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Eyewitness Testimony is Important, But Surveillance Camera Footage is Critical

Eyewitness testimony has always played an important role in solving crimes and heavily relied upon by law enforcement and the court system. Law enforcement processes the information in hopes of attaining enough information to find and convict the criminal. In court, juries tend to see eyewitness testimony as a reliable and place a lot of weight on that person’s ability to relay information about the event, as well as the perpetrators. However, just how reliable and accurate is eyewitness testimony? New studies shed light on the psychological factors related to eyewitness testimony, and give good reasons why surveillance camera footage is critical.

Research Uncovers Why Memory is Spotty

People tend to think of memory as their own video surveillance camera with a rewind button that allows them to perfectly recall the details of any event. That’s not anywhere close to how memory works, however. Research has actually found that recall is affected by many factors, including stress, fear, and selective attention. Since crimes are highly stress and fear and inducing, it impacts the details witnesses can recall later.

For example, if a weapon is used during a crime event, witnesses are much more likely to be able to describe the weapon in detail than able to describe details of the perpetrator’s face. This is because the mind places more importance on the weapon and the attention is automatically drawn there. This is not very helpful in reconstructing events, or finding and convicting criminals but without access to video surveillance footage, it’s all we might have.

Surveillance Camera Footage is Critical

There is no doubt that video surveillance systems play an important role in retail, restaurant, grocery and convenience store security. Individual recollections are easily influenced by personal beliefs and expectations, cultural influences and stereotyping as well as other psychological processes. Video surveillance systems serve as the backbone of criminal cases and is the one unbiased witness to events.

You Have to Get Right, Though

In the world of video surveillance systems, choice, application, and placement matters. Camera and surveillance technology is complex and there are many features and options that play an important role in just how effective your system is for you.

One simple example is how your choice in types of cameras and placement impact things the surveillance camera’s image quality, ability to handle low light or darkness and variances in light within a given area. The wrong types of cameras and placement might mean restrictions in the field of view, lighting additions, or inability to use tilt and zoom to capture suspicious activity.

Headquartered in Melville, New York, S-Tron is a national security systems integrator with local, professional service and installation.

Retailers: Is It Time to Upgrade to IP Video?

Businesses implement security camera systems for many reasons, such as protecting their employees and assets. They also play a role in preventing theft, detecting customer movement and habits, and in improving operations. If you’ve used a surveillance system for some time, it’s likely an analog system which has been the standard for decades. Recent and swift advances in the security technology industry, however, has brought us digital video surveillance systems which far exceed their counterparts. With these advances, the industry as a whole has changed making it the ideal time to upgrade to a digital video surveillance system.

What’s the Difference Between Analog and IP

There are many differences of course, but the defining difference is that analog camera systems need a direct physical connection to a recording device and use a lower resolution NTSC standard. Digital cameras, also known as IP cameras, link to the local area network rather than having a wired connection and achieve much higher resolutions.

Pro Tip: The cost of surveillance technologies have dropped dramatically making it very affordable and accessible technology.

6 Reasons to Upgrade to an IP Security System

There are many reason people are reluctant to upgrade their video surveillance systems, such as believing it will be cost prohibitive or a desire to use the old system until it no longer works. These important reasons will explain why upgrading is not only beneficial, ut economical.

Lower Cable Costs

Analog Camera systems require three cables, power, audio, and video. IP cameras use a single cable that handles between 4 to 8 cameras.

Higher Resolution

Resolution is the amount of detail a camera can capture. Analog cameras, which have low resolution, cannot provide TV standard resolution, while IP cameras provide a resolution which is many times higher. This means that IP cameras capture clear images, even while moving.

Better Image Quality

Images do not help much if they are not clear enough to identify individuals. The higher resolution of IP camera systems means the images are much clearer. Also, since the images are being recorded digitally and not being converted from analog to digital, there is no loss in the quality of images.

Remote Access

Digital cameras can be accessed remotely which allows the user to view video anytime and from anywhere.

Cost Effective

One of the most prevalent misconceptions about upgrading to an IP camera system is that it is expensive and running one might be cost prohibitive. First, the cost of surveillance technologies have dropped dramatically making it very affordable and accessible technology. Also, since the system can serve many purposes, and the NVR is able to manage video surveillance as well as operates as a foundation for data and storage needs of a remote location the overall cost is lower and advantages higher.

It’s Near the End of Analog

Low definition analog camera camera systems and DVR have nearly reached the end of their technological lifespan. The competitively priced more advanced technology is making analog obsolete.

