The use of CCTV (closed circuit tv) cameras was developed not only in order to protect the public by acting as a deterrent, but in order to monitor a live view and then to store it to an historical recording of potential incidents that may occur in vulnerable areas or trouble spots.
Examples of this are in casinos, where there is a risk of corruption, shop tills where there is a risk of theft, football grounds where there is a risk of affray and hooliganism, city centres where there is a risk from assault and battery, speed cameras where there is a risk to life, and residential homes and commercial offices, where there is a risk of burglary and where protection is of utmost importance to health and safety and to the well-being of the family and the welfare of the workforce.
CCTV cameras back in the 1970’s and as recently as the 1990’s were linked to VHS video recorders, so there was the need to keep historical video tapes in storage, as each tape could only store a limited amount of footage. This storage capacity has improved drastically in the last 30 or so years with the use of compact disk storage, able to store 30 days of footage or more before being overwritten.
What has also vastly improved is the quality of the camera images from the grainy old black and white analogue cameras to the modern day IP high definition television quality colour cameras.
Although technically CCTV footage of any kind may not be used in evidence in court, the use of this footage has been an invaluable asset in proving and deterring crime in general, and for this reason, it has developed remarkably over the years and has now become a more affordable and probably even more importantly, an instantly accessible commodity that is now engrained into everyday use.
The police now have a vast array of CCTV cameras covering roads, streets and cities, and this has enabled them to use surveillance to assess the appropriate response to potentially problematic situations.
All the evidence points to the fact that CCTV cameras and all their associated technology is here to stay, and will continue to develop not only for our future safety and protection, but also as a social interactive medium, and it has become apparent that a world without the security, safety and general everyday use of CCTV cameras is an unthinkably more secretive, more dangerous and potentially more unstable future.
National security, throughout the world, also rely greatly on CCTV technology, whether it be spy (covert) cameras, or satellite and drone cameras, constantly watching the actions of hostile factions in order to deter and prevent confrontation. An example of this is in the Middle East where the use of satellite and drone technology is widespread in the war against terrorism.
The everyday practical use of CCTV cameras has also developed enormously over the last 30 years in line with the ever changing digital world and life’s expectations, where instant access and playback have become the norm. Life has become the here and now, not the there and then, and the giant leaps in broadband technology have lead to a boom in the CCTV industry, making it more accessible to the masses and not just the elite few. Instant streaming enables the ordinary person in the street to watch and share live coverage from their smart-phones, tablets, personal computers or laptops.
The image quality of CCTV cameras has also developed way beyond the old analogue quality, with the use of high definition pixel images to create a crystal clear image, to the point where VNR (vehicle number recognition) cameras are now installed throughout the world, able to recognise number plates of both stationary vehicles and those travelling at high speed. These VNR cameras can also have an access control function, e.g. logging cars coming in and out of a car park, or for use with an automated barrier for access to office car parks or restricted parking areas.
The functionality of the CCTV cameras have developed enormously, and as well as having the traditional static camera, they can now be pan, tilt and zoom, are often vandal proof, and now also have options such as built-in IR lights (infra-red) enabling the cameras to see in even the darkest conditions, and also with an option of LED lights (light emitting diode) for even clearer visibility in dark conditions.
Also, if the cameras have built-in batteries and recording, they can be used portably, which are ideal for lone worker situations, or for the home or office enabling you to move the camera to different rooms or offices when needed, or for use where there is no electricity (e.g. woodland areas, rural areas, water treatment works, farms). An example of where these cameras are used is on RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds), sites where there are protected bird sanctuaries.
As previously mentioned, CCTV cameras are also now absolutely vital to national security, not only policing our streets, towns and cities, but also in the fight against terrorism, and this CCTV surveillance is the first line of defence in counter-terrorism often tracking perpetrators over many miles and locations using a network of monitored and recorded cameras.
The use of CCTV cameras is also prevalent in the on-going development of robotics, where the robot, whether being used in a warehouse/factory environment or being used by the MOD (ministry of defence) in bomb disposal in the defence of terrorism, depends totally on the ability of the CCTV cameras to transmit high quality real-time streaming.
