Autonomous video surveillance options can expand security’s footprint

April 8, 2022
SentryPODS aims to disrupt the surveillance status quo by creating a wireless, more mobile solution to operate in harsh environments

There is no denying that advances in smart video surveillance technology have been a prime driver in the security industry for more than a decade. And the expanding edge universe and increasing connectivity with the Internet of Things (IoT) continue to push the boundaries of surveillance options. However, challenges remain when it comes to extending video surveillance operations to more remote and harsh locations. Venues housing critical infrastructure, military frontlines, public safety deployments and other commercial enterprises like oil and gas and heavy construction sites find themselves in critical need of both real-time and forensic video surveillance data.

For Brent Canfield, the owner and CEO of Smart Digital LLC., filling this security void became an obsession after witnessing the horror of the domestic terror attack at the 2013 Boston Marathon where two terrorists planted a pair of homemade pressure-cooker bombs near the finish line that detonated, killing three people and injuring hundreds more, including 17 that lost limbs. The Boston Marathon bombing created a seismic shift in the way remote and public safety video surveillance was viewed. It moved static CCTV placements with limited connectivity to a more strategic approach that relied on mobility and wireless configurations.
“After the Boston Marathon bombings I designed a product called SentryPODS because I saw a growing need in the marketplace for an evolving technology that would provide us the ability to deploy video surveillance in even the most austere environments,” says Canfield, a former Marine who served as a Security Team Platoon Sergeant in 1st Marine Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He designed SentryPODS as a rapidly deployable surveillance solution to provide immediate access to a location that could be remotely connected to and powered up within minutes of set up.

Canfield adds: “It is a challenge for most people to install surveillance in harsh and severe terrain because of the required resources it takes to run video. It is all about speed and mobility (in these types of operations). We recognized the need and came up the design concept for SecurityPODS.”

Canfield and his team employed his military savvy for battlefield intelligence that requires real-time strategic data that is mobile and downloadable.

What is the Solution?

Sentry PODS are high-definition quality, self-sustainable surveillance units with battery failover in the event of a power loss. There are options of AC or solar units for off-the-grid solutions where AC power may not be available. The devices are capable of edge recording to the onboard memory and can be remotely accessed for instant viewing. While a SentryPODS unit can serve as a video capturing endpoint on an existing traditional LTE or Ethernet network, the ability to deploy rapidly and function autonomously is the value proposition the solution brings to users.

Power can be sourced from existing AC 110V power (grid or generator), internal batteries with 24-48-hours shelf-life on short-term deployments and are hot-swappable as needed or using solar power that is also able to use SentryPODS’ standalone unit or it can be connected to existing arrays. A typical SentryPODS deployment will occur where there is no existing conventional network, but cell connectivity is available. Cellular connectivity is often more cost-effective than building out a remote network, so in this set-up, each SentryPODS unit will have DHS-encrypted secure connectivity using digital security certificates for end-to-end secure connections through the web via multiple cell carrier options with redundant LTE failover between carriers.

“Most operations don’t have time to wait for surveillance resources to be established in crucial areas or where they can’t typically reach. This solution stretches the elasticity of video and communications without having to install wire or cable,” says Canfield. “What separates our technology from every other product on the market is the fact that you can deploy it and never have to physically touch it again. Everything from accessing the internal interfaces to the remote video and establishing your internet connection. It can be done hands-free, standing on the ground.”

In the case of the Boston Marathon bombing, authorities had to assess and sift through vast amounts of video and audio data from the surrounding vicinities that included businesses, restaurants, commercial and private properties, along with a network of streets in and around the race route. According to Canfield, if there had been an autonomous surveillance system like Sentry- PODS in place, there would have been no need to scan through the mountains of video data to track the perpetrators, plus there would have been a better forensic picture of all the events in the area leading to the bombing.

“But beyond that, this is a solution that enables foresight, allowing security authorities to take proactive steps to avert attacks on people and critical infrastructure. I have a passion for our solution because I’ve always been passionate about protecting people,” Canfield says. “I sincerely feel our company can make a difference in this space. Our intent is to disrupt the traditional surveillance space and change the norm.”

The Technology Spec Sheet

So, what is included in the SentryPODS system? Each unit has removable/replaceable batteries for redundancy and a RAS (Rapid Attachment System) Mount System for rapid attachment/detachment that typically takes less than10 minutes to install. As for the installation of the SentryPODS, the RAS Mount that is enclosed in the unit’s system uses four 1/4" screws/bolts that are inserted into the receiving surface, (pole/flat surface) or it can employ two heavy metal bands that can be inserted through the elongated slots of the RAS receiver plate and then secured to a pole or cylindrical surface using a cordless driver.

Since most units will be deployed in the field where connectivity and weather could be an issue, every SentryPODS is pre-configured and provisioned for internet and remote access prior to shipping. The unit also includes a laminated configuration sheet and security checklist that provides the information for remote access to the SentryPODS and the site contacts and protocol for an actual event, which helps to improve the security posture of each site.

Depending on the specific surveillance needs in a particular citation, SentryPODS cameras are built to provide a wide variety of comprehensive coverage. The military-grade camera models are designed with long-range infrared (IR) night vision and are all high-definition. Its onboard analytics also provides the cameras the ability to detect motion at any time of day with extremely high accuracy and range. The cameras typically expand the visual reach of mobile units by utilizing real-time surveillance and notifications. They have a highly functional 360-degree capturing capacity and can detect approaching dangers or threats from any direction which is well suited for open terrain deployments. The units can be rapidly relocated or left on site unattended when there’s a pending or ongoing threat. The deployment of the cameras exponentially increases a facility’s security footprint.

Another key differentiator with this solution is its Security as a Service (SaaS) aspect. The SentryPODS’ Remote Service Program is a turn-key service that offers remote management and connects the SentryPODS to human intelligence for live 24/7 management, without the increased cost of traditional guard services.

Canfield expects that the SentryPODS will technologies become an integral part of a layered security strategy for vulnerable critical infrastructure, integrating its video surveillance solutions with physical barriers such as vehicle access barricades, crash gates, fences, lights, and alarms, in addition to human security forces, to protect essential personnel and operations. But he does stress that the technology options for limiting a guard presence[JG1] is as attractive to streamlining business operations as it is to security operations.

“SentryPODS aims at augmenting physical security. In truth, human presence has limitations and is costly. SentryPODS allows remote visibility to multiple locations without the need for a physical presence. In addition to visibility via camera, we can also offer Remote Services Support, which is a 24/7 live monitoring solution that alerts security teams of actual events that need to be investigated. When coupled with a security team, there is much risk that is mitigated, a loss that is prevented, and security capabilities that are enhanced,” concludes Canfield.

About the Author: Steve Lasky is a 34-year veteran of the security industry and an award-winning journalist. He is the editorial director of the Endeavor Business Media Security Group, which includes magazines Security Technology ExecutiveSecurity Business and Locksmith Ledger International and top-rated webportal Steve can be reached at [email protected]