DVTel TruWitness Mobile App
by Security Electronics and Networks | @Articles Product Reviews | June 13, 2012, 7:00am AEST
A CURIOUS aspect of new product technology in the digital era is its material non-existence. Sure, thousands of hours of labour and expertise may have gone into creating an awesome new piece of functionality but where the heck is it?
This question ran through my mind as I checked out DVTel’s latest release, a neat piece of functionality called TruWitness, which is available free to users of DVTel V6.2. By the end of the demo I had a better handle on the nature this solution thanks to Pacific Communciations’ senior IT technician Orlando Chiang.
We’re at Pacific Communications’ demo control room at Rydalmere. It’s a nice space for demonstrations and the control room has expanded considerably since I first saw it 3-4 years ago. The Pacom people have connected a whole range of the cameras they supply to DVTel’s Latitude V6.2 NVMS, which is the control room’s management solution.
We’re viewing TruWitness on Chiang’s Acer Transformer tablet – it’s an ideal tool for the job, with good colour rendition and a capable onboard camera that serving us up a 4CIF-limited image stream with no dramas whatever. Something that’s immediately apparent is stabilisation software, which allows the tablet’s camera to be swept over the scene by hand without too much disturbance.
“This tablet has an Android TruWitness app already installed and it’s connected wirelessly to our network over WiFi – it could work over LTE, 3G or 4G if available,” Chiang explains.
“Operationally, the TruWitness app is talking to our transcoder gateway and servers through DVTel and is then being integrated into the DVTel system as a camera. This is probably the key area security integrators have difficulty visualising.”
Just what is TruWitness, I ask?
“What TruWitness does, if you are a DVTel V6.2 user and have a built-in camera on your Android 2.2 mobile phone or tablet is allow any device to become a camera in your surveillance solution.”
Basically then, the ability of this application is that it can turn a mobile phone or tablet into camera point – so wherever you are – if you are a security guard or administrator, you can ‘become’ a camera point to record an event or bring something to the attention of security staff. Security officers could hold the pre-configured mobile device up to capture a scene or prop it in a location to monitor an unfolding event or to replace a failed camera.
According to Chiang, while the solution seems very simple, it’s the backend that really makes it work.
“It’s a lot more complicated at the backend than it is at the front. Given it’s being used by security officers who may be unfamiliar with VMS solutions, that’s the way you would want it to be.
“You touch the screen and it starts transmitting – one touch is all that’s required so it’s not complex at all. The system can also be set up to start recording automatically. In this case, there’s one-touch recording set up on my tablet and I’ve already got it on screen over there (a workstation screen in the control room).”
We look at the image on the relevant workstation control room – it’s surprisingly good with good colour rendition and sharpness. There’s plenty of light in the room, of course. Chiang pans and tilts the tablet and although the image is a little wayward, as you’d expect with a handheld device, but it remains very viewable.
Thanks to the WiFi link, frame rate is real time with no sign of latency. We’re still in the demo room but the capability of a TruVision-enabled device should be the same wherever nominated network coverage exists. I’d expect 3G to give lower frame rates but even then the flexibility of this application would make it very worthwhile, especially on large sites. From the point of view of the operator then, the image appears on the screen you view it on a given monitor. The operator retains all the usual Latitude NVMS control over the camera point.
“TruWitness camera points appear as a camera on the operator’s camera tree and they can select these views by dragging and dropping them as you would any other camera,” explains Chiang. “It’s a cool solution for specific applications.
“Setup is just user name and password and TruWitness only has to remember one directory server – the one that it talks to. Other than this, the operator has exactly the same functionality with a TruWitness camera point as they would with a normal camera – playback, record and all the rest.”
One of the nice things about solutions like this is that they can be updated regularly and the latest TruWitness tweak is that now you can have tags and text on the image when it appears in the control room making investigations easier.
The way this works is that TruWitness users add text-tagging to image streams they have just sent to Latitude. As soon as the transmission is over and the user is exiting the TruWitness app, a pop-up will offer the chance to enter descriptive text which then becomes a bookmark and can later be used to facilitate searching for that piece of footage as well as adding important information for forensic purposes.
“DVTel has actually started to use the GPS signals the mobile device sends out as well so that security teams can incorporate that information into monitoring allowing them to get an idea of where the mobile device actually is before they respond to an incident.”
DVTel TruWitness is a very simple solution that offers a great deal of operational flexibility and could be employed in a range of different ways. This solution needs to be seen in the context of an expansion of the capability of the overall Latitude V6.2 NVMS.
DVTel says TruWitness is designed to extend the coverage of surveillance networks to reach blind spots and other areas that traditional cameras cannot reach, and to enable the relocation of cameras in real time, as the need arises, enhancing situational awareness. My demo showed that this is a very accurate summary of the capabilities of TruWitness.