If our grandfathers wanted to protect an asset, they would lock it up somewhere secure and hire a security guard to stand around and watch it. Our fathers expanded on asset protection with the introduction of intrusion alarm systems and CCTV technology, which allowed assets to be viewed and recorded on time-lapse videotape. Again, guards were hired to watch the CCTV monitors. The new technology allowed one security guard to watch multiple video screens and thus multiple assets. When the guard did not observe the asset being tampered with, the videotapes became a source of evidence for investigators.
The technology available today has come a long way. The technical areas with the greatest capabilities in asset protection are CCTV, access control, radio frequency and infrared technologies.
The various digital video systems on the market today provide many new asset protection features. Most digital systems will allow the user to sound an alarm when there is movement in an area viewed by a camera. This alerts the person monitoring the system of the activity and automatically presents the video of the activity for viewing and assessment. Such an active system replaced the old analog systems where the persons on duty might be watching for activity on many monitors. Now their focus is just where there is actual activity.
A number of the digital systems available will allow the user to program what area of the CCTV picture should be monitored and provide alarms to the persons monitoring when there is activity in that area of the picture. For example, you may have a CCTV camera watch an asset that is located in an area where there is much pedestrian traffic. Your interest is not on the normal pedestrian traffic passing near the asset but only on the individuals who turn and approach the asset. The systems can be programmed such that when there is movement from the normal pedestrian path towards the asset, an alarm will sound.
Other systems will allow you to receive alarms in the event an asset is moved or a new object is added to an area. In the former instance, the moving of an asset from its assigned location will trigger an alarm from the CCTV system and provide the person monitoring with the historic activity prior to the asset being moved. The other feature indicating when an object has been left in an area uses the same technology and has become popular with security groups looking to be alerted when suspicious packages are left in the areas of their responsibility. They receive an alarm when a new object is left in an area viewed by a CCTV camera so that the new object can be immediately investigated.
There are even three-dimensional CCTV systems available that will evaluate the activity in a single area from the views of more than one camera. Thus, while some activity in the area is acceptable to the system, other activity will cause an alarm.
An additional improvement on the original analog time-lapse video technology when dealing with asset protection is the ability of many of the digital CCTV systems to be programmed to increase their rate of recording during periods of activity or alarms. Under the original analog systems, the tapes ran at a particular speed, recording activity at various intervals. The systems could be set up to record from 12 hours to a week on one tape. Many users found the one-week recording speed much more convenient, since they didn't have to change the tapes as often or keep such a big library.
The problem came when they actually had to use the tape in court. The recordings had large gaps, in some cases seconds long, between each video picture recorded. This could be enough time to miss a person passing in front of the camera. Cases have been lost and security departments successfully sued when legal actions were taken using these original time-lapse recordings, because defense attorneys could prove the tapes did not actually show their client carrying out the illegal activity.