CCTV: The end of an era or the dawn of a New Age?

Is the UK's CCTV 'boom' coming to an end?

Is the UK’s CCTV ‘boom’ coming to an end?

On Thursday 15 January, the online BBC News magazine published an article penned by reporter Rachel Argyle entitled The end of the CCTV era? The piece states that some local authorities are questioning whether further investment in video surveillance can be justified. That being so, is this potentially the end of a long period of sustained growth for the video surveillance industry? Peter Ainsworth confidently predicts that nothing could be further from the truth.

Rachel Argyle’s detailed discourse begins by focusing on 1994 and the (then) Conservative Government’s all-new Partners Against Crime initiative driven by (then) Home Secretary Michael Howard, a politician very much part of the pro-CCTV lobby.

Indeed, within three years Howard’s department – working in conjunction with local authorities – would invest some £120 million in a plethora of surveillance schemes the length and breadth of the country.

However, it appears that some local councils – Powys County Council and the local authority of Cornwall, for example – are now set to cut monitoring budgets while others such as Birmingham’s managers are also, according to Argyle’s report, “scaling back” their CCTV operations.

In addition to comments emanating from Big Brother Watch director Emma Carr – who believes that it’s a good thing councils are diverting CCTV resources to other areas that will “keep the public safer” – Argyle also quotes Charles Farrier, spokesperson for No CCTV.

“The alleged cost-cutting is leading to a restructuring rather than a real reduction of camera surveillance,” states Farrier, who also points out that budget cuts will see others jump to the rescue. “Often,” continues Farrier, “the solutions offered involve merging Control Rooms or taking cameras out of the hands of democratic local bodies and placing them with private management companies driven by a profit motive.”

Open Platform ushers in a new era for video surveillance

While in recent years town centre monitoring schemes have represented a major source of revenue for all involved in the video surveillance supply chain, as British Security Industry Association chairman Pauline Norstrom states in the BBC News magazine article, public sector cameras are outnumbered by private sector cameras on a scale of 70 to 1.

The private sector is continuing to invest in – and, indeed, rely upon – video surveillance to help deter and detect criminal activity, with the latest generation of High Definition (HD) IP network cameras proving to be very popular among those end users who require evidence grade images.

The massive processing power of DSP chipsets incorporated within the latest generation HD cameras means that there are now some great opportunities to provide end users with significant added value from their video surveillance systems.

Peter Ainsworth of Samsung Techwin

Peter Ainsworth of Samsung Techwin

It’s a win-win situation for all parties, really, including the manufacturers of cameras and recording devices who understand the value of working in partnership with specialist software development companies.

It’s most certainly an opportunity for systems integrators and the installers of video surveillance solutions, whether they operate in the IT arena or as part of the more traditional electronic side of the industry.

Open Platform is a phrase that we will hear used on an increasing basis. It relates to the opportunity to take advantage of the spare processing power of a camera’s DSP chipset in order to download and run edge-based Applications in a similar way that you would add and Apps on a smart phone, with the added bonus of reducing the need for dedicated video analytics servers by up to 90%.

Most currently available Open Platform cameras are only capable of running one Application, but the processing power of the WiseNetIII DSP chipset, for example, provides end user customers with the option to run multiple Applications at the same time.

Bespoke video surveillance solutions

On-board Applications create opportunities for cameras to be used for multi-tasking, with various departments across a business or organisation able to simultaneously collect and analyse valuable management information via different specialist video analytics Applications.

They also afford operational managers the potential to improve efficiencies in areas such as process control, Health and Safety, marketing and Human Resources (HR) management, as well as enhancing the ability of security personnel themselves to react quickly and effectively to any given security threat.

Retailers, for example, can use cameras with an Open Platform capability to integrate with other in-store systems, software and technologies such as EAS, EPoS, access control, ANPR, facial recognition, people counting, heat maps and HR data. They may also analyse customer traffic patterns, manage queues or understand the implications of customer behaviour in relation to signage, store layout and specific promotions, etc.

Today’s design engineers are playing a key role in securing the video surveillance industry’s future by providing installers and systems integrators alike with the opportunity to offer bespoke solutions that meet the requirements of a range of market sectors. Those sectors include banking, education, healthcare, retail and transportation, etc and, indeed, local authorities wishing to achieve a higher RoI from their investment in town centre monitoring schemes.

Peter Ainsworth is Head of Product and Marketing for the Security Solutions division of Samsung Techwin

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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