Could your CCTV be a business improvement tool?

Here in the DCSL blog we regularly explore the world of IoT (Internet of Things) and smart hardware. This week, we take a closer look at how businesses can use CCTV systems in innovative ways to gather information that helps them provide better services or improve the quality of their delivery.

CCTV – not just for security

If your business is using CCTV equipment, you may already be using it for security purposes. But have you considered the benefits of having surveillance cameras play a more central role in helping you understand your business better? Automated visual data capture can offer key business insight you may otherwise need to spend much more time and resources on.

These are some of the key areas where surveillance cameras can play an important part in improving your business performance over time:

  • Spotting wastage
    Do you truly know how much material is being wasted in your business on a daily basis? We were recently the development partner for Chef’s Eye, an integrated monitoring system for a restaurant kitchen, using a camera and a set of electronic scales connected to a desktop application, to help track waste and reduce the amount of food being discarded. This is the type of solution that can help a business take back control of waste and prevent a huge amount of money being wasted over time.
  • Tracking buyer behaviour
    CCTV cameras are increasingly being used for creating ‘heat maps’ of visitor traffic and footfall in retail environments. For example, a ceiling camera could be used to record the movements of shoppers across a shop floor, providing valuable insight into how well people respond to shop layouts or promotional signage.
  • Monitoring stock levels
    Training cameras on warehouse shelves or display areas can offer an immediate view of shortages or re-stocking needs from anywhere in the world. With the help of visual markers on boxes or storage units, cameras can record detailed information about stock levels. This data can then be sent on to software systems that can alert the purchasing team, or even automatically trigger a re-order of low stock items.
  • Improving health and safety
    CCTV often plays a part in court cases relating to accidents and incidents in the workplace. However, not every employer will take the opportunity to use camera footage proactively in order to spot risk areas before any accidents happen. With the help of video monitoring, an employer can quickly review a large number of scenarios to ensure that staff are following safety procedures, that equipment is maintained properly and that no dangerous shortcuts are being made.
  • Identifying process improvements
    We all want to ensure we maintain consistent quality and performance in the business. However, when something slows down, or we notice reduced quality of output, it’s not always obvious where the issues are. By monitoring an entire process sequence or the various production stages, we can start to spot any weak areas and address them with improved tools, upgraded systems or increased training.

Important to stay compliant

Of course, as always when it comes to video surveillance and recording equipment, there are regulations to be aware of. After all, your business could end up handling visual data of a potentially very personal nature, and you need to manage that data responsibly.

The rules you need to satisfy include the following:

  • Put up clear signage that explains that CCTV is being used and for what reason
  • Have the ability to provide images of individuals on request, within 40 days
  • Readily share images with the police and other authorities on request
  • Only keep images for as long as your business needs them
  • Protect images from unauthorised view or access

For more information on how the GDPR impacts the commercial use of CCTV, check out this blog post.

The future of CCTV

In the future, security will of course remain a central area of use for CCTV. However, as video technology and IoT applications continue to develop, we will start to see more innovations in the field of CCTV and business improvement. Having a layer of integrated software on top of video recording hardware will help to make your business environments even smarter, allowing you to get better return on your hardware investment.