Cellular IoT: The reliable choice for fire safety

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Whether initiated manually or by a smoke detector, fire alarms play a vital role in keeping people and buildings safe. Most fire alarms simply warn that a fire has started – but what if we could get more detailed information about its location, how fast it’s moving and where it’s spreading?

Fortunately, this sort of deeper insight can be achieved using IoT sensors. Temperature sensors are widely used to detect the temperature of rooms and report back to a Building Management System, allowing it to maintain comfortable conditions for the occupants while balancing energy use.

By utilising special heatproof sensors, which can detect the temperatures that are characteristic of a fire and raise an alarm before the fire even emits smoke, they can give people vital extra time to escape, as well giving fire-fighters information about the intensity of the fire.

Although knowing that a fire has started is useful, knowing where it has started is a huge bonus. With enough detectors spread around a building, the location and spread of the fire can be mapped, allowing fire-fighters to plan how and where to tackle the blaze. 

This type of location information can also be used to plan safe evacuation routes, avoiding the site of the fire and any inflammable materials in its path.

Using IoT can also allow better maintenance of fire alarms and fire detection systems. Many of these systems have grown piecemeal over the years, with different equipment sourced from a variety of manufacturers at different times. Maintenance will often be based on manual collection and recording of data. IoT systems can bring data together from all these various alarm systems, giving an easy overview of maintenance logs and operational insight. This also makes it easier to prove compliance with best practice and regulations.

Keep fire detection systems operational

By connecting the IoT sensors to Low Power Wide Area networks or even cellular networks, building managers can realise all the benefits of IoT and keep their people and facilities safer.

Often, IoT devices are also used in other safety critical applications, such as care for elderly and vulnerable people.

fire safety example

Cellular is a safe choice

There are many options for connecting IoT sensors and devices such as fire detectors and alarms. With fire safety being such a critical goal, any connectivity method should be robust, reliable, secure and available everywhere.

The connectivity option that best fits these criteria is cellular IoT. One of its biggest advantages is ease of deployment, since IoT devices can connect to the chosen network using a standard SIM card. This makes connecting fire monitoring systems to the network very easy, as there is no need to gain access to hardwired networks such as Ethernet.

Using physical SIM cards also makes cellular networks more secure, as they’re used to authenticate devices and associate them with a legitimate subscriber.

Better than landlines

Many fire alarm systems communicate over land lines, but cellular is much more secure. With no wires to cut, the system is more robust and less prone to interference. Cellular is also significantly more reliable for fire alarm systems, with very little risk of power or internet outages or damaged phone lines that could be compromised by the fire.

Over the air systems such as cellular also win when there’s a need to protect many facilities, particularly those that might be located in a remote area. Cellular networks are everywhere and offer coverage in every place that an IoT-based alarm might be needed. Coverage can also be extended to previously underserved areas, allowing IoT connected devices to cover basements and carparks using small cells.

As a well-established technology, cellular has supreme reliability. If one cell encounters a problem, or is seeing a very high traffic density, other cells can step in to take their place. This means that fire monitoring systems are unlikely to suffer a lack of connectivity.

Safety first

Cellular IoT supports a wide range of critical applications, in addition to fire safety. One of the most common solutions for safety IoT is the protection of vulnerable people. Oysta, a Pelion customer, is a leading company in the personal safety field. Its Oysta Pearl devices are carried or worn by vulnerable people and features SOS buttons, fall sensors, reminder alarms and safe zone monitoring. Oysta’s IntelliCare platform transmits all the alarms and data from the devices to 24/7 monitoring facilities.

To connect the devices, Pelion provides a true roaming SIM, meaning that even in areas with patchy connectivity, it can connect across different networks, ensuring reliable connections.

Using its devices, Oysta can keep their end users comfortable at home for longer, avoiding care homes whilst providing extra peace of mind for the user and their family. 

Fire safety, as well as personal safety and security for vulnerable people, can clearly benefit from being based on IoT enabled sensors. An IoT solution, linked by a cellular network, transforms alarms and sensors from a collection of isolated devices into a coherent, robust system that offers greatly enhanced safety for all.

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