When Continuity Counts

Banks and financial institutions seeking a competitive edge increasingly look to technology to provide it. Video systems are one way the financial market can leverage technology to deliver valuable information for security while driving business efficiency and improving customer service.

For the financial market, a comprehensive, end-to-end IP video system can offer a proactive approach to security. Intelligent devices and security analytics, integrated with other systems and operating as a unified platform, represent security technology’s cutting edge for the financial sector, and many users are just beginning to test these new solutions. Integrated security analytics can simplify administration of video systems, expedite investigations and offer business tools and added intelligence. Powerful notification and response combined with real-time analytics offer a proactive approach to security management that this vertical market has never seen before.

Jim Drake, Navigant Credit Union facilities manager, Smithfield, R.I., is aware of the expanding capabilities of newer video systems, although budgets dictate how fast his organization embraces emerging new features such as video analytics and license plate recognition. “The possibilities are there,” he says. Longer term, Drake would like to integrate cameras, alarm notification and access control into a single system with everything communicating.

But above all, Drake expects a video system to be dependable. “Most importantly, I need it to work,” he says. “When we pull an image, I need to know it’s there and I can get to it.”

Financial institutions in the United States have embraced technology migration in security at various levels along a continuum reflecting the tens of thousands of bank branches and financial services locations around the country.

“There are many things competing for the same pool of dollars,” Drake says. “We are in the midst of a major data conversion and have expanded over the last year.” He believes Navigant Credit Union’s issues are typical of many small- to midsized financial institutions. “There are so many technology changes, so many compliance regulations. We have had such a busy year, and it’s difficult for a smaller organization to absorb all the costs of keeping up with regulations.”


Visible Cameras A Deterrent

Navigant Credit Union has 13 locations. Branches are typically around 4,000 square feet, featuring the usual configuration of drive-through lanes, ATMs, night depositories and other member-service areas. Cameras watch it all, with pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras “sweeping” the parking lots. Inside, cameras monitor who enters the vault lobby, and view each teller line. Cameras track all transactions, capture images of members signing documents at desks in the office, and see everything at the perimeter as well as entrances and exits. Semicovert cameras are used behind signs at teller stations that proclaim the credit union’s Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and National Credit Union Association (NCUA) affiliations; an average of 30 cameras operate at each location, including interior fixed cameras and exterior PTZ units.

“We do a pretty good job of making the cameras visible, and we use a public view monitor at the head of the queue line, so everyone knows they are being recorded,” says Drake. “It’s a deterrent; we want to make [targeting us] unattractive enough so that potential criminals don’t act.”

Building on a history of providing financial services to individuals and families throughout Rhode Island, Navigant Credit Union has served the Blackstone Valley area for more than 96 years. Now with 13 locations and more than $1 billion in assets, Navigant is among the largest credit unions in Rhode Island and one of the strongest in the country.

Drake expects his video system to be reliable and to offer “continuity of video coverage.” Video surveillance in the financial sector typically involves many cameras, with multiple branches often monitored from a central location. A big challenge is how to distill and prioritize the important events or situations out of hundreds, or thousands, of video feeds captured every day.

With Navigant Credit Union’s previous system, operators didn’t know there was a video problem until it was too late. Someone had to physically inspect a digital video recorder (DVR) to determine if there was a connection issue or hard-drive failure. Usually, a troubled DVR had to be sent back to the manufacturer and often came back with a new hard –drive. The video was lost, so there was no dependable continuity of recorded events.

Looking for a new system, Navigant tested Verint’s Nextiva NetDVR II at its Greenville branch five years ago and was happy with the performance. Since then Navigant has been transitioning to Verint’s suite of video solutions in all its branches. When the system was installed, some existing analog cameras were left in place. As the lifecycle of deployed Verint equipment ends it is upgraded to the latest EdgeVR Network Video Recorder (NVR) technology.

To ensure continuity of video, Verint’s Vid-Center video viewing software reports continuously on the health and operation of the DVRs, checking the unit’s operation, the temperature of the hard drives, and making sure cameras are connected and providing images. “If something comes up faulty, we receive an email from the software describing the issue,” says Drake. The email goes to multiple personnel, including Drake, his assistant and the chief security officer.


IP Cameras Deliver HD Capabilities

Growth can also be a common pain point for the financial sector related to its security network. In the past year, four new branches have been brought online at Navigant, using a mixture of analog and Verint IP video cameras. A new branch was constructed in Chepachet, the Manville location was acquired from another institution, and locations in Warren and Riverside were part of a merger. The new branches use the EdgeVR, which can interface with analog and/or IP cameras. This enables Navigant to transition to an all-IP network as budgets allow. Four 2-terabyte mirrored hard drives provide 8 terabytes of storage, and RAID 1 arrays can be swapped out easily without interrupting the chain of video. Verint’s EdgeVR solutions are camera-agnostic and can support a range of analytics specific to the needs of retail banking and corporate facilities.

