Historically, Australia has been considered a very safe countrybut rising crime rates in some parts of Australia coupled with constant media and political attention regarding the potential for national security incidents, can cause people to worry about their safety.
Putting security technology in place can help people feel more at ease while helping retailers to reduce in-store risks to help protect customers and staff. This can be particularly important for retailers located in large public areas or shopping centres that may be viewed as vulnerable targets due to there being less eyes available to monitor larger areas.
According to Michael Day, Retail Leader South East APAC at Tyco Retail Solutions Australia, “Adopting new technology that leverage closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras with enhanced security features such as facial recognition and other data analytics capabilities, can help to monitor crowds and identify suspicious behaviour while acting as a deterrent to potential perpetrators”.
Using security technology in-store can help keep customers and staff safe in four key ways:
- Camera technology that makes it easier to monitor the whole store in real time which in turn helps security staff respond immediately in the event of an incident.
- During an incident, cameras can track the perpetrator’s movements thereby helping store security direct customers out of harm’s way until the offender is apprehended.
- Integrated surveillance networks allow security staff to identify abnormal, suspicious or deviant behaviour and track their movement while maintaining a pattern of normality in store. This allows security staff to intervene and warn the public appropriately if necessary, without creating unnecessary hysteria or panic.
- New facial recognition technology can help to identify known criminals, so if they enter a store, security is alerted and can notify authorities to closely monitor the person’s movements.
Eric C. White, renowned global security expert, speaker and author, also encourages extra vigilance by learning to identify specific behavioural traits in the interest of protecting public safety, “There are many different types of perpetrators that retailers should be prepared for, and protecting staff from any incidents that involve erratic behaviour need to be managed with extreme care. Integrated security systems with cameras and traffic monitoring capabilities can be an important tool in helping retailers identify and thwart potential incidents”.
Key signs to be aware of when monitoring for suspicious behaviour include:
- ‘Casing’a store layout: offenders planning an incident are known to spend time observing their chosen location. Cameras can identify if the same person has been hanging around a specific area consistently or repeatedly. Looking around for security camera positions can be an early warning sign.
- Elicitation: offenders seeking an unusual amount of information about security procedures, staff levels or processes should also raise suspicion. Cameras can record these interactions and, if the person shows up at the same location again, security can step in as necessary
- Security test: a serious offender may try to implement a test run to see how the store’s security team responds. Capturing such behaviour on camera allows the security team to analyse its response and improve processes where required. As well as reporting the perpetrator to the police, retailers can use facial recognition technology to help identify them should they try to enter the premises in the future.
- Suspicious people: if someone seems like they don’t belong, then chances are they don’t belong. Cameras can help keep an eye out for people who are inappropriately dressed or behaving oddly. There are eight common behavioural red flags: loitering too long; moving too fast; standing on a corner; looking over their shoulder; going against the flow of foot traffic; abandoning something; clusters of people suddenly breaking apart; and synchronised movements between people.
- Assets deployment: would-be perpetrators may place items ahead of an incident,such as a backpack or box. Cameras can help security staff identify such items and investigate or take safety precautions as necessary before people are put at risk.
By integrating next-generation security technologies,retailers can also turn surveillance video into searchable, indexable content to dramatically reduce the time it takes to identify and address abnormal behaviours or potential threats. The search technologies include facial recognition, licence plate recognition and advanced motion analytics, as well as point-of-sale integration, ATM integration, access control and radio frequency identification (RFID) integration. The ability to pinpoint important events captured on video in minutes is becoming a critical element in helping retailers to address public and customer safety.
While the investment in sophisticated security technology is large, there are many additional core benefits that can help deliver ROI, such as a reduced incidence of shoplifting and employee theft, as well as inventory control. Video that captures traffic movement into and out of a store can also provide sales and marketing insights to determine where to position stock for greater sales opportunities.