Upgraded WatchManager alarm monitoring system

Issue 8 2021 Perimeter Security, Alarms & Intruder Detection

WatchManager has released its latest version update, V7.60 Build 381, for general distribution and download by its authorised international user base.

The arrival of significant enhancements in operating systems, network technologies, Internet security, cloud-based services and a greater demand for improved distributed processing resulted in the WatchManager engines undergoing a timely restructure to be able to make the most of the new environments.

Technological advances always sound great, but usually take some time to proliferate their way down to ‘ground-floor’ systems and generally accepted ‘stable’ usability. Given the highly critical and important nature of a security company’s control room operation, the WatchManager team always treat any ‘new tech’ with an extreme amount of caution and robust testing before incorporating it into the operational system used by thousands around the globe, protecting businesses and households.

The changes made in this new version primarily deal with improved networking and user workstation speed and interoperability. They also make way for much easier integration of new third-party product offerings that offer the security company’s control room operators and ultimately their clients, new facilities and functions offered by product suppliers.

Ready for the future

Covid also brought along a serious requirement for remotely distributed workstations during the pandemic. WatchManager has successfully tested this operational mechanism but it has not yet been released due to remote operation security concerns. No doubt in time, controls and confidence (and high bandwidth costs) will improve, but WatchManager is ready for it.

A number of new IP-based alarm panels have been integrated, allowing new high-end product features and functionality. This includes snapshot and video feed integration. Video analytics systems are also becoming more reliable, affordable and easier to setup and maintain, making it more attractive to the mainstream market. WatchManager now has three different supplier’s systems integrated for different applications.

IOT is slowly gaining ground-level traction in the security monitoring industry and WatchManager now has a fully integrated LPWAN proximity sensor which is being used in the mining industry (but equally effective elsewhere). It’s safe to assume that once there is a decent proliferation of LPWAN IOT networks, many more products will become available to this market for use by the security alarm monitoring companies.

The Eskom effect

The energy load-shedding problem that we all suffer through presents a particular set of problems for security alarm monitoring companies – typically hundreds to hundreds of thousands of notification signals all coming through at the same time. WatchManager has a particular mode of operation to handle this with ease, but because this has become such a regular occurrence, an increasing number of clients are beginning to demand more information about their sites during these periods.

Of course, this puts enormous strain on the control room operators and their workstations in terms of the volumes of signal throughputs, so a new ‘multi-stack per workstation’ feature is now available. This allows one operator to automatically divert certain types of signals to a second or third alarm monitoring stack to be dealt with in due course, without interrupting their main signal management function. This, believe it or not, brings serious improvements in performance and productivity and lowers the stress on operators, which results in higher levels of operational integrity and confidence.

Simplified, secure access

Another recently integrated product of interest and value to monitoring and reaction companies – GateCode – has been enhanced to allow automatic rolling code dispatch directly to the gate receiver, via the reaction officer’s vehicle keypad when it arrives at the gate. This is a major improvement in efficiency and prevents wasted time through keypad code input errors. The system cannot be hacked and the components are affordable – specifically priced to be a no-brainer to the service provider.

Naturally, system improvements such as these all require currently available hardware and operating systems e.g. Windows 10 Pro running on an i5/i7 CPU with 8 GB RAM and a decent SSD that has a read/write throughput better than 530 Mb/s (SATA 3) or 3000 Mb/s (NVMe). Older hardware may still perform, but the likes of Windows XP and Windows 7 simply don’t have the components required to operate correctly.

There are many other enhancements included in this release that are not mentioned and there are many more to come in the coming months.


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