UniFi Protect - Configuring Location-Based Activity Alerts


Overview


In this article, readers will learn how to configure UniFi Protect and their mobile device to determine when a user is on-site and suppress motion and disconnect alerts accordingly.

NOTES & REQUIREMENTS:
Location-based Activity Alerts require UniFi Protect and the account used to be Cloud-Enabled. The UniFi Protect application on the Primary Mobile Device must have access to High Accuracy Location data, as well as reliable cellular data in order to update the Protect Controller of its location status.

Table of Contents


  1. Introduction
  2. Setting the UniFi Protect Controller's Location
  3. Configure Mobile Device for Location
  4. Configure Location-Based Alerts
  5. Improving Location Update Reliability

Introduction


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UniFi Protect features the ability to limit email and mobile push alerts to only be sent while the admin or all users are currently not on-site. This allows admins to suppress alerts when someone is on-site, avoiding notifications when they are otherwise expected due to known activity and presences. For example, admins may only want to receive motion alerts from the office camera if they are not in the building.

Location data is limited by the device’s ability to determine its accurate position via Global Positioning System (GPS) and supporting technologies. It is intended to determine the user’s on-site status within a wide radius such as a city block, and not within individual rooms or sections of a building.

To configure geolocation-based alerting, the UniFi Protect Controller's location, the primary mobile device, and finally alerting rules all need to be configured. Each individual UniFi Protect user may have their own location status independently determined and their own alerting rules as needed.


Setting the UniFi Protect Controller's Location


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The location of the UniFi Protect Controller is intended to represent the physical location where the surveillance system is deployed. It can be configured via the UniFi Protect mobile application, or via the UniFi Protect web interface. This location setting will be shared across all applications that make use of the site location.

Method 1: Configure via UniFi Protect for Mobile:

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  1. In the UniFi Protect mobile application, open Settings > Controller > Cloud Key Gen2 Plus > Location.
  2. Toggle Enable location to ON.
  3. Using the map, scroll to find the address where the Site is located, then tap to place or update the Site’s location.  Zoom in or out by pinching with two fingers or tap the Compass icon to use the current mobile device being used to find current location.
  4. Use the Radius setting to fine-tune the area within which the device will be considered On-Site.
  5. Tap Back once the location has been configured.

Method 2: Configure via the UniFi Protect Web Interface:

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  1. In the UniFi Protect web interface, go to Settings > Location > Set Location.
  2. In the Set Location dialog, enter an approximate address of the site location. If on-site, click the Compass icon to find the current location. Use the mouse wheel or + / - icons to zoom in and out, then click and drag the Device icon to fine-tune the final location.
  3. Use the Geofencing Radius setting to fine-tune the area within which the mobile device will be considered On-Site.
  4. Click Save once the location has been configured.
User Tip: It is recommended to initially leave the default Geofencing Radius setting in the middle of the slider. This will allow for an error margin for the mobile device to avoid false status changes. If unexpected status changes while on-site are experienced, try increasing the radius.

Configure Mobile Device for Location


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The Primary Mobile Device is used by UniFi Protect to determine a user's on or off-site status.  Each user can assign only one mobile device to be Primary at one time, but can edit it and change as needed.

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  1. In the mobile device used to define a user's location, open the UniFi Protect app and go to Settings > Account & Cloud > (User Account) > Primary Mobile Device.
  2. Select the Mobile Device that will be used as the Primary Mobile Device. The selected device will be the one used by UniFi Protect to determine "current location", and thus whether the user is Away or On Site. As a reference, the device that is currently being used to access the configuration screen will be labeled "Current".
  3. Tap Back to return to the previous screen, and verify that the current Status is correct based on whether the user is Away or On Site.

Configure Location-Based Alerts


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Once the Site Location and Primary Mobile Devices have been configured, a new or existing Activity Alert must be configured to use the location status to determine when to send alerts.