About S-TRON

These are just a few of the many reasons upgrading to an IP video surveillance system will enhance your security, enhance your business insights, and reduce your overall costs. S-Tron specializes in retail loss prevention and addresses your specialized needs with individualized solutions.

8 Ways To Use Data Analytics to Improve Product Placement

Traditionally, the role of video surveillance in retail was primarily, and nearly exclusively in security. Since the rapid maturation of IP, video, and analytic technologies– that has changed dramatically. The increase in functionality and accessibility has proven to be a real boon to the retail industry and retailers are finding a multitude of beneficial uses for video surveillance analytics, one of the most powerful is in product placement and planning.

Use Video Surveillance Analytics and THRIVE

Retail business owners know the importance of proper product placement. In fact, product placement can make or break a business, retain or lose customers, and solidify relationships with product brands who want to see partners move merchandise. Until recently, businesses relied on current trends, historical sales trends, seasonal shopping patterns, and good old instinct to determine inventory levels and product placement. This, of course, could result in anything from a big win to a devastating fail. Today, video surveillance analytics provides retailers with a wealth of information that changes everything.

Small Changes Can Yield Reward

You’ve seen it. Small, seemingly negligible changes in product placement can reap huge gains. A shoe department of a large chain store saw as much when it was performing poorly. Data analytics revealed that the benches were too close to the wall for shoppers to try on shoes. Simply moving the benches allowed the department to perform far better. Without data analytics,  the store could have missed the problem altogether.

8 Ways To Use Data Analytics to Improve Product Placement

Using heat maps and dwell times can provide an enormous amount of information for improving product placement. Here are some examples.

  • Use popular products to shoppers toward lesser popular products.
  • Uncover flow and ease of movement. It is easy to unintentionally funnel traffic in a specific direction.
  • Measure the effectiveness of special promotions and displays.
  • Use flow of traffic and buyer habits to place products more efficiently.
  • Use heat mapping to direct shoppers to promotions.
  • Gather information to improve flow of traffic and make navigation intuitive.
  • Run A/B displays to discover what truly appeals to customers.
  • Analyze customer behavior to increase their  Units Per Transaction (UPT) rates

Once you know what works, it is easy to develop a repeatable plan for success. The ability to see real-time retail analytics also provides the opportunity to make changes immediately if something isn’t working which can save a campaign. Overall, video analytics give retailers the ability to analyze store traffic and product and merchandising success and use that information to make decisions that better fit the customer, and the business.

About S-TRON

Headquartered in Melville, New York, S-Tron is a national security systems integrator with local, professional service and installation. We serve the restaurant, hospitality, grocery, convenience store, and retail industries.

If You Use Surveillance Technology Just for Security…

Nobody likes to miss out, miss the mark, or fail to execute well, but in retail it happens- a lot. This is especially true when it comes to retail video surveillance systems. If you own a retail business and utilize security cameras purely for security purposes, you are missing out on using it to help your business reach its full potential.

The good news is, it is easy to turn that around.

Yes, Protecting Assets is Important

Having security cameras deters crimes like shoplifting and employee theft. These crimes account for significant retail loss, more than 1.38 percent of retail sales, so it’s understandable that it is a large focus of retail security. Every retailer should be concerned about protecting their assets. Skimming, employee theft, and shoplifting can all be minimized with loss prevention tools such as video surveillance.

A Key Component of Growth

Your surveillance system not only helps prevent loss, it is a critical tool in business growth. With video analytics, retailers have all they need to deliver more value, increase revenue, and create a better customer experience.

Harnessing the Power of Data Analytics

Retail data analytics provides a large amount of data that translates into a wealth of meaningful insights about things like customer count and behavior, employee interactions and productivity, in-store impressions, heat mapping and more.

Real Information Leads to Real Growth

Video analytics provides actionable insights that can help improve in-store performance. With real-time information, you can optimize product placement, compare product placement, monitor promotions, measure customer traffic and dwell times, and measure impressions for promotions among many other information responses.

Optimize Store Efficiency

One of the highest costs for retailers is staffing. It is a huge balancing act to provide enough staff, at the right times. Both overstaffing and understaffing can have huge consequence on the performance of the store and its revenue.

Having access to on-demand and real-time video delivers a clear picture of what is happening in a store so that you can make changes that make sense for the business. For example, it may not be that you need an increased number of employees during certain times of the day, but need a better system of handling the increased traffic. Insight might reveal a need to provide better training for increased productivity. It might even reveal a secret gem of an employee that would be better in a position of leadership.

Lower Total Cost of Ownership

A video surveillance system is an investment, but it is technology well worth the cost. When a retailer reviews how they use the system, and uses it beyond pure security and for improving overall operations, not only does it justify the modest expense, it lowers total cost of ownership.

