The basic notion behind IP technology is that video and other security systems are now on a network. This allows LP teams to access these systems remotely from anywhere, and get things done with incredible efficiency. But while almost everyone is familiar with the most popular benefits of IP systems—viewing high definition video remotely, expanded reporting capabilities, and integration with other platforms—there are three huge benefits that don’t get much discussion. These are more efficient installation, faster training, and cheaper maintenance and service. Let’s review them one by one.
Efficient Installation. In the olden days of CCTV systems, installations were really simple. Almost anyone who could install lighting could also put up a camera and run cable to connect it. This is not the case with new IP systems. You now need people who understand computer networking and have the capability to troubleshoot these systems beyond just connecting the cable to an edge device and turning on the lights.
These people are not cheap, and dispatching them for on-site installations is not cheap either. This is where remote connectivity comes into play. The systems integrator can still dispatch a basic installer who will hang the cameras and run the cable, and then the network expert dials into the system remotely, configures it, tunes it, and brings it online. By doing this, two objectives are accomplished—costs are kept down, and the quality of installation is kept high.
Faster Training. The second big benefit of remote connectivity is faster training. Old-school installers typically didn’t do any training; they just installed. Here is one recent example. A large retail chain did a pilot with two companies, with each doing video installations in six locations. The installs were completed, and then the retailer waited and waited for the training. After three weeks of no training, the retailer’s LP team finally went out to each location and trained the employees themselves. Who has time for this, especially when opening a large number of stores?
A true integrator will take full advantage of remote connectivity and train the retailer’s employees quickly and efficiently. Why? Let’s face it—until the employees can use the system to its full potential, the ROI cannot be fully realized. The training can take shape in many different ways, from the quick start guides and training videos to live online training sessions to logging into the system together with key personnel and walking them step-by-step on how to operate it.
Cheaper Maintenance and Service. Finally—and this is a huge cost-saving benefit—having remote connectivity means quicker and cheaper maintenance and service. What happens with old-school systems when a camera goes down? You place the call. The service company rolls the truck. The technician gets on site, climbs on the ladder, tries to figure out what’s wrong, realizes he doesn’t have the part he needs, goes back, and orders the part. A week or two later he comes back with the part and installs it. All the while the retailer’s camera is down, and the retailer’s service charges are piling up.
On the other hand, an IP system with remote connectivity allows the service company to do marvelous things, such as remote system configuration, tuning, troubleshooting, and even repair. In our experience, we’ve found that 70 percent of common problems can be repaired remotely in a matter of minutes, saving the customer unnecessary expense of dispatching the truck. And in the 30 percent of cases where on-site visit is required, the remote diagnostics means the technician knows ahead of time what the problem is, has necessary parts, and can complete the repair in the minimum amount of time.
The age of analog is slowly coming to a close, and the new age of IP is bringing exciting new possibilities. Remember to not just look at the most dazzling aspects of new technology, but also look for the huge benefits hiding in unexpected details. Talk to your technology integrator about using remote connectivity for installation, training, and service. Every detail counts when trying to stay competitive, and every part of your investment should make your LP operations run easier, smarter, and better.