How Cloud-Based VMS With Interactive Monitoring and Business Intelligence Is a Powerful Combination
Cloud-based video management is changing the way integrators sell and deploy surveillance solutions, establishing RMR while enhancing and expanding customers’ use cases.
The job of the loss prevention professional is harder than ever, particularly in the midst of a pandemic. Tasked with protecting customers, employees and inventory, asset protection teams are having to manage an increasing caseload of investigations and threats.
This runs the gamut from armed robberies to shoplifting to internal theft and fraud. Fortunately for them, a security dealer or integrator can step up with best-in-class interactive monitoring solutions that leverage live video and audio integrated with cutting-edge Cloud-based video management systems (VMS) to help tackle these challenges.
This gives businesses a one-two punch of security, combining VMS for investigations and a monitoring solution that protects against real-time threats.
Find out how to assist end-user customers in finding the right surveillance platform, effectively manage storage, and leverage technologies like Cloud, video surveillance as a service (VSaaS) and interactive monitoring for added efficiencies. Also discussed are examples of how such video surveillance can deliver operational intelligence to extend far beyond loss prevention scenarios.
Choosing a VMS
A top-notch, Cloud-based VMS is the foundational tool for a loss prevention team in today’s day and age. They want to know they’ve got seamless access to video and the ability to share that video easily and securely over a range of devices and platforms.
Comprehensive system administration is also of increasing importance, particularly to organizations with multiple locations like a retailer or fast casual dining chain. Sophisticated asset protection teams don’t want to rely on third parties for tasks like setting up rules-based motion alerts and adding/deleting user accounts.
All of this should be natively available at the end user’s fingertips. The same holds true for the overall health and performance status of the video system. A feature that has proven to be extremely useful for asset protection teams is proactive notifications of situations like camera outages.
Every LP professional has had the experience of needing video of an event, only to find it was not available due to a technical, maintenance or environmental issue. Knowing in advance that a camera is out or that video is not recording can save quite a few headaches.
Striking a VMS Storage Balance
Any discussion about VMS includes the storage question. How much video is needed, where will it reside and how much storage capacity will it take?
As much as many of us may be rooting for a DVR-free world where smart IP cameras are continuously storing all the video to the Cloud, the reality is a bit more nuanced, particularly to the distributed enterprise. Video manufacturers are continuously releasing better cameras with a host of new capabilities.
At a bare minimum, better cameras mean vastly higher resolution images. Naturally, that leads to more storage and broadband requirements. Continuous recording of high-definition images from a high-resolution camera can easily require up to a terabyte of storage for every 45-day period.
At the same time, getting access to that rich, quality video over a standard DSL broadband connection is not going to make for a seamless user experience. The video, assuming one is viewing three to four cameras at a time, will need upwards of 1.5Mbps of broadband upload speed and that’s before it competes with any other applications at the store, like point-of-sale (POS) transactions.
A quick service restaurant chain or nationwide retailer with lots of locations will face store-level challenges with broadband and storage. Certain stores will simply not have access to adequate broadband infrastructure, and even for those that do, recording all video to the Cloud is an expensive proposition.
Regardless, they can take advantage of the latest VMS platforms with a hybrid approach to the storage question. That means storing actionable, high-value video in the Cloud, while storing the bulk of video at the premise.
The most cost-effective way to store video is to utilize on-premises flash or hard drive storage on a DVR or other appliance. But all video is not created equal. If an LP team has leveraged their VMS to pick up motion at the interior back door of the business, that’s high-value video.
The same holds true for point of sales transactions flagged as potentially problematic, like a high-dollar charge-back, cancellation or voided transaction. Video tagged to an alarm event, like a break-in, might fall into the same high-value category.
That’s why a hybrid Cloud storage system may be the answer. It leverages the VMS to store key video clips in the Cloud tied to specific events (select motion triggers, alarms, POS exceptions). The video can be transferred from the premise to the Cloud during off-hours when network usage is lowest.
Clips in the Cloud are particularly easy to access and share across platforms, all without undue strain on broadband or unnecessary and expensive storage of all video in the Cloud, most of which will go unused.
Meanwhile, if further investigation is needed beyond that which is stored in the Cloud, the on-premise video is there when it’s needed.
Interactive Is Next Level
Having the right Cloud-based VMS is only half the story for businesses that require a more dynamic and interactive approach to security. A retailer may have all of the right boxes checked when it comes to VMS, but if that business happens to operate in challenging neighborhoods, for instance, they need to go several steps further to protect against real-time threats to the business.