S-TRON has over 20 years of uncompromising quality and service—from record response times to industry focus, S-TRON beats the competition.

3 Indications That It’s Time For A New Video Surveillance Solution

There is no disputing that video surveillance is a critical component of your business’ security system, whether it is one c-store, restaurant, or chain of grocery stores it is a technology that is trusted and proven fundamental to protecting employees, customers, and property. But the question is, when is it time to replace the existing system with a new one?  

It is easy to hold on to old technology as long as possible to try to squeeze out the most value for our money, but doing so can actually cost us a great deal.

With so many frequent developments in technology it can be a hard determination, so we have a few guidelines to help you decide.

Is the Current System Malfunctioning?

This is probably the most common reason for updating a system.  You have seen it before—law enforcement publishing grainy or useless video footage to try to get a lead on a suspect. If the footage had been clear, the suspect would likely already have been in custody. Having a surveillance system is not enough.  For it to be of worth to you, it must be functioning properly. After a while, wear and tear on older equipment takes a toll on its ability to operate properly. Be sure to have your system serviced regularly to maintain the system’s health and detect signs indicating you may need to replace the system. If the system is producing poor quality images, or otherwise malfunctioning it is likely time for replacement.

Is the Business Expanding?

If the business is growing, either in the number of locations or expanding or reconfiguring the current location, it may be time to upgrade your current system. Today’s video surveillance systems are much smarter than their predecessors and offer owners many more advantages. Business owners can employ wireless networks to connect their video network and enable remote management capabilities.

Is the Technology Out of Date?

It is easy to hold on to old technology as long as possible to try to squeeze out the most value for our money, but doing so can actually cost us a great deal. Today’s video surveillance systems are much more cost effective than older versions and offer a host of advantages that can actually save money and improve overall profitability. For example, remote management allows unattended delivery monitoring, as well as process monitoring and verification. They can also reduce false alarms through video verification to keep business running smoothly without costly interruptions. New technology offers highly improved image resolution, scalability, and upgrade options over those of just a few years ago. If the current system does not have enough storage or provide benefits beyond just recording and storing footage, it is probably time for an upgrade.

Video surveillance system upgrades are often overlooked until the old system completely fails. Not only can this leave a serious gap in protection, it also means that the business is not leveraging the most advantage possible from the current technological offerings which could leave them at a serious disadvantage. If you have questions about video surveillance systems and technologies, give S-TRON a call today.

How CCTV Lowers Risk of Slip and Fall Accidents For Restaurants

One of the many important aspects of owning a restaurant or catering business is keeping the risks of slip and fall accidents as low as possible. One slip can mean losing a valuable employee or seeing a customer injured. It can also mean avoiding fraudulent lawsuits. That is why commercial security systems are so very valuable– CCTV lowers the risk of slip and fall accidents.

How Restaurants are Vulnerable to Slip and Fall Suits

In the food industry, slip and fall accidents are the most common cause of injury which leads to legitimate claims. The food industry is also vulnerable to fraudulent claims. Not surprisingly, it can stem from some of the same reasons.

  1. Restaurant environments are inherently dangerous. It is crowded, has lots of movement, and products. The floors are often wet or slippery. Workers are often carrying boxes or trays that obscure vision.
  2. Slip and fall accidents are common but every claim is problematic. Often the incidents happen in a crowded area where vision is obscured or completely out of sight. This means that there is no real way for the owner to argue the legitimacy of the claim.

Important Tips for Lowering Risks

Just by making a few simple changes, you can make your restaurant safer and reduce the likelihood of slip and fall.

  • Institute strict cleaning practices to keep floors free of food and other dangerous items.
  • Require employees wear non-slip shoes.
  • Monitor flow of traffic in the kitchen and dining area and make changes for improvement.
  • Store appliances, products, and supplies properly.
  • Check the floor and carpeting daily for breaks, rips, folds or worn spots.
  • Monitor for spills and clean up immediately.
  • Do not allow employees to stack when carrying trays or boxes in a way that obscure vision or hinders movement.
  • Use skidproof waxes on flooring.

How CCTV and Commercial Camera Systems Help Avoid Suits

Commercial CCTV and surveillance systems are one of the most important elements in reducing the likelihood of injury and of false claims by addressing the two main issues that make restaurants and caterers vulnerable to claims.

  1. CCTV and surveillance camera systems, with both overt and covert cameras,  allow you to monitor for problems that increase danger, such as when employees stack boxes or leave spills. This can help avoid problems that would lead to real and serious injury.
  2. Visible surveillance systems deter acts of fraud. It can also provide you with proof should anyone try.

