Physical Security

Retail’s Wholesale Use of Security Video

April 1, 2011
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From Nordstrom and Macy’s to Johnny Rockets, Sacramento, Calif.’s Arden Fair Mall is a destination as well as a retail and dining community on its own. Thanks to Steve Reed, it is also a safe and secure family-oriented 77-acre facility. Reed, the mall’s director of security and guest services, went from VHS-based cameras a decade ago to today’s sophisticated in-house security operation boasting high definition cameras, network video recorders (NVRs) and a Segway or two.

Moving east, with a stop in downtown Columbus, Ohio, the Arena District is a 75-acre mixed-use development with a variety of stores and restaurants, exciting entertainment venues as well as office developments and residential housing. For Jay Beighley, AVP, corporate security with Nationwide Insurance, security video plays a key role to provide a comfortable environment. The Arena District is developed, managed and marketed by Nationwide Realty Investors, the real estate development affiliate of Nationwide Insurance.

A next stop is busy New York and New Jersey, where Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors is the world famous family-owned and -operated provider of meat and poultry to restaurants, hotels, banquet facilities, and retail outlets. As an essential player in the retail food supply chain – by the way, it created a custom burger blend for last year’s U.S. Open – CEO Patrick “Pat” LaFrieda, Jr., recently moved the operation to North Bergen, N.J., near the Lincoln Tunnel and, with the help of integrator Ralph Tisei, president of VisionTec Solutions, brought in megapixel cameras as part of an intelligent video management system. No easy design, some cameras had to operate in meat coolers or under extreme humidity conditions.

 

Crime Prevention and Business, Too

Retail operations ranging from big box chains, fast food stores to mom and pops and their suppliers now embrace security video. The technology applies to shoplifting, sales associate theft, organized retail crime and even inventory loss. Thanks to ever-smarter video analytics and forensics of stored and retrieved video, retailers also are seeing value in business uses of the image-based information. Check the March 2011 issue ofSecuritymagazine or go to
www.securitymagazine.com for a feature article on video analytics and retail.

For retail security executives and their integrators, when it now comes to video, things are getting easier, more integrated and – in some ways – less expensive. Think “interoperability.” At this month’s ISC West in Las Vegas, for example, two somewhat competing organizations, the Open Network Video Interface Forum (ONVIF) and the Physical Security Interoperability Alliance (PSIA), each separately hosted so-called plugfests, which showed off their work on video and integration standards stressing interoperability among vendor products.

Another movement of interest to some retail security leaders is the HDcctv Alliance. It features a standard for transmitting 720p and 1080p video over coaxial cable uncompressed and non-packetized as compared to IP-based video. The technology is based on work for broadcast studios, and behaves much the same way analog does: Video starts streaming out of the source line by line to a receiver with next to no latency.

Still, no matter the interoperability of components, the openness of the systems and infrastructure ranging from Ethernet to coax, retail applications are calling for greater image quality through megapixel and high definition cameras.

There are plenty of business bottom line benefits.

Take, for instance, Arden Fair Mall. Using technology from Avigilon, there is a mixture of two, five and 16 megapixel cameras, an 180° panoramic HD dome camera, analog video encoders for existing cameras, NVRs, all controlled through network video management software.

 

Auto Thefts Down, Prosecutions Up

Reed has reduced the mall’s rate of auto thefts by 60 percent and boasts a 90-percent prosecution rate due to video image clarity, zooming capabilities and ease-of-management. The technology’s performance in low light conditions also improves the mall’s ability to capture usable footage at all times of the day and night.

Managed by Macerich, an owner, operator and developer of major retail properties across the United States, Arden Fair Mall has created a well-designed and maintained shopping and entertainment environment to meet its customers’ changing needs. Committed to excellence in customer service, it has taken the industry lead by developing an advanced security program that is anchored by the surveillance system.

A former Sacramento Police Department officer, Reed joined Arden Fair in 2000. At that time, “the mall wasn’t adequately monitored, with only 19 VHS-based cameras to monitor the entire property. Macerich is now uniquely positioned as the only mall operator in the United States to have security operations in-house, demonstrating its commitment to the safety and security of its patrons.”

In early 2007, Arden Fair upgraded to an analog DVR-based system and, at the same time, installed license plate readers on two staff vehicles to monitor activity in its parking lots. Before HD, the mall experienced an extremely high rate of auto theft; incidents were either missed entirely or if captured, were so grainy that the footage was inadmissible. That has been trimmed impressively with a high rate of prosecutions, too.

In addition to security officers on foot, Segways, bicycles and by car, and under the watchful eye of Nick Novo, assistant security and guest services manager, security video is now key to the mall’s success in reducing risk and preventing incidents. “While all our security personnel have access to the system, Nick has taken the lead in its design and is the real system expert, keeping us at the top of our game,” adds Reed. The technology also addresses liability issues. For example, three NVRs store 40 days of continuous surveillance footage as compared to one to three weeks of footage in the past.

Since time wasting is a money waster in retail, “with [the system’s] time syncing abilities, I can instantly view an incident in real-time or recorded mode to gain a complete picture for faster resolution,” Novo says.

