Leveraging IP Technology

Leveraging IP Technology

Unique approaches in staffing have renewed and reimagined remote monitoring for sprawling or complicated campus environments

Not long ago, the term “virtual guarding” conjured up images of bargain offerings seeking to reduce the cost of physical security guards by “replacing” manpower with video monitoring. the results in the early days were underwhelming— if not outright problematic—coloring the perception of remote monitoring for many. today, the playing field has changed, with innovators in the virtual guarding space offering solutions light years beyond the offerings of the past in terms of capability and performance. often taking counter-intuitive or surprising approaches, new leaders in the virtual guarding space have moved beyond the idea of “replacing” guards with technology. instead, they are leveraging next-generation technologies, particularly ip and networked surveillance, and new approaches to staffing to not only enhance incident documentation and response, but mitigate potential incidents altogether.

This approach has made new, modern iterations of virtual guarding a game changer for safety and security. It’s a new role for virtual guarding as a powerful and cost-effective approach, both alternative and enhancement to traditional manned guarding, delivering the enhanced capability, reduced costs, and better response to the diverse security challenges faced on public, industrial, professional, and educational campuses.


Currently, emergent leaders in the virtual guarding space are those successfully leveraging guarding and security expertise, matching it with the right technology to move beyond mere “remote monitoring” to true, comprehensive “virtual” guarding. This is what the Arizona based Surveillance Acquisition Response Center (SARC) set out to do as part of its early work to remake and redefine the concept and utility of virtual guarding. Upending both technological and business models for traditional virtual guarding operations, SARC focused its attention in a place long minimized by those in the “virtual” space: people.

“Traditional views of remote monitoring and virtual guarding focused on the core idea of replacing expensive people with lower cost technology,” noted San Kim, SARC’s Director of Operations, “this left the human resources that remained—monitors and responders, in particular— as almost an afterthought in crafting a solution. SARC took the opposite approach and began with people.”

As SARC crafted their approach and operational models for a re-magined virtual guarding offering, they mandated the use of highlytrained professionals with law enforcement, intelligence, military and security technology background in their monitoring centers. This guaranteed a baseline institutional understanding of the many aspects of security and surveillance operations, hastening and sharpening the focus of real time observation, documentation, and response activity, improving the accuracy of judgement calls and the efficiency of support and cooperation with local law enforcement.

SARC then turned their eye to technology, keenly aware of the opportunity presented by advancements in IP networked surveillance technologies to craft a virtual guarding solution unlike imagined in the earliest days of remote monitoring.

“IP wasn’t just a game changer,” said Kim, “it was the game changer in terms of virtual guarding. It wasn’t hard for us to see the benefits and applications of IP in our space.”

Kim notes the scalability and flexibility of IP as foundational for the development of next generation virtual guarding offerings. “The sites in need of our solutions—including campuses of all shapes and sizes—are increasingly complex in terms of size and available infrastructure. IP cameras allow us to utilize existing data infrastructure directly (without having to add an additional IP enabled recorders or use IP encoders).”

He further notes a host of other IP benefits that work synergistically to empower and enable virtual guarding solutions capable of meeting the security requirements of even the most sprawling, complicated, or remote sites within or related to an industrial, healthcare, mixed-use, or educational campus, including on-edge video content analysis, the robust features available with IP technology, the quick adaptation of IP offerings to emerging technologies, and the substantial integration capability offered by the most robust IP offerings.

Kim also cites another foundational aspect of IP technology essential to SARC’s virtual guarding offering: remote management, noting “IP cameras can be managed and monitored in detail (health conditions, connectivity grade, etc.) by trained operators and technicians at remote monitoring centers, streamlining maintenance, improving performance, and reducing downtime.”


In the constantly evolving and progressing security market, it’s essential to deliver solutions that deliver a wide range of customizable options for solutions of any size, scope, or circumstance, while also keeping both the installation and user experience streamlined and simple for installers and operators. SARC quickly determined that a technology standard for their virtual guarding operations was required, allowing their elite operators to train on and master a comprehensive suite of technology and single user interface.

