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With the recent news headlines about store closures and the collapse of well-known chains, alongside clear adjustments in business strategy amongst established high street favourites, there is no denying that the UK retail industry is under huge pressure. A recent report suggests growing issues are leading some retailers to increase risk-taking in the supply chain. But here, Steve Bumphrey, Traka UK Sales Director, looks at ways to help retailers embrace the storm, including paying attention to security, management processes and efficient customer focus. Challenges plaguing retail industry It’s been an awful year to date for UK retail if you believe the cacophony of negative headlines about the health of the UK economy and the confidence levels of the UK consumer. The sector is facing huge challenges in dealing with the evolution in on-line and smart mobile retailing The sector is undoubtedly facing huge challenges in dealing with the evolution in on-line and smart mobile retailing. Further concerns include an unwillingness of policymakers to address the changing retail environment and how business rates and general business taxation and regulation is making a difficult situation worse. Supply Chain Risk Report According to the latest Global Supply Chain Risk Report, published by Cranfield School of Management and Dan & Badstreet, those under pressure, are now facing increased exposure to risk if they are forced to cut costs in their supply chain. The report cites data for the retail sector that shows increased levels of risk-taking since Q4 2018, with retailers reporting high levels of dependency on suppliers and indicating a propensity to off-shore to low-cost, high-risk countries where suppliers are more likely to be financially unstable. In-store technology revolution The underlying evolution of technology taking hold of the retail industry and consequential changing consumer behaviour is what is really forcing the industry to step up and act. This is not only in the shift to online and smart mobile purchases, but also with the increased use of technology in store. Self-scanning and checkouts In a bid to enhance the physical shop experience, especially in supermarket outlets across the UK, retailers are increasingly giving customers autonomy with self-scanners and checkouts and need to be able to trust them to ensure an honest transaction. And for the shoppers, this dependency on technology and not human interaction to complete a shop means scanners must be instantly available and ready for use. Many different underlying competing challenges impact the retail industry Compensators At the recent British Retail Consortium’s ‘Charting the Future’ conference, looking at retail crime and security, Dr Emmeline Taylor, a criminologist at the City University of London identified in self -service shops, several new types of ‘offenders’ such as so-called ‘compensators’ including the atypical ‘frustrated consumer’ who, “fully intended to pay but were unable to scan an item properly”, adding to the security challenge. There are clearly many different underlying competing challenges impacting the retail industry. Arguably, the increase in technology and autonomous shopping, where less staff are present (or staff cuts planned) throws up more vulnerabilities, such as the opportunity for store theft. Use of body cameras Staff needs emerging technology such as body cameras to act as a deterrent to crime and keep employees safe Furthermore, staff may need greater use of emerging technology such as body cameras to act as a deterrent to crime and help keep employees safe. In essence, prevention is better than cure, and it’s certainly cheaper. Whether combating crime physically or online, or looking to find ways to counter the high street trends, working together, sharing information and taking a more holistic approach will help the development of a shared language between retailers. Retail banking It is also here where common approaches can help to deliver on efficiencies, in time, resource and budget that can serve to operate right through the supply chain, and minimise, or even negate the need to take any risks. It can even serve to enhance the customer experience, increasing confidence in the shopping environment. Of course, when discussing the high street, it is not just the department stores and chains that are feeling the impact. Well known banks are also having to redefine their priorities and role on the high street, with customers (especially younger generations) demanding a more efficient service than ever before. Well known banks are also having to redefine their priorities and role on the high street Asset protection Leading the way is Nationwide, globally renowned building society, which prides itself on being one of the largest savings providers and mortgages provider in the UK, promoting itself as running purely for the benefit of its customers, or ‘members.’ Richard Newland, Director of Branch & Workplace Transformation at Nationwide said, “Even more than getting a good ‘deal’ from a building society, the quality of our welcome, or our renowned level of service, we make sure our members feel safe with us, enough to trust us with their greatest assets. We are doing everything we can to evolve our business and focus our efforts on providing the best and most secure services that people value.” Key management systems Traka has supported Nationwide with the introduction of dedicated key management systems So committed to its branch network, it has pledged to its 15 million members that every town and city with a Nationwide branch, will still have one for at least the next two years. A bold statement in today’s climate. Traka has supported Nationwide with the introduction of dedicated key management systems, moving its branch network into a more digital system. Keys no longer need to leave site and the audit trail capability has helped to remove the manual paper recording, allowing status of keys to be established instantly, at any time. Changes in retail market This example, together with Traka’s portfolio of high street brands and globally renowned department stores that cannot be named for security reasons, demonstrates the need for retailers to embrace the need for change, both from a product offering and operational running perspective to achieve aspirations of resonating with customers. They also prove the opportunities for success, in an unquestionable difficult market environment. If retailers can listen to customers and respond accordingly, taking into consideration staff safety and security, alongside an ability to respond quickly to personalised enquiries and expectations. This way, perhaps, the current environment can be seen as an opportunity to innovate and embrace technology to form the high street of the future.
