It is not a surprise anymore. Everyone now understands that the transition from analogue to digital is not not going to happen. It is happening, and we need to embrace it to ensure we maximise the benefits it offers and are not just scarred by the challenges and changes it will bring. We now need to understand how we best navigate through this transition in the most positive way possible.
Let’s start with the basics, as simple solutions normally do.
Currently 99% of all Telecare units are connected by a phone line (PSTN). This has worked well over the past 30 years however the service is beginning to become less reliable and will not work in its current format after 2025. There is a need to replace all existing analogue products (PSTN), with a device that will work in the new world.
This new device will be able to function not only in the current analogue world, but also be programmed remotely to work in the new digital one. Just think of all the benefits the ability to program remotely will bring to your organisation. In addition, as new features are developed, this can be uploaded to a device remotely which should/will extend the useful life of your product. (Note to self: make sure any product I buy will work in the analogue and digital world and can be upgraded remotely).
The communication infrastructure that connects the telecare device to the Alarm Receiving Centre is changing. There are more ways to connect and these can be wired or wireless (mobile). Don’t worry too much about this area. There are many challenges and there will be connectivity issues over the next few years. This has happened in every country and every sector where this transition has occurred. I say, “don’t worry”, not because it isn’t important, but because it is impossible to influence. At CSL we have seen these issues in other sectors and countries and understand they will occur, however we have experience in dealing with them and understand how they can be mitigated, or a workaround put in place in the shortest possible time.
Don’t create problems that do not exist.
The best way to ensure you navigate this transition with the least amount of pain is to take good advice from the companies that are supplying the products. They know what will work best with their product and which companies provide a service level that is required for our industry. If you look to separate connectivity from the product, you potentially create problems that should not exist and finding a solution will always be a time consuming, frustrating task.
Ultimately, the principle challenge will not be the infrastructure or the equipment it will be how do we fund the change. In other countries there has been government support which has made the transition much less painful. In the UK there is no sign of any increased funding for a transition that must happen. This is the time to discuss, with suppliers, the other business models that match the benefits of new digital solutions with the additional cost of the new equipment.
The ability to program devices remotely should reduce the cost of service as site visits can be avoided. Also, there is the feature to have different ancillary alarms going to different locations at different times. This could mean a call could be dealt with by a family member or a neighbour as opposed to going to the Alarm Receiving Centre. These cost savings, and the ability to provide a much more defined care package, will more than offset the cost of the transition.
In summary, there is going to be pain and numerous challenges over the next few years. Work with partners who understand your requirements and make sure you can take advantage of all the benefits that the new digital solutions will bring.