Recently we had a family situation (everyone is ok and there was no immediate life-threatening danger) and at times like these I wish we had a “Life Alert” system, but without the monthly/yearly subscription cost or having emergency services/911 involved.
Is there some sort of device out there that has some sort of wireless pendant (WiFi, Bluetooth, proprietary radio, etc.) that can be interfaced with FreePBX to make a system-wide page of a pre-recorded announcement or text-to-speech message as well as dial a list of phone numbers (in series) and play back said pre-recorded message? Maybe even a SMS text message as well?
I remember back in the day I thought RadioShack had some sort of device that would plug into your POTS line and would dial a number(s) and play a pre-recorded message to a recipient once the button on the pendant was pressed. If there is such an animal, perhaps I could have it dial a feature code instead that could accomplish the same thing (and even more) here in the 21st century.
Or, possibly some sort of wireless SIP device with a single button that autodials a number as soon as it goes off-hook?
Does anyone have any ideas how to implement such a thing? I do realize FreePBX is geared more towards business/enterprise/commercial environments, but this would be an instance for a residential/home-use case.
Thank you in advance!
If this were my family, I wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot pole. If it fails to work when needed, resulting in death or disability, you could be sued or shut out of an inheritance. Even if not, you’d be facing the guilt for the rest of your life.
If the patient carries a smartphone, there are many ‘SOS family’ or similar apps, which can send notifications to multiple contacts at the touch of a button (and in some cases, by fall detection), though they are no substitute for a professionally monitored system. If not covered by their insurance and they can’t afford it, perhaps they can qualify for Medicaid or other assistance, or a local non-profit may help. Maybe the patient’s doctor or other trusted advisor can recommend a solution; add your input if desired but don’t put yourself in a situation where a failure would be on your conscience.
Although I haven’t researched these for several years, I believe professional servers are moving to using mobile networks, because landline systems are moving to digital, and no longer work in an emergency.
The pendant to base unit connection is likely to be done using radio frequencies reserved for social alarms, but equipment using those frequencies is likely to be restricted to professional users.
A fall based trigger in a mobile phone might be OK, but anything that requires a phone to be taken out of a pocket may be too difficult, after a stroke or with a broken bone.
There needs to be some context to what the emergency is and what digital is. ISDN, T1, PRI (and their non-North American equivalents) are digital served over copper. As well, mobile voice is digital. You could say that while all IP voice is digital not all digital voice is IP.
As for the emergency, what kind of emergency are we talking here? Heart attack? Car/home accident? Because in those cases all options are viable (IP/Mobile/Digital/Analog). Now when you get into something bigger like a major weather event or other natural emergency then the severity of the event needs to be considered.
Copper landlines could go out because of the weather and in some cases not even severe weather. During major power outages when Central Offices are running on limited power or generator power the residential services are the lower priority with emergency services being the top priority. This generally resulted in police/fire stations having working phone services but people in houses 4 blocks away still don’t have working phone lines.
Mobile has also had its own types of service outages during severe weather or power emergencies. Much like VoIP it lacked the one thing that copper had, self powering. Phones need to have a charged batteries and other services (like elevator lines) also need to have power to continue to run.
All three of these things; copper, cellular and IP have their strengths and their weaknesses. Nothing stands out to make one more superior to the other. All three can fail in emergency scenarios.
Now, in the context of this topic I’m in the mindset that there doesn’t need to be a VoIP solution for this as the current solutions are a better option. They also don’t require you to maintain a PBX system in your house, which adds just another point of failure that you would be responsible for.
Plenty of ‘pendants’ available each have advantages and disadvantages on the local loop
wifi is cheap, zigbee is low powered, 433 is noisy, lora would be good for dementia suffers but a little more complicated as it is intrinsically geo-aware so your base station must maintain position, cellular is expensive but a little less geo-aware. Setting up a watchdog/dead mans handle should be considered but takes user intervention, so good for watchmen or night clerks, maybe not for granny though.
once a ‘state’ is triggered, propagating that is your next consideration. HomeAssistant or mqtt and ‘you’ can spread it around , ifttt or aws and ‘they’ can spread it around, all but cellular have direct connectors to asterisk, sms, voicemail and whatsapp/social stuff and of course you can use a multiplicity of such.
I used digital in the current UK marketing sense, which is the move from analogue to VoIP, for simple PSTN connections.
I probably should have said a local power failure, rather than an emergency.
In 2023, abstracting the emergency allows multiple concurrent delivery routes, so don’t rely on the PSTN completing an ip, sip, ss7, isdn or ~90v 30(25)hz ac analog(ue) connection alone.
In terms of the original question I’d agree with @dicko - for a DIY solution I’d look at an IoT button and IFTTT (or FreePBX API) to initiate a call.
This is also a very interesting point, and can help in a situation where the button can’t be pressed.
There are a couple of very imaginative solutions for this which are entirely unobtrusive but incredibly effective. A good example is https://kettlecompanion.com/
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