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Luke Turton

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Luke Turton says wireless technology offers schools a flexible, low cost and energy efficient alternative to hardwired systems

Posted by Stephanie Broad | October 13, 2015 | Technology

Protecting people, property and other assets is a complex challenge that requires getting the right balance between safety and freedom of movement. Educational establishments have to achieve their security objectives against a backdrop of constrained budgets and limited resources, which means that any solution that is cost effective, easy to install, energy efficient and offers the highest levels of protection, should be of interest. 

One of the most important advantages wireless technology can offer is minimal disruption through not having to physically install cabling – this means no drilling, digging and associated mess. In addition, different buildings, such as sports halls and mobile classrooms, can be linked together without having to dig up playgrounds or install a separate hardwired system. For those environments that already have a wired system but need to augment it, wireless technology can even be fully integrated without any loss of quality. 

An example of a wireless unit

There are, however, some things to remember before an installation takes place and a site survey is top of the list. Put simply, the use of radio waves means that if something blocks a signal or diminishes its strength in any way, the system won’t work properly, if at all.

Although modern structures with wooden stud and thin brick walls allow for better penetration of a signal than older builds with very thick walls, many other factors come into play. Radio thermostats, wireless video transmitters, faulty fluorescent light ballasts and high voltage mains equipment can cause radio interference. Identifying and overcoming any issues requires careful planning and a site survey is the first and most important step in the installation process 

Another pitfall to avoid is carrying out a site survey when a building is empty or not being used in its normal manner. Customers often ask installers to attend a site during quiet periods or other downtime. This is especially common in schools and other educational establishments, where such an activity might be more convenient during school holidays. However, this does not give a true representation of the obstacles faced by wireless signals on a day-to-day basis. 

Once the system is installed, it is worth remembering that today’s state-of-the-art intruder alarm control panels now have the ability to assimilate, monitor and control a wide variety of other building services, all from a central location. Panic buttons and alarms, fire detection and emergency lighting, access control for things such as doors and car park barriers can all be integrated, monitored and controlled. 

The innovations don't stop there. Flooding is a big problem in schools and whether this is down to mischief or a genuine accident, it can cause damp, rotten joists and floorboards, while compromising the safe operation of electrical circuits. It’s something that could be prevented through the use of a wireless security system. By placing a series of wireless sensors in strategic locations within a building, in the event of a leak moisture is detected and a signal sent to the control panel, whereby an alarm is activated detailing its exact position. This provides an opportunity to react before the problem develops into something far more problematic. 

Wireless security systems offer huge advantages for schools, colleges and universities. Not only do they have the ability to keep a building safe, secure and energy efficient, they can provide the kinds of smart features that users demand and which will ensure the smooth operation of a wide range of building services. 

Luke Turton, Security Systems Specialist at Eaton    

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