Fifth Third Bank Upgrades Video Surveillance and Plans for the Future

Fifth Third Bank Upgrades Video Surveillance and Plans for the Future

Fifth Third Bancorp, one of the top 15 banks in the U.S., is well on its way toward completing a major upgrade of its video surveillance system

Fifth Third Bancorp, one of the top 15 banks in the U.S., is well on its way toward completing a major upgrade of its video surveillance system. Since 2013, it has deployed about 12,000 new surveillance cameras and approximately 1,400 hybrid network video recorders (NVRs).

“By the end of 2016, we’ll have a total of 1,600 new recorders,” said Mike Neugebauer, Fifth Third’s Vice-President and Director of Corporate Security, who oversees security for 1,300 full-service retail banking branches, as well as data centers, corporate offices and cash handling facilities across 12 states.

The combination of new IP cameras, wide dynamic range (WDR) analog cameras, and hybrid NVRs with advanced video compression allows Fifth Third to provide law enforcement authorities with high-quality video for the identification and apprehension of suspects.

“Bank robberies and break-ins appear to be trending higher nationally,” said Neugebauer. “Much of it is a consequence of the heroin epidemic. Typically, they’ll go through a window in the middle of the night to see what there is to steal.

“We constantly get compliments from law enforcement about the quality of our video. Even if the bad guys show up with hoodies or masks, we can zoom in on clothing patterns and brand logos, partial facial features, tattoos or other distinguishing marks.

“Security staff in our 24-hour monitoring center can verify an alarm and tell responding law enforcement officers what we see,” said Neugebauer. “Video verification is huge. It changes law enforcement’s urgency to respond.”

Better apprehension rates

In minutes, Fifth Third security staff can email crystal clear images of a suspect to police, dramatically improving the chances of apprehension.

The new hybrid recorders from March Networks are a perfect fit for Fifth Third, accommodating a mix of analog and IP cameras and offering up to 16 TB of onboard storage across four hard-drive slots.

“Typically, we’ll have two IP minidomes and 14 analog cameras per branch, but we’re starting to use more exterior-mounted IP cameras in our elevated risk branches, so storage is important to us,” said Neugebauer. “The other thing we like about the recorder is how it gives us sharper images from our analog cameras.”

The availability of the recorder in 4, 8, 16 and 32-channel configurations is also a plus because it allows Fifth Third to acquire a fit-for-purpose unit for every application.

The bank’s decision to standardize on March Networks cameras frees it from having to worry about any compatibility issues.

“When we weren’t buying from a single vendor, it made management of the cameras a lot harder for us,” said Neugebauer. “That was especially the case for IP megapixel cameras and managing the software patches that have to go on them. The fact that our new cameras work in concert with our NVRs means we don’t have to do software loads like we had to do when we were buying another camera brand. We were managing many pieces of software instead of just one platform.”

Next on the agenda for Fifth Third is the acquisition of a new suite of application software tools and analytics to speed fraud investigations and capture business intelligence such as tracking customer behavior.

Linking video with teller and ATM transaction data, for example, allows fraud investigators to quickly establish the identity of an individual associated with a transaction.

“On the retail side, we also hope to take advantage of the software to help us make better business decisions,” said Neugebauer.

Business analytics
By using a queue length monitoring analytic, Fifth Third will be able to gather and compare metrics on branch traffic and speed of service. A dwell time analytic can also be used to track self-serve kiosk usage and gather data on how long customers linger in front of marketing displays.

Concurrent with the introduction of the application software, Fifth Third is also planning to acquire a new analytics dome camera with built-in intelligence.

“We’ve just done some testing and we’re very pleased with it,” said Neugebauer.

While security remains the primary application for video surveillance at Fifth Third, other “lines of business” are taking advantage of it.

“In the past, security directors were always hesitant to share their video surveillance system, but we share our system with our facilities and retail groups,” said Neugebauer.

“They use it to see if the sidewalk has been shoveled or if the parking lot has been plowed in our northern branches. In Florida, where we’ve had some severe storms, they use it to see if the windows have been blown out or if we have water damage.

“Our facilities group has really embraced it. We’ll put cameras in mechanical rooms, for example, so they can see the indicator light configurations on the control panels. It often saves them from making a trip to the site. If a technician gets an alarm from an HVAC system or a generator, he can diagnose the problem remotely and take the necessary steps to resolve it.

“Retail uses the system to look at compliance with opening and closing procedures. Or, they may have a teller who’s great at selling and go in to look at best practices for training purposes.”

Sharing their video surveillance capabilities with other departments “makes funding easier for us,” said Neugebauer.

Underlying Fifth Third’s choice of a video surveillance system is the solution’s track record for product durability.

“Some of my peers in the industry are buying new recorders every three years,” said Neugebauer. “Everything has a lifecycle and we feel the lifecycle for our March Networks products is significantly longer than most of the other systems out there.”


Dan Cremins is Global Leader of Product Management for March Networks, a leading provider of intelligent IP video solutions to some of the world’s largest retail and banking organizations.


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