In any organization, large or small, physical security situational awareness and management is a mission-critical operational practice. Having “eyes” located throughout the facility is one of the most effective ways to achieve this and protect an organization’s people and assets. Today’s IP video surveillance and security systems deliver crystal clear images and pertinent data from alarm, access control, intrusion detection and other related operational systems and, with this information, facility/security management can make better and more informed decisions.

With its demonstrated ability to deliver useful information, video has emerged as a highly effective tool across a number of additional business operations beyond security. Opportunities outside the control room abound for use of video images and data, with the rationale for doing so supported by proven financial and ease of use considerations. From a cost perspective, security departments are being asked to align their operations more closely with the overall enterprise mission. The images and data provided by the video surveillance and security system can be utilized by various departments throughout the organization and thereby move the security department away from being a cost center. Wider use of video can also aid the security department’s ongoing challenge of showing ROI. In addition to finding ways to quantify the value of security's traditional operations, it is now possible to include the benefits to other departments into these calculations.

Video management systems are also becoming easier to use, and even large systems can now be managed effectively and efficiently. Ease of use can facilitate other departments' efforts to leverage the value of video. User interfaces are less complicated and can be easily programmed to include only information that is pertinent to a particular group or user. Systems that are easy and intuitive to use by everyone make it possible for any authorized person in the company, regardless of their training or technical background, to benefit from easy availability of video data.

Video and data information provided by IP video surveillance and security systems has strategic value in several areas in an organization as well as in a number of vertical markets. One of the prime corporate uses is in process control and management. For example, in a warehouse/distribution operation, video images are used to monitor loading and unloading procedures to ensure trailers are evenly loaded and to capacity or that they are completely unloaded. Video systems integrated with access control systems enable remote personnel to open and close gates or delivery dock doors. In a manufacturing facility, the video can be used to monitor procedures, oversee machinery and manage inventory levels of bulk items or liquids stored in bins. Archived video of any of these scenarios can then be used for process improvements or staff evaluations.

In vertical markets such as the retail market, video is a powerful tool that extends beyond security and loss prevention. Video can help determine the most efficient scheduling of personnel or the most effective point-of-purchase (POP) display by viewing when the busiest times are in stores or at a particular counter or display. By analyzing video, retailers can determine customer spending habits and the best use of personnel. Overall, analyzing video provides data that can direct retailers to the best use of people and resources.

In education applications, video can help to manage the flow of K-12 students during recess, analyze bottlenecks that form between classes or view traffic flow as parents drop students off in the morning. In case of a maintenance problem, video can allow the central office to identify and observe the problem remotely before sending staff. Video can also assist with crowd control during special events to determine, for example, where more police officers are needed. Transportation applications use video to monitor traffic flow and allow for improved response to congestion or accidents. And when mobile security is implemented, individuals in the field can use their smartphones to send video images of a dangerous situation, such as a sewer without a grate, to authorities.

Real-time video coupled with the reach of IP networking creates a powerful combination for today's security marketplace and security end-users are beginning to understand and embrace these expanded benefits.