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This is not your father’s video

Wednesday, May 28, 2014
By Mike Matta
Co-founder and CEO of Solink

Is video surveillance an underdeveloped asset in the world of Big Data analytics and security system management?

That is the question many security industry executives and managers are beginning to ask themselves as new technologies prove an expanded role for video content in the day-to-day operations of any competitive business environment.

For years, video surveillance has been thought as nothing more than an expensive insurance policy that protects the organization from theft, accident fraud and employee misconduct. Video has been a defensive tool in protecting assets, employees and customers, and continues to serve that limited function in millions of businesses today.

However, recently introduced software applications and technological advances have begun to move video surveillance from a reactive tool to a proactive role in developing data-driven strategies and in providing contextual video content for resolving a variety of timely business challenges.

Surveillance video has become both the blessing and a curse of the 21st century. We produce over 413 petabytes of recorded video data on a daily basis and have invested billions in recording and storage devices that house all of this information. For the past decade, the security industry has continued to create new and innovative ways to record and store video, but has not addressed the question of how to make the best use of video content produced by that expensive investment.

Until recently, the timely accessibility of this wealth of information has been challenging at best. More manual than automated, it was almost impossible to find a reliable way to correlate video with other types of recorded business data to take action or predict future behavior.

The challenge has always been that recorded surveillance video and traditional business computerized data is stored in different parts of the enterprise network and have not been considered a collaborative business tool across the enterprise.  Other than time stamps and some programmed event trigger alarms, there were not too many reliable ways to use one in cooperation with the other.

With the introduction of simple exception-based reporting systems, video can now be proactively programmed to become part of any marketing, operations or investigation activity by linking it directly with the corresponding transactional or business data. This approach provides a more contextual understanding of any questionable activity or business opportunity. 

Recorded and live video provides the ultimate form of contextual insight to know exactly what happened at any given date or time.

The applications for this new asset are obvious in the areas of proactive theft and fraud detection and prevention. The alignment of video and other recorded business data can also have a positive impact on employee training, inventory control, retail promotions and sales, and other areas of the business where predicting employee or customer behavior can lend itself to building a more competitive business strategy.

The emergence of IP video has made a lot of these new solutions possible. Digitizing live and recorded video has made it accessible to and compatible with other applications and video solutions available today. Business executives and managers are currently searching for new ways to democratize the data stored in their existing security and enterprise network equipment without investing in additional expensive hardware fixes.

There seems to be an inevitable convergence of video data with other forms recorded information that will connect customer actions and transactional events to one another. The ability to pull targeted bits of information from the collective data stream already exists with other forms of data. Retail, financial, entertainment, transportation and medical are all industries that are driving the demand for the context found in recorded and live video to improve their business operations.

Video surveillance is quickly emerging as a critical part of all future data-driven applications and activities. For better or worse, it has become an essential component in the information mix that is pushing data-driven content into all aspects of our lives and the corporate boardrooms. Video analytics platforms and other decision-support systems are in the market and can easily connect with any web-enabled device, such as, a smart phone, tablet or laptop computer. 

The market acceptance of the trend to manage video and data content as a whole will drive the next round of video surveillance tools and applications, from a device that simply records events to a converged enterprise platform that enable actionable and timely business intelligence.

Mike Matta is co-founder and CEO of Solink in Ottawa, Canada. Matta has a long history in the creation and implementation of date analytical products and services.


What do Memorial Day and car thefts have in common?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Honor Memorial Day, security directors, but keep an eye out on cars parked in your jurisdiction.

The Memorial Day holiday is one of the Top 5 holidays for car theft, according to Inilex, a provider of automotive telemetry solutions.

Apparently car thieves prey on vehicles left unattended on Memorial Day, as owners attend cookouts, hike a trail over the 3-day weekend, travel and park in unfamiliar places.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau says 2,078 cars were reported stolen in the country on Memorial Day 2012, the latest statistics available. The holiday with the lowest rate of car thefts? Christmas Day. In 2012, 1,347 vehicles were stolen on that date.


‘Burritos not bullets’ has impact

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

If you have a hankering for one of Chipotle’s famed Burrito Bowls, or perhaps a trio of its soft-shell tacos, the restaurant respectfully requests that you leave your semi-automatic rifles and other firearms behind before you place your order, no matter what your local law stipulates about open-carry and concealed weapons.

