Turning the work routine upside-down for technicians who were accustomed to toiling during typical business hours was challenging enough for AISG, but it also created additional logistics hurdles. For example, what would ordinarily be a simple thing, such as quickly running out to buy a part unexpectedly needed to complete the job, was not an option since stores like Home Depot were all closed in the middle of the night.
Meanwhile, the integrator also couldn’t remove any of the old analog equipment until the IP system was completely functional and viewable. And special care had to be exercised in removing the existing devices as BCF planned to use some items at other locations.
Another key element was that AISG had to work closely with the end user’s IT department to integrate the systems into the corporate network, although each store’s system does operate on its own separate server. The integrator was given stores’ IP addresses and virtual private network (VPN) login information for ongoing remote management, support and maintenance.
“On an IP installation such as this, communication with the IT department is critical. We can’t build a strong system without their buy-in,” says AISG Service Manager Steve Parent. “Constant communication with us is a priority and once the system is installed, the loss prevention and IT departments have to continue to have close cooperation to get the most out of the system.”
Systems Offer Dewarped 360° Views
AISG proposed the use of Vivotek 360° cameras to replace the four to eight analog cameras that had been deployed to cover each cash register. In addition to being much more efficient, the cameras were also more customer-friendly and aesthetically pleasing, and required a lot less wire and labor.
The Wavestore VMS dewarps the 360° images to create the equivalent of up to eight camera views that can be individually recorded, reviewed and copied as separate feeds. The Linux-based VMS allows throttling, monitoring and logging bandwidth usage for each store. It is robust yet features a simple user interface that enables the end user to create clips from one interface.
The integrator deployed anywhere from 15 to 25 of the Vivotek 360° cameras combined with five to 10 Axis Communications IP fixed mini-dome cameras for each store. IP cameras were installed in each location’s computer room to help BCF IT personnel monitor and support their networking equipment on all the sites. Most of the cameras were lowered from ceilings with 10- to 15-foot brackets.
The project was based on Category-6 cabling and included the deployment of power over Ethernet (PoE) switches in racks distributed in each store and used for the installation of the IP cameras. The head-ends are situated within wall-mounted lockable racks.
“BCF needed to get as much coverage as possible with as low an amount of cameras as possible,” says Acs. “Another key element of the design was modularity. The option of relocating and expanding the system was a key requirement from the customer due to the constantly changing landscape in a retail store. This was only achievable by implementation of a flexible IP-based camera system.”
Other highlights of the standardized store systems include:
- Wide dynamic range (WDR) dome cameras identify those entering and existing storefronts
- 360° cameras at register areas placed no higher than 10 feet from floor for best image quality
- All visible cameras installed at same height to maintain pleasing aesthetics
- Each store has two viewing stations: by front entrance and another in IT room
- Public view monitor mounted at entrance to dressing rooms
- 360° cameras in aisles mounted slightly higher height than register cameras to provide better overview
- Some stores have additional 360° cameras to monitor the parking lot, delivering area or rear employee entrance
Features and capabilities cited as being especially valued and useful to the end user include:
- Low profile, unobtrusive mounting design and style of the 360° cameras
- Digital record retained for up to 45 days at 15 frames per second
- User-friendly remote viewing software requires minimal training
- Wireless interface at store entrances allows moving viewing stations with no downtime
- NVR and software allow for setting alarm features and easy review via search feature
- No moving parts compared to traditional p/t/z technology reduces maintenance issues to software as opposed to mechanical
- Solution allows for planned integration with traffic-counting software and POS exception reporting system
ROI Results Register for Retailer
The systems are monitored both remotely by Burlington Coat Factory’s regional and corporate loss prevention teams and onsite by in-store staffs. Store operations and design teams also have remote viewing access to assess general retail operational and managerial efficiencies and efficacies. This illustrates the return on investment (ROI) proposition by allowing the end customer to directly associate surveillance systems with both reducing costs and increasing revenues.
“The shrink, liability and security are always significant factors in retail,” says Acs. “BCF is leveraging its system to mitigate those issues, but besides being a loss-prevention tool the system is also used by the merchandising group. This allows district managers to see in very high detail to make sure the newly installed store banners are correct and the shelf layout is in order.”
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· Vertical Markets
American Integrated Security Group AISG
Burlington Coat Factory
National Retail Federation NRF