Another major advance has been the increasing use of satellites and drones that totally rely on CCTV live streaming, and the use of this technology is now widespread not only in national security but in the security industry as a whole, using drones to act as an eye in the sky to monitor high risk or dangerous areas where it may be unsafe for a manned guard, or in the case of the MOD, ensuring areas are safe for army personnel to patrol.
Covert cameras, cameras that are hidden, although questionable in their use, have been invaluable in their use to catch unsuspecting wrongdoers, and have been particularly successful in the fight against illegal drug use and dealing. These covert cameras have also been successful in cases where families feel that their elderly relative could be the subject of neglect, theft, or abuse from carers, or even sometimes they have been used in nurseries, schools and even homes, where child abuse or neglect is a suspicion. These covert cameras can be hidden in the smallest of object such as a watch, a clock, or a pen, and can store several hours of audio recording and video footage on its in built memory card.
An Oculus Security CCTV installation, handles all our client’s requirements from start to finish, whether it is a permanent system for domestic, or home or residential installation, or a commercial, business, or office installation, or a temporary installation for construction companies while the construction is in operation.
From the very first enquiry, Oculus take over, firstly conducting a thorough survey of the site, so we can take into account all the customers’ concerns, needs and requirements and then adding our own experience, expertise and recommendations in order to produce a workable and efficient CCTV system that will protect the site to its fullest. At this survey we will also take account of any health and safety issues specific to the site.
Once the survey has been completed, we will send the agreed plan to the client together with a cost quotation based on our recommendations and the client’s needs. A payment schedule will also be recommended and agreed before the system is installed.
When the price and exact system have been mutually agreed by both parties, the necessary paperwork is produced by the client in the form of a purchase order, and in turn Oculus produce our own paperwork so that the client can sign it off once the installation has been completed to their satisfaction.
In the case of the construction industry, where a temporary CCTV system is required, a site specific RAMS (risk and method statement) will be produced by Oculus before any work is completed, and all our engineers, who have the required CSCS accreditation, will attend the site’s health and safety induction so that they are familiar with the site’s layout and any specific requirements.
All installations are carried out by our expert, experienced engineers, ensuring that the original agreed plan is adhered to, and the work is carried out in a safety conscious and clean way, and within the agreed time restraints.
On sites that are monitored, the aim of the installation is to create a virtual perimeter defence around the inside of the fence line, of cameras and detectors, thus ensuring that anybody entering site over the fence or through the gates will be immediately detected.
Once the colour cameras are installed (which are high definition, IP (internet protocol) cameras), together with the sensors/detectors/tripwires, and a loud speaker tannoy system linked to the monitoring system, then we carry out a walk test with our monitoring station to ensure that the detection signals or the tripwires are working and that the monitoring station is receiving clear un-obscured images, and only when we are 100% happy that all is working efficiently, then we can sign off the connection sheet, thus rendering the system ‘live’. The walk test also ensures that there are no vulnerable areas where intruders could enter the site or premises un-detected.
Once the system is armed, if anybody breaks the heat/motion sensors/detectors/tripwires, then the live camera image and real-time footage is automatically transmitted to the monitoring station who then immediately send a verbal warning over the tannoy system to ward off the intruder(s).
If the intruders leave site then the monitoring station will contact our mobile patrol and response team who will call to site and ensure that the intruders are no longer there. A site visit report will then be generated to log the incident.
If after the tannoy warning the intruders do not leave site, then apart from the monitoring station contacting the rapid response team (who are also the key-holders), they will also contact the local police to ask them to attend site to hopefully arrive in time to make an arrest. The police visit will automatically generate a crime reference number which can prove invaluable if there has been a theft or damage, as the site’s insurance company will require this in the event of a claim.
These temporary sites normally pay on a weekly hire basis that includes response, monitoring, communications and service and maintenance, and also includes a daily integrity check by Oculus every morning, to ensure that all the cameras are working correctly and that they are un-obscured, and if anything untoward is found then the service and maintenance department will immediately send an engineer.
If there are any incidents on site, the monitoring station will immediately inform the CCTV operations department who will then investigate via the playback option on the CCTV monitoring system. This enables the operator to playback up to around 30 days of historical footage.
On permanent CCTV installations, the first year’s service and maintenance is included in the up-front price, and then after 12 months, the client has the option to take an annual service and maintenance agreement at an agreed fee. Also, all parts for both temporary and permanent CCTV installations are guaranteed for 12 months against failure to give clients peace of mind.
