So HDcctv has suddenly hit the headlines. It all started when Andrew Rennison the surveillance camera commissioner questioned the way CCTV has suddenly become a much more powerful tool. With HDcctv images giving us hugely detailed definition, together with facial recognition technology now available that can track and monitor targeted individuals, the question asked by Mr Rennison was how effectively the industry as a whole was able to control the data? Of particular worry to Mr Rennison and anti CCTV campaigners was to what use were the much improved images being put? Are they being used to track and target innocent individuals? Are innocent people suddenly coming under unnecessary scrutiny by the authorities? Is big brother really watching us all now? Well some may be paranoid enough to think so . The majority of UK citizens though will just be happy that images are clearer , more detailed and a whole lot more effective. As a result bringing criminals to justice and acting as a much more effective deterrent.
The British Security Industry Association has also had their say and spoke of their disappointment over the remarks made by Mr Rennison. The BSIA are clearly worried about the detrimental effect these remarks might have in terms of sales of CCTV for their membership. Andrew Rennison also questioned the effectiveness of CCTV overall casting doubt that was perhaps quite unnecessary.
In a letter to the editor responding to a front page article in last weeks Independent newspaper warning that HD CCTV in public spaces puts human rights at risk, the BSIA said:
“It was disappointing to read Mr. Rennison’s statements questioning the effectiveness of CCTV cameras in detecting crime, an assertion which is countered by the fact that over 3,000 arrests were made as a direct result of CCTV technology following last year’s August riots, in addition to the pivotal role it also played in the investigation of the 7/7 bombings. Examples such as these demonstrate that, in public areas, CCTV does play a positive role in providing public safety and supporting our hard-working police in their endeavours to detect and solve crime.”
The BSIA also went on to say that controls are already in place to ensure Data is handled correctly and this is governed by strict laws included in the data protection act.
It is our belief that both of the above parties have justified concerns. Data in our opinion is not always controlled correctly and the ability to remotely access images and drag these across the Internet or load them onto a memory stick mean there are all sorts of images that have slipped through the net and are now “uncontrolled”. This should rightly be of concern to the industry, but at the same time it is easy to build in safe guards to allow proper auditing and indeed prosecutions if data is not controlled by those in positions of responsibility.
Equipment must be built to log all data movements and the clever manufacturers out there will build in these features in to their HDcctv products. This will also be of relevance in private industry and any regulation that is correctly enforced will mean those providing cheap equipment without the ability to restrict and record the data will fall by the wayside. Another reason to have compliant standardized HDcctv equipment.
In summary HDcctv is a fantastic concept and once you have seen a properly installed HDcctv system you will not go back to analogue. The technology has started to take a hold especially in the UK and the trend is now irreversible. So whether it be for public places or private industry Mr Rennison should be ensuring that the images we do record are fit for purpose, properly controlled and used to prevent crime wherever we can. This means good installers and properly regulated and certified equipment should be used at all times. This in turn will ensure public confidence, increased sales but most importantly, huge deterrent value and reduced crime. Something all those involved must agree is going to be a very good thing indeed.