" ITREALMS: Stressing importance of CCTV technology

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Stressing importance of CCTV technology

The Inspector General of Police, Sir Mike Okiro recently gave directives to banks to install Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) to aid in curbing of crime. REMMY NWEKE reports the importance of CCTV technology, stressing that it can no longer be over-looked.

Watching one of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) news segments recently, there was a footage of a video recording of robbery incident in one of the South-western states, precisely Ile-Ife, Osun, obviously captured via the Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) technology, and released by the Nigeria Police, which eventually aided the security agency to apprehend the culprits.

The report also stated that this display took place at a session between the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Sir Mike Okiro with some chief executives and chief security officers of financial institutions in the country, which turned out to be attended by about 50 per cent of the invitees. That is, reportedly 13 out of the 25 banks.

Sir Okiro had a few months after assumption of office directed that banks in the country install CCTV at their premises, bullet and bomb proof bullion vans among others; subsequent to about 62 Police personnel killed in related bank robberies within his 100 days in office.

Just like the name entails, Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) is the use of video cameras to transmit a signal to a specific place, within a range of limited set of monitors specifically. This is in contrast to a broadcasting system, even as CCTV is at times referred to as video magnifiers for low vision users. Thus, it allows the authorized personnel to view and record high-risk areas to deter activities, mostly theft, control inventory, and increase productivity.

According to experts at the securiguard.com and Wikipedia.org, an online free open source-based encyclopedia, CCTV is a television technology that uses camera mounted on a remotely controlled, self propelled robotic device linked to a video monitor usually installed in public places to aid security either through cables or wirelessly.

Giles May, a United States based CCTV analyst, traced its originality to Germany in 1942, when it was particularly structured to record the launch of V2-rocket by German engineer, Walter Bruch, and soon CCTV were being set up in the main business streets in an effort to prevent crimes. Banks and stores equally followed thereafter to aid monitoring of activities within such establishments. CCTV techniques could be deployed for individual or corporate usage either at home, office and even properties.

Globally, May said, CCTV video cameras could be found in many public places including banks, airports, subways, stores and malls, police and military facilities as well as in the streets. Attributing the deployment in such places to be highly-crowded locations, which are known as hotspots for crimes like theft, terrorism and other acts of violence.

Equally, May said, that recent studies revealed that a criminal is less likely to commit personal crimes such as assault within the range of view of a camera, given the fact that the suspect’s details could be captured by the cameras and used to track him or her later on, could greatly discourage such a person from committing an offense.

Whereas some proponents against CCTV deployment have argued on whether it actually curtail rate of crime, it is no longer news to note that CCTV provides help in uncovering criminals caught in the act. The video recordings of the CCTV installed in shops could provide identification to shop-lifters and burglars or clues to crimes done within the vicinity.

Other than monitoring criminal acts, the close watch method evident in CCTV deployment is known to be useful for combating anti-social behaviours, which include and not limited to minor offenses like littering, drunkenness, traffic violations, urinating in public and other public order offenses.

Invariably, most CCTV deployment are connected to crime reduction, electron microscopy, medical imaging and robotics are few other usage of this technology. Hence, CCTV comes in various types including those with camera capture only images, while others are known to record sounds also.

However, the type of CCTV camera to be deployed depends entirely on the potential core usage. For instance, if the main reason of deployment is basically for close watch or traffic control, it may not be necessary to acquire coloured cameras; mostly since black and white images in this kind of technology is reputed to have better resolution.

On the other hand, if the main purpose of the CCTV system is criminal identification and deterrence, a coloured system is essential so as to help immensely in proper identification of relevant objects that made up such activities.

One other reason some high net-worth individuals go for CCTV is because it offers a relative sense of peace and safety to the everyday citizen; the knowledge that criminals and terrorists are unlikely to commit offenses when there are cameras around, help calm people’s minds,thereby reducing stress, just as it’s predicted to ignite decrease in crime rates.

Therefore, it did not come to most Lagosians as a surprise that the current government in Lagos state led by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr. Babatunde Fashola, expressed concern over the level of crime in his domain and decided to deploy about 10,000 CCTV units for crime control at strategic spots of the metropolis.

