Monitoring Unleashed

Finding the best mobile interactive system control

The latest buzz on interactive system control revolves around the use of popular consumer devices, such as the BlackBerry, iPhone and iPad, to view incidents when system events occur. Over the last year, this trend gained momentum for its ability to help installers meet a growing demand to place security directly, and conveniently, into end users’ hands.

But there are several considerations that must be taken into account for these services to be truly effective. Specifically, they should be viewed as a single part of a total security solution, rather than a component that simply adds flair. One of the most important lessons to learn about the mobile revolution is that the mobile solution is ultimately only as good as the core system that feeds it information.

A Different Take
A true end-to-end solution should be reliable from one end to the other. As such, ensuring that you have a good end-to-end solution, from the alarm panel and sensing technology to the communications network, is of paramount importance in remote services.

In the case of remote system control and video services that utilize popular mobile devices, the core system must be a highly reliable infrastructure with secure communications. In general, end users should ensure the service has reliable sensing devices; a highly secure data connection when communicating information over any network, wired (Internet) or wireless (GSM); and simple operation.

High-quality and reliable sensing devices are especially important. Aside from the obvious security benefits addressed by glass-break and intrusion detectors, other technology such as temperature sensors and flood detectors that provide non-intrusion information also should be considered.

As for the cameras, IP video is one of the hottest topics in the surveillance industry today. Most industry observers might conclude that IP cameras are best suited for large, commercial environments. In fact, they also are ideal for smaller commercial and even residential applications. To ensure maximum efficiency, users should make sure these cameras have easy plug-in capabilities that allow them to be installed anywhere without the need for additional devices. This will greatly simplify the interface.

Additionally, newer video technology includes motion detection analytics, which enables the system to send event-driven alerts to the mobile devices via e-mail -- if the cameras detect movement in a restricted area, for instance, the system will alert the user. And once they access the video from their devices, the end user can remotely pan and tilt the cameras and record events, as well as view live streaming video, using a Web-enabled gadget.

In addition to higher-quality video, the devices’ cutting-edge touchscreen graphics allow business owners to replicate the look and feel of the standard system keypads. The display and key locations are identical to the physical keypads themselves -- the interface can display the panel as if the end user were standing directly in front of the actual wall-mounted keypad.

Putting the Technology to Work
The true monitoring function is still served by central monitoring stations that coordinate with first responders during emergencies. However, with the right functionality in place, a remote system control can help businesses and organizations simplify the process and make security management easier.

Using a remote system control service, business owners can conveniently check the status of each store’s system by logging onto a secure website.

A business store manager or security personnel can control each security system via a virtual keypad using any Web browser on a PC or via SMS on a cell phone. Once logged on, the user can control the alarm panel via text message or check event logs to ensure store managers are following protocol.

When the business owner is off site or traveling, he or she can easily program cameras to alert on pre-programmed events such as when someone has entered a restricted area or if the local system has been armed or disarmed.

Other capabilities include streaming video applications that allow end users to access digital camera shots inside the business directly from their mobile devices.

This “extra eye” is a productive way to ensure that the owner has complete control over staff operations.

As for the aforementioned grocery store owner, with so much perishable inventory, it is important to keep a close eye on refrigeration. To ensure safety, cameras can observe the opening and closing of doors and storage areas. Combined with sensors that alert the store owner of sudden temperature changes, this helps to alleviate the risks of lost revenue and liability from spoiled foods.

Following Consumer Tech Trends
While the use of remote services via handheld consumer devices has certainly provided the “cool” factor in today’s security industry, adding to its popularity is the diminishing use of standard analog phone lines as both homes and businesses elect to abandon their landlines for cell phones and VoIP service.

One out of every six American homes (17.5 percent) had only wireless telephones during the first half of 2008 based on the most recent figures available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics. Web-enabled services will continue to gain widespread adoption as consumers continue to use their wireless devices as their links to lifestyles and business.

One alternative solution is Global System for Mobile technology, the world’s most popular mobile phone standard. GSM alarm radios use dual and triple communication paths to maximize the reliability of alarm transmission and delivery to central monitoring stations. This speaks to the challenges many dealers have faced over the last two years as the overall communications landscape forced a fundamental change in the direction of the alarm industry.

The growing deployment of Internet alarm communications and GSM, in turn, has made advanced remote interactive system control possible and affordable.

With GSM serving as a platform for supporting data communications for these types of services, dealers have the ability to offer enhanced functionality and options that suit a mobile lifestyle.

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