6 ways to secure cannabis growth in uncertain times

July 20, 2020
How a reliable IP video surveillance system can help your dispensary weather the economic impacts of COVID-19

The cannabis industry is known for adapting to change, and COVID-19 has forced dispensaries to pivot yet again. The new pandemic-era health and safety practices can be hard to navigate, and regulations differ between countries and states. However, with the right tools and procedures in place, your business can continue to run smoothly.

Most cannabis businesses already have video surveillance in place to comply with security regulations, but what they may not know is how that system can help them now like never before.

 Here is how the right IP video surveillance system can help dispensaries tackle challenges related to COVID-19:    

Remote Monitoring

The pandemic has forced many of us to move from the boardroom to the home office and the cannabis industry is no exception. But even so, cannabis businesses need to visually monitor what is happening on the ground in their facilities.

A good IP video surveillance system will allow you to remotely view all your cameras from your smartphone or tablet, meaning you can check in on your facilities wherever you are.

Since one of the most important compliance regulations for cannabis businesses is camera placement, remote monitoring will allow you to ensure your cameras are always capturing full views of entrances and exits, all your point-of-sale (POS) systems, and other areas like scales and flower rooms.

Securing Curbside Pick-Up and Deliveries

In many states, curbside and drive-thru pick-up became a workaround solution to allow cannabis sales during COVID-19 shutdowns. In some regions, even where dispensaries have fully reopened, curbside pick-up has continued because of the convenience and safety it provides for customers. However, strict compliance regulations still apply to this method of sale. For example, you must be able to capture on camera each car that pulls up outside of your facility. High-resolution IP cameras will help you with that, and when your video surveillance system is integrated with your POS system, you’ll also be able to see the corresponding video that is tied to the curbside purchase and even drill down into the transaction details.  This can allow you to do exception-based reporting, monitoring refunds, discounts and any unusual transactions.

Depending on the video surveillance manufacturer you choose, your video solution could also help you track cannabis when it is in transit with mobile cameras and recorders installed in your delivery vehicles. If you are delivering to a customer’s home or taking inventory from your cultivation facility to your dispensary, you’ll want to know exactly what’s happening. If you are transporting cannabis close to state lines, you can’t cross the state lines with cannabis in tow. When your vehicles have the right video surveillance tools in place, you can see exactly where your drivers are at all times and a GPS integration will help you ensure your drivers are staying on route and getting to locations on time.

Occupancy Management and Health and Safety Operations

Experts have suggested that to limit the spread of the coronavirus, people use physical distancing measures, which means they remain six feet apart. One way to ensure that happens is to limit how many people are in your dispensary at one time. A video solution that integrates with people counting analytics sensors can provide real-time occupancy management alerts. The sensors track how many people are entering your dispensary, and based on the threshold you apply, will send you an alert when you are close to capacity or have exceeded it. Occupancy numbers can be displayed on a color-coded dashboard, so you can see where your occupancy stands, at-a-glance. A solution like this can also integrate with smart lighting systems for an in-store visual representation of your occupancy. For example, if the light is green, you still have space for more customers in your dispensary, but if it is red you’ve exceeded the limits and need to close your doors.

By regularly reviewing your surveillance video, you can also ensure high-touch areas like POS terminals are being regularly sanitized, sneeze guards are in place, and that employees are following proper handwashing procedures.

Automate Body Temperature Checks

Elevated body temperature is a known symptom of COVID-19, so you will want to avoid having people enter your facility with a fever. An open-platform video solution that integrates with third-party thermal cameras can send real-time messages to you when someone enters your establishment with elevated body temperature. You can also receive an email notification with a corresponding video snapshot of the person who triggered the alert so you can take swift action to keep others safe.

Keeping Your Facilities and Inventory Secure

As a cannabis owner, you already know that your surveillance cameras play a huge role in your security plan. Well-placed cameras will ensure you are capturing every inch of your operation. But cameras leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) can do even more – like sending only the most accurate alerts.

AI-enabled cameras will provide more accurate detection of people and vehicles, reducing false alarms. For example, if an animal walks through the field-of-view of your outdoor camera, an alarm will not go off. Or, if a person enters your cultivation room - a restricted zone - you will be alerted right away and can take action quickly.

Business Intelligence

You might be surprised to learn that your video system can improve your customer experience. When combined with the right software, video and analytics can work together to show you how long customers are waiting in line at your dispensary, how well the store is stocked, and whether or not your employees have the correct signage up for your latest promotions.

With this information, you can identify areas of improvement and even provide your employees with training opportunities in their downtime. While you are already using the video for security and compliance, a solution like this will give you more insight into what’s happening inside your dispensary so you can increase sales and better understand customer behavior.

COVID-19 has changed the world and the cannabis industry is no exception. While you might feel that operating a dispensary in an already highly regulated industry has become more daunting, it does not have to be. The new health and safety precautions can benefit your business, especially when you have the right video surveillance system with business intelligence in place. You will gain new insights into your business, see what’s happening when you can’t be there, and give your customers the peace of mind they need to keep coming back.

About the Author: Chris Jensen is the Cannabis Market Manager for March Networks, a leading provider of intelligent IP video surveillance and business intelligence solutions.

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