In the newer branches, Navigant uses Verint S5020 high-definition (HD) cameras to view exterior areas instead of analog PTZs. Across its infrastructure, Navigant has deployed a robust network of Verint IP cameras at teller lines, lobbies, offices and new offices. Two Verint S5020 cameras can replace each PTZ and provide constant coverage of a larger area without the risk of a camera being pointed the wrong way when an important event happens. Zooming into images from the higher-resolution fixed cameras provides greater detail for identification.

Navigant Credit Union’s systems integrator is Red Hawk Fire & Security, Taunton, Mass., which provides installation, service and upgrades. When Navigant was evaluating new systems, Red Hawk worked with Verint’s regional sales team to provide Drake an on-site demonstration of the equipment and its capabilities. Drake was familiar with the Verint brand because the credit union also uses the company’s Enterprise Workforce Optimization software, which is utilized by a different department. Still, Drake appreciates Verint’s high profile in the financial market. He says the price was also attractive and that the system provides more value than enterprise-class digital-recording devices offered by competitors.

Maximizing the value of video in the financial sector, Nextiva’s Vid-Center client software serves video functions including DVR/NVR configuration, live video viewing, viewing recorded video, event search, system logs, and firmware and license feature updates. Video can be viewed alongside events and multiple camera feeds viewed simultaneously. Thumbnail searches locate video quickly even if it isn’t associated with an event. Privacy masking protects sensitive areas such as PIN pads and vault combinations, a popular feature given the increased use of megapixel cameras that capture greater detail. Multiple DVRs on a single site or across multiple sites can be managed as a complete system.


Addressing Robberies, Fraud, Compliance

The financial industry combines elements of high-end commercial services with a front-line retailing component. A single large financial institution might have thousands of locations, even more automated teller machine (ATM) locations, and each facility can present a variety of unique security needs. Navigant Credit Union’s branch operations are similar to many credit union branches. Security systems protect against robbery and fraud, and ensure employee and customer safety. High-quality images are required to provide crisp detail.

At the corporate level, banks and financial institutions often use video cameras operating in conjunction with security manpower to protect and control access to the premises. Video systems are called on to interface with access control, intrusion alarm and environmental systems. Monitoring centers must be able to easily manage video displayed on multiple monitors and draw immediate attention to events that need action or investigation.

Of course, video coverage is critical when a theft occurs, and Navigant experienced this when its Central Falls branch was robbed earlier this year. Navigant’s surveillance system makes it easy to export video to a USB drive inserted into the front of the DVR unit. The time saved versus needing to “burn” a DVD can be critical in the hurried aftermath of a robbery. Video is then authenticated, and Verint Vid-Center Video Viewing Software reconfirms date and time information once a day on each DVR and resets it as necessary.

In addition to security and safety, Navigant uses video for fraud and compliance investigations. For instance, related to fraud, an investigator can retrieve data about the time a transaction happened on a certain account and which teller performed the transaction. Then fraud investigators can cross-reference the time with video archives to retrieve an image of who made the transaction. They can then refer to the account information to determine if the person is authorized on the account, if he or she is a family member of the account holder, or if an unauthorized transaction occurred.

Related to compliance, federal law requires reporting any cash deposits of more than $10,000 (a regulation aimed at preventing tax evasion and money laundering). However, to skirt the regulation some people might resort to “structuring,” which means making multiple smaller deposits at various branches. If there are excessive deposits to a single account, Navigant’s compliance personnel can get involved to track down who is making the deposits, and video surveillance again becomes a valuable tool.

The video system also helps manage liability issues. If a credit union member slips and falls, the system can provide video of the incident to insurance investigators.

Drake says Verint’s ATM data-capture interface is easy to configure and manage. The interface masks data captured from an ATM transaction appropriately and then attaches the data to related video of the transaction captured from the camera.

During a power outage, uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) units protect network servers at each Navigant Credit Union branch and the DVRs. For a longer, sustained power outage, generators at the credit union’s corporate center and at a separate disaster recovery site (required by the federal government) continue to perform data, security and life-safety functions, even if camera feeds are lost at individual branches.


Valuable for Business Operations

For intuitive business operations, newer video systems with embedded analytics analyze customer activity with accurate people-counting, track customer behavior such as dwell and wait times, and monitor branch activity. Navigant’s retail administration can also use the video system to view activity in lobbies of various branches as a tool to ensure better customer service. For instance, tellers can be swapped as needed to provide coverage if one branch experiences an especially heavy volume of business.

In the future at Navigant Credit Union, using video for people-counting, tracking customer patterns, etc., might be useful, although embracing these capabilities would be up to the credit union’s retail administration, says Drake.

Even without leveraging all the latest technologies, Navigant is already finding Verint solutions improve business operations beyond security. After hours, for example, systems enable Drake to monitor the activity of cleaning subcontractors, making sure they perform relegated tasks and that only authorized people are allowed in the building – no family or friends.

Video surveillance proves its value every day at Navigant Credit Union and thousands of other financial institutions across the country and around the world. Growing adoption of new video capabilities will continue to unlock greater value, keeping financial institutions more secure and effectively empowering them with new operational efficiencies.


Debjit Das is Vice President of Global Marketing for VERINT Systems