Surveillance Video – Big Data

At Oncam’s invitation, I recently had the opportunity to attend the first Retail Risk conference in Singapore. Dedicated to executives responsible for protecting their retail businesses against risk and loss, the conference saw various high profile speakers who touched on topics ranging from payment systems, credit card fraud, to technology that provides whistleblowers with anonymous reporting channels.

But I think what was most interesting and relevant for our industry would be the session delivered by Scott Brothers of Oncam and Nigel Ashman of Analysis Solutions, who presented their thoughts on how surveillance solutions can provide extra value to retailers.

More than just a deterrent to shop-theft, the pair shared how surveillance videos can be used to open streams of data that are relevant to other key business functions besides security, such as Marketing, Visual Merchandising and Retail Operations.

Some case studies shared during the session include a well- known chain in London who used surveillance video to devise strategic product placement by analysing customers’ footprints in the shop. Similarly, a high-end shoe retailer was also shown the practicality of its mirror placement where an analysis of its surveillance footage aided them in making changes to their store interior design.

In Malaysia, it was said that a dessert shop retailer had used information gathered by its surveillance camera to negotiate better lease with their landlord based on documented traffic flow.

With “Big Data” being the buzzword these recent years, retailers have explored different ways to obtain as much information as possible about their customers. Online retailers have it easy – as every click on the website meant something – but gathering data for brick-and-mortar stores wasn’t always so simple… Until now.

The retail realm is changing. As more and more stores and public spaces are replacing poster light boxes with Digital Signage, we are beginning to see how the technology has evolved from just displaying content to being able to track who is looking at it.

But if the same capabilities are incorporated into surveillance cameras, would that pose a challenge to Digital Signage? Of course, there are also issues like privacy and ethics, but the retail industry has come a long way and I believe businesses will find their way around it.

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*This commentary was first published in the Jun-Jul 2016 issue of Systems Integration Asia.


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