Safe or Safer?

24Feb09

News is out that Westec landed $20M in funding.  I think Westec provides a needed service and all signs are that they do a good job at providing such service, that is not what I am writing about.  I am also not writing about this to discuss the funding.  What I am writing about is a quote from a customer of theirs:

“We save over $2.2 million dollars on an annual basis since we replaced our security guards with the Westec Virtual Guard Service,” said Rich Mellor, vice president of loss prevention with Helzberg Diamonds. “Our stores are safe, our executive management team is delighted with the savings, and I can rest at night knowing our locations are being watched 24/7 by a team of experts.”

I don’t know about you, but if I am going to plan a diamond heist I’m more concerned about the guys with guns than I am a virtual security guard who will yell at me through a speaker and tell me the cops are coming.  I think video surveillance is a great additional layer of security, especially for retail locations, but to replace all of your physical security guards with video cameras….no thanks.  Who am I to argue, apparently they are saving $2.2M per year so ROI looks great, but I wonder how accurate that number is.  Does that take into account and compare thefts before and after the transition or is that just the difference in cost between the security guard salaries and the yearly cost for video monitoring?

I understand that not all stores need physical security, that’s not my point.  I find it interesting that they equate having video surveillance to being safe.  What about having someone from across the country watching your store on camera makes it safe?   Video Surveillance = Monitoring.  Last time I checked monitoring doesn’t make you safe, it just provides you information for when you need to react.  The stores are potentially safer with Westec than they would be without, but that doesn’t make them safe.  Confusing the two can be dangerous.

–DanO

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