The popular purveyor of Mexican fare has officially asked its customers to refrain from packing heat at its restaurants.

Gun-rights advocates staged a recent open-carry rally at one of Chipotle’s Dallas restaurants, and a photo of that rally went viral. That resulted in a social media outcry spearheaded by the group, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense, which used the hashtag #burritosnotbullets.

Chipotle responded with this statement this week: “The display of firearms in our restaurants has now created an environment that is potentially intimidating or uncomfortable for many of our customers." Chipotle made a request, not an outright ban.

The Denver-based company now joins Starbucks, which was also a target of Moms Demand Action, in sort of declaring their establishments gun-free—at the very least unwelcome.

What do you think? Let me know.


ORC’s ‘vicious cycle’

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

I enjoy speaking with Rich Mellor of the National Retail Federation, as I did May 19 about NRF’s 10th Annual Organized Retail Crime Survey, which you can read about here. He always provides thought-provoking insights. Here's the latest.

Retailers continuously take a huge hit from ORC. Consumers face higher prices on targeted ORC products.

But little do they know that both retailers and consumers might be contributing to ORC themselves.

“It’s the availability of the product. That’s huge,” he said.

ORC gangs can go on a stealing spree wiping Crest White Strips or Oil of Olay off the shelves of every pharmacy in a given area, he said. “They clean out the product line completely, and the honest customer can’t buy it. It’s not there,” Mellor said.

Retailers think, hmm, we lose more of this product than we sell, so maybe we just don’t sell it anymore.

When the customers can’t find those products at their local shops, what do they do? They buy it online, many times unknowingly from e-fencing sites, such as auction sites or blogs. How do many of those sites stock their virtual shelves? From ORC.

“It’s a vicious cycle,” Mellor said.

The new ORC survey found that 68.2 percent of respondents said they had identified merchandise stolen from them at e-fencing sites, and 53.9 percent said they had seen a noticeable increase in those sites.


Advance Technology puts on a good show

Friday, May 16, 2014

OGUNQUIT, Maine—Advance Technology ran dual-track education sessions here May 15 during its 5th Annual Technology Expo.

The first track featured, among others, presentations on the cloud and ultra high-def TV. The second was made up of Hugs user seminars sponsored by Stanley Healthcare.

About 200 showed up for the conference along with more than 30 vendors who were exhibiting.

Attendance has remained steady, according to Rob Simopolous, president of Advance Technology, based in Scarborough, Maine. It seems like a loyal crowd—and a happy one at that. The sessions were meaty and informative yet there was a casualness in the air that was just as refreshing as the ocean air. Trivia contests and door prize drawings added just the right touch of frivolity.

I think Advanced Technology knows how to put on a good conference.

The electronic systems integration company will celebrate its 20th anniversary this summer.


Serial ATM thief, the old-fashioned kind, sentenced

Monday, May 12, 2014

A thief responsible for 22 ATM break-ins in Idaho, Wyoming, Washington, Utah, Oregon and Arizona in 2012-13 is finally behind bars.

After a plea agreement, Clarence Edward Lancaster, 57, of Las Vegas, was recently sentenced to five years and three months along with three years of post-sentenced supervised release, according to a report from He is required to pay more than $220,000 in restitution.

Lancaster used plain old tools to smash open the ATMS and grab the cash inside—no new-fangled ram-raids for him.

He was caught last year when a professor at Eastern Arizona College called police after seeing him going into a building in an attempt to steal from an ATM, the news report said.

In the agreement, Lancaster admitted to the thefts that resulted in a total loss of $216,178.84—$124,000 in U.S. currency, $88,366.84 for damages caused to ATM machines, and $3,612 of property damage to the buildings and equipment where the thefts took place, the news report said.


ASIS in Atlanta

Friday, May 9, 2014

ATLANTA—I’ve been here this week for the ASIS 2014 Media Tour. ASIS holds this event each year in the city that will host its Annual Seminar and Exhibits in the fall.

As usual, ASIS scheduled some very productive days for the media participants. We visited, among other sites, the Georgia Aquarium, MARTA, CNN, the city’s Video Integration Center and the Delta Command Center to speak with their security pros about the systems they have in place. More to come about all of that.

