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SecurityStation VSaaS Blog

The SecurityStation Heartbeat: Status Alerts and How To Control Them

June 27th, 2011 by Kevin

SecurityStation includes a powerful system which knows when your camera is online or offline and informs you of any changes to this status. In this post, we explain how it works.

When an IP camera is connected to the SecurityStation VSaaS service, the camera and the service talk to each other constantly in a kind of permanent handshake. This handshake, or ‘heartbeat’, as we call it here, is constructed using a tiny amount of data (so no worries about how much data your camera is transferring) and means that SecurityStation is always aware of your camera’s online status.

Connections using the Internet are rarely guaranteed for 100% uptime, especially for home and small business broadband connections. In our experience, Internet connections are frequently dropping off and coming back on again, and when you throw Wi-Fi, multiple ISPs, Internet backbone issues, TCP/IP connection drops, router malfunctions and more into the mix, no connection is really online all of the time. This has effects on the efficacy of the heartbeat system in SecurityStation. What good would it be if it warned you for every one of these drop-offs? You’d be bombarded with emails and warnings.

So, the SecurityStation heartbeat is built intelligently and factors this into its operation. You won’t be bombarded, but you will be notified when there is real downtime. The system checks and double-checks before emailing you.

The situation is analogous to setting up video motion detection (VMD) and this concept informed us when we created the SecurityStation heartbeat. With VMD you choose a detection area and overall sensitivity for detection in your ‘scene’ and the goal is to only have the camera trigger or alert when it detects something real like an intruder, not when, for instance, a nearby tree is blowing in the wind. This VMD noise is the bane of most CCTV systems (not ours, we hope) and various architectures, clever systems and complicated analytics have been developed to get around the problem. Nevertheless, it remains a problem.

And so it is with the SecurityStation heartbeat. When you are alerted that your camera is offline, it most likely is offline. When you are alerted that it’s back online, it most likely is online. All cameras will drop off from time to time, which is another reason why we recommend using a plug-and-play IP camera with SecurityStation. The heartbeat is more reliable with plug-and-play and the two systems work seamlessly together.

The SecurityStation heartbeat is especially important for surveillance where remote monitoring is paramount. You can always be sure of your camera’s status and can rely on SecurityStation to deliver the right information. That said, you can also turn it off, if required.

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