ACCESS CONTROL INSTALLATION
In addition to CCTV, Oculus are also extremely experienced in all aspects of access control, where the software has progressed in leaps and bounds over the last 20 years.
Access control is what it says on the tin i.e. it is controlling the access of people or vehicles etc into a restricted area. An early example of this is at football and sport stadiums where access was only permitted via a turnstile, which would only open when a pedal or switch was pressed by the turnstile operator when payment was made.
Airports and many office buildings have also used similar systems, but where a manual operation was required to open the turnstile, this would happen automatically by using an electronic swipe card (e.g. in an office building where employees are given their own identification card), a ticket (e.g. at a train station or airport, or a fob (e.g. a car park).
Although cards, tickets and fobs are still widely used, a new form of identification has taken over in recent years and that is biometrics.
Biometrics is exclusive to the identity of an individual, whereby their retina (eye recognition), hand (using hand scanners) or fingerprint (using a fingerprint reader) is used, and has proved very successful with 99% accuracy. This individual recognition has now extended to voice recognition, with many banks now using this form of biometric for their customers to gain access to their accounts.
Oculus engineers will install full-height or half-height turnstiles, positioned either inside a cabin or outdoors with a canopy, with either a swipe card/fob system, or finger/retina biometric recognition readers, and all the software and training necessary with a full guarantee for failure of any of the equipment for the duration of the job. There will also be a computer installed with the access control software loaded, for use by site personnel.
The software has many applications, but the main three components being:
1. A real-time register list of all site personnel (vital for roll call in the event of an emergency),
2. A carbon footprint log, and
3. For site to use as a tool for payment of sub-contractors’ hours worked.
PORTABLE BATTERY SYSTEM
On many construction sites, and particularly rural sites, there is often no source of power on site, and for this reason Oculus has developed a portable battery system that can run a camera system for up to 5 days before the batteries need changing. Our engineers will attend to this battery change to ensure that there is no down time due to power, and to ensure that the system continues to operate to full capacity.
PORTABLE AND FIXED TOWERS
Oculus can install either fixed or portable camera towers onto sites where required. Most sites will opt for the portable tower as it enables the site to re-locate the tower to different locations as and when the building evolves and the security needs change.
There are no civil requirements from site required as Oculus install the tower base themselves, as this is basically a large water filled container that is heavy enough to support the weight of the tower and can be easily serviced and maintained by Oculus CCTV engineers. Site would need to use a fork-lift truck to move this tower around site where required, but this has not proved to be a problem.
Oculus will normally install a 360 degree colour dome camera on the top of this 16m tower, with a zoom in zoom out facility, thus enabling a clear view of the whole site from this elevated location.
HEALTH AND SAFETY SYSTEM
The use of the above towers has proven vital in developing the Oculus Health and Safety CCTV System, whereby a high definition zoom camera, installed on a portable tower on a construction site, can be used by health and safety management to monitor one or several sites from their head office, negating the need to actually attend the sites.
The H & S management team would have a monitor installed at the head office with the camera on display and a microphone and a joy-stick enabling them to zoom into areas and then either ring the site manager or announce on a tannoy if they see a potential problem or hazard.
As the monitor can show multiple sites’ cameras, then the management can monitor multiple sites from one screen from head office – a very powerful tool.
This has been especially important in monitoring the use of PPE (personal protection equipment), where it is easy to spot a worker without a hard hat, or hi-viz, or a harness when working at height for instance.
The system can also be site specific with a daily announcement over a tannoy system to all staff highlighting the special situations of the day that would normally be covered in the tool-box talks, e.g. a large delivery, the re-positioning of a crane etc.
SECURE CONTAINER TREMBLE ALARM
On construction sites mainly, intruders will quite often use a cutter or oxyacetylene torch to cut into a secure container to steal valuable equipment and tolls.
To combat this, Oculus has developed an exclusive alarm system for secure containers on sites whereby even a slight noise or tremble will set off an automatic alarm, trigger a CCTV camera, and automatically alert our monitoring station. The monitoring station can then contact the patrol and response team and the police. Because the alarm goes off immediately, intruders will leave site straight away before they have cut into the container.