Branch Banking

Industry Vertical

Branch Banking

Using video analytics to re-imagine financial strategy

Ask a Millennial and they’ll probably tell you, “Brickand- mortar banking is sooo last century.” They prefer online banking, tapping their phone at the checkout and, on the rare occasion when hard cash is necessary, visiting the nearest ATM. This has left financial institutions racking their brains for ways to draw the next generation of customers through their doors. A surprising solution in this quest for branch innovation has been the use of network video camera systems. With the advent of sophisticated video analytics, network cameras have stepped beyond their traditional sphere of security surveillance and loss prevention and into the realm of operational business intelligence.

Here is an example: A short while ago, in a discussion with a credit union that was opening a new branch office, they were trying to decide whether to lease out part of the space to a coffee shop and build an entrance from that shop directly into the branch office. The idea was to attract new customers by increasing foot traffic from the retail business. But how could they determine if the proposed model was a good business decision?

The suggestion was made to add crossline detection analytics to the security cameras monitoring that doorway. The analytic could measure how much actual traffic the branch was pushing to the coffee shop and how much traffic they were pulling from the coffee shop into the branch. Being able to measure that flow of traffic throughout the day would help the credit union assess the potential value of carving out a piece of their property and leasing it to a retail enterprise. An analysis of the foot traffic they pushed to the retailer would also help the credit union justify how much they planned to charge per square foot to lease the space.

An Analytic for All Reasons

While retailers have been incorporating video analytics into their daily operations for decades, financial institutions have lagged well behind the technology curve. But this cautious, wait-and-see attitude is starting to wane as more banks begin to appreciate the immense value of business intelligence that video analytics can provide. The variety of specialized video analytics is quite broad and continues to expand with more applications being introduced to the market every year.

On the surface, many appear to be security- oriented, but, with a little creativity, can be applied to operational situations as well. Rather than list the complete catalog of video analytics currently available, I’d like to share just a few of the ones I consider having the most potential benefit for financial institutions.

Cross line detection. This video analytic is a tripwire application that detects moving objects that cross a virtual boundary. Crossing the line automatically triggers an event. A branch could use the analytic for something as simple as counting foot traffic as mentioned in the credit union example above. Or if the event occurs after hours at a specific location, the software could be programmed to send an alert to security that there’s an intruder on the premises.

Demographic identifier. This sophisticated analytic generates demographic data about customers as they do their brickand- mortar banking. It is able to determine a person’s gender and approximate age range by detecting and analyzing their face. The analytics lets a financial institution compare gender and age statistics across branch locations and times of day. This helps banks to target marketing efforts and tailor the customer experience to the demographic segments likely to visit certain branches at certain times of the day.

Facial capture. This advanced analytic captures, indexes and catalogs the faces of people entering the branch or using the drive-through teller. Powerful search algorithms enable financial institutions to quickly find the recorded video of persons of interest to expedite investigations of fraud, robbery or identity theft. With facial capture analytics, banks can build stronger cases to submit to law enforcement and better protect assets by setting alerts for suspects using facial similarity searches.

Heat mapping. This analytic creates heat maps and graphs that enable a branch to identify hot spots (areas that attract customers) and dead areas where no activity occurs. A branch can use heat maps to track where customers linger, what they touch, where they walk and what they ignore. This allows individual branches to optimize their layouts like never before— including where to place promotional literature, additional seating and even the complimentary coffee machine. License plate recognition. This analytic automatically captures the license plate in real time, compares or adds it to a pre-defined list and then takes appropriate action such as generating an alert. Captured plate data can be used to identify motorists at drive-through teller stations and ATMs as well as for parking lot security and more. The analytics can also capture additional forensic detail like the make, model and color of the vehicle and, in some cases, an image of the driver.

People counter. This intelligent analytic precisely monitors the flow of customer traffic throughout the day. It automatically counts in real time the number of people passing under a camera and in which direction. A branch can use the statistics to determine optimal open hours and staffing needs. Analyzing traffic trends can also help the branch evaluate the impact of advertising and special promotions to draw customers into the premises.

Queue monitor. This intelligent analytic captures real-time statistics about how long customers are waiting in line for teller or management services. It tracks the queue duration and queue fluctuations over the course of a day. By analyzing queue data, the bank can determine how many tellers and managers to have on certain days and times. This leads to better planning and more cost-effective staffing. Banks can set the queue threshold to prompt the opening of a new teller line when the number of customers in line exceeds the limit. This decreases customer wait time and creates a more positive banking experience.

The Optimum Place to Process Analytics

There are two ways to deploy video analytics: in the camera or on the server. The advantage of installing the analytics at the edge is that financial institutions can reduce bandwidth consumption and storage requirements at their branch locations. The advantage of installing analytics on the server is that it allows banks to centralize the data and measure and compare results across multiple locations. This could provide valuable information to identify the top performing branches.

On-board video analytics. As the processing power and storage capacity of network video cameras continue to increase, it becomes much easier to consider using on-board video analytics because the solution can then be selectively deployed just in the areas where it’s needed. This option tends to be a much more cost-effective solution especially for financial institutions that don’t require real-time data comparison across multiple locations.

Serve-based video analytics. A serverbased solution will be more expensive but does allow for a more robust enterprise solution that can be deployed across multiple locations. This method may be preferred if data needs to be compared across a number of branches. The choice should be based on the ultimate needs of the financial institution.

Timely Tools for Inspiring Branch Innovation

Regardless of whether a video analytics solution is deployed on the network camera at the edge or on a server, analytics can be very powerful tools to help banks maximize value from their network video systems and gain deeper insight into their business. In some cases, these solutions may already exist but aren’t being used to their full potential. It’s important that physical security managers who are considering migrating to this new technology share with their operations team how they, too, can profit from these tools.

As banks strive to be transformative, gathering valuable real-time performance data will be critical to achieving business optimization. Strategic use of video analytics will help not only leverage resource spending, but will speed the process of making important business decisions.

This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of Security Today.

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