Are Public CCTV Cameras an Utter Fiasco?

By: John Honovich, Published on Jul 21, 2009

The UK's love-hate relationship with CCTV cameras continues. This time, the head of the UK's police video imaging division called their use an "utter fiasco." Setting aside the prudence of creating an international bruhaha, it's quite damming given the UK's leadership in the use of CCTV technology.

For background information on this debate, see the BBC's report on why CCTV is failing to cut crime, and its report on why CCTV is not being used properly. For general background information, see our special report, "Is Public CCTV Effective?"

What's the Problem?

The UK chief stated, "we've got enough cameras, let's stop now, we don't want any more cameras.'

The problems stated:

  • Tedius job of shifting through recordings
  • Lack of a system to retrieve, process and distribute CCTV crime scene images
  • Too much spent on equipment, too little spent on people and processes

What's the Solution?

The BBC article mentions that, in an effort to improve effectiveness, that the "unit is also looking at ways of using software which can follow distinctive brand logos on the clothing of unidentified suspects." Probably not a good idea to try scientific experiments to solve an utter fiasco.

Spend More on People?

While I am sure that operator training has value, the technological problems are likely to be too severe to overcome through mere training. Systems that cannot interoperate and systems that require extensive manual video review only benefit so much from training.

Implement PSIM and Video Analytics?

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

There are two clear emerging product categories within video surveillance that address these issues. PSIM would provide a sytem to retrieve, process, distribute, etc. Video analytics would reduce the amount of time sifting through video.

Why the Solution is Hard?

Even if you had the money and the will to implement these solutions, the logistics are daunting.

Retrofitting video analytics on existing cameras can be expensive, complex and hold long term risks. Do you change out the current analog cameras for smart IP cameras? Do you add in intelligent encoders at the camera? Do you add analytic servers at the headend? How do you tightly integrate it with video management systems? Plus, forensic video analytics are not mature (e.g., searching for objects, colors, etc.) and incompatible with one another - creating risks of poor performance, limited use and demands for upgrades in the next few years.

How do you deploy a PSIM solution for the government? Do you choose one PSIM provider and then integrate everything to it? Since there are no standards and hundreds of video management manufacturers, how do you integrate them all together? What happens when some systems do not fully function because of limitations of the recorder?

Most of this is not technologically revolutionary (though tracking brands on clothing would be). In the absence of widespread system interoperability standards, it's just logistically difficult to pull all of this together without spending a billion pounds and not facing risk of failure. The cost would likely be this high even if you only integrated a fraction of the UK's estimated 3-4 Million cameras (assuming a conservative $1,000 USD cost per camera to add in analytics and PSIM).

Related Reports

Phone Camera Calculator Released on Mar 10, 2020
IPVM has released the first-ever Phone Calculator, video surveillance design software that you can use on your phone, without installing an...
Video Surveillance 101 Course - Last Chance on Feb 20, 2020
This is the last chance to join IPVM's first Video Surveillance 101 course, designed to help those new to the industry to quickly understand the...
2020 IP Networking Book Released on Jan 06, 2020
The new IP Networking Book 2020 is a 280 page in-depth guide that teaches you how IT and telecom technologies impact modern security systems,...
IPVM Opens 12,000 Sqft Testing Facility on Dec 16, 2019
IPVM is proud to announce the opening of the world's first video surveillance testing facility that will allow us to significantly expand our...
Top 2020 Trend - AI Analytics on Nov 22, 2019
170+ Integrators answered: What do you think will be the top industry trend in 2020? Why? For the 4th year in a row, AI/video analytics was...
AI Video Surveillance (Finally) Goes Mainstream In 2020 on Sep 03, 2019
While video surveillance analytics has been promoted, hyped and lamented for nearly 20 years, next year, 2020, will be the year that it finally...
'CCTV' Is the Past, Cloud Video Surveillance Is the Future on Jul 08, 2019
A fundamental shift is happening. For decades, video surveillance was overwhelmingly 'closed' and off the Internet. This is changing. More and more...
Manufacturer Favorability Guide 2019 on Jun 12, 2019
The 259 page PDF guide may be downloaded inside by all IPVM members. It includes our manufacturer favorability rankings and individual...
IBM Shuts Down Intelligent Video Analytics on May 02, 2019
Abruptly, IBM has discontinued its Intelligent Video Analytics solution, it confirmed to IPVM. IBM's video analytics have faced recent media...
AI Video Tester Released on Apr 02, 2019
IPVM has released the world's first AI video tester that lets you see how various AI models (including from Amazon, Google, Microsoft and YOLO)...

Most Recent Industry Reports

YCombinator AI Startup Visual One Tested on Apr 02, 2020
Startup Visual One, backed by Silicon Valley's powerful Y Combinator, aims to be "Your 24/7 Watchman" with advanced analytics and object...
Free IPVM Memberships For The Unemployed on Apr 02, 2020
IPVM is giving 3-month free memberships (regular price $99) for the unemployed, no questions asked. To get it, just contact us, your request...
Dahua Faked Coronavirus Camera Marketing on Apr 01, 2020
Dahua has conducted a coronavirus camera global marketing campaign centered around a faked detection. Now, Dahua has expanded this to the USA,...
Video Surveillance Trends 101 on Apr 01, 2020
This report examines major industry factors and how they could impact video surveillance in the next 5 - 10 years. This is part of our Video...
USA's Seek Scan Thermal Temperature System Examined on Apr 01, 2020
This US company, Seek, located down the road from FLIR and founded by former FLIR employees is offering a thermal temperature system for the...
Terrible Convergint Coronavirus Thermal Camera Recommendation on Apr 01, 2020
A week after Convergint disclosed falling revenue, pay and job cuts, Convergint is touting 'extensive research' that is either grossly incompetent...
The IPVM New Products Online Show April 2020 Opens With 40+ Manufacturers on Mar 31, 2020
IPVM is excited to announce the first New Products Online show, with 40+ manufacturers, to be held April 14 to the 16th, free to IPVM members,...
USA's Feevr Thermal Temperature System Examined on Mar 31, 2020
This US company has burst on to the scene, brashly naming itself 'feevr' and branding itself as a "COVID 19 - AI BASED NON CONTACT THERMAL...
JCI Coronavirus Cuts on Mar 31, 2020
JCI has made coronavirus cuts, the company told employees in an email that IPVM has reviewed. Inside this note, we examine the cuts made, the...
Add Door Operators To Fight Coronavirus on Mar 31, 2020
IPVM recommends that integrators advocate and end-users consider adding door operators to fight the spread of coronavirus. This delivers...