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How IP video is changing the CCTV landscape

Paul Smith ShopAs you are probably aware the video surveillance world is going IP. But what does ‘Going IP (Internet Protocol)’ really mean? On the face of it this change looks innocuous and some would say unnecessary. You are going from a world where video data which used to travel over coaxial cable is now travelling over CAT 5+/CAT6 Ethernet cabling, fibre, WIFI, or even 3G. It means that video can be moved, recorded, stored and managed using the same type of network infrastructure as firms use for their other computer-generated data.

But what implication does this move have for security managers and facilities managers that traditionally ran CCTV systems? Well, in our experience it ultimately means they will lose most of the control of the procurement of the kit that they will use to help secure the offices, plant and equipment that they are charged with protecting. Ultimately it means that IT managers and IT directors end up in charge of the procurement and administration of these systems. IT departments also end up in charge of proving the value of those systems year in year out.

But is that a bad thing? The answer it is not for the end user and not for installers, integrators and security managers who move with the times. It is actually a huge opportunity to increase the value of CCTV systems now they are on the network.

Take a retailer such as the fashion retailer Paul Smith. They recently elected to move to IP video in order to centralise the control of all video surveillance in all their stores globally. So far they have brought about 50 stores onto the new Axis camera and Milestone Video Management Software-based IP system. This means that when there is a problem it is possible for a store manager to view the footage relevant to the time when the incident happened on his/her local PC. Paul Smith HQ can also view those same recordings centrally as well as viewing these stores live.  They are already seeing loss prevention benefits but more importantly, they now have a system they know they can manage – one where the cameras and recording systems can be maintained, and when appropriate, upgraded at a similar pace as the rest of Paul Smith’s IT infrastructure. This IP video system is no longer stuck in a technology cul de sac. Instead now that they have centralised video management they can explore the value of this to other parts of the business.

For example, the fact that so many stores can be viewed in some detail via the Axis cameras remotely, even from a smart phone or tablet, can help the regional and national store managers that struggle to visit enough stores in person, regularly enough, to check on progress. The access to cameras by visual merchandising managers could mean that reviewing cameras around a region will ensure that a new season line is being properly displayed in each store in line with agreed guidelines designed to enhance the in-store experience.

But the upgradeability of the IP video system is also worth noting. What if facial recognition analytics is uploaded into the in-store cameras? The technology enables this now. There is a potential for high value customers to be recognised by the video management system when they step in-store – sending a discrete TXT to the manager to ensure they get VIP treatment on their rare visits to a store. Linking customer databases to IP video means that the store manager will be able to quickly check that customer’s buying history and even the products he was looking at online most recently and be a more effective assistant as a result.

Suddenly it is possible to see that IP video is an enabler of change in retail (much as it is in other markets that we will explore in future NW blog posts). The key for integrators and vendors alike is to help end-users think beyond the original security requirements which the old CCTV system delivered on – to the potential business efficiencies that it can also deliver. It may change the nature of the skills mix needed inside businesses like ours – but it also makes the job (as well as the equipment we install) far more rewarding than it used to be.

Published on October 10th, 2014 by Jessica Brooks

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