Video analytics means lots of savings, little waste at Waste Management Inc.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

DALLAS - A video analytics system that saved $7.5 million in 2007 for a national recycling and waste management company is keeping more than just the security director happy; it’s helping out the accounting and operations folks as well, and has led to the creation of a commercial central station.
And the system is working so well that Doug Crawford, director of the Life Safety Control Center at Waste Management Inc., wants to offer similar services to others.
Crawford and Carolyn Ramsey, director of program management for Honeywell Systems Group, led a lively and well attended panel discussion here on Feb. 27, the second day of TechSec Solutions, a conference dedicated to IP-ready security solutions.
“Video analytics is changing the game,” said Ramsey.
Waste Management, with its 2,200 locations across the country, is like many multi-location and critical infrastructure facilities across the country, Ramsey said. “It has a number of sites, some in remote locations. It has high-value assets that are vulnerable to intrusion.”
Waste Management, based in Houston, collects, transfers, disposes and recycles waste in its facilities. It is also involved in creating renewable energy. “We like to think of ourselves as an environmental organization,” Crawford said.
Before installing the Honeywell System, Crawford said the company had many cameras, but “just did standard recording.” Consequently, they were only able to be reactive.
Waste Management decided to build its own central station (Life Safety Control System) to administer the system, and it is now seeking “select integrators” to provide alarm, data and video monitoring for, Crawford said.
The current system alerts the central station when people or vehicles are doing things they shouldn’t be doing in his facilities. He can respond to a situation in progress. If there is a problem in one facility that he wants to guard against at other facilities, he can “upgrade or add a feature from a central location in one afternoon,” Ramsey said. This means that he does not have to physically send managers out to a location to fuss with the security system. Less travel, less equipment, faster response and the need for fewer employees accounted for the $7.5 million savings, he said.
Crawford has installed the system in 1,100 of its facilities. The remainder will be installed in the next year.
The company’s accounting and operations departments use the system for “business optimization.” Crawford can give them reports and associated video on POS, high traffic patterns and more.
“The system goes way beyond physical security,” he said.
Non-security related departments are discovering the benefits of video analytics, Ramsey said. At the Smithsonian Museum, for example, a new camera system with analytics is being used by the operations department to “track patterns to figure out how to get people into the museum store … Security is thrilled. They can use the cameras, but they didn’t have to campaign for the [purchase of the system],” Ramsey said. SSN