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Video me the money
September 2009, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring

Video surveillance and analytics is a crucial element in securing financial institutions.

More than three years after an armed R46-million heist promised to be South Africa’s biggest bank robbery, all nine perpetrators were found guilty, thanks in part to video footage of the event.

The attack, which took place in broad daylight at a First National Bank depot in Selby, Gauteng, in 2006, was recorded by the bank’s surveillance system. Permitted as evidence, the footage helped the State prove its case beyond reasonable doubt and ensured that those involved received lengthy jail sentences.

This case, says Jack Edery, CEO of Elvey Security Technologies, underpins the importance of having good surveillance systems in high-risk environments such as banks and around ATMs.

“People believe that banks are among the most secure places on earth, entrusted as they are with the safekeeping of our money. In order to live up to expectations, banks throughout the world are increasingly turning to innovative digital technology such as IP (Internet Protocol) surveillance systems, which make it possible to embrace the basic tenets of good security: deter, detect and detain.”

First prize is always prevention and nowhere more so than in the banking sector where not only people’s money, but also their lives are at stake during armed robberies, he continues. “While we know that banks will always be vulnerable to attack, having a good surveillance system in place can help deter attacks while at the same time provide damning images of offenders that can be used as evidence in court as happened in the FNB heist and many others.”

The opening line of an article that appeared in The Star (13 June 2008), “The video footage of the R46-million FNB robbery was damning”, supports his contention. “Imagine the atmosphere in the court when Head of FNB security, Andries van der Linden, a former Brixton Murder and Robbery Unit commander, verbalised the video footage which showed in detail the facial features and clothing of the perpetrators, and them ransacking the treasury.”

IP technology

IP surveillance systems with video analytics, such as behavioural recognition are proving highly effective in a range of security applications for financial institutions, according to Zane Greeff, technical director of Elvey Security Technologies. “Considering the vulnerability of banking institutions both during and after work hours, the importance of around-the-clock surveillance cannot be over-stated. Digital surveillance provides this continuous monitoring so that facilities are protected 24/7.”

He further notes how this technology is aiding the fight against cheque fraud and phantom or fraudulent ATM withdrawals, owing to its ability to record transaction data and capture offender images.

A major benefit of IP technology is its intelligent functionality which allows for motion detection and behavioural flagging, all of which make it possible to identify suspicious activity or people. Also impressive and highly effective is its ability to transmit and coordinate information from multiple branches to one central location, whether monitoring station or the Internet, where it can be viewed from anywhere in the world. Further, the flexibility of modern surveillance technology makes it simple to integrate security cameras and alarm systems into a single network.

The arrival of this cutting-edge technology has also changed the face of data storage. Storing and accessing data was a major problem until the advent of digital technology. Now, however, vast amounts of data can be easily stored and specific incidents quickly located through the use of advanced search techniques.

Key elements

The best bank security systems comprise a number of different components, asserts Greeff, which combined, enhance customer security and accordingly confidence. “While there is no doubt that video surveillance is critical, it should be supported by other elements such as security personnel, alarms, access control and ideally video analytics. In addition, to ensure its successful operation in adverse conditions, cameras need to be tamper- and vandal-proof.”

There are a number of aspects to consider when setting up a monitoring system, not least of all where the cameras need to be focused. Entrances and exits, safes, teller windows and outside ATMs all require particularly intensive surveillance. Moreover, cameras need to be able to deliver high resolution images in the interests of accurate identification when necessary.

“Without doubt, IP cameras equipped with video analytics and a good, searchable data base are the best gifts a bank can give to its clients and the police when investigating a crime,” Edery concludes.

For more information contact Kenny Chui, Elvey Security Technologies, +27 (0)11 401 6700,,

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