How to Take Video Surveillance Beyond Security

Cross-functional uses of video surveillance systems offer intelligent solutions that enable management to realize additional potential from their technology investments.

Smartphones are aptly named when you think about it. Not only do they serve as a basic communication tool but they also go beyond telephony to enable a number of other “smart” capabilities.

Web browsers allow the phone to be used to access information instantly from anywhere; GPS technology ensures that you always know where you are; a megapixel video camera lets you be a cinematographer or a news reporter; third-party apps let you do almost anything electronically, like depositing checks to your bank account. All pretty smart stuff.

In a similar fashion, the smart technology available in today’s IP video surveillance systems is ideal for numerous business applications above and beyond video surveillance and security. In fact, video surveillance is already being used to improve many business operations.

Some of the more popular applications include the following:

Retail sales/Marketing analysis IP cameras can be integrated with point of sale (POS) systems to help with loss prevention, to identify and curtail problems. State-of-the-art technology synchronizes POS transactions, video data and exception-based reporting systems with accurate timestamps to allow campuses and businesses to more easily detect incidents of refunds, voids, sweethearting and other costly operational issues.

According to the National Retail Security Survey, the No. 1 source of shrinkage for a retail business is internal theft. Unapproved discounts, phony returns, “bottom of the basket” shrink or credit card abuse can often be detected from video surveillance camera images, allowing corrective measures to be taken. Business systems integrated under a single platform and controlled by a software-based management system provide an effective loss prevention solution to retailers.

Data from video surveillance cameras can also provide insight into customer attitudes and purchasing patterns. By observing consumers in action in stores, marketers can better determine how they buy or use a product and can then apply this information to make merchandising and promotion modifications, adjust prices or improve packaging. Video data can be used to study consumer traffic patterns that can assist retailers in developing optimum store layout.

Business intelligence can also be gained from people-counting obtained through video data. For example, in a retail or gaming environment, video data helps management identify peak times of guest traffic, what areas are most heavily utilized and how guests behave. This information helps management adjust personnel to customer flow and make other decisions that can help improve profitability and the overall guest experience. Demographic data can also be compiled.

Traffic management— From city streets to interstate freeways, from bridges to tunnels and from airports to seaports, data from video surveillance cameras is helping to keep the country moving. Multiple video streams can be monitored centrally for real-time analysis of traffic conditions, and when combined with traffic management software, manpower resources can be applied with the highest levels of efficiency. Having access to this live information can also help first responders respond faster.

Video data from IP surveillance cameras is ideal for traffic management applications because power over Ethernet (PoE) cameras do not require additional power cables for power supply and can therefore be more readily installed or moved about as required. Construction zones, which are temporary, can be monitored for congestion or safety issues and the cameras moved when construction is completed.

Another enabling factor of video data for traffic management is that video analytics can be performed within the camera, which helps minimize server load and bandwidth requirements. Camera features such as region of interest, optical zoom and day/night capability lend themselves to traffic management applications.

Television/Production systems— High quality video surveillance cameras have been utilized in television and broadcast studio productions for quite some time. Sports applications are particularly popular and small, box-style or bullet video cameras are integrated into helmets for downhill skiing, car racing, hockey and even cycling for unique point of view (POV) shots. The quality and reliability of today’s intelligent IP cameras also make them popular for PoV shots from the football field goal post, from center field on the baseball diamond or for catching the antics of players in the dugout.

Video surveillance cameras have been commonly deployed for weather cameras along with housings, heaters, wipers and blowers. Auto focus and face detection features of the cameras can provide convenience and effectiveness in production scenarios where time and budgets are restricted. High definition quality, outstanding color reproduction, real-time frame rates and image stabilization make today’s video surveillance cameras an essential tool in a television studio or field production system.

Training/Compliance— It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and video data captured from surveillance cameras can be used very effectively to illustrate a point. For example, when training new employees on how to greet customers, video from an actual customer interaction can be used to show the proper procedure as well as the incorrect procedure. A contrasting example is often more instructive than simply outlining how-to procedures.

Cameras installed for security surveillance purposes can also be used to ensure that employees or site visitors are complying with health or safety rules and regulations. A camera featuring pan and tilt functionality can offer a variety of angles for viewing employee performance and procedural adherence in tasks such as food packaging or product assembly. In medical environments video surveillance cameras can be used to encourage staff to follow procedures. When implemented, incidents of hospital-acquired infections and wrong-site surgeries can be markedly decreased.

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