Security for banks can be a real challenge when faced with a multitude of threats including: fraud, theft and physical attacks. One bank which is setting new standards in the Middle East, when it comes to the application of surveillance technology to keep its infrastructure, staff and customers safe and secure, is National Bank of Kuwait (NBK). This is thanks to the roll out of an advanced NetVu Connected CCTV solution from Dedicated Micros part of AD Group which is focused on the centralized monitoring of all of its branches and critical ATM infrastructure.

Awarded the Best Bank in the Middle East 2010 accolade by EuroMoney, National Bank of Kuwait (NBK), which was incorporated in 1952 as the first indigenous bank in the entire Gulf region, remains the preeminent banking institution in Kuwait as well as being an established banking franchise across the Middle East and supporting a large branch network, spanning 17 countries, including many of the world's financial and business centers.

Dedicated Micros connection with National Bank of Kuwait stretches back over four years. The catalyst for the surveillance specialist being brought on board for this ambitious ATM protection project was the bank's dissatisfaction with the CCTV solutions it tested from other providers. A spokesperson for the Engineering Services Division, NBK, takes up the story: "We looked at and tested several brands of DVRs as potential answers to our pressing ATM surveillance needs before deciding to go ultimately with Dedicated Micros. The solutions that fell by the wayside were simply too cumbersome and complicated in terms of all the extra equipment (and software licenses) that would have been required to activate the functionality we wanted. This was in stark contrast to Dedicated Micros which was able to meet our needs based around an effective hardware-based package."

Said Salim Idris, General Manager (Middle East), Dedicated Micros: "When contacted by NBK we were delighted to assist Kuwait's foremost banking establishment, not only were we able to demonstrate that we had the solutions available, such as the DV-IP ATM, that could address their specific requirements head-on, without lots of add-ons, but could also point to an unparallelled track record. To put our extensive experience, protecting the banking sector, into some sort of context, across the Gulf Cooperation Council area alone, we can now count 10 major banks - in Bahrain, Dubai, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia - as customers. Significantly, as our CCTV systems are embedded, rather than PC based, they are recognized for their stability - essential in the banking environment - whereas PC dependent solutions have a reputation for crashing without warning."

ATM Focus

Looking in more detail at the systems from Dedicated Micros which have been put in place at NBK, since 2006, to support the effective monitoring of vital local and overseas ATM related infrastructure. These comprise 28 individual DV-IP ATM units which are used primarily to protect standalone Automated Teller Machines, with numbers expected to rise as part of the ongoing ATM project. There are also 145 NetVu Connected DS2 DVRs, with typically two systems connected at each National Bank of Kuwait branch plus an associated RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) unit giving additional storage capacity to the existing internal hard disk of the DVR.

This set-up offers redundancy and resilience to ensure any recorded video images are securely stored. In the case of the larger Dubai branch this combination was doubled up and four (DS2s and RAIDs) were installed at NBK's extensive Bahrain site. To help with the management of the geographically dispersed NetVu Connected CCTV infrastructure, at an early stage, Dedicated Micros was called upon to assist NBK in the setting-up of centralized monitoring from a control room. This was achieved by deploying NetVu Observer video management software to allow operators to seamlessly view distributed images from any NetVu Connected product.

 ATM transcation needs to be more secure in the coming years
  DV-IP ATM units from Dedicated Micros have proved useful in making transactions more secure and safe 

The robust DV-IP ATM units specified for the National Bank of Kuwait project are designed to work, primarily, within the confines of an Automated Teller Machine. Certainly the security challenges with regards to banking are most keenly felt when it comes to the safe operation of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) whose accessibility makes them a convenient target for card skimming, shoulder surfing, and even physical theft from customers. It is CCTV systems, specifically remotely accessible DVRs, that are at the very heart of efforts to deal with these types of threat.

Combining Video and Transaction Data

The Dedicated DV-IP ATM, based on NetVu Connected technology which ensures its interoperability with other DM and AD Group systems, is able to process transaction data which is then recorded with video footage. Post event analysis, via a powerful text search engine, provides video imagery of the ATM user plus the associated transaction information. For NBK this allows security staff to deal with any fraudulent activity and ensures that customer services representatives are well placed to quickly resolve any genuine customer withdrawal disputes.

Marrying up the DS2 DVRs with RAID units at every NBK branch, also facilitated the effective monitoring of each location including the in-branch ATMs not covered by the DV-IP ATMs. With, in this case, the cameras in the ATMs connected to the DVRs which had been specifically programmed to have the capability to associate transaction data with the appropriate video footage.

The ability of both the DV-IP ATM systems and DS2 DVRs, deployed for the NBK project, to apply Dedicated Micros' TransCoding technology to record evidential quality MJPEG locally and simultaneously support low bit rate data streaming in MPEG-4 compression format for remote viewing has proved to be advantageous in keeping bandwidth demands on NBK's network to an absolute minimum. Of course local recording (including the additional capacity provided by the RAID units) has the added benefit that, even in the event of a network failure, recording is not interrupted or vital evidence lost.

