ATM Security: Is 24x7 'remote surveillance' system the answer?

The new security system from Axis Bank, dubbed 'alert-based surveillance', uses CCTV and sensors for contact, smoke and vibrations to send an alert of suspicious activity at the ATM. But can this 'remote security' really protect the customer?


With Automated Teller Machines or ATMs becoming very important points of service for banks, new technology is being leveraged to provide enough safety at ATMs. After the chilling assault and theft in a Bangalore ATM, there had been widespread calls for improved security for customers.

Most banks are reportedly trying out and migrating to a remote surveillance based security system, thus discarding the physical presence of security guard posted at every ATM centre. Even though the remote surveillance system is in its early stages and public sector banks have only just invited tenders for the pilot project, Axis Bank has already announced a wide application of this new technology.

“Under the e-surveillance facility, the ATM premises of Axis Bank will be monitored 24x7 from a centralized security operation centre. An immediate alert will be activated in case of detection of any unauthorized activity at the ATM site,” said Rajiv Anand, Group Executive and Head of Retail Banking at Axis Bank.

This new security system, dubbed 'alert-based surveillance', uses CCTV and sensors for contact, smoke and vibrations to send an alert for any suspicious activity at the ATM, to a centralised security cell. The staff at this centre would verify the alarm by either video feed or using two-way communication using specially installed speakers. If the threat is seen as credible or some crime is detected, local police stations would alerted and the video of the crime is recorded as relayed.

Axis Bank or any other banks have not themselves disclosed the specifics of how their chosen systems work, for security reasons, but the above system is among others on offer from private security services providers.

The Beverly Police Department in its guidelines on ATM safety says, a CCTV camera should be installed behind a one-way mirror slightly above the machine, which would allow the user to see who is behind them. “Ideally, CCTV cameras should also monitor approaches to the ATM. Doing so provides a greater opportunity to indentify someone engaged in illegal activity. Also ATM installations should be located in well lighted areas with lighting that cannot be extinguished 'after hours',” the documents reads.

According to the Bank Administration Institute, the most dangerous hours for ATM crime are from 7:00pm until midnight, when approximately 40% of ATM-related crimes occur. This highlights the need to have a CCTV surveillance not only inside, but outside the ATM as well with special care on keeping the area well lit.

Axis Bank said that this feature will is currently to be applied at 2,000 out of their 13,000 ATMs and would be extended to all others in the future. The Economic Times reported that, “Four large to mid-size state-owned banks including the Punjab National Bank, State Bank of India, Central Bank of India and Bank of Maharashtra collectively floated tenders for about 10,000 ATMs in the past month.” This new system is expected to reduce costs of security at ATMs and also the manpower needed if guards are used instead of this new technology.

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    Veeresh Malik

    6 years ago

    Certainly remote surveillance works better than having human guards convert ATM cabins into air-conditioned sleepover rooms and parking spots for luggage and other stuff. But surveillance of ATMs is more than just video cameras, smoke detectors and motion detector alarms.

    Surveillance should also include -

    1) Warnings on sudden changes in ATM usage patterns.

    2) Dye and scent release on currency notes inside the vault / cartridge / cassette of the ATM in case of any issues.

    3) Surveillance during stuffing of currency notes.

    Rajan R G

    6 years ago

    This is better than having a human security guard. During the crime, the either security guard is injured or murdered sometimes. The security guard is just for a sake and mostly they will be old people. Why should we risk the people, instead try for better techno friendly surveillance.

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