Digital Video: The Time Is Now - A Bank Robbery Scenario

Why digital video can help in creating a faster response to a robbery through digital distribution of images

Security systems using DVRs can play a major role in alarm verification due to their ability to remotely and instantly view the alarm site. If a scan of the digital video reveals an empty store and no intruders, law enforcement can be quickly notified.

Management Improvements

The use of DVRs also opens up new opportunities for managing businesses remotely. Video that was once only seen by security officers can now be viewed by area managers, marketing representatives, CEOs and other authorized personnel'anyone in the organization who would find value in viewing it. Curtailing sloppy practices, enhancing customer service and increasing efficiencies are just a few of the ways DVRs can figure into the management equation. Take the situation of a retail chain, for example, that has multiple stores spread across a large geographic area. The store's regional manager may have heard rumblings of poor customer service or late store openings at a particular location, but hasn't had the time to travel there to investigate.

With the networking capabilities of DVRs via the Internet, that regional manager can go to a secured IP address and view real-time or archived images of the store anytime from anywhere in the world with Internet access. He can view the store at 9 a.m. to see if its doors are opened promptly and can see for himself how quickly employees offer assistance to customers. The savings in travel time and possible customer service enhancements are significant.

Another opportunity lies in increasing efficiency through 24-hour use of facilities. Trucks carrying valuable merchandise could unload in the middle of the night under the watchful eye of a DVR system, which provides real-time security monitoring. Other digital video uses could include examining customer flow and staffing, reviewing the effectiveness of a particular display, and combating fraud and employee theft. When paired with point-of-sale software, DVRs can help store security personnel analyze transactions under or over a certain amount.

Moving to DVRs'The Gradual Route

If DVRs sound intriguing but a full-scale conversion doesn't figure in the company's current budget, then upgrading the CCTV systems over time may be the answer. Even small enhancements, when strategically placed, can bring large benefits. A qualified security systems integrator can provide advice on how to upgrade gradually. A few steps are discussed below.

- Install digital units initially in highly sensitive areas. In addition to deterring crime, a major goal of a surveillance system is to aid police in apprehending intruders. Digital video equipment will help in this effort by providing clearer images for identification and evidentiary purposes. Keep costs down by installing digital video units initially only in the most sensitive areas, those most likely to be targeted for crime. Areas to keep in mind are loading docks, computer rooms, data centers and other sites critical to business operations.

- Enable remote monitoring for authorized personnel. By tapping into digital video's networking capability, organizations can cut travel costs and improve operational efficiency, making the investment in DVRs more cost effective.

- Don't get caught up in gadget wow; buy the unit that fits. DVRs come in different types, with capabilities depending on cost and features. Working with a security integrator, businesses can select the type that best fits their needs and avoid spending extra on unnecessary features. For instance, small retailers, who lack the funds or resources for a networked solution, may want to consider the new stand-alone digital video recorders with CD-R technology. This enables the retailer to burn a CD for police directly from their unit, but it's less expensive than units designed for networking.

Upgrading Existing DVR Units

Some organizations may have already started down the path of converting to digital units. But perhaps it's been a couple of years and the units aren't fast enough to run the latest software. Hooking up with a highly skilled security integrator can also keep these costs in check. While manufacturers may recommend buying a whole new box, a skilled integrator can put in a new motherboard with a faster processor and more memory at a much lower overall cost.