Magazine article Security Management

Digital System Helps Shops Get Smarter. (Working Wise)

Magazine article Security Management

Digital System Helps Shops Get Smarter. (Working Wise)

Article excerpt

In mid-2001, the three Smart Stops convenience stores in the Lonestar State--in Waco, Midlothian, and Cedar Hill--all had camera systems in place to monitor the activities of both customers and employees. According to the CEO of Smart Stops Texas, Dennis Smart, all of the stores were using between eight and twelve cameras per store. Two of the stores, all of which are located in service stations, used a tape-based system that included a bank of 31 tapes and multiplexers, while the Waco store bad a digital system in place.

Though Smart liked the concept of the digital system and the technological and operational advantages it provided, software problems continually arose with the system used at the Waco store. "There were conflicts between the computer system and the service, and it was hard to operate," says Smart. As a result of these problems, Smart sought a different digital recording system for the Smart Stops stores.

Through contacts at the Texas Grocery and Convenience Association, Smart heard of a digital surveillance system called iView, produced by Salient Systems Corporation, and decided to use it on a trial basis.

The iView system was installed in the Cedar Hill store, using the cameras that were already in place. Salient brought in a PC already loaded with the necessary software and equipped with cable connections for a remote viewing system that allows Smart to check in on the stores via his home computer. The installation took about an hour.

The system stores images on the hard drive in 3-minute increments. It is also set up to record images to a writeable CD if there is a problem with the storage process.

Smart was satisfied with how the system operated in the test store and expanded use to the Waco Smart Stop as well. (The Midlothian store will switch to iView when either DSL or cable Internet access, needed to obtain the camera images remotely, becomes available in the area.)

According to Smart, technical problems have been rare, and the few that did arise were easily addressed. When the stores have had to call Salient's technical support line for minor issues such as password problems, managers have been able to resolve the problems quickly. "I think we've called the service technician twice," Smart says. "But he's never had to come out; we have been able to fix everything over the phone."

According to Smart, one of the biggest benefits of the digital system is the ability to monitor live camera views remotely, a tool available to Smart, his business partner, and store managers. …

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