VoIP Phones: Deterrent to Crime
By Alek Kireyenka
The Town of Oyster Bay, part of the New York metropolitan area, is the only township in Nassau County, NY, that extends from the North Shore to the South Shore of Long Island.
In recent years, it has progressively installed Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) emergency phones throughout its recreational areas, which include more than 2,000 acres of parks, beaches, golf courses, marinas, train stations, municipal buildings, community centers, garages and storage yards.
So it came as no surprise that the Town of Oyster Bay issued a mandate requiring that all new emergency phones with network capabilities comply with VoIP standards.
Township officials approved building a state-of-the-art parking facility, which was to include the latest technological advancements in emergency communications, as well as mass notification systems.
“Our recreational facilities are very busy, with thousands of people using them daily,” said Justin McCaffrey, Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety. “We believe the call boxes are an efficient, quick way to summon assistance. We believe they also provide a reassuring comfort level and act as a deterrent [to crime].”
Amityville-based LPC Inc., specialists in security systems integration and life safety, was commissioned to design a VoIP emergency phone solution for the township’s Hicksville parking facility. With more than two years of reliable service, LPC (Loss Prevention and Communications) has developed a strong partnership with the Town of Oyster Bay.
LPC proposed VoIP-500 Series emergency phones because they are designed to operate seamlessly over a shared digital infrastructure with other IP technologies.
“Our public safety officers provide 24/7 coverage to all town facilities,” McCaffrey said. “Many of our call boxes are equipped with surveillance cameras, which are recording the event, as well as being viewed at the operations center, and can provide updated information to the first responders and public safety staff.”
“The original design was done by a consulting engineer,” said LPC Vice President William Eggers. “However, this did not address all the concerns of implementing a unified solution for emergency phones, card access and CCTV.”
“We took the lead on the project,” Eggers said, “and coordinated all IP infrastructure with the town’s IT department, while other specialists installed card access and CCTV.”
LPC took the project planning seriously, as running multiple vendors on a shared IP network requires careful consideration. Distance limitations, power requirements and environmental concerns all had to be addressed.
A unified approach quickly proved to be the most technologically advanced and cost-efficient solution for the township. Talk-A-Phone’s WEBS Contact mass notification platform and VoIP emergency phones were configured to be part of the unified system.
The Wide-area Emergency Broadcast System (WEBS) server, as well as the emergency phone system and gateways, are housed at the township’s Department of Public Works. Miles away from the Hicksville parking facility site, it is connected through a fiber network.
Installation of VoIP emergency phones and the WEBS Contact mass notification platform was not new to LPC. Company employees completed a certification course in VoIP telephony and mass notification systems. It offers participants hands-on experience setting up VoIP emergency phones and the mass notification platform.
“The factory training [certification program] definitely helped our technicians during the installation,” Eggers said. “We especially appreciated the hands-on approach. A lot of companies out there like to conduct online training, but I like to have the product in my hands. That way, if something doesn’t work, the trainer is there to show me exactly what I did wrong.”
With certification under its belt, LPC took the lead in the project. The VoIP-500 Series emergency phones were first installed on a test network with other vendors’ products. Because of the crucial nature of emergency calls, “Quality of Service” was implemented to prioritize emergency communications between the township’s phone system, the gateways and the emergency phones.
Extensive planning and staged testing of the entire system by LPC technicians gave the Town of Oyster Bay’s IT department peace of mind.
After configuration of the VoIP emergency phones was complete, all devices were registered with the WEBS Contact mass notification server, enabling it to send audio broadcasts to VoIP units.
The VoIP-500 emergency phones serve dual purposes: They are used as emergency communications devices; they also can be paged at high volume (exceeding 100dB) to deliver site-specific instructions to individual units, groups of units, or all at once.
WEBS Contact allows emergency personnel to issue targeted audio alerts to pre-defined segments of the parking facility with the push of a button. At the same time, the system can deliver SMS (short message service) and e-mails to groups of recipients.
“We are very happy with the system,” McCaffrey said. “It has proven to be reliable, vandal-resistant, and it projects a positive image of safety and security at our facilities.”
Alek Kireyenka, Director of Product Marketing for Talk-A-Phone, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The system used in Oyster Bay was Manufactured by Talk a Phone
www.talkaphone.com and installed by LPC Inc. www.lpcny.com
Article Abstract from March, 2011