Magazine

SPECIAL SECTION: EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS – CCTV/VIDEO

Communication Planning in New Construction and Upgrades

Samuel Shanes

Whether planning to build or remodel your house or a new or upgraded campus facility, the more that you plan, the less the ultimate cost of the project and the better the job. One basic element of most campuses today is the communication system. This may be for student, staff or faculty use in an emergency or for customer-service issues, or both. But planning will allow you to get the system you want for the least total cost.
The best time to determine conduit requirements, whether power is needed and whether it is 120 volts AC or 24 volts DC is during the planning stage. It!'s also the best time to consider the optimal locations for communication equipment, both in and around the structure as at the security or administration office.
Several basic issues must be decided in the planning of a communication system on a campus. The answers to these and some related questions will help you determine what size conduit to run, how many to run, and where they go. It will help you determine if conduit should come out of the wall or out of the floor. In addition, it will help you determine power issues, such as 120 volts AC versus 24 volts DC. Answers to these questions also help you determine your communication routing, either within the facility, off-site, or both. Finally, they also help address integration issues with other technologies, such as surveillance and access control.

1. What is the purpose of the system?
a. Emergency use only.
b. Customer service only.
c. Both emergency and customer service.

This decision can immediately affect power and conduit issues. Since the emergency phone itself can be powered from the telephone line (whether PBX or regular telephone service), external power may not be required if only the phone itself is being installed. However, if emergency use is a consideration, you may want to have blue light/strobes that indicate to patrons the location of the phone and strobe when the emergency button is activated. External power would be required, but you can decide if you want the blue light/strobe to be 120-volt AC or 24-volt DC. If they are low voltage, in most instances the communication wire and the low-voltage power wire can be pulled in the same conduit, which can be a considerable savings. It is important, of course, to verify compliance with all applicable codes and ordinances.
2. How do you want to mount the emergency phones themselves? Are they wall-mounted with integrated blue light/strobe, or a separate surface mounting box and blue light/strobe? Or are the emergency phones being mounted in self-standing towers with built-in blue light/strobes?
The significance of this question relates to conduit location. If using an integrated wall-mount unit, then all wire can either enter from a flush-mounted electrical box behind the wall mount or from conduit runs above or below the wall mount. If the phone is in its own surface mount with the blue light/strobe mounted above it on the wall, then connection provision must be made for the communication wire to the surface mount box, power to the blue light strobe, and a control line between the blue light/strobe and the phone. Provision for a 1600 box for mounting of the blue light/strobe!'s mounting bracket can also be planned. If self-standing towers are to be used, the conduit should be brought in from below and mounting bolts installed at the time the concrete is poured.
3. Are the phones going to be calling on-site, off-site or both? If on-site only, are they connecting to the site!'s PBX or do you want to provide a !*complete system solution!+/-? If using regular telephone lines (or the site!'s PBX), do you want to save telephone or extension lines by using a consolidator on each floor of the structure, enabling up to eight phones to be connected via one telephone or extension line?
These questions are significant for several reasons. First, they affect how much conduit you will be providing between each level of a multi-story building and where the communication lines are placed. If you have eight-channel consolidators on each level of the deck, you can just run the lines from each phone to the consolidator, usually located in a machine room on each level. You then run one line back from the consolidator to the PBX or standard telephone line demark point. The consolidator provides power for the phones and requires access to 120 volts of emergency backed-up power. Standard Uninterruptible Power Supplies are available for that purpose if house power is not backed-up. This issue also affects the nature of your head-end facility, which should be planned with the same care as the rest of the system.
4. Do you want to integrate surveillance with the communication system?
The use of both fixed and pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras has become very common on campuses. These devices can be integrated with the emergency phone system in several ways. The emergency phone has auxiliary outputs, one of which can go to the camera to activate it when the !*Emergency!+/- button is pushed. This requires a wiring connection, usually in conduit, from the phone to the camera. Alternatively, PTZ cameras in particular can be integrated through a computer software package available from some emergency phone manufacturers. In this way, when a call comes in, the camera associated with that station will automatically swing to a certain position, allowing the security officer to see as well as hear what is going on. When integration is done in this manner, additional conduit from the phone to the camera is avoided.
A review of these and some related issues while planning your new or upgraded campus can save you money at time of construction, allows you to consider various options that meet the particular needs of each project and ensures that you will have all the communication features and capabilities you want.

Samuel Shanes is the Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Talk-A-Phone Co. (www.talkaphone.com). He can be reached at sshanes@talkaphone.com. This article is not intended as legal advice, and the opinions are those of the author.

Spectrum SDI
SentryScopeca is designed to monitor parking lots and identify license plates and people live or in stored video. SentryScope is always pointed in the right direction - recording a 90!Ae horizontal field of view continuously, even if zoomed live into a portion of the monitored field. SentryScope is always zoomed to the correct level - at 21 million pixels per image, objects from close range to 200!' or more away are in focus. With SentryScope no operator is required to operate pan, tilt, and zoom cameras - the 90!Ae field of view is monitored continuously in ultra-high resolution eliminating missed events or lower resolution images that do not provide useful data for analysis. Images can be monitored remotely from one or more SentryScope cameras - multi-camera parking lots and multiple sites can be conveniently monitored from a central location. SentryScope is the perfect parking lot video surveillance solution!

Ring Communications
The Ring Communications Crisis Alert Communications system works in conjunction with either the RM 5000 or CB 901 exchange. Either of these intercom systems will provide for line supervision from remote call stations or contact closure which may be located in elevators, at gates, in stairwells, parking lots or other areas that require a simple push button to activate an Emergency call to a Security Control location.
The incoming calls will display in a 12 character Alphanumeric message on the Digital Annunciator Display module. There are 9 levels of assignable priority for each and every call to ensure that the highest risk calls will be displayed at the top of the display.
The Ring Crisis Alert System comes with many functions and features such as multiple conversation paths, data transmission for remote control, program distribution, all-call, battery charge alarm, event log printer and video switcher interfaces, access to door control systems, direct and off premise dialing capability, flexible numbering and conference capability.
These systems are ideal to provide for ADA compliant elevator communications in high rise buildings, Areas of Rescue for building stairwells, or Emergency Call Boxes for Parking facilities.

Ring Communications
The Ring Communications Crisis Alert Communications system works in conjunction with either the RM 5000 or CB 901 exchange. Either of these intercom systems will provide for line supervision from remote call stations or contact closure which may be located in elevators, at gates, in stairwells, parking lots or other areas that require a simple push button to activate an Emergency call to a Security Control location.
The incoming calls will display in a 12 character Alphanumeric message on the Digital Annunciator Display module. There are 9 levels of assignable priority for each and every call to ensure that the highest risk calls will be displayed at the top of the display.
The Ring Crisis Alert System comes with many functions and features such as multiple conversation paths, data transmission for remote control, program distribution, all-call, battery charge alarm, event log printer and video switcher interfaces, access to door control systems, direct and off premise dialing capability, flexible numbering and conference capability.
These systems are ideal to provide for ADA compliant elevator communications in high rise buildings, Areas of Rescue for building stairwells, or Emergency Call Boxes for Parking facilities.



Article Abstract from August, 2004




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