MOTOTRBO, Engenius, and the many other mobile ways we can alert your on-the-go staff …

Let’s say you operate a large assisted living property that spans several buildings over several acres.  Maybe even an entire gated community with hundreds of detached cottages and casitas.  Chances are your first responders to emergency call events will be your security staff who typically will carry portable, two-way radios that operate in the 400 to 470 MHz licensed frequency spectrum, possibly using repeaters to span your property.  To annunciate emergency calls to two-way radios, we offer text-to-speech voice and, in the case of the very cool MOTOTRBO, text messages that appear on the radio handset.

MOTOTRBO Licensed 400 MHz Digital Radio

Motorola’s MOTOTRBO™ professional digital two-way radio handsets are rugged, and have LCD screens that can display emergency call alerts. [See http://business.motorola.com/mototrbo/US/docs/MOTOTRBO_System_Brochure_1_08.pdf] The MOTOTRBO technology also provides two independent channels for the price of one FCC site license* (a second channel doesn’t require a second repeater — two channels are supported on a standard 12.5 KHz channel).  A common deployment scenario is to dispatch emergency calls out over one channel, and retain regular two-way voice for security personnel on the other channel.  Since we’re an authorized Motorola Application Developer (we developed a way to interface with our emergency call systems), we can also use Motorola’s Customer Programming Software (CPS) to tailor your MOTOTRBO system to suit your property needs. *Note: A FCC site license is not necessarily required. So-called “dot frequencies” are available (shared amongst many users) that do not require registration.  However, a FCC site license will guarantee no interference from others operating on the same frequency. Consult with Tel-Tron or your local radio dealer.

Two-Way Licensed 400 MHz Analog Radios

What if your security or care giver staff doesn’t carry text-capable digital radios? It is still a predominantly single-channel analog world out there for two-way radios, with many low-cost models to choose from. If your property uses a type that has PTT (push-to-talk) relay and audio inputs at the base station, consider our text-to-speech offering. When there is an emergency call event your radio-carrying staff will hear, for example, “Attention, Emergency Call, Apartment 101.” Similarly, when the emergency call event is cleared or reset, they’ll hear “Attention, Emergency Call, Apartment 101, Clear.”

Engenius Unlicensed 900 MHz Cordless Phone “Radio”

Does your staff need to be able to place and receive regular telephone calls and be in contact with each other over a large area, and at the same time be able to receive emergency calls?  The Engenius DuraFon 1X Long Range Industrial Cordless TM Phone System may be right for your facility. [See http://www.engeniustech.com/telecom/products/details.aspx?id=103.] EnGenius cordless phones allow up to 36 users to share 4 lines, and include push-to-talk radio, call transfers, and text messaging. The DuraFon 1X will also allow users to loudly broadcast to another user, a group of users, or all users. Emergency call alerts may be displayed as caller ID text (e.g., “Emergency Call, Apartment 101) and/or voiced by the Tel-Tron automated attendant.

Unlicensed 900/2400 MHz Cordless Phones

Less sophisticated and inexpensive cordless phones may be used by smaller assisted living facilities (generally low-power and cannot be “repeatered”).  As above, emergency call alerts may be displayed as caller ID text, and/or voiced by the Tel-Tron automated attendant.

Onsite Pagers

Unlicensed Pagers (those things from the 1980’s) are still a popular, low-cost way to alert your on-the-go staff.  Generally the transmitter base is powerful enough to reach across a large building.  Pagers are just one-way devices, without any voice capability.  Emergency call alerts may only be displayed as text messages on the pager screen.  [As a staff convenience, we also offer a popular “reminders via paging.”  For example, a particular caregiver may receive a page that states “Mary Jones, Apartment 101, Doctor Appointment, 10:00 am.”  [See http://www.tel-tron.com/scheduledreminders.php ]

