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March 5, 2023

The benefits of AI in CCTV surveillance

Shoplifting rose by more than 14% in 2022 in France. The economic crisis, rising prices linked to inflation, food shortages, increased job insecurity as well as the growing number of online sales platforms, etc., have created a favourable context for an upsurge in store theft. For traders, the loss of income can be as much as 3% of their sales. In response, the combination of artificial intelligence and CCTV surveillance is emerging as the most effective security solution.

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>> Ebook: The 5 benefits of using artificial intelligence in CCTV

Shoplifting: a review of 2022

Worldwide, the cost to retailers of shoplifting is about $100 billion every year. This poses a challenge not only in terms of the number of items stolen, but also in terms of diversification. First of all, there is the diversity of the products concerned. In 2014, the top four most stolen objects consisted of hygiene and beauty products, spirits, clothing and accessories, and small electronics. In 2022, the most sought-after products were cheese, razor blades, fashion accessories, perfumes and processed meat, followed by other food items such as seafood or sweets. 

Secondly, there is the diversity of the “victims” of the thefts. While it is small local businesses that suffer the most because of a lack of surveillance resources, such criminal practices are also on the rise in chain stores. These include pharmacies, DIY stores, clothing stores or perfume shops. Shoplifting is no longer the preserve of the food retail sector. As a result, an entire vicious circle has been created. Why? Because shrinkage, i.e. the difference between the booked theoretical stock of a sales area and its actual stock resulting directly by shoplifting, leads to traders passing on the loss of income to the retail price of the products. This price increase then provides an added incentive for customers – even loyal ones – to give in to the temptation of theft.

Why use Video surveillance?

In addition to the financial constraints, it is clearly not easy to monitor exactly what is going on in each of the aisles of a store or, in the case of small shops, to manage all the tasks that need to be performed (checkout, cleaning, etc.) while keeping an eye on the customers. Whatever the surface area that needs to be covered, human surveillance alone is not enough. 

This is where CCTV surveillance is coming into its own as a key backup solution, particularly in the food sector where margins are low (3 to 4% of net income). “Today, it is estimated that only 5 to 10% of thefts are detected using conventional solutions.For trahttps://veesion.io/kits-videosurveillance-logiciels-et-cameras/ders, the benefit of CCTV is twofold: it can reduce the number of thefts and increase their turnover at the same time, so that they can invest more in their store (renovation, recruitment, etc.). It is therefore more efficient financially and above all more profitable. At a time when bankruptcies are on the rise, Video surveillance is a major asset,” explains Benoît Koenig, co-founder of Veesion. As a result, the video surveillance market is also experiencing strong growth with an annual surge of 10%. 

The main benefits of video surveillance include the following:

  • Deterring thieves and thereby reducing shoplifting thanks to the mere presence of security cameras;
  • Remote monitoring of what the people in store are doing;
  • Combating employee theft;
  • Providing legal evidence of theft or other wrongdoing;
  • Reducing insurance costs;
  • Avoiding the cost of hiring dedicated staff: a security guard costs nearly €20 incl. tax per hour, i.e. an overall cost of €60,000 per year to the company;
  • Having access to images for a legal period of 30 days thanks to the digital storage provided by the system installer.

How is AI changing CCTV surveillance?

While 95% of all retail stores have video surveillance in 2023, it is largely used for fairly basic tasks. However, the emergence of artificial intelligence is likely to revolutionise video security in retail and all the sectors that will implement it. Although still in its infancy – AI appeared around 2016-2017, given that the technology was too data-intensive for video before then – the first results are already very positive.

How does it work? Artificial intelligence at the service of CCTV surveillance uses a brick structure:

  • The first brick detects the individual.
  • Another brick analyses body movement and estimates the position of the limbs at each instant with a completely anonymised analysis. 
  • Finally, a third brick uses object recognition technology to identify a backpack, handbag, etc., and differentiates it from a shopping basket or shopping cart.

In short, AI can match standard purchasing behaviour with that of a shoplifting, like putting an item in a pocket or personal bag rather than in the shopping cart. This detection of a suspicious movement triggers an alert that is sent to the trader or security guard in real time. They can then check whether the product has been paid for at the checkout or not.

The benefits of artificial intelligence

In practical terms, what are the benefits of AI security cameras compared to conventional video surveillance solutions?

