Magazine article Security Management

Strictly Speaking

Magazine article Security Management

Strictly Speaking

Article excerpt

For years, Taco Bell Corporation has used CCTV in its 2,800 company-owned fast food restaurants. The cameras have been a good robbery deterrent, but they were proving less effective against another growing problem: teenagers who loiter in the parking lot. To address the new concern, Taco Bell began experimenting with interactive CCTV last year.

With this technology--which has been installed in seven of the company's restaurants--security officers at a remote central station can watch, listen, and talk directly to anyone who is creating a disturbance. When a group of unruly teenagers must be dispersed, for example, the off-site security officer informs them that they are under surveillance and instructs the crowd to leave the premises immediately or police will be notified. "It's a good way to disperse crowds without having a guard on site," says Lynn Mayer, senior field security manager for Taco Bell.

The first five interactive CCTV systems were installed by TeleControl Systems, Inc., of North Hollywood, California, in May and July 1995. The restaurants chosen were in Columbia, Maryland; Fort Worth, Texas; Lawndale, California; Detroit; and Clearwater, Florida. In December, two more restaurants--one in Irving, Texas, and the other in Houston--were hooked up, this time with a system manufactured by Eye-Star Systems Inc. of Houston. Taco Bell is testing both before deciding whether to expand the technology into other restaurants.

Under both systems, security officers at a central station check in with each restaurant about twice a day. During these periods, the building is monitored covertly for several minutes. The central station informs restaurant employees that they are under surveillance only toward the end of the surveillance period.

In addition to the routine check-in, employees can request surveillance at any time during the day by calling the central station through communication devices located throughout each restaurant. For example, Mayer says employees sometimes ask the remote security officers to watch them when they are closing the restaurant for the night and walking to their cars. The central station is also notified when a problem is developing, whether it is an armed robbery or a group of teenagers in a food fight.

The Eye-Star 5000 CCTV technology is a PC-based system that digitally captures audio and video signals and transmits the data via a telephone line to the company's central station in Houston. …

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