Some integrators and end users may think of intercoms as older technology that isn’t required as part of a robust security system. Not true. Intercoms include innovative technologies that have developed rapidly, keeping pace with other categories. Just as cameras and access control systems have made technology improvements in leaps and bounds, so has voice audio – and intercoms offer features and benefits no other product can provide.

Aiphone entry security

When it comes to communications, entry control and emergency assistance, intercoms lead the way,” says Bruce Czerwinski, U.S. General Sales Manager, Aiphone Corp. “Intercoms are almost ubiquitous on K-12 campuses. They are common in virtually every other security vertical market. And they are providing communications without interfering with a business’s lifeline – the telephone.”

Aiphone’s technology includes a variety of intercom and entry security products to meet the needs of the education, healthcare, commercial, government and residential markets. Aiphone’s audio and video intercoms include both analogue two-wire connections and TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol) units to protect exterior entries and to secure vital interior spaces. With nearly 40 standard systems, Aiphone can create a system for virtually any intercom application.

Are emergency intercoms still needed in the age of cell phones? The preponderance of cell phone use, not surprisingly, is contributing to the rapid growth of mobile safety apps that put callers in contact with assistance right from their smartphones. These technological advances have left some wondering if security systems like emergency speakerphones are still necessary; but simply trading out speakerphones for cell phones is ill-advised, says David Fleming, Chief Design Officer for Code Blue Corp.

Code Blue VoIP/analogue speakerphones

Emergency speakerphones
and intercoms act as integrated security stations that provide
a wide array of emergency communication solutions

Emergency speakerphones and intercoms act as integrated security stations that provide a wide array of emergency communication solutions, Fleming says. They serve as the hub for all security devices at a location, from cameras to card readers to lights and speakers. “Removing them could be a potentially dangerous and hasty decision for locations looking for a complete security solution,” says Fleming. 

Code Blue offers both voice over IP (VoIP) and analogue emergency speakerphones that are available with multiple options and configurations to create a customised user experience. When they are combined with Code Blue’s durable steel enclosures and sophisticated systems management software, Code Blue speakerphones can be utilised as a comprehensive end-to-end security system.

Intercoms also suffer from a reputation of providing unintelligible sound. “This myth has prevented security executives from optimising and innovating their people, process and technology around intelligible voice,” says Dan Rothrock, SVP of Global Strategic Alliances, Zenitel North America. “And because of this assumption, there is no evaluation criteria around judging quality intercom systems. Bad audio is not okay. It threatens the viability of the risk mitigation efforts of our security programs.”

“With today’s advancements, you can hear, be heard and be understood in virtually any environment,” says Rothrock. 

The preponderance of cell phone use is contributing to the rapid growth of mobile safety apps that put callers in contact with assistance right from their smartphones
Emergency speakerphones and intercoms serve as the hub for all security devices at a location, from cameras to card readers to lights and speakers

Vingtor-Stentofon solutions

Vingtor-Stentofon by Zenitel Group is a world-leading provider of critical communication solutions on the land and at sea. Building on more than 70 years of innovation, today’s technology uses secure and exceptionally intelligible SIP end-devices to provide solutions in IP intercom, video intercom, emergency communications and public address. (SIP is Session Initiation Protocol, the communications protocol used in Internet telephony.)

Zenitel seeks to provide a path to intelligibility: To hear, to be heard, and to be understood in every situation. Zenitel emphasises critical communications and solutions that can be integrated in an organisation by providing seamless interoperability with access control, video surveillance management, and telephone switching and voice-over-IP systems around the world. Finally, Zenitel’s emphasis on innovation and quality ensures the solutions meet stringent requirements of IT departments by delivering high availability, scalability, reliability and defensibility that are required for mission-critical applications.

2N IP intercom models

2N says its products are much more than “just intercoms.

“They are a SIP end point, which, while serving as an intercom, can also perform much more in the end users’ system than placing a call,” says Craig Szmania, CEO, 2N USA. “Our ‘intercoms’ are highly programmable, allowing for functionality not normally attributed to a door station.”

2N’s products can add significantly to an end user’s site security system with video and audio inputs and outputs, have the ability to control actions, are integratable into most building systems and yes, of course, provide communication from one point to another or globally. “Our intercoms are definitely much more than the old-fashioned perception of an intercom,” says Szmania.

Zenitel seeks to provide
a path to intelligibility: To hear, to be heard, and to be understood in every situation

2N USA is a manufacturer of seven IP intercom models that share a common software platform based on 2N’s own operating system. The models include basic audio only, highly ruggedised emergency call box models, and top-of-the-line sophisticated commercial models suitable to any Fortune 50 corporate headquarters. Most models can be equipped with HD/IR ONVIF-compliant cameras, high-end audio, and all are “pure SIP.”

2N intercoms are built based on the company’s own hardware designed in-house at 2N’s research and development (R&D) department in Prague, Czech Republic. Roughly a third of all 2N employees are in engineering, highlighting the company’s focus on new product development to provide a technological edge.

2N supplies solutions to schools, governments, commercial enterprises, small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), residential, industrial and transportation.

“At 2N we have started to call our intercoms ‘SIP end points’ as they have capabilities far beyond a point-to-point audio communicator and are used in many varying applications; including control of production lines in an industrial setting, access control for office buildings and as a first line of security for schools,” says Szmania.

Read part 3 of our Security Intercoms series here

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Author profile

Larry Anderson Editor, SecurityInformed.com & SourceSecurity.com

An experienced journalist and long-time presence in the US security industry, Larry is SourceSecurity.com's eyes and ears in the fast-changing security marketplace, attending industry and corporate events, interviewing security leaders and contributing original editorial content to the site. He leads SourceSecurity.com's team of dedicated editorial and content professionals, guiding the "editorial roadmap" to ensure the site provides the most relevant content for security professionals.

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