Compliance, Protocols and Industry Standards. Alongside the quality assurance processes we adhere to, it is also important to acknowledge the regulatory compliance standards, reporting protocols
How will SEVEN Behave in a Disaster?
Earthquakes, rain and floods, or wind and storms can all have sudden and devastating effects on our neighbourhoods, and on our lives. So, what happens to SEVEN when there is a major power outage, or the cellular communications are disrupted?
If there is a major power outage, and the cellular communications and internet are disrupted by a disaster, how does SEVEN work to keep someone safe?
A great starting point is to firstly understand all the possible communications pathways that SEVEN can use to send requests for help on. There can be multiple pathways available to SEVEN and the key point is that if one does not operate for any reason, then SEVEN will try another one – assuming this has been configured as an option.
The various models of SEVEN do provide options for different communication pathways and these are shown in the table:
SEVEN LiTE Dual
It is important to note that for any given model of SEVEN not all pathway options may be available at an end user’s location, for instance a customer may only have cellular coverage at their location and not Ethernet.
A SEVEN that has both Ethernet and cellular configured for operation will firstly attempt to place the request for help via one of these pathways depending on the configured preference, and if that fails, which could happen in a natural disaster, then it will try again via the other pathway. If that attempt also fails, SEVEN will cycle through available pathways and keep retrying as long as needed. The user will be kept informed as SEVEN continues to try to make a connection.
Dual SIM Benefit
In a major disaster it is possible for the entire coverage of just one provider to fail while other networks may continue to operate. For instance, this could happen if a network provider operated just a single cell site in a rural location. This is an example where using a SEVEN with dual SIMs installed may be of great benefit. When the SEVEN is unable to locate any network coverage on the first network because that fails (SIM A in SEVEN), and if a second network provides coverage at the location, SEVEN will automatically change over to that other network using the second SIM (SIM B). As a result of dual SIM operation, SEVEN is particularly robust against the outages of network providers.
Another scenario where a dual SIM SEVEN may be of benefit could be in an urban environment if there was a full network outage for one network provider that affected an entire suburb or town. In this situation, SEVEN would determine that the first network had failed, and then connect to, and utilise another operating network.
For either of these scenarios, if the SEVEN has an Ethernet connection available, communication via this path will also be tried.
Checking for Cellular Network
SEVEN performs checks every ten minutes to verify that the cellular network is always present. If six checks in a row fail to find the network, then SEVEN automatically tries to send a report informing the monitoring centre of this, either over an alternate pathway if one exists, or over the only cellular path when it is restored. The reports inform the monitoring centre about an end user’s situation without the end user having to tell them. If the SEVEN has dual SIMs installed, then SEVEN will check and use both as needed to try and gain a network connection to either network.
The strength of cellular coverage is indicated to the end user by the number of red lights that are illuminated around the Help button, with four indicators representing the most coverage possible.
It is possible for an installer to perform a communication pathway test which will automatically test all communication pathways that are available to a SEVEN and then inform the installer if they are working correctly. Please see the Product Manual and Installation Process for further details about how to do this.
When Outages Occur
Cellular Communication Network
Major events can also destroy cellular sites that SEVEN uses for communication. If this happens, SEVEN will then work to seamlessly connect to another site of the same cellular provider. If the SEVEN happens to be using an external antenna, then this may help to obtain cellular service from more distant sites and present more coverage options. SEVEN will always search for a network connection and if more than one is available, it will select the strongest one to use.
When cellular connection is unavailable for a prolonged period, SEVEN will continue to check for the restoration of the service. It performs a check every 10 minutes, so it may be up to 10 minutes before the re-establishment of connection is shown on the SEVEN base unit via the ‘Connect’ indicator. Any high priority reports that have been trying to be sent will be sent as soon as the connection is detected as restored.
Apart from losing communications in a major natural event, electrical power may also be affected in a local or wider area. If a cellular site has battery power back-up, it could operate for a while but may eventually fail if no form of charging eventually becomes available. During an emergency some cellular sites can be run from generators but this may cause sites to be intermittently available. SEVEN will always try to reconnect to other available cellular sites if it loses connection to the one it was using.
If SEVEN happens to lose mains power in a disaster, it will operate as usual using the built-in back up battery. While a cellular outage is also occurring, SEVEN continues to try and connect to the network, which also consumes power. Testing has been conducted simulating these scenarios and with the recommended configuration setting applied, the results show that the SEVEN battery life will last over 40 hours. To optimise the overall battery life and ensure the best performance is delivered from SEVEN during a disaster involving a power outage, SEVEN automatically performs maintenance on the internal battery every 90 days.
SEVEN will automatically try to inform the monitoring centre of a loss of power and then of low battery should this be reached when the mains power remains disconnected for an extended time. If the backup battery runs flat during an extended period with no mains power, it will recharge once the power is connected.
SEVEN also features a safety system that holds high priority reports in non-volatile memory. This means if SEVEN has been trying to send an alert and runs out of battery power, when power is restored SEVEN will attempt to resend the high priority report(s) that are yet to be delivered. The only way to cancel these from attempting to be sent is to manually hold the ‘Power’ button to turn the unit off to reset it, and then turn it on again.
SEVEN also takes account of difficulties that might exist at a monitoring centre in the event of the monitoring centre becoming uncontactable, unmanned or extremely busy, as could be expected during a major event.
SEVEN will automatically work its way down a predefined list of destinations until the report has been successfully sent. This list is split into two, one is used for high priority emergency reports from SEVEN and the other for status and maintenance reports. Priority should always be given from both SEVEN and enabling monitoring traffic to the high priority destinations. SEVEN typically has a list of site destinations for a monitoring centre along with a set of details specifically in place for ‘DR’ which is ‘disaster recovery.’ This considers a situation that even a monitoring centre may have to relocate because of a natural disaster. It also considers infrastructure issues that may make a primary monitoring centre uncontactable and allows for reports to ‘fail over’ to a secondary site to deal with the overflow of alerts.
In an event where many SEVENs are reconnected to a reporting pathway at the same time this can cause a ‘flood’ or significant volume increase in reporting to a monitoring centre. This is to be expected and if all SEVENs cannot connect at the same time to send their report due to ‘loading’ at the monitoring centre, they will simply attempt to try send the report again. Due to the stage SEVENs are at in their reporting process when the service is restored some may send to the primary monitoring destination and some to the DR site.
Having such an extensive list of destinations provides SEVEN with many more options to establish contact in an emergency.
What else can be done?
SEVEN also has an ability for monitoring to be able to remotely trigger voice announcements using SMS for specific events. This could be useful if it were necessary to inform people to evacuate their location in the event of a flood or fire event, or to provide them early alerting of an impending weather event.
SEVEN has many mechanisms and levels of protection that are built in to ensure that everything possible is done to reliably deliver requests for assistance. Spending time to plan the communications pathways and destination lists used by SEVEN to build in resilience is an important step in the setup process that the Chiptech team can assist with to take into account the varying range of scenarios, risks and outages that can occur in the real world.
Extensive and detailed product planning has been performed to carefully plan and test how SEVEN will work during a natural disaster, and because of this end users and installers can be confident in how SEVEN will behave should a natural disaster occur.
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