 

Protecting the Beef

For Pat LaFrieda, megapixel security video is an essential tool which more securely connects his business to retailers of his product, many who have become Food Network stars for their steaks, chops and burgers.

In the firm’s butchering and distribution operations, LaFrieda needs to know who is where and if food handling and storage mandates are being met. In addition, the firm closely guards its proprietary burger and meat blends made for the top Manhattan restaurants.

The security video tech solution at the new North Bergen facility includes 23 megapixel cameras from Arecont Vision as well as NUUO NVRs.

In retail, distribution and wholesale operation where there are food coolers and freezers, there is the additional requirement for cameras to operate in harsh and sometimes low light condition while still providing quality images.

Back in stores, security video is basically a loss prevention tool, and one that is growingly popular. According to results of the annual National Retail Security Survey and the every-two-year Retail Security Barometer, cameras, recording and monitoring systems require an initial investment from the retailer, but they prove to be one of the most effective loss prevention tools available. Probably the biggest bonus these systems have to offer in lean times is that they pay for themselves quickly in loss prevention benefits.

And there is that ability to go beyond loss prevention. If you pair up with an integrator with retail security experience, there is video help to reduce return fraud and organized retail crime. There are connections into point-of-sale. And the shared information helps break down the silos in retail.

Video also can cross other business boundaries.

Jerry’s Nugget in Las Vegas, a facility steeped in gaming history, has committed to an all-IP environment with gear from Basler Vision Technologies employed for the casino as well as retail stores and parking for the operation.

For retail and property management executives more generally, security video is a force multiplier as Nationwide’s Beighley sees it. “There are shrinking payroll budgets. Before it was security officers.” Now it is security video that’s adding value to organizations. Greg Allen, security management program director at Bellevue University, agrees. Allen, who directs one of the most influential educational programs specific to security, explains that “retail security must be more efficient in the face of shrinkage and lack of manpower” compared to the days where store detectives used to roam a store’s floor. “It’s also a matter of sharing information” within retail operations and the need to reduce liability from such incidents as slip and falls.

When it comes to applying security video in the retail sector, Allen advises that decision makers need to know clearly what their mission is. “What are you trying to accomplish? What end results do you need?”

 

In A Transition

Helping answer those questions, security video – especially as it moves from viewed image to information – depends on the transition from analog. Tom Brodsky of Honeywell Video Systems says that the bandwidth has become more manageable. The information more valuable with data mining, people counting, trend analysis.

The firm, by the way, has its own Open Technology Alliance, a group of global security manufacturers that collaborate to increase interoperability between third-party IP systems and help businesses more easily secure and protect their facilities.

No doubt, the future of retail use of security video is “door busting” to mimic a phrase from store sales during the holidays.

According to Peter Boriskin of UTC Fire & Security, the focus will be on leveraging security management systems by layering on intelligence and analytics. Some applications can enlarge the secured perimeter to after-hours deliveries, for example. And predictive analysis is approaching, says Boriskin. And, he adds, there is a level of theft going out the back door, too.

So retail security executives should expect more IP-based video door phones.

So far, “very few companies currently offer a full IP video door phone system, and the majority of companies that do are not key players in the video door phone market,” says IMS Research analyst Emma Chapman. “Most of the established players in the market are either still developing or just launching an IP product.”

With the use of IP systems maturing throughout the security sector, the opportunity for experienced IP video surveillance, VoIP and intercom companies to “leapfrog” the entrenched video door phone manufacturers has presented itself, according to Chapman. Furthermore, IP video door phones offer added functionality to the user such as remote access, improved image resolution and the ability to integrate a range of devices with the video door phone.

Video’s Role in Next Gen Emergency Communications

In 2004, the world began a transition from the existing E911 systems to what is referred to as the Next Generation 911 or NG 9-1-1 system, according to Walt Magnussen Ph.D., director for telecommunications and director of Texas A&M University Internet2 Technology Evaluation Center.

At a high level, the major difference between the two networks is that NG 9-1-1 is based on the Internet Protocol or IP.  While this is one difference, it barely scratches the surface of understanding where we have been and where we are going.  The existing architecture did a good job of dispatching first responders to telephone callers with a fixed location. But the NG architecture promises to provide first responders not only information containing voice, but video, text and even telemetry as well. The new architecture also provides location-based routing capabilities so that it will no longer matter where the caller is or how he or she is connected.  While the existing architecture also was used to connect 911 call centers called Primary Safety Answering Points, the new network will connect the call takers with the first responders, hospitals, and many other types of emergency services providers. 

In the NG 9-1-1 architecture, the call process begins with the caller placing a call to 911 for emergency services. The network uses the Session Initiated Protocol or SIP to place all calls.  SIP is the Internet standard for voice calls often referred to as Voice over IP or VoIP. SIP was selected as the signaling protocol since it is standards based and it supports all forms of media including voice, video, text and whatever form of communication may come in the future. That means that when the call is transferred to the first responder, he or she can also choose to connect to a camera using either a mobile data terminal or view the camera over a Public Safety LTE network on a handheld device in the future when they exist. 

The potential for the video to assist first responders in doing their jobs is staggering.

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