Alarm signalling and platform connectivity - what's the current guidance?

Tuesday 26 March 2024 -

With the recent news regarding BT Redcare, and the upcoming closure of their signalling platforms, there has been various articles across the wider industry, ranging from suppliers, membership associations, insurers, insurance brokers and approval bodies.  

The following guidance is aimed at providing a clearer understanding of specific requirements for secure alarm signalling, some of which are of key relevance to insurers and other specifiers.  

Signalling standards – EN50136 has three parts:

  • Part 1: EN50136-1 – General requirements for Alarm Transmission Systems (ATS)
  • Part 2: EN50136-2 - Requirements for Supervised Premises Transceiver (SPT)
  • Part 3: EN50136-3 - Requirements for Receiving Centre Transceiver (RCT)

Generally, insurers and specifiers, where they require secure alarm signalling on commercial (and high value domestic) premises are likely to be asking for solutions that meet Category DP3.

This certification gives certainty that the system is independently verified that the overall ‘system’ is of the highest available current standards. It includes transmission systems for alarm messages, provides industry guidance on ATS configuration, transmission network security and also encryption.

Other signalling categories, such as SP2, DP2 etc may be accepted dependant on individual situations, and whether or not if on a domestic or commercial installation. Similarly additional bespoke solutions may be specified dependent on the risk assessment. Any guidance from an insurance perspective for businesses and individuals should be sought from their insurance broker or insurer as advice in this area is regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority.

To obtain a certificate to the systems standard EN50136-1; the equipment, RCT (EN50136-3) and SPT (EN50136-2) both need to be certificated together. Certification of the SPT alone is not sufficient. 

  • The SPT is the equipment located at the client’s premises.  
  • The RCT, which controls all the management of the system, is either in the Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) or located at a secure data centre.

In dual path systems, such as DP3, the RCT is duplicated with multiple connections to the ARC – with no single points of failure. Certification to all of the above is the usual recommendation. 

Please be sure to ask your provider if they are independently certified to the complete series of standards as it could have a negative impact on any insurance if they are not.

ECHO – Electronic Call Handling Operations 

ECHO is an alarm transfer service provider facilitating greater effectiveness in police response to emergency alarms. It’s a fully automated electronic alarm transmission service between the alarm receiving centres (ARCs) and the police and means that alarm signals can be transferred to police control rooms in an instant - once identified and verified – subject to a valid URN being in place.  

Both CSL and BT, as ECHO Platform Integrators, provide the connectivity from all ARCs to ECHO. This is a service that will be continued by CSL, and it provides an extremely important benefit within the professional marketplace, by speeding up the overall alarm delivery time and ultimately the police response time. 

CSL provide connectivity from each ARC to ECHO. This connectivity is what allows the digital transfer of the alarm signal from the ARC to ECHO.  CSL provide multiple secure links from each ARC to ECHO.  

Other signalling providers can still state ‘ECHO ready’ status for their signalling products, and they will be delivered to ECHO via CSL and BT links from the ARC to ECHO. 

‘ECHO Ready’ status doesn’t confirm 3rd party certification to EN50136-1. 

Find out more about ECHO.

This article has been reproduced with kind permission from CSL Group.