Today, technology provides tools that were once unthinkable; for example, via the Internet, it is possible to connect remotely to a surveillance camera using a mobile device : it is a nice convenience to see if everything is fine at home, perhaps integrating this system with the alarm system.
In stores there is the same need, but not only to check if intrusions do not occur during closing time: implementing a video surveillance device is useful for various reasons, ranging from thwarting possible thefts to documenting illegal acts to facilitate investigators' investigations.
In a Fashion sales point or in a Boutique, where there are several luxury items, a security solution based on CCTV cameras is highly recommended, however its realization is not a very simple thing. Although enabling technologies are widely available (and Intel® is among the leading companies in the High Tech sector that provide this type of technology), installing the various devices, connecting them together and configuring them correctly requires the help of experts.
Finally, let's not forget the regulatory aspects related to the respect of Privacy which, while allowing video surveillance in public places and companies (and one shop is simultaneously one and the other), establish precise rules in the interest of both workers and visitors .
In this article we will try to describe briefly and without going into too technical details, the 5 things to know to successfully implement a video surveillance system and we will take as an example a clothing store, even if what described can be applied to any other type of store .
1. The geometry of the spaces
First of all it must be said that a store of this type has special needs, especially with regards to style and look; however, in designing its internal layout, in addition to keeping in mind the functional aspects of the correct display of the garments and the creation of an atmosphere that calls for purchase, it is advisable to take care of the arrangement of the various objects - from the counter to the test cabin, from the shelves and supports for shop windows - so that it is easy to control them by means of cameras, reducing their number to the minimum necessary, while allowing a view from different perspectives of each individual space.
2. Installation of video surveillance cameras in the store
On the market there are small-sized cameras that are aesthetically pleasing and capable of capturing quality images even in poor lighting conditions. However, any camera needs a power supply and a digital connection to work. As far as the first requirement is concerned, it is necessary to have a power outlet next to each device to insert the appropriate power supply - the camera operates at low voltage but it would be impractical to power it by battery; the important thing is that the power supply cable is not modified (for example, extended to reach a distant outlet) because this alters its specifications (output voltage) and can cause malfunctions.
From the technical point of view, it is preferable that the lens is a "wide angle" that facilitates the recovery of large volumes of space . In some cases it is advisable that the cameras (especially if present in small numbers) are also equipped with movement capability (PTZ: Pan, Tilt & Zoom, or movement on the horizontal and vertical axis, as well as the ability to change the focal length and then to enlarge the image).
As for the network connection, there are two possibilities: physical cabling to the LAN (which may also include the power supply if using Power over Ethernet technology) or the more practical wireless (wireless) connection . This implies, however, that at the point of sale a Wi-Fi Hot Spot is installed which, among other things, can be used to provide employees and customers with a very flexible and fast Internet connectivity channel for tablets and smartphones or PCs.
3. Configure the cameras
To configure an IP camera (which connects to the network using the Internet protocol), it is necessary to know first of all what an IP address is. In simple terms it is a unique address that the router (the network device that manages the LAN both wired and wireless) assigns to our camera - by the way: LAN stands for Local Area Network or local network: typically the one that allows objects like PCs to connect to the web at home, in the office or in a store.
By accessing the control panel of the router through a normal PC or a device that has a web browser (the program for browsing the Internet), we will have the possibility to view which address has been assigned to the various cameras once we have them connected to the network local. In addition to the IP address we will have to make sure there is a listening port open in the router to make connections locally or remotely. Let's not forget to also set the firewall (a network device that controls traffic by enabling the connections allowed and blocking the unwanted ones) to allow incoming and outgoing connections.
When setting all the parameters necessary for the cameras to function correctly (obviously following the instructions provided), we do not forget to protect them using a password, so that no unauthorized user can capture the images taken. To connect to any camera in the store, it will therefore be sufficient to type the IP address we have configured from the browser and enter the access credentials, after which it will be possible to view the images taken by the camera both locally and remotely.
In particular, to access remotely it must be kept in mind that Internet Providers usually assign dynamic IP addresses to residential users and static IP addresses to professional users.
In the case of a static IP address, it is easier to connect to the camera, since it is enough to simply indicate the address and listening port, while if dynamic IP addresses are used, a solution consists of registering for free to a service that converts dynamic IP addresses to static, assigning a unique identification to the cameras.
