Enhancing Loss-Prevention Efforts in Retail
In the retail industry, the use of VA applications for more than just security has become increasingly widespread. The Loss Prevention Research Council revealed in a recent report that 93% of the retailers that leveraged IP video for retail applications outside of security reported a positive impact on operations. That same report also described how retailers are using intelligent video for a multitude of purposes: conducting dwell-time analysis, producing heat maps that reveal hot and cold merchandising zones, counting queues, detecting point-of-sale (POS) fraud and much more.
Today, VA applications are being used to analyze shoppers’ behavior within specific stores and even toward specific displays within a store to understand if they are having the intended impact. With VA applications, a retailer can determine where shoppers are congregating (or not) and how much time they are spending in each area.
That same data can be measured and analyzed relative to what is on display in a particular area and to the granularity of the time of day, week, month or year. It would be impossible and/or cost prohibitive to manually gather this kind of data on customer behavior; but with it businesses can make decisions that yield a real bottom line impact.
What is especially appealing to retailers and other businesses is that with this information they are able to quickly respond and react to issues — some of which they may have never otherwise known about. In a retail environment, a response may be as simple as relocating a display or as involved as redesigning an entire store. In the longer term, the continual analysis of retail environments can influence store design, architecture and even location.
Meeting Strict Regulations in the Utilities Industry
Even the most security-conscious industries are expanding the use of security technology to address additional needs. Using PSIM, one large European bank’s ability to automate, track and report on operations has helped it maintain and exhibit compliance. This can include managing training for security operators and integrating the latest regulatory standards.
Since PSIM provides automated work-flows with preplanned tasks and responses, compliance can be ensured regardless of an individual operator’s experience or knowledge. That same European bank has also used PSIM to unify and centralize its security platform, which in turn has allowed it to consolidate the amount of control rooms and personnel needed. Not only has this substantially reduced costs, it enables much more efficient operations.
The utility industry is also using PSIM to help ensure regulatory compliance. Ever-changing regulations, including Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) Reliability Standards that are approved by the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC), are a major challenge for electric utilities. NERC CIP regulations address everything from the identification of critical cyber assets to the physical security infrastructure required to protect them, as well as preplanned processes for incident response, and detailed reporting for CIP audits.
Not only do electric utilities have to maintain compliance, they have to prove they are compliant as well. Utilities found to be in violation can be fined up to $1 million a day. For example, CIP-006 stipulates that unauthorized access attempts to CIP locations must be reviewed immediately and handled in accordance with the utility’s CIP-compliant incident response plan. By funneling such incidents through a centralized command center and using predefined response plans (embedded in and automated through the PSIM system), utilities can be assured that established CIP policies and procedures are being followed uniformly and consistently.
The next step, proving compliance, is done through the PSIM system’s automated reporting ability. Since all actions are captured and recorded, incident-related information can easily be accessed and shared when required.
Another NERC CIP requirement is pre-planned maintenance and testing of security systems. PSIM can schedule and manage those activities. Reminders and task lists are automatically sent to responsible personnel to ensure that they take place. As mentioned prior, it’s not enough to maintain compliance; a utility company must also be able to demonstrate that it has in fact done so. Simulated test scenarios can be captured and documented, along with the time and date the testing was completed as evidence that testing was performed and systems are operating as required.
The PSIM system can also monitor all of the numerous security sensors and systems and alert to malfunctions or failures in between testing. While compliance to these standards is the initial objective, the ultimate outcome is that everyone — individuals, businesses and government — literally have the power they need to function at all times.
These are just a few examples of how traditional security technology has successfully crossed over into new applications. The list continues to grow, as do the types of industries and organizations that can benefit. For systems integrators that have traditionally focused on the security side of the business, understanding these crossover uses of security technology can open up new project opportunities, and afford stronger ammunition — namely return on investment (ROI) and business cases — for day-to-day selling.
Illy Gruber is Product Marketing Manager for NICE Systems. She can be contacted at [email protected]
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