For landlords who own and manage properties whatever their size, whether we are talking about multi-million pound business parks, shopping centres, office developments, residential accommodation or the considerable number of void properties that have sprung up thanks to a sluggish economy, more and more are recognising the critical benefits of the latest CCTV solutions.
These are being taken up to proactively deter and deal with incidents in communal and external areas as well as providing valuable evidence to help secure convictions, post event.
In particular, the ability to monitor sites remotely via a professional RVRC (Remote Video Response Centre), from their own control room and even – whilst on the move – through the latest smart phone apps, is delivering concrete returns for landlords on the ground from both a security and operational perspective.
Crucially, the right CCTV infrastructure offers the reassurance to landlords and their tenants that sites are safe and secure and, crucially, should the worst happen they have a ‘bigger picture view’ available to manage the situation.
Looking in more detail at remotely monitored, detector-activated, CCTV which complies with the revised BS8418 standard, this is finding favour with landlords across the UK to keep a watchful eye on vulnerable properties, out of hours, by linking in CCTV cameras and detectors, strategically positioned on the perimeter, to a privately-run RVRC (Remote Video Response Centre).
In this case, should someone attempt to scale a wall, for example, they are liable to be picked up by a detector with images from the associated CCTV camera sent to an operator at the RVRC for review. If required the operator can even issue a verbal warning through on-site speakers to stop the intruder in their tracks.
Experience shows that this is a sufficient deterrent in over 90 per cent of cases. Of course sometimes an audio challenge may not be advisable due to the location of a site so neighbours are not disturbed. Here an operator can covertly direct police to the scene to catch the unsuspecting intruder.
Focusing on examples of remote CCTV monitoring in action, the Australian subsidiary of a BSIA member company (RemGuard) has helped the landlord of a large, multi-tenanted, industrial estate in the western suburbs of Sydney to see the advantages of this approach at first hand by stopping criminal attacks.
The key consideration here was to deliver controlled, after hours, access for authorised tenants – with hundreds of employees and contractors – and to provide adequate ‘general site surveillance’ recognising that each tenant would have their own internal security systems and procedures.
Although the estate was totally fenced – prior to the security upgrade – it remained susceptible to after-hours crime and vandalism by virtue of its location in an industrial area largely deserted at night.
The security solution throughout the estate has improved things for the better and now provides tenants with strategically located outdoor sensors and cameras viewing building perimeters, plus key access roads, all linked to RemGuard’s RVRC (Remote Video Response Centre) for out-of-hours monitoring.
Considering another case of a landlord reaping the rewards of remote CCTV monitoring, Pennine Housing 2000 – a housing association in West Yorkshire – decided to opt for an advanced IP-enabled solution, including CCTV systems from BSIA member company Dedicated Micros.
Rather than outsourcing monitoring to an external provider, the 18-month project saw the housing association commission its own central control room.
Previously, all of Pennine’s locations, scattered over a wide geographical area, were served by standalone CCTV solutions. This was proving unwieldy. The monitoring of CCTV cameras was provided by control rooms within each block of flats, consequently there was no ability to manage incidents or share information across sites.
To achieve the desired result an IP solution was the only logical approach. The end result is a state-of-the-art control room featuring a Graphical User Interface (GUI) and powerful digital matrix that transformed monitoring for the better, allowing operators to pick and click on cameras using bespoke site maps and, from an aerial view, to select and zoom in on specific blocks of flats.
Drawing a Line with Intelligent Video Analysis
Regarding the latest technology trends, many landlords are now opting to deploy intelligent, proactive, CCTV measures such as VCA (Video Content Analysis) otherwise known as video analytics.
A key advantage with this approach is the ability to automatically analyse CCTV images, using powerful algorithms, against specific parameters to produce meaningful information which is invaluable when CCTV operators are faced with footage from hundreds of cameras.
An example of VCA in practice would be the setting up of a virtual tripwire at a site perimeter either as a measure where it is not possible to have a physical barrier or as an additional security layer.
This basically creates a virtual line which should someone cross will result in an alert being triggered. Other types of VCA include object left and object removed.
An Appetite for ‘Apps’
On another front, although the advent of ‘apps’ associated with smart devices is a useful CCTV development and is gaining a great deal of traction, it is important to offer a note of caution.
The reality is that people are not focused on their smart phone or tablet all of the time. If a landlord has a security critical site then monitoring CCTV solely on a smart phone, which could have been accidentally turned off or put on silent, is probably not appropriate as a first line of defence but more sensibly as a tool to double check what is going on after an initial alarm has been raised.
In this instance you would really want to have a professional monitoring service in place so someone is constantly on the alert and actually has the ability to receive an alarm and deal with it.
Given that landlords will naturally have an eye on the return-on-investment of their CCTV infrastructure, the message to those with older properties is that all legacy equipment does not necessarily have to be ripped out and replaced but instead, where practical, can be integrated into the overall solution.
As a result, so-called ‘hybrid’ solutions that allow video surveillance measures to evolve, by marrying analogue and digital CCTV in an IP environment, are very much coming to the fore.
A Remote Future
So to conclude we are very much in the throes of a remote CCTV monitoring revolution, to the extent that, in its many guises, this technology has become an indispensable tool for landlords seeking to protect their valuable property investments – and tenants – from criminal attack and to assist the smooth running of their operations.
For more information on the BSIA please visit www.bsia.co.uk.
By Pauline Norstrom, BSIA CCTV Section Vice Chairman