These threats range from armed robberies to shoplifting to unruly customers and vagrants. Some go the route of security guard services, but few businesses have the margins to support a security service that averages $65,000/year.
For these businesses, combining their VMS with an interactive monitoring service watching the premises 24/7 represents the best way to proactively protect employees and assets. A virtual guard is a powerful and fiscally responsible alternative to a physical security guard.
With a virtual security guard, there are savings in orders of magnitude from 88%-92% versus employing physical security guards. Virtual guards can respond to threats in real-time with live, targeted audio communications and the ability to dispatch local authorities as required.
In addition to being a strong deterrent, virtual guards can also remind people to respect social distancing policy. As LP professionals are well aware, regular store openings, closing time, taking out the trash and making bank deposit runs all present varying degrees of security exposure.
With virtual guard monitoring, expert security teams can see, hear and communicate with employees during higher-risk events, often preventing crime before it happens. Employees can also trigger an alarm if an emergency or suspicious event occurs and get an immediate response from a live person who can assess the situation.
Throughout the day, remote operators can conduct virtual guard tours by tapping into live audio and video feeds and checking throughout the store, just as an on-premises security guard might do.
At the conclusion of that tour, the operators may then ask the location if all is well and seek an affirmative response from the employees. This makes customers and staff aware that there’s a security presence on hand, creating a safer environment at the location. At the same time, shoplifters and others will think twice before engaging in criminal activity.
Earlier this year, OpenEye and Interface Security Systems collaborated to build Interface interactive monitoring onto the OpenEye Web Service VMS platform.
”Our combined solution helps enterprises stay ahead of rapidly changing video surveillance needs,” says Ed Solt, executive vice president, OpenEye. “We’re excited about the successful integration of our offerings, which provides a powerful layer of security and potent way to combat shrink.”
With so many changes in the way business will be conducted going forward, there has never been a better time for enterprises to take advantage of the latest in video surveillance, with Cloud-based VMS being the new standard. When combined with interactive monitoring and value-adds like remote audits, security dealers and integrators can give businesses the right bundle of tools for success.
SNAPSHOT AUDITS: GOING BEYOND LOSS PREVENTION
Beyond loss prevention, customers are starting to realize how much business and operational intelligence can be gathered by their existing surveillance systems. Using their VMS platforms, business can perform sophisticated compliance and operations audits.
At Interface Security Systems, for example, the company offers a snapshot audits service that focuses on compliance with operational rules and regulations.
Instead of a virtual guard, a virtual assistant manager can check in to ascertain whether employees are wearing the appropriate uniforms, if cleanliness procedures are being followed, or if staffing levels are appropriate for the number of customers who are present.
In the current pandemic environment, there might be the need to know if food safety processes and procedures are being followed. Are masks and gloves being worn? Are social distancing measures effective?
This type of audit is like a snapshot in time. Auditors log in during regular business hours as if they were a manager walking into a store by surprise. They review video feeds for a series of very basic items and generate a corresponding report.
Let’s say a COO of a quick service restaurant chain could check every single one of their 1,000 stores once a week. What are the top five things they would want to look for on video? Some possibilities might be:
- Are the premises clean?
- Are nametags being worn?
- Are employees wearing masks?
- Is suitable attire being worn?
- Is the back door being obstructed?
A very quick audit might take an auditor approximately 10 to 15 minutes to conduct. They go through each question, answer it, and then if there’s a violation, they add pictographic evidence of that violation to the report.
For example, imagine an employee handling food is not wearing their newly required mask or gloves. A picture of that employee can be embedded into the report with a timestamp.
With a Cloud management system from vendors such as OpenEye, a dealer or integrator could even supply a hyperlink allowing the end user to jump to a video in the Cloud. That lends itself to an incredibly efficient solution that keeps everyone honest and ensures valuable processes and procedures are being followed.
Sean Foley is Senior Vice President for Interface Security Systems.
Security Is Our Business, Too
For professionals who recommend, buy and install all types of electronic security equipment, a free subscription to Security Sales & Integration is like having a consultant on call. You’ll find an ideal balance of technology and business coverage, with installation tips and techniques for products and updates on how to add sales to your bottom line.
A free subscription to the #1 resource for the residential and commercial security industry will prove to be invaluable. Subscribe today!