Seeing is Believing
W arehouse operations managers dread those late night/early morning phone calls from local police, informing them they’ve received an alarm and need someone to come and check it out.
Craig Burns, who holds that title and that responsibility with Summit Sports, has had his fair share of those calls, and he has fulfilled his duty by driving 30 minutes back to the warehouse to be sure the 50,000-sq.-ft. building and the merchandise inside are secure.
Those memories are still fresh, but they’re less painful since Summit Sports signed a contract with mobiDEOS to provide Burns with video surveillance and remote monitoring capabilities from his smartphone. He can use his phone to see what his security cameras see when traveling or from the comfort of his own home.
The most recent call “just happened to me a few days ago,” Burns says. “I used my phone to check the camera view in a particular room in the warehouse. It turned out to be a helium balloon that was losing its air. By me being able to use my phone to check the cameras, we’ve been able to save the $250 charge for a police response.
“Another time, I was in Florida and I got a call about an alarm going off multiple times. I was able to check the cameras to confirm the building was secure,” he says. “I can look at any room in the building and at the parking lot, and I can see everything I need to see at any time of the day.”
Summit Sports is headquartered in Bloomfield, Mich. All four Summit Sports stores, as well as the Don Thomas Sporthaus ski shop, are in Michigan, as is the warehouse (Auburn Hills), which also supports the company’s dozen active websites.
The big picture
While Burns has a personal and professional appreciation of the convenience and effectiveness of the remote monitoring made possible by the mobiDEOS technology, that company’s CEO, Sri. L. Palasamudram, points to additional uses beyond security and LP – namely, training and evaluation.
“Although the system has the ability to monitor 24/7, clients won’t do that,” Palasamudram says. “But for employees there is the perception that the manager and the supervisor have that capability. Loss prevention is still the most popular application — monitoring employee performance, looking out for sweetheart transactions or one employee punching out for another. Sometimes, the client may simply want to know if an employee was there during a particular shift.”
Palasamudram also recommends sharing the video with “operations people and those on the marketing and merchandising side. Our system has information that can be shared across many different departments.”
mobiDEOS offers two types of systems: The MobileCam Viewer, which can be moved to adjust the cameras’ view; and the WebView device, which provides a fixed view. There is also the WebSync option, which allows clients to move back and forth between mobile and fixed.
All mobiDEOS systems and programs are compatible with PCs and Macs, as well as more than 90 percent of phones and surveillance devices currently on the market. In December, mobiDEOS began offering video streaming, providing additional security through encrypted communications. The use of these connections, rather than virtual private networks (VPN), allows clients to share video with police and other agencies without having to provide VPN access or physical media.
Costs, compatibility, competition
mobiDEOS has attracted clients from government, public safety, transportation and construction to manufacturing and education. Within the retail industry, Palasamudram says, “We have the mom-and-pop stores and the major players. A large company can get the best advantage because they can install our system chain-wide. It handles thousands of clients and hundreds of thousands of cameras. There’s no limit.”
The system is effectively plug and play: setup takes about five minutes — unless the client’s system is protected by a firewall, in which case it will take about an hour, Palasamudram says. Clients may need some help setting up the individual servers, he adds.
As for anticipated ROI, mobiDEOS expects retailers “to recoup their investment based on how many people can use the system,” he says. “If they give it to the store managers and the operations managers, they can pay it off in just three months by having information at their fingertips.”
While a dishonest employee could conceivably gain access to a store’s security system and use a smartphone to shut off security cameras, Palasamudram says their long-term prospects are not favorable.
“Managers know when cameras are not working, and the DVR is stored under lock and key and not accessible to employees,” he says. “Managers can check the DVRs and the bad guys will get caught.”
Studying the market
“From the apps I’ve used, nobody does it as well as mobiDEOS,” Burns says. “The images are crystal clear, with less delay from DVRs to my phone — it’s just a one-second delay off real time. They just seem to have put the care into the system. Even though I have a lifetime subscription with them, I’ve stayed up to date on what’s available out there and I still haven’t found anything that is better.”
mobiDEOS has continued to improve and update its products, and Burns welcomes the hex view that’s now available. With it, he can see six camera shots simultaneously on his phone, making it easier to pinpoint and expand the image offering the necessary view.
The remote surveillance system has given Burns piece of mind – and a better night’s sleep. “I had situations where someone called me, and I would just take a look at the camera view on my phone,” he says.
“It has saved me a lot of trips.”