4. Regulatory aspects
Is it possible to install cameras in the store to check customers? The answer is yes, as long as the purpose is to protect its assets and personnel, or to avoid theft, robbery and any kind of attack . However it is not possible to do it in secret: the "surprise" camera is not allowed, as is the fake one.
The image of an individual, in fact, must be considered a personal data, therefore, in order to install a surveillance camera, as underlined by the Privacy Guarantor, it is necessary to warn the framed subjects - for example by posting a specific sign, so that everyone those whose images are collected are informed and aware of them. In particular, the cartel, that is the “minimum” information provided, cannot be hidden or difficult to read: format and position must be visible and the contents immediately understandable, which is why a symbol is very effective (and does not require translations) . Finally, in informing the resumed customer, it is necessary to clarify whether the images collected are recorded or only viewed in real time.
But in a store (in fashion or other) there are not only customers: the clerks, or the workers present in the store, are also taken up by the video surveillance system. It should therefore be borne in mind that Law 300/1970 (Workers' Statute) prohibits, in art. 4, the use of audiovisual equipment and other equipment for remote monitoring of employees; moreover the same legislation on privacy (Legislative Decree No. 196/2003) refers to the discipline set by art. 4 of the Statute.
There are many workers who tighten up as soon as they hear about video cameras or video surveillance: the fear is to be monitored for the duration of working hours and to have breath on their neck all day living with the anxiety of being bugged. As a matter of fact, these plants allow many companies in the trade to protect themselves and to improve safety in the workplace (think of goldsmiths, betting shops, tobacconists, etc.).
How, then, can a holder install a video surveillance system in total respect for the privacy of his workers without risking incurring charges and penalties? The procedure is quite simple and it is undoubtedly worth pursuing it step by step rather than regretting not having done it later.
A company that wants to install cameras in the workplace must :
Inform the workers concerned by providing an information
Appoint a person responsible for managing the recorded data
Position the cameras in the risk areas, avoiding unidirectional resumption of workers
Post visible signs informing employees and any customers, guests or visitors of the security system
Keep the images for a set maximum time
Not respecting the procedures provided by the Code regarding the protection of personal data, installing the systems for unlawful purposes and processing the data of their employees in such a way as to violate their integrity and privacy, is risky and the penalties can be particularly high . To be affected by a possible case of privacy violation would also be the company's reputation - and in the case of a Fashion store that deals with prestigious brands, this would be a serious problem. The procedures for acting in full compliance with the Code and the personnel are simple and the advantages in adopting a system in accordance with the law are considerable.
5. Recording video footage
As we have seen, today it is possible to have at a reasonable cost, a sophisticated video surveillance system for the shops that allows authorized people, both locally and remotely, to view the footage in real time, even when the store is closed - maybe because an alarm has been triggered.
In any case, both to document any offenses committed by people present in the store within or outside the normal opening hours, and to facilitate police investigations, it is essential to keep a record of the filming for reasonable periods of time.
Naturally, the digital images and videos - especially if they are of good quality - are quite "heavy" from the point of view of the required memory capacity, so that adequate recording supports are needed with regard to the space and overall performance available.
The different cameras are only one of the many components of the system: therefore there is also the network and the various connection and control devices (routers, firewalls, authenticators, servers, etc.); always connected to the network, there is also a storage unit that can be dedicated exclusively or not to recording video documents. The "contour" equipment is therefore indispensable not only for the real-time use of the films but also for delayed visualizations as well as for the creation of notifications in the case of certain conditions or events.
By using Intel® technology solutions, including Network Attached Storage (NAS) for video surveillance, you can customize the implementation to best meet your needs. Among the salient features of these technologies we recall the ability to:
As we have seen, it may seem complicated but in reality it is not: after all it is a question of putting together a series of standardized technological elements that basically use a network to exchange information.
In the specific case, the information is digital video documents produced by special cameras able not only to automatically adapt the recovery according to the dynamic characteristics of the environment in which they are located, but also to be remotely controlled to point in a specific direction and zoom in . Obviously, the camera is also a computer capable of digitizing images and processing them to produce a specific format (including data compression so as not to impact the performance of the network and storage devices). This computer, included in the camera, is also equipped with the necessary functions to connect to the network and support its communication protocols.
In the various stages of the whole process we therefore find a series of processing devices all endowed with the intelligence necessary to carry out their task and integrate each other. Intel®, in particular, plays a leading role thanks to the family of microprocessors that makes devices and sensors, PCs, appliances and servers available for the most diverse uses.