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The rising role of IoT in fire detection and safety

The rising role of IoT in fire detection and safety

There is no doubt that IoT is slowly revolutionizing most of the traditional industries. According to Thomas Dols, Global Software Product Manager at Siemens Smart Infrastructure, the way we work, protect against fire, and conduct fire safety services have changed over the past years. 

“Digitalization has been driving this change, transforming traditional fire safety services into a modern and more productive business,” Dols said. “With this new offering, we are in the heart of IoT, with the clear goal to safely connect as many of our Fire Safety hardware products as possible. For customers, this will mean better use of fire engineering experts, better maintenance services, and even new business model opportunities.” 

The advantage IoT brings 

IoT (Internet of Things) has offered the ability of life safety systems to connect to the world. An owner/manager can now connect to their life safety systems from anywhere in the world with a phone, tablet, or any connected device. 

“Although systems can be connected to the world, safety concerns do come into play,” said Rodger Reiswig, Fellow and VP of Industrial Relations at Johnson Controls. “Can the system be compromised by hostile activity from hackers? There now needs to be safeguards implemented to prevent such takeovers or malicious activity to life safety systems. This has become such an issue of concern that both UL and NFPA are taking action to implement listing Standards for products as well as installation practices for cybersecurity.” 

For owners/managers, there is now the ability to integrate their life safety systems without having to be on site. This saves valuable time and resources. A customer can also have their installer and maintainer, with the owner’s permission, integrate the system, and help diagnose any issues before ever arriving on the scene.

The possibilities of IoT

Most major companies are exploring what more they can do to leverage the power of IoT. Bosch, for instance, has set a strategic target for all of our electronic product categories is to be IoT-enabled by 2020. This vision is supported by the “3S” in Bosch’s connectivity business: sensors, software, and services. In developing and implementing services and solutions for the connected world, Bosch customers benefit from its expertise in software and sensor technology as well as in its broad business portfolio.

“When it comes to bringing the IoT into the fire safety segment, Bosch envisions a future in which connected devices – and their data – open up new kinds of services that offer significant benefits to end customers and system integrators,” said Andreas Kahl, Head of Software Engineering and Fire Alarm Systems at Bosch Building Technologies.  “This digital transformation journey is already well underway, as IoT-based applications are already enhancing the fire safety service offering on several levels. As a prerequisite, networked system architecture such as fire panels and sensors need to connect to the internet via nodes, hubs, and gateways in a secure manner. With this connection in place, the system can communicate with a cloud application server via IP protocol to send real-time data such as device health, battery status, and event history.”

While IoT-based Remote Services already provides major efficiency gains for system integrators, we’re only just scratching the surface of what is possible, Kahl added. The foundation for next-generation IoT-connected services is already created today, as the integration between sensors, software, and services increases. It will not only be crucial for devices to work together within the same network.

In the process of building end-to-end fire safety systems that are ready to connect with the IoT, seamless interfaces with third-party apps and platforms via APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) will be a competitive advantage for the system technology providers. It will be even more important that systems can communicate with apps or building management software.

On the same note, the ability to provide integrated, IoT-connected services on a secure backbone – safe from hackers and malicious attacks – will be indispensable, because system data is the most valuable resource moving forward. This data holds the key to what comes next.   

Slow adoption

IoT is still in the early stages in the fire safety industry, despite their benefits. Cristina Aragon Vandenbent, Fire Protection Consultant at Telgian Engineering and Consulting, said that most of their customers have not yet taken advantage of any IoT-related developments for fire alarm systems but are researching, testing and evaluating them.  

“IP networking of control panels and mass notification systems are among some of our newly awarded contracts,” Vandenbent said. “The advantage of networking the Fire Alarm Control Panels is enhanced supervision, flexibility in code-compliant wiring schemes, and ground isolation.”

Some of the enhanced features can include notification to personal phones, computers, and other notification type devices.  These features can act as a supplemental reporting network.  These features are just some of the things that make this new technology exciting.

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