The issue boiled down to time and enhanced protection. Customers were beginning to insist that they get video surveillance images at a moment’s notice. As an armored courier and cash vault business, Dunbar found it needed the same instantaneous access to such images for internal use as well as customer service. Management also wanted to adopt more comprehensive measures that would equip staff to trace surveillance footage back over longer periods of time than the existing system allowed.
“Security is our heritage,”said Doug Bear, the general manager for Dunbar Alarm Systems. “It’s the reason we exist.”
He’s referring to The Dunbar Companies and the Dunbar family’s heritage in the security industry. Mercer & Dunbar, founded by George W. Dunbar, was the first armored car company in New England. Federal Armored Express (renamed Dunbar Armored in 1996), was founded by George’s son, James L. Dunbar, in 1956, and is the largest independently owned armored car company in the country today.
Dunbar Armored serves retailers, financial institutions, and the Federal Reserve from more than 85 branch locations throughout the U.S. It also spawned five additional companies which carry the family name, including: Dunbar Cash Vault Services, Dunbar Armored Air, Dunbar BankPak, Dunbar Guard Services, and Dunbar Alarm Systems.
Combined with Dunbar Armored, Dunbar Cash Vault Services kept security personnel busy combing through hours’, days’, and even weeks’ worth of surveillance video for the specific footage needed to determine the details of questionable events. While Dunbar had always had excellent security in one form or another, its current analog video system was starting to show some limitations. And this was one of them. Finding a particular image on surveillance tape—whether in response to a customer’s request or for their own purposes—was a labor-intensive, painfully slow process.
“We were spending a lot of time on the analog system searching for the right frame,” explained Doug Spector, Dunbar’s national director of compliance. He knew that digital video could do more than speed up their efficiency. It would improve picture quality as well.
The right system would also, Spector anticipated, furnish the greater archiving capacity that they needed: 60 days’ worth for the cash-in-transit operations and 90 days’ worth for the cash vault services.
But with nearly 90 cash vault and Cash in Transit locations spread across the country, switching from analog to digital video surveillance posed an undertaking of considerable magnitude.
The Search Begins
Dunbar’s management invited six vendors to propose solutions, and within six months whittled the six down to two. Intelligent Marketing, Inc., a manufacturer’s representative for American Dynamics, part of Tyco Fire & Security’s Access Control and Video Systems business unit, proposed that Dunbar try out American Dynamics’ flagship product, the Intellex Digital Video Management System.
The security experts at Dunbar still hadn’t decided if a PC-based system in a Windows environment or an embedded system was best suited for their operations. To find out, they tested both. At one cash vault location they installed an embedded unit and at another they installed the PC-based Intellex.
Seeing both systems in action over the ensuing month convinced the Dunbar officials that Intellex was the ideal choice. “Ease of use for our Security Directors and Senior Management was a primary concern,” said Bear. “The two deciding factors came down to the ability to increase our archiving capacity to our requirements with the ESM (Extended Storage Modules) and the image quality that the Intellex unit produced was superior to any other unit we reviewed.”
Intellex combines multiplexing and alarm/event detection with video, audio, and text recording. It can simultaneously display live and playback video with or without audio and text, host multiple remote users, archive, and perform comprehensive video searching—all while recording multiple video, audio, and text streams.
Rolling Out the New System
Dunbar’s largest transition to digital video security was retrofitting its cash vault facility in White Marsh, Maryland. The installation took 40 days and, in addition to the Intellex, incorporated 145 cameras, also from American Dynamics. “The process was a huge challenge,” noted Bear, “because we were installing the new equipment while the existing system was still up and running, and 150 employees were going about their work.” But there wasn’t so much as a hiccup.
Dunbar followed up the White March project with similar retrofits at its cash vault branches in Hackensack, NJ and Plano, TX. This time, the installation for both sites was completed within approximately 45 days.
To date, the organization has put a total of 40 Intellex units into service at nine locations with 16 cameras feeding into each unit. The plan is to install Intellex at every Dunbar cash vault and armored facility over the next three to five years.
“The support from American Dynamics has been phenomenal,” acknowledged Bear. “We noticed this at the very beginning when we first started to look at all the products and it’s stayed strong throughout every step of the process.”
That customer service continued after the completion of each installation with on-site training classes. The first one occurred at the Hackensack office in late 2003 and became a model for the other sites. American Dynamics sent one of its employees, who first inspected the equipment to ensure that it was set up correctly before instructing a hands-on class for the security personnel. “The instruction has been invaluable to us,” said Bear, adding that, “the training was also extended to Dunbar’s seven security directors company-wide.”
Gaining More Than ROI
Dunbar officials peg the cumulative investment at more than $1 million and remain convinced that it is money well spent.
“This is going to improve our operations so dramatically,” said Bear. “The amount of time we spend researching video alone makes the whole thing worth it.” Add to that, he mentioned, the advantages of clearer video. “Now, whenever there’s a question from a bank or retail customer, we can provide the answer immediately with a high quality image.”
“The largest financial impact on our operation can be seen in our ability to pursue work with any large financial institution,” added Bear. “With the unlimited archiving capacity, even a large-scale operation can maintain images for as long as is required.”
This ability to respond quickly and completely is expected to reduce claims and losses and is already cutting system maintenance expenses. Even something as relatively minor as the cost of videotape, which at $3,000 annually represents $30,000 over ten years, has been eliminated, saving Dunbar yet more money. In the big picture, Dunbar’s new digital video security system from American Dynamics makes the bottom line keep looking better and better.