Adding detection to a VMS

External detection devices can be deployed for a wide range of triggering actions, both for security and for site management purposes. They offer a high degree of flexibility and are often pivotal in a wide range of system designs. All too often the focus the detection in security applications is on sensing the presence of intruders. Because of this many installers and integrators might not consider other applications in which detection can add value. For many, the challenge is how to integrate security detectors into a smarter solution.

Because of the nature of intruder detection equipment and the wide range of legacy systems in the marketplace, security detectors typically use two-wire analogue connections. Whilst this is no issue when working with typical security equipment in any discipline, be that surveillance, access control or alarm solutions, it does make the addition of such devices to smart solutions somewhat more challenging.

Whilst there are a wide range of detection devices which come from manufacturers outside the security industry, the reality is that most of these carry a higher cost than security products and lack the resilience that is inherent in products designed for intruder detection. Because missed activity is unacceptable in the security industry, we have a rich heritage of devices designed – from the ground up – to deliver high levels of catch performance with minimal false alarms.

Whether detectors are deployed for risk mitigation purposes or other sensing applications, professional security devices combine high performance with a low cost. It would be foolhardy to consider other options.

Many of the smart solutions emanating from the security market are based upon network platforms because of the flexibility that the technology offers. For those deploying video-, audio- or access control-based systems, this does not represent a problem because these product sectors have numerous choices which are also networked.

However, when you consider products from the intruder alarm sector, connectivity is not so simple because fewer products use network connectivity. The issues increase if the core of the smart system uses a software-based solution such as a VMS or central security management system.

It makes little sense for the manufacturers of security detection devices to produce different versions of established products, purely to offer choices with regard to connectivity. Currently their largest marketplace is intruder detection, but even as the adoption of smart and bespoke solutions increases, the financial viability of different ‘flavour’ devices remains in question.

The Benchmark Smart Solutions project is making use of detection devices from Optex. When considering connectivity, there are a few options. One is to connect the detection device to the inputs and outputs of a networkable device, allowing the sensor to be accessed as a sub-element of that product.

Many VMS solutions – including the XProtect range from Milestone Systems, which is the core VMS for the Smart Solutions project – will allow the inputs and outputs of a supported device to be treated as a separate device. As such, this solution can work, but it is far from ideal.

Firstly, there are issues if the device needs to be located in an area where there are no other suitable products. Secondly, the installer or integrator misses out on some of the benefits of a network device, including the use of PoE.

A more elegant solution is required, and this comes in the form of the Optex Redwall PIE-1.

The Redwall PIE-1 is a PoE-enabled IP encoder which transforms normally closed relay output signals into ASCII code. It is also used to power the connected detector from a PoE injector or switch. The unit features an integral webpage which allows configurations to be carried out over a LAN connection using the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser.

Installation

The Redwall PIE-1 is designed for fitting into a dual gang box and includes a steel mounting plate to allow a Redwall SIP detector to be mounted onto the box. It is also supplied with pre-terminated cables to simplify the various connections for alarms and power output.

The unit features two RJ45 connections: one is for a link to RLS detector s and the other is for PoE input. There is also a modular connection for alarm input from the detector, plus power connections for 12V and 24V DC to the detector. The latter should be used if an optional heater unit is included. Aside from these there is a reset button and a selector switch. The latter should be left in its default position.

The installation process is relatively straightforward and is clearly documented in the supplied instruction sheet. This guides you through the installation process for both the SIP and RLS ranges of detectors.

The physical installation is simply a case of making a few connections. The colour coding for the alarm cables is given in the instruction sheet for the various models.

Configuration

Once the unit is installed the next stages to set its IP address. The PIE-1 is supplied with a static address, and therefore needs connecting to a PC in the same network segment. The address is typical of a local private network. Once a link to the device is established, the default user ID and password are used for initial login.

The configuration menu gives access to three web pages: overview, configuration and authorisation.

The overview page gives alarm information and a confirmation of the various connections. This includes a colour indication to tell you the status of the various terminals.

The configuration page includes network settings, the configuration of event codes, transmission mode (UDP or TCP), transmission intervals and I/O configurations.

Finally the authorisation page enables changes to the default user ID and password.

There is nothing challenging to configuring the PIE-1, and any competent installer or integrator will have it up and working within minutes.

At the end of the installation instructions it does point the engineer towards a web link for more detailed instructions. This includes a more in-depth analysis of the webpages, as well as the breakdown of RECs (Redwall Event Codes).

There is also a downloadable data logger. This is used to view RECs, thus allowing transmitted information to be checked. The logger requires the installation of the Microsoft .Net framework.

In summary

The Optex Redwall PIE-1 is a valuable tool for installers and integrators who are looking to add detection devices to a VMS or other networked system. It allows detectors to be employed for security purposes or for other tasks such as flow management, automated switching, power management, etc..

It is simple to deploy, and the installation and configuration should present no problems for any installer or integrator with the competencies associated with designing and implementing credible solutions.

Benchmark Smart Solutions
Benchmark Smart Solutions is dedicated to supporting those seeking innovative and bespoke value-added solutions for business and the home environment. Through real-world field trials it assesses the potential available from current technologies and integrated systems. Benchmark Smart Solutions is produced by the team at Benchmark magazine.