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Axis Examines How Public Space CCTV Installations Can Be Managed More Effectively

Axis Communications : 14 July, 2010  (Technical Article)
With as many as 6 million surveillance cameras in use in public areas in the UK, Phil Doyle of Axis Communications questions whether they are all being used as well as they could be given the massive investment that has been made in the technology
Axis Communications asks how many of the UK's reported six million cameras in public spaces are managed as effectively and efficiently as they could be.

It is clear that video surveillance plays a key role in fighting crime and protecting public spaces. However, its role can be improved and better management will ensure the cameras capture quality footage of incidents that can be used to identify and apprehend offenders. CCTV regulation is also among the many issues that the Coalition Government has already set out to address.

Phil Doyle, regional director, Northern Europe, Axis Communications said: "In the main, public space surveillance cameras do the job they have been installed to do, but where there are issues with CCTV systems, it tends to be because there are too many cameras producing poor quality footage which is badly managed, and in some cases the cameras don't even work.

"It's very likely that the reference to large volumes of surveillance cameras delivering no, or bad, images, is impacted by the number of unused video devices or by those that were installed years ago and never really properly maintained - with users not knowing that they can achieve significantly better coverage.

"The time has come to cleanse the install base, ridding it of those cameras that are unused, unmaintained and unnecessary. Taking action will be a positive step to help roll back on what many perceive to be a 'surveillance state'."

It is important to remember that CCTV is used as a deterrent against crime as well as playing a role in the investigation of it. CCTV footage is regularly used in reconstructions, identifying offenders and making high profile calls for public support.

Advances in technology mean that surveillance has moved on a long way from what many refer to as simply 'CCTV', with modern systems having many benefits including:

• Capturing better quality footage - High definition (HD) network cameras capture better quality images
• IP-based cameras provide images that can be shared easily between security professionals, including the police force in the event of an incident - Images can be found quickly and shared instantly over a network without the need to trawl through hours of video footage
• More effective and efficient use of cameras and equipment - Network security systems can be managed remotely, quickly detecting technical faults or broken cameras. Easy to install cameras mean that they can be moved to different locations as and when they are needed as risks change.

A good example of a well managed IP-based surveillance system is that installed by Breckland District Council in the five town centres that are part of its district. The council opted for a wireless system so that it can easily relocate the cameras as risks change. The council anticipates that it will also help to save police time and resources, as the system allows them to log on remotely to view both live and recorded evidence rather than having to travel to the control room.

Doyle concludes: "It is important that surveillance in public spaces becomes smarter and delivers the intended service to the community. It should be seen as a guardian angel, and in order for that to happen, people need to see how better surveillance results in lower incident levels and a safer community."
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