No management, no solution

April 2010 Surveillance

Johannesburg’s CBD has been under the watchful eye of a sophisticated macro surveillance system for nine years. Technology has advanced rapidly. So has crime. Yet Johannesburg has, despite huge odds, seen a remarkable decrease in its criminal activity, thanks to surveillance technology, well trained operators and proper systems and procedures. We take a deeper look behind the central business district’s surveillance operation and examine where it is moved to and what the future holds.

In 1975, Durban saw the nation’s first CCTV surveillance system implemented. The technology, comprising black and white low-resolution cameras, was intended specifically to monitor traffic, with public surveillance being only a secondary focus area.

22 years later, in November 1997, a second pilot project was implemented in the CBD in Kempton Park. Cape Town soon realised the potential advantage of such a system, and followed suite, and the first macro public surveillance system was installed in 1998 in preparation for the Cape Town Olympic bid.

Thys Le Grange, an electronic engineer specialising in macro public surveillance systems for the past 15 years, currently employed by Omega Risk Solutions, a company offering advanced integrated security solutions, has been the lead project manager involved in the CBD surveillance journey, pioneering the Cape Town success story with Business Against Crime and Rudie Wolter, the Telkom project manager. He subsequently developed a similar system for the City of Johannesburg in 2001 in partnership with Business Against Crime. Omega pioneered solutions that have ultimately reduced crime in the Johannesburg CBD by up to 85% in areas under camera surveillance.

Statistics to date

According to Le Grange, success for him is the ability to save a life. “That makes the project worthwhile,” he says. “However, to measure success is a subjective matter. Success can mean different things to different people and can be measured in many different ways. Some may perceive success when the project is delivered on time and within budget. For others, success means operational deliverables, such as crime prevention and saving lives. If the main objective of the system is to protect lives and prevent crime, inclusive of city management ie, monitoring traffic lights, water leaks etc, then I can categorically state that these systems contribute positively to the management of CBD crime. Hundreds of video evidence and successful prosecutions bear witness of these successes,” says Le Grange.

Between 2001 and 2003, EC Harris, an international consultancy firm, conducted a study on the Johannesburg surveillance systems, and the results revealed that the city’s CCTV solution had indeed brought crime down by more than 80% in the areas under surveillance with a cost benefit in excess of 1:10. “Our recent statistics indicate that the Johannesburg system has brought crime down by more than 85% over the last three years,” Le Grange adds.

And what about vandalism? Does this not affect progress? According to Le Grange, vandalism has not in any way threatened the CCTV systems: “I cannot recall any incident of vandalism over the past 20 years. Criminals know that the last picture that will be recorded is that of the person vandalising the camera. Apart from one camera overlooking another, sensors have been installed to protect the cameras.”

Good management

Le Grange believes strongly in the term ‘Horses for courses’. What does he mean? “To select the best equipment that will deliver the desired results while considering the cost to own the equipment over a period of time, specifically from a maintenance point of view. If one selects substandard equipment, the maintenance cost and unreliability factor will be high. If one fields the correct equipment and a well-trained operational team is in place behind the cameras, it is game over for the criminals.

“The main principle I have always lived by is that of ‘Prevention/proactive surveillance’,” explains Le Grange. “Camera operators interpret body language to predict potential incidents and initiate reaction to discourage suspects from committing the crime. Most systems record incidences in a reactive manner. We do not wait for an incident to happen, we detect and prevent incidents before they occur.”

Le Grange stresses that the most important aspect of any public surveillance system is the management processes required to ensure that the solution will have the desired results. “I always use the following example” he enthuses. “The best technology will be worthless and doomed for failure if operated by incompetent operators. You cannot build a space ship and not operate it with the best-trained pilot. Likewise, one should implement the most technologically advanced public surveillance systems and then man it with the best trained operators,” he argues. “I cannot overemphasise the importance of this subject. The successful operation in the CBD control room, is dependent on appropriate systems, policies and management procedures to ensure sound control throughout the entire system. Without that control, the system is ineffective,” he stresses and quotes director of scientific analysis at the Forensic Science Laboratory at SAPS, Sonja de Klerk, who remarked that in 2009 that 95% of all CCTV video material could not be used as credible evidence in court cases. According to Le Grange, this is largely due to bad management of the chain of evidence and chain of custody. In fact, he argues, there is a lack of good management in most video control rooms.

Getting the basics right

Le Grange believes that the biggest stumbling block for CBD surveillance systems going forward is the availability of sufficient funds to expand the system coverage and then to operate and maintain them. “Technology is not the challenge – the challenge is the availability of funds.”

According to Le Grange, CBD surveillance systems are mainly financed by local municipalities and occasionally by the SAPS. Many government organisations have the necessary funding to invest in the acquisition of the system, but have insufficient financial resources to fund the ongoing operation and maintenance thereof, he explains. “Private businesses contribute very little towards these systems.”

