Tag Archives: integration

How warm is your big data?

For a while, one of the big buzzwords or catchphrases in the IT world has been “big data”. The reason is that we have access to so much data today and if used correctly, we can discover patterns and correlations in the data that offer us novel and invaluable insights. Author and blogger Chris Brogan prefers to use the term “warm data”. He wrote the following in his “Big Trends for 2014”, “I think what lots of us need is warm data. What warm means to me is data that matters and can help the customer.”

In order to make your casino data “warm”, you need the right tools. Casinos generate vast amounts of data on a daily basis yet most marketing departments don’t have the ability to use this data effectively. That’s why we’ve created software that allows ordinary users to collect information from their casino management systems without the need of an IT expert or programmer (see an example screen shot below). Most of our clients have the following three words to say about our software: “This is great!”

Now, more than ever is the time to gather warm data about your customers so that you can give them a truly personal experience with your casino. Now is the time to empower your staff to deliver that personal experience.

New key system improves casino protection

We’re only into the third month of the year and we have as many integration projects completed. Integrating disparate systems within a casino is what we love doing and that’s one of the things our clients love about us.

I want to make particular mention of our recent key cabinet integration with Key Systems Inc in New York as they are a great team. The level of integration has been phenomenal and it’s exciting to see two companies work together so openly for the benefit of casino protection. Keys will always be an important inventory item within casinos and our goal was to improve the monitoring process when it comes to key usage. An important key in the wrong hands can be disastrous.

My two favorite features from the Key System integration, include:

  • No need for additional access requirements. CHEETEYE already integrates into the HR system so there is no need to maintain a separate staff user profile in the Key System i.e key usage rights are added to the CHEETEYE staff profile.
  • Improved surveillance monitoring. As a result of key usage being added to a CHEETEYE staff profile, discrepancies that often exist between security and surveillance are now eliminated e.g. When an important key is checked out, the key system creates an automatic surveillance log and notifies surveillance.

To see how we’re helping casinos integrate disparate systems to improve casino protection, visit us at booth 314 at NIGA next week.

Does your surveillance department make this mistake?

The London 2012 Olympics has been a great success and it’s been a huge privilege to experience some of the many exciting moments. An all time highlight for me was watching Mohamed Farah achieve the double for Great Britain and experiencing the sound of thousands of British fans cheering their wonder boy down the final straight. Truly exhilarating! We all love to achieve and as I reflect on these Games, I realize that these athletes have achieved because they’ve been focused for years towards the London Olympics.

The importance of staying focused on the core of your business has never been more important than now as we get bombarded with more and more distractions. I know it’s easier said than done but if you want to be the best you have to learn from the best and look no further than the Olympics. A friend and mentor of mine who is the founder of a successful multi-million dollar business openly admits that he is useless at multi-tasking. In fact, a British study showed that a distracted staff member suffers a greater loss of IQ than a person smoking marijuana!

Casino surveillance staff can potentially be very distracted. I’ve been in surveillance rooms where the phone never stops ringing! Surveillance are tasked by casino owners to focus on protecting their assets and when they lose that focus, casinos become vulnerable. As more casinos look to implement dataveillance processes to assist with protection efforts, it’s important not to lose focus on the task at hand. Make sure your software provider handles all things technical so that you can focus on protecting.

The Olympic flame may have been extinguished and the athletes heading home. However, there’s a new bunch of future world beaters who will be focusing their efforts towards the next Olympics in Rio (1452 days to go). There’s also a bunch of surveillance professionals doing dataveillance the right way. Keep up the great work, stay focused and you will be rewarded!

Smart Surveillance: The New Mousetrap

Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. That’s kind of where we are today with casino protection. Table games have increased and placed an ever increasing pressure on surveillance observers. It’s time to break that mold and build a better mousetrap. True Innovation.

Last week we had the privilege of interviewing Willy Allison (President, World Game Protection) and Ron Buono (Executive Director Surveillance, MGM Grand) regarding a concept called “Surveillance Triggers”. “Surveillance Triggers” are software tools that interface with any casino table game player rating/marketing system and constantly “scan” the system for potential irregularities. An alert system is in place that notifies management when players get into the “red zone”.

Types of triggers include:

  1. Being alerted to wins outside of 3 standard deviations for a players trip
  2. Did a players average wager increase since past trips?
  3. Are the majority of the players rating being conducted by the same floor supervisor?
  4. Comparing play to other ratings which were occurring on the same game, same time
  5. Average bet on winning plays vs average bets on losing plays
  6. Comparing maximum bet to credit limit
  7. When a player has exceeded a (user defined) win threshold for a trip

(We will elaborate on each trigger as the “smart surveillance” series continues)

Willy’s top 3 triggers:

  1. When a player has exceeded a (user defined) win threshold for a trip
  2. Are the majority of the players rating being conducted by the same floor supervisor?
  3. Being alerted to wins outside of 3 standard deviations for a players trip

Ron’s top 3 triggers:

  1. Being alerted to wins outside of 3 standard deviations for a players trip
  2. Did a players average wager increase since past trips?
  3. Comparing play to other ratings which were occurring on the same game, same time

What would your top 3 triggers be?

From Surveillance Room to Surveillance Lab

In his book “The Wisdom of Crowds”, James Surowiecki recounts the remarkable collaborative research of scientist around the world to find the cause of SARS. What could have taken months or years, took just a matter of weeks to isolate the virus. “The collaborative nature of the project gave each lab the freedom to focus on what it believed to be the most promising lines of investigation, and to play to its particular analytical strengths, while also allowing the labs to reap the benefits – in real time – of each other’s data and analyses.” Scientists collaborate because of what is often called the “division of cognitive labor.” Collaboration:

  • allows scientists to incorporate many different kinds of knowledge in an active way (rather than simply learning from a book)
  • makes it easier for scientists to work on interdisciplinary problems
  • guarantees a diversity of perspectives
  • produces rich results in the form of unique data

Economist Paula Stephan has argued, “Scientists who collaborate with each other are more productive, often times producing ‘better’ science, than are individual investigators.” And social scientist Ettienne Wenger adds: “Today’s complex problem solving requires multiple perspectives. The days of Leonardo da Vinci are over.” In a 1966 study of 592 scientists’ publications and collaborative activities, D.J. de Solla Price and Donald B. Beaver found that “the most prolific man is also by far the most collaborating, and three of the next four most prolific are also among the next most frequently collaborating.”

However, scientist, Gregor Mendal noticed a flaw in the scientific community. He wrote in a famous essay on scientific norms that “triumphant ideas are the ones that explain the data better than any of the others“. Mendal was attempting to address a major flaw in the scientific community where most scientific work never gets noticed. Study after study has shown that famous scientists find their work cited vastly more often than scientists who are less well known i.e. Its not what you know but who you are.

Steps to move from a surveillance room to a surveillance lab:

  1. Think like a scientist – Data is to a surveillance team as chemicals/raw materials are to a scientist
  2. Work like a scientist – Get tools that help you collect and analyze data
  3. Behave like a scientist – Publish your findings in easy to read and understand ways – you already have the attention, unlike the unknown scientist with a great idea

I hope you have many “Eureka!” moments on your surveillance room to lab journey.

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

Software or softwalls?

Yesterday I sat down with the tables manager of a large casino at the request of the systems manager to see how we can assist with some of their problems. As I listened I was very aware of not adding another wall to this already frustrated manager who is drowning in a sea of non integrated systems.

“There’s a race to see who will work better and faster with everyone else,” says Charlene Li, Founder of consulting company Altimeter Group. “There’s a recognition that you cannot be an island of yourself.”

We’re in that race and striving for a first place!