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SYSTEM AND METHOD FOR
TRANSMITTING AN EMERGENCY
MESSAGE OVER AN INTEGRATED
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention generally relates to communicating emergency messages and, in particular, to a system and 10 method for generating and transmitting an emergency message through an integrated wireless communication network.
2. Related Art
Emergency messages are generated to indicate that a person is in need of assistance or that an emergency condition is 15 present at property. The emergency message is transmitted to parties capable of rendering assistance.
One example of a conventional personal emergency message is a 911 telephone call. Emergency 911 telephone calls 2Q are quickly directed to switchboard operators who are trained to determine the nature of the emergency condition, to determine which type of assistance is required and who should provide the assistance (e.g. firemen, paramedics, police), and where the emergency assistance should be directed to such ^ that the person making the 911 telephone call receives appropriate and timely assistance.
However, emergency 911 telephone calls are limited in the ability to obtain information from the caller requesting emergency assistance. First, the caller must be able to verbally 30 communicate the nature of the emergency to the switchboard operator. Thus, additional information that may be important could, in some instances, not be available if the caller can not talk or is having difficulty communicating. Second, location information can be determined if the telephone is a fixed 35 location type device that can be traced to a known location or address. The location of Cellular and mobile telephones can not be determined unless the caller is capable of telling the operator where the caller is calling from. Furthermore, in many situations, it would be advantageous to have access to 40 other types of information regarding the person calling for emergency assistance. Some illustrative examples of such information includes persons to contact in an emergency, doctor's name, home address or allergies.
Another example of a conventional emergency message is 45 an alarm from a home or business security system. Various automated detection devices sense conditions within the home or business, and summon emergency assistance in the event that one of the monitored parameter are violated. Examples include smoke detected by a smoke detector, open- 50 ing of a door or window detected by a contact sensor, pressure detected by a pressure sensor, sound detected by a sound sensor, breaking of an infrared light beam detected by an infrared detector and/or motion detected by a motion sensor. Detection of a violation of a monitored parameter may indi- 55 cate an emergency situation where emergency assistance should be provided to the monitored home or business. Additionally, there may be a personal help request device, such as a panic alarm, special entry code entered on a key pad, a touch button or the like that is configured to indicate that a person in go the home or building requires emergency assistance.
However, such conventional home or business security systems are not secure in that such conventional systems communicate with the security monitoring personnel over a conventional telephone system. Thus, damage to the serving 65 telephone system may prevent delivery of the emergency message. For example, an intruder may sever the telephone
lines prior to entry into the home or business. Or, a fire may disable the outside phone lines before the fire spreads into the home or building.
Also, such conventional home or business security systems are labor intensive and expensive to install. Hard wire connections are installed between each detecting device and a central security control box. The control box, coupled to the telephone system, is configured to dial up the security monitoring personnel to request emergency assistance when one of the detectors detects a violation of the monitored criteria. Therefore, many hours of installation labor is required to install even a relatively simple home or business security system.
Additionally, such conventional home or business security systems are not automatically configured to contact selected persons when one of the detectors detects a violation of the monitored parameter. Some security monitoring services do call predefined telephone numbers to notify a person of the request for emergency assistance. For example, a homeowner may be called at work by the person monitoring the security system. However, if the homeowner is not at the work telephone, the homeowner may not be timely notified.
Furthermore, such conventional home or business security systems are not configured to receive and respond to remote communications from the homeowner or business employee. For example, the homeowner may desire to authorize a new security password on a temporary basis. Or, the homeowner may desire to remotely deactivate (or activate) the security system rather than having to enter the home to manually enter, via a keyboard, the security password. Furthermore, such passwords must be manually entered within a limited time period (otherwise, an intrusion into the home is assumed). The limited time provided for entering the security code may be particularly inconvenient when the person is bringing into the house (or removing from the house) a number of items, such as boxes, packages, furniture and/or children.
Thus, a heretofore unaddressed need exists in the industry for providing an emergency message system that more accurately indicates the nature, location and other pertinent information of an emergency situation. Also, there is a heretofore unaddressed need in the industry to provide a less expensive to install emergency message home or business security system. Also, there is a heretofore unaddressed need to provide a more convenient and effective emergency message system.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
The present invention overcomes the inadequacies and deficiencies of the prior art as discussed hereinabove. One embodiment of the present invention, an emergency message system, provides a system and method for providing an emergency message such that the appropriate emergency assistance is dispatched in response to the emergency message. The emergency message system employs a transceiver network with a plurality transceivers. A plurality of transceivers are coupled to detection devices at a plurality of customer premises. In one embodiment, one transceiver is coupled to one detection device. The transceivers each have unique identification codes. In one embodiment, transceivers broadcast to and receive radio frequency (RF) signals. A site controller provides communications between the plurality of transceiver units and an emergency message management controller residing in an emergency message system control center.
