Bank Migrates to NVR Platform to Protect $21B in Assets

By Ashley Willis

GREEN BAY, Wis. — With 150 of its 270 branches still utilizing outdated VCR systems, officials at Associated Banc-Corp (ABC) sought to upgrade its video management platform. With roughly one million customers and $21 billion in assets, a serious renovation was in order. So, the bank called its go-to integrator, Cottage Grove, Wis.-based Integrated Security Solutions (ISS), to help protect its operations.

The bank’s legacy system relied on DVRs for video management; however, the solution oftentimes failed and the manufacturer that developed it was no longer in business. Thus, the bank’s IT, facilities and security departments researched the best equipment for ABC.

“I talked to a number of my colleagues in and out of banking who were familiar with different DVRs on the market,” Mark Heffernan, manager of physical security, ABC, tells SSI. “Then, when I met up with the other departments at the bank, we all came up with the same solution.”

As a result, ISS deployed March Networks’ Financial Solution during the projected 18-month installation, which ends in September. The new system is anchored by 500 4000 C Series hybrid network video recorders (NVRs) and enterprise service manager (ESM) software. Additionally, the branches that operated a VCR system added new cameras to the facility. Now, ABC has nearly 5,500 video surveillance cameras or about 20 per location.

“We added some pan/tilt video components to the branches that were rated as high risk,” ISS COO Joel Anders tells SSI. “We tried to utilize existing color cameras that were at the branches, as long as they provided the quality level imaging the bank wanted.”

Because the bank has branches in three states — Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin — ISS needed extra help with the install. Through the Hamilton Safe dealer network, ISS collaborated with three other integrators.

“Because 90-percent of our client base is financial institutions, we use Hamilton Safe as one of our primary suppliers for bank equipment, such as safes,” says Anders. “With several of our accounts, we regularly partner with other Hamilton Safe dealers because we only cover the state of Wisconsin.”

The integrators installed the new system during business hours; however, good communication between ISS and ABC personnel is credited for achieving minimal video surveillance downtime, says Anders.

“There was a lot of coordination to pull this project off during business hours, having multiple branches being updated at the same time in multiple states,” he says. “With this project, the bank did an exceptional job by having all department heads involved on what was going on. As an integrator, that’s huge because when our crew showed up to do the install, it went smoothly.”

With the upgraded system, ISS provided multiple training sessions for the eight-person regional security officer team. The team is thoroughly impressed with the new system.

“It saves us quite a bit of man hours,” says Heffernan. “Search capabilities are much better. If we get a call about a night deposit over a period of 10 hours, rather than searching for 10 hours, we can merely check where the activity occurred and find the particular night deposit you’re looking for.”

The bank has also tied in its Guardall access control system and its hold-up alarm into the March Networks solution. If the alarm goes off, the system automatically downloads 10 minutes of video before and after the incident from each camera. “We can download all that video onto a thumb drive and turn it over to law enforcement immediately,” says Heffernan.

So, what’s the next obstacle ABC plans to tackle? Fraud.

“In my business, ATMs in particular seem to be the avenue of choice for scoundrels because there is no human interaction,” says Heffernan. “We’re always looking at our ATM operations because we’re concerned with fraud through ATM machines.”

This matter comes as no surprise to March Networks Director of Solutions Marketing Steve Langford. “There is still a complete dominance of magnetic stripe bank cards out there, and that’s what crooks are after right now,” he tells SSI. “This is the biggest crime going on right now, but banks think they’re safe because they have insurance. But if banks end up being recognized as an easy mark, they are going to get blacklisted and it’ll be hard for them to find insurance.”

Although there are solutions available to combat ATM skimming fraud, Langford notes that banks aren’t exactly risk takers when it comes to technology. “They need stuff to work and to work well. That’s why when we work with our Certified Solution Providers [CSPs], like ISS, we want them to be successful. They’ll only be successful if we offer great solutions to customers.”

Ashley Willis is associate editor for SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION. She can be reached at (310) 533-2419.

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