Understanding managed video services, Part 1

Six ways businesses can use managed video for security and operations improvement

Customers employing managed video services can look to increase safety, improve processes, tighten operations and reduce manpower with a lower initial capital investment. Other benefits may include reduced liability, insurance costs, employee and customer theft and false alarms.

The scope of available video services is growing as customers and vendors identify new needs and opportunities. Here is a look at six of the managed video services currently available.

#1: Video Verification - When a burglar alarm is received, the vendor's trained operators use cameras to remotely view the customer's facility indoors or outdoors to determine if the event warrants calling first responders or is a non-critical false positive. This service helps reduce the need for security guards. Additionally, it can help reduce costly fines now assessed by many municipalities for false alarms.

#2: Video Guard Tour - At scheduled times, vendor operators use cameras to "tour" a customer's facility, both interior and exterior, looking for open doors, lights left on and other suspicious activities. Upon suspicion of certain activities, the operators notify the appropriate party. Guard requirements can be effectively reduced and in certain situations eliminated entirely.

#3: Video Escort - Employees can phone the vendor's monitoring center and request to have an operator use the video system to observe them between their car in the parking lot and the facility entrance, especially at opening and closing times. This is ideal for high-risk locations or where employees handle large amounts of cash or other high-value inventory.

#4: Unattended Delivery - Designed for use by retailers, this service allows an operator to monitor the delivery of merchandise after regular store hours, eliminating the need for a security guard or other employee to be present. When he arrives, a delivery driver uses secure methods to enter the facility and to indicate a delivery is in progress. Select portions of the burglar alarm system are disarmed. The operator, when alerted to the event, views live video from pre-defined camera views to observe the driver during the delivery. If suspicious activity is observed, the operator will follow the instructions provided by the customer. The advantages include reduced overtime for store employees staying to oversee late night deliveries, the ability for a store manager to manage instead of supervising a loading dock and increased sales due to new merchandise being available at the start of the business day.

#5: Video Audits -This service takes video to a new level, allowing trained operators to view both live and recorded video and associate it with specific alarm events, procedures and policies. Reports, complete with attached video and still images, summarize a location's performance on a pass-fail basis.

#6: Video Assist - Should a customer's employee notice a suspicious person in a monitored facility, he or she can push a hidden button and connect to the burglar alarm panel, notifying the vendor's operators at the central monitoring station. The operator is presented with appropriate views of the site and an audio connection is established. The operator can then interact with the employee so that the suspicious person becomes aware that his activities are being monitored. The operator can then take appropriate action up to and including dispatching law enforcement. This service can be helpful to convenience stores, gas stations and other retail facilities that are open late at night and are often staffed by a single employee.

The second installment of this 2-part column will address IT impacts of implementing managed video services.

About the author: Jay Hauhn is the chief technical officer for Boca Raton, Fla.-based ADT Security Services.