Retailer upgrades to IP video across 45 stores

March 3, 2014
UK-based Paul Smith will deploy network cameras and video-management software in all its stores globally by the end of 2015.

Open-platform IP video management software (VMS) provider Milestone Systems recently announced that its XProtect Corporate open VMS with XProtect Smart Client, along with network cameras from Axis Communications, are being deployed across all of Paul Smith’s 45 stores as part of the retailer’s 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,” Milestone said when announcing the deployment.

“Paul Smith is an early adopter of IP and cloud-based services,” Milestone continued. “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.”

Lee Bingham, Paul Smith’s head of IT, commented that when the company planned to move its legacy CCTV system to his command, he insisted it also switch to IP. “If it’s not IP then it’s not IT,” Bingham said, “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 IT department developed a three-year global migration plan from analog to IP surveillance. “The installation and networking of the new video platform is being carried out as part of a global IT infrastructure upgrade,” Milestone points out, “along with new retail point-of-sale and enterprise-resource-planning systems.”

After a search process, the IT department chose Milestone XProtect Corporate VMS and Axis network cameras. The department also chose Axis video encoders to bring some existing analog CCTV cameras onto the corporate network ahead of the full IT and IP video upgrade. Bingham said, “The fact that Milestone XProtect is built on an open platform architecture using Microsoft Active Directory makes rapid rollout 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,” he continued. “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 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.

“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. We plan to work closely with our retail management team to explore the power of the new IP system—potentially deploying techniques such as facial recognition, heat mapping and dwell-time analytics that enable us to better understand and serve our customers.”

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