Over the past few weeks, we have established a very strong BLINK network in most areas of the Westside.
BLINK is a mesh radio network… meaning that each and every radio that gets installed acts as a repeater on the network.
This ensures that there is no single point of failure and that each client’s system has multiple paths to send an alarm signal. When our technicians have been installing new BLINK radios, they use a handheld programming device that tells them exactly how the signal reached our Operations Centre (the ‘OC’). For example, if a signal sent through BLINK installed at a client’s home is able to reach our OC directly, the handheld programmer will say that. If the signal ‘talks’ to another BLINK system on the network first, before reaching our OC, it lets us know that as well.
On the OC side, we can see the signal strength of each possible route that any BLINK radio on the network might use… and in what order it would do so.
As a result, we can test through a number of different ‘paths’ to our OC.
Due to the close proximity of many of our clients to our Kerrisdale OC, the vast majority of BLINK radios installed are able to connect directly to us, without any ‘hops’. The benefit of this is the fastest possible signal transmission time… in the vast majority of cases, alarm signals are being received in our OC in 1 second or less.
A ‘hop’ refers to how many other BLINK radios that a particular signal connects through in order to make it to us. Each ‘hop’ takes between 1 and 2 seconds. So far, every BLINK radio that we have installed connects without any ‘hops’ as the primary path… as more BLINK radios are installed, each existing unit ‘learns’ another possible route.
To help demonstrate how the BLINK network works, we installed two identical alarm systems in our office… both connected to the same alarm zone (a sliding glass door). The door has two wires, each leading to one of two Honeywell control panels. One panel uses a phone line to send the signal, and the other uses BLINK.
This set-up (pictured left) allows us to show how fast the BLINK signal is received. The actual BLINK radio is the second box from the left side, with the antenna on it.
The two laptops are configured to show the signals being received by both systems individually. Typically, we will receive the alarm signal through the BLINK enabled system between 40 and 6o seconds sooner than through the panel connected to the telephone line.
Another interesting feature of the BLINK radios is that they communicate almost constantly (every few seconds) with our automation software to confirm that they are working and that everything is ok. By comparison, the systems that we monitor using a telephone line are only able to confirm once every 24 hours that all is well.
We now have many clients on the wait list for BLINK installations… which we are working hard to get to as quickly as possible. The good news is that the network is coming along much better than we had anticipated and that signal transmission is even faster than we had originally thought.