With AXIS P8221 Network I/O Audio Module, staff can communicate directly with control room via an incident button
The final installation incorporated Axis’ fixed dome cameras and video encoders, controlled by Milestone Professional

The UK’s fifth biggest grocery retailer, The Co-operative Food, has reported a 50 per cent reduction in reported incidents of crime after upgrading its incumbent analogue video surveillance to a modern, digital IP system.

Axis Communications products were used in the installation – Atul Rajput, the company’s regional director, northern Europe said: “It’s clear the CCTV plays a major part in reducing theft. We continually survey many UK retailers and frequently find that more than 85 per cent of them say CCTV has led to a direct reduction in theft.

“However, the quality of the footage is vital for a successful prosecution. We’ve found that nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) of UK retailers plan to adopt IP surveillance. These systems not only bring HD-quality images that drastically increase the likelihood of a prosecution, they also open the door to the use of business intelligence analytics that significantly increase the return on investment.”

Explaining The Co-operative Food’s drivers for the project, Atul continued: “We were approached by our partner, Kings Security, and by The Co-operative Food to help transition the retailer away from a range of diverse analogue surveillance systems, inherited mainly through a substantial acquisition programme, to a cohesive, future-proof solution that would unify the retail estate onto one centralised control platform, and implement a substantial asset renewal programme.

“A key priority for The Co-operative Food, was that the new surveillance system must measurably increase the wellbeing of staff and reduce shrinkage in high-risk stores. The solution also needed to be effective, but unobtrusive.”

"The system Kings Security
and Axis have delivered
provides an effective
deterrent for thieves, yet is
subtle and effective enough"

Graham Watt, loss prevention manager at The Co-operative Food, added: “Our stores trade from 6am to 11pm across very mixed-demographic locations. Some sites are higher risk than others. We needed a system that would cope with disparities in each location, could be easily scaled up or down as necessary, and that would connect the estate on one integrated platform.”

The final installation incorporated Axis’ compact fixed dome cameras and high performance video encoders, controlled by a Milestone Professional operating system, operating on a Razberi server.

Live surveillance footage from each store is streamed to a central control room and monitored by a dedicated operator at Kings Security. With the AXIS P8221 Network I/O Audio Module, staff can communicate directly with the control room via an incident button and operators can both listen to and broadcast messages in-store. Each external camera was fitted with Axis’ unique ‘Lightfinder’ technology, allowing them to deliver clear and precise picture quality – even in the dead of night.

Steve Evans, commercial director at Kings Security, said: “We have a 24-hour manned control room, with a dedicated operator monitoring up to 20 stores. If an incident occurs or a staff member anticipates that a situation may escalate, they can alert the operator. When locking-up, colleagues can request that operators survey the area, using the cameras to scan and identify any potential threats.”

Axis’ camera’s wide angle
view allows fewer units
to be used to deliver full
coverage of the shop
floor and sensitive areas

Axis’ camera’s wide angle view allows fewer units to be used to deliver full coverage of the shop floor and sensitive areas, and assist store layout changes – for example, during special promotion periods or sales seasons. Axis cameras have also helped fulfil the retailer’s central aim of improving the welfare of its staff and shoppers, thanks to the camera’s discreet and compact design.

“Security should never be obtrusive,” said Graham. “The system Kings Security and Axis have delivered provides an effective deterrent for thieves, yet is subtle and effective enough to ensure that customers and colleagues feel protected, not scrutinised.”

Following the installation, The Co-operative Food reported a 50 per cent reduction in reported incidents of crime and a significant reduction in unrecorded loss from attractive commodities. Following a staff engagement survey, an average 34 per cent increase in the ‘perception of safety in the workplace’ was reported, as measured against the previous year. The system has been so successful that it has already been used to support criminal prosecutions across the estate.

With almost 2,800 local, convenience and medium-sized stores, The Co-operative Food’s stores range from between 1,000 and 24,000 sq ft. It has food stores in every UK postal area, with over 75,000 employees, serving a total of 14.5 million customers every week.

