Face Value: 1 CU's Strategy For Fighting Crime

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MECHANICSBURG, Penn.-When you search for someone at Facebook, ironically, you search by name. When Members 1st FCU here searches for a criminal in its digital video footage, it searches by face.

"I can capture a perpetrator's facial image and have the surveillance system search for that face in video across our 40-branch network," said Charles McBreen, AVP-fraud and security services at the $1.8-billion CU. "When the system sees that face walk in, it e-mails me an alert."

When the CU was robbed on Black Friday, McBreen said he was able to send police video of the event within a half hour. The system also searched for the robber's face across videos of previous transactions and found a match: the perpetrator was a member who had also completed legitimate transactions, said McBreen. The robber was apprehended "very quickly because of the video solution."

Already, the video surveillance and search platform from San Francisco-based 3VR has helped Members 1st mitigate 92% of $2-million in attempted check, ATM and credit and debit card fraud in 2010, McBreen continued.

"Our cameras are a pretty major component in our investigation of fraud," McBreen said. "They enhance my ability to very quickly search for images. The recognition software cuts down search time even more."

Beyond searching for faces with facial recognition software, 3VR can also search by image for license plates, even with partial shots of plates, using license plate recognition software. Members 1st can identify a perpetrator on video and then match the perpetrator with his or her car and license plate in video of the parking lot.

3VR also enables date and time searches. Members 1st plans to integrate 3VR with its core system in order to connect video footage with specific transactions and search by transaction type, amount and teller.

The CU began installing 3VR's searchable video recorders and video analytics one year ago and will finish the rollout next year, McBreen said. Each branch will have from 20 to 24 analog and megapixel cameras, each with two terabytes of storage.

Each branch will also boast one Internet Protocol (IP) camera that takes panoramas of the lobby and can deliver clear zoom shots. "But I'm not completely sold on IP-it takes up a lot of bandwidth and room on the switch," McBreen said.

Camera installation is critical when using video analytics to fight fraud and robbery, he suggested. "You need to work with an expert security integrator when it comes to the placement and angles of the cameras. You can't just put the cameras up on the wall."

3VR also brings social networking to the Members 1st fraud investigation team. Through a Facebook-style interface called CrimeDex, the team can securely share video and information of suspects with other fraud investigators in the area or across the country.

"CrimeDex helps us prepare for crimes that might come our way," explained McBreen. When fighting fraud, success hinges "not on how good you are, but who you know."

Members 1st paid about $39,000 per branch for the 3VR system, McBreen said. The previous surveillance system at Members 1st started falling apart, he said. Designed for the retail industry, the three-year-old PC-based digital video recorders had "lots of moving parts that started to break and fail."

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