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  • Writer's pictureJohn San Filippo

Branch Security Gets a High-Tech Upgrade

Updated: Jun 23

By John San Filippo

 

According to FDIC and NCUA records, while U.S. banks have shuttered some 8,500 branches since the start of the pandemic, U.S. credit unions have opened nearly 1,000 branches. For any number of reasons, branch banking seems to be making a resurgence in the credit union space. However, while cybersecurity is understandably top of mind in this burgeoning digital age, the technology behind branch security has not changed much – until now. A company called Huvr and its monitoring platform OpticSense are looking to change the way credit union branches (or any physical location) are secured.

 

Patented Technology 


Herman DeBoard III

Using what it calls a fiberoptic ring interferometer, or FoRI, the Monument, Colo.-based company can secure any physical site by monitoring for sound anomalies. “Once we install [the system] onto the structure itself, it turns the structure into a microphone where it is taking audio or oscilloscope type data,” company CEO Herman DeBoard III explained to Finopotmus. “It’s basically detecting audio anomalies that are happening in and around the structure.”

 

According to DeBoard, the detection of an anomaly then triggers a camera. “Now you've got eyes and ears on what's going on,” he continued. “It then takes a 60-second cut of the anomaly and sends it to an artificial intelligence server. That server takes about six seconds to do an analysis of all of the audio and video that it sees. And then it sends a textual analysis to security and/or police. It's very, very fast and very, very efficient.” He added that the textual notification can include, for example, the color of a car or its license plate number. 


“It'll send you the height, weight, race, and gender of the people involved,” he noted. “It'll send you the words they're saying. It'll send you the direction they walked in. If the police don't have full descriptions and don't have enough information, there's really nothing they can do.”

 

Any Audio Anomaly

 

DeBoard told Finopotamus about one instance when the system was triggered by the sound of a cyclist traveling through a parking lot monitored by OpticSense. “A guy riding a bike through the parking lot doesn't seem too bad,” said. “But he took a hammer out of his backpack and busted into a window of a car that was parked at the bank and began to steal things. The system recognized that all immediately, got full descriptions of the bike, what he was wearing, that he was using his backpack, and sent it through our system within about six seconds.”

 

According to DeBoard, OpticSense uses artificial intelligence to prioritize anomalies by level of importance (i.e., low, medium or high). And because the system algorithms include machine learning, the system can learn over time to better prioritize the anomalies it detects at any given location.

 

A Safer Member Experience

 

Finopotamus posed the hypothetical scenario of a tow truck called to open a vehicle that had its keys locked inside. DeBoard said the police wouldn't be notified in this instance because the system would recognize a tow truck and tow truck driver behaving the way they’re expected to.

 

“I think that's the point,” he said. “We put in as many instances as we can from as many types of organizations as we can. Then what we do is we talk to each organization and say, ‘What is an important instance for you?’ Then we start to code in some of those things in advance so that our system is watching and listening for something they think is important.”

 

DeBoard further explained that OpticSense can be especially beneficial around ATMs. “We don't listen for conversations, but we can code in keywords,” he said. “So, if a financial institution identified 12 keywords that would be something that they would want hear – like ‘give all your money’ or ‘give me your ATM code’– it would activate the system and consider that a moderate to high-level anomaly.”

 

Ease of Installation and Cost

 

DeBoard told Finopotamus that OpticSense is easy to install. “Hardware wise, it's basically a little box that about the size of a shoe box. We can install that into any quiet location, such as a server closet.” He added that OpticSense can tap into existing camera systems, but the company can also install new cameras as needed.

 

The OpticSense system is also designed to remain operational under any circumstances. “We have battery power backup. In some installations, we're putting solar in. We're connecting in with Starlink so that there is an absolute [connectivity] backup. We can put a number of layers in so that there's redundancy.”

 

DeBoard also said the system is designed to be scalable and cost-effective for a wide range of applications. “We can run in a large stadium that has 900 cameras,” he said. “But we recently spoke to a financial institution here in Denver that has only four locations and seven remote ATMs—it’s not as big an investment as one might think.”

 

Additional information is available at OpticSense.ai.

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