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4 IP Video Surveillance Benefits for Retailers

Posted on 4/24/2015 10:23 AM by Steve White

The physical security industry is in the midst of a major transformation.

Multi-megapixel Internet protocol (IP) cameras, video analytics, and cloud storage options have rendered historical bandwidth assumptions obsolete. And security data is no longer restricted to loss prevention and facility management teams, increasingly being harnessed by marketing, operations, human resources and other departments within retail organizations.

With proper network planning and installation, IP video surveillance can potentially deliver greater return to retail facilities than legacy security alternatives. 

1. Improved Physical Security of Facilities

Compared to analog security options, IP video results in better image quality, and enables multi-site and multi-device access. This means that retailers with multiple locations can monitor all stores, properties or buildings from one centralized station. In addition, video feeds can be accessed remotely via any approved smartphone, laptop or tablet for convenient, on-the-go surveillance.

This anytime, anywhere accessibility can be paired with real-time alerts to notify building stakeholders of suspicious activity—for example, in-store motion during off hours. Using the video captured as a guide, activities can be confirmed and prompt action taken before situations escalate. 

2. Heightened Loss Prevention Monitoring

When IP video analytics is paired with point of sale (POS) transaction monitoring, retailers can better pinpoint questionable in-store events (like refunds without a customer present). This can deter cashier theft, while providing valuable insight into productivity and policy compliance.

3. Better Customer Experiences via In-Store Analytics

IP video enables automated, intelligent content analysis using people counting, heat mapping, traffic pattern detection, dwell time and queue analysis.

The result is deep insight into customer volumes and behaviors that can be leveraged to identify and fix operational issues (such as congested fitting rooms, long checkout lines or poor parking lot traffic flow), improve merchandising and marketing decisions, and personalize customer experiences. 

4. Enhanced Employee Training and Personnel Management

Finally, in-store IP video can help retailers proactively monitor staff behavior at the individual or group level through efficient detection and digital recording. Video clips from multiple cameras can be easily assembled to build an event record spanning multiple dates and locations.

Footage can be used during employee training sessions to demonstrate correct procedures and by management to virtually audit stores. 

IP Video Surveillance: Quick Tips to Get Started

As noted above, cross-functional benefits can be achieved when IP video is installed in retail facilities. To ensure that the full value is realized, follow these tips:

  • Evaluate IP video in relation to other network-connected platforms, like digital signage, time clocks, POS terminals and customer Wi-Fi, to ensure enough bandwidth is available to support applications at the desired end-user quality.
  • Assess flexible connectivity options to deliver more bandwidth at a lower cost. Examples include: installing a secondary network for high-bandwidth applications, and considering broadband bonding versus a single high-capacity circuit.
  • Choose open technologies to avoid vendor lock-in and to provide greater network design and application integration flexibility.
  • Implement changes gradually, if needed. For example, if you have a large investment in analog cameras, consider using IP encoders to convert the video to digital.
  • Plan for network security; protect edge devices, switches and connected PCs/appliances to guard against data breaches and hackers. Implement best practices at all phases—from design through ongoing monitoring and system patching. 

Steve White is corporate Vice President of Business Development at Vector Security. For more on building a retail network, read his whitepaper, IP Migration for Enterprise Businesses

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Water Source Heat Pumps Address HVAC Upgrade Challenges

Posted on 4/21/2015 1:39 PM by Alan Niles

Renovating existing buildings presents many challenges to building owners and the facility management teams who are called upon to maintain and operate these buildings. Tight budgets, little on-site storage space, limited access time to occupied space, the requirements and cost to meet all of the new local building codes, and extremely limited installation space are the obstacles facility managers face every day. Selecting a water source heat pump (WSHP) for a renovation can address each of these issues.

WSHP systems consist of small WSHPs installed in each zone of a building, providing independent temperature control from a local thermostat to ensure the most comfortable environment of any HVAC system. The WSHPs are connected by small diameter water piping, which is easier to pass through existing walls and floors as compared to ductwork that can require more demolition and adds the additional costs of smoke and fire dampers and a costly interface to the building’s life safety system.

At the same time, the system effectively addresses these common challenges: 

1) Tight Budgets – Each WSHP can be purchased separately, allowing the renovation project to be staged and enabling the facility manager to use the available funds in the operating budget. This eliminates the need for a special fund request for a large capital expenditure for equipment.

2) Limited On-Site Storage – A typical 3-ton WSHP capable of serving the needs of a 1,200-square-foot office space can be as small as 22 inches wide by 42 inches long by 19 inches tall. As a result, a single closet will hold the units required to renovate an entire leased space or an entire floor.

3) Limited Access Time to Occupied Space – Installing a WSHP is quick and can also be accomplished in stages, without interrupting the existing service. This allows for installation at night in areas of a building that are leased and occupied.

4) New Building Codes – WSHPs are small enough to fit between existing light fixtures and fire sprinkler pipe. Any other HVAC choice may require re-directing money in the limited renovation budget to bring all lighting fixtures and sprinkler piping up to new building codes if they need to be touched during the renovation process.

5) Limited Installation Space – WSHPs are designed to meet the space requirements common to buildings built in the 1980s and earlier. Cabinet sizes are designed to match or be smaller than the WSHPs commonly installed during the ‘80s in commercial buildings. These newer units easily fit above existing drop ceilings and within existing utility closets without the added expense associated with moving walls, light fixtures or sprinkler pipe. In addition, these smaller units can be ordered with high-efficiency ECM fans and internally mounted motorized water valves to meet the current local building codes for energy ratings and for variable-speed water pumping. 

As aging HVAC equipment begin to fail, especially units that use the discontinued R-22 refrigerant, facilty managers are finding that replacement is more economical than repair. With an increase in efficiency over the past 20 years – as much as a 100 percent for some manuacturers’ units – the reduced operating cost of the units allows facility managers to implement a planned renovation instead of reacting to expensive, unplanned replacement.  WSHPs will stretch tight renovation budget dollars and reduce operating budgets, which can free up funds for additional building renovation projects.

Alan Niles is Western Region Commercial Sales Manager for WaterFurnace International – reach him at Alan.Niles@waterfurnace.com

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