Where are video surveillance cameras headed? At the core of next-generation Internet Protocol (IP) cameras are advanced chips with artificial intelligence (AI) at the edge, enabling cameras to gather valuable information about an incident: scanning shoppers at a department store, monitoring city streets, or checking on an elderly loved one at home. Thanks to advanced chip technology, complex analytics operations are becoming more affordable across the full spectrum of surveillance cameras —professional to consumer — fueling the democratisation of AI in the IP camera market. Complex analytics operations are becoming more affordable across the full spectrum of surveillance cameras Expanding the global IP camera market The video surveillance equipment market grew to $18.5 billion in 2018 and is expected to increase this year, according to IHS Markit. The latest research points to video everywhere, edge computing, and AI as the top technologies that will have a major impact in both commercial and consumer markets in 2019. Computing at the edge means that the processors inside the camera are powerful enough to run AI processing locally, while still encoding and streaming video, and are able to do it all at the low-power required to fit into the limited thermal budget of an IP camera. New SoC chips will be able to perform all of the processing on camera and provide accurate AI information, with no need to send data to a server or the cloud for processing. Instead, data can be analysed right in the camera itself, offering high performance, real-time video analytics, and lower latency — all critical aspects of video surveillance. This new AI paradigm is made possible by a new generation of SoCs, a key driver behind the market growth of IP cameras. Complex analytics operations are becoming more affordable across the full spectrum of surveillance cameras to fuel the advent of AI in the IP camera market Micro-processor-enabled video analytics Next-generation video cameras will be able to create heat maps of stores to see where people spend the most time Microprocessor-enabled analytics allow users to more easily extract valuable data from video streams. How about an insider’s view into retail customer behavior? Consider video cameras at a department store, monitoring shoppers’ behavior, traffic patterns, and areas of interest. Next-generation cameras will recognise how long a shopper stays in front of a specific display, if the shopper leaves and returns, and if the shopper ultimately makes a purchase. Next-generation video cameras will be able to create heat maps of stores to see where people spend the most time, so retailers will be able to adjust product placement accordingly. Analytics will also help identify busy/quiet times of the day, so retailers can staff accordingly. By understanding customers’ behavior, retailers can determine the best way to interact with them, target specific campaigns, and tailor ads for them. Cue the coupons while the shopper is still onsite! Analytics will also help identify busy/quiet times of the day, so retailers can staff accordingly Fast processing for rapid response at city level City surveillance and smart cities are depending on advanced video surveillance and intelligence to keep an eye on people and vehicles, identify criminals, flag suspicious behavior, and identify potentially dangerous situations such as loitering, big crowds forming, or cars driving the wrong way.Quick local decisions on the video cameras are also used to help analyse traffic situations Quick local decisions on the video cameras are also used to help analyse traffic situations, adjust traffic lights, identify license plates, automatically charge cars for parking, find a missing car across a city, or create live and accurate traffic maps. Real-time HD video monitoring and recording When it comes to home monitoring, what will next-generation video surveillance cameras offer? Real-time monitoring and notification can detect if a person is in the back yard or approaching the door, if there’s a suspicious vehicle in the driveway, or if a package is being delivered (or stolen). Advanced video cameras can determine when notifications are and aren’t required, since users don’t want to be notified for false alerts such as rain, tree branches moving, bugs, etc. Next-generation video camera capabilities can also help monitor a loved one, person or pet, helping put families at ease if they are at work or on vacation. For example, helpful analytics may be used to detect if someone has fallen, hasn’t moved for a while, or does not appear for breakfast according to their typical schedule. City surveillance and smart cities are depending on advanced video surveillance and intelligence to keep an eye on people and vehicles, identify criminals, flag suspicious behavior, and identify potentially dangerous situations Next-gen IP cameras When evaluating next-generation IP cameras (cameras on the edge), look at the brains. These cameras will likely be powered by next-generation SoCs chips. Here is what this means to you: Save on network bandwidth, cloud computing and storage costs. There is no need