Milestone XProtect® Corporate open platform IP video management software (VMS) with XProtect® Smart Client and network cameras from Axis Communications are being deployed across all of Paul Smith’s 45 stores as part of the UK-based retailer’s first comprehensive, company-wide IT refresh. Initially the new digital video system is being used for loss prevention but once it is fully implemented worldwide by the end of 2015, Paul Smith plans to use it for business intelligence to assist retail operations management.
Paul Smith is an early adopter of IP and cloud-based services. In 2001 it was the first large UK-based company to migrate to IP telephony, installing a Cisco IPT network. Embracing the latest IT management approaches (including use of open-architected and Microsoft-based systems), the company has been able to maintain a relatively small network services team despite very rapid growth. Paul Smith has a retail presence in 35 countries.
This approach means that when new IT challenges present themselves, Paul Smith’s Head of IT, Lee Bingham, looks for standards-based solutions that are capable of scaling quickly and effectively. He specifies that new systems and services must last a minimum of 10 years because he simply does not have the manpower or budget to support continual replacements of devices and software.
Paul Smith’s legacy CCTV had grown organically as the group expanded around the world. When the IT department was asked to take over running Paul Smith’s video systems, Lee Bingham insisted that it must be moved to IP video and be visible on the corporate network: “If it’s not IP then it’s not IT, and therefore it made no sense to move it from our Facilities Management team over to the IT department unless the CCTV system was going to be accessible on the network by authorized managers from their desktops.”
The company backed the IT department’s three-year global migration plan from CCTV-to-IP video surveillance. The installation and networking of the new video platform is being carried out as part of a global IT infrastructure upgrade, along with new retail Point of Sale (POS) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems.
Paul Smith’s IT department researched the market for robust, scalable IP video hardware and software. After a painstaking evaluation process, they chose Milestone XProtect Corporate video management software and Axis network cameras. Axis video encoders were selected to bring some existing analog CCTV cameras onto the corporate network ahead of the full IT and IP video upgrade.
Lee Bingham said: “The fact that Milestone XProtect is built on an open platform architecture using Microsoft Active Directory makes rapid roll out possible, as well as cost-effective maintenance and support. Selecting Milestone enables us to migrate the whole CCTV estate onto a single platform to establish uniformity and consistency.”
“Milestone fits our model perfectly. The open platform allows us to scale and add new services. We can control which managers can see cameras from which stores through our standard IT technologies. We can log in via the Milestone XProtect Smart Client front-end to view live and recorded video from all the cameras anywhere in the world. If there is a problem, we can generally fix it via the network from Nottingham without getting on a plane. This saves management time and reduces our company’s carbon footprint.
In the future Bingham expects different managers in specialist areas like Visual Merchandising will want to proactively access the cameras to assess whether agreed store layouts are being observed and working well for customers. There will also be a higher demand for mobile device access to the video which Milestone Mobile can provide.
“Our objective, as the Milestone-based video systems have been rolled out globally, will be to build on this investment by extending its value beyond loss prevention,” concludes Bingham. “We plan to work closely with our retail management team to explore the power of the new IP video system – potentially deploying techniques such as facial recognition, heat mapping and dwell-time analytics that enable us to better understand and serve our customers.”