  • Extending the processing capacity

The first big difference is the technology’s ability to process large amounts of data in real time. Indeed, even for the seasoned eye, it can be difficult to spot all suspicious behaviour in a store equipped with 100 surveillance cameras. As a result, 95% of thefts currently go undetected, when AI can detect 98% of them. 

Another benefit is the ability of artificial intelligence not only to process a much larger volume of data, but also and more importantly to sort and report only the most relevant information to the agents, thereby providing a real aid to decision-making. In the end, it is always the human who decides!

  • Making security systems more widely accessible

As explained above, hiring a full-time employee dedicated to security is expensive. Consequently, many smaller local shops have to do without it. While video surveillance already provides a certain level of efficiency, artificial intelligence delivers the same level of quality and security as any superstore. AI makes cutting-edge technology accessible to small traders, both in terms of the costs and uses.

  • Benefiting from continuous improvement

The principle of artificial intelligence is based on self-learning, i.e. the ability to learn on its own over time. In this way, the more the trader uses the security system, the more accurate and efficient it will become. What’s more, it can do this without any additional training or upgrade costs to the user. AI will even be able to identify new suspicious patterns or behaviours. 

  • Adopting an ethical approach to security

Contrary to popular belief, artificial intelligence does not recognise people as such. It detects suspicious movements. Consequently, it is not subject to human bias or prejudice within the context of CCTV surveillance. Thanks to AI, a decision based on facts and visual evidence alone, and not tied to identity, ethnicity, clothing or even tattoo-like biometric markings, can be made. AI in video surveillance works anonymously. 

  • Promoting new uses

Finally, a smart camera can be used for other purposes in addition to theft detection. It is just as capable of detecting a physical accident (collapse, fall, attack, etc.) or vandalism, so that staff can take rapid action. 

AI surveillance can also provide valuable marketing information: show which product is popular in order to forecast stock shortages, which shelf receives less attention from customers, which product is picked up and put down (hence not purchased), etc. This mine of information can be used by the trader to optimise the layout of their store, the organisation of their aisle ends and their stock.

Why use Veesion?

In a market for artificial intelligence in CCTV surveillance that is still young, Veesion is the first movement recognition software to be used in the prevention of shoplifting. The concept is very simple: just plug the technology developed by Veesion directly into the streams of the cameras that are already in place. There is therefore no need to replace your video surveillance setup. Veesion upgrades the existing cameras. 

Compatible with 90% of cameras on the market, the solution works with both digital and analogue systems. It is a simple, practical, effective, and inexpensive solution, because inflation also affects the price of cameras for which certain components are out of stock. “Out of 3,000 stores worldwide equipped with the technology, we report more than 100,000 analysed actions per month, that are deemed relevant to traders, i.e. the equivalent of two to three thefts prevented each day for the businesses most affected by shrinkage”, specifies Benoît Koenig. 

This is how Veesion makes a difference: thanks to its interface that is very easy to use and the quality of the alerts sent, leading to 95% cases being qualified as relevant by traders. This is the result of the special attention that is devoted to R&D: more than 25 engineers work daily to improve the accuracy and detection of new theft scenarios.

AI surveillance: the main areas of caution

One of the great strengths of the artificial intelligence solution implemented by Veesion is grounded in its compliance and respect for the regulations in force. This is a truly critical point because the use of artificial intelligence is regulated in Europe, e.g. strict ban on facial recognition. 

This is why Veesion implements movement recognition and not individual recognition. “We are only interested in the movement that places a product in a container. Then, it is the human who decides to act, to intervene and to check the individual. On the other hand, we are not able to identify an individual or specify whether a person returned to the same store two days later.” Security within the scope of the law!

To find out more about the law regarding in-store Video surveillance, see our article called Everything you need to know about in-store Video surveillance.

What is the outlook for AI in CCTV monitoring?

As mentioned in the chapter on the benefits, artificial intelligence is about to change the face of retail by promoting the development of new uses. In the future, it will be possible to detect automatic checkout fraud and reduce shrinkage by the same amount. Why not also consider using smart video systems to detect the poor posture of employees in an office or factory, and improve health at work?

The retail of the future will be based on the autonomous store and a more comfortable customer pathway. Video surveillance and artificial intelligence also offer traders a cheaper alternative to the multitude of sensors and connected objects that are required today. What’s more, AI will also allow them to get to know their consumers better. This is the key to a personalised purchasing pathway and an optimal customer experience. 

This is what artificial intelligence really contributes to CCTV surveillance, i.e. a better understanding of human behaviour and sound advice.

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