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IBM Smart Surveillance hopes to hit retail shrinkage where it hurts

Published by Jennifer on April 3, 2007 8:54 AM

"Shrinkage" or the theft of inventory (either by customers or employees), has plagued large and small retail outlets for years, and video surveillance and security cameras have been one of the main tools that stores and managers use to control their stock and maintain their store's security.

However, there have always been limitations when it comes to camera technology and the ability to predict and prevent theft. Up to now, cameras have been passive security instruments, recording the happenings of a store until their footage is reviewed. This is good for identifying thieves, but it doesn't help shop owners and managers actively anticipate or work to prevent theft.
IBM's "Smart Surveillance" system is a digital, retail-oriented security system that is designed to change the way that retail video surveillance works. Incorporating advanced video analytics technology into a traditional retail surveillance setup, the Smart Surveillance system is designed to track important, theft-related elements in any given store - customer tracking, suspicious movement, even facial recognition to alert managers of the presence of a suspected (or convicted) thief.
One of the most novel aspects of the Smart Surveillance system is its cashier notification functions. We've all experienced this before - walking innocently out of the store with an unpaid watermelon, case of soda, or package of toilet paper sitting on the bottom rack of the grocery cart. While there are plenty of innocent mistakes, many thieves take advantage of this often forgot about shelf, and steal millions of dollars of merchandise each year. With the Smart Surveillance system, a camera is mounted below the register, at about the same level as the lower shelf on a grocery cart. Using analytics and integration with the register software, the camera will scan the cart to ensure that the bottom rack is empty, or that the items on the bottom rack have been added to the customer's tab on the register. If an item is missed, the cashier will be alerted, and no transaction will be finished until all items in the cart are recognized by the system.
This type of integration an example of how the evolution of video surveillance brings powerful security to more and more businesses. This type of active security makes video surveillance a promising security method for more and more businesses.