Body-worn cameras (BWC) are no longer just a good idea or the luxury items that were once considered too expensive and unnecessary. In fact, they are gaining popularity and finding use in various situations, one of these being in residential estates, where BWC are increasingly being used as a security tool and to address residents’ and tenants’ complaints. The BWC is an excellent tool for estate security managers and their staff to resolve disputes that often arise from conflicting accounts of incidents.
Despite the potential of BWC, estate decision-makers have to look at these devices as part of a larger, integrated system that can be managed as a holistic security or operations system. To see what has changed and what the talking points are in the BWC market, SMART Security Solutions asked the following companies for some insights into their latest offerings:
• BetaTrac Telematic Solutions.
• Forbatt SA.
• Hytera Communications.
• Secutel Technologies.
SMART Security Solutions: What are some potential benefits of using body-worn cameras for security operations on estates?
BetaTrac: Collecting accurate video data on disturbances or incidents on an estate makes prosecution easier, as it cuts out the reliance on human recollection of events. Additionally, incomplete or inaccurate notes and anecdotal testimony fall away by using a BWC. Video data is also beneficial to security personnel as is shows that officers are conforming to their duties and patrol routes. If they fail, the video can be used for training, showing weaknesses and strengths.
Forbatt: Body-worn cameras completely avoid the ‘he said, she-said’ scenario. They do not lie and provide a truthful recollection of events. If used in a real-time solution, you have personnel that could act in immediately in the control room, providing additional support. This would enable security personnel to act immediately.
Hytera: In recent years, the use of body-worn cameras in property management work has been on the increase for several reasons:
• Improved transparency and accountability: Body-worn cameras can help improve transparency and accountability in property management by recording interactions between property managers, landlords and tenants, which can be used as evidence in case of disputes. Additionally, the use of body-worn cameras can also help improve people’s behaviour and may potentially lead to fewer complaints.
• Deterrence of criminal activity: Body-worn cameras can deter criminal activity. They can be used in any setting where it is paramount to deter anti-social behaviour and crime – or to safeguard personnel against accusations of misconduct.
• Enhanced safety: Body-worn cameras can help improve safety in communities by recording interactions between community members and law enforcement, which can be used as evidence in case of safety concerns.
• Objective view of incidents: Body-worn cameras capture every detail of an incident, giving an objective view of what happened and how it happened. This can help property managers and security officers make informed decisions and provide evidence in case of disputes.
• Instant communication: Some of the body-worn cameras are equipped with LTE, which allows the user to make voice or video calls in emergency situations.
Secutel: Using BWC like the Secutraq F2 in security operations on estates can bring about a range of significant benefits:
• Enhanced accountability: BWC serve as a tool for accountability, as they can record interactions between security personnel and residents or visitors when the recording button is pressed. This ensures that security personnel are adhering to established protocols and behaving in a professional manner.
• Evidence collection and documentation: The ability to accumulate video evidence is
a crucial aspect of BWC. This footage can be invaluable in situations where incidents occur, providing clear documentation of events. It can also be used in legal proceedings to establish facts and corroborate testimonies.
• Improved communication and tracking: The Secutraq F2 offers tracking and communication features. This enhances the overall effectiveness and coordination of security operations. Personnel can communicate in real time, making it easier to respond swiftly to incidents or emergencies.
• Dissuasive effect on misconduct: Knowing that their actions are being recorded, both security personnel and residents are more likely to behave appropriately. This has a deterrent effect on potential misconduct or inappropriate behaviour, contributing to a safer and more secure environment.
• Training and performance evaluation: BWC footage can be used for training purposes and for evaluating the performance of security personnel. It provides tangible examples of situations that can be reviewed to identify areas for improvement, or to commend exemplary behaviour.
• Legal protection for security personnel: In cases where security personnel must use force or face potentially confrontational situations, BWC footage can serve as a clear record of events. This can be essential in establishing the legality and necessity of their actions.
• Reduced false complaints and allegations: BWC footage provides an objective account of events, reducing the likelihood of false complaints or allegations against security personnel. This protects both the personnel and the estate from unfounded claims.
