Magazine article Security Management

Interactive Security

Magazine article Security Management

Interactive Security

Article excerpt

When Crown Central Petroleum of Baltimore, Maryland, decided to beef up security at its 450 convenience stores throughout the south and eastern United States, Security Manager Bill Campbell chose to bring together equipment from a variety of manufacturers to develop a customized system that would provide remote surveillance, along with two-way communications between the stores and a central command station.

The heart of Crown's interactive phone line audio/video surveillance system consists of a camera, microphone, and speaker installed at the outlet. When choosing the equipment, Campbell first looked for commercial-quality equipment that met the company's technical specifications and then shopped for the lowest price. In some cases, the choice was made easier because of a limited number of options. For example, Robot Research is one of the few companies that markets the video transmission equipment necessary for the system.

Campbell says that Crown is constantly reviewing available equipment and store needs and updating as necessary. For example, Campbell found that the video recorders first installed in the stores were too complicated for employees to operate. The recorders were replaced with a less complicated and less expensive Toshiba model that fulfills the same requirements.

The complete audio/video surveillance system, currently installed in 100 of Crown's Zippy Mart and Fast Fare stores, operates via two phone lines to the central monitoring station. One line is dedicated to video and the other is a regular store line. In addition, store personnel can communicate with the central station in three ways: a telephone handset-like instrument with three buttons that signal high priority, medium priority, and test; a money clip kept in the cash register that automatically signals a high priority when the "bait money" held underneath it is removed, as during a robbery; and a portable button instrument that employees can carry with them to signal a high-priority alarm to the central station. …

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