Ensure Your Facility is Monitored By a Graded Monitoring Centre
Alarms Systems are Only as Good as the Signaling Links & Security Monitoring Centre.
Alarm Monitoring Centres In AustraliaWith Australian alarm monitoring centres there is a publicly available Australian Standard that grades monitoring centres according to their building construction, electronic equipment, operational procedures, and staffing levels.
Some offer little more than a guy in his garage with some monitoring equipment, a telephone line, and a coffee percolator for the late-night shift.
Chances are you may not even know that this type of outfit is responsible for monitoring your alarm signals during business and particularly "after" hours and a low grade monitoring center can be the weakest link in your security systems.
Furthermore, rapid penetration by telcos and huge ISPs into the security market with low-cost hardware and bundled alarm monitoring services puts more urgency on ensuring proper standards are adhered to.
Australian Standard AS2201.2 2022The Australian standard "AS 2201.2-2001" lays out specific guidelines and rating requirements for "mission critical" alarm monitoring centres as well as other metrics such as response times and disaster recovery ability.
The security grading system uses two key parameters to rate these centres. The first is related to the actual construction of the room (the shell) and runs from A to C (with A being the most resistant to attack) and the second parameter is related to operations, equipment and staffing and runs from 1 to 3 (with 1 having the highest level of performance). The table below shows these ratings.
ASIAL Redundant Centre CertificationThe Australian Security Industry Association Limited (ASIAL) independently assesses the certification of another important aspect of alarm monitoring centres. Whilst there are standards and guidelines for business continuity "within" the centre itself, they don't address the scenario of a total failure of all systems!
If this were to occur, the risks for businesses such as banks, jewelry stores and other high-risk facilities is too high and therefore a second backup centre is required. The second center, or "Disaster Recovery Site" simply continues critical business functions as normal if the primary facility is taken out.
Some backup sites are live and can operate simultaneously with the primary center or in some cases it is dormant and simply fired up when needed. Naturally, for high-risk facilities who don't operate without security, the former is required.
How Alarm receiving Centres Are Graded in Australia
For domestic and light commercial businesses, the security requirements can vary according to the risk profile. However, if your business or facility is high risk (possibly local, state, or federal government) or contains high value assets, then you should have your alarm systems monitored by an A1 graded centre and as a subscriber you have the right to request a copy of their current certification.
Keep in mind it is not just for intruder alarms but duress, panic, hold up, environmental alarms, medical emergencies, and many other important signals that must reach the monitoring centre and be acted upon within certain time frames.
More importantly, the centre needs to be resistant to attack from the outside so operations can continue as normal during an attack. The standards are too detailed to explain on this page, however, we have shown here a simple plan drawing of a small monitoring centre designed to be graded as A1.
Typical A1 Graded Alarm Monitoring Centre
- FLOOR & CEILING TO BE 150 mm THICK, REINFORCED CONCRETE
- A/C VENTILATION OPENING TO BE NO MORE THAN 1000 mm DIAMETER
- ALL DOORS TO BE OUTWARD OPENING WITH MINIMUM OF TWO HINGE BOLTS
- ALL DOORS TO HAVE STEEL PLATES COVERING LOCKING MECHANISMS
- ALL ENTRY DOORS TO HAVE WIDE ANGLE "VIEWER"
- A/C AIR INTAKE TO BE LOCATED AT A HEIGHT EXCEEDING 3M ABOVE GROUND
- CENTRE TO HAVE FIRE SYSTEM INSTALLED TO AS 1670-1
- ALL CAMERAS TO BE 3 m ABOVE GROUND AND CONTINUOUSLY VIEWED & RECORDED
- CENTRE TO HAVE WASH BASIN, TOILET & AMENITIES AREA
- CENTRE TO HAVE TWO PERSONS (MIN) INSIDE AT ALL TIMES 24/7/365
- UPS (STAND-BY POWER) TO HAVE CAPACITY FOR AT LEAST 60 MINUTES
- DOORS TO BE ELECTRICALLY INTERLOCKED AND RELEASED FROM INSIDE THE CENTRE
Alarm Signal Response TimesThere are other requirements from the standard to be considered such as the time it takes to respond to an alarm event as well as the time taken to restore normal operations if there is an equipment failure. Below is a table from the AS2201.2-2001 standard that shows the minimum alarm response times for all types of alarms and system events.
If your facility, business, or office is a High-Risk operation, it is extremely important that your systems be monitored by an approved and graded alarm receiving centre. If you have any questions about the Australian Standard AS2201.2 or need independent advice on choosing the correct monitoring company for your facility, business, or organisation, please call Cornerstone