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The physical side of data protection
The physical side of data protection

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has accentuated our digital dependency, on a global scale. Data centres have become even more critical to modern society. The processing and storage of information underpin the economy, characterised by a consistent increase in the volume of data and applications, and reliance upon the internet and IT services. Data centres classed as CNI As such, they are now classed as Critical National Infrastructure (CNI) and sit under the protection of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI). As land continues to surge in value, data centre operators are often limited for choice, on where they place their sites and are increasingly forced to consider developed areas, close to other infrastructures, such as housing or industrial sites. Complex security needs One misconception when it comes to data centres is that physical security is straightforward One misconception when it comes to data centres is that physical security is straightforward. However, in practice, things are far more complex. On top of protecting the external perimeter, thought must also be given to factors, such as access control, hostile vehicle mitigation (HVM), protecting power infrastructure, as well as standby generators and localising security devices to operate independently of the main data centre. Face value How a site looks is more important than you may think. Specify security that appears too hostile risks blatantly advertising that you’re protecting a valuable target, ironically making it more interesting to opportunistic intruders. The heightened security that we recommend to clients for these types of sites, include 4 m high-security fences, coils of razor wire, CCTV, and floodlighting. When used together in an integrated approach, it’s easy to see how they make the site appear hostile against its surroundings. However, it must appear secure enough to give the client peace of mind that the site is adequately protected. Getting the balance right is crucial. So, how do you balance security, acoustics and aesthetics harmoniously? Security comes first These are essential facilities and as a result, they require appropriate security investment. Cutting corners leads to a greater long-term expense and increases the likelihood of highly disruptive attacks. Checkpoints Fortunately, guidance is available through independent accreditations and certifications, such as the Loss Prevention Certification Board’s (LPCB) LPS 1175 ratings, the PAS 68 HVM rating, CPNI approval, and the police initiative - Secured by Design (SBD). Thorough technical evaluation and quality audit These bodies employ thorough technical evaluation work and rigorous quality audit processes to ensure products deliver proven levels of protection. With untested security measures, you will not know whether a product works until an attack occurs. Specifying products accredited by established bodies removes this concern. High maintenance Simply installing security measures and hoping for the best will not guarantee 24/7 protection. Just as you would keep computer software and hardware updated, to provide the best level of protection for the data, physical security also needs to be well-maintained, in order to ensure it is providing optimum performance. Importance of testing physical security parameters Inspecting the fence line may seem obvious and straightforward, but it needs to be done regularly. From our experience, this is something that is frequently overlooked. The research we conducted revealed that 63% of companies never test their physical security. They should check the perimeter on both sides and look for any attempted breaches. Foliage, weather conditions or topography changes can also affect security integrity. Companies should also check all fixtures and fittings, looking for damage and corrosion, and clear any litter and debris away. Accessibility When considering access control, speed gates offer an excellent solution for data centres. How quickly a gate can open and close is essential, especially when access to the site is restricted. The consequences of access control equipment failing can be extremely serious, far over a minor irritation or inconvenience. Vehicle and pedestrian barriers, especially if automated, require special attention to maintain effective security and efficiency. Volume control Data centres don’t generally make the best neighbours. The noise created from their 24-hour operation can be considerable. HVAC systems, event-triggered security and fire alarms, HV substations, and vehicle traffic can quickly become unbearable for residents. Secure and soundproof perimeter As well as having excellent noise-reducing properties, timber is also a robust material for security fencing So, how do you create a secure and soundproof perimeter? Fortunately, through LPS 1175 certification and CPNI approval, it is possible to combine high-security performance and up to 28dB of noise reduction capabilities. As well as having excellent noise-reducing properties, timber is also a robust material for security fencing. Seamlessly locking thick timber boards create a flat face, making climbing difficult and the solid boards prevent lines of sight into the facility. For extra protection, steel mesh can either be added to one side of the fence or sandwiched between the timber boards, making it extremely difficult to break through. A fair façade A high-security timber fence can be both, aesthetically pleasing and disguise its security credentials. Its pleasant natural façade provides a foil to the stern steel bars and mesh, often seen with other high-security solutions. Of course, it’s still important that fencing serves its primary purposes, so make sure you refer to certifications, to establish a product’s security and acoustic performance. Better protected The value of data cannot be overstated. A breach can have severe consequences for public safety and the economy, leading to serious national security implications. Countering varied security threats Data centres are faced with an incredibly diverse range of threats, including activism, sabotage, trespass, and terrorism on a daily basis. It’s no wonder the government has taken an active role in assisting with their protection through the medium of the CPNI and NCSC. By working with government bodies such as the CPNI and certification boards like the LPCB, specifiers can access a vault of useful knowledge and advice. This will guide them to effective and quality products that are appropriate for their specific site in question, ensuring it’s kept safe and secure.

