Ensuring safety, preventing loss at Kozmo.com
Ensuring safety, preventing loss at Kozmo.com

Jan 1, 2001 12:00 PM

Internet company uses security systems to protect personnel and distribution centers.

Since its launch in 1997, Kozmo.com (www.kozmo.com), headquartered in New York City, has improved the online shopping experience by combining the reach of the Internet with the immediacy of fast delivery. "We provide immediate gratification by delivering thousands of items to anyone in the 11 cities we serve - within one hour. We offer gourmet foods, home accessories, baby gifts, electronics, CDs, movies and more," says Don McVicker, vice president of loss prevention for Kozmo.com. Backed by a nationwide distribution network, and guided by a proprietary fulfillment system developed by its own engineers, Kozmo serves Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Portland, Memphis, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and New York City.

Loss prevention plays an important role within Kozmo.com, particularly at the distribution sites, where products can disappear while waiting to be shipped to customers. Security is also important at the company's corporate headquarters, which occupies five floors of a building in New York's Financial District, a few blocks from Wall Street.

"We maintain loss prevention systems and procedures for 18 facilities located in the cities Kozmo currently serves," says Gary Adkins, the director of loss prevention, who joined the company about a year ago. Prior to joining Kozmo.com, he was director of loss prevention at Bergdorf Goodman, an upscale department store in New York City. Before Bergdorf's, he worked for 20 years at Macy's as regional director of loss prevention for its New Jersey stores.

Adkins is responsible for physical security at the corporate headquarters, and at the warehouse locations. "I do investigations, conduct audits to insure proper inventory counts, and work with security systems vendors to adapt new technologies to our company."

A Casi-Rusco card system using Secure Perfect software controls 17 access points at the corporate headquarters, and four access points at the Memphis, Tenn., facility.

Currently, only distribution points in New York and Memphis are linked via phone lines. The file server is at the corporate headquarters. McVicker and Adkins plan to eventually link together all warehouse facilities.

Card access points include perimeter doors, server and telephone rooms, the computer vault that stores Internet computer equipment, the payroll office and the executive floor entrance.

The computer server rooms are protected not only by card access, but also by keypad entry. "The server rooms are the heart of our business - housing extremely sensitive computer equipment. All information that goes online - including the programming for the products we offer - initiates in these rooms," says Adkins.

The proximity card is also used as an ID badge incorporating the employee's picture. The badge monitoring and printing system is part of the Secure Perfect software. Photos are taken with a Hitachi DSP DK-C77 zoom camera.

An ADT CCTV system with Intellex digital recorder from Sensormatic is used at the corporate headquarters, along with Silent Witness and Panasonic cameras. Housed in the control room, the Intellex is a system that combines a multiplexer and a recording device. A special feature of the system is that the user can review past activities without losing current recording capabilities, eliminating the need to maintain a separate VCR and monitor for reviewing tapes. Search and scan capabilities of the Intellex system are also much faster than a VCR.

RuMe, a loss prevention system designer and installer in Farmingdale, N.Y., was responsible for the CCTV installation. "RuMe came through for us in a real pinch. They put in eight cameras in the customer service area during a time when the loss prevention department was dealing with some extremely sensitive issues that required a fast installation," says Adkins. RuMe wired and set up a multiplexer, VCR and cameras within three days.

Another feature of the loss prevention control room is an ADT Focus 200Plus alarm system with cellular backup.

The loss prevention department relies on a trackable locking device installed on all Kozmo.com drop boxes located in New York City. Drop boxes are used by customers to drop off rental videos, games and DVDs. Approximately 250 boxes located throughout the metropolitan area are equipped with these tracking devices. Another 100 are in the San Francisco area.

The way the system works ADT supplied a track key called TRACcess which is a 2 in. x 3 in. keypad device. Made by Supra Products, the track key is assigned to the drop-box pickup personnel who punch in a unique PIN assigned to that particular employee, allowing access to the locking device.

The TRACcess key tracks by time and by device. Information from the keypad device is downloaded daily to a central computer located at Supra Products corporate headquarters in Salem, Ore. Each key expires at midnight each day. "The midnight expiration prevents unauthorized entry into a box by a dismissed or resigned employee. Unlike a proximity card, a key cannot be taken off line," continues Adkins.

Loss prevention uses a Lanex digital recording system that incorporates remote capabilities. Also supplied by ADT, it uses digital cameras strategically located around the New York City distribution center. The images are digitally recorded on a hard drive, and Adkins and McVicker view them on laptop computers at the office. The two men also travel with laptops when they visit other company locations so that they can keep on eye on the warehouses. The Lanex system records for 31 days, after which the first sequence falls off to allow for continual storage - 31 days at a time. Images can be downloaded and stored on the computer's hard drive, if needed.

Currently, the operation is in the process of testing the Kyrus system from Sensormatic which is similar to the Lanex system. It will allow for control of pan, tilt and zoom capabilities on camera domes within the Memphis distribution center.

Systems help to bring incidents to a successful conclusion With the use of the Intellex digital recording system, and the Casi-Rusco card access system, Adkins and McVicker recently brought to a successful conclusion incidents that occurred at corporate headquarters.

The IT department had forwarded a call to loss prevention reporting computer hardware missing from the computer vault area. Loss prevention used the Casi-Rusco system to determine who entered the computer vault facility on a certain day. Then, with the search features of the Intellex system, they were able to place a motion grid within a specific vault area, and search past digital recordings to see who was in the vicinity when the computer hardware disappeared. "By using both systems, we were able to put a face to the perpetrator, and retrieved the stolen equipment," adds Adkins.

A similar incident occurred involving a contractor working on one of the Kozmo floors. The contractor was missing a number of valuable tools, and could only recall the last time the tools were seen. Once again, by using the Intellex system, loss prevention was able to pinpoint the exact time the tools disappeared by playing back the activities during the time frame of when the tools were last seen. The contractor was able to reclaim his property, and the "less-than-honest" worker was dismissed.

Plans are in the works to install a new camera system, equipped with the Kalatel Calibur DVMR recording system in the San Francisco warehouse. Kozmo.com will also be installing a Sensormatic CCTV system in the Los Angeles warehouse, along with a newer version of the Intellex digital recording system with remote capabilities. When all testing is complete, Adkins and McVicker will determine which system best suits the company's needs. That system will then be installed in all distribution centers.

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