To begin, SARC needed simple IP configuration, while maintaining third party IPC support, to accommodate installers who had grown accustomed to analog installation methodologies. Maximizing flexibility to cater to each of their client’s needs was also a priority and any solution had to have surveillance components that were scalable, ONVIF compliant, and compatible with a wide range of third party products in order to build off existing analog installations while still reaping the benefits of HD quality. Finding highest quality solutions with low maintenance requirements and no licensing fees—and resulting lower total cost of ownership for end users—was another requirement for SARC.

After more than a year and a half of inquiry, testing and evaluation of numerous industry options, SARC selected the comprehensive IDIS total solution, featuring DirectIP technology and the powerful IDIS Solution Suite VMS as a technology standard. DirectIP is an optimized HD surveillance platform based on an IP framework consisting of a complete range of IP cameras, network video recorders (NVRs), network equipment, and client software, all offered as a complete package or available as individual, optimized components.

The simple plug-and-play functionality and automatic network detection of DirectIP made the entire surveillance system quick and easy to set up for SARC’s installer partners, and centralized functionality allowed every IP camera to be installed without the need for individual configuration. The IDIS “future proof ” guarantee further met SARC’s needs by guaranteeing backwards compatibility with future IDIS surveillance components, eliminating security vulnerabilities that come with hiccups in future system upgrades.

The powerful video management software (VMS) options offered by IDIS also allowed SARC to provide its clients with a flexible and cost effective surveillance virtual guarding solution. IDIS Center is a completely license-free VMS, with no upgrade charges or annual fees, and, for more specific or complicated requirements, IDIS Solution Suite provided a powerful modular functionality, affordably customizable to any user need. Near identical user interfaces between IDIS Center, IDIS Solution Suite, and IDIS Mobile simplified the user experience and reduced training requirements for SARC’s operators, allowing more time for a laser focus on client needs and not wrangling technology.


Two Phoenix-area installations demonstrate the power of an enhanced virtual guarding solution and the applicability to campuses of all sizes and levels of complexity. The Mesa Grande Cultural Park in Mesa, AZ is a remote site, part of the Arizona Museum of Natural History campus, is a working excavation area, bustling with archaeologists, researchers, students, and tourists. Trespassing, litter, vandalism, and theft frequently plagued the site, particularly at night, but the costs and logistical challenges of 24-7 manned coverage of all areas of the site proved prohibitive, placing the cultural discovery and legacy of the ancient site at risk.

Similar challenges were faced at Tempe’s Hayden Ferry Lakeside mixed-use campus, where private spaces are co-located with open retail and restaurant options, public gathering spaces, and a vast parking garage supporting the area’s many businesses, schools—including nearby Arizona State University—and community gatherings. This greatly expands the number of daily visitors to the property beyond a regular residential community—with its easily predicted schedules and patterns—requiring heightened and dynamic security operations 27/7. Event crowds, including the presence of alcohol at times, contributed to the unpredictability of the security challenge.

The installation of the SARC virtual guarding solution, powered by IDIS total surveillance technology, has already resulted in substantial benefits for the caretakers of both the Mesa Grande Cultural Park and the Hayden Ferry Lakeside campus. On a nightly basis, the SARC operations center identifies and deters potential threats to the site using IDIS technology and SARC’s remote “voice down” protocol, which SARC’s trained law enforcement, military, and intelligence veterans inform would-be bad actors via loudspeakers that they are under live surveillance and should cease and desist immediately. This successfully mitigates many potential issues, managing and preventing full blown incidents whenever possible. When not possible, the early engagement by trained professionals results in more competent identification, documentation, and response, as well as seamless coordination with clients and local law enforcement, when required.

Since the IDIS-powered SARC virtual guarding solution went live, both sites have reduced, if not effectively eliminated, common security challenges, and staff, visitors, equipment, and property are measurably more secure as a result, something Kim is pleased to hear. “I can’t speak for everyone, but our team and our partners are in this industry to keep people and property safe and secure. This is especially true when you look at where our people come from—the military, law enforcement, etc.—or at the stated corporate values of our partners, like IDIS. When the results speak for themselves, as they do, it not only validates the power and potential of next-generation virtual guarding, it lets us know that we’re doing what we set out to do: keeping things safe. We like that.”

This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.

Digital Edition

  • Campus Security & Life Safety Magazine - November / December 2022

    November / December 2022


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