By Mark Chertkow, MD at Graphic Image Technologies
Video cameras are a standard feature in any modern business security strategy, but many organisations fail to leverage the true value of their CCTV and remote monitoring solutions. Security cameras and remote monitoring solutions have a use that extends beyond security and theft prevention: they can in fact also be used as tools for performance management and monitoring, particularly in remote sites, helping organisations to become more productive and more efficient, and getting real value out of a solution that is often seen as a grudge purchase.
Larger organisations today are often geographically distributed across the country, with sites that are outside of major hubs and towns. Overseeing these remote locations to obtain an accurate view of performance as well as to monitor these sites for operational reasons can prove to be a challenging task. Managers are often required to travel to these destinations, which is time consuming and expensive, not to mention its effect on the carbon footprint of the company. Site visits also provide only limited visibility, as they can only account for the time when a manager was physically on site. CCTV solutions with remote monitoring capabilities can be used to solve these challenges, ensuring organisations can monitor multiple distributed sites without the need for a constant physical presence.
Providing constant offsite monitoring for performance management purposes has a number of benefits. It not only reduces travel time and costs, and the associated carbon footprints that go along with travel, but also aids in improving visibility, productivity and accountability. Improved performance is a result of this since constant monitoring will ensure that employees are productive, and not just when the manager is on site. This ‘big brother’ aspect assists with long-term behavioural changes which delivers further improvements to productivity.
CCTV with remote monitoring can also help organisations to identify employees who are not adhering to policies and procedures, in real-time, so that corrective action can be taken quickly. It is also possible to monitor when staff arrive and leave, so that time sheets can be verified, along with numerous other applications.
While remote monitoring solutions are not new, bandwidth has traditionally been an inhibiting factor, hindering organisations from taking advantage of the benefits of CCTV with remote monitoring. While bandwidth is now cheaper and more affordable than ever, video footage can still consume large amounts of data throughput. With this in mind it is important to look for a solution that offers compression technology which reduces video streams to improve throughput speeds and lessen bandwidth usage.
It is also important that remote monitoring sites be able to view footage in real-time. Because of bandwidth limitations it is vital that CCTV and remote monitoring solutions are also able to support ultra-low bandwidths, to allow remote sites to access live content at low bitrates, while also enabling users to access the high resolution footage should this be necessary. Sophisticated solutions are also able to link remote networks so that users can monitor remote sites using GSM, ADSL, GPRS, EDGE, 3G, VSAT and DigitNet technologies. These ultra-efficient solutions can stream video at lower bitrates also enable this footage to be viewed on smartphones or tablets, allowing for continuous monitoring from anywhere where there is a WiFi signal. This is particularly useful as the mobile revolution takes grip and business users increasingly make use of mobile devices, providing more flexibility and the ability to monitor ‘anytime, anywhere’.
There are many industries and areas where CCTV can be used to ensure remote sites are monitored effectively, including mining, manufacturing and healthcare. All of these industries often have remote sites that need to be monitored, and can benefit from ensuring that behaviours meet certain standards, not only from a productivity aspect, but from legislation and regulatory aspects as well. Even in organisations with a single branch, it is not possible to watch all areas at all times, so using CCTV cameras as a performance monitoring and management tool can provide enormous benefit.
Security solutions are often a grudge purchase, so it is important to ensure that value and return on investment (ROI) for these systems can be maximised. Using CCTV for internal performance management as well as for security purposes can help organisations to accurately monitor multiple sites, increase visibility and improve behaviours. What all of this adds up to is an immediate benefit to an organisation’s bottom line, through reduced expenses, improved productivity and improved operations.