Advances in CCTV

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CCTV has been criticised in the past, with some concerned that the technology is becoming too invasive as the quality improves.  These concerns haven’t stopped, CCTV has becoming an accepted part of our existence, with surveillance helping to safeguard our cities and infrastructures and potentially saving lives. Here Simon Adcock, Chairman of the British Security Industry Association’s (BSIA) CCTV Section, discusses how video surveillance is key to the security of our nation.

The effectiveness of video surveillance technology is continuously improving, and it has already established itself as a vital security tool for the police, private companies and many public sector organisations.. An effective CCTV system contributes to the detection and prevention of crime, as well as protecting towns, cities and transport networks from the threat of terrorism.

The advances of technology

A key area where CCTV is rapidly developing is that of video analytics. This impressive technology is already contributing to the security of a range of high level facilities such as city centres, transport facilities, and utilities.  The costs of the technology are falling and the capability increasing to the extent that it is becoming a cost effective option for commercial premises.

Video Content Analytics (VCA) is not new and has been around in the security industry for ten years or so..  Over this time, we have seen a wide variety of solutions brought to the market by an array of vendors – with mixed success. Some of the early systems, unfortunately, were the result of suppliers rushing to the market, providing systems that did not always live up to expectations. As a result, and unsurprisingly, prospective purchasers can still be cautious in relation to this technology and the results that can actually be delivered, and rightly so..

Fortunately, times have changed for the better, with lessons being learned about the capabilities of video analytics, and better management of end user expectations.  When deployed correctly VCA is now delivering positive results.

VCA is essentially the automatic analysis of CCTV images in camera or centrally, utilising advanced algorithms to create useful information about the content. Generally, these systems need a static background and consequently tend to operate with fixed cameras or Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) cameras at set positions, as they are looking to identify changes or movement at a particular scene. The scope of video analytics is considerable and can be used in the detection of intruders, abandoned packages, wrongly parked vehicles or people counting,

Securing the perimeter

One particular area that VCA can be especially effective is around the perimeter of a site. Securing a perimeter can be seen as one of the most crucial steps in any security plan. An early detection of a threat also means that there is more time and space available to formulate the necessary response, potentially preventing an intrusion all together.

Perimeter-specific applications of VCA, such as the tripwire function, can be especially useful in this kind of protection. VCA can be utilised in order to create virtual tripwires along existing fences or areas of a perimeter where other forms of physical security would be impossible or impractical. If a person is simply walking near a site, they are not necessarily considered a threat and a great amount of attention does not need to be paid to them. However, if that person then crosses the tripwire into a secure area, an alert can be raised. The VCA draws attention to the cause of the alarm, often by highlighting it in a red box, and an operator can quickly assess the nature of the alarm. VCA is more resistant to false alarms caused by vegetation or animals and lower false alarm rates improve security.

The operational response might be to issue a verbal warning over the system, which scares off intruders and prevents them from entering the premises further. Depending on the threat of the attempt, operators can also decide to covertly alert the authorities without the intruder realising they have been detected.

Sites without their own control room can use a commercial Remote Video Response Centre (RVRC). If an intruder sets off one of the detectors, an operator at the RVRC will be sent images of the site where they will be able to determine the best course of action.

Using CCTV in conjunction with Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) software can also be beneficial at large sites, as it allows for the identification of vehicles moving in and out of a site. If an intruder does happen to be successful, this integration can provide the police with valuable information in order to track down the suspect.

CCTV in Health and Safety

Creating virtual ‘lines’ can also be particularly useful within a transport environment, such as railway station, where video analytics can be employed to address the safety and security concerns that typically accompany a railway environment. For example, rules can be set-up to create a virtual line along the edge of a platform. If an individual is standing or walking dangerously close to the edge, station staff can be alerted – potentially saving lives. This can be especially crucial in the event that a station platform is significantly overcrowded. The capabilities of ‘people counting’ through VCA makes it possible to identify whether the number of individuals in an area is exceeding a dangerous level, making it possible for staff to react accordingly in order to avoid a dangerous situation.

High Definition CCTV

High Definition (HD) CCTV is another area that is expanding across a wide range of video surveillance applications. HD CCTV signifies an unprecedented revolution in the quality of images that can be delivered, the ability to more easily identify suspects and make sense of their actions, and the potential to improve the successful conviction rate on the ground.

HD cameras also open up the possibility of covering a much wider area without having to use multiple different cameras.  For example, in terms of wide angled and fisheye lenses which cover more surface area, there are features available that will allow operators to easily monitor an area without any distortion of the images, almost as if they were looking through the lens of a normal PTZ camera. Operators of these cameras will also be able to pan, tilt and zoom the camera with the use of a joystick, adding flexibility to the monitoring process. When employed in the right contexts, cameras like these can allow for a more widespread observation in larger areas.

Sourcing a supplier

Regardless of the kind of CCTV that a business or organisation employs, it is most important to choose from a supplier who is inspected to quality standards, ensuring that the service is professional and trustworthy. BSIA members offer a reputable service and are inspected to UKAS accredited standards, to find out more about the BSIA’s CCTV section visit http://www.bsia.co.uk/cctv/about-bsia-cctv.

To locate a BSIA supplier near you visit http://www.bsia.co.uk/find-a-local-security-company

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