Surveillance Tailored to Burlington’s Needs
American Integration Security Group (AISG) suits up to outfit one of the nation’s most prolific apparel retailers – Burlington Coat Factory – with a uniform IP-based video surveillance solution. Involving several hundred stores and 360Â° cameras, the project demonstrates how to satisfy retail clients on a national level.
Retail has long been one of the top markets for installing security contractors, and the introduction of more sophisticated, innovative and integrated solutions is facilitating the capacity to achieve greater growth than ever before. Networked video surveillance, electronic tagging, point-of-sale (POS) systems and much more are becoming standard for new retail establishments and essential in upgrading existing locations, as well as retailers’ distribution and warehouse facilities.
Today’s retail systems serve multiple purposes: security, safety for staff and customers, loss prevention, internal shrink reduction, liability protection and overall operational efficiencies. Becoming a national chain’s preferred provider is a particularly appealing prospect for most integrators. These points are exemplified in a current project revolving around one of the best-known clothing retailers — Burlington Coat Factory (BCF).
“The decision to upgrade CCTV capabilities is one of several significant measures the company has employed to address shortage issues in stores and provide a platform for additional use focused on marketing, operations and safety,” says Burlington Coat Factory Senior Vice President, Asset Protection, James Connolly. “The company also upgraded its electronic article surveillance systems and expanded in-store burglar alarm coverage.”
New Jersey-headquartered Burlington Coat Factory is one of the largest apparel retailers operating in the United States and Puerto Rico with more than 500 stores. Founded in 1972 and owned by Bain Capital since 2006, the company’s almost $4 billion in sales placed it among the National Retail Federation’s top 100 retailers list.
As Burlington Coat Factory continues to evolve its business and open new stores, management wanted to ensure it had the latest security solutions in place that were not only reliable but also scalable without the need to tinker much with existing infrastructure. To achieve these objectives, the firm enlisted retailing solutions specialist American Integrated Security Group (AISG) of College Point, N.Y.
“Every retailer has some kind of analog system that still works. The biggest challenge is to save as much as possible from the existing system and investments while upgrading to an IP platform,” says AISG President and CTO Levy Acs. “We design modular systems so when the retailer is ready to move to a completely IP system, the infrastructure is in place and the head-end recorder can switch automatically without hardware change or licensing fees.”
The BCF project’s finer details, challenges, benefits and results are covered among highlights that include transitioning from analog to IP, deploying a mix of fixed and 360° cameras in critical areas, and a video management system (VMS) equipped with dewarping software.
AISG Becomes Provider of Choice
Burlington Coat Factory was looking to replace and standardize what had become a mixed bag of analog security equipment from several manufacturers that had accumulated from the mid-1990s up through 2011. Although the existing devices were relatively inexpensive, they were unreliable and subject to frequent downtime. It did not help matters that the installations had been performed by multiple low-end security dealers with substandard support service.
“Our company’s growth required expansion of remote viewing capabilities and AISG’s solution provided the most cost-effective hardware and software to achieve this goal,” says Connolly. “We also wanted to install remote viewing stations at the public entrances to the store to present a professional image of security and technology to customers as they shopped. Traditional CCTV applications in retail stores have the head-end located off of the selling floor and not visible to employees or customers.”
Founded in 2007 and now with additional regional offices in New Jersey, California and Florida, AISG has provided commercial video surveillance and access control systems to more than customers. The firm also monitors commercial accounts through its own video/alarm central station that includes video analytics monitoring and perimeter detection.
Already a preexisting provider, AISG became BCF’s exclusive installing integrator after scoring highest among competing companies during a 2011 survey process. Shortly thereafter, a pilot program based on an IP-based NVR solution was conducted in two stores, with changes derived from BCF’s suggestions and requests.
“We began working with Burlington Coat Factory when they were relying on an analog system consisting of Honeywell DVRs tied to analog p/t/z cameras and fixed mini-domes,” says AISG Director of Technical Services Arnold Koble. “The analog systems were bulky and required a lot of wiring. Additionally, the security room was overflowing with equipment. Every cash wrap had anywhere from four to eight cameras with coax cables over the ceiling. We wanted to help them streamline their surveillance network with a clean and greener technology, IP-based surveillance.”
The end user was won over by a convincing combination of high quality and attractive price point. AISG was awarded the project in May 2012 and got it under way a month later.
Time and Place Pose Challenges
Beginning in June 2012, AISG was tasked with installing the surveillance solutions in 159 stores across the U.S. and Puerto Rico within a five-month timeframe. System cost varied from $45,000-$55,000 depending on store size (average is 80,000 square feet) and the equipment required.
The integrator assembled a comprehensive team of field technicians, some of whom had to be away from home for up to three weeks at a time, and organized the work based on geographical locations. All the activity was performed at nighttime so as not to disturb daily business operations, with five evenings allotted per store.
“The most difficult aspect of the project was completing installations in 160 locations in five months across the entire company footprint, including Puerto Rico and Alaska,” says Connolly. “Work was completed primarily overnight and required coordination with third-party electrical contractors [120VAC outlets for IDF racks and head-end]. BCF loss prevention employees oversaw the equipment installations to ensure quality control and final signoff.”
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