Alarm systems useful for AAL too

Alarm transmission systems are used for many applications, including Active Assisted Living

By Morand Fachot

Premises equipped with alarm and access control systems are often essential for people using facilities suited for Active Assisted Living (AAL). Some of these premises must be supervised and as such require special alarm systems. A series of International Standards addressing requirements for these systems is being developed. Two Standards in the series have been published recently.

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Supervised premises important for AAL

Some people affected by health or age-related issues or disabilities need a certain degree of supervision or the possibility of alerting someone in case of difficulties resulting, for instance, from a fall or urgent health problem. They may also need protection from ill-intentioned individuals when they live either in their own home or in residential care. Remotely connected alarms used in supervised premises are essential for this.

IEC Technical Committee (TC) 79: Alarm and electronic security systems, is developing the IEC 60839-5 series of International Standards for alarm transmission systems (ATS). Two Standards published this year concern requirements for ATS used in supervised premises. 

Supervising premises requires two-path systems

A properly operating ATS for supervised premises requires equipment that can transmit and receive the necessary information.

To address this issue IEC TC 79 published IEC 60839-5-2:2016, Alarm and electronic security systems - Part 5-2: Alarm transmission systems - Requirements for supervised premises transceiver (SPT), and IEC 60839-5-3:2016Alarm and electronic security systems - Part 5-3: Alarm transmission systems - Requirements for receiving centre transceiver (RCT)..

General requirements and classifications for ATS are defined within IEC 60839-5-1:2014Alarm and electronic security systems - Part 5-1: Alarm transmission systems - General requirements.

Transmitting information reliably and safely

A transceiver (transmitter/receiver) can both transmit and receive communications.

IEC 60839-5-2 specifies the general equipment requirements for the performance, reliability, resilience, security and safety characteristics of a supervised premises transceiver, which “can be a stand-alone device or an integrated part of an alarm system.”

The Standard indicates that “the SPT shall be able to receive alarms from one or more alarm systems and transmit the alarm to one or more receiving centre transceivers (RCTs) via one or more alarm transmission paths (ATPs) within the requirements of the appropriate ATS category.”

IEC 60839-5-2 lists also additional requirements, such as access levels, remote access, uploading and downloading of software and firmware, storage of parameters or fault reporting, and event reporting, among other requirements.

Various operation modes are also detailed, as well as many general and functional test requirements.

IEC 60839-5-2 specifies that all the above-mentioned requirements and others “in this standard shall be considered as a minimum. As the SPT is used together with or integrated in associated alarm systems, the requirements of the specific applications or related standards shall apply.” 

Reliable and safe reception is essential too

Since SPTs and RCTs work together and must be interoperable many of the requirements for IEC 60839-5-3 are similar to those specified for IEC 60839-5-2.

They include for instance comparable functional and test requirements.

Both Standards attach importance to security and refer to the general, substitution and information security requirements specified in IEC 60839-5-1. This Standard, which covers general requirements for ATS, includes systems requirements which say that “ATS shall protect itself against Denial of Service (DoS) attacks from the transmission network.” Other requirements are that the ATS and its components must be protected against malicious attacks and inadvertent influences, and that “cryptographic techniques shall be used to achieve [SPT] substitution and [SPT and RCT] information security.”

The Standards in the IEC 60839-5 series cover a multitude of applications, including AAL, which can also integrate personal and social alarms in its overall architecture.

Bosch Advantage Line security system Bosch Advantage Line security system (Photo: Robert Bosch Hausgeräte GmbH)
Wearable alarm button Wearable alert systems can make independent living safer for the elderly...
Alarm button emergency response system ...when pressed, the button automatically triggers an emergency call to a support team who can talk to the person needing help