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The advantages of security video on a smart phone

Transmitting video and physical security data to smart phones and other mobile devices is gaining momentum. Since responding to an emergency requires personnel in the field, mobile security apps allow you to extend the reach of a security team. Therefore, some security system manufacturers have started offering fairly advanced functionality, such as searching for cameras, controlling PTZ motors, locking and unlocking doors, receiving alarms, etc. I don’t think a Blackberry or Apple smart phone will replace the multi-monitor control room, but it is definitely another tool in the arsenal of a security director and thus important for an integrator to familiarize himself with.

September 14, 2010  By Steve Bocking

In addition to the standard monitoring and forensic searches of a standard control room, a mobile security app brings great value. For one, it can be used to quickly alert a security guard in the case of a security breach. This process can be either automated (push notifications) or manual (operators dispatching alarms to a security team member). Also, video can be forwarded to a guard on-the-move that has been dispatched to address a tense situation, allowing him to get additional information before he arrives at the scene. This allows the guard to be better prepared and adjust his strategy if needed. Scheduled guard tours can also be enhanced through the use of mobile devices; for example, if the video system is integrated with the access control system and a security guard comes upon a door forced open, he could easily and quickly call up the video associated with that event while he is standing in the location where the event took place.

However, offering remote capabilities for these latest gadgets is very much contingent on the power of security system software being used, be it a VMS or an access control system. For example, some VMS software can only manage one video stream per camera or cannot “throttle” the bandwidth per camera to efficiently stream over the internet or a WAN. For an integrator with a project with a “real” control room and a requirement to stream to a handheld device, it is important that the integrator selects a VMS that can control two or more video streams per camera. This will allow for high-resolution local viewing and recording on site and low resolution and bandwidth transmission over cellular to a smart phone. To support this type of setup, it is also very important to make sure that the selected IP camera offers multiple video streams. Two streams is becoming a very common feature and some cameras today even offer up to five streams. Ideally, the selected smart phone will support cellular transmission and also broadband wi-fi (internet). This way, costs can be minimized by using wi-fi for video streaming, when it is available, since transmitting video over cellular can get costly, if used often. 

The key word is flexibility and making sure to ask the right questions when choosing your security system. Just because a VMS can record and view IP cameras, does not mean it is taking full advantage of the features that IP cameras offer and how they relate to managing CCTV systems over large area networks, the Internet and even cellular networks for mobile devices.

Steve Bocking can be reached at sbocking@genetec.com


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