• Incident reconstruction and analysis: BWC footage allows for thorough incident reconstruction and analysis. This can be invaluable in understanding how an incident unfolded, identifying any mistakes or areas for improvement, and preventing similar incidents in the future.
SMART Security Solutions: What are the potential drawbacks or concerns of using body-worn cameras? What are some potential privacy concerns that could arise with the use of body-worn cameras?
BetaTrac: There should not be any drawbacks to using BWC, provided the officer bearing the device carries the signage to announce they are recording video. However, the persons being confronted by the officer may take offence to being recorded and could escalate a confrontation. As long as the officer bearing the BWC knows the basics of not entering into a private home, which is a definite violation of the person’s privacy, all should be good.
Hytera: Body-worn cameras can be intrusive and may infringe on the privacy of individuals who are unaware that they are being recorded. This can lead to concerns about the collection and storage of personal data. Additionally, if the footage is not encrypted or held securely, it can be vulnerable to theft or hacking, which is a serious issue.
Secutel: While body-worn cameras offer enhanced security, concerns may arise regarding the capture of personal information. However, our platform addresses this by using cloud-based analytics, ensuring privacy protection. This includes features like facial recognition for identifying persons of interest and empowering the control room with informed decision-making capabilities.
SMART Security Solutions: How might body-worn cameras impact the accountability and transparency of private security service providers, as well as the relationship between private security service providers and the residents they serve?
BetaTrac: As long as the video data recorded has non-tamper time and date stamps and is managed by a responsible security administrator with secure passwords upon download and safekeeping, there should not be accountability, transparency or any discrepancy issues. If the security service provider has strict rules and regulations in managing the recording procedures and video data storage, the residents should not fear accountability. It is for the residents to adhere to the rules and regulations of an estate.
Forbatt: As BWC cameras provide a truthful recollection of events with audio and video, they completely protect residents and private security professionals. They can be used to monitor guard activities and, therefore, help with the quality of service for guarding companies.
Hytera: By recording interactions, body-worn cameras can help improve transparency and accountability in services provided by private security companies.
Using body-worn cameras can have both positive and negative effects on the relationship between private security service providers and the residents they serve. On the one side, it improves trust, enhances safety and deters anti-social behaviour. On the other hand, it could also stir up concerns about privacy and unintended consequences, such as residents becoming more cautious and less trusting of security personnel.
Secutel: BWC, particularly with features like SecuTraq’s Surveillance Mode, significantly enhance the accountability and transparency of private security service providers. Live incident video capture ensures real-time documentation of events, promoting clear accountability. Moreover, residents benefit from increased trust in security personnel, knowing that interactions are being recorded, which fosters a stronger, more transparent relationship between providers and residents. The immediate uploading of footage to the SecuTraq cloud platform ensures seamless access and monitoring for all stakeholders involved.
SMART Security Solutions: What is the optimal solution to the question of bandwidth (a regular question)? Should footage be broadcast only in emergencies?
BetaTrac: Bandwidth is always an issue. There may be a discrepancy between bandwidth and the package the client may have chosen, if the volume of data selected is too small. It makes sense to broadcast live streams for emergencies or special operations only. Continuous live streaming needs a complement of observer staff in the control room, which is not necessary; live view on demand is highly recommended.
Forbatt: Kedacom BWC support various modes. As our data charges in SA are expensive, they are best deployed with video and alerts only on events. These events are mostly in the form of Bluetooth panics or physically pressing the panic on the device itself. This would enable you to only incur data costs when the streaming of video takes place. This, however, does not stop you from pulling video on demand as and when you require. Should you deploy in offline mode, you would not incur any data costs as you are merely recording to the device locally.
Hytera: There are basically two types of Hytera BWC in the market: with LTE capability or without. As far as the LTE devices are concerned, most of the time the users will not need to use the live video streaming function, which requires high bandwidth. For voice calls, it would be just like making phone calls, which does not need to consume bandwidth unless you are talking about making online calls (Hytera LTE-enabled BWC operate on the Android operating system so they are open to third-party applications and the management can permit or prohibit the installation or uninstallation of specific applications). LTE BWC can also be connected to Wi-Fi networks, which is more economical.
