In this article, we’ll discuss the basics of video analytics and dive into three of the technology’s most compelling use cases for retailers.
Retailers lose a staggering amount of money each year to theft. According to the Australia and New Zealand Retail Crime Survey, that collected data from over 9,000 stores with a combined annual turnover of AUD $95 billion in 2018, retailers in the ANZ region lost an estimated $3.37 billion due to theft annually.
Theft and retail loss prevention is a problem that businesses have faced for as long as goods have been on display and one that security professionals have long tried to stop. It’s a constant cat and mouse problem. Criminals are always finding new ways to get around security and theft prevention has to work at a faster pace and cover more ground with each new iteration.
Luckily for anyone in the retail business, the private security industry is up to the task. In recent years, we’ve seen giant leaps in video surveillance AI and practices that keep businesses safe. Significant improvements can be found in the market for computer vision applications: also known as video analytics. This technology turns a CCTV system into a powerful loss prevention tool that helps to improve your bottom line and keeps boards and management teams happy.
What is Video Analytics?
We’ll cover the concept of video analytics in-depth in our upcoming article on the subject. This first section will give you a quick introduction.
Video analytics uses computer vision to process images from a camera to either detect a pre-defined object, like a car, or classify an object. For example, it’s the use of computer vision to count the number of people who entered a store or alert staff to those who leave without stopping to pay.
Video analytics apply algorithms or filters to images and video to find patterns or details in the pixels that represent an object (e.g. Person, Face, Vehicle), features (e.g. a nose, a mask, a truck), and/or behaviors (e.g. loitering, unusual movement, fighting).
Video analytics uses 4 core algorithmic disciplines including, Video Motion Detection (VMD), Heuristics, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to search for patterns or details in the pixels of images & video streams that represent objects (i.e. people, a face or vehicle), features (e.g. a nose, a mask, a truck), and/or behaviors (e.g. loitering, unusual movement, fighting).
It bears mentioning that these capabilities reduce the need for on-site physical security. The analytics do most of the heavy lifting so that security personnel can focus their time and energy on other aspects of the job.
Video Analytics Use Cases for Retail
1. Theft Prevention
Retail security in shopping centres, grocery stores & and other large locations suffer from a common problem. The bigger they are, the harder it is to track everything that’s going on inside. The more cameras they install, the better their security coverage. However, it then becomes more challenging to manage. A video surveillance system with analytics is able to detect objects in multiple video streams simultaneously.
For a video surveillance system to be of real use, it needs to do more than provide a visual record of events. The video surveillance system needs to provide security teams with actionable intelligence in real-time. Video analytics helps on-site security respond faster to incidents that occur. It’ll notify staff when activity (as defined by you) takes place. For example, your security team could get a customised email or SMS alert when someone on a facial recognition watchlist enters your retail centre. Or your system could prioritise a live feed of high-risk areas when you have no employees nearby. The specific use cases for theft prevention are near-limitless. They’re bound by the creativity of your security partners and what you’ve come to understand about your customers and their patterns.
2. Pattern Finding
It’s worth mentioning that video analytics can be of great help in studying the movement and behaviour patterns of the different types of people who enter your locations.
Ordinarily, you’d have to sift through hours of footage to identify at-risk areas and goods in your stores, understand how people navigate your aisles, and spot suspicious patterns to improve your policies. Instead of fast-forwarding through hours of data to find behaviour worth noting, you could save time by automatically searching for footage that features people.
With object detection, you could search for:
The number of people that visited your store in a given time period?
- The hours of the day that see the most activity?
- The number of people that tried to enter your store without wearing a mask
Beyond the insights generated about your location’s security, automation makes it easier to understand the factors that drive your revenue. It’s an investment that keeps on giving.
There’s a lot of time spent investigating theft using video surveillance systems. Footage is used in order to recoup losses through insurance, root out bad actors among your employees, or simply get smarter for future cases. Again, this process tends to be manual, time-consuming, and ultimately prone to human error. Video content analysis gives security personnel an easier go of it through search and rule-checking.
Naturally, you wouldn’t need footage of people browsing—the crucial moments are when visitors get close to your merchandise. Video analytics functions powered by AI can help investigators narrow their pool of searches to these crucial moments. Likewise, they can theoretically be trained to track unique visitors as they travel across your store, similar to how Instagram filters know where a face is on a screen via facial recognition.
The technology could also be used to classify different objects or people. If your employees have a specific uniform or feature that can be discerned by your software, you could hypothetically track idle time and cellphone usage (after all, time theft is still theft).
For medium and large retail organisations, video analytics is an indispensable tool worth multiples of its value in prevented losses. Modern security companies do the heavy lifting, understanding and operating these complex technological features in order to deliver faster response times, smarter insights, and more accurate investigations.
At JD Security, we specialise in delivering the most advanced technology to equip organisations against increasingly subtle threats. We employ veteran technicians, operators, and security professionals to bring the greatest possible value out of your security solutions. They’re trained to keep your business safe and assist beyond the expected roles of security teams.
Contact us today to learn how video analytics can increase your profits.
Call us on (02) 6372 9047 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.