Surveillance-friendly environments

February 2001 News & Events

I was in a CCTV control room of an operation recently where I was looking at the way that they were doing surveillance. Within the space of a few minutes, I saw several behaviours that could have been actions associated with the theft of an article although they occurred as part of the normal working process and one could not see the article at all.

The operators were relatively unmoved by this - they see these behaviours all the time and have no way of knowing whether these are innocent actions or deliberate attempts at taking something. If the operator calls security to apprehend the person and nothing has been taken, it leads to awkward public and employee relation issues. If they do nothing, they run the risk of something being taken without their knowledge. Because the company and management culture is sensitive about employee issues, operators have to avoid disruptions and therefore no action is taken in ambiguous cases. If operators see behaviour that clearly shows a theft they are allowed to get a response team in. The only trouble is that theft is seldom that obvious and as a result there is a minimal incident detection rate as operators do not want to create unnecessary scenes. Although the CCTV system may act as a deterrent, this is clearly a surveillance-unfriendly environment.

There are a number of areas that influence how surveillance-friendly your environment is:

* The working environment: How easy is it to view the target activity? This includes line of sight, lighting, light contrasts, obstructions etc and incorporates the concept of having defensible space. Metallurgy plants in older diamond and gold mines, for instance, were designed with no thought for surveillance cameras. Characterised by low light, wet and with multiple levels, piping and structural viewing obstructions, they are difficult to conduct effective surveillance in. Newer operations incorporate more features to allow clearer lines of sight, better viewing angles in high risk areas, and a far more surveillance-friendly facility. A common problem in many production lines with large scale goods (eg motor vehicles) is that when working on the product the person is hidden from view. Similarly, many town CCTV centres have to deal with store signs being placed in direct viewing lines of cameras and obscuring views behind them, which then have to be moved. To what extent is security/surveillance involved in analysing the risk features within the working environment?

* The production process: How easy is it for the operator to understand what is going on in the production process so it can be recognised when something inappropriate is happening? In more complex environments, extensive training is given to familiarise operators with what is going on. In the casino industry, for example, operators are given weeks of training in gaming procedures. If the production process is predictable, it is a great deal easier to identify deviations. Also, how easy is it to camouflage theft within the normal cycle of activities or in the standard behaviour required to do the job? Are minimal hand or arm movements required, are target items being continually handled? Where should they be handled?

* Management culture: Is management committed to establishing a surveillance-friendly environment even if this means some constraints on the normal activities or dress of personnel? Some measures include pocketless coats or overalls, standard uniforms, short sleeves, target personnel having to show clean areas or hands after certain operations, a prohibition or restriction of movements in the working area. These are often seen as restrictive by personnel but can make the task of detection much easier. To what extent are surveillance operators authorised to make a decision that could cause a loss in production if they feel a serious incident has occurred? Is management committed to pursue findings by surveillance personnel or do they hang back?

* The distinctiveness of incident behaviours: How easy is it to recognise the incident? How easy is it to confuse the incident behaviour with normal behaviour? To what degree can the incident behaviour be camouflaged as part of normal behaviour? How often do incidents occur and what impact does this have on the vigilance requirements of the person to be selected? To what extent can the signs of an incident developing be picked up? How will a person remove a stolen object and how obvious will this be? Where can they go to conceal it?

Some environments are a great deal easier to perform surveillance on than others. However, this is both a result of the type of operation, when it was developed, how management have treated the potential risk within the operation, the influence of security within the production process, the nature of incidents themselves, and the ability of personnel to spot what happens. If your surveillance environment falls into the unfriendly category, you need to seriously consider what you can do in the different areas to make it more effective. What is important is that it is not just security's problem. To get an effective surveillance, a friendly environment is a key responsibility of risk management for managers across all areas.

Dr Craig Donald is an industrial psychologist and specialist in human factors in security and CCTV. He is the co-developer of the Surveillance and Monitoring Assessment Exercise (SAMAE) for the selection and placement of CCTV operators and presenter of the CCTV Surveillance Skills training course. He can be contacted on tel: (0110 787 7811, fax: (011) 886 6815 or [email protected]





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...
SMART Estate Security returns to KZN
Nemtek Electric Fencing Products Technews Publishing Axis Communications SA OneSpace Editor's Choice News & Events Integrated Solutions IoT & Automation
The second SMART Estate Security Conference of 2024 was held in May in KwaZulu-Natal at the Mount Edgecombe Estate Conference Centre, which is located on the Estate’s pristine golf course.

Read more...
From the editor's desk: Just gooi a cable
Technews Publishing News & Events
      Welcome to the 2024 edition of the SMART Estate Security Handbook. We focus on a host of topics, and this year’s issue also has a larger-than-normal Product Showcase section. Perhaps the vendors are ...

Read more...
Secutel wins OSPA Award for Outstanding New Security Product
Secutel Technologies News & Events Access Control & Identity Management
[Sponsored] Secutel Technologies’ NoKey Access Control solution won the Outstanding New Security Product category at the 2024 OSPAs in South Africa. The awards were presented at Securex 2024 where all category finalists were recognised for their contribution to the security industry.

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...
Inaugural Gallagher Security Johannesburg networking roadshow
Gallagher News & Events
Held at Johannesburg’s Foghound Coffee Company in Midrand from 11 to 12 June, security industry professionals gather at the inaugural Gallagher Security Johannesburg Networking Roadshow.

Read more...
Trend Micro launches first security solutions for consumer AI PCs
Information Security News & Events
Trend Micro unveiled its first consumer security solutions tailored to safeguard against emerging threats in the era of AI PCs. Trend will bring these advanced capabilities to consumers in late 2024.

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...
Local manufacturing is still on the rise
Hissco Editor's Choice News & Events Security Services & Risk Management
HISSCO International, Africa's largest manufacturer of security X-ray products, has recently secured a multi-continental contract to supply over 55 baggage X-ray screening systems in 10 countries.

Read more...
SAIDSA achieves ISO 9001 certification
SAIDSA(SA Intruder Detection Services Association) Associations News & Events Training & Education
The South African Intruder Detection Services Association (SAIDSA) has announced that it has achieved ISO 9001:2015 certification. This milestone reflects its commitment to quality management and excellence in the security services industry.

Read more...