Data explosion: Futureproofing your video surveillance infrastructure
Data explosion: Futureproofing your video surveillance infrastructure

Video surveillance systems are producing more unstructured data than ever before. A dramatic decrease in camera costs in recent years has led many businesses to invest in comprehensive surveillance coverage, with more cameras generating more data. Plus, advances in technology mean that the newest (8K) cameras are generating approximately 800% more data than their predecessors (standard definition). Traditional entry-level solutions like network video recorders (NVRs) simply aren’t built to handle massive amounts of data in an efficient, resilient and cost-effective manner. This has left many security pioneers grappling with a data storage conundrum. Should they continue adding more NVR boxes? Or is there another, better, route? Retaining video data In short, yes. To future proof their video surveillance infrastructure, an increasing number of businesses are adopting an end-to-end surveillance architecture with well-integrated, purpose-built platforms for handling video data through its lifecycle. This presents significant advantages in terms of security, compliance and scalability, as well as unlocking new possibilities for data enrichment. All of this with a lower total cost of ownership than traditional solutions. Security teams would typically delete recorded surveillance footage after a few days or weeks Previously, security teams would typically delete recorded surveillance footage after a few days or weeks. However, thanks to increasingly stringent legal and compliance demands, many are now required to retain video data for months or even years. There’s no doubt that this can potentially benefit investigations and increase prosecutions, but it also puts significant pressure on businesses’ storage infrastructure. Data lifecycle management This necessitates a more intelligent approach to data lifecycle management. Rather than simply storing video data in a single location until it’s wiped, an end-to-end video surveillance solution can intelligently migrate data to different storage platforms and media as it ages. So, how does this work? Video is recorded and analysed on a combination of NVR, hyperconverged infrastructure (HCI) and application servers. Then, it’s moved to resilient file storage for a pre-determined period, where it can be immediately retrieved and accessed for review. Finally, based on policies set by heads of security, data is moved from file storage to highly secure, low-cost archive storage such as an object, tape or cloud. Data is moved from file storage to highly secure, low-cost archive storage Long-term storage This process is known as tiering. It allows businesses to use reliable, inexpensive long-term storage for most of their data, whilst still enabling security pioneers to retrieve video data when the need arises, such as during a compliance audit, or to review footage following a security breach. In a nutshell, it offers them the best of both worlds. Scaling your video surveillance infrastructure can be a headache. Businesses that rely on NVRs – even high-end units with 64 or even 96 hard drives – are finding themselves running out of capacity increasingly quickly. In order to scale, security pioneers then have to procure new boxes. With NVRs, this inevitably involves a degree of guesswork. Should they go for the largest possible option, and risk over provisioning? Or perhaps a smaller option, and risk running out of capacity again? Common management console Security pioneers can easily add or remove storage capacity or compute resources – separately or together As businesses add new cameras or replace existing ones, many end up with inadequate surveillance infrastructure made up of multiple NVR boxes along with several application servers for running other surveillance functions such as access control, security photo databases, analytics, etc. This patchwork approach leaves security pioneers scrambling for capacity, maintaining various hardware footprints, repeating updates and checks across multiple systems, and taking up valuable time that could be better spent elsewhere. By contrast, flexible HCI surveillance platforms aggregate the storage and ecosystem applications to run on the same infrastructure and combine viewing under a common management console, avoiding ‘swivel chair’ management workflows. Plus, they offer seamless scalability. 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Firstly, meta tags can provide context around data, making it easier to find and access when needed. Object storage platform For instance, if security teams are notified of a suspicious red truck, they can quickly find data with this tag, rather than manually searching through hours of data, which can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. Plus, meta tags can be used to mark data for future analysis. This means that as algorithms are run over time, policies can be set to automatically store data in the right location. For example, if a video is determined to contain cars driving in and out of your premises, it would be moved to long-term archiving such as an object storage platform for compliance purposes. If, on the other hand, it contained 24 hours of an empty parking lot, it could be wiped. These same meta tags may be used to eventually expire the compliance data in the archive after it is no longer needed based on policy. Video surveillance architecture Continuing to rely on traditional systems like NVRs will fast become unsustainable for businesses Even if your organisation isn’t using machine learning or artificial intelligence-powered applications to enhance your data today, it probably will be one, three, or even five years down the line. Implementing a flexible end-to-end video surveillance solution prepares you for this possibility. With new advances in technology, the quantity of data captured by video surveillance systems will continue rising throughout the coming decade. As such, continuing to rely on traditional systems like NVRs will fast become unsustainable for businesses. Looking forward, when moving to an end-to-end video surveillance architecture, security pioneers should make sure to evaluate options from different vendors. 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How can the security industry provide affordable and cost-effective solutions?
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Cost is a reality to be managed. No matter how powerful or desirable a technology may be to a customer, the sale often comes down to the basic question: Can I afford it? And affordability extends not just to the purchase price, but to the cost of technology over its lifespan. In addition to advances in technology capabilities, the security industry has also achieved inroads to make its offerings more worth the cost. We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: What is the physical security industry doing to make more affordable and cost-effective technology solutions for end users?