BJs Goes IP

An integrated network surveillance solution is the key to asset protection for BJ’s Warehouse VP Charles Delgado


We have deployed the system at 75 locations, and we plan having another 60 locations online over the next year for a total of 135 locations at the project’s completion. The systems were initially installed only in our new clubs; however, we are now focusing our efforts on replacing the obsolete DVRs and installing encoders to leverage the analog cameras in existing clubs.

The platform manages feeds from various cameras depending on the club’s location and size. The number of cameras is also determined by risk status. For example, our large club in the Bronx has 125 surveillance cameras, whereas other more low-volume clubs have 60 cameras.

Since the system is compatible with a long list of IP camera brands, we got to choose our preferred brand — a mix of high-resolution PTZ and fixed IP cameras from Axis Communications. As mentioned, we also leveraged some of our existing analog cameras, which are being converted to digital streams with Axis encoders. All the cameras are networked to the Omnicast system, and they are monitored both locally within the clubs and via remote viewing from BJ’s corporate office. This provides enhanced visibility into each club from a remote location.

A multi-streaming feature ensures the network will not get overcrowded. We have the ability to pre-set video qualities for live and recorded video, even choosing lower quality video streams for remote viewing to optimize our bandwidth management.

The recording and retrieval of video is of critical importance in the retail environment, as every time a camera or a recording device is down is an opportunity for loss. The system’s failover and redundancy features ensure that we have access to live and archived data at all times, limiting the chance that shoplifting or employee theft will occur unrecorded. Failover servers can automatically assume all functions of a failed component, while redundant servers continuously record all or only high-priority camera feeds.

The system’s open architecture facilitates integration with various third-party systems including point-of-sale solutions that correlate video to transactions, thus facilitating after-the-fact investigations. The integrated POS search function gives us the ability to conduct transactional investigations by employee number, by product, by department or any other category defined by our POS system.

A single click on a door or camera, for example, brings you a world of information such as door status, door unlock actions, camera stream information, camera PTZ controls, and more. If you click on a video display tile, all door-related functionalities disappear given that you have no need for it when your focus is on a camera.

We also use the solution on a non-incident basis to gather an understanding of where our clubs could modify processes before a loss or incident occurs.

Overall, video quality has improved substantially since Omnicast and the network cameras were installed. The system enables us to take advantage of the highest quality images, which means that our security staff can accurately identify potential suspects, vehicles, merchandise and even currency denominations, inside and outside the clubs.

Our team is finding the system easy to use, which is important since they are using it for so many purposes. At the end of the day, if the technology is too complicated for the end-user — which in our case is the club-level asset protection associate — you will never get the true value of your investment.

 

Future Plans

We wanted to invest in a future-proof platform that would adapt with us as our business needs grow. The system has been so well received that we are undertaking plans to expand the system into our corporate headquarters, along with Genetec’s access control system, Synergis.

In the future, we have plans to integrate the system with other applications — such as video analytics and access control — to leverage the benefits of a full enterprise solution.

 

Charles Delgado is Vice President of Asset Protection for BJ’s Warehouse Club.