Why is surveillance coming under inspection?

CCTV in schools has the potential to split opinion - necessary safety measure or intrusion of privacy? James Kelly, chief executive of the British Security Industry Association, explores how new smarter security systems are making schools safer.

As funding becomes more scarce, the utilisation of funding to protect schools is extremely important, and those in education must look towards using smarter technology to achieve more for less money.

The importance of having a watchful eye over all areas of school grounds cannot be understated in these turbulent times. Making sure that your CCTV system is up to date and integrated with the rest of your security equipment is extremely important, not only to the security of the school but also for general day to day operations.

The London borough of Barnet is one the latest to introduce CCTV cameras to its schools. The reasoning behind it is not vandalism or violence but rather parking. Barnet has placed the cameras in and around the schools to prevent traffic congestion and increase road safety.

The cameras include automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) and an analytics function to spot cars that spend far too long in a spot where they cause an obstacle, raising an alert that is then recorded into the system. The evidence is then transmitted back to the council. The system is intended as a warning to people driving carelessly or parking on yellow zig-zag markings while dropping off or picking up their children from the schools.

The cameras will be situated at points where they can also spot cars making illegal U-turns, blocking yellow box junctions, and defying ‘no entry’ signs. This simple but effect use of CCTV is proof that it can play many roles in benefiting schools.

Acknowledging the benefits
While the move to internet protocol systems may have been sluggish, given the recognition of the practical and financial benefits, it has become very much the norm for surveillance, with the roll‑out of even more ambitious, intelligent and powerful solutions. One of the crucial real‑world advances that IP CCTV offers is the capability for locations, whatever their size, to see the ‘bigger picture’ for the security and safety of their operations, by incorporating different CCTV elements across a school or even from numerous campuses.

But the benefits to be gained through moving to IP video are not just those of scalability; HD (high definition) video, could not be attained traditionally through the use of analogue cameras, and in many cases, typical definition IP video systems did not offer an adequately strong tangible advantage over their more successful, low light sensitive CCD (charged coupled device) based analogue counterparts – in order to encourage a shift in technology.

The responsibility to manage the strain placed on the networks has been brought into focus, even more so with the advent of HD CCTV, which is offering a better level of detail in high risk areas and by its very nature, if not managed correctly may inflict challenging burdens on a networked solution. This may lead to calls for investment in greater bandwidth capacity. Thankfully, this is not necessarily the case and this issue can be readily addressed by taking a look at where high resolution evidential quality images are stored, and then using methods such as transcoding to distribute lower resolution footage on demand. The above‑mentioned situation is becoming a reality today, as open platform network electronic systems develop to the point of exceeding outdated individual proprietary electronic security devices.

Freed from the restrictions of old-fashioned CCTV technology, a network‑based system can be customised with a variety of devices from different manufacturers and can be expanded or upgraded either system‑wide or one camera at a time. There are IP CCTV products suitable for installations of all scopes.

The versatile technological mix of the most up‑to‑date and robust components, with no need for hardwiring, provides a very economical solution.

IP CCTV systems enable installations that are flexible and scalable with the ability for growth, changes and additions. IP CCTV can ensure maximum security and a future‑proof investment.

IP CCTV gives a big increase to upgraded CCTV system functions and operations, offering an increased level of identity verification, encryption and credentialing. Smart card and biometric technologies in conjunction with CCTV strengthen the verification factors.

Traditional proprietary CCTV systems come with limitations, require costly cabling and restrict system incorporation. Using open interface IP CCTV, the common and uniform digital environment has the potential to create numerous opportunities to integrate not only video but intrusion detection and a host of other systems such as building management, HR systems, perimeter control, fire detection, etc.

Sharing data
In addition to system interoperability, what most consumers are asking for is simple database data exchange.

There is the huge demand for connection of data from intrusion alarms, video surveillance, card access, visitor administration, asset tracking and other systems to share data and intelligence across an existing network infrastructure.

Driving bigger business and revenue is proof that the industry is no longer being held back by the history of a CCTV system that is reliant on having each device hardwired into one central unit.

An IP CCTV system streamlines the entire process. Using IP, one controller for each camera is connected to the local network through a regular network switch. The PoE (Power over Ethernet) supported link at each camera eliminates the need for separate power cables for the cameras.

The cost of additional IP-based CCTV systems on the network is far less than the several serial networks required when cabling back to a central unit. In addition, support for uninterruptible power supply makes it possible to avoid needing a battery back-up for camera equipment. Traditional CCTV systems lack flexibility and tend to restrict the consumer to one single product manufacturer. When expanding traditional CCTV systems, the process is complicated and expensive. An IP CCTV system can be a mix of the best equipment available from a variety of vendors. Overall, an IP CCTV system is easier to install.

The joint technologies efficiently stream live video to multiple users at once and enable operators to monitor entry of personnel to schools in real time. Improved functions such as facial recognition are accessible and controllable from anywhere with an internet connection and include advanced deployment tools such as auto‑discovery and provisioning. Audio/visual identification and remote entry control is possible for both small installations and demanding enterprise systems.

Additional features are that an IP CCTV system amplifies security and capability to respond to cases while leveraging the existing network for integrated security functionalities and support for third-party devices.

Having standard network topology that aligns with the IT industry is really beneficial in the new network security world. A united solution that looks and feels the same across all security devices and hardware contributes significantly to ease system administration. System management is made from any computer in the network, and the structure allows for the remote control of system devices and remote interactive monitoring of facilities.

Looking ahead, there is little doubt that IP video surveillance is now very much at the front when it comes to the delivery of CCTV, with its growth prompting a much better consideration of the best practice measures that need to be adopted in order to continue broadening the scope and the potential of this technology.

With these impressive advances in technology it is imperative that schools utilise this technology to their benefit. Keeping a school safe through CCTV is extremely beneficial and cost saving.

Relying on the expertise and advice of quality security providers is essential to ensure the longevity and reliability of a system and provides a better long-term return on investment. Members of the British Security Industry Association (BSIA) meet strict quality criteria and have a wealth of experience in the planning, design, installation, operation and maintenance of CCTV solutions.

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