When most security laymen (and even some security professionals) think to add or increase their physical security measures, CCTV is often the very first thing to come to mind. If CCTV is such an effective security measure, why is it that reality television and the nightly news is so full of CCTV footage of crimes being committed?
Many local governments around the world continue to implement major CCTV systems on city streets and in other public places, frequently with a stated purpose of fighting terrorism. The city of London, for example, has thousands of cameras. It also happens to be the source of one of the most widely circulated CCTV videos of an actual terrorist bombing in history. This incident and others can make a person long for the good ole days of simple convenience store robbery footage!
Worldwide, it is extremely common for the police and others responsible for investigating crimes and apprehending criminals to highly recommend CCTV and to deploy cameras extensively to further THEIR primary objective. CCTV can be an EXCELLENT tool for this purpose! But, private security practitioners are paid to pursue a different objective PREVENTING losses from occurring in the first place.
Certainly, such examples do not imply that CCTV is ineffective as a security tool, but the above examples should clearly illustrate that CCTV like every other security tool – has practical limitations that must be considered when developing any effective security solution. One of the related limitations is among the most common errors encountered in security efforts around the globe: Expecting a person to watch one or more monitors and actually detect a crime or other loss at all, much less in sufficient time to prevent it.
Of the six (6) absolutely essential elements of an effective security program, CCTV is probably the very best tool currently available for at least one of those elements. VALIDATION (of the adversarial attack to verify that a response is warranted). Coupled with video analytics, such as video motion detection, CCTV is also the frequent choice for DETECTION (of the adversarial attack such as along a perimeter fence), due to the cost-effective nature of achieving both detection and validation with some of the same investment. By having the video motion feature activate an audible signal at the monitoring position (and displaying the associated camera view automatically), the error of relying on the human to discover the attack through observation is all but eliminated.