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Effective operators mean effective intelligence
May 2016, CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring, Integrated Solutions, Conferences & Events, This Week's Editor's Pick

The keynote speaker at iLegal 2016 was Jeff Corkill, a lecturer in the School of Computer and Security Science at the Edith Cowan University in Australia, and a member of the ECU Security Research Institute. He spoke on the strategies for leveraging intelligence to move to a proactive rather than reactive CCTV approach.

Jeff Corkill.
Jeff Corkill.

The problem most surveillance installations face is that they are not used to their full potential. Most systems are used to deal with cases after the fact, in other words, once a crime has been committed and operators are instructed to look for evidence. While this is a critical function of surveillance, most organisations stop here and miss the full potential of their systems.

This potential is the ability to gather intelligence from your surveillance footage that would allow for proactive prevention of crimes, or at least mitigation strategies that would limit the damage. As an example, Corkill used the publically available footage of the recent suicide bombers in Belgium. The surveillance footage captured allowed the authorities to identify the perpetrators and to follow up the investigation to find co-conspirators.

From that perspective, the surveillance worked well. However, one of the images available clearly shows the two bombers walking, each with a glove on only one hand. Unless a Michael Jackson convention was in town, this should have been a clear warning to operators. A warning could have been raised and people in the surrounding areas evacuated. It may not have stopped the bombing (since they were intent on suicide), but it could have saved many people from trauma.

Corkill’s message was that the real value of surveillance is realised when it collects data for evidence, but also when it analyses data in real time to provide intelligence. This, however, means that the operator is not a passive observer, but someone who knows the environment under observation and makes sense of the multitude of events occurring each day.

The operator should be the critical link between the observed environment and the response to events. Naturally, this means a Grade D guard can’t simply be put in front of a computer and told to watch the screens.

This active operator must know what the norm is in their environment to be able to detect abnormalities or variations. They need to be able to identify possible persons of interest by their behaviour within the activities they are trying to convince people they are doing.

This requires a high level of observation skills and the need for assistive technology to help them sift through the masses of normality to find the anomalies. These technologies can take many forms, including video analytics, but should be backed up by a dedicated analyst who can verify potential situations based on visual cues before taking action.

Jeff warned that while technology was and is beneficial, it only forms part of the answer to effective surveillance solutions.

Your key is well-trained people, and tried and tested processes.

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