• Retail Insights: People Masking and other CCTV future concepts

Retail Insights: People Masking and other CCTV future concepts

Panasonic operates in numerous vertical markets. One of the areas you work in is the retail space, particularly shopping centres. What are the special requirements of these kinds of environments and how do you approach them as a manufacturer?

First of all, a reliable, future-proof system is necessary in the retail sector. However operating just surveillance cameras on their own is falling out of favour fast, with operators increasingly installing complete analysis systems and software as well, that use the camera output to help with facial, age or gender recognition which are not only used for security, but also marketing purposes. There’s a strong demand for these systems particularly in the high-end specialist retail arena. In addition to safety and marketing, the data is also being used to control lighting, air-conditioning and heating systems, as well as planning personnel and advertising locations and strategy.

The possibilities these systems offer are, in some European territories, restricted by regulations and legal codes. For instance, cameras in the entrance areas of shops that face out onto public areas, for instance, must be covered with masking or use appropriate pixilation. Germany is one example where the use of surveillance systems on the public is heavily regulated.

To meet these concerns Panasonic offers a People Masking functionality as part of its latest camera systems, in which sensitive objects, signage or people can be covered with an opaque blue mask at source. For cameras in non-public areas the system allows two streams of recording to be made – a pixelated stream and a second, which remains clear. If an incident of note occurs, searches can then made with the consent of the relevant authorities,  using additional administrative rights.

In addition to the obvious security benefits, intelligent video systems as you mention can provide analysis functions. How mature are these systems and what are their significance in the retail sector?

Analysis software is only as good as the positioning and alignment of the cameras that they’re taking the video data from. If everything is set up as it should be, cameras can capture faces accurately and quickly. In this way a high quality installation contributes a great deal, because it’s crucial to get the cameras in the right place. Smart security software like analytics is becoming more and more important, as the competition against retailers from online continues to build, and they’re looking to learn more about the types of customers that they’re getting through the door and how they’re moving through the retail space.

The more comprehensive camera systems and their deployment becomes, the more potential points of attack there are by malicious individuals, particularly with the move to IP cameras. How do you see the threat currently and what countermeasures are you taking to ensure the data protection and IT security of the camera systems themselves?

Within the CCTV industry unfortunately the topic of security is still somewhat neglected and underestimated, despite a number of high profile scandals where unsecured cameras have been remotely controlled and accessed by nefarious individuals via the Internet. Default passwords are often still not being changed and video streams remain freely available on the Internet for anyone to anonymously look at. Unsecured camera feeds inadvertently give away a lot of crucial information about an organisation or building that operators need to protect. Panasonic is currently the only CCTV camera manufacturer with certified encryption of the complete monitoring system. Working in co-operation with a market leader in the field of IT security, the encryption has been available free of charge for some time and is enabled on every camera that we offer via the network video recorder.