Power Play

Blog Date:  3/24/2011
Author:  Ray Coulombe

What comes to mind when you ask “What do CCTV, access control, intercoms, doors, contact closure modules all have in common?” One possible answer is IP connectivity. Now, you can add the ubiquitous power supply to the list. One company at least — Life Safety Power — has made IP-based features a signature element of its product line, and, given the likely advantages, I expect more to follow.
Form C contacts have been around since the dark ages — extensively used, reliable and necessary, a bit like analog video in the surveillance industry. It is well within today’s design technology to pull critical data from power supply circuitry. In addition to AC input or DC output failure and low battery supervision, there are numerous other monitoring possibilities, including actual voltage levels and their variability over time; current draw per output circuit; actual battery voltage and trend data; charging current; battery age and history; fault history and tamper events. All could be reported via SNMP or e-mail. Since power supplies are the lifeblood of most devices, timely e-mail and text reporting of device status can resolve problems quickly or prevent problems from occurring through pre-emptive action.
If you can program the parameters for an IP camera, shouldn’t you be able to do the same thing for a network-connected power supply? And if you could, what parameters matter? If an area is prone to intermittent faults, a programmable threshold where a fault persists for a period of time before reporting could eliminate excessive nuisance reports. Given the importance of back-up batteries, programming a notification frequency for battery replacement consistent with security department policy will lead to timely action. Similarly, connectivity provides the potential means to control the power supply and, potentially, devices connected to it. In its most flexible form, an IP-controlled power supply could be remotely re-booted, where individual outputs are selectively toggled to allow a hard reboot of a connected device such as a CCTV camera. For an organization tasked with performing remote supervision and maintenance, it is an opportunity to reduce truck rolls through a remote reset capability and better leverage their monitoring services.
Link to Complete Article as it appeared in Security Technology Executive Magazine


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