Live Video Monitoring Usage Statistics

By John Honovich, Published Aug 19, 2015, 12:00am EDT

What percentage of video surveillance users have humans (guards, operators, monitors) watching live video? What schedules do they use? And what verticals most commonly have live monitoring?

IPVM conducted a survey of 120+ integrators to determine answers to these questions inside.

Key Findings

Here are the key findings from the results:

  • 1 out of 3 non-residential video surveillance users has some form of ongoing live monitoring.
  • However, more than half of integrators have less than 20% of their customers using live monitoring. By contrast, a small number of integrators specialize in larger customers that almost always have live monitoring.
  • Live monitoring schedules were split among 3 common types: 24/7, business hours, and after business hours.
  • Most cameras are not watched even when someone is watching, given the far greater camera number of cameras compared to those watching.
  • Many watchers have other responsibilities beyond watching cameras, which detract from live monitoring.
  • The common claim that less 1% of all surveillance video is watched live is supported by these results, once factoring in scheduling and watcher limits (e.g., 33% have live monitoring, but many only monitor part time, plus most only watch just a fraction of cameras recorded and generally do not watch constantly)

Verticals for Live Monitoring

The most common verticals where live monitoring was done 24/7 was government related (military, prison, city, police), higher education and hospitals. By contrast, corporate sites and retail more commonly were monitored during business hours only while those with high-value outdoor assets, like car dealership and industrial sites were more typically only monitored after hours, when no one was on premises.

Limits on Camera Live Monitored

Even for the 1/3rd of users who have some form of ongoing live monitoring, rarely is it 24/7 and almost never is someone even attempting to watch all cameras. For example, integrators noted:

  • "Cameras are all monitored 24X7. In saying that, not all cameras are constantly monitored by operators. Perimeter cameras and low risk cameras are monitored using guard tours. All the cameras are recorded constantly."
  • "Staff in supermarkets monitor when they suspect a shoplifter is in the supermarket"
  • "Command Center has access to all 2,300 cameras but just spot checks. Maybe 16 at a time."
  • "Command Centers view and record between 75 to 500 cameras 24/7 Multiple viewing clients with large LED viewing Screens. Operators responsible for viewing specific cameras and areas depending on time of day and situation priorities."
  • "24/7 on a rotation. I've found this to more effective than simple 24/7 viewing."
  • "quasi-24/7 monitoring (where an attendant has other duties including the monitoring of cameras, such as an entry/exit guard who might be distracted from viewing the cameras to perform other tasks."
  • "One manufacturing plant does live monitoring, but only if a zone is triggered, then they log in to view live."
  • "CStore, education and industrial customers may have a screen up showing the cameras, but seldom people looking at them."

99%+ Not Watched

Though a third of professional end users have some form of live monitoring, this number alone overstates how commonly an individual camera is watched.

The three key limiting factors were:

  • Not watching all cameras: Most systems that have live monitoring are larger ones with hundreds or thousands of cameras. Those applications rarely even try to display all cameras, typically only putting the highest traffic or highest risk cameras on screen.
  • Watching too many cameras to be effective: Even for those that try to watch many cameras, this is often done via 9 or 16 cameras on a single monitor, which makes it quite hard for an operator to see / recognize all activities across those cameras.
  • Not watching any during certain time periods: Finally, many organizations that do live monitoring only do it for roughly half the day.

The net/net is then that less than 1% of all cameras are ever really monitored live. We arrive at that by taking the 1/3rd overall live monitoring rate, factor out the times when no video is being monitored, factor out the cameras that are not being watched at all and recognizing when too many cameras are being shown to effectively allow an operator to monitor each individual camera.

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