mounted fire detectors in all parts of the building. The Mini Fire-Cryer provides an attractive and unobtrusive solution and is installed on a conventional two-wire sounder circuit.

A two-stage alarm strategy is deployed. Stage One alerts staff using flashing beacons and then, after a three-minute investigation delay, Stage Two initiates a full building evacuation aided by the Fire-Cryers with the fully-synchronised message: “Ladies and Gentlemen… In the interest of safety this building must be evacuated. Please leave immediately by the nearest exit. Staff will assist you.”

Other models in the Fire-Cryer range include wall mounted units with optional integral synchronised LED strobe as well as output versions for use in wide open spaces and outdoors.

Each voice sounder may be programmed with up to seven messages from a library of thousands, many of which are multi-lingual, ensuring that any site requirement can be fulfilled.

The Fire-Cryer’s multi-message capability also ensures that system test and ‘all clear’ messages can be easily transmitted, in turn avoiding confusion with the fire/evacuation alarm.

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