About S-TRON

S-TRON offers an innovative suite of video surveillance products and professional installation for regional and national chains.  S-TRON is a electronic security integrator for national and regional retail and hospitality companies.

Established in 1995 and headquartered in Melville, NY, we have served thousands of retail locations across the country with best in class equipment installations and ongoing service, maintenance, and support. Our brand promise: “Service Excellence”.

Critical Reasons Your Retail Business Needs End-to-End Security

A recent industry study noted that most businesses (nearly 60%) monitor less than half of their valuable assets with video surveillance systems. This statistic does not include how many businesses thoroughly and effectively safeguard other aspects of the business, such as POI, entrances, and exits, or the overall business. This means that critical aspects of most businesses are left under or unprotected.

How Businesses Fail

In addition to under-utilizing security cameras and CCTV, responders to the survey reveal another problem—a failure to utilize analytics. Fewer than half actively monitor footage or use it to gain important business insights. The majority of users only store the footage and review it if a crime is suspected. Additionally, businesses fail to upkeep and upgrade security equipment frequently enough, resulting in incompatible technologies and low-quality images, among other issues.

Sharp Images Matter

Just having a video surveillance system is not good enough. The system must be able to provide quality images to be of ultimate advantage. Sharp images are necessary for identifying crime and those who commit them as well as in gaining important business insights that can help improve things like customer service and profitability.

Analytics Are Priceless

When most think of video surveillance and CCTV, they think of it in relation to deterring or spotting crime. However, these systems can also provide incredible insights on how the business works, or doesn’t. By tapping into that information, a business owner can spot issues in productivity, quality control, or traffic flow.

End-to-end Solutions Improve Security

Even better than security cameras and CCTV alone, when paired with intrusion detection and access control systems security and other advantages are multiplied exponentially. Together, problems are identified sooner and an emergency response initiated much more quickly.

Better Solutions Put Time on Your Side

Surveillance, security, and access control integrated systems put time on your side. While surveillance systems can spot someone committing a crime or in a restricted area, it still takes someone to see it to initiate a response. When paired with access control, you can be alerted to activity and initiate a response immediately.

End-to-end Solutions Improve the Cost Model for Security

Investing in security is important and businesses want to get the most out of their system as possible. Having and end-to-end solution makes that possible.  For example, having quality cameras means you can cover more area effectively which allows you to delegate funds toward access control solutions. Together these reduce loss more significantly than one or the other alone.

S-TRON Security Electronics is an electronic security integrator for national and regional retail and hospitality companies. For more information, call us today.

7 Ways Outdated Video Surveillance Solutions Put Your Business at Risk

It can be very tempting to put off updating your video surveillance system. One of the main reasons business owners cite for doing so is the desire to maximize the worth of their original security system investment. In many instances, extending the life of a tool does maximize its worth. This is not true of video surveillance systems for some very critical reasons, and knowing those reasons can keep you from unexpected and devastating loss.

1. Aging Systems Can Malfunction Without Warning

Surveillance systems run non-stop without notice, and often without maintenance. The system can seem fine on the surface but can malfunction without notice, often when it matters most.

2. Older Video Surveillance Systems Might Not Be Supported

All technology needs updates to stay current and the same is true for video surveillance systems. As new technology is released and updated, old technology may no longer be supported with critical updates.

3. Older Surveillance Technology May Not Be Compatible with Newer Systems

Security technology is rapidly advancing and today there is a vast amount of supportive systems available. Those supportive technologies are likely only compatible with newer systems.

4. The Longer it has Been Around, the More Vulnerable it Becomes

Hackers are skilled at their craft and the longer a system has been around, the more time they have had to crack the code or find ways around its effectiveness.

5. Your Security Needs Change

Over the course of several years, your security needs change vastly and the longer your surveillance system has been in place, the more likely it is that it no longer meets your real needs. For example, your business could have grown or been remodeled making the older system ill placed or ineffective in a larger space. With increased traffic and employees, you might need security monitoring, or the ability to restrict access which older systems may not support.

6. Older Systems May Not Run Optimally

Even a system that has received regular professional maintenance can experience problems with time and usage. Systems that use magnetic tapes for example find out that the tape has a limited lifetime only after there is an incident they hope to have captured.

7. Missing Out on Important Insights

One of the biggest disadvantages of an older system is that they are not usually compatible with systems that provide valuable business insights, analytics, and access. This means you may be missing out on remote access and control, alerts, and the analytics that can improve safety and business functions.

