Saturday, May 17, 2008

CCTV for Vandalism and Pooping a bad thing? I Think NOT!

I recently wrote on my blog asking the question about CCTV Security and whether it can be useless. And in truth, it CAN be if improper expectations are set. In that post, I was trying to get to what causes a CCTV Video system to fail to achieve its original purpose - typically changing expectations, and lack of education.


Now a new threat to the CCTV Security Industry is growing. More and more articles have been popping up about the misuse or uselessness of CCTV Video, once its been installed. The troubling part of this trend is they are using things like vandalism and littering as reasons why the security system has failed. Granted, in many cases, it is federal money which funds the larger CCTV projects. But this shouldn't mean the CCTV system can ONLY be used to fight terrorism.

Let's be real here, Security Directors of corporations and municipalities are required to provide security for an area or group of people, and are many times given a limited budget with which to do so. These folks are often forced to make very difficult and often frustrating choices because of that limited budget. But then, they are offered up a substantial bank of additional funds with federal dollars "to aid in Homeland Security". This can be a great way to, cost-efectively, augment the system originally intended to protect the local community or organization.

In a recent article, "U.K. turns CCTV, terrorism laws on pooping dogs", the author has some discouraging words about the misuse of the CCTV System. He mentions several media points in which the CCTV System is used to investigate smaller issues like pooping dogs, people littering and vandalising, misuse of parking spots and false claims for damages.

In the article above, the gentleman refers to a number of articles coming out of the UK that seem to hold a similar view that the growing use of CCTV Camera Systems is in misuse. Frankly, why should we consider littering (illegal in many areas), false claims for damages (aka protection from liability), and vandalism (yep, also illegal) as MISUSE of a camera system? This is not misuse, this is opportunistic law enforcement - and a GOOD THING!

OK, OK, I realize checking to see if a dog poops on a lawn, or looking down a woman's blouse is certainly improper use, but there can easily be protection against this from within the system. With a properly installed IP Video System, a secondary "Supervisory" work area can be established. In this "Supervisory" location, the "watchers" are watched. Any improper use can be constantly monitored, and can be immediately reprimanded. This is just common use of checks and balances.

I find it interesting how people from outside the CCTV Security Industry, with no knowledge of the actual workings of deterring or halting criminal activity using video, find it easy to lay false claims themselves about how a system SHOULD be used...

Just food for thought...

Matt Marshall
Security Caffeine

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