What Open Architecture Means for Loss Prevention

  |   Blog, CCTV, EAS, IP Video, Physical Security


It’s been the holy grail of security technology: the ability to unify all systems into one platform. As it stands, many LP teams use one system for video, a different one for access control, and yet another one for intrusion and fire alarm. One person has to administer three (or more) different platforms that don’t talk to each other. This is time-consuming, inefficient, and — scariest of all — less effective than what the competition might be using.


The promise of open architecture is to break down the barriers between different systems, and allow data to be easily pooled into one central location. From there it can be disseminated to different stakeholders within the company, making the Loss Prevention team the unexpected hero for increased sales and efficiency company-wide.


To make this a reality, an industry group — ONVIF — has been formed, led by the heavy hitters in security technology. The group first developed an IP-based security standard which allowed video cameras to be plugged into one system, regardless of the manufacturer. Then the same was done with access control. The recently introduced Class-C of ONVIF now allows for open platform integration of access control components from different vendors, and the ability to manage it all together with video.

The open architecture movement has expanded from there, and the most nimble companies have already jumped on the opportunity to create solutions that few thought possible. Take IP video for example. Now you can open your NVR software and easily see all your store locations nationwide on a map. Select one location, and see the floor plan with your cameras marked. Select the camera and see the live video feed. Then in the same software click on the Analytics tab and see the heat map of foot traffic in the store. Learn where your customers are pausing to look, and which displays they are ignoring. So now you can use security cameras to not just watch for theft, but to understand consumer behavior better in order to improve your merchandising and increase top-level revenue.


analytics_imageThe same analytics can be used by your operations team to schedule store employees more efficiently. If you see that on Tuesdays between 4 and 8 there is a spike in traffic, but on Wednesdays at the same time the store is quiet, your store managers can plan their team schedules accordingly. The logistics also benefit from the open architecture. If you are using GPS-based tracking system, it can run on the same platform so you can easily see all your vehicles nationwide at any time.


What about the EAS? It too can be brought into the fold of a unified platform. You can now bring in the triggers from the pedestals to alarm a camera to start recording. Intrusion and fire alarms can also be tied into the platform. When the alarm is set off you get alarm notification, video notification, video recording, plus access control reports whether any of its permissions were triggered or not. And you can see all of this in one neatly organized interface on your desktop or mobile device.


What are the obstacles to deploying a unified platform? It shouldn’t be the money, because IP systems have become more affordable and have an easily-provable ROI. The biggest obstacle seems to be the access to the right information. Simply put, many companies don’t know what’s out there. Of course, it doesn’t help that many vendors are still clinging to their proprietary, closed systems, fearful of what opening up could do to their bottom line.


But the progress of technology points in just one direction. Closed architecture limits you to what you can do, while open architecture does the opposite. It unchains you from one particular platform, giving you unlimited options and the ability to keep adding new systems as technologies keep evolving. And that’s what’s most beautiful about it: open platform is endless, scalable, and it’s – enterprise.


Gerald Becker is vice president of physical security at USS. He is known industry-wide for his expertise in deploying digital video management solutions on a large scale in both the private and public sector. Becker holds multiple patents for physical security innovations he developed. He holds an MBA in information systems from the University of Redlands and a Bachelors of Science degree in technical management from DeVry University.