New AT&T System Lets Boss Mind the Store Anytime, Anywhere

Incompetent and rogue employees at small and medium businesses take note: AT&T has released a new remote video monitoring solution packed with big-business features for a small-business price.

The company’s new AT&T Remote Monitor Service includes video cameras and a range of environmental sensor options that let business owners remotely monitor their premises via a broadband Internet connection.

In addition to PCs, owners can stay connected to their Remote Monitor system through more than a dozen Java-enabled wireless mobile devices offered by AT&T.

The system is surprisingly customizable, given its low cost of entry — a mid-level starter kit comes with cables, a system controller, Ethernet adapters, a door/window sensor, and a pan-and-tilt camera for US$249 and a $9.95 per month service fee. Owners can customize alerts and actions based on their specific needs, AT&T said. For example, they can program the service to send text message alerts to a wireless device from AT&T when motion is detected while it automatically turns on lights and records video of the same area.

In addition, temperature sensors can monitor temperature changes in areas such as walk-in refrigerators, IT server closets, or store rooms, AT&T notes, and other sensors can detect movement or even water leaks in the event of flooding.

Gone but Still There

“Small businesses require around-the-clock maintenance and, as a result, demand simultaneous attention to many parts of the operation,” said Beaux Roby, president of 1776, a San Antonio-based company that, along with its main office, owns and operates five Mama’s Cafe restaurants and two banquet facilities throughout Texas.

“Small-business owners need as many helpful tools as they can get. AT&T Remote Monitor allows our managers to see exactly what is going on in our facilities. The system is easy to install and provides a feature-rich portal that allows us to keep in touch with those things that matter most,” he explained.

The service is accessed via a secure login from the AT&T Remote Monitor portal Web site, and it can scale to up to five different locations.

In addition to monitoring physical issues like a computer room that’s overheating or a freezer full of food that’s melting, the AT&T solution is suitable for remote monitoring of employees to help record vandalism, theft or provide evidence relating to on-site insurance claims. A digital video recording (DVR) capability is also available, which includes a 250 GB hard drive that can support looped recording of up to four MPEG4 cameras for 30 days of 24/7 recording. Users can simultaneously view full-motion live or recorded video, play ahead, rewind and navigate archived video, AT&T notes. Owners can also download clips to PCs for archival storage.

Bigger Needs?

“I’m not seeing a big need for video event trigger monitoring in small businesses, but what I’m seeing more of is computer usage monitoring — Internet usage, compliance issues, e-mailing company data out to a Gmail account. That appears to be the bigger need in small businesses,” John Simek, vice president of Sensei Enterprises, a Fairfax, Virginia-based computer forensics and legal technology monitoring firm, told TechNewsWorld.

However, Simek acknowledged, the AT&T Remote Monitor package comes in at an attractive price point and does essentially the same job as Sensei Enterprises’ own current camera and monitoring system, which is more expensive.

AT&T Remote Monitor is available now nationwide.

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