Remote Management with Video Surveillance

By John Honovich, Published Dec 30, 2010, 07:00pm EST

While using surveillance for remote monitoring has been common for a decade, a recent case study of a Japanese Sushi Chain shows an innovative and more aggressive use of the technology than generally employed.

Let's start by reviewing their approach:

  • "Remote managers monitor Kura’s 262 restaurants from three control centers across Japan. (“We see gaps of over a meter between your sushi plates — please fix,” a manager said recently by telephone to a Kura restaurant 10 miles away.)"
  • "Instead of placing supervisors at each restaurant, Kura set up central control centers with video links to the stores. At these centers, a small group of managers watch for everything from wayward tuna slices to outdated posters on restaurant walls."

As the NY Times article stresses, this Sushi chain is systematically using a variety of technologies to reduce costs significantly. It's not just remote video but a variety of processes and even 'robots'.

While many operations use video for 'look-ins', periodic reviews or emergency response, this chain's commitment to using their video system as the primary day to day 'eyes' on the store is fairly uncommon.

Pretty much any surveillance system could accomplish this (at least at a basic level). Given that the chain is self-monitoring, managed or hosted video is not necessary. Also, audio could be recorded/monitored on a low cost DVR.

However, chains pursuing this approach may benefit from two changes: (1) broader video coverage and/or (2) higher resolution. Traditional QSR deployments generally have 4-8 cameras in key areas but usually that coverage has gaps and even where coverage is provided seeing small details can be difficult (i.e., whether a plate has tuna or salmon on it, etc.). By upgrading to megapixel cameras, more area can be covered and/or greater details can be clearly displayed.

Expanding such applications can be a win-win for user and integrator. For the integrator, the system may be bigger and more expensive. However, for the end user, even a video surveillance system that is a few thousand dollars more expensive may provide far more savings in reducing hourly management costs after just a few months of use.

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