Wireless Network….Heal Thy Self!

Every time I hear someone say “wireless emergency call systems are pretty much all the same” it makes my want to pull my hair out.  While it is true that many systems have a similar mission, there are very few similarities in how the mission gets

Click here for a tutorial

 accomplished.  Here is a HUGE, IMPORTANT, SIGNIFICANT, FUNDAMENTAL, MEANINGFUL  example.  Enough emphasis?

On most wireless networks used for emergency call systems, if one access point (transceiver) fails, YOU LOSE EVERY OTHER RECEIVER DOWN LINE.  That’s because signals “hop” from one transceiver to the next all the way back to the computer.  Any break in the chain and the call for help goes unanswered.  GOOD ENOUGH for email, surfing the web, etc.  BAD IDEA when the data being transmitted is a person’s call for help.

That is why Tel-Tron never designed an emergency call system using the point-to-point wireless networking scheme described above.  In 2008, we released our version of a wireless network using what is called a “Self Healing, Wireless Mesh Network.” Translation:  If any access point fails, the downline access points can automatically reroute.  The network self-heals.  And, since all Tel-Tron systems are fully supervised, the system will alarm and display which access point has failed.  As of this writing, no other company is offering this level of wireless network service.  (No other company designs and manufactures their own wireless products…..but that is a post for another time.)  For a neat flash based tutorial on this topic, please click here.

Even the chip manufacturer was impressed, and published a “Customer Success Story” on our implementation. Check it out.

I suppose a rough analogy is the difference between run-flat tires and standard tires.  With a standard tire, if you get a flat your trip is over until you change the tire.  With a run-flat tire, if you get a flat, you are notified, but your trip is uninterrupted.  That kind of safety and redundancy seems like a great idea if you were a woman driving alone at night through a sketchy part of town on your way home.  Or, if you were a senior living resident who was counting on your call for help getting answered.

There are hundreds of differences like this between wireless nurse call system providers.  So, no, emergency call systems are not all “pretty much the same.”

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3 Responses to Wireless Network….Heal Thy Self!

  1. Jenya Hampton says:

    Great information, and very timely. Thanks for posting

  2. I think the ability to automatically reroute is pretty awesome. However, the question I have would be, what would cause an access point to go down in the first place? If it’s thinks like circuit breaks, then shouldn’t the access points be on their own outlet?

    Though I feel the ability to auto reroute should be a standard concept.

    • A good design in a life safety environment includes each wireless access point having battery back-up for many hours – maybe even a whole day. However, more can happen than just a simple power outage. A component could fail. The device can be unplugged/removed. (We once had a resident disable his emergency call system because he wanted to smoke in his room undetected. I’ve seen seniors who thought they were being spied on vandalize parts of the emergency call system.) Lightning damage can occur.

      I guess what I am saying is that no matter how rugged the design, or the hardware redundancies you put in place, things can happen. And since losing a wireless access point from time to time is not uncommon in senior living, a self healing mesh network is a smart idea. Without it, we wouldn’t trust our own lives with it. And that fact….would be a violation of our core principles.

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