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Consider These Pros and Cons before Implementing Remote Video Surveillance

Remote video surveillance enables the reallocation of loss prevention personnel from low-activity locations without the elimination of loss prevention coverage and oversight. This not only increases the effectiveness of LP associates, but also increases overall job satisfaction, which reduces turnover, lost time, and recruiting, hiring, and training costs.

Loss prevention personnel productivity can increase five to ten times, depending upon the current coverage model and activity levels. This increase in productivity is partially due to the fact that low levels of activity lull loss prevention personnel into a false sense of security, resulting in missed observations and apprehensions. Maintaining a video monitoring “sweet spot” improves their effectiveness.

Remote video monitoring enhances loss prevention’s business value to the organization by raising overall loss prevention personnel productivity while simultaneously increasing coverage and oversight—without increasing the loss prevention budget.

It also increases deterrence. Sophisticated external and internal threats are aware of the physical presence of loss prevention personnel and, in local monitoring locations, focus their efforts when LP personnel are physically present. When remote security cameras are used, it is more difficult for sophisticated external and internal threats to determine if they are being monitored, increasing the deterrence effect. This technology also positively impacts district, regional, and corporate loss prevention management by providing the capability to observe remote locations without having to be physically present. This improves management’s effectiveness by reducing both the time and costs of travel.

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Coupled with the integration of additional key data elements, such as POS, alarm, and EAS data, remote video monitoring enables loss prevention professionals to investigate and resolve threat events quicker and more accurately. This data integration also enables store and retail management to better understand the nature and volume of threat events by store and departments within the store, improving management and loss prevention program targeting and effectiveness. For those locations with proprietary retail alarm systems, remote video monitoring can dramatically reduce the costs associated with false alarms.

In addition to its loss prevention uses, establishing a remote video surveillance capability enables cross-functional corporate executives to obtain real-time feedback on customer traffic, customer service execution, merchandising presentation, and in- and out-of-stock conditions.

This extension of the use of remote video surveillance systems beyond LP adds significant value to the retail organization both in a functional as well as bottom-line basis. For example, retailers are using remote video to conduct ongoing audits that effectively help reduce shortage and increase sales, safety, and productivity.

Negatives Associated with Remote Video Monitoring

While there are many positive aspects of remote monitoring, there are several issues to consider that reduce the impact of this technology in the retail environment.

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Remote video monitoring works most effectively for activity that is clearly discernible or detectable, versus fine or complex activities. It is also less effective when observed activities require immediate on-site response.

Remote monitoring can prove difficult in environments where existing camera angles create zones where activity can’t be observed or the environment is complex, requiring detailed first-hand knowledge.

Remote video monitoring can be fatiguing. Associates performing only remote video monitoring duties become increasingly less effective without regular breaks or additional work assignments that don’t require video monitoring. Care is needed when evaluating the costs of digital video for remote monitoring.

While digital recording systems are comparable in cost to tape recording systems, maintenance and storage costs can be higher, depending upon how maintenance is performed and the retention period for the digital records.

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A Decision Framework for Remote Video Surveillance

Three variables establish the viability of remote video monitoring for a retail location, including the best times and locations. These variables are

• The level of activity,
• The response time needed to respond to threat events, and
• The need for independent verification of threat events
• When evaluating this decision framework, consider threat events to include shoplifting, robbery during store open hours, burglary during store closed hours, internal theft of merchandise or cash, and thefts by outsiders but enabled by employees.

Locations are candidates for remote video monitoring when their activity level does not warrant full-time loss prevention coverage or when their activity level does not require an immediate threat response from an internal loss prevention associate, such as in most cases of internal thefts.

Locations are not candidates for remote video monitoring if the video system requires independent verification of a threat event due to insufficient camera coverage, such as the continuous observation of shoplifting suspects.

This article was excerpted from “Evaluating the Pros and Cons of Remote Video Monitoring.”

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