Safe and sound
Australia’s cabling industry asks the question: are security systems as safe they should be?
Alarm systems and remote monitoring services are hugely popular these days. In fact it’s now a $2B industry in Australia, growing nearly 3% a year, with around 2000 companies employing 12,000 people.
But that doesn’t include the role builders are now playing in this emerging market as customers increasingly expect their new homes will come equipped with the ability to not only handle new security options, but a whole range of technologies.
There’s no doubt security for both homes and offices offers builders a new revenue stream, but it’s clear that for many big, medium and small companies there’s still a lot to learn to ensure that what’s installed works the way it should.
This has become a much bigger issue now that the NBN and its promise of much faster broadband has entered the equation. No matter if customers are opting for either wired in or completely wireless systems – or a hybrid of both – the need to connect seamlessly and robustly with the internet is absolutely crucial.
Safe As Houses?
That’s not always the case though says the Australian Registered Cablers (ARC)-the peak bodies collectively representing Australia’s security, fire, IT, telecommunications, electrical and copper industries.
“The harsh reality is that Australian homes and businesses could be at risk of experiencing a failure of security technologies simply because non-licensed or unqualified cablers were used to install or modify cabling at a premises,” chairman of the ARC group Kevin Fothergill said.
“Builders need to use appropriately licensed Registered Cablers qualified under the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) rules if they expect to deliver systems that work.”
“At the completion of any work, consumers should demand a Telecommunications Advice Form #1 (TCA 1) from the cabling installer. This is a legal requirement, as it is a compliance form,” Mr Fothergill added.
ARC points out that it’s the few metres of cabling from the PC or alarm panel – typically hidden behind walls and in ceilings that connects to the broadband network outside – that could be unreliable. If non-compliant and sub-standard connectors or cable are used, or the cabling is not installed correctly, the alarm or monitoring system won’t be able to do its job in protecting people and assets.
It’s all become a lot more complicated of course with the approach of the NBN which requires homes and offices to get ready to be able to transition to the new broadband platform. Builders specifically need to be on top of the wiring issues facing new or renovated premises and what it may entail in terms of building infrastructure and equipment.
The good news is that the quality of NBN related products and installation practices are comprehensively regulated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority, or ACMA. Despite what many people probably think, it’s not Telstra’s or NBN’s responsibility to provide the connection all the way up to the PC or phone or camera, or alarm panel.
For ARC the solution is simple – building industry awareness.
“This risk has emerged in recent years with the influx of new digital technologies that are brilliant in themselves, but entirely reliant on telecommunications infrastructure, of which the consumer has little or no knowledge of,” Kevin said.
ARC says there are some fundamental questions that builders need to have answers for in order for their safety and security technologies to work properly.
Number 1: anyone installing fixed communications cabling – be it for data, voice, fire alarm, security, surveillance, building management, home automation, or audio visual systems – must be qualified to do so. It’s the law. That means having the appropriate training and assessment to be deemed competent to carry out the works.
Number 2: all products in the transmission path – cables, connectors and fly leads – must be tested and approved as safe for inclusion in the transmission line within the building.
To ensure compliance to the telecommunications regulations, the ACMA has appointed five industry peak bodies as its registrars. These industry associations are responsible for the administration of registration – equivalent to licensing – of data and telecommunications cablers.
ARC has also taken the step of setting up a web site where building industry professionals can get more answers–www.registeredcablers.com.au.
“The new site is a great start for understanding the technical issues around home technology in the NBN era and for specific installation requirements like security systems,” Mr Fothergill said.
“It’s also a quick way for builders who might need answers or want help on installations to find a qualified cabler near them.”