More CCTV Cameras in King Cross is Good News – But is it an Intelligent Solution?

APAC Voices3 minutes readJul 20th, 2012

More cameras do not an effective solution make

Unfortunately sometimes it takes an awful tragedy to initiate action. Perhaps this is because public outrage forces officials to look beyond the dollar. A number of violent attacks here in Sydney have highlighted the critical role that effective surveillance solutions can play in public security and law enforcement.

Sydney’s King’s Cross is known as a vibrant inner city night life and entertainment destination. However, an attack that resulted in the tragic death of a young man revealed gaps in security surveillance of the popular night club strip.

It has also highlighted the sometimes complex relationships between various government, council and law enforcement organisations involved in determining who has responsibility for the deployment of effective surveillance solutions. Unfortunately, to the public this may look like a whole lot of finger-pointing. It has certainly added further fuel to the ongoing debate about the benefits of using video surveillance technology to secure our streets.

Of course, it is very easy to be wise in hindsight, and the reality is that CCTV is only part of the wider security requirements in King’s Cross.

But what is clear is that the community supports security surveillance, including the use of sophisticated facial recognition technologies:

  • 67% of Australians believe security cameras are an effective anti-crime effort in their community (SDT Security Secure Homes Report 2012 – page 6).
  • 92% of Aussies agree with the use of facial recognition technology to help police identify people from security camera footage or video obtained from the public (Unisys Security Index).

The good news is that more cameras are now being deployed in Kings Cross by the City of Sydney local government authority.

However, what we don’t know is whether these cameras are being incorporated into an intelligent surveillance system to identify potential security threats, automate alerts to facilitate prompt action to incidents, and provide the detail to assist law enforcement to do their job.

Are they super-high resolution cameras so that police officers can zoom in on footage to identify key detail that may help investigate an incident? Is there some sort of facial recognition technology installed on it to allow the Police to pull up a face match from the database of all NSW Driver’s Licences holders? Is there intelligent video analytics deployed so that investigators can track objects and patterns on clothing and on vehicles? Is automatic number plate recognition software being used to check for stolen and unregistered vehicles? Can police officers pull up camera feeds on their smart phones or on iPads in their patrol cars to be able to better leverage their effectiveness on the ground?

Just adding more cameras is not always the answer. The time for “dumb CCTV systems” is over. Sophisticated video surveillance tools are readily available and supported by the public.