Freeze frame (Part 4)

Is your video surveillance system up to par?

Part 4 of 6

By Spike Anderson

An IP camera is essentially a computer that can ‘see,’ so its video can offer applications, such as intelligent video, easy remote monitoring, and use of mobile devices. Photo courtesy Axis Communications

Utilizing a digital video feed can also provide jewellery retailers access to intelligent video through analytics, which turn video into a proactive tool to mitigate risks in real time, as opposed to reactive uses, such as witnessing a crime after it has occurred. Software inside the camera and VMS platform allows camera systems to think. Instead of simply recording security video, the system can, for instance, measure how many people enter and exit the store on any given day, allowing better management of staffing requirements. In addition, wait times at the checkout counter can be assessed. Retailers can also look at loitering hot spots and understand where customers and employees congregate. Loitering is often considered a pre-cursor to crime. More innocently, though, it could indicate a customer who has a question about your product. In any case, video analytics can help alert staff or security personnel to a situation requiring their attention.

More to come of this story in Part 5.

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Freeze frame (Part 3)

Is your video surveillance system up to par?

Part 3 of 6

By Spike Anderson

For surveillance in a retail environment, consider an all-IP system with highdefinition, intelligent network cameras connected to modern analytic software, and video management software (VMS). Photo courtesy Axis Communications

Jewellery stores employ bright lights to highlight merchandise, however, reflections from glass cases can cause lower-end cameras to underexpose the scene, creating video that is too dark to be usable. To address this, retailers can install wide dynamic range (WDR) cameras. These capture two or more full-frame snapshots of the scene at different exposures—some overexposed, some underexposed, and some in the middle. The processing power in the IP camera combines multiple exposures in real time to deliver properly exposed images.

WDR cameras are also ideal for store entrances. In a scenario similar to the glare from glass cases, bright outdoor light and dimmer light inside the store results in backlit silhouettes in the video feed. These are of little use for identification. WDR cameras can handle this dynamic range and deliver usable video images. Conversely, other areas, such as back rooms and hallways, are often dimly lit. Installing special low-light IP cameras in these areas can produce high-quality colour images in near darkness.

More to come of this story in Part 4.

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Freeze frame (Part 2)

Is your video surveillance system up to par?

Part 2 of 6

By Spike Anderson

Video encoders digitize analog signals, adding intelligence to an existing analog recording system and improving image quality. Photo courtesy Axis Communications

Ideally, surveillance in a retail environment should comprise an all-IP system with high-definition, intelligent network cameras connected to modern analytic software, and video management software (VMS). However, if you are using analog cameras, the good news is this older technology can be extended into the digital world without replacing existing cameras. Moving from analog to IP can be done in small manageable steps.

If you have working analog cameras at your store, a video encoder can allow them to be compatible with digital systems. Video encoders digitize analog signals, connecting them to a VMS software engine running on a new server. This adds intelligence to an otherwise ‘dumb’ recording system, as well as improves image quality.

If your plan is to purchase new IP cameras but cannot afford to remove and replace existing cabling, Ethernet over- coax converters can be installed to reuse coax cable and send the IP signal from the digital camera to the new software platform.

This means retailers can retain their analog investments while benefitting from advanced analytics, better access to the video feed, and easier management of recordings until the analog system eventually dies out. When the old cameras no longer work, you only need to replace them, not the entire system.

More to come of this story in Part 3.

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Freeze frame (Part 1)

Is your video surveillance system up to par?

Part 1 of 6

By Spike Anderson

Photo courtesy Axis Communications

Jewellery stores face unique security challenges, largely because merchandise is both small and very valuable. Effective video security solutions are available, but it is not uncommon to find a store in which the cameras do not provide sufficient coverage and image quality to combat theft. Retailers looking to install a new system or improve an existing one must first choose between analog and Internet protocol (IP) video. The differences between the two technologies are similar to any analog versus digital comparison. Analog systems use a signal from an analog camera transmitted over a coaxial cable (like those used for television cable signals), while IP video is a digital signal transmitted as data over a computer network cable or even wirelessly.

The most critical difference between analog closed circuit TV (CCTV) and IP video is image quality; since jewellery can be extremely small, this is of paramount concern to your business. Analog systems max out at the tube-TV quality of the past, while IP video provides the same HDTV-quality video we now watch on our flat screens at home. Additionally, since an IP camera is essentially a computer that can see, IP video offers many more applications, such as intelligent video, easy remote monitoring, use of mobile devices, and even integrated connections with other technology like alarm panels, store lighting, and motion sensors.

Also, IP is more scalable (i.e. expandable) than analog. As many jewellery retailers have discovered too late, the number of ports on an analog digital video recorder (DVR) determines the maximum number of cameras that can be employed. This is commonly referred to as the ‘17th-camera scenario.’ Often, a DVR has 16 ports for analog camera connections. If you need to add a 17th camera to cover a different part of your store, you must purchase both the camera and a new DVR. In comparison, network video can scale from one camera to thousands, and connecting a new IP camera to the system is not difficult.

More to come of this story in Part 2.

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Whose job is it anyway? (Part 5)

Why training young jewellers isn’t just about being in a classroom

Part 5 of 5

By Andrea Wenckebach

So how can we bring the two sides closer together? Understanding what is happening in industry and in the schools is a start. Most, if not all, governmental educational institutions have some kind of advisory body offering industry an opportunity for input on a wide range of topics, such as curriculum development, best practices, understanding of trends and standards, support for scholarships, awards, and capital procurement.

While industry provides important and valuable insight into what is needed, it is not possible to achieve all goals in one program.

“Employers tell us we need to teach more repairs,” says Greg Merrall, Greg Merrall, co-ordinator of Georgian College’s jewellery and metals program. “However, students often tell us they want to learn to be self-employed. These two things are not mutually exclusive. Employers should consider taking some responsibility for training, as colleges cannot be all things to all people. If repairs are a fundamental part of your business, acknowledge that an entry-level employee will need to have more skills than soldering chains and commit to the training process.”

Brian Land, an independent retail jewellery consultant, asserts, “We need to understand students are being trained in a number of different areas and that platform allows them to specialize in areas they were taught at school. Mastery at jewellery is not something that happens overnight. It is a lifelong pursuit.”

The needs of industry and educational institutes may not always be aligned. However, if they work with each other and recognize the different opportunities and limitations they each bring to the table, future generations of jewellers on both sides of the equation may be better served.

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Whose job is it anyway? (Part 4)

Why training young jewellers isn’t just about being in a classroom

Part 4 of 5

By Andrea Wenckebach

Brian Land, an independent retail jewellery consultant, says there is “an expectation [from the industry] that someone coming out of a jewellery program is a master jeweller and would be able to hit the ground running.”

“Yet, the people with these expectations are the same ones who were trained by a father or mother over eight years or more and possibly started out just polishing or only sizing one ring at a time, then having it checked for problems,” says Land, who is former vice-president of sales and operations for Peoples Jewellers. “It takes more than two or three years of school to produce a master jeweller.”

More to come of this story in Part 5.

Read the full article: Whose job is it anyway?

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