The changing role of CCTV in the hotel business

For decades, CCTV has been regarded as one of the most prominent crime-prevention tools available to companies and organisations. Its ability to deter would-be criminals and capture valuable footage of criminal incidents has made it the ‘go to’ option for security professionals and business owners around the world. But its role beyond the confines of security has been somewhat limited – until now.

By their very nature, CCTV systems capture a wealth of footage and data with the potential to offer valuable insight into business performance and customer behaviour. With the availability of ever-more powerful cameras and the emergence of state-of-the-art video analytics, such as off-site monitoring, people counting and identification or heat mapping, the potential for CCTV to be harnessed for business intelligence is gradually becoming reality.

What’s more, dramatic improvements in functionality have seen the emergence of easy-to-use operating systems that allow business owners to log-on and view their CCTV remotely via secure online portals. Plus, advanced search functions allow for efficient examination and cataloguing of footage, helping to save hours in staff time.

The retail industry has been a key early adopter of IP CCTV technology and high street stores have been at the forefront of utilising CCTV analytics, in part driven by the need to keep pace with the data and business insight available to online retailers. From heat map data which can be used to help identify areas of high and low footfall, to dwell time analytics and facial recognition software; large retailers are using the retail analytics obtained from CCTV to analyse customer demographics, improve store design and customer experience and determine the most profitable locations for individual products. However, the technology is just as applicable to any business or organisation where the public has a presence.

In recent years, we’ve seen the ongoing increase in fraudulent insurance claims for slips, trips and falls, which are now estimated to cost UK businesses in the region of £800m a year. It’s an issue that affects many public facing companies and figures recently released by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) show a rise in number of ‘slip and trip’ frauds detected in 2015 – almost 27,000 fraudulent claims up 36% from 2014. The increase has been attributed in part to the government clampdown on fraudulent whiplash claims and the reduction in legal costs for road traffic accidents.

Whether it be fraudulent activity by an employee or a dishonest claim from a guest, digital evidence removes ambiguity, enabling businesses to effectively defend or settle the claim. However, many claims can be made months after the event – often once the typical 30 day period that businesses store their CCTV files for has passed – so it is vital to ensure that data is stored for long enough. One of the areas we specialise in is helping businesses to understand their CCTV data needs and responsibilities to ensure they can effectively defend themselves against expensive compensation claims.

Despite this, in our experience awareness and uptake of such systems within the hotel industry remains relatively low. When an incident does occur, the day-to-day reality for many hotel owners and managers can include having to watch hours of footage in the hope of being able to identify a single incident.

One of the most significant barriers to uptake can be the perceived cost of upgrading CCTV systems. While significant competition in the video-analytics market is driving ever greater product development and lower costs, many businesses are understandably concerned with the initial outlay that can be required to upgrade their existing system, but in reality, relatively cost effective options are available.

Over the last year, Hadrian Technology has been working with a number of leading North East hotels to revamp outdated CCTV systems and replace them with cutting edge technology. In many cases, the existing cameras have been installed over a number of years, leading to a complex and often confusing mix of cables and wiring that would take months to remove and replace, something that just isn’t practical in a busy hotel setting.

In response, our team has pioneered the introduction of a revolutionary technology to cleverly convert digital camera signals allowing them to run over previously installed co-axial cables before decoding the signals at the other end. The innovation enables the transformation of a camera system from analogue to one of the most advanced, high-definition digital offerings on the market in only a matter of weeks – preventing the need to rip out and replace significant amounts of cabling. Adopting such an approach also makes it possible to phase in additional high definition cameras and continue to upgrade systems over time, in an affordable way – something that would have previously been impossible to achieve.

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