Skip to main content

Ask the Expert: How is AI transforming gas station security?

Fuel theft and payment fraud are major security concerns. Jason Chiu of Axis Canada explains how AI-powered surveillance systems can help.
Gas Station Security Camera

Gas stations, an integral part of our daily lives, are uniquely vulnerable to security threats given their 24/7 operation. The emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in surveillance is offering a sophisticated approach to security that can effectively counter these challenges. This discussion navigates the transformative impact of AI-backed surveillance in ensuring the safety and security of gas stations.

The unique security challenges of gas stations

Before diving into the intricacies of AI surveillance, it's important to understand the unique security threats that gas stations face. From theft and fraud to vandalism and safety breaches, the round-the-clock operation and accessibility of gas stations make them an attractive target for criminal activities. These challenges necessitate a well-planned and multi-dimensional security strategy:

  1. 24/7 Operation: Gas stations are typically open around the clock, making them vulnerable to crime during late-night and early morning hours. Continuous security measures are required to safeguard against potential threats during these times.
  2. Multiple threat vectors: From drive-offs without payment, damage claims at the car wash, to internal theft and credit card skimming, the nature of threats can vary widely.
  3. Location-specific risks: Many gas stations are situated in isolated areas or at key junctions, which can make them both attractive and accessible targets for criminal activities.
  4. Safety hazards: Beyond criminal threats, there are inherent safety risks related to the handling and storage of flammable materials. Monitoring these aspects is crucial for ensuring both safety and compliance with regulations.
  5. Vulnerability to vandalism: Being easily accessible to the public, gas stations can become targets for vandalism, graffiti, and other forms of property damage.

AI surveillance: A technological boon for security

AI-backed surveillance systems are proving to be a game changer for gas station security. These systems, equipped with machine learning capabilities and high-resolution cameras, can monitor gas station premises continuously and accurately, detecting any suspicious activities or safety breaches and alerting the appropriate personnel in real-time.

Artificial Intelligence brings in a layer of advanced monitoring capabilities that traditional surveillance systems lack. From recognizing number plates and tracking suspicious movement to detecting potential safety hazards like unattended fuel nozzles or oil spills, the versatility of AI surveillance systems far surpasses that of their traditional counterparts.

Real-time alerts: A paradigm shift in security response

One of the key advantages of AI surveillance is its ability to provide real-time alerts. These systems can instantly notify security personnel about any potential security threats, facilitating immediate action. The importance of real-time response cannot be overstated in a gas station context where timely intervention can prevent costly damages and dangerous situations.

The incorporation of real-time alerts in surveillance systems has marked a shift in how security measures can proactively mitigate risks at gas stations:

  • Instant threat detection: AI surveillance systems are now capable of identifying potential security threats immediately. For instance, if a customer drives away without paying for fuel, the system can alert the station operator in real-time, allowing them to take immediate action, such as adding the vehicle's license plate to a watch list or triggering a notification to local law enforcement. Offending plates added to a watch list can generate real time alarms on future detection, allowing the operator to disable fuel pumps for returning offenders.
  • Cross verification with POS systems: Real-time alerts can be integrated with the station's POS system. When a transaction is voided or altered, an alert can be triggered for immediate review, helping to detect potential instances of employee fraud.

Unusual behaviour detection: The AI surveillance system can be programmed to recognize unusual behaviour patterns. If a customer lingers around the payment area or a fuel truck driver spends an excessive amount of time at the storage tank, an alert can be raised for further investigation.

Advertisement - article continues below
Gas Station Exterior with Security Camera

Securing the payments: Fighting fuel theft and fraud

Fuel theft and payment fraud are major security concerns for gas stations. Here too, AI surveillance systems offer a valuable solution. With their ability to recognize license plates and monitor payment kiosks, these systems can effectively deter theft and fraud, contributing to the financial stability of the business.

  • Prevention through deterrence: Surveillance cameras positioned prominently at pump stations and payment areas serve to deter potential criminals. This visibility of robust security measures can discourage many opportunistic thieves and fraudsters.
  • Facial recognition technology: Modern surveillance systems can integrate facial recognition technology, allowing for the identification of repeat offenders. This not only aids in apprehending criminals but also allows station operators to be on guard if a known offender arrives.
  • Credit card skimming detection: Through AI algorithms, surveillance cameras can monitor unusual behaviour around the pump area, such as lingering around card readers, possibly indicating an attempt at installing or retrieving a skimming device.
  • Employee monitoring: Surveillance can be effectively used to monitor employees, dissuading them from participating in fraudulent activities. Additionally, any discrepancies between recorded sales and actual cash turned in can be investigated using video footage, helping to pinpoint any instances of internal theft. Additional analytics applied in this area can also generate a more accurate incident list to investigate, instead of reviewing every POS transaction.

A crucial, but often overlooked aspect of modern surveillance systems are IP audio devices. These can be loudspeakers, intercoms, or alarms that can be configured in a variety of ways to enhance security. In a gas station environment, intercoms installed at pumps can ease customer difficulties, and IP speakers can broadcast pre-recorded or live audio in the event of an emergency. Alarms with custom triggers can also deter theft or loitering.

Additionally, innovative features such as the ability to connect to and monitor wireless sensors can also help with common operational challenges at gas stations. Installing wireless glass breaks, door contacts, temperature sensors that can communicate with the camera’s management system can provide actionable alarms upon intrusion, freezer doors left open, and other challenges faced by a gas station operator.

Dealing with privacy concerns: Ethical practices in AI surveillance

The introduction of advanced surveillance technology invariably raises questions about privacy. It is crucial that gas station owners implementing AI surveillance adhere to privacy laws and ethical guidelines. Being transparent about surveillance practices and ensuring that data is securely stored and responsibly used is a prerequisite to building trust with customers.

The future of gas station security: Beyond surveillance

As AI technology continues to evolve, its role in gas station security is set to broaden. AI surveillance systems of the future may include features like predictive threat analysis, integrated emergency response, and advanced facial recognition. The potential of AI in security goes far beyond surveillance, signalling a new era in gas station security. The capability of a camera and system that can be retrofitted with future analytics also promises to deliver multi-purpose usage for other stakeholders in the facility, affecting marketing, customer experience, and operations.

Conclusion: The inevitable march of progress

The evolution of AI surveillance marks a significant step forward in the quest for effective, efficient security solutions for gas stations. As this technology continues to mature and become more accessible, its adoption within the industry is likely to grow. For gas station owners looking to bolster security and operational efficiency, AI surveillance presents a promising path forward.

Through these applications, AI-backed surveillance technology and real-time alerts significantly augment the security capabilities of gas stations, providing comprehensive solutions to unique and complex challenges they face. By detecting and deterring both external and internal theft, these systems play a pivotal role in safeguarding revenues, maintaining safety, and ensuring smooth operations.


Jason Chiu Axis Canada

Jason Chiu is the professional services group manager with Axis Canada. He has a background in IT and networking and has spent over 15 years in the security industry, from being an integrator, consultant, and manufacturer.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds