River Valley, LLC owns four businesses in western Pennsylvania: Cranberry 10 Minute Oil Change, Cranberry Car Wash, Cranberry Pet Wash, and Erie 10 Minute Oil Change. Most are open 24 hours a day and often unmanned, particularly during the night hours.
But business owners Joe Lehosky and Dan Klapec found a way to keep an eye on things even when no one is around.
The proliferation of smartphones and tablets — and the explosion of applications for seemingly every life aspect — meant it was only a matter of time before businesses began looking at mobile surveillance as a way to monitor activity while on the move. River Valley LLC is among the growing number of businesses now doing so, using MobileCamViewer to monitor activity at all four businesses.
MobileCamViewer is the mobile surveillance and remote video monitoring application from mobiDEOS, the Milpitas, Calif.-based company blending software and IT expertise with security smarts. River Valley connects the application to a variety of security cameras at all four locations, along with Dedicated Micros BX2 DVRs. It was Dedicated Micros, in fact, that recommended the application to Lehosky.
Typically, Lehosky and Klapec use the application to monitor general business activity, communicate with customers and respond to issues as needed. But the cameras, recorders and mobile surveillance application are part of a comprehensive security solution that also includes burglar and fire alarms inside the buildings, around the perimeters and inside the cashier stations.
Lehosky notes that the first security cameras went live in 2004, with all monitoring performed from home computers. This was fine when Lehosky and Klapec were at home — not always the situation for business people with demanding schedules.
“The car washes are programmed to page management based on specific error codes, some of which require immediate attention,” said Lehosky. “The problem was that we were not usually home when the car washes would page us. Dedicated Micros recommended mobiDEOS as the application that would work best with their system. I did the initial installation and setup on our phones very easily, and in less than 30 minutes.”
Lehosky and Klapec use an HTC Incredible solution for the smartphone and network connection. They have found that mobile surveillance has made better use of their time by enabling thoughtful reaction to events instead of frantically rushing to the site whenever paged for an occurance — whether security-related or otherwise.
“MobileCamViewer lets me pull up my cameras or servers and see what is going on at our locations,” Klapec said. “I am looking at live video of the facility within seconds of getting paged or called by one of the technicians.”
Non-emergency situations epitomize the typical alert. The pet washes, for example, become inoperable when they get too dirty. They operate like a self-serve car wash, with customers walking their dogs up the ramps into rubber-lined, waist-high, stainless steel wash tubs. The customer selects the desired function such as shampoo, de-skunk, flea and tick shampoo, rinse or oatmeal shampoo. There is even a post-wash blow dryer.
“We have only had one real security-related alarm since installing MobileCamViewer,” said Lehosky. “It turned out that the alarm was triggered by high winds, but it was nice to see the facility remotely before getting there. I felt more comfortable while approaching the site.”
Regardless of the alert, mobile surveillance helps determine whether a site visit is necessary. A problem handled remotely saves approximately one hour of time spent driving to the site to address the issue.
“We save two to three trips per week now due to cashier-related problems,” Klapec said. “The car wash can still run with credit cards, which account for the majority of our sales. And if a customer leaves the car or pet wash too dirty for use by the next customer, we can go to the washes and clean them up to avoid lost revenue. But MobileCamViewer almost immediately confirms if there is an emergency or otherwise. If it’s not an emergency we can just go about our business.”
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