One embodiment of the present invention can also be viewed as providing a method for communication emergency messages. In this regard, the method can be broadly summarized by the following steps. Generating an emergency mes3
sage with an emergency message transceiver having at least an identification code uniquely assigned to the emergency message transceiver, and communicating the emergency message from the emergency message transceiver to a network transceiver such that the emergency message is com- 5 municated over an intermediate communication system to an emergency message management controller.
Another embodiment of the present invention can be broadly summarized by the following steps. Receiving an emergency message broadcasted from an emergency mes- 10 sage transceiver having at least an identification code uniquely assigned to the emergency message transceiver, determining information relevant to the received emergency message by associating the information with the identification code of the emergency message transceiver, and commu- 15 nicating the emergency message and the relevant information such that assistance is summoned in response to the received emergency message.
Other features and advantages of the present invention will become apparent to one skilled in the art upon examination of 20 the following detailed description, when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings. It is intended that all such features and advantages be included herein within the scope of the present invention and protected by the claims.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The invention can be better understood with reference to the following drawings. The elements of the drawings are not necessarily to scale relative to each other, emphasis instead 30 being placed upon clearly illustrating the principles of the invention. Furthermore, like reference numerals designate corresponding parts throughout the several views.
FIG. 1 is a block diagram illustrating a portion of a plurality transceivers residing transceiver network configured to detect 35 and communicate emergency messages.
FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating selected transceivers coupled to monitoring devices coupled to the transceivers of FIG. 1.
FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating selected components 40 of an emergency message system control center in communication with the transceiver network of FIG. 1.
FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating alternative intermediate communication systems employed by the emergency message system of FIGS. 1-3. 45
FIG. 5 is a block diagram illustrating an embodiment of an emergency message transceiver coupled to an always-on appliance unit residing in the customer premises.
FIG. 6 is a block diagram illustrating an embodiment of a personal emergency message transceiver. 50
FIG. 7 is a flow chart 700 illustrating a process for communicating an emergency message generated by one of the transceivers of FIGS. 1-2 and 4-6.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION 55
a. Overview of the Emergency Message System
In general, the present invention relates to a system and method for communicating an emergency message that is 60 transmitted from a transceiver, through a transceiver network, to an emergency message system control center so that emergency assistance is dispatched in response to the emergency message. The emergency message, in one embodiment, is generated in response to a monitor detecting a violation of a 65 monitored criteria. In other embodiments, the emergency message is generated in response to actuation of a personal
emergency message device, a 911 call or upon detection of other signals indicating an emergency condition.
FIG. 1 is a block diagram illustrating a portion of a transceiver network 100 having a plurality transceivers. Preferably, transceivers 102a-102/(emergency message transceivers) are configured to selectively broadcast and/or receive emergency messages using radio frequency (RF) signals. A site controller 104 provides communications between a transceiver unit 106, via connection 108, and the emergency message system control center 300 (FIG. 3), via connection 110.
FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating one embodiment of an emergency message transceiver system with transceivers 202a-202/coupledto detection devices 204a-204/residing in one of the exemplary customer premises of FIG. 1. The customer premises 200 includes a wall-mounted base station 206 to form an integrated security system 208.
Transceivers 202a-202f detect signals generated by the detection devices 204a-204/ that indicate a violation of a monitored parameter, described in greater detail below. In response to receiving a signal from its respective detection device, the transceiver 202a-202/ transmits an emergency message via an RF signal 210 that is detected by transmitter station 212. Transmitter station 212, located on a suitable high point, such as a tower 116 (see also FIG. 1), transmits an RF signal 216 to the transceiver unit 106. The transceiver unit 106 communicates the emergency message to the site controller 104 such that the emergency message is relayed on to the emergency message system control center 300 (FIG. 3).
FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating selected components of an emergency message system control center 300 in communication with the transceiver network 100 (FIG. 1). The received emergency messages are received by an emergency message management controller 302, described in greater detail below. The emergency message control room operators 304 receive a processed emergency message from the emergency message management controller 302 and initiate appropriate actions in response to the received emergency message. For example, an emergency message received from the customer premises may indicate the presence of a fire. The emergency message control room operators 304 would then place a request to the local fire department to render assistance at the customer premises 200.
b. Emergency Message Transceiver System Environment
FIG. 1 is a block diagram illustrating a portion of a transceiver network 100 in communication with a plurality of transceivers 102a-102/" (emergency message transceivers) residing at a plurality of customer premises 103a-103/J respectively. For convenience of illustration, and for convenience of explaining the operation and functionality of the emergency message system, only a few customer premises are illustrated on FIG. 1. A customer premise may be a home, a business or other location. Furthermore, for convenience of illustration, only one transceiver is illustrated at a customer premises 103a-103/! Typically, a plurality of transceivers would be coupled to a corresponding number of devices at the customer premises, one transceiver per device, as will be described in greater detail below.
An emergency message system is configured to receive emergency messages, in a manner described below, from many hundreds of transceivers, even many thousands of transceivers, depending upon the particular architecture that the emergency message system is implemented in. Therefore, the explanation of the operation and functionality of the emergency message system described below is limited to a small segment of the transceiver network 100 for convenience.