Feb 1, 2002 12:00 PM

In the financial world, video surveillance of ATM and bank branch transactions is nothing new. Doral Financial Corp., however, is expanding its surveillance to new dimensions with the installation of an end-to-end digital CCTV system at its $50 million headquarters in Puerto Rico.

The $5.5 billion full-service financial institution chose a digital CCTV system from Samsung to monitor customer and employee activities both at ATMs and branch banks and at other company facilities housed under the same roof. Doral used test results provided by a competitor, Banco Popular, to help decide which CCTV system to buy. Moreover, Samsung's Automated Banking Management System (ABMS), the product Doral ultimately chose, is specifically targeted to financial implementations.

"Even before Sept. 11, financial institutions were interested in securing employees and visitors. Digital CCTV was emerging as an inexpensive way to obtain evidence," says Juan Carlos Diaz, Doral's vice president of corporate security. "Our new building, Doral Financial Plaza, is 'Class A' all the way. The company mandated that we purchase a security system that is truly state-of-the-art."

Doral has worked closely with systems integrator Diebold in deploying the new security system, which incorporates 11 ABMS digital video recorders (DVRs), 180 video cameras, and an access control system from Keyscan, among other components.

Founded in 1928, Doral has expanded from its headquarters in Puerto Rico into the United States during the past several years. Two Doral branch offices in New York City are already outfitted with a digital CCTV system from a competing vendor.

Unlike many other digital CCTV products, however, Samsung's ABMS is programmable to capture data about financial transactions, along with video imagery.

The CCTV system's advanced search capabilities allow ATM and teller transaction data to be retrieved according to more than a dozen criteria, including transaction date/time; bank card number; account number; amount; branch name; videoclip description; camera recorded; and type of recording, for example.

The digital CCTV system is able to record up to four images during a transaction, as well as two pre-transaction images and two post-transaction images.

"ABMS is rugged, too. We also like the capability of the system to set cameras at different speeds, and to export video to a variety of media, including CD and tape," Diaz says.

Sold through GVI Enterprises Inc., Samsung CCTV's North American distributor, ABMS is able to restart and resume operation automatically, without operator intervention. Some of its other capabilities include multidrive support; simultaneous display, recording, playback and transmission of video; multiple security access levels; remote video viewing over either TCP/IP networks or phone lines; NTSC/PAL compatibility; hardware Wavelet compression ratios of up to 350:1; and 16 inputs and outputs, for integrating hardware such as alarms and sensors.

Like ABMS, Doral's access control system from Keyscan has inputs into the building's alarm system.

"Each floor of the new building is access controlled. We are creating logs so we can review who goes where, and control all aspects of the business. To enter (a secure area), you need to be authorized through either a proximity card, or a temporary visitors' card," Diaz adds.

In recommending Samsung CCTV's system for Doral's new world headquarters, Diaz used information provided by a colleague at Banco Popular, another large full-scale financial firm servicing Puerto Rico and the continental U.S.

"I don't at all mind sharing information about what works, and what doesn't. Fraud is a rampant problem for all banks. Financial institutions are already exchanging information in criminal cases," says Hector Torres, director of security for 108-year-old Banco Popular.

Two years ago, Banco Popular piloted Samsung CCTV systems in addition to other vendors at its branch offices in Puerto Rico.

"We were looking for a system that could act as three cameras in one capturing a picture of the customer, the check, and the customer's ID, for example. We invited 13 different companies to participate in our pilot. Four or five of them said they had a product that could be modified to meet our operational requirements," Torres explains.

Torres predicts that digital CCTV systems will more than pay for themselves within financial environments. Digital CCTV will produce return on investment by dramatically reducing the time it takes to investigate unauthorized withdrawals and other cases of bank fraud, and by improving investigation results.

"Typically, a bank our size recovers losses from fraud only about 20 to 30 percent of the time. To improve on that rate, I can either hire more investigators, or find the right mix of people and technology," Torres says.

To illustrate how the piloted systems work, Torres gives the example of a bank customer who suddenly notices an unauthorized $500 ATM withdrawal that occurred two days before.

