Swedish Department Store Chain Protects Personnel with Milestone Video

Open platform IP software gives scalability and long-term security plan

Milestone open platform IP video management software has been installed with network cameras from Axis Communications in a new building in Kista Galleria that opened in November 2009. Since then, the flexible and future-proof surveillance solution is rolling out to many other Ahlens department store locations across the Nordic region.

Ahlens department stores offer customers a wide array of articles in three product areas: fashion, beauty and houseware. Unfortunately, some people are drawn here with other intentions than sprucing up themselves or their home. The Ahlens Group has nonetheless only been hit with four robberies since 2005. According to their security manager this is partly due to the stores' relatively early closing time. The new store in Kista Galleria, however, is open until 10 pm, which is later than some of the 78 other stores in Sweden.

“When incidents occur, images from the video system help clear them up. A lone perpetrator threatened a sales clerk with a knife in one of our stores, just after opening, and took off with some money. The thief was identified thanks to the cameras having captured him,” explained Ahlens Group Security Manager Anders Lundqvist, stressing that it is of the greatest importance that employees feel safe in the workplace. “It is tragic to face threats or violence.”

IP System Allows Scalability and Long-Term Plan
“The personnel's main task is to take care of customers and sell, not to devote themselves to camera equipment and solving crimes,” Lundqvist said, who was commissioned several years ago to create a common security department for the entire Ahlens Group. He drafted a template for security routines and purchasing standard and future-proof security system. A decision was made to install a video surveillance system in all newly opened Ahlens stores, and to equip all of the 79 stores with the new system in the coming years.

“The Ahlens Group has 300 entities in the Nordic Region, which makes it better for suppliers to work with us when everything is wrapped in one package. For our part, we want to have good and long-lasting relations with our suppliers,” Lundqvist said.

The Ahlens Group has a Milestone XProtect Enterprise license and so far the software has been installed in 15 stores.

System User Friendliness Important
Santos Flores, store manager at Ahlens Kista Galleria, said, “I learned to use the system in a few minutes. Milestone is fantastic. It is easy to understand and maneuver with just a click of a button on the screen.”

Lundqvist said Milestone's open platform also contributed to their decision.

“The Ahlens Group will not accept any technical system that is locked into an individual supplier. It has to be open so we can retain possession of the hardware and software choices, if we want to switch suppliers,” he said.

Prevention, Resolution and Prosecution
With two floors totaling 3,500 square meters situated in the new part of the facility, the Ahlens store is both the largest tenant in Kista Galleria and the second largest Ahlens store in Stockholm. Nineteen Axis cameras have been installed here, mostly 209 MFD 1.3-megapixel models and a number of M1011s.

The video surveillance system's basic purpose is to create security for the personnel by preventing robbery, threats and violence.

“When potential thieves or aggressors come in here, they know that they are captured on video, which is a deterrent for most of them,” Lundqvist said. “We also solve thefts and various shoplifting incidents. Thanks to the high image quality, we have been able to prosecute a number of cases of credit card fraud, as well.”

“Ahlens cooperates with a number of police districts, foremost in Stockholm, and we are known for swift delivery of high-quality images when crimes occur,” Lundqvist said. “Thanks to Milestone it's easy and fast to go back into the system and extract video. If I am in Gothenburg, for example, and the police come to Kista Galleria after an incident, I can explain to them over the phone which buttons to push to fetch images out of our system. The police really appreciate that.”
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