Tag Archives: Dataveillance

Surveillance department lessons you can learn from facebook

If one of the key responsibilities of your surveillance department is to monitor events taking place, then you need to make sure you break the habit of drawing circles around individual events and dismissing them as isolated occurrences. They are steps that lead somewhere because life is connected. Facebook is valued at billions of dollars because founder, Mark Zuckerberg, tapped into the fact that life is connected and we need smart software to help us manage this connectedness. For surveillance departments, an electronic occurrence book is a good starting point to effectively manage the numerous events taking place in a casino. However, many are moving onto facebook type electronic occurrence books that harness the multi-tasking power of smart software and the ability to integrate into other systems. Enter the world of “surveillancebook” and “dataveillance”!

Our recent integration work with IGT and other casino software and hardware providers has been quite alarming. Given enough raw data, today’s algorithms and powerful computers can reveal new insights that would previously have remained hidden. Joe Hellerstein, a computer scientist at the University of California in Berkeley, calls it “the industrial revolution of data”. However, Alex Szalay, an astrophysicist at Johns Hopkins University, notes that the proliferation of data is making it increasingly inaccessible. He also notes that we should not only be concerned about how to make sense of all this data but how we train the next generation.

We’ve spent the first part of this year training many of our users so that they’re prepared for our next version of Cheeteye, codenamed “surveillancebook”. The simple advice from Mr Szalay is helping our users do more with what they already have and it’s been an important reminder to us as software developers – don’t forget the training! As Elizabeth II said, “It’s all to do with the training: you can do a lot if you’re properly trained.” If you’ve ever read a technical book on facebook, you’ll be amazed at what you can do with it.

Surveillance lessons from facebook:

  • smart software can reveal new insights
  • you can do a lot more with what you have if you’re properly trained
  • innovation is extremely valuable

Lessons we’re learning from Nokia

In my previous blog I referred to the innovation problems facing Nokia. The problems are around the fact that they do not have a competing smartphone like the iPhone, which according to the Economist is where the profits are: “Nokia ships a third of all handsets, but Apple astonishingly pulls in more than half of the profits, despite having a market share of barely 4%.”… “Nokia has been a highly efficient manufacturing and logistics machine capable of churning out a dozen handsets a second and selling them all over the world. Planning was long-term and new devices were developed by separate teams, sometimes competing with each other – the opposite of what is needed in software, where there is a premium on collaborating and doing things quickly” (“Nokia at the Crossroads” – Economist Feb 12)

Nokia are now looking at partnering with software giant Mircosoft so we should see a competing smartphone released from their stable soon.

We’re learning:

  • to use the advantage we have as casino surveillance software developers i.e. collaborate and do things quickly
  • to work closely with gaming manufacturers e.g. we recently completed an integration project with IGT that pulls relevant information into our Cheeteye dataveillance solution. This has empowered our users to collaborate and make quick decisions, a necessary requirement in the world of casino surveillance
  • we are an important link between the world of casino surveillance software and gaming manufacturers, just like Microsoft will be to Nokia

Creating a culture of casino compliance

Social scientist Randy Garner wondered whether sticky notes made by 3M Corp, might have the power to enhance compliance with a written request made to another person. In an intriguing study, he sent out surveys to people with a request to complete them. The survey was accompanied by either

  • a handwritten sticky note requesting completion of the survey, which was attached to a cover letter;
  • a similar handwritten message on the cover letter; or
  • the cover letter and survey alone

More than 75 % of the people who received the survey with the sticky note request filled it out and returned it, whereas only 48 % of the second group and 36 % of the third group did so.

Garner suggests that people recognize the extra effort and personal touch that a handwritten sticky note requires, and they feel the need to reciprocate this personal touch by agreeing to the request.

“Casino compliance should never be overlooked. Failing to keep up can mean failing to make money. Administrative tools help an organization protect itself from the damaging effects of negligence and fraud both by external sources and an organization’s own staff, by ensuring that policies and procedures are strictly followed.” iGaming Business Magazine (Dec 2008).

Below is an example of a compliance message that was automatically generated by cheeteye because of a casino procedure break.

The image below is how that message will look in our new release that will be available soon i.e. it will give the manager an option to add a personal message. The system currently tracks all compliance messages that get sent and notifies the surveillance department of outstanding replies. We’re hoping that with the personal “sticky note”, compliance awareness is going to be enhanced and surveillance departments will have another tool for creating a culture of casino compliance.

According to Darrin Hoke in his chapter on innovation in “There’s no crying in surveillance”, “There are some analytics and dataveillance concepts floating around out there in our world, but they aren’t where they need to be yet.” According to wikipedia, innovation means to “renew or change”. Rather than wait for something to be where it is, make small changes to processes that are not working and you won’t fall behind when it comes to innovation. That’s what we’re doing with our clients and their surveillance department’s are smiling.

Casino Cheating Patterns

Every week I read about casino staff being convicted for cheating and I wonder how much of this cheating goes unnoticed.

Scenario: If your casino has been losing for a few days in a row and you investigate that it has been three or four players that have been winning, then it is nice to see if there is any consistency in relation to the staff that are dealing and/or supervising these tables.  Questions come up as to why these players are always winning. Are they winning fairly or is something not right? Are they always playing at the same table as certain staff that are dealing or supervising? Or is this their lucky week?

For years surveillance departments have underestimated the value of the vast amount of data they generate. With a dataveillance solution, it’s possible to generate table audits connecting consecutive losses and highlight patterns such as same players winning, same staff, etc.

There’s nothing worse than having a feeling something is wrong and not being able to do anything about it! Casino cheating patterns can be found in the data.

Casino Eyes and Ears

Surveillance and security departments are the “Eyes & Ears” of a casino and if they can be given the right tools and incentives, it would be interesting to see the results over time. I read an interesting article by Bill Zender and Willy Allison regarding amongst other things the function of surveillance departments and the value that good logging software can add to a surveillance operation. The entire article can be found at World Game Protection and is a worthwhile read.

According to Herbert Simon, “a wealth of information creates a poverty of attention”. With the right tools and incentives, surveillance departments can go beyond just “protecting casino assets” to adding value to customers and casino owners.

Casino Operations Management – How’s Your View?

Originally, a dashboard was the upturned screen of wood or leather placed on the front of a horse-drawn carriage, sleigh or other vehicle that protected the driver from mud, debris, water and snow thrown up by the horse’s hooves.

Today we are more familiar with the dashboard that is a control panel located under the windshield of an automobile that contains instrumentation and controls pertaining to the operation of the vehicle. Just as a dashboard was originally used on horse-drawn carriages to provide a clear view, so are casino surveillance departments making use of dataveillance dashboards to provide a clear view for casino operations management.

Make sure you have a casino dataveillance dashboard to provide a clear view of your casino operations! “Compliance should never be overlooked. Failing to keep up can mean failing to make money. Administrative tools help an organization protect itself from the damaging effects of negligence and fraud both by external sources and an organization’s own staff, by ensuring that policies and procedures are strictly followed.” iGaming Business Magazine (Dec 2008)