• Rethinking CCTV in Regensburg

Rethinking CCTV in Regensburg

Donau-Einkaufszentrum shopping centre in the Bavarian town of Regensburg utilises CCTV to maximise revenues.

A CCTV system is still often seen as a 'grudge' purchase by retailers; an additional cost that often won't lead to either a reduction in crime or an increase in profitability for the business.

One retail business that is reversing the trend is the DonauEinkaufszentrum shopping centre, 70 miles north of Munich in Regensburg. Having installed a new IP camera system in late 2016, the centre has made full use of the onboard software within Panasonic's i-PRO range to arm itself with more reliable commercial data than it's ever had.

In total, 62 Panasonic CCTV cameras and four network video recorders (WJ-NV300) ensure that not only does the centre's security team not miss a thing, but centre management has a new tool to improve customer insight too. Spread over two floors, the installation covers approximately 12,000 sq metres of none-retail mall space. It provides age and gender data, people movement, heat mapping and face recognition.

The centre also has ambitious plans to extend the system to include digital signage so that it can serve age and gender appropriate advertising to visitors entering one of 19 entrances.

"Within the next six months we'll have sufficient data to begin altering square metre pricing"

"We have two sets of stakeholders, our tenants and our customers, the new security system keeps our customers safe and provides our tenants with some extremely valuable information about who is, or isn't, coming in to their stores," says Thomas Zink, Managing Director. "It's taken our operation to a new level commercially, we are able to provide data to any tenant who has concerns over footfall for instance.

"We have been operating the system for four months and within the next six months we'll have sufficient data to begin altering square metre pricing for new tenants depending on the level of footfall a given plot has. In the past, this type of data would have cost us tens of thousands of euros to have independently calculated.

"We have started making the data available for tenants to purchase for their own marketing purposes, so the system will pay for itself in a matter of months.

"We will soon look at how we can improve signage within the centre to drive traffic to shops that are likely to interest them based on their age and gender."

There are HD box cameras on each of the entrances and strategically placed throughout the centre, in addition 4K 360 degree dome cameras add coverage throughout areas not covered by the box cameras.

"We ended up buying far fewer cameras than we initially planned for. The Panasonic 360 cameras provide surveillance over a far wider area than we were anticipating, it meant that we could cover more with fewer cameras," said Willi Blößl, Technical Manager for the Centre.

"This is perfect in Germany, where the public perception of surveillance is quite negative. Having said that, the dome cameras are so small, most people don't even know they're there."

"The 360 cameras provide surveillance over a far wider area than we were anticipating"

"We have set the system to automatically trigger alerts to the security team's mobile phones should there be an incident that requires our attention. We are making use of the onboard analytics to detect left object, or any deliberate change of scene for instance.

"We have a very small number of people in our face recognition database. In January, there was a robbery out of hours, when a cash till was stolen. Two weeks later we were alerted by the system that the offender had triggered an entrance camera, as a consequence we were able to quickly apprehend him and hand him over to the police. The police were very happy with the quality of the footage, which gave them everything they needed to build their case."

Panasonic's proprietary smart coding technology means that storage is managed easily and efficiently. Going beyond compression typically seen with H.265, smart coding reduces the storage requirement by approximately 70% beyond H.264.

It applies smart algorithms to ensure that still parts of an image are stored at a lower bitrate and only moving parts of the image are captured in Full HD.

"The system will pay for itself in a matter of months."

The centre attracts over 40,000 people on a busy Saturday, manual tests using a clicker found that the people counting software was 97% accurate, more than meeting the centre's requirements. "I've never seen the centre manager so much. I've gone from trying to manage security reactively using an old and outdated system to being the provider of crucial data that will drive future success," added Willi Blößl.