Sentinel warns of failed emergency calls

Niall Harper and Aaron Keith, founders of Sentinel Fire and Security
Niall Harper and Aaron Keith, founders of Sentinel Fire and Security

Residents in assisted-living and warden-assisted accommodation are at risk because their emergency communications are increasingly likely to fail.

Sentinel Fire and Security, which specialises in this technology, is warning that the new digital roll-out is leaving analogue systems dangerously exposed.

The company, headquartered in Poole, Dorset, says a percentage of analogue emergency calls fail, and that figure will only rise.

An elderly or infirm resident who relies on pulling a red chord or pushing a button around their neck could find that the call won’t get through.

By 2025 the country will have moved entirely to digital systems after BT Openreach completes the new fibre telecommunications infrastructure.

Any environment that has not upgraded means the lives of those within it will be at risk.

Sentinel, which was founded by experienced engineers Aaron Keith and Niall Harper and covers all aspects of fire and security, has been rushing to upgrade systems.

Aaron said: “There is very little understanding about this change, but it is extremely worrying.

“Perhaps because it is a niche area people are unaware that a percentage of emergency calls on analogue systems won’t connect.

“Obviously if you are an elderly person who has had a fall this could mean lying on the floor until someone arrives.

“Anyone in technology-enabled care relies on these systems if there is an emergency.

“While the country’s standards are among the strictest in the world, the infrastructure is creaking.

“That is why the government mandated BT Openreach to install a fibre network, making everything digital. And it is ahead of schedule.

“The analogue system it is replacing is not being upgraded so the percentage of failed calls will rise – quite alarmingly so it’s been predicted.”

Niall added: “We have been installing hybrid and digital systems for clients who were themselves unaware of the situation.

“Our team of nine engineers make sure they future-proof systems and not only is this important for residents’ peace of mind, but it is something insurance companies look out for.

“We don’t have a sales team but when we explain the situation people book us in to upgrade their systems straight away.

“What we really want to do is encourage people to check with their providers that the systems they have are reliable and whether the digital upgrade has any effect on them.”

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