September 18, 2022

Article
3 min

Physical Security Platforms Support a Growing Number of Use Cases

Video surveillance cameras and analytics also enhance cybersecurity and operations.

Chris Black

Even though physical security is a critical priority, many organizations are not using their physical security systems as effectively as they could be. Technology capabilities have advanced rapidly in recent years, and companies aren’t always aware of new developments. But lags also happen because organizations view physical security systems as a collection of hardware rather than an integrated, intelligent ecosystem. 

For example, retailers have effectively reduced shoplifting by deploying cameras with two-way audio connected to a 24/7 monitoring center. If a camera detects suspicious activity, it can alert center staff, who can tell the shoplifter that someone is watching and has called the police. Hearing a voice from an overhead security camera is a powerful deterrent, and retailers that have piloted this technology have significantly reduced these types of crimes. 

Cameras with analytics can also detect suspicious activity, such as a package left unattended. Here, too, cameras can alert someone to investigate and use other video feeds to get a fuller picture of a person’s activity and possible intentions. Through machine learning, cameras “learn” to recognize specific red flags. A growing number of software providers specialize in these types of analytics.

Deployed correctly, a platform that ties together video surveillance cameras, access control and other sensors, and analytics will strengthen physical security, cybersecurity and operations.

Physical Security and Cybersecurity Go Hand in Hand

You can’t maintain cybersecurity without adequate physical security because physical entry is the easiest way to get into a network. A person could spend years learning to hack into a system, but if they can figure out how to access a building and then a server room, that’s all they need to perform a well-orchestrated hack. 

But modern physical security is about more than simply installing a set of advanced digital cameras and recording video. It’s about building a system that can tell a story. 

For instance, who does the organization allow into buildings and restricted areas? Are controls in place to keep unauthorized visitors from slipping in behind authorized employees? Are visitors monitored while they are inside the building? Has the organization created a digital line around sensitive facilities and deployed cameras that can send an alert when someone crosses it?

This type of understanding is essential if organizations want to accurately assess their access controls and other security measures.

Understand and Control Operations Using Insights from Video

Cameras and analytics can also tell a story about operations, providing real-time alerts and historical insights that help companies improve their processes. 

In retail, cameras can detect when checkout lines are long, alerting someone to send additional staff. They can provide heat maps to show where people congregate and what’s capturing their attention. Both use cases demonstrate how cameras and embedded analytics can help to identify pain points, trends and opportunities.

Rental car companies use cameras to capture 360-degree views of cars before and after rentals to check for damage. Manufacturers use intelligent cameras to find defects in production lines. Humans quickly become fatigued and less perceptive when performing monotonous processes or staring at a video feed for any length of time. But cameras never tire, and they can be trained to identify minor discrepancies that humans can easily miss. 

Video camera applications can also be customer-facing. In sports stadiums, for example, cameras can survey queues outside restrooms and send the data to an app, quickly showing a user if lines are shorter in another section.

What all these applications have in common is that they are part of an integrated system, with a single-pane-of-glass view that makes it easy to monitor what’s happening in an environment. Video cameras have gotten incredibly intelligent, and analytics give them far more capabilities than they used to have.

Story by Chris Black, a business development manager for CDW’s Physical Security Solutions Practice.