When it comes to downloading or uploading audio and video evidence, these actions will not consume bandwidth as we offer docking stations that store and manage the digital evidence after plugging the BWC in.
Secutel: The optimal solution for bandwidth concerns involves a combination of techniques. Firstly, video data should be efficiently compressed before uploading directly to the cloud. Additionally, with Secutraq’s system, the BWC remains operational during video upload, ensuring real-time functionality. Unlike constant streaming, which demands uninterrupted high bandwidth, Secutraq efficiently sends a single video file (1-5 minutes long) to the cloud without affecting normal operations. On a typical 3G GSM connection, a 5 minute video can be transmitted to the cloud in approximately 10 seconds. This approach balances effective data transfer with uninterrupted device functionality.
SMART Security Solutions: What other technical solutions can be integrated into the body-worn camera to increase its value to estates?
BetaTrac: BetaTrac BWC include built-in, dedicated panic buttons, and this is a great feature to have for the safety of the officer. PTT (Push-to-Talk) communication is also another useful feature for making direct contact with the officer wearing the BWC. We also offer live GPS to show location or position on a map.
Forbatt: Lately, as technologies advance, so do the included features. Currently, we have released our Gen3, supporting better battery life and more. Not to mention face detection for online alerts on blacklisted faces.
Hytera: The Push-to-Talk over Cellular (PoC) system can be integrated into body-worn cameras to offer mission-critical communication in emergency situations. As some of the body-worn cameras work on Android, it means they are able to support third-party applications such as property management applications.
Secutel: To enhance the value of the body-worn camera for estates, several technical solutions can be integrated. These include features like facial recognition (FR) and licence plate recognition (LPR) and collection, PTT capabilities for communication between the control room and users, as well as within pre-defined groups or proximity. Additionally, GPS tracking, breadcrumbing, and the ability to establish patrol routes offer advanced security measures.
Standard operating procedures (SOP) and event escalation protocols, device health monitoring, and various connectivity options (3G/4G/Wi-Fi) further augment its functionality. Other features, like event and audit logs, snapshots, remote photo requests, video evidence, panic event triggers, low light video/snapshot capture, flashlight, and laser positioning for roaming guards, along with a secure GSM APN connection, all contribute to significantly enhancing the body-worn camera’s effectiveness in estate security.
SMART Security Solutions: What do you offer clients in your latest body-worn solutions?
BetaTrac: We have two types of BWC on offer; our standard RapidCam model records to internal SD cards only, with a post-download of the video data. eBodyGuard-ll is our live-streaming preview model with the added features of GPS, a dedicated panic button, and PTT communications. We also offer EIS, which assists in the stabilisation and steadiness of the video recordings.
Forbatt: Kedacom offers a complete solution ranging from physical devices to the management thereof via docking stations. We offer optional extras such as earhook cameras, in-car dashmounts and more.
Hytera: For estate management, Hytera provides an end-to-end solution that includes body-worn camera devices, an integrated docking system, a digital evidence system and a PTT over cellular system to cover evidence collection and management, as well as visualised command and dispatch.
Secutel: Our latest body-worn solutions offer clients a comprehensive range of features to enhance security operations. This includes efficient guard scheduling, tour planning, and real-time monitoring with time and attendance reporting. Clients benefit from real-time GPS tracking and alerts, as well as digital data collection through voice notes, photos, and video clips.
Our platform also enables seamless voice data communications via GSM. With features like route planning, site and geo-fence definition, and standard operating procedures, operations are optimised for efficiency and compliance. Additionally, our solution allows for remote monitoring, first-responding capabilities, and secure cloud storage for photos, videos, and events. The inclusion of facial and licence plate recognition further strengthens security efforts, providing immediate notifications of ‘people/vehicles of interest’. Additionally, PTT functionality allows for effective communication within the network. All photos and videos are transmitted to the control room for immediate action.
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