How to do it... Resident security
How to do it... Resident security
When it comes to monitoring residents and enabling calls for assistance, wireless systems have taken hold in the market. But not all providers are familiar with them. Power sources and means of transmission are among the most important issues providers must consider. Experts tell here how to weigh the options.
Seek advanced transmission systems, including ones that can deal with potential interference from future equipment, say numerous experts.
“Look for systems that utilize advanced technologies like Frequency Hopping Spread Spectrum,” said Troy Griffiths, president and CEO of Vigil Health Solutions. “This enables communication over multiple channels, therefore avoiding interference that may exist on some channels.”Chris Beekman, national accounts director for Stanley Healthcare Solutions, also endorses “spread spectrum” technology.“It sends 24 signals on 24 channels and gives redundant paths back to ‘Point B' [from Point A],” Beekman said. “It's impossible for 24 channels all to get blocked at the same time. Make sure you have a redundant path back to the main system. That's probably most critical.”
Griffiths says it's important to have receivers and transmitters that act as “transceivers allowing two-way communications.”“In sophisticated systems, this will enable confirmation between wireless devices and the network that signals are sent and received, which provides confirmation there are no missed calls,” he explained.
How a wireless system is powered is of extreme importance. Griffiths favors a centralized power system that can run off uninterruptible power and generator power when there is an outage.“Often, this type of solution has a lower total cost of installation since no power outlets are required at each receiver,” he said.
Also along those lines, battery life and replacement procedures are important considerations. Any system should give low-battery notifications and reports to assist providers, Griffiths notes.
“The battery should last at least another 24 or more hours [after a low-battery alert],” he says.He notes that while some pendants are disposable at the end of battery life, others have replaceable batteries that can extend a pendant's life by years.
With “hundreds” of options out there, Stanley's Beekman notes it's important to deal with a company that has been around for a while.“So many people can build this in their garage today,” he said. “It might be the cheapest out there, but if it's obsolete in two years, the wireless technology does you no good. Pick somebody who can service your product.”
HomeFree's director of corporate accounts, Brian Verban, agrees: “The barriers to entry are really low. There are so many companies in the market [providers] often don't take the time to ask about the company, whether they are manufacturing the product or reselling it.”
Linda Paris, vice president of Systems Technologies, recommends finding a firm with at least 10 years of experience when choosing vendors.
“Can they give you a customer reference you can talk with and find out if they've had to make expensive upgrades?” she adds. “Ask how their equipment is performing, and what might be unnecessary [to buy].”Beyond that, Paris also recommends asking for a customer reference for someone who had an installation that did not go as planned—to learn how the company dealt with the problem.”
One of the biggest benefits of wireless technology can be its adaptability for future upgrades and add-ons.
“You're always going to need to expand,” said Intelligent InSites President and CEO Mark Rheault. “Get something that's expandable, interoperable and has multiple indications. Today you might want something for nurse call, but you'll be happy to know you can build on one thing at a time and [for example] maybe tie it to electronic health records in the future.”
Mistakes to avoid
-Skimping and not getting a robust enough transmitting system with multiple channels
-Settling for poor battery monitoring. Low-battery notifications should come early and often
-Limiting your purchase so that future systems can't be integrated in