Affirming this recently, Lagos State Commissioner for Establishment and Training, Mr. Jide Sanwo-Olu, said that 14 black spots had been identified in the state where the CCTVs and other infrastructure would be set up, even as he declined to name the areas for security purposes, stressing that the equipment had already been purchased and the construction work had since commenced.

The Lagos CCTV project and Okiro’s directive, attracted a lot of comments from Nigerians at the Nairaland.com, an online discussion forum, with some commending the concept, others expressed pessimism, yet another group took to the popular ‘Sidon de look’ attitude; waiting to see what future will unveil.

For one of the contributors who identified himself as ‘Lagerwhenindoubt’ the idea is not novel, but agreed on its importance, wondering if the CCTV project is not another white elephant initiatives “foisted on our intelligence to make it seem as if the reigning government has plans to fight crime.”

First, he said, security cameras such as the ones installed require some investment in large data storage and trained security agents and Information Technology (IT) staff.

Secondly, he noted that they require to a large extent a de-centralized Police force that could independently manage crime in each state or local governments with a detailed profile of criminals and their movement around the country, while sharing information with other security agencies and government bodies nationwide.

“I heard we have a little over 340,000 police men in the Nigeria Police Force, what percentage is trained to evaluate data from CCTVs and other modern day security technologies?” he wondered, stressing that he would rather prefer to have a bunch of police checkpoints than CCTV cameras.

“At least, it should deter the robbers briefly enough to escape the scene before the police do and leave you behind. As we always say, let us sit-down and watch,” he submitted.

Another anonymous contributor, alleged that armed robbers in Nigeria usually inform police personnel upfront before any raid so the idea of checkpoint does not work, “In fact, most weapon used are trailed back to our police force. CCTV will work only if we have determined officers that believe in justice for all.”

A member of the forum, Mr. James, commended the Lagos State government for installing CCTV to monitor activities in the metropolis and to track criminals. He alleged however, that some Nigerian banks are known to have placed dummy CCTV cameras in their banking halls. While extending the commendation to the Police, he said, that very soon, he expects CCTV cameras in examination halls to catch those involve in exam malpractices.

Also, Prince Kevo pointed out that it is a good omen to see the nation moving from parading criminal suspects to matching faces in CCTV footages with individuals on a non-existent database is so incredible.

For Togi Dan, who likened CCTV to Internet Protocol (IP) camera used in monitoring, especially if one is anywhere in the world, said, it is possible to use it as well to monitor their homes, work and businesses.

In his submission, Kobo Junkie, explained that at first, the so called CCTV some of them are outdated, as they do not produce clear images, zoom in, even as some just produce movements. “Some CCTV/BETAMAX TV in banks really are dummies,” he said.

Now, with the streamlined view, he also said, the person behind the operations of the CCTV usually sees the activities of the robbers in the hall and could alert the police when no other person in the hall could make a move. Therefore, there is probably no need for database and identification.

Above all, the efficacy of CCTV deployment outweighs its demerit and deserves to be encouraged. And no matter how long it has taken the Police and government officials like Gov. Fashola, to make up their minds on this technology and get to the bottom of check-mating crimes in the country; other state governments need to urgently emulate Gov. Fashola if the fight must be won.

It must be said that decision of this kind requires collective effort, which entails that the Central Bank of Nigeria, for instance, need to join forces with the Police and sanction erring banks as far as IGP directive on CCTV is concerned.

Of course, it cannot be donw without the requisite laws, hence, the National Assembly has to come on board actively.

And just like Sir Okiro retorted when asked how he felt over shunning of his sermon by some banks; they may insure their money, but the banks cannot insure life, especially of Police personnel, after all, life has no duplicate.

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SkyWatcher said...

There are many crimes happening every day and every night whether we live in a rural or urban area. The unfortunate instance is most of these crimes could not be solved by the Police authority because of the tough identification of suspect. It is good to know that because of technology; more than 50% of crimes are being resolved. Putting home security camera devices throughout the corners of the house is very important in securing your property, life and family. However, it is also necessary to choose for the security camera with high quality colors and images to clearly identify the subject and environment. Thank you for sharing this article.


Mark Cruz

Unknown said...

Nice post

Jacob said...

Nowadays, CCTV technology is increasing day by day. I have known some important info to know the CCTV Camera which will be very effective to me to install cctv at house or office.

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