Approximately 50 cameras and 100 card readers are interconnected at a credit card transaction processing company.


From credit card processing facilities to coffee shops, businesses everywhere are finding major benefits when they add remote surveillance capability to their security video systems. Reduced guard costs, centralized control and easier incident investigation are just a few of the advantages that companies are seeing. In this article, SDM profiles three installations in which remote video surveillance has been successfully implemented.

Remote Surveillance Verifies Alarms, Aids Police Dispatch to Credit Card Firm

When a credit card transaction processing company made the decision to upgrade its rudimentary access control system to an integrated system that would also incorporate video surveillance, it had two main goals. One was to reduce reliance on the security guards that previously patrolled three locations around the clock. The other goal was to meet security requirements imposed by credit card company clients.

The credit card processor enlisted Ackerman Security Systems of Atlanta to handle the upgrade, which entailed creating a central monitoring room at the company’s headquarters location. From that facility, security personnel monitor the integrated video/access control systems installed on site and at two other locations, each of which is about 50 miles away.

“If someone props a door open, it links to a video alarm,” explains Chao Chen, senior sales engineer for Ackerman Security Systems. “The guard in the central location will be alerted and can automatically view images from the camera located at that door.”

Rather than using on-site guards to investigate incidents at the remote locations, security personnel now are comfortable dispatching police as needed – and can be confident that the police will respond promptly. “We’re using the system to verify incidents at off-site locations,” notes Ackerman Security Systems’ commercial director Mike Sandes. “The police are much more likely to respond when an incident is verified through remote video.” Sandes estimates that the new system saves the client more than $180,000 a year in guard costs, which have now been reduced to one eight-hour shift at a single location.

The integrated security system includes about 50 cameras and 100 card readers interconnected through a GE Security access control system. That choice was driven, in part, by audit requirements of credit company clients. For example, employees are not allowed to go into certain high-security areas unless accompanied by another employee. “They have to have occupancy-counting capability and have to keep a transaction log showing who had access at any time,” Chen notes. “Not all access control systems met the audit requirement.” The integrated system also includes digital video recorders, which maintain archives for up to 90 days for the highest security areas.

Prompt response in the event of any equipment problems also was critical for this high-security account. Ackerman Security Systems’ customer service personnel, reachable via a toll-free telephone number, help meet this requirement. “The client never reaches an automated attendant,” Sandes notes. “24/7, they reach a live body.” To support the customer, Ackerman must meet specified response times for programming and maintenance issues, and must keep critical spare parts on hand. By outsourcing system maintenance to Ackerman Security Systems, Sandes says, “the client didn’t have to hire additional people and has met or exceeded requirements put in place by the financial community.”


On the Job Video Surveillance System

  • Kalatel 16-channel DVMRE
  • CT series and Pro series
  • Kalatel control keypads.
  • Kalatel Cyberdomes
  • Panasonic CW-474 domes
  • Panasonic CW-474 cameras with auto-iris lens
  • GE Ultraview domes
  • Pelco 20-in. video monitors
  • PC monitors, 19-in. LCD
  • Winsted security console
  • Winsted wall-mount equipment racks
  • GE 15-in. high-resolution rack-mount video monitors
  • Altronix 16-channel fused power supplies
  • Fiber Options video/data transceivers

Access Control System

  • GE Security Diamond II software with two workstations, video badging, interactive alarm graphic and CCTV interface
  • Eltron P310C badge printer
  • GE Security ACU2, ACU2XL, ACU2XL16 controllers
  • GE Security remote reader interfaces
  • HID ProxPro readers with keypad
  • HID ProxPro readers

Franchise coffee shop owner, Les Falconer, gets a view of one of his five stores from his remote office in Nova Scotia, Canada


Managing Coffee Shops Becomes Easier for Owner

As the owner of five Tim Horton’s coffee shop franchises in Nova Scotia, Canada, Les Falconer has to leave his business in other peoples’ hands a large part of the time. But he’s had much more control over the situation since he had digital video recorders installed at three of the locations. The new system was installed by Camera Where?, a Kentville, Nova Scotia-based security company.