to constantly upload videos to a server for analysis. Analysis can be performed locally on the camera, with only relevant videos being uploaded. Faster reaction time. Decisions are made locally, with no network latency. This is critical if you need to sound an alarm on a specific event. Privacy. In the most extreme cases, no video needs to leave the camera. Only metadata needs to be sent to the cloud or server. For example, the faces of people can be recognised in the camera and acted upon, but the video never reaches the cloud. The cameras can just stream a description of the scene to the server “suspicious person with a red sweater walking in front of the train station, has been loitering for the last 10 minutes, suggest sending an agent to check it out.” This could become a requirement in some EU countries with GDPR rules. Easier search. Instead of having to look through hours of video content, the server can just store/analyse the metadata, and easily perform searches such as “find all people with a red sweater who stayed more than five minutes in front of the train station today.” Flexibility/personalisation. Each camera at the edge can be personalised to work better for the specific scene it is looking at, compared to a generic server. For example, “run a heat map algorithm on camera A (retail) as I want to know which sections of my store get the most traffic; and run a license plate recogniser on camera B (parking lot) as I want to be able to track the cars going in/out of my parking lot.” No cloud computing required. For cameras in remote locations or with limited network bandwidth, users have the ability to perform all analytics locally, without relying on uploading video to a server/cloud. Higher resolution/quality. When AI processing is performed locally, the full resolution of the sensor can be used (up to 4K or more), while typically the video streamed to a server will be lower resolution, 1080p or less. This means more pixels are available locally for the AI engine so that you will be able to detect a face from a higher distance than when the video is streamed off camera. AI at the edge Professional-level IP cameras capable of performing AI at the edge are coming soon with early offerings making their debut at this year’s ISC West. As we enter 2020, we will begin to see the availability of consumer-level cameras enabling real-time video analytics at the edge for home use. With rapid technology advancement and increased customer demand, AI is on the verge of exploding. When it comes to image quality and video analytics, IP cameras now in development will create a next-generation impact at department stores, above city streets, and keeping an eye on our loved ones.
Las Vegas is a city that bombards you with choices: dozens of glitzy hotels and casinos, a plethora of restaurants and eateries to satisfy any craving and an endless variety of entertainment guaranteed to delight and amuse. With so many options, it’s hard to decide where to spend your time. The same goes for ISC West. Like the city in which it’s being hosted, ISC West 2019 is going to bombard you with more options than ever before. Dozens of new technologies and vendors as well as old familiar faces will be vying for your attention. With only three days, it’s nearly impossible to explore every booth and every vendor. Ultimately, you’ll want to focus your limited time on companies whose partnership can lead to your organisation’s long-term success. In that context, I’d like to suggest a few things to think about as you wend your way through this year’s tradeshow. The next wave in IP technology The fact that the whole world is going IP is nothing new. The network-based connectivity trend has been ongoing for more than 25 years. What’s changed is the nomenclature. Today it’s all about the Internet of Things (IoT). What was once exclusively an analogue-based video surveillance market has shifted predominantly over to IP For the security industry, the concept of IoT really began with connecting DVRs through a network. Then in 1996, IP cameras – the first true IoT devices – hit the market. Since then, what was once exclusively an analog-based video surveillance market has shifted predominantly over to IP, providing exceptional growth opportunity for any company wanting to be on the leading edge. Today, however, that market is relatively saturated and growing at a much slower rate. In response, consolidation of the market has started to accelerate. Many vendors are disappearing while a select few are becoming stronger. Though the IP video revolution is now a fait accompli, there are still a few ancillary security technologies that are just beginning to jump on the IP convergence bandwagon. I’m referring to two in particular: IP audio systems and IP intercom solutions. Like their IP video cousins, these relatively new IP systems are built on open platform standards and provide the same benefits for convergence as happened in the camera space: better scalability and ROI, more functionality, and easy integration with third party systems. The technology is a great complement to a customer’s existing IP surveillance