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A Centralized Perspective for Modern Banking

During the 1980s and 1990s, video cassette recorders (VCRs) became a staple in many homes and businesses. But bit by bit, VCRs’ reign was overtaken by DVD players and newer technologies that emerged—offering not only the entertainment industry, but also surveillance applications more features and advancements. As the technology was refined and mass-marketed, it became more affordable. So, when City National Bank decided to upgrade its video surveillance system, it looked for technology that could keep up with the changing times.

Roughly 12 years ago, City National Bank experienced a loss incident that emphasized the need for an update. If the bank had been using different technology than VCRs, it may have been able to prevent the loss, says Mary Charles, senior fraud investigator for City National.

Charles, who is both a security professional and a certified fraud examiner, says she knew the bank needed a system that would offer more than just surveillance of individual branches. Operating as localized cells without a central nervous system, the VCR feeds could not be easily accessed by security officers and leaders based at City National’s headquarters in Charleston, West Virginia.

Video management was another priority, especially as the bank had approximately 60 branches at the time of the incident and since then has continued to grow. Through new sites and the acquisition of other banks, City National now has more than 90 locations across West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, and Virginia.

So 12 years ago, when Verint Systems approached City National and showed their Op-Center and Vid-Center solutions, Charles saw a system that could adapt with both the times and future expansions.

Vid-Center, a video management system, allows a user to watch videos from multiple network video recorders regardless of where those recorders are based. When paired with Op-Center, a video management software, City National branch managers could easily access their respective video feeds while also centralizing all feeds at City National’s headquarters. But what sold Charles on the solutions was the ability to save her department an extremely precious resource: time.

Prior to adopting the Verint solutions, Charles had to spend a chunk of her time every week collecting and then combing through 60 branches’ individual video feeds just to make sure that all the cameras were functioning properly. But Op-Center would instead send her an email alert if—and when—a camera or other safety solution was faulty. It would even alert her if a camera’s view had been moved or altered or if a hard drive was running too hot.

“That was a game changer for me,” Charles says. She adds that she knew it would free up time that could be used for her other responsibilities, such as fraud detection. Additionally, early detection of equipment issues would allow for faster maintenance, giving potential bad actors less time to take advantage of a less than ideal situation.

Other features of the centrally managed Op-Center include allowing users, even remote branch managers, to view footage and export images to assist law enforcement, while system managers can determine individual user privileges, update firmware, generate audit reports, and more.

Installing the software was relatively easy, according to Charles, and linking cameras to the central hub is straightforward. For new branches, or ones acquired by City National, IT security technicians link the branches’ cameras to Op-Center, identifying individual units by their respective Internet protocol (IP) addresses, and giving Charles and her department secure access to video feeds across the bank’s four-state footprint. Essentially, City National expands the system every time it opens or acquires a new branch; the latest expansions occurred in 2018 when two bank companies were acquired, resulting in roughly 17 more branches’ video feeds looped into City National’s security hub.

City National started off with the basic model when it first integrated the Verint solutions. As the department and satellite branches became more familiar with the system, different components were gradually changed out or upgraded every year. Other updates included switching cameras from analog to IP and replacing old alarm panels wired into a phone line with ones linked to the corporate server to create a line of constant communication. “It has really changed security,” Charles says.

The solution also allows Charles to keep tabs on any branch connected to the Vid-Center in real time. Its remote viewing and analysis functions let her notify branch managers of any issues that may arise.

“If someone calls me and there’s a live situation going on, I can pull up the camera and see what’s going on,” Charles says. And if she receives a subpoena for video footage concerning a certain date or event, the feeds are organized and managed so she can easily go back, review the incident in question, and provide the relevant video.

The bank’s Op-Center and Vid-Center were scheduled to receive another upgrade in early 2020; however, the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent stay-at-home orders for West Virginia and other states meant delaying the update.

Charles says she looks forward to returning to her office, at which point the upgrade can be installed. The enhancement will allow her to simultaneously pull up and view multiple branch feeds—another time-saving feature.


“If I’m looking for a suspect and he or she has gone to three or four different branches, I can pull up those different branches all at one time instead of doing it one at a time,” Charles says.

When she is working on a fraud case, Charles says she anticipates that this latest feature will make the information more readily available. In turn, this will allow her to quickly filter through footage and share relevant information with law enforcement.

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