Machine learning and advanced analytics enable mobile CCTV security systems to proactively thwart security threats while also driving operational efficiencies
By: Cameron Simon, Senior Vice President of Industrials, Technology & Services for Stallion Infrastructure Services, a leader in mobile security, video surveillance and communications services.
Last year, retail stores in the U.S. lost an estimated $86.6 billion USD to theft. According to the same report from the National Retail Federation, that number is projected to increase to over $115 billion by 2025. Loss prevention is always top of mind for retailers. However, of growing concern is organized retail crime, which is increasing at an alarming rate. Brick-and-mortar retailers, many of which are already struggling, are now facing increased exposure.
When it comes to protecting retailers from an attack, a range of options from CCTV systems to 24-hour security guards are often deployed. However, CCTV security installations have typically focused on “inside the perimeter” protection and often lack the teeth needed to be a deterrent. That is changing with new mobile security trailers, loaded with advanced artificial intelligence (AI) monitoring capabilities which can greatly expand the scope of on-site security. Plus, these smart systems are also proving to add operational efficiencies. On top of the surge in criminal activities targeting retail operations is the nationwide shortage of law enforcement. This has the potential to increase response times and puts additional pressure on retailers to fortify their security practices.
As a solution to this issue, the introduction of mobile security trailers presents a timely opportunity to proactively detect potential security threats before they escalate into more severe situations.
Mobile security trailers typically comprise a trailer armed with high-definition cameras attached to an extendable mast. They may also be powered by solar panels and can be quickly deployed and set up in minutes. An advantage to these systems is they can be repositioned as threat profiles change.
Mobile security trailers are not new, but sophisticated data analytics is changing how these intelligent systems operate and is enabling a more efficient approach to securing retail properties.
While it has been a customary practice to install numerous cameras inside stores, businesses are now equally keen on monitoring the activities of individuals in the parking lot perimeter or access points before they even enter the premises.
The latest AI-enabled technology provides an opportunity for businesses to have real-time, continuous monitoring of their storefront, people, assets, and environment. This may include identifying whether or not someone is brandishing a weapon – which is now possible with advanced AI systems. These systems can also alert on vehicles, people, and motorcycles as well as spot smoke and fire – always a concern at any retail property.
The way in which security monitoring trailers are rolled out is in stark contrast to that of traditional CCTV which is built and designed to be a fixed installation that often blends into the surroundings.
Deterrence is the primary defense against potential security threats. Traditional CCTV cameras often act as passive observers, but with the introduction of mobile security trailers, the situation is different.
These trailers are highly visible, sending a clear message that they are actively monitoring the area. The aim is to make people aware of their presence, ensuring that potential wrongdoers are discouraged from carrying out any illicit activities.
Popular deterrent features include motion-activated strobe lights and talk-down speakers that can announce that police or security has been alerted to someone’s presence.
At the same time those on-trailer features take action, an alert gets sent to a central monitoring center where trained professionals take over for AI. They can then quickly review the incident and determine actionable next steps in real-time.
Those next steps are typically customized for each facility and may include contacting security guards, local police, or customer representatives.
Beyond just security, the AI systems on the advanced monitoring trailers can also provide operational efficiencies. For example, it could be as simple as alleviating congestion from multiple deliveries that occur at the same time. It can also be heatmapping of activities to make changes to operational workflows.
There are some retail centers that simply need an extra set of eyes out there looking out for certain risks or liabilities. These advanced systems are not limited to just anti-theft or anti-vandalism. They are truly a second set of eyes and ears out there.
In addition, mobile monitoring trailers offer another notable advantage: the ability to swiftly exchange them in case of maintenance issues. For example, Stallion has strategically positioned nationwide operational facilities and can quickly provide replacement trailers with high-end commercial-grade cameras and software infrastructure, if needed. To ensure maximum uptime, the company also conducts a daily virtual “pulse check” on each system within its extensive nationwide fleet to guarantee uninterrupted operation.
Is the unit charging adequately? Are the batteries working optimally? Are the cameras and the system working and free of visual obstructions? If a system is not working properly, that’s a potential failure point that needs to be proactively managed and prevented.
Another common failure point is connectivity. Trailers should be able to connect with more than just a single cellular service. It may be important for some users to find a supplier that can use multiple carriers as well as low-earth orbiting satellites and point-to-point connections for redundancies. This also allows users to log in from anywhere and check in on the facility through a secured portal.
According to a report from the Retail Industry Leaders Association, most retail theft represent crimes of opportunity – meaning people steal when they believe they won’t get caught. The goal of new AI-enabled security monitoring trailers is to reduce incidents of theft, vandalism, and damage while ensuring retailers minimize vulnerabilities.
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