An effective video surveillance system is the core of your business security. S-Tron’s suite of innovative video surveillance products yield critical reporting metrics that provide security, safety and marketing data in one comprehensive solution. For more information, call S-Tron Security Electronics today.

7 Tips for Obtaining Court Admissible Surveillance Footage

Businesses invest in CCTV surveillance systems for many reasons. The most common reasons are the desire to deter, spot, and stop crime. But if a crime does occur your surveillance system can serve an addition purpose of providing irrefutable digital evidence. Irrefutable, that is, if you obtain and protect that evidence in a way that prevents it from being dismissed in court.

Surveillance footage greatly improves the chances of law enforcement catching a perpetrator of a crime, and it also enhances the court’s ability to serve justice. However, the value of that footage can be jeopardized if not obtained, handled, and presented correctly. Here are seven vital points to help you.

Choose the Highest Possible Camera Resolution

The FBI recommends using cameras with a minimum resolution of 480 x 640. Anything lower produces grainy images that make facial recognition difficult and can lead to problems leading to appeals.

Have Your System Professionally Designed and Installed

Another problem with video footage faced in court has to do with camera placement. Even a high-resolution camera can produce useless footage if not placed in a way to optimize field of vision. Cameras placed too low encounter too many obstructions; too high it is difficult to capture faces. The best option is to have the system installed by a professional who understands the cameras, their capabilities and the technicalities involved in camera placement.

Consider Lighting

Choose cameras that work well in various types of lighting, including very low light. Also, consider lighting throughout the day, such as sunlight through a window which can cause camera glare.

Avoid Irrecoverable Footage

Many cameras record over old footage once the storage becomes full. This makes the footage irretrievable in most cases. To avoid this, pull or retrieve important footage as soon as possible after a crime.

Save Footage in Original File Formatting

It is critical to save your footage in “native files” that are proprietary to the camera system. Files in original format are uncompressed and contain the most detail.

Keep it Authentic

It may seem okay to adjust the contrast a little so you can see more detail on your video footage but any alterations can potentially cause your evidence to become inadmissible. Never alter images in any way through enhancements, edits, or after effects. Any changes can be viewed as misrepresentation of truth. Instead, be sure your camera system can obtain clear images.

Submit Only Relevant Images

This one is pretty straightforward. The images you submit must pertain to the crime and arguments of the case. Anything else will be dismissed.

S-TRON specializes in advanced video surveillance solutions for the hospitality, retail, c-store, restaurant, and grocery industries. If you have any questions about advanced security solutions, please call us today.

Practical LP Tips To Keep Your Business from Becoming a Statistic

If you own a business, you know that theft is a serious threat, from both outside and within. But being aware of the intricacies of the problem can help you combat it with wise choices in security technologies and reduce your risk of becoming a statistic.

Valuable Statistics About Outside Threats

The FBI crime statistics report that a business in the United States is burglarized every 12 seconds. Those thefts combined result in more than $3.1 billion in property and personal loss. Those crimes didn’t just happen. They came about as a result of planning on the part of the criminal, and opportunities provided by the victim.
Here are some important facts about how burglars make entry into businesses.

  • Six in 10 burglaries involve forcible entry.
  • One third were unlawful entries.
  • Just over six percent were attempted forcible entries.
  • The primary ways burglars gain entry were through open doors and windows or forcible entry through doors and windows.
  • Only one in eight burglars report picking locks or using an acquired key to gain entry.
  • Most commercial burglaries happen at night, weekends and on holidays when the business is closed.

Here are some important insights about employee theft:

  • More than six in 10 businesses have been victims of employee theft.
  • Over 40% of thefts involving employees are of money, ranging from $5 to $2 million dollars.
  • The average amount stolen is $20,000, which is a devastating loss to most businesses.
  • Around two in 10 thefts involved products sold by the business, most were of materials that go into making final products.
  • Six percent were of office supplies.

What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?

No business has to remain vulnerable. Here are some important ways you can reduce the chances of becoming a crime statistic.

  • Conduct thorough background checks on all employees.
  • Install access control systems and grant access to only those areas necessary to perform the duties of the job.
  • Use security cameras in places of vulnerability such as stockrooms and point of sale.
  • Do not keep excess cash on the property. Make bank deposits daily.
  • Close and lock doors to areas where valuable products or supplies are kept.
  • Use fencing and locked gated to protect equipment.
  • Keep all areas of the property well-lit.
  • Cover all areas of the property with video surveillance.

If you own a business, you know how seriously theft can impact your bottom line. S-TRON helps keep businesses from becoming a crime statistic with highly technical electronic security solutions. For more information, call S-TRON today.