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In part 1 of Connected Security, Edward Porter, Director of IoT Solutions, explains how, in an increasingly connected world, IMS Evolve can improve the efficiency of retail security systems and keep supermarkets secure.

As technology continues to transform the retail sector, ever more sophisticated security threats tend to come hand-in-hand. And with the annual bill for UK retail crime now estimated at over £1.9 billion (Source: BRC), it is clear why retailers are investing heavily in security and management systems. In this two-part mini-series, we take a look at the topic of IoT and security to understand how, in an increasingly interconnected and automated world, retailers can stay secure. First up, we look at hardware and consider how retailers can maximise on store security investments and reduce additional costs.

From store alarms to CCTV, technology has been helping supermarkets detect shoplifting and prevent out of hours robberies for many years. CCTV was first introduced to the UK’s streets as a temporary measure for crowd control during a visit by the Thai Royal Family in 1960. The following year saw the introduction of the country’s first permanent cameras to improve security at London’s railway stations. With video storage becoming increasingly more reliable and accessible in the 1980s, retailers soon began deploying the technology within their stores to retrospectively provide video evidence on indiscretions.

Numerous technological advancements have inevitably followed, such as the introduction of IP security cameras within the store network and video definition improvements. Now, thanks to the ubiquity of sensors and the availability of advanced IoT solutions that provide retailers with access to asset data – everything from lighting to refrigeration systems – so too are retailers able to get the most out of their hardware security systems using these solutions.

These advanced solutions, such as the machine agnostic IMS Evolve platform, are able to effectively and efficiently deploy new functionalities that can transform retail store security systems, like CCTV and alarms. For example, by linking intruder alarm lighting systems to a remote device, when an alarm goes off, real-time video of the area can be streamed from CCTV systems directly to a security officer, who can immediately take action to either remotely reset the system after a false alarm or respond to a possible break-in.

However, the capabilities don’t stop there. By integrating store speakers with sensors connected to the CCTV system, a security officer can use the platform to broadcast their voice over the store’s intercom to warn and instruct intruders. Similar connectivity can also be realised with personal panic alarms for store staff members, who can alert the store’s Security Centre directly if an issue arises in store. The Security Centre team then have the ability to respond remotely or, if more appropriate, direct an officer to the exact location of the disturbance. The IMS platform also has the ability to generate reports with fully auditable and time-stamped data sources to support analysis and/or prosecutions, as well as publishing management dashboards that allow national, regional and format level summaries of events in real time to support informed allocation of security resource.

The controls agnosticism of the IMS Evolve platform means that expensive new kit upgrades or replacement of older infrastructure is not required in order to enhance or create additional capabilities. One major UK supermarket had planned to rip out existing CCTV systems in order to replace older cameras, which would have incurred high capital costs and operational disruption. To combat this expensive approach, the IMS software was deployed across the entire existing CCTV system and captured still images from each individual camera to ensure they were working correctly. This information was then used to direct maintenance resources efficiently to assets requiring attention. In effect, the store was able to achieve the same capability of replacement models with its existing CCTV cameras remotely through the existing IMS platform, whilst avoiding huge upfront costs – up to £25,000 per site – of an extensive replacement programme. As you can imagine, the numbers certainly begin to add up across thousands of stores in different locations.

Digital transformation can yield so much more than revenue increases for retailers. The impact of IoT on security hardware is just one more way we can transform the operations and efficiency of a store without the time and capital investment needed to rip and replace existing infrastructure.