Smile, you’re on CCTV

Smile you’re on CCTV

Grant Fulton, operations manager for Corps Monitoring, on why video surveillance is a crucial component in 21st century enterprise security.

The British Security Industry Association estimates that there are as many as 6 million CCTV surveillance cameras operating in the UK. That works out at approximately one camera for every 11 people. Although there will always be concerns about the overuse of video surveillance, there should be no doubt about the pivotal role that security cameras play in preventing crime and terrorism in public and in private spaces.

Layered protection

Video surveillance is most effective when it is viewed as part of the wider enterprise security ecosystem. By combining CCTV with other systems such as alarms for HVAC, lighting, access control, fire detection, water detection and intruder detection through an integrated software platform, organisations can build a complete picture of their assets and design a multi-layered defence against any security threats.

CCTV cameras in the outer perimeter of a site function in two ways: firstly, as a detection and deterrence tool; and secondly, for evidence if criminals are determined to break through. Another layer of cameras within the building can then be linked to the intruder alarm system. These capture the intruder’s movement and trigger the alarm system. The vast majority of facilities that Corps Security protects have a public address system on site, which allows us to issue audio warnings directly to the trespasser and inform them that the police have been called. While on the phone to the police, live CCTV footage enables us to provide vital identifying information such as the intruder’s appearance, their clothing, and which vehicle they are driving. The intruder alarm also lets us determine their exact location.

The Corps Monitoring Centre (CMC) in Glasgow, an alarm receiving centre (ARC) that holds the very highest gold ARC II accreditation, allows our operators to access crucial data, receive instant alarm notifications and share this information with customers and predetermined users anytime and anywhere. The CMC allows Corps to secure everything from private homes to retail premises, and safe deposit sites to Ministry of Defence facilities.

Safe, efficient and customer-friendly 

Video surveillance-as-a-service (VSaaS) demonstrates the extent to which traditional manned guarding is now converging with new technological solutions to provide far better outcomes for customers. While manned guarding is tried and tested, its use 24/7 can, in some cases, be an extremely inefficient use of time and money. Officers working during the day will keep a site secure and provide supplementary front-of-house support for guests and employees. Out of hours, however, physical patrols are much harder to justify.

VSaaS offers customers security, cost-savings and better customer service. A service such as the CMC can provide live and continuous electronic patrols of the CCTV while performing all the actions of a security officer including locking and unlocking doors, switching lights on and off, and operating gates, barriers and roller shutters. Apply elements of the electronic patrols during the day – perhaps in areas of a building that experience far less footfall – and on-duty officers are freed up to perform their customer service duties.

In all this, however, it is important to remember that every organisation has different requirements and faces unique security threats. An approach that blends manned guarding with electronic monitoring allows customers to shape the solution to meet their needs including their budget, the critical nature of the site and its contents, whether it is a public or private space, and the volume of visitors they expect. The requirements of a commercial office building are far removed from a safe deposit site or government facility.

The era of smart CCTV

In recent years, Corps Monitoring has been able to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of its service through the development and deployment of video analytics. This technology is growing in prominence. The global market value for video analytics & intelligence video surveillance reached $28.13 billion in 2018 and is expected to hit $103.83 billion by 2027.

We have entered the era of smart CCTV, but what exactly makes it so intelligent? A legacy CCTV system is usually connected to a series of passive infrared sensors. If anything moves through the beam, this triggers the alarm. Video analytics, on the other hand, provides a far more accurate and efficient process. For example, the technology is able to identify whatever triggers the sensor and certain commands can be written into the software to ignore harmless intruders such as foxes or squirrels. The operator can also draw boxes around certain non-threatening objects on screen like trees or bushes. Lines may also be positioned where the security team determines there is a greater threat of entry. The operator can request the system to then send an alert as well as a facial image of anyone who walks in one particular direction and ignore any person who walks the opposite way.

Operators can also input certain ‘loiter zones’ that act as a prevention and an early warning system. A criminal will typically loiter outside a building while inspecting points of entry. The video analytics system can be programmed to trigger an alarm or notification after a certain amount of time. The introduction of this technology in one Glasgow site allowed Corps to capture thieves that were stealing vehicles from a car park on the very first night of its installation. On another site, the loiter zone has been programmed not to trigger an alarm but set off a spotlight so as to deter any unwanted strangers.

In environments such as train stations and airports, where the threat of terrorism is huge, smart video surveillance can used to detect suspicious packages. During an investigative process, the technology can also help save a substantial amount of time. Rather than sit through hours of video footage, operators can use the analytics to specify their search – the colour of the suspects hair, their clothes, their movements, etc. – and find what they’re looking for in a matter of seconds.

Ultimately, using video surveillance as part of a larger integrated enterprise security approach will make people safer, organisations more efficient, and security service more customer-centric. Advances in CCTV technology only serve to hammer this point home.


Smile, you’re on CCTV