Neighbo(u)rly Perspectives: AI-Enabled Tools for Retail Security – Loss Prevention Magazine

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Artificial intelligence (AI) has been discussed in the physical security industry for years and offers great potential for retail security automation and management. In fact, it may be surprising to discover that many retailers already use some form of AI in their security technologies. Analytics engines process massive amounts of data, such as images, text, or numbers, using AI algorithms to produce actionable insights.

Implementing AI capabilities requires careful consideration. For example, AI-enabled facial recognition is sometimes noted as a way to mitigate theft by identifying criminals on a watchlist. However, this technology can also compromise customer privacy and negatively impact a retail brand.

Retailers in both the United States and Canada are examining how to use AI-enabled security applications in powerful yet responsible and ethical ways.

When Does it Make Sense to Use AI?

Most likely, some form of AI processing is embedded in the software you use daily. Such technology can detect patterns, classify data, and deliver analytic insights. Thus, you’re able to automate and streamline workflows or respond quickly to business disruptions. For most retailers, implementing AI comes down to a couple of driving factors: achieving large-scale data analyses and higher levels of automation. 

– Digital Partner –

A unified, open architecture security platform is a good place to start to reach these goals. It allows you to seamlessly connect your AI-enabled software and devices, gathering analytics from a wide variety of sources simultaneously. Thus, you can see all relevant data in one place, automate data processing and workflows, and gather relevant insights quickly. As a result, your operators can quickly respond to business disruptions and make more informed decisions.

Security tools powered by AI offer many benefits for retailers:

  • Speed up investigations: AI tools can process massive amounts of video quickly to identify footage that matches parameters. Thus, loss prevention teams spend less time searching for video evidence during an investigation.
  • Automate people counting: Video analytics can alert staff to maximum occupancy thresholds in a building or long customer lines that need additional service.
  • Detect vehicle license plates: Automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) systems can send alerts for vehicles on a watchlist or help streamline employee and visitor parking.
  • Enhance cybersecurity: AI can also strengthen anti-virus protection by identifying and blocking known and unknown malware from running on endpoints.

Leverage Data Responsibly and Mindfully

Regulations regarding AI use in the US and Canada vary by state or province. There are different rules for what types of technology are permissible and how to store data.

For example, retailers doing business in Canada must, under Canadian law, obtain the express opt-in consent of individuals. Several retailers in British Columbia breached the privacy laws, and more scrutiny is being mandated. Quebec went a step further and enacted legislation that specifically governs the use of facial recognition technology. Quebec retailers must seek approval from the privacy commissioner when planning to deploy facial recognition or any biometric. Various laws related to AI exist in the US as well and are growing in interest.

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In addition to knowing regulations, it’s important to understand how biased data may impact the AI-generated information you receive and take active measures to counter it. AI models can also inadvertently produce skewed decisions or results based on various biases. This can impact decisions and ultimately lead to discrimination. While AI has the power to revolutionize how work gets done and how decisions are made, it needs to be deployed responsibly.

Partner with a manufacturer that prioritizes data protection, privacy, and the responsible use of AI. This will not only help enhance your cyber resilience and foster greater trust in your business, but it’s also part of being socially responsible.

Most importantly, while AI can improve security based on rich data insights, it’s not a replacement for security personnel. Human judgment will always be needed to make the best possible security decisions in any given scenario.

Go Slowly and Stay Focused on Critical Factors

With advancements underway, AI tools are creating new opportunities to drive greater automation across various tasks. As technologies continue to evolve, you’ll want to consider a few best practices when selecting new software.

– Digital Partner –
  • Keep data protection and privacy top of mind: The manufacturer should only use datasets that respect relevant data protection regulations. Likewise, your system needs to include strong authorization and authentication measures to ensure the wrong people don’t have access to sensitive data across your AI-driven applications.
  • Focus on transparency and fairness: Look for manufacturers that test AI models rigorously to be sure they deliver results that are balanced, equitable, and minimize bias. The results should be accurate and explainable.
  • Make sure humans have the final say: Machines simply can’t grasp the intricacies of real-life events like a security operator can. AI models present data in a way that helps humans make more informed choices, but humans should always be the decision makers.

Retailers who adopt an open architecture system will be in the best position to adopt new tools as they’re introduced. With an open architecture, unified platform, you can take advantage of the solutions that work for you now while monitoring developments that deliver better, more cost-effective security later.

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