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News |  The Irish Examiner, Forget AK-47 get a Lawyer 01/25/08

Forget AK-47 Get A Lawyer

By William Benson

253 Fifth Avenue, 3rd Fl.
New York, NY 10016
212.889.0069 646-234-3229


In a development guaranteed to shock most red blooded, flag waving American bar flies, surveillance equipment from may soon be installed in their favorite tavern. If it hasn’t already. The reason according to Baruch Goldstein, whose Visisys is a major supplier of the equipment, is simple. “In , where Vodka is considered a major food group, surveillance equipment was installed to discourage the practice of settling minor philosophical differences with AK - 47's. In, there are lawyers."

Owning a tavern might be the American Dream, but the occupation can cause headaches generally associated with category 9, Tequila based hangovers. Your best customers fall from stools, practice half gainers off the bar , punch faces randomly, claim to find mouse parts in the chili, then stumble out without paying and later sue you for over serving them. Every time you turn your back the staff is tempted to practice unauthorized profit sharing - otherwise known as dipping into the till. Or, even better, one morning you see a bad picture of yourself on the front page of a tabloid under the word "Fiend!" when your bouncer ends someone's drinking career with a lead pipe. As has happened incidentally three times in this city in as many months.

The grim reality is bar owners are particularly vulnerable to lawsuits. And, juries usually find them at fault. In fact, unless the owners have substantial evidence in their favor, settling out of court is often their only option. In defense, many bar owners have been quietly installing Russian surveillance and identification equipment inside and outside their bars. Yes, but why Russian technology? Baruch Goldstein explains, "When the Soviet Union fell apart the technologies developed by the state suddenly became available to the private sector. One of the major revealed secrets was the miniaturization of equipment: cameras, motion detectors, face and body scanners, and alarm systems so tiny they are almost undetectable. For bar owners this means devices can be installed easily, covertly and relatively inexpensively. It allows them to be able to punch up on their home computer—or really, from any computers on the globe—the activity in their pub in real time. But, of course, that is just one advantage. The features that detect pilfering and theft work independently of human operation and allow the system to pay for itself in the first few months. That's huge."

Therefore, if a patron decides to disabuse another patron of his unseemly support for the Red Sox by lowering a bar stool onto his head, the devices will note the unusual motion, hone in on the action, and begin close up recording for police, prosecutors, or possibly 's Funniest Videos. If a customer is in the habit of running up a tab and then somehow forgetting to pay—an all too common pathology—the identification equipment remembers for, well, forever. And, although the operating principle in many pubs of "tip well and wonderful things will happen," often works to the advantage of patron and bartender, it's not all that great for the pub owner. Combining motion sensors and homing devices, it is now possible to match exactly what is poured, how much and what is rung up on the cash register. These devices not only keep a running tally but record transactions where there are discrepancies. As for more mundane matters such as keeping a running body count to determine the best time of day to promote business, inventory of stock and even musical preferences –with the right equipment in place it's simply a matter of programming.