Increase Biz efficiency & profit with 360-degree cameras
Editor / Provider: Tevin Wang,a&s Asia | Updated: 3/4/2014 | Article type: Tech Corner
Despite 360-degree cameras are mostly installed indoors. They are great fits for retails, especially. We take a closer at how business intelligence (BI) is achieved.
360-degree cameras are designed for areas with the need for more or less total coverage — an overview of all activities — and with tight budgets for surveillance, such as retail stores. Customers deploy 360-degree cameras for 2 main reasons: first, for situational awareness because 360-degree technology provides end users with coverage that has no blind spots and retrospectively analyzes a scene with speed and accuracy that no analog cameras could accomplish. Secondly, “this development is fuelled by network video enabling advanced video processing and analytics applications,” said Petra Bennermark, Product Manager, Axis Communications. “This is particularly true for the retail sector where panoramic cameras are used to monitor aisles, shelves and racks.” In other words, BI application integration is one of the most significant reasons for retailers to move to network video.
Improved Business Intelligence
Retails owners are no longer limited to counting people as customers come through the front door Through path analysis, queue counting, and dwell time, marketing and business intelligence is hugely enhanced. 360-degree cameras not only offer economic alternatives but also enhance sales and efficiency.
Profit first, security second
At any retailer, security cannot interfere with profitability. Explaining the business case for security must account for retail priorities. In retail, the loss prevention department is usually the main decision-maker who determines how budgets are spent on security technologies. The motivation for these decision-makers is to combat shrink. They do not put in a camera or an alarm because it's necessary. Instead, they invest in technology when it has a proportional impact on shrink or produces a return of investment (ROI) in a one- to three-year time frame.
Added-benefits Attract Attentions
Retailers reveals more interests when security proves to be an investment, rather than a high one-time cost. Reducing operational costs is one clear way security can provide benefits. In the longer term, ROI can be demonstrated through cost reduction of manpower, such as security guards and more.
For example, a great numbers of components make up the path to sales such as merchandising, adequate staffing, environment, and how long a customer must wait for assistance. By a holistic view of surveillance, 360-degree cameras, with the help of video content analysis combined, count customers entering pre-defined directions, calculating waiting time for customer service, and counting vehicles and their wait time in the drive-through area. Such video analytics provide data necessary to minimize wait times and maximize staff. In other word, the integrated analysis transforms video into a continuous stream of business intelligence such as daily traffic distribution, sales conversion rate and average service time. Such valuable Information on traffic, conversion, staffing levels and sales empowers strategies on how and when to staff. Stores can compare this information with the number of sales and adjust work schedules to ensure proper staffing for better customer service. The entire solution is beyond security system and evolves thereby as a management tool to optimize operations.
More than PoS Integration
Management efficiencies can also be delivered through security aiding business systems. Via the integration of point of sale (PoS) systems with surveillance systems, comprehensive and actionable information can thus be gathered. For example, there is a great tendency that more loss at the register than internal and external theft combined. These losses might not always be intentional, they can be generated from mis-scans on bar codes or ringing up a single item when it should be multiple. If the PoS improperly registers these incidents, it's a loss.
The integration of 360-degree cameras and PoS can correlate transactions from cash registers with the video monitoring. The combo also allows centralized management so all system administration can be undertaken from the headquarters while each store manager can leave the investigative work to central control and focus time on the daily management of the local store instead. Still store managers do have access to video evidence so that it can be used in connection with events such as shoplifting or payment disputes
“The best uses for panoramic is in which have a very large space to cover with minimum mounting points, for example, parking lots, campus quads and lecture halls, cafeterias and building lobbies, large industrial spaces, large retail space and storage yards,” said Becky Zhou, VP of Sales, Asia Pacific, Arecont Vision. “Compared with traditional monitoring, at those areas, we can use least camera and see the largest space. And as our panoramic camera has highest resolution (40MP), we can see the detail clearly. In some entrances, we can use the WDR panoramic camera, which can show the perfect panoramic image.”
As 360-degree cameras change the perspectives for security personnel who “see” video, installers should pay closer attention when deploying them. First, Installers must be conscious of where the camera is being mounted and of what type of material they are mounting a camera on. As certain 360-degree cameras are designed to blend into the decor and need to be mounted at harder ceiling material like drywall or sheetrock, plenum space where air circulation is used might not be a good option. In other word, aesthetics play an important part in many installations, especially when mounted at eye level or just above eye level in a wall.
Since a 360-degree camera covers a wide area in all directions, ceiling or mounting height is important and cameras should be positioned strategically to provide the best coverage for the area. Apart from this, how the camera is going to be powered with PoE and how it would connect to the management network should be given some thought.
Due to possible resolution drop at the edge of fisheye lens, user should make the area of interest the centre of the image. Thus, the height and location for installation should be carefully considered.
Another consideration for installing 360-degree cameras is light variations in a given scene with such a large field of view. Very bright lights often blow out a scene or create lots of shadows, and many 360-degree cameras cannot pick up information because the image is either too dark or too bright. The brightest and darkest areas will be a challenge for the camera to resolve. Installers should consider the entire scene when placing a camera — how much light will be visible and what in your scene is important to see for total situational awareness. When a 360-degree camera is installed under a bright environment which uses lamps with low frequency, flicker might occur. Low light sensitivity of 360-degree cameras should be put into agenda, and “the monitoring area better have sufficient lighting,” recommended Aaron Yeh, Director at Surveon Technology.