Configure via UniFi Protect for Mobile: 

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  1. In the UniFi Protect mobile application, go to Settings > Alerts.
  2. If necessary, toggle Enable Alerts to ON.
  3. If there are no existing Activity Alerts, you will be prompted to create a new Activity Alert.  If an Activity Alert was already created in the past, you may create a new Activity Alert or edit an existing one.
  4. Tap on When to Send, and select either “Away” or “All users are off site”.  Selecting Away will generate alerts when only the user is Off Site. Selecting “All users are off site” will generate alerts only when all users are Off Site.
  5. Customize the alerts to be received for each camera.  You may also choose to receive alerts when specific users arrive or depart. This can be helpful when troubleshooting geolocation functionality.
  6. Tap Back to save the changes to the alert rule.  More than one Activity Alert can be created if needed.

Configure via UniFi Protect Web Interface

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  1. In the UniFi Protect web interface, go to Account.
  2. If there are no existing Activity Alerts, you will be prompted to create a new Activity Alert.  If an Activity Alert was already created in the past, you may create a new Activity Alert or edit an existing one.
  3. Click on When to Send, and select either “When I am away” or “When all users are away”.  Selecting “When I am away” will generate alerts when the user is Off Site. Selecting “When all users are away” will generate alerts only when all users are Off Site.
  4. Customize the alerts to be received for each camera.  You may also choose to receive alerts when specific users arrive or depart.  This can be helpful when troubleshooting geolocation functionality.
  5. Click Save to finalize the changes to the alert rule. More than one Activity Alert can be created if needed.

Improving Location Update Reliability


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The UniFi Protect app is dependent on the mobile phone’s ability to provide an accurate GPS location.  Likewise, it must be allowed by the phone operating system to run in the background and communicate with the Protect controller to provide updates to its status. If unreliable or slow status updates are experienced, the following steps may help:

Android Devices

Almost all Android devices include built-in functionality or third-party apps designed to limit an application’s ability to access location data or run in the background in an effort to extend the device’s battery life.  While this may be beneficial for applications that only require access while in use, these features may affect Protect’s ability to accurately determine and report the location to the controller. These can typically be configured on a per-app basis, though the steps to do so will vary between devices:

  • Ensure that GPS and Location are enabled.  Select High Accuracy mode if available, and enable WiFi as it will improve location accuracy.
  • Ensure UniFi Protect has access to Location data, and if applicable, it is set to Always, All The Time, and/or Enable While in Background, not just only When in Use.
  • Ensure that UniFi Protect always has access to WiFi Data and Mobile Data, and any Data Saver settings are disabled for the application.
  • Disable Battery Optimization and any Power Saving settings for UniFi Protect.  This is typically found under Settings -> Battery -> Battery Optimization. Ensure UniFi Protect is configured as “Don’t Optimize”.
  • Battery Saver modes, which often auto-enable once the phone is in a low power state, may override settings configured above and reduce accuracy.  Consider disabling the automatic activation of these modes.
  • Some devices will place applications into a deep sleep state after a specific period of days in which they have not been used or have been running in the background without being accessed.  If the location status typically updates as soon as the user opens the UniFi Protect app, this is the likely cause. In this case, refer to the device manufacturer’s support for assistance disabling the function, or open the UniFi Protect app once a day to reset the sleep timer.

iOS / iPadOS Devices

All recent iOS and iPad devices provide options to enable, disable, and limit access to location data and network resources.

  • Ensure that the device GPS Location and WiFi/Cellular data are enabled, even if not in use to improve location accuracy.
  • Ensure that the application Location Setting permission is configured to Always.  If set to “While in Use”, Protect will not be permitted to update the location status in the background.
  • Disable Low Power mode, as this will prevent UniFi Protect from sending location status updates to the Protect controller.
  • Ensure the Background App Refresh and Cellular Data are both enabled for UniFi Protect.
  • On some devices, using a VPN or a mobile hotspot may interfere with location accuracy.  Try disabling these functions to test if they are interfering.

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