Falconer now can check in on his highest volume locations from his computer at home, pulling up the images from cameras located in the stores’ dining rooms, inside the coolers, looking out at the drive-through windows or inside the managers’ offices.

“If I have paperwork to do, rather than drive to a location, I can watch it from home,” Falconer states. “If employees are balancing the cash, I can watch that area. If we have an issue about inventory, we have a camera in the refrigerator that I can watch.”

Although Falconer is the only person who can watch the system from off premises, the store manager has the ability to watch what’s going on at his shop from a monitor in his office. “On site we don’t use it just for security; we also use it for crowd monitoring,” Falconer says. “If it gets busy, the manager can get more help.” The manager can simultaneously view the images from several different cameras, which he can select himself. “The staff can see every camera with the exception of one I have hidden on them,” Falconer says.

The infrared camera inside the refrigerator is also helpful, Falconer notes, because it serves as a deterrent against employee pilfering. “You don’t tend to go through as much milk,” he says.

Falconer also likes the ability to burn a disk from home in the event that he wants to keep a record of an incident, making it easier to get evidence to law enforcement. With the VCR-based system, he couldn’t just hand a tape over to the police because the tape would not play correctly on a conventional VCR. “You had to give them yours or buy a spare one,” he says.

Because the new system is digital, it’s much easier to review video archives. Falconer’s previous VCR-based system displayed a blank screen when in fast-forward mode. As Camera Where? president, Ron Delorey, explains, “Before, you watched an eight-hour tape in eight hours.” With the new system, Falconer and his managers can more easily and quickly locate the images they want to view.

Since the system was installed, Tim Horton’s employees already have used it to resolve several incidents, such as the time a customer lost her purse and believed it had occurred while at one of the shops. The archives showed her taking the purse with her to her car. “After we showed her, she was embarrassed,” Falconer says.

As Delorey notes, “The DVRs are paying for themselves because they drastically reduced the man hours needed to find information after the fact.”

On the Job

  • Pelco mini dome cameras
  • National color indoor mini dome camera
  • Pacesetter Technologies bullet-style day/night camera
  • Channel Vision bullet-style camera
  • Samsung miniature pinhole color board camera
  • Pacesetter Technologies Argus 16-120 digital video recorder with 500 GB hard drive

SecureNet Video brought its credit union customer’s video operation into one centrally viewable, digitally networked system. Here, nine separate video feeds from nine different locations are visible on one screen at the credit union’s main office.


Credit Union Brings Surveillance to a Central Point of Control

Four years ago, Duca Financial Services Credit Union was protected by eight separate VCR-based video surveillance systems – with a separate system at each of the organization’s Toronto-area locations. That approach left a lot to be desired.

“If they wanted to search for an incident, it could take the whole day,” says Robert Lumb, vice president of SecureNet Video Corp., a Mississauga, Ontario-based company that installed a new video surveillance system for the credit union. Because videotapes were frequently re-used, another drawback was that image quality sometimes suffered.

Since being hired by Duca Financial Services, SecureNet has replaced all eight of the organization’s VCRs with networked digital video recorders (NVRs), which are interconnected over DSL or cable modem transmission media. Now if an incident occurs at a branch, both the branch manager and upper management at the organization’s headquarters can view the video surveillance images in real time over the Internet. In the past, upper management would have had to travel to an individual branch to review recorded images from that branch – and real-time viewing was possible only at each individual location.

The NVRs used in the Duca Financial Services installation were developed by SecureNet and were based on equipment originally designed to support collaborative work among scientists in remote locations using electron microscopes. “We use H.263 compression, which is best for streaming high-quality video over the Internet,” Lumb says.

Another advantage of the SecureNet NVR is that it uses a Linux-based flash module, Lumb says. The flash module has an instruction set and operates in a read-only manner. It offers an extra level of security because no one can write programs – or viruses – onto it, Lumb notes. “We can run outside a firewall if we need to,” adds Lumb, who also sells the NVR to other installing companies. “There’s no way you could do that with a Windows-based system.”