New 'Big Brother' Can See Everything...Except The Future

At great risk, I'm about to use an oxymoron of such excess that its seems only fair right now to warn you not to read any further, as the Credit Union Journal cannot be held liable for any doctor's care that may be required. Still there? Then brace yourself for the words that will follow the colon at the end of this sentence: "fascinating security camera."

You heard right. Demos at trade shows typically have all the appeal of a North Korean fashion show. Yet I recently spent 20 minutes or so getting a demo on what is the likely future of Big Brother, security cameras, and while I referred to it as "fascinating" above, it might be more appropriate to call it "haunting" or "discomforting" or "scary."

Or, as one company rep described it, "This is 'CSI' stuff."

The company is NAVCO, an Anaheim, Calif.-based company that has brought to the U.S. from the U.K its "Total Vision 360," a single camera that can replace as many as eight security cameras a credit union has in place.

But replacing cameras is hardly the only feature of the new system. It's mega-pixel "without all the downside of mega-pixel cameras," the company rep told me.

It stores the high-speed processor and all the bandwidth needed within the camera, which is just two inches across when installed, or about the same size as a sprinkler head. The camera can pilt, tilt and zoom, and sees absolutely everything within its field of vision, which is extensive.

Did you miss something earlier? It can even zoom in review-mode, a feature the rep demonstrated during the recent trade show in Vegas where no one on the floor was ever out of view.

The camera does not require a special DVR and integrates with any DVR already being used.

The one camera can be divided into eight zones, and a motion detection feature allows up to 64 areas of motion to be monitored. It can automatically zoom on any area in which motion occurs.

It further features nine different modes of video analytics.

"It's very high-definition," the company rep said. "You can review all angles at all times. It's a time machine. You can have 25-70 days of 360 degree information, and you can download it into a video archive or put it on a CD."

But what about the question of chief interest to credit unions: the price tag?

One camera can be installed for $6,500. But the rep said it can also be leased, and credit unions can further try it for $300 a month and if unhappy, return it.

There is also a rental option at $250 a month with a promise to replace the technology in three years. If you want to know more about it go to navco.com. Just remember, someone may be watching.

* Here's something you may need a prying camera to see. Spoke with a number of CEOs at CO-OP's annual meeting and America's Credit Union Conference who indicated they are goosing their allowance for loan losses a bit just to be conservative about potential problems presented by members who have mortgage rates that have adjusted in ways the member thought (or hoped) would never happen.

In every case the CEOs indicated they didn't believe it would be loans they had made that would go sour; rather, it would be loans members had gotten elsewhere.

I asked one Florida CU CEO about how the state's cratering home value market is affecting his credit union.

As the credit union never made any of the exotic loans causing pain elsewhere, he wasn't expecting any hits to its portfolio. What it has seen, however, is at least two members bringing in their car keys, saying they couldn't make the payments.

In both cases the members worked in home construction.

* Speaking of Florida and speaking of CEOs, here's a couple of actual overheard conversations among board members at the Starbucks inside the Marriott Grande Lakes where the state league was holding its annual.

- "If you're new to the board then I'll tell you there are a lot of things you have to watch out for, especially the CEO."

- "I don't care for all this computer banking. My son does, but he's a computer whiz."

- "I don't much care for all the turnover. I know when I go to my bank I like to see the same teller."

These comments came from members of what I believe was the same board. Our prayers go out to the members.

* Finally, a reminder that July 13 is the deadline for the Credit Union Journal's Best Practices competition. It's easy to enter and a terrific way to recognize folks within your credit union who have created practices that deserve recognition.

For more information, see page 18.

Frank J. Diekmann can be reached at fdiekmann<at>cujournal.com.