There is a lot of excitement about Internet viewing for childcare centers these days. Clearly, it's a trend that's here to stay. But what is it, really? How does the video get on the Internet? Who can see it? How does it work? These are questions we're asked every day.
In it's simplest form, an Internet viewing system is a video camera hooked up to the Internet in a way that makes the live video viewable over the Internet. Several cameras are required to enable parents to look in and see their children from all of the primary rooms in a childcare center.
A few cameras and the Internet...is it really that simple? Well, almost. First, the cameras need to have a way to convert what they see into something that can be transmitted over the Internet. For that, we use a special gizmo called a "video server". The cameras are plugged into the video server and the video server is plugged into the high speed Internet connection.
A more detailed technical view of the system that goes in your center, might look like this:
Wait a minute. Where's the computer? Believe it or not, setting up and hosting Internet viewing at the childcare center does not require a computer! That's right. The "video server" has all the computing smarts needed to send video from the camera to the Internet, without a computer. There's no monitor, no keyboard, no computer. (While you don't need a computer to host Internet viewing, you can use any computer with Internet access to manage your system, on-site, or remotely. More on that later.)
So where does the video go? Is it just out there for anyone to see? Not with GuardianCam. All GuardianCam video servers are programmed to send the video images to one place only—to GuardianCam! The video images go straight from the school to our secure servers. There are lots of reasons for this, but the number one reason is security.
How do parents see the video images if they can't connect directly to the cameras? They "login" to GuardianCam.com. When a parent enters his or her password on the GuardianCam web site, we verify that they have been approved by the center. Then, they are presented with a list of the cameras they are authorized to view. GuardianCam is safe and secure.
Parents can choose to view the room or rooms where their children learn, play, have fun and sometimes nap!
Let's talk a little more about security. The center director or administrator will need to use their computer to approve parents requests to use the GuardianCam system. They can do this from home or work, but yes, they'll need a computer for this step!
Here's how it works. The center gives parents the school's GuardianCam "center number". This number identifies the school to GuardianCam. Parents use that number when they go to GuardianCam.com for the first time to sign up as a new user. When parents request a password, that request will show up on the school's GuardianCam administration page. Directors typically log in once a day to approve or deny parent requests for access to the system. In the beginning it might take five to ten minutes a day, as lots of new users sign up. After that it will only take about a minute or two each day to click "approved" or "denied" for new parents. Once a parent has been approved, they can log onto GuardianCam and see their children throughout the day, wherever they have access to the Internet.
GuardianCam includes powerful management features for center directors. The director can access all of GuardianCam's management features remotely. Just as parents can see their children from anywhere they have Internet access, directors can manage the system from wherever they have Internet access.
Remote management features include:
- Approve or decline password requests.
- Turn off a specific parent account at any time.
- Turn off an individual camera or all cameras. (Turn them back on too.)
- Send a message to the parents. Directors can enter a message to be displayed above the video, "Don't forget about the field trip Friday!" This is a powerful communication tool that reaches parents effortlessly when they log on to see their kids! The message can be updated as often as you like.
- Detailed usage logs are available to show the director who is using the system and how often. Best of all, they don't even need to be at the facility to do any of these things.
There you have it. GuardianCam is a safe, secure, reliable system for enabling parents to see their children throughout the day. Broken down into bite-size pieces, Internet viewing is easy to understand. GuardianCam runs all of the technology. Yet, through the remote management features, you have powerful features at your fingertips. The real sophistication of Internet viewing is making all of this work so automatically that you almost forget it's there.