An intercom (intercommunication device), talkback or door phone is a stand-alone voice communications system for use within a building or small collection of buildings. It’s a two-way communication electronic device that contains circuitry for the purpose of transmitting and receiving audio and/or video transmissions. Intercom allows a person speaking into a microphone to be heard on a speaker by people in a different room or area.
With the advent of cellular communication, digital telephone systems, and other communication devices, the use of intercoms has transformed into an IOT (Internet of Things) device. However, there are still lots of applications where these devices still work better than anything else as defined below:
Different Types Of Intercom Systems:
- Wireless Intercoms: In applications where wires cannot be run, a wireless system is used. There are a broad spectrum of two-way wireless communication devices that include such devices as handheld radios, outdoor wireless callboxes, as well as traditional desktop devices. The range these units will transmit varies widely based on the wireless technology used.
- Wired Intercom Systems: When you can run wires between locations, a wired system can give you a little more privacy and eliminate possible interference from neighboring systems. There are different wire types such as 2-wire shielded or Cat-5/6 that can be used with these systems. If you are considering a video system, a wired unit would be the best solution.
- Video Intercom: These typically have a unit that has a camera, speaker, and a push button that goes at an entrance door, and an internal monitor unit that can communicate with the entrance unit. Some systems can have multiple video monitors internally. Given the difficulty of sending video over the airwaves at very much distance without interference, most available units are wired for that stability.
- Multi-Family Intercoms: This type of system has a door unit at an entrance door and then each apartment or flat has either one or multi-unit that can speak to the door and possibly see the visitor, or the door unit rings a landline or cellular telephone number. A visitor simply presses the correct button for the apartment they want to speak to, and the tenant can speak back and then press a button to unlock the door.
- Two-Way Radios: While these are technically not intercoms, there are two-way radios that communicate with base station intercoms. This gives you the flexibility of a mobile radio that communicates over long distances mixed with the capability a fixed intercom gives you.
If you need help in choosing a system, then just call our security system experts at Invision Security or check us out on our website at www.invisionsecuritygroup.com and we will help you choose the right system for your business.
The Evolution Of Intercom
In 1970, intercoms were all about convenience. They made it easy for secretaries to communicate with their boss and for company employees to connect between offices within the same building. At home, parents could simultaneously call kids scattered throughout the home to come to dinner.
The intercom, however, was meant for bigger and better things. The addition of a black-and-white camera and inside video screen created the first video door answering system in 1984. It was a big hit with homeowners in Japan and Europe. It never really caught on culturally in the U.S. with many families not even locking the front door, let alone adding a video intercom. At that time, the security industry hadn’t even started to look at video intercoms as a way to secure commercial buildings, government institutions or schools.
There was more coming…. and soon. Intercom engineers soon eliminated the initial need for coax cable, creating an easy-to-install, two-wire system. They kept going with more improvements, introducing the first multi-directional, pan-and-tilt video system. Other developments followed with a color system in 1998, video intercoms were becoming a standard part of the security toolbox.
Then came the hack-proof, wired video intercoms. These intercom systems are now protecting exterior and interior doors at schools, college and university campuses; local, state and government facilities; hospitals; commercial buildings; and multi-tenant residential and mix-use structures. Wired systems are preferred in most commercial, industrial or property managed, multi-residential installations as they are far less vulnerable to hackers.
Intercoms have also been moved outdoors serving as the heart of emergency stations, the blue-light towers installed around campuses or parking facilities, to provide instant contact to security personnel.
Many of the intercom features we take for granted today are possible because of the explosion of digital corporate networks. Previous analog technology limited the maximum size of security systems, the distance they could cover and available power sources. With modern technology, these constraints are gone thus giving birth to the Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Utilizing Bluetooth technology as one option, access control not only allows permissions in real time, also define access using the smart card access functionality. A mobile app with Bluetooth access makes it easy for you to control the entry door when physically not present at the site. Add to that, you can keep a record on people frequently visiting your place with visitor management. There’s absolutely no doubt the move from analog to a digital network was a huge leap forward for the security industry in general. It has changed how and where security products can be used.
Today, one guard in a security operations center can monitor and control multiple entries or emergency stations between facilities spread across a campus or the country. That same guard can even use a smartphone app to remain in control of the system while on patrol. Multi-tenant apartment buildings use video intercoms in place of a second-shift doorman. Residents decide who enters the building after hours. Operators of unmanned parking facilities count on networked video intercoms to keep in touch with their customers.
As the security industry has evolved with best practices centered on a layered approach mixing physical devices and digital assets. Electronic door hardware, gates, key cards, fobs, intercoms and cameras are just some of the physical devices used to secure a facility or campus. VMS, network servers and software tools allow the integration of digital device data for more effective control of the overall system. Network-based products use open standards making it easy for security integrators to weave together layers of security controlled from a single device, such as an intercom master station on a security guard’s desk.