Cell Phones

Nowadays, it’s a sure bet that your entire staff carries a personal cell phone. Most properties of course ask their staff to keep their personal cell phone in a locker while on the job to minimize distractions.  But some members of your executive staff may desire to be informed of emergency call events via a SMS text message on their cell phone.  We offer a high-degree of programmability when to send alerts; frequently Executive Directors only want to receive an SMS text if an emergency call event is not cleared within, for example, 10 minutes.  Such alerts can also easily be scheduled: the ED receives the alerts during the day, the Associate ED at night. [See http://www.tel-tron.com/ethernet.php ]

In summary, whatever mobile device your staff carries, we probably have an off-the-shelf way to alert them with Tel-Tron emergency call alerts.  Check out our website for other device examples (such as the Cisco IP phone).  [See http://www.tel-tron.com/cisco-phone-radio-paging-mobile.php ]

Why 312 MHz Kicks Butt for Senior Living Emergency Call Systems

When it comes to resident life safety, why would you take a chance having your wireless emergency call fail due to radio interference or being blocked by common building materials? Activate a Tel-Tron pendant or wireless pull cord and rest assured, your emergency call will get through, and help is on the way.  Unlike many of our competitors who use 2.4 GHz technology, Tel-Tron uses 312 MHz which is absolutely the best technology for penetrating building materials and is essentially free of interference from other transmitters operating at the same frequency.

Recently, I was surfing the web on my laptop at my son’s apartment as dinner was being prepared.  I noticed every time the microwave oven was being used in the kitchen my internet connection stalled.  In case you don’t know, the 2.4 GHz frequency spectrum is littered with intentional and unintentional transmitters – 802.11 Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Zigbee, microwave ovens, security cameras, cordless phones, baby monitors, etc. I couldn’t help but wonder how in the world some of our competitors could offer emergency call transmitters based on 2.4 GHz with all that potential interference out there. So-called, “Wi-Fi pollution” is an especially well-known problem in high-density areas such as large resident complexes with many Wi-Fi access points (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_interference_at_2.4_GHz).

In stark contrast, Tel-Tron wireless emergency call transmitters (pendants, wall-mounted call stations, etc.) operate at 312 MHz; far, far away from all that 2.4 GHz pollution.  Except for just a few garage door openers on the market (which operate very infrequently and are not likely to be near your residents), there is no comparable 312 MHz pollution.

And then there’s the issue of penetration. With all other things being equal, as frequency increases, range decreases.  This is most evident inside buildings, because higher-frequency radio waves are more vulnerable to absorption by building materials (such as drywall and concrete), and because higher frequencies are more directional (less apt to bend around corners).  Take a look at the engineering data graphic below that shows how much better lower frequencies penetrate reinforced concrete.  Sound waves share this transmission characteristic with radio waves: think how easily you can hear your neighbor’s low-frequency bass boom through your walls, but not the higher-frequency instruments or vocals.

Q: “Wait a minute Buddy … don’t some Tel-Tron products also utilize 2.4 GHz wireless technology?”

A: Yes we do, but not for resident emergency calls!  Rather, we embrace 2.4 GHz for our wireless high-speed network backbone whereby we use a fully-supervised “self-healing mesh” to contend with all the Wi-Fi pollution (our mesh approach is described here: https://blog.tel-tron.com/2010/05/15/network-heal-thy-self/.  The critical difference is that our pendants and wireless pull cords upload emergency call alerts to the network backbone using 312 MHz, not 2 GHz; residents are using the best-of-breed technology to make sure their emergency call penetrates though floors and walls and is not trounced by a Wi-Fi surfer or a rogue microwave oven.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that many of our competitors use 900 MHz for their wireless emergency nurse call systems.  That certainly is not as bad as 2.4 GHz.  Still, there are tons of 900 MHz cordless phones, wireless speakers, wireless headsets, etc. out there that clutter that frequency band too.  To attempt to compensate for losses and interference from other devices, they typically opt to transmit at higher power levels. Again, why not use “quiet” 312 MHz which is essentially interference-free and has the best wall/floor penetration, and gives you the greatest peace of mind?

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