Restaurant, retailers and hospitality businesses have had a roller coaster of a year in 2020. While the short-term growth prospects remain uncertain, these businesses are showing extraordinary resilience and creativity as they re-think their business models and operations. To create an entirely new experience for their customers that is focused on safety and convenience, many are going through a massive IT, process and business security overhaul. Meanwhile, the pandemic has created new safety and security risks for employees and customers while triggering a significant uptick in thefts, burglary and violence.

However, security budgets are tighter than ever, and security professionals need to leverage existing investments smartly, and use innovative security solutions that maximize ROI. Here are seven safety and security solutions that security and loss prevention leaders should consider:


1. Replace old DVRs with an NVR

The focus on curbside delivery has created a compelling need to upgrade perimeter security for many restaurant chains and retailers. The best way to get started on this would be to get rid of that old DVR and invest in an NVR (network video recorder) that supports IP and analog cameras. This hybrid approach will allow businesses to continue using their analog cameras while retaining the option to upgrade to higher resolution IP cameras with video analytics features when budgets allow for it. 


2. Utilize Point-of-Sale Exception Reporting

Probably the easiest way for retailers and restaurants  to get a return on their security investment is to implement a point of sale solution (PoS) that can be integrated with a video surveillance solution. Using PoS exception reporting ensures suspect transactions bubble up to the top and raise a red flag. The reports can be quickly researched, and video of the transactions can be reviewed to validate suspicious activity.


3. Upgrade to Video Verified Alarms

Businesses that already have an intrusion alarm system and CCTV cameras should consider integrating the two systems to maximize effectiveness and minimize false alarms and associated costs. Having a reliable solution to avoid false alarm penalties will more than pay for the service. Most importantly, key associates won’t be frequently called up to visit a location after shift hours to verify an alarm or the operations team won’t be busy handling the paperwork associated with paying fines.


4. Deploy Virtual Security Guards

For businesses located in challenging neighborhoods, deploying security guards can be a dangerous and costly option. With a team of remote security professionals monitoring locations 24X7X365 via live video, and two-way audio with the ability to hear and speak directly to associates and/or customers, deploying a Virtual Security Guard solution can offer a safe and cost effective alternative. Virtual Security Guards can conduct virtual tours of vulnerable locations to check for suspicious activities, remove unwanted people from the property, deter loitering, dumpster diving, and track employees in vulnerable situations. If required, they can conduct a voice down announcement to check in with employees or warn customers who might be behaving suspiciously. Of course, law enforcement can be called in if needed. All of this can be done discreetly without negatively affecting the customer experience at the location. 


5. Protect lone workers 

Retail and restaurant workers, especially those working for 24X7 fast food chains, face serious safety risks because they deal with customers when working alone, late at night or during early mornings, and handle cash transactions. Before implementing a lone worker safety solution, formalizing a lone worker safety policy can help an organization define the scope and the extent of a lone worker safety solution. The solution deployed can range from simple, stand-alone panic buttons to connected smart devices with advanced emergency management capabilities. 


6. Invest in Video analytics

Beyond motion triggered recording, video analytics can detect line crossing, monitor dwell times, count people in queues, spot when objects appear/disappear while monitoring mask wearing and occupancy levels. The latest AI cameras go further and differentiate customers from employees and can send alerts only when certain people show up at the door. These are extremely valuable tools for loss prevention departments, as they can dramatically reduce workloads and help security teams do more with less. There are immense benefits to understanding customer or employee movement or behavior that go beyond security. Accordingly, security and loss prevention departments can make a strong case for apportioning the investments needed for implementing a video analytics solution across multiple departments. Considering the broad-based benefits of video analytics, it’s not uncommon to see asset protection teams tap into the budgets of their colleagues in marketing and HR.


7. Upgrade Network Infrastructure 

A security solution is only as good as the network upon which it resides. When business locations have limited bandwidth, security solutions end up competing with other mission-critical applications such as credit card transactions or inventory management applications. One way to mitigate this challenge is to right size existing network bandwidth or roll out parallel 4G/LTE wireless connectivity and optimize security applications so that performance of mission-critical applications is not impacted. A comprehensive network audit will uncover opportunities for improving the overall productivity of all the enterprise applications including security solutions.