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80% of UK CCTV useless.

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  • 80% of UK CCTV useless.

    A damning official report into the effectiveness of CCTV has found that 80 per cent of images given to police are not useful as evidence. In fact, it was reported that many CCTV systems are installed without a clear plan of what they will be used for, and users often have no idea of how footage will be played back as evidence in court. Police struggling to deal with the wide range of digital and analogue systems in use around the country have even appointed a specialist team to ‘decode’ footage for playback on Criminal Justice System computers. It was revealed that many of the UK’s ‘public’ cameras, which have cost taxpayers around £200m in the last decade, are not even properly positioned to capture crime effectively. “Much of the CCTV was installed in the 1990s, and any analysis of the siting of cameras may not still be relevant today,” the report says.
    From Info4Security.

    I have customers who tell me, point blank, that cctv is useless and a waste of money. When I ask them why, they usually point to the latest newscast or YouTube clip, or (most painful of all) still shot in the newspaper of a robbery or shoting or what have you, and they say "I don't recognize that. It looks like a blob".

    Improperly installed and maintained systems hurts the entire industry.

    I don't have any constructive criticism to go along with this rant, btw, I just wanted to vent.
    The CCTV Blog.

    "Expert" is something like "leader". It's not a title that you can ever claim for yourself no matter what you might know or might have done. It's a title that others bestow on you based on their assessment of what you know and what you have done.


  • #2
    I understand why your customers think that. There are alot of companies out there that hire just about anyone with no experience whatsoever. CCTV systems are not as easy to design and set-up as people think. It takes an excellent understanding of the location, needed resolution, equipment, and archive method to put in a professional system. I have seen many convenience stores and other stores with a public view monitor and a useless picture on it. Talk about bad security advertising. When I go to a customer and develop a cctv system to meet their needs I often get a "can't we do that for about $500" in which case I say "Have a nice day". I refuse to put in a half a$$ed cctv system with unuseable video. It's not only the clients rear on the line but also my companies reputation. I guess thats why I'm not cheap.


    • #3
      Aside from cheap equipment and poor installation techniques, many clients just plain have unrealistic expectations about what they are going to achieve from a CCTV system.

      Trouble with crime in your 1,000 stall parking lot? Just slap up a couple of fixed-position cameras with a "wide angle zoom lens" (a term used by many uninformed clients) on both sides of the lot, tie them to a cheap DVR, and your security problems are solved. Never mind that a 6' tall man standing in the middle of the lot will appear about the size of an ant on the recorded image. Then they wonder why they can't print an image capture that is usable as evidence.

      There has been a lot of research done lately about what type of CCTV image is required to positively identify a person. There has been a standard size target created (called a "Rotakin") that simulates an average sized person. Some design specifications for CCTV systems require that CCTV system be designed so that the Rotakin target appears as at least "X" percentage of the monitor screen throughout the area that the CCTV system is intended to cover.

      Many forensic experts feel that the Rotakin target must appear as at least 120% of the screen in order to provide a picture that is usable as evidence. Many financial institutions are using this as the basis of the design for their CCTV systems. The FBI has issued an interesting article that talks about what is required to obtain CCTV images that are useful as evidence:

      While it may be possible to obtain a Rotakin=120% image within the confines of a store or bank lobby, think of the number of fixed-position cameras it would take within a large parking lot in order to achieve this level of coverage throughout? The truth is, almost no one is going to spend the amount of money it would take to provide evidentiary quality video in a large outdoor area. Yet in the back of their mind, this is the client's expectation when they install a CCTV system.

      CCTV can be a useful tool in an overall security program but it is not the "magic bullet" that many people think it is. With such unrealistic expectations, it is no wonder that many people are disappointed.
      Last edited by Silva Consultants; 12-07-2007, 11:07 PM.
      Michael A. Silva
      Silva Consultants


      • #4
        It's shows like the CSI's and others that raise expectations so highly. I recall one episode where they "enhanced" the reflection in the fender of a car, to see what happened. In a supermarket parking lot! The "original" video could see both sides of the aisle, and at least 10 or 15 spaces deep. Of cousrse you can also get DNA matches in hours on these shows too.

        I explain to people often that what you see on TV is possible, but almost no one spends the money it would take, difinitely not a supermarket or mall or convenience store. You'd have to start with high megapixel cameras, Huge amounts of storage and processing power in order to have any significant number of cameras, etc, etc.

        I also explain that if a persons image isn't a significant part of the screen, it's going to be difficult to identify them.
        Rocket Science
        Making everything else look simple, since 1958.

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