The wireless vs. hardwired debate is not unique to mobile duress panic alarms. The same discussion has taken place over security intrusion, CCTV video signal transmission and even building automation.
There is no question that the advancement made in wireless technology over the past decade has heightened the debate.
Asbestos abatement, concrete construction and just reduced manpower deployment are three big reasons why wireless is making more sense these days for many campuses. No doubt, schools and healthcare facilities are built to last a long time due to budget concerns.
So any security system that allows administrators to deploy it without having to drill holes in the walls is a big deal in the selection process. It also means it can be done quicker while the school is shut down during winter, spring or summer break.
In hospitals, even if there isn’t asbestos, if you have to lift a ceiling tile you have to drape that entire area. There are all sorts of containment procedures that need to be done if any surface is opened up in a hospital.
Meanwhile, for an equivalent system with the same endpoints of wireless deployment vs. hardwire, the installation time for wireless could be at least 75% more efficient in terms of man-hours, especially in commercial facilities, according to Craig Dever, vice president at Inovonics, a manufacturer of wireless panic alarm systems.
“Especially consider a job in a big city where union electricians might be required to run conduit for the wiring; going wireless can result in substantial savings,” he says. “That means it is more cost effective because it is faster to deploy, so the security integrator can meet a tight deadline. It also gives the hospital or school more flexibility in case the needs of the facility change. For example, if a hospital knows it is going to be remodeling a portion of the facility next year, the system can be changed.”
Lastly, the reliability of wireless these days is much better. Using an in-field survey kit, a security integrator can check signal strength to determine where to mount the repeater.
“In a hardwired system, the integrator might quote the job for getting the wire from Point A to Point B, but when he starts pulling and drilling, he can really run into a lot of problems,” says Don Comare, vice president of marketing at Inovonics.
“For example, there could be an unknown I-Beam behind a brick or a plumbing run that wasn’t on the blueprints. There is a degree of certainty with the wireless that is not present in the hardwired process. In a wired system there are unknown issues lurking in the walls and ceilings.”