Phonetics tackles telco troubles with Sensaphone

Nothing in this world is completely problem-free. Multi-million dollar data centres, call centres and computer rooms occasionally experience disturbances that could inevitably affect millions of dollars in revenue. To help alleviate this problem, Phonetics Inc. of Aston, Penn. recently released the Sensaphone 2000, a monitoring and reporting system that allows telecommunications operators to monitor unattended or remote sites on a 24/7 basis.

According to the company, Sensaphone 2000 can report on up to eight remote analogue or digital conditions, including room temperature, outside temperature, humidity, tank levels, tank temperature, pressure, flow rates, flooding and HVAC controllers, as well as power failures.

“Essentially what every Sensaphone does is monitor environmental conditions or equipment typically in a remote site,” said Pete Ferry, technical services supervisor for Phonetics. “When any of the conditions it is monitoring [deviate from what they should be], it creates an alarm condition and the Sensaphone will notify a list of pre-programmed destinations.”

Ferry said that the system can be programmed to communicate with up to 32 destinations to deliver alarm messages or status reports in real time. He added that the 2000 has more flexible dial-out capabilities, including any combination of telephones, fax machines, pagers, e-mail accounts or computers.

“(The system) notifies people by making phone calls,” Ferry said. “It does not talk locally through a speaker. It has an LED on it if you happen to be looking at it – you’ll see it blinking red – but that is the only local indication you’ll get.”

He said that a common problem in a computer room or data centre is power failures. In the event of a power failure, the Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) will typically take over but the UPS will have an alarm switch contact and will notify the Sensaphone, which will in turn send an alarm call.

“The idea is to be notified of something in time so you can get to the site and prevent serious damage,” Ferry said. “It’s not really a preventative thing, it just tells you of a situation.”

However, one analyst said that data centres will normally have a system like the Sensaphone already installed.

“If you are a fair-sized company and you are building a call centre or a data centre, you are going to take care of all of those things as it is being built,” said Mark Quigley, associate director of research with Brockville, Ont.-based the Yankee Group in Canada. “(You would not need this kind of system) unless you are looking at older data centres and places that are being upgraded.”

The Sensaphone 2000 is available now at a price of US$1,495. It comes with free Microsoft Windows-compatible software. For more information visit