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City surveillance assists in crime fighting

March 14, 2012 • Features

Central Business District (CBD) and city surveillance has become common over the years for several reasons. Often crime detection has a strong influence in deciding to implement such a solution, but others should be considered too.

CBD surveillance camera. (image: cctv-surveillancecameras.com)

However, obtain a specialist’s services from the outset, since surveillance solutions require time, effort and money from planning to implementation and maintenance. Any missteps can be costly to taxpayers and municipalities alike.

Crime detection is one of the reasons for implementing city surveillance systems. Footage can identify offenders and serve as prosecution evidence. This in turn spurs on crime prevention, since higher prosecution levels deterers future crimes.

But that is only the start. Surveillance can help enforce traffic regulations and prosecuting traffic offenses, particularly if linked to national databases such as eNatis which checks if number plates match the vehicles. Therefore, stolen vehicles and fraudulent plates can also be identified more easily.

Aside from its application in the law enforcement sphere, city surveillance can improve service delivery. Operators can steer reaction teams where they are needed in the case of accidents and emergencies. Municipal problems like burst water pipes, blocked drains, flooding, faulty traffic lights and street lights can be dealt with faster, since the areas are monitored constantly and problems can be identified, the relevant parties can be alerted. These surveillance solution need to manned and monitored 24/7.

Selecting the correct equipment is crucial to the success of CBD surveillance. Useless static cameras have blind spots, so cameras with pan/tilt/zoom motion control are essential. High speed domes are the most common in city surveillance as they can be set on an automated tour of a certain coverage area and manually overridden if suspicious activities is spotted.

Cameras themselves are not enough since this will only show live footage. Prosecution needs recorded video, so installing recording devices are crucial. You need reliable cameras to deal with tricky lighting situations such as flashing police lights.

The control room is just as vital to your operations. Convergence of video and data has made remote monitoring increasingly viable, while a data link capable of sending video is simple enough due to 3G and mobile data. Creating a Joint Operations Centre with representatives from emergency services and reaction teams including security, fire, paramedics, police should be a breeze.

System design is also important, since city surveillance has specific requirements in order to succeed. Control room staffing is also important, since the operational element is crucial to on-going usefulness and long term functionality. And while every city share common elements, they remain unique so there is no size fits all solution.

Jan de Beer, Executive Operations: Northern Regions — Jasco Security Solutions

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