Adding-Up the Benefits

 NetVu connected solution from Dedicated Micros has enabled National Bank of Kuwait to monitor all the branches

Reflecting on the success of the project to date, a spokesperson for the Engineering Services Division, NBK, commented: "The NetVu Connected solution from Dedicated Micros we have adopted has given us the opportunity, for the first time, to monitor all of our branches remotely 24/7 wherever they might be and to cover a large number of ATMs (181 at the latest count) through the ATM transactions interface. We have been very pleased with the performance of the NetVu Observer viewing software over the past four years - which we are in the process of upgrading to Pick-a-Point Icon - as it has made it extremely easy to retrieve footage and to playback recordings over the network. With numerous cases involving ATMs reported on a daily basis and, with the Dedicated Micros' solution in place, we have been able to provide recorded footage, in a timely manner, to offer proof of what has actually happened. In practice, we have found the speed that video can be delivered across the network to be extremely favourable, for management and archiving, when set against the limited bandwidth provided.

"The distributed architecture of the solution has also meant that even, when there has been a network issue, critical recording has been able to continue unabated. Testament to this is the fact that since the start of the project no footage has been lost in this way. A major benefit we have also seen, in terms of cost of ownership, is the fact that from an Engineering Services' point of view the DVRs have been much easier to maintain, compared to what was in place before, and we have been very impressed with the stability of the DVRs in operation with zero reported failures. Alongside this the web-based configuration for the Dedicated Micros' systems has proved to be very intuitive."

Future Plans

Looking ahead, Dedicated Micros is working closely with NBK to expand the capabilities of the surveillance infrastructure. One key development soon to go 'live' is the implementation of the Pick-a-Point Icon multi-site video management solution in the bank's main control room to further enhance the remote monitoring of all of the bank's geographically dispersed locations. The uplift in functionality provided by Pick-a-Point Icon's more extensive features, compared to NetVu Observer, should greatly enhance the ability of the bank's security staff to manage and control their CCTV infrastructure.

 Dedicated Micros’ equipment now records more than seven million images every second of every day
  Dedicated Micros has formed many of the building blocks for the success of today's CCTV industry

From the start Pick-A-Point Icon has been designed to be intuitive for operators, simplifying and speeding up image retrieval. In future, operators in the main NBK control room will be able to select cameras using Pick-A-Point Icon's enhanced GUI (Graphical User Interface) via multiple map screens and highly detailed map images, allowing them to pick a camera on-screen without having to know which digital video recorder the camera is linked to. Pick-A-Point Icon is based around a robust standalone hardware based workstation, which eliminates the reliability issues associated with PC based systems - a key consideration in the banking sector.

Closed IPTV Investment

Commented Salim Idris, General Manager (Middle East), Dedicated Micros: "As the surveillance solution moves ahead, we are delighted that National Bank of Kuwait has confirmed that it will also act as a trailblazer for the deployment of our award winning Closed IPTV 'IP Video' solution. This follows on from the successful testing of the Closed IPTV version of the SD Advanced hybrid NVR/DVR, which will now be rolled out gradually across all of the bank's extensive branch network, making NBK one of the first customers in the Middle East region for this new solution."

Essentially, adopting Closed IPTV systems such as the SD Advanced - in conjunction with a Layer 3 Enhanced CCTV Switch which provides greater security for less configuration effort than a conventional managed switch - makes deploying an IP Video, CCTV system safe, secure and simple. Combining patent-pending innovation with zeroconf networking technology, Closed IPTV automatically allocates IP addresses to IP cameras by physical port. In this way the system is completely deterministic, creating firewalls and monitoring IP connections by individual network ports so they cannot be hacked or intercepted. This ground breaking solution provides a very simple and secure answer to IP Video, where no prior knowledge of IP networking is required.

National Bank of Kuwait is going to adopt Dedicated Micros' HyperSense APNR cameras for its car park management

A further enhancement, in the pipeline for NBK, is the adoption of Dedicated Micros' HyperSense ANPR cameras for its car park management, in this case combining an Overview and ANPR camera, with alerts triggered by car park barriers to monitor vehicles entering and leaving a location. The sophisticated HyperSense technology built in to the cameras removes ambient light from the scene leaving only the objects that strongly reflect the IR light emitted by the integrated invisible IR LED flash to be displayed. The ability to eliminate glare from vehicle headlights delivers a more distinct image for evidential purposes and the black and white ANPR camera ensures that details of the numberplate can be seen, whilst the 'overview' camera allows this to be tied-up with other details such as the color of the vehicle.

Banking on Security

Ultimately, National Bank of Kuwait, through continuing investment in the latest surveillance infrastructure from Dedicated Micros, has demonstrated a real commitment to not only be a leader in the banking services it provides but also, crucially, to back this up with the best possible levels of security for customers, staff, and physical assets such as the branch network and ATMs making NBK ideally placed to deal expeditiously with any form of criminal attack.

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