The New Mobility
Technological dreams come to life
- By Frank Defina
- May 01, 2013
When I was growing up, one of my favorite comic book characters
was Dick Tracy—not the Warren Beatty variety—
but the heroic police detective of Sunday newspaper comic
strips. He had the coolest gadgets to fight crime. Perhaps
the most widely remembered—and the coolest—was that
video wristwatch. At the time, I could only imagine the possibilities and promise
that such a futuristic technology could provide in the real world. Oh, to dream...
Not only has such innovative technology been invented, it’s now widely implemented
with smartphones and apps, like Skype, that allow you to make a video call
to anyone who has a similar setup on their end. That is practically everyone over
six years old in the world these days. People everywhere are already communicating
with mobile video like Dick Tracy and shooting high-quality video that they
share with friends and strangers in a growing variety of ways.
What if the proliferation of smartphones was harnessed on a large scale for
professional video surveillance and security devices? Virtually every smartphone
on the market today has a megapixel camera embedded in it, which can conceivably
be used to capture and transmit real-time video to a centralized station—and
conversely be used as a remote portal to retrieve and view video from any security
command center or other mobile device. In fact, the widespread use of smartphones
for mainstream video surveillance applications is close to becoming a reality,
which has significant implications for security professionals.
Let’s break this down further and look at both possibilities: mobile image capture
and image monitoring. The use of mobile cameras, such as wearable cameras or
fixed-in vehicles, is definitely on the rise. We see such devices widely deployed by law
enforcement and military personnel, in taxi cabs and school buses, aircraft and robotic
drones. However, the vast majority of these applications are typically for image
capture and transmission. Add smartphones to the equation and a whole new range
of possibilities opens up for remote monitoring and even system control.
The migration to networked video surveillance has triggered thinking outside
of conventional systems architecture spurred by the influx of both old-school
IT pros and the new generation of computer-savvy technologists. The initial
benefits defined for networked IP video surveillance and security systems were
immediately apparent in terms of functionality, versatility and scalability. As
an industry, we were actually behind the business products, consumer electronics
and professional and broadcast video industries that had adapted network
technology to increase the overall efficiency of their solutions. Though the video
surveillance and security industry was simply slow to jump on the network bandwagon,
we are catching up, rapidly.
Video management systems (VMS) have helped accelerate the migration from
analog to networked system technology in the past few years. The improved overall
performance and utility that VMS solutions deliver to professional security applications clearly eradicate any previous
arguments in favor of legacy
video control and switching systems.
There is simply no longer a basis of
comparison between VMS and analog
video-control technologies by any standard
of measure. As more applications
continue to be developed by VMS suppliers
and mobile technology partners,
the use of smartphones to capture and
monitor useable video images is in fact
a reality. The network issues involving
bandwidth limitations and ensuing
frame rate transmission issues continue
to fade away, opening up a whole new
realm of possibilities.
For example, the continued emergence
and deployment of public Wi-
Fi makes accessibility to the Internet
widespread and readily available. If
you go beyond conventional definitions
of a hard-wired networked system to
include Wi-Fi connectivity, the potential
to extend the coverage areas of a
video surveillance system goes global.
Virtually anyone with a smartphone
can now contribute to maintaining a
more secure environment. Accessibility
privileges need to vary based on the
user’s system and security parameters,
but the prospect holds tremendous potential
for law enforcement and security
Law Enforcement Application
Today, VMS mobile clients are available
that employ GPS tracking to identify
the locations of incoming video signals
from smartphones. This bridge technology
allows common smartphones to
push live video to virtually any networkdriven
video surveillance system.
The most obvious application is for
law enforcement in metro areas. Public
Wi-Fi systems can be enabled with the ability for citizens to directly push video
to local police command centers. In
addition to increasing response times
with the ability to evaluate threat levels
and the best form of response, these
video feeds can provide documentation
for ensuing investigations and prosecution.
Then there’s the increased deterrent
factor that has proven to help reduce
common criminal activity. This is
all achievable with existing technology
that’s reliable, cost-effective and already
in the hands of millions of people.
On a smaller scale, security guards
could be armed with common smartphones
to report and document activities,
using video in real time without
needing any special hardware or
software. Video connectivity can be
achieved through password-protected,
wireless Ethernet that’s limited to specific
interior and exterior boundaries.
Video captured from conventional
guard patrols also could be used to
supplement general operations by documenting
maintenance issues to help
prevent liability issues.
Already, VMS solutions are available
that provide remote access for
viewing and even management capabilities.
Samsung, for example, has been
developing mobile solutions for professional
security applications. Samsung’s
iPOLiS mobile app provides the ability
to view live streaming video, and control
Samsung’s iPOLiS network video
cameras and DVRs using either the
iPhone or Android mobile platforms.
The mobile app is password protected
and can register up to 32 cameras supporting
H.264/MJPEG formats. Samsungs’
mobile app puts access to video
from Samsung’s cameras and DVRs
in users’ hands, greatly expanding the
overall functionality of Samsung video
systems. The possibilities are endless.
Consider the scenario of a large
gaming environment where security
staff can now track a suspect across the
casino floor, retail shops and surrounding
grounds—using their smartphones.
In addition to providing an inconspicuous
monitoring device, security professionals
can track every movement in
real time while maintaining close cover.
The same holds true for law enforcement
and first responders who can use
real-time video in activity coordination.
The practical use of smartphone
and even tablet video surveillance is
still being developed, but huge strides
have been made in the past few years to
bring their use as professional security
tools to fruition. However, to revitalize
now dated terminology, technology
convergence is actually at its highest
levels. Manufacturers are continually
developing new image capture and mobile
devices that deliver enhanced functionality
and cost-efficiency partnering
with best-in-breed software developers
to innovate new integrated mobile
video solutions. And they don’t have to
be expensive, but efficient in providing
new capabilities and solutions where
none existed before.
This article originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of Security Today.