Putting an End to False Alarms in Three Easy Steps

Posted Oct 07, 2011

Climate Guard offers three simple settings that prevent the kind of false alarms that make less sophisticated systems impossible to trust.

The monitoring system that cried “wolf”
Nothing destroys confidence in a monitoring system like false alarms. Once you have established that your environmental monitor is prone to false positives, it is difficult to apply any sort of urgency to its alerts. Many IT managers will simply turn off alerts altogether, or delete them from their inbox without a second glance.

Climate Guard offers three settings that will put an end to false alarms once and for all.

(To access these settings on your Climate Guard unit, use the Edit button on the Sensors page)

In Alert Delay
The In Alert Delay setting tells Climate Guard how long a sensor must be over/under its threshold before counting as an alert. This allows various conditions to briefly go out of tolerance without causing an alarm.For example, let’s apply this to a door contact. We want to know if anyone has left the door to the server room open, but we don’t want an email every time someone walks into the room. In this case, we’ll set an In Alert Delay of 60 seconds. Now Climate Guard will send an email when the door has been left open for one minute or longer, but not when it is briefly opened while someone walks in.

Out Alert Delay
Use the Out Alert Delay setting to tell Climate Guard how long a condition must be normal before it is eligible to create another alert. In other words, once a sensor has tripped an alert and then gone back to normal, don’t let it cause another alert for a certain amount of time. This is useful for preventing one problem from causing lots of alerts before it is really corrected.

Let’s apply this to our motion sensor. We want to know if there is motion in the server room. However, if someone is in there working, we don’t want a barrage of emails every time they scratch their head. We’ll set an Out Alert Delay of ten minutes. This way, we’ll get an email at the first sign of motion, but not again until everything has remained still for ten minutes.

Hysteresis is perhaps the most useful setting in Climate Guard. This tells Climate Guard how far back into “normal” a sensor must move before it can be considered truly normal again.

This applies perfectly to a temperature sensor. We want an alarm if the server room temperature exceeds 80° F. However, if it happens to drop down to 79.9, that’s not good enough. We’ll set a hysteresis value of 2° F. That means once the temperature has exceeded 80, it won’t be normal again until it drops below 78.

This prevents those aggravating false alarms that are caused by a condition that is right on the edge of being problematic. If the temperature creeps up just to the point of being a problem, we want to know about it exactly once – not over and over again while it drifts slightly up and down (especially when using a limited text messaging plan!).

Using these three settings, you can be confident that Climate Guard’s alerts are the real deal. See Climate Guard in action: check out our live demo. (Username: demo, Password: demo)