Mobilizing Your Mobile Video Business

End users are increasingly expecting instantaneous communications anywhere, anytime, including IP-based video surveillance. Accordingly, solutions are being introduced that accommodate this growing market segment, and also simplify system installation and servicing for integrators.

The unfortunate passing of Steve Jobs last fall had many reflecting on how thoroughly the mobile device has permeated modern society. While just 10 years ago a basic cell phone was considered somewhat of a luxury item, today it’s difficult to imagine life without a device that essentially touches every aspect of our lives.

Mobile technology is making a visible mark in the security space today as well in the form of remote monitoring and surveillance. Business managers and homeowners alike are interested in what the application brings to personal safety and professional protection.

“Mobile surveillance is becoming far more prevalent in our business,” says William Burnett, vice president of MB Technology, a Pittsburgh-based IT consulting firm. “We’ve installed remote monitoring systems for customers in the past, mainly for jobsite security that allowed access to one or two p/t/z cameras with a satellite-based connection. These days, we’re hearing from a lot of business owners who want the ability to look in on their buildings and see that everything is going as expected while on the move.”

The main challenges of selling a mobile surveillance system usually tie to explaining how everything comes together — and actually making it happen during the integration phase. This includes testing compatibility of equipment (NVRs, DVRs, IP cameras) with mobile viewing devices, ensuring the DVR/NVR public IP address can be viewed remotely on computers or mobile devices, and evaluating network capacity and stability to ensure support of IP video traffic.

Let’s look at how mobile video is not only meeting end-user needs but also helping simplify the installation process for integrators.

A Home Run in Residential Market

Shane Flores, owner of Total Home TX, a Houston-area installation company, has watched mobile surveillance grow rapidly in the residential market.

“Mobile surveillance started with the ability to see the front door from your bedroom, and evolved to watching your house while at work from a desktop,” he says. “Then it grew to the point where people wanted to see their homes from anywhere. Devices like the iPhone and Android have made it possible to go from watching people ring the doorbell to watching from any location. It’s become a huge market.”

Video surveillance and remote monitoring applications like MobileCamViewer from mobiDEOS of Milpitas, Calif., for example, have been picking up customers on both the commercial and residential side. They cater to smartphone (Android, iPhone, BlackBerry, etc.) and tablet users (iPad).

“End users simply want a mobile surveillance application that works — something that is easy to set up, offers low maintenance and is compatible with their mobile devices, cameras and recorders,” says Sri Palasamudram, CEO of mobiDEOS. “Installers are looking at this from a different viewpoint. The mobile client is simple to install, but installers still need to make sure the cameras are functioning correctly and covering the correct range of vision. Having that assurance before leaving the jobsite will minimize callbacks.”

Flores is moving away from the old-school method of using two-man teams to work through camera adjustments. He occasionally has a man on the ground if the customer has a DVR tied into the system, looking at the cameras on a traditional TV set and calling out the necessary adjustments — but prefers connecting a test monitor directly to the camera.

“It’s far easier to use a test monitor that allows you make the adjustments your-self, especially atop a ladder on the roof of a house,” he says. “It’s a far better option than having someone yelling at you from the ground to zoom in, zoom out, and twist the focus knob.”

Total Home TX tends to favor Speco Technologies VMS-2 four-inch test moni-tors. After the cameras have been mounted, the RG59 Siamese cables stripped and the BNC crimp connectors fitted, Flores or one of his engineers connect wires to both the camera and the test monitor to do the setup. Each camera requires unique settings, with adjustments based on field of vision, light reflections, tree shadows and proximity of other objects. Flores powers up the cameras using power supplies from Altronix.

“The Altronix system has the ability to power all cameras from a single unit, similar to a breaker panel, eliminating the need for separate ‘wall warts,’” says Flores. “Once the cameras are powered and the test monitor is plugged in, we can easily manipulate zoom, focus and everything else required.”

Flores adds that he is also beginning to look at mobile test monitor applications that avoid having to lug a box up the ladder.

Mobile Apps Ease Field Tech Lives

Burnett is in the process of crossing over to using mobile handheld devices in the field to test video surveillance installations. He and his installers now use mobiDEOS’ TestMonitor application to wirelessly test cameras at the jobsite — and he expects to use it to remotely check cameras long after the installations are complete.

“We’re really excited about TestMonitor. The testing process has always been very cumbersome, especially when dealing with a mix of analog and IP cameras,” he says. “We have used everything from portable DVD players to an IP test system that was supposed to help with camera focus; instead we paid $300 for junk.”

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