system or an ideal replacement for an antiquated analogue audio system. So I’d recommend spending time at booths showcasing this technology. Listen to the crystal clear sound quality. Learn from the various vendors how easy IP audio systems are to custom configure, remotely manage and scale. And discover the different ways the IP technology can be used, from paging, public address and broadcasting background music to augmenting security systems and perimeter protection solutions. The potential markets that can benefit from this latest IP technology are wide and varied, everything from hotels, hospitals and transportation hubs to educational institutions and retail chains. So it’s well worth your time to take a look at this growing opportunity. AI has proven to dramatically improving the accuracy of Traffic Incident Detection analytics. But it’s too early in the game to assume that AI can be applied across the board Artificial intelligence: hype vs. reality Video intelligence or video analytics was the big trend a decade ago. But it quickly fizzled out when hype crashed into reality. In the ensuing years algorithms have greatly improved, leading to more reliable analytic performance. Now it’s commonplace for video surveillance solutions to include a wide range of analytics from motion detection and people counting to dwell time analysis, object left behind and license plate recognition. The latest hype to capture the imagination is self-learning systems, often referred to as Deep Learning and Artificial intelligence (AI) With analytics gradually becoming mainstream, the latest hype to capture the imagination is self-learning systems, often referred to as Deep Learning and Artificial intelligence (AI). These self-learning applications parse event data and use what they’ve learned from the experience to make determinations or predictions that can increase the accuracy of future alerts. Before you get swept up in all the big promises that have yet to prove deliverable, take time at ISC West to educate yourself about the current state of the technology. AI works well in some areas. For instance, AI has proven to dramatically improving the accuracy of Traffic Incident Detection analytics. But it’s too early in the game to assume that AI can be applied across the board. Talk to some of the AI vendors at ISC West to learn when and if AI might be right for your organisation’s analytic applications. See who has actual, field-proven solutions and who is just offering ideas that might take many years to prove useful in real applications. Connecting with the right partner Think of ISC West as the ultimate meet-and-greet. Look around the tradeshow floor and see who might by likely partners Choosing the right partner is as important in business as it is life. Think of ISC West as the ultimate meet-and-greet. Look around the tradeshow floor and see who might by likely partners. You’re sure to find a number of new companies entering the field this year. Also be sure to notice which companies are absent. Have they left the surveillance industry? Are they struggling financially and can no longer afford to show up? If you partnered with them in the past, where does that leave your business today? As you explore potential vendor relationships, make sure you not only look at the arc of their technology development, but also their long-term financial stability and the kind of support services they offer. Cybersecurity should be front and center on your radar, along with timely updates, product integration with your existing technology and ongoing training to gain the most benefit from your investment. Look into how eco-friendly the vendor’s products are, what they’re doing to recycle, minimise waste and lower their carbon footprint Think of ISC West as the ultimate meet-and-greet - look around the tradeshow floor and see who might by likely partners Another important thing to find out is whether their business ethics align with yours. Is sustainability important to your company? How about corporate social responsibility, diversity and inclusion? Ultimately you want to do business with healthy, innovative companies that share your core values. If being green is a fundamental principal of your company, look into how eco-friendly the vendor’s products are, what they’re doing to recycle, minimise waste and lower their carbon footprint. If striving for better global citizenship is your corporate mantra, you need to know how the vendor is assuring their operation complies with environmental laws and regulations. In terms of maintaining social and ethical standards, it’s important to know where the vendor stands on issues such as human rights violations, compulsory child labour, fair wages and sourcing minerals from countries in armed conflict. Go in with a plan There’s so much to discover at ISC West this year that four days isn’t nearly enough time to see it all. So you’ll have to strategically pick and choose which booths and vendors to visit. I’d advise that you plan out your days in advance so that you can get the most value from the choices you make.
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