Finally, one cannot separate the human factor from technology. Technology is only a tool. The balanced combination of technology and manpower (including appropriate and efficient response to incidents) would ultimately provide the integrated solution, claims Le Grange.

“In conclusion, the SAPS and the Metro police, in partnership with private security service providers provide the ideal foundation for a successful crime prevention strategy.”

Choosing the right partner

Choosing the right partner for a CBD system is critical. We spoke to Charles Volschenk from Geutebrück GmbH, a key supplier of surveillance systems to South Africa’s CBDs, to get a clearer understanding of the technology specifications required to secure our CBDs.

Geutebrück products were used in the Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Kempton Park, Alberton, Klerksdorp and Heidelberg CBDs. Volschenk highlights what he believes to be the most pertinent reasons why Geutebrück products were chosen for these projects, given the country’s challenging criminal back drop.

Geutebrück systems are used in numerous CBD’s worldwide, thanks to their enterprise capabilities and high-reliability. According to Volschenk, the most pertinent reasons for South African CBDs choosing the Geutebrück solutions include:

1. Reputation: the company provides large enterprise and highly reliable German systems.  Currently Geutebrück is rated as the top boxed NVR provider by IMS Research in 2009 and was also rated as the Number 8 software-only solution.

2. Best latency times of evaluated systems enabling accurate and secure control of multiple PTZ and dome cameras, by surveillance operators.

3. Dynamic live streaming capability which dynamically adapts streamed video to suit the viewer’s monitor resolution and image size – thereby cutting video traffic on the network by as much as 50%.

4. Ability to group and view cameras from multiple recorders according to viewer preference, rather than being limited to view only cameras connected to a single recorder at a time.

5. Ability to handle large databases (up to 600 Terabytes of Raid 6 storage, recording images 24/7 in JMPD case) while still efficiently searching for specific footage with almost no delay.

Volschenk further notes that Geutebrück’s local integration partner Multivid has had a long and successful history of installing CBD systems in Ekurhuleni and elsewhere. They were also contracted by Omega to assist with the Pretoria and JMPD systems due to this experience.





Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page



Further reading:

Pentagon appointed as Milestone distributor
Elvey Security Technologies News & Events Surveillance
Milestone Systems appointed Pentagon Distribution (an Elvey Group company within the Hudaco Group of Companies) as a distributor. XProtect’s open architecture means no lock-in and the ability to customise the connected video solution that will accomplish the job.

Read more...
Horn speakers from Sunell
Forbatt SA Products & Solutions Surveillance Residential Estate (Industry)
Horn speakers are an effective tool for actively deterring intruders from entering estates. By emitting loud, clear audio warnings, horn speakers can alert trespassers that they have been detected and are being monitored.

Read more...
Sunell’s range of thermal cameras
Forbatt SA Products & Solutions Surveillance Residential Estate (Industry)
Thermal cameras offer significant value to estate security. Their ability to provide reliable surveillance in all lighting and weather conditions ensures continuous monitoring, providing a constant sense of security and reducing the likelihood of security breaches.

Read more...
Integrating radar and surveillance
Forbatt SA Products & Solutions Surveillance Residential Estate (Industry)
Integrating radar with CCTV video systems significantly enhances estate security by providing long-range threat detection and comprehensive monitoring capabilities. This combination leverages the strengths of both technologies, offering several key benefits.

Read more...
Sunell anti-corrosion cameras
Forbatt SA Products & Solutions Surveillance Residential Estate (Industry)
With Sunell’s anti-corrosion range of cameras, the initial investment in anti-corrosion CCTV cameras may be higher than standard cameras, but the long-term benefits outweigh the upfront costs.

Read more...
Latest AI solution to manage guards
DeepAlert Products & Solutions Surveillance AI & Data Analytics
No guard at the guardhouse? Guard under duress? Guard asleep? DeepAlert’s AI technology delivers real-time alerts to mobile phones and video management systems, helping you manage your guards more effectively.

Read more...
Axis advanced radar system
Axis Communications SA Products & Solutions Surveillance Residential Estate (Industry)
The Axis D2210-VE also offers a radar-video fusion model, combining the strengths of both technologies to provide comprehensive monitoring and enhanced situational awareness.

Read more...
ONVIF launches new working groups for cloud, metadata and audio
News & Events Surveillance
ONVIF, the global standardisation initiative for IP-based physical security products, is announcing the formation of three new working groups to tackle standardisation work in cloud connectivity, audio, and advanced metadata.

Read more...
Dallmeier receives ISO 27001 certification
Dallmeier Electronic Southern Africa Surveillance News & Events
Dallmeier has received ISO 27001 certification for its Information Security Management System (ISMS). The international standard for information security management ensures that companies meet the highest standards of data protection and data security.

Read more...
AI camera for all-around AI solutions
Surveillance Products & Solutions
VIVOTEK has expanded its AI security business with the AI entry-tier 9383-Series network camera, a cost-effective solution that allows users to easily recognise attributes of people and cars, thereby enhancing operation and management efficiencies.

Read more...