Why Building Public Safety Communication Laws Should Become A Priority
- 04 Dec, 2019
When you think of safety systems in buildings your first thought might be having adequate fire escapes, sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers in place. All these things are crucial for building safety, but there is a largely overlooked aspect to building safety that has not had much attention in South Africa - the ability to communicate effectively in case of an emergency inside a building.
Building materials such as concrete, metal shielding, thick walls, modern energy efficient construction all play factors that severely weaken radio connectivity. Outside factors such as Cell tower distance, interference, and even weather can play a part. These types of challenges can lead to limited or no service in critical locations inside a building such as elevators, parking garages, and stairwells.
In case of emergency, firefighters, police, emergency medical services (EMS), and other disaster response agencies need reliable two-way communication to respond effectively. When emergency service personnel rush into a situation that demands immediate action, having any form of disrupted radio hampers their efficiency to protect lives as well as safeguarding their own. Systems and Regulations that improve in-building public safety radio coverage is critical to aid these first responders in saving lives.
Emergency Services Rely On Communication Systems
During times of emergency, especially when electricity fails, instant communication is critical. Think of recent building fires such as the Lisbon building fire incident, many robberies carried out in a large commercial buildings, and the devastation of natural disasters- such as the Knysna fires or Durban floods.
Without clear communication, chaos ensues: People in dire need of safety aren’t able to relay critical information, Emergency services personnel such as police and firefighters aren’t able to prioritize rescue areas, and emergency support & recovery efforts are severely delayed.
In times of crisis, communication is an absolute necessity. Any delay in response, even by few seconds, equates to poking the thin line that separates two possible realities: life or death.
With such concerns in mind, updated in-building communication laws should be implemented in South Africa to protect a wide spectrum of places with high populace and many sensitive locations.
What Does The Law Say?
At the time of writing there is no regulation in the Buildings Standards Act that stipulates that public safety communication systems are a requirement for building occupancy.
There are however, many large scale public safety projects underway in major metropolitan cities in South Africa to upgrade public safety efforts in our cities. We do anticipate a shift in future laws that include reliable communication systems as a pre-requisite in buildings as a fail-over in case primary communication systems fail in an emergency situation.
Innovation and Saving Lives
Why you may ask, should we start implementing public safety communication systems in our buildings if it is not within the current National Building Standards Act? The simple answer is that it is a way of safeguarding lives, as well as aiding emergency service personnel to carry out their jobs easily in case of emergency.
For developers in construction, there is a race to be at the forefront of the “Smart City” innovation - future cities with interconnected ICT systems that improve quality of life for residents and manage city resources better, by using smart IoT technology. Many IoT devices within smart buildings rely on adequate signal within buildings as a primary or back-up communication method. For pioneers in smart city development, being the first to implement public safety communication systems in buildings will give them a massive competitive advantage in the race to develop Africa’s first true “Smart City”.
Bolton Technical Public Safety Systems
At Bolton Technical we develop custom public safety systems for commercial buildings using cutting edge iBwave in-building design software to identify weak signal spots within the building and then create an optimised communication system for radio frequency that will distribute strong signal where it is needed within a building.
Bi-directional Amplifiers are used within these public safety systems and are adapted to transmit and receive within a specific range i.e. 380-470MHz, which is the band reserved for PPDR( Public Protection and Disaster Relief), or within a specific frequency range according to our client's needs. All Public Safety systems are connected to a back-up battery that provides 24 hours of battery life, should electricity systems fail for ultimate peace of mind.
Get in touch with us today on +27 11 749 3085 or email us for a public safety communication systems needs analysis and site survey.