Finding the best mobile interactive system control
- By Dean Mason
- Jun 01, 2010
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
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
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