The TFL has correctly identified that their CCTV network is currently not fit for purpose. However, the announced plans do not go far enough to rectify the situation, and there are several other key strategies that should be deployed to dramatically reduce crime with CCTV technology.
The new measures announced merely enhance reactive observation of crime, rather than enabling proactive prevention. One of the biggest challenges with CCTV being effective is ensuring that the watchers are being watched, and currently the surveillance teams clearly don’t have enough time or the inclination to monitor the footage and respond to the action. Therefore, the TFL must look to deploy ‘smart’ CCTV systems that can analyse the behaviour of criminals as it happens to allow the proactive prevention of crime. These ‘smart’ systems transmit the video image that is then automatically monitored for a range of simple to complex behaviours, such as unattended objects, undue dwell times, loitering and intrusion.
Smart CCTV systems have been used in airports throughout the world, and provide an excellent example of a complex environment that has a high security threat and high area footfall. With the UK gearing up the 2012 London Olympics, it is vital that the security and transport services don’t rely on outdated systems to prevent and detect malicious activity. The promised initiatives will go some way in improving the situation, but there is still a long way to realise the full potential of CCTV in the prevention of crime on our streets.
Richard Farnworth, General Manager, Enterprise Solutions, NEC