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More Alarm Codes Used in Remote Monitoring - Part III

By Andrew Erickson

July 2, 2023

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Remote Site Monitoring Alarm Code Glossary - Part III

Today, we're going to look at additional alarm codes you may encounter as you work with remote site monitoring equipment.

Understanding alarm codes is a crucial aspect of remote site monitoring. These codes are not merely random sequences of numbers or letters. They always represent specific issues or statuses within the monitored system.

By accurately interpreting these codes, you can promptly identify, address, and resolve issues, minimizing downtime and optimizing system performance. A good grasp of alarm codes can aid in preventive maintenance, allowing potential problems to be rectified before they escalate into costly repairs or significant operational disruptions.

Alarm codes serve as the language of your systems, and fluency in this language is an essential skill in effective remote site monitoring. You'll do your job better (or perhaps even prepare for a better job) by building your mental toolbox of alarm codes that you understand.

With that intro out of the way, let's dive into 15 more alarm codes you'll find in the world of remote site monitoring:

15 Additional Remote Site Monitoring Alarm Codes:

  • Unexpected Shutdown Alarm (USA): Triggered when the system or a device shuts down unexpectedly, usually due to a severe issue like a power failure or hardware malfunction. DPS NetGuardians will issue a "Device Restart" alarm when they come online. This effectively serves as a USA notification at the next available opportunity (since there is no time to send an alarm during an unexpected shutdown.
  • Protocol Error Alarm (PEA): Activated when there's a failure in the communication protocols. This can be due to a device that is not properly programmed or something in the network layer cause packets to be improperly transmitted.
  • Login Failure Alarm (LFA): This alarm is triggered when a system detects multiple failed login attempts, potentially indicating a security threat. As one example, the DPS Building Access System goes into a "lockdown" mode after 5 failed login attempts (the default quantity of 5 is user-configurable). This is quite common in many devices, from home safes to major telecom systems.
  • Software Update Failure Alarm (SUFA): This alarm indicates a problem with a software update, such as a failed installation or compatibility issue. DPS NetGuardians include updateable web interfaces. This is installed via a simple "Browse..." button in the web interface. As a protection against a corrupted installation, the "Update" URL is written at a deeper firmware level than the rest of the web interface. As a result, a unit that would otherwise be "bricked" is protected. With a bit of guidance from our documentation or Tech Support team, you can restore a device that experiences this rare failure state.
  • Hardware Compatibility Alarm (HCA): Triggered when the system detects incompatible hardware components. You'll find this alarm type on devices with field-replaceable cards and similar hardware. T/Mon master stations have cards for compatibility with legacy serial and dial-up devices, although the numbers of these devices still in service is gradually dwindling.
  • Intrusion Detection Alarm (IDA): An alarm signaling a breach in the system security, such as an unauthorized network access. This is not focused on physical access, but only alarms under the "cybersecurity" umbrella. There are a variety of methods that can be used to detect this, from signs of session hijacking to any other behavior that doesn't bear the usual fingerprints of authorized access.
  • Data Breach Alarm (DBA): This type of alarm signals a possible data breach or data leakage incident. This is often associated with customer data in systems the process credit cards or other financial transactions. Still, many DPS clients are subject to TSA/DHS/similar regulations aimed at thwarting terrorism attempts. Any DBA alarm is an important clue in early detection and law-enforcement response in a scenario like that.
  • Malware Detection Alarm (MDA): Triggered when the system detects malicious software or a possible cyber attack. This is similar to an IDA ("Intrusion Detection Alarm").
  • Data Corruption Alarm (DCA): Activated when the system identifies that data has been altered or corrupted. This can indicate tampering or a mundane system error.
  • Redundancy Failure Alarm (RFA): This alarm indicates a failure in the system's redundant components, which are designed to provide backup in case of a primary system failure. T/Mons use redundant SSDs (formerly hard disks) and indicate the loss of RAID redundancy with a dedicated alarm. This allows the T/Mon user to pull a spare drive (or order one) and replace the failed drive to allow restoration of the degraded RAID array. This type of component is covered under the T/Mon hardware warranty and/or maintenance agreement.
  • Input/Output Error Alarm (IOEA): This alarm is triggered when the system detects an error in the input/output operations, which could impact data transfer or storage.
  • Fan Failure Alarm (FFA): Triggered when a system detects that a cooling fan has stopped working, risking overheating of components. T/Mon monitors its fan RPMs and will report fan failures (or even minor slowdowns) to you so that fans can be cleaned or replaced. This hardware is one added benefit of an extended maintenance agreement.
  • Power Surge Alarm (PSA): Activated when there's an unexpected increase in the power supply, which could damage sensitive electronic equipment. This can sometimes be achieved through voltage sensing. DPS RTUs, in particular, have very wide-range voltage tolerances. By surviving and reporting voltage anomalies, more sensitive equipment can be protected before permanent, costly damage occurs.
  • Resource Depletion Alarm (RDA): This alarm indicates that system resources are running low or have been fully consumed.
  • Memory Error Alarm (MEA): Triggered when the system encounters memory-related issues like insufficient memory or failed memory operations.

It's important to remember that your alarm codes can and will vary based on the specific remote site monitoring system you're using. Always refer to your system's documentation and technical support for the most accurate information.

As you navigate your way through the complex world of remote site monitoring, understanding these alarm codes can help ensure that you're reacting appropriately to any potential issues and maintaining the highest levels of network uptime.

Get Help with Your Alarm Codes

At DPS, remote monitoring is the only thing we do. We know it well, and will help you. Just tell us what you're trying to accomplish, even if it has very little to do with DPS equipment. If nothing else, you'll give me more to write about in my next blog article!

Just give DPS a call at 1-800-693-0351 or email sales@dpstele.com to speak with a remote monitoring engineer now.

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Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson

Andrew Erickson is an Application Engineer at DPS Telecom, a manufacturer of semi-custom remote alarm monitoring systems based in Fresno, California. Andrew brings more than 17 years of experience building site monitoring solutions, developing intuitive user interfaces and documentation, and opt...