The best security solutions of entry protection contain integration of video surveillance, access control and intercoms. Just like three branches of government. Cameras are the first branch allowing you to see who’s there. The next branch, access control with today’s modern-day keys allows you know who a person is based on a credential or a biometric. Intercoms are the third and most important branch. Just because I can see you doesn’t mean I should allow you into the building. You need the intercom’s communication capability to help determine visitors’ intent before allowing them in.
Intercom Buying Checklist:
One-Way or Two-Way Video
Ability to Manage Multiple Doors
|Calls to the Tablet vs Your Phone|
Setup Multiple Admins
Remote Door Unlock
|Front Desk Receptionist Calls||
Easily Enroll & Remove Users
|Simple Wiring and Install||
The Security Industry Often Sees Increased Sales Following Tragic Events.
This Was True Following Three Events This Past Two Decades.
The first was the 2001 attack on New York City’s World Trade Center. After 9/11, companies began adding locks to doors and keeping them locked. But then employees asked, ‘How do I let our customers in without having to always walk over to the door?’ or ‘How do I even know if there’s someone at the door or gate?’ Intercom communication and video capabilities where the answer to that problem.
Schools were forced into a new reality following the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre that resulted in 26 students and teachers being killed. Schools understood the need to lock doors. Budgets prevented all but a few from taking steps to protect entries. After Sandy Hook, parents demanded solutions and administrators found the money even if it meant deferring other expenses. As schools began protecting entries, intercoms became the go-to technology for communication and security. Audio products were installed so often many architects and engineers began specifying an audio product where they wanted a video intercom installed.
Security Challenges during Covid and the Riots of 2020 truly changed the way we look at security now. Security manufactures changed what products they promoted in the case of thermal cameras and occupancy capabilities added into the Artificial Intelligence System. More companies moved to remote work status. And package delivery solutions were on top of many issues to resolve for multi-family property managers during this time. Requests for mobile phone app integration in the security systems were required by majority of customers. Building Fire system calls for update and service requests daily. More intercoms were requested from non-profits and small business as many were working alone in building for safe distancing. Many community managers have updated and continue to update intercom systems to the latest technology advancement. Through these tough times, Invision Security remained open to monitor, service and install commercial electronic security systems throughout the Greater Philadelphia Metro Area and beyond.
What’s Coming Next For Intercoms
More customization by end users to make building entries an even more convenient process for employees and visitors. Now you push a button to talk to someone on the other side of the door – soon that button may get you a greeting with instructions for locating the receptionist, a person or department. Integrating intercoms with the access control system will make the entry process effortless.
More of that effortless and integrated operation is found on the newer video intercoms. Master stations can be programmed to serve as virtual receptionists to assist lobby visitors. Door stations can be used to contact security after hours. The master stations can also act as a hub to scan video from other door stations, as well as from nearby CCTV cameras.
The intercom also provides line supervision and device checks— warning of problems with the network connection or system component failures. It’s backwards and forward compatible meaning it will work with the wide breadth of existing products and future technology, eliminating any need to rip and replace as an end user’s needs grow and change.
Another possible integration involves video intercoms and facial recognition technology. Video intercoms are typically mounted at facial height, making them an ideal tool for helping improve facial recognition. Schools are interested in registering parents and caretakers, so they’ll be recognized as an authorized adult to pick up a child. Another application might one day let registered employees walk through entries without the need of an access control reader and card. The intercom will still serve as a video sentry to assist unregistered visitors.
With all the attention video intercoms receive today, there’s still a place for audio-only systems. Communication is vital in healthcare applications where privacy laws may bar the use of video. Audio intercom technology serves as the heart of many nurse call stations. Remember the campus-wide announcements that started each school day? Audio intercoms are still big in schools. You’ll also find audio intercoms in manufacturing facilities, warehouses and even remote logging camps – virtually any place people need reliable communication.
IOT or Internet of Things will continue to impact intercoms as more technology develops. Intercoms may in fact become the center stage in smart buildings. The intercom will become a centralized computer or station from there it will enable the automations and applications all with the mobile device. Adaptions for those with special needs would be possible. For instance, attaching a lightbulb to blink when the intercom buzzes or other added smart building automations could benefit those in need. By adding artificial intelligence and biosecurity, anything is possible for the future of intercom. Organizations always want more security and they still need to communicate as they have since the first intercoms were installed. As technology keeps evolving so, too, will security solutions for customers.
Like any company exploring new technology, Invision Security takes pride in how we choose and integrate our security products. The process starts and ends with our commercial customers. Each application is different, based on this information, we recommend you hire an expert to design your security system and suggest the selection of Intercom Systems that will best support your business’ need. Invision security can design your company’s security system from our onsite visit, accessing your needs and present you a security design in our proposal, and you can rest assure that we are designing a security system for you that is safe and reliable.
There are dozens of ways that Intercoms can help public and private businesses. The value in savings with the solutions alone pay for itself. If you are interested in seeing how Intercom technology can improve your surveillance system, contact us at Invision Security today for a free consultation. We can provide you the very best protection for your facility, install a professional security system. It will allow you to track, monitor and record everything that happens around your building and grounds, so you’ll never be caught unaware by criminal elements.