Surveillance technology tells users what they need to know, when they need to know it

Knowledge is important to any successful business operator. Determining exactly what information is most important and what isn’t a “need to know now” can make the difference between ultimate success and failure. For security and surveillance purposes, this can be crucial to making a business safer, more efficient, and profitable.

Video surveillance, burglar alarms, and other equipment often do not give owners or management staff the real-time tools to let them know what is going on when they’re not there. A DVR doesn’t do anyone much good if it just tells you what happened yesterday, or if an operator has to plow through hours of video to figure out if something went wrong.

This is costly, frustrating, and, typically, way too late. In addition, all too often the equipment is not working or configured properly when needed, missing the event altogether.

Exception-based reporting can separate the wheat from the chaff and show an operator only those events that are outside the normal flow of activity. Was the cash register drawer open for an exceptionally long time? Was the back door opened when it shouldn’t be, and why? Who really clocked in? Was there a power outage? Are the bathrooms clean? Was the broom or mop really used? Was the refrigerator door left open, or is the freezer still operating at the legal temperature? These are common events that are important to know when they are happening, not at a later time, or else the ability to act is lost forever.

“Often, the busy staff doesn’t have the time to do all these things or have the inclination to be as diligent with security as they should be,” says Abe Schryer, president of Observables, Inc. “With cash flow as tight as it is in the quick-service business, one or two of these types of events can cause a month’s worth of losses or even put you out of business. You don’t want it to be you.”

Increasingly, many consumers are driven by mobile communication. Ten years ago, few were using a BlackBerry or other handheld device.

Now it seems almost everyone has an Android or iPhone and expects to know what is going on instantaneously.

“That’s what has changed,” Schryer says. “The No. 1 driver in communications is portability, and the trend is in-the-cloud. That’s where everything is happening.”

Schryer says operators need to start with a highly scalable and secure infrastructure, just like the banking industry uses to ensure real-time data collection and layer on a very fast, accurate, and simple-to-use rules/notification engine to give customers what they need when they need it.

“We develop and integrate cloud technology with intelligent sensors and easy-to-use mobile apps to provide efficient multiunit restaurant operations that deliver important, need-to-know information,” Schryer says.

Observables’ line of plug-and-play sensors, controls, cameras, and Internet gateways make it easy to install and support. These products can be integrated into third-party solutions using standards-based APIs enhancing partners’ offerings, or bundled together with other customer apps to enhance a specific franchise brand.

With Observables’ solution, crucial aspects of the business are constantly monitored. Exceptions established by the individual operator can be conveyed on multilevel notifications such as push, text, voice, e-mail, or local alarm. This allows owners to check the pulse of their business anytime from anywhere in real-time.

“This technology is much more cost effective because it’s in the cloud,” Schryer says. “In the past, a DVR or alarm system lived as a virtual island in the store. Today, with networked hardware and cloud-based apps, real-time event monitoring is affordable, more effective, and enhances safety.”

Losses from insider theft and shrinkage can be difficult to recover because they are hard to document, much less recover. Accountability is more than a deterrent; it’s the strongest weapon available to prevent internal theft, says Tasha Birdwell, marketing manager at Kaba Access and Data Systems–Americas.

“If you need to lock it up, we can do it and every store has a safe with a lock on it, but quick-service restaurants need higher-end products because they are largely a cash business,” Birdwell says. “We can provide a variety of access-control solutions that meet the specialized needs of the quick-service market.”

Kaba ADS-Americas offers comprehensive solutions for security at access points to buildings, containers, and for recording personal and enterprise data. Kaba’s products utilize the latest technologies, including remote access, biometrics, wireless, and GPS. The brands include Kaba, LA GARD, Simplex, E-Plex, and e-Data.

The Smart Series products offer advanced features for controlling safe access. SmartLinc, SmartLinc II, and SmartPoint together make up the LA GARD Smart Series. Retail, banking, mand commercial environments require safelocking systems that provide the highest form of security and access control; the system must be durable and accurate, and offer efficiencies to enhance employee productivity, yet ensure accountability. These features are the foundation of the LA GARD Smart Series.

The Smart Series offers a range of features for the quick-serve market: multiple master codes and manager codes for shifts; enrollment from 8-98 users; user role assignment; and the ability to manage up to five locks from a single logic module for safes with multiple compartments.

User setup allows managers to define which compartments they have access to. In addition, operators can add or delete authorized users as staffing changes.

The Smart Series provides accountability through indisputable audit information.

The advanced features of SmartLinc II and SmartPoint offer up to 4,000 audit events in each lock and 1,000 system events at the logic module.

For example, the Smart Series provides audits of who opened the safe and when, allowing a store manager to know who has gone into the safe, when it was opened, and when it was locked again.

Ensuring your employees’ safety and security is paramount, Birdwell says. Features like the Silent Signal Duress Alarm, Time Lock scheduling, and Time Delay allow for time-controlled access and warnings to be sent in the event of a robbery. For example, Time Delay can delay the opening of the safe for up to 99 minutes, and can be set for different times on different compartments, offering restaurants more flexibility and control over the transfer of cash. The Smart

Series time-lock feature adds another layer of protection, prohibiting opening until the next preprogrammed time.

Further, safe solutions at quick-service restaurants present a bigger challenge than other retailers and must be able to withstand the rigors and stresses of the high volume and busy environment in those locations. Unlike other retail operations, safes at restaurants are exposed to all the elements in the kitchen.

“If we want to test the durability of a product, the quick-service environment is a good place to do it,” Birdwell says.

Looking forward, Kaba is on the cutting edge of technology. Passwords and codes can be stolen and entered by a dishonest user. Kaba offers a Smart Series biometric option that asks for a PIN and a fingerprint, making each user accountable.

Third-party monitoring of surveillance video can increase its effectiveness and save busy operators valuable time or supplement their lack of expertise.

The StarSat system is managed loss prevention. The key difference of StarSat from other systems is that it includes monitoring by individuals, adding the human element. The restaurant or retail operators meet with StarSat and determine a list of high-risk events for monitoring.

These events are classified according to their level of risk, then logged and researched by StarSat Loss Prevention Specialists. The findings are presented to the operator and/or owner for their action.

The StarSat system is the most efficient Managed Video POS Monitoring Service on the market, due to StarSat’s “proprietary algorithms,” which search every transaction and the associated video looking for exception activities, says Eric Peterson, director of strategic planning at StarSat.

Once found, these are brought to the attention of a StarSat loss-prevention specialist for review and analysis.

“The problem with most loss-prevention solutions is they quickly lose their luster,” Peterson says. “Once you realize how much research and analysis of the video and transaction data is still left up to the operator, the effort and expense of identifying suspected losses can exceed the value of the losses themselves. StarSat users can rely on the expertise of their loss-prevention specialists to zero in on costly issues quickly and efficiently.”

StarSat Loss Prevention Specialists review, research, and analyze exception events and questionable POS transactions that occur in the stores and send them to the appropriate leadership personnel.

This means that management only has to review those few minutes of questionable events, instead of multiple hours of video and transaction data. These exception events, consisting of all video and/or transaction information, are then logged into that store’s “exception database” at a certified off-site storage facility for future reference.

The more important role StarSat has is working with leadership to improve culture, Peterson says. Providing feedback and tools to curb negative behaviors will result in bottom-line improvement.

However, the same tools are available to the customer to isolate and elevate positive behaviors, as well. The same process that catches cash-drawer thefts can select the fastest and friendliest cashier in the act as an example for others to emulate. StarSat can help drive that into their culture for them.

“We’re a third set of eyes.” Peterson says.