Today’s Retail Video Surveillance Systems Are Underutilized

It's not uncommon for many retail video surveillance systems to go underutilized—or worse, not used at all.

Video surveillance systems have come a long way since their introduction into the retail space many years ago. Yet some retailers and loss prevention teams are failing to take advantage of the latest innovations offered by today’s advanced cameras and surveillance tools. Some personnel may remain unsure about new technologies and capabilities even after they have been installed in stores.

A feature article in the January-February 2017 issue of LP Magazine explores the worrisome idea that some LP teams are underutilizing their powerful video systems. The article’s author, Garett Seivold, shares a number of additional benefits (and value) that retailers could be earning from their video surveillance if they took the time to perform tests and collaborate with experts. From the article:

Once, back when Canon made a splash with its “Image is Everything” advertising campaign, it really was. CCTV offered images of sales floors and stockrooms, with the visual information acting as a surrogate for human observation. The pictures provided the value. Cameras offered extra sets of eyes.

It’s a world of difference today. Visual information is no longer the only—and perhaps not even the primary—component of a video surveillance system. Images are still valuable, but it is the data inherent within them that provides for new applications and value. A camera is now a computer with a lens. Video once provided LP with extra eyes—now it also offers brains.

Harnessing this new intelligence has become a true test of loss prevention leadership. And it’s not a stretch to say that a retail organization’s success is increasingly linked to its ability to take advantage of emerging video surveillance tools to reduce loss, enhance situational awareness, improve store operations, aid compliance, and boost sales.

By some accounts, this is an area where loss prevention teams and retailers are falling short. Experts we interviewed on all sides—manufacturers, integrators, and end-users—said it’s not uncommon for many deployed video system features to go underutilized and, worse, completely unused. Some cited specific gaps—between the use of video surveillance tools and what they’re capable of—in the areas of integration, remote monitoring, and analytics. One was harsh, saying it’s as much the rule as the exception for retail security cameras to be positioned incorrectly, poorly maintained, and insufficiently managed.

Loss prevention teams can no longer ignore the innovative changes in the world of video surveillance systems. Check out “The Big Picture” to read the full article. You can also visit the Table of Contents for the January-February 2017 issue or register for a free subscription to the magazine.

This article was originally published in 2017 and was updated February 28, 2017. 

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