"When we pull up the ATM transaction data, we can immediately show her a photo of the person who withdrew the money. We can ask her, 'Do you know that person? If so, who is he, and how did he get your PIN?' If she responds, 'That's my ex-boyfriend, and I'd previously given him my PIN,' then we can already wrap up the case," he says.

Without a digital CCTV system in place, investigators would need to hunt through reams of analog tape, often working with images that aren't as clear as those supplied by digital video.

According to results from independent testers hired by Banco Popular, Samsung CCTV's Digital Watchdog emerged as one of the top three systems taking part in the bank's digital CCTV pilot.

"The systems have been ranked based on who responded best to our needs. The only way to really tell is to test the systems, and find out whether they're capable of taking the heat," Torres says.

Torres adds that he is favorably impressed with the digital CCTV systems of the other vendors in the pilot. Some of the systems, including ABMS, offer adequate video compression to run efficiently over Banco Popular's internal WAN, a network that integrates both Ethernet and token ring Local Area Networks (LANs) over a 100 megabits-per-second (Mbps) infrastructure.

"ABMS can also record in either time-lapse photography, or near real-time video. The pictures are sharp, and you can enhance them or [enlarge them]. You can record video on a built-in hard drive, send pictures over the network for storage, or burn them into a local CD," Torres says.

Any video surveillance buying decisions for Banco Popular will be made by the bank's purchasing department, rather than by security, according to Torres. Although test rankings are an important factor, other considerations also come into play.

"The bank will decide who can deliver the best package for cutting the costs of our fraud investigations. Aside from product features, factors will include price per unit, warranties, replacement costs, and the ability for the vendor to install the system at all our locations. We have over 220 branches, and 200 stand-alone ATM machines. We also have a headquarters and other buildings to consider," he says.

In conjunction with Samsung's ABMS, Banco Popular has been testing an access control system from Casi-Rusco. Ultimately, Torres envisions development of a financial security infrastructure that will bring together functionality like video imaging, transaction data, access control, and fire alarming, under a single, highly-integrated monitoring and management system. "It's a question of coming up with the right hardware, and finding somebody to write the software," he says.

Meanwhile, Doral Financial plans to expand its Samsung video surveillance system to other facilities in Puerto Rico and the continental U.S., according to Diaz. "We'll try to work it into other branches we might build, and other banks we might buy," he says. Doral Financial recently landed on Fortune magazine's list of the "100 fastest growing companies."

For now, though, Doral is able to avoid legacy integration issues around video surveillance, since the Windows NT-based computer network at Doral Financial Plaza is entirely new.

Doral intends to use its Samsung CCTV system for quality control and fraud prevention. "Employees try to do everything the best they can, [but] if they run into problems, a digital CCTV system can help us to assist them from remote locations. The cameras can see everywhere, even into the teller area. We can even look at a check to tell whether or not it's from our bank," Diaz says.

Diaz fully expects the company's 10,000 employees will need time to grow accustomed to all the new cameras. "It takes time for people to change. But society is getting more sophisticated about new technologies all the time, and there's more and more of a comfort level. Because of what happened on Sept. 11, you'll probably start seeing more cameras everywhere now at restaurants, gas stations, you name it."

As a result of the Banco Popular trial, GVI Inc., DBA Samsung CCTV, has adapted some of its software R&D work to integrate video imaging and transaction data into a trademarked solution for aircrafts and airports, says Samsung CCTV CEO/President Thomas Wade.

Known as SafeSky, the satellite-based airline system is designed to combine video surveillance with biometrics recognition, situation assessment, intervention, and federal database access.

Additionally, Samsung is currently working on integration between various types of surveillance and access control systems. In August of 2001, IFKey, a Samsung subsidiary, unveiled plans to include fingerprint authentication sensors in a new product billed as the world's first intelligent remote control device to use biometric fingerprint keys. The new biometric security device will also provide wireless remote access to alarm and control security systems.

That same month, the company announced its trademark on the term OCTV (Open Circuit TV), to refer to a new platform that will fully integrate standard surveillance equipment, PC-based video recorders, non-PC-based video recorders, and automated video management.

Since October 2001, GVI has become the sole distributor in North America for POS-Watch DVR, a new digital video surveillance system from POSData with multi-recording, advanced remote access and live video feed capabilities.
Jacqueline Emigh

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