Securing visitors the city is paramount, especially because city is experiencing a lot of development and moving from being known as a "convention city" to more of a tourist destination, said William C. Pate, president and CEO of the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau. Opening soon are the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, the National College Football Hall of Fame and a number of city marketplaces. A new Atlanta Braves Stadium and retractable-roof Falcons Stadium will follow.

Public-private partnerships ensure that safety, Pate said.

Stay tuned for more as we wrap up the tour today.



She saw something and said something: Thank you, Chelsie Schellhas

Monday, May 5, 2014

A woman washing dishes at her home on a Tuesday night helped prevent another god-awful school tragedy.

Thank you, Chelsie Schellhas.

According to a report in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Schellhas noticed a tall teenaged boy with a backpack and a fast-food bag walking through her back yard in Waseca, Minn., toward a nearby storage unit facility.

She told the newspaper, “He walked through the puddles when there was a perfectly good road he could have walked on. It just didn’t seem right to me because we see people come and go with their trucks, and they don’t come on foot and cut through people’s back yards. It was like he was blatantly trying not to be seen. That’s why I thought it was odd.”

The newspaper further reports, “And then it took ‘some time’ for him to open the door, leading Schellhas to believe he was breaking in. Before he shut the door, Schellhas noticed trash and Wal-Mart bags in the unit. That also ‘didn’t look right,’ she said.”

Schellhas, under the advice of her cousin, called police. (Thank you, Cousin.)

When police arrived at the storage unit they found 17-year-old John David LaDue, who they eventually learned had an elaborate plan to kill his parents and sister, set a fire to divert law enforcement, then head for his high school armed with bombs and firearms that he had manufactured and stockpiled, with the intent of injuring as many students as he could.

Police said LaDue "was fully prepared and ready to go.”

You can read more details of the teen’s plans and his acquired arsenal in the newspaper report. They’re grisly and will leave you cold. He allegedly had been planning— and testing—this siege on his family and school for months.

But it only took Schellhas a few minutes to thwart it.

She saw something and she said something.

That mantra is not for nothing.

Thank you again, Ms. Schellhas, who reportedly has received flowers and notes of thanks from parents in the area. And thank you to the speedy response from law enforcement that helped prevent another national tragedy.

More arrests in huge Eli Lilly heist

Monday, April 28, 2014

So by now we’ve all heard about the $80 million theft of prescription drugs from an Eli Lilly warehouse in Enfield, Conn., in 2010. But now we have more arrests in the heist, believed to be the largest in the state’s history.

Two men, brothers, were previously charged in the case. One of them has pleaded guilty is awaiting sentencing; the other has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.

Recently, three other men, all Cuban citizens living in Florida, were arrested and charged with conspiracy and theft in the case, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.

The theft included thousands of boxes of Zyprexa, Cymbalta, Prozac, Gemzar and other drugs.

The thieves apparently used a ladder to climb on to the warehouse’s roof, cut a hole, dropped down into the building and disabled security alarms, prosecutors say. They then uploaded about 49 pallets of drugs into a waiting truck.

That truck was then driven to Florida, where the drugs were unloaded into a storage building in the Miami area.




Boston Strong!

Monday, April 21, 2014

I’ve been following news out of the Boston Marathon all day today and breathing a sigh of relief every time I read about Police Commissioner William Evans reassuring news outlets that the route is safe.

Heightened security for the more than 35,600 runners entered in the race, the second largest ever in the marathon’s 117-year history, included 100 new cameras in a connected, live-monitored network; 45 canine units, up from 12 last year; 8,000 strategically placed steel barricades, up from 6,800 last year; 3,500 uniformed and undercover officers on patrol, more than doubling last year; and 50 observation points around the finish line, according to NBC News.

"We have plenty of undercover officers out there, but technology, you know, is going play a big part," Evans told NBC.

Evans, you might remember, had just finished the marathon last year when he was called back to scene due to the bombings. His expertise at that time resulted in his promotion to commissioner.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said this year's security preparations were “on steroids.”

Boston Strong! A big thanks and congratulations to all those involved in race security—from first responders to the Boston Athletic Association, which hosts the marathon, to the hoteliers and retailers in the area who all worked hard to ensure a save haven for the athletes and their fans.