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How smart camera tech can help foil looters

Home Engineering Automation & Control How smart camera tech can help foil looters

Criminals often take advantage of strikes, protests, xenophobia and incidences of general unrest to damage or loot property. Intelligent, analytics-enabled CCTV systems can make all the difference when it comes to identifying them, getting justice and claiming from insurance, writes Vukosi Mhlongo (pictured) Sales Manager, Fire and Security at Johnson Controls Africa.

SOUTH Africa has in the past few months seen several violent protests in which people have been hurt and property has been looted and vandalised. The personal and business cost in terms of recovery is high and identifying those involved has been a nightmare for the SAPS officials.

It’s therefore time for South Africans to take proactive measures to deter troublemakers and bring them to book. Here, CCTV solutions with video analytics and facial biometrics offer a smart, affordable way to add a layer of protection to business premises, helping to deter criminals and make sure they can be identified and held accountable.

CCTV systems have evolved considerably over the last decade – they have become more intelligent, with sophisticated, automated controls. The cost of both the IP cameras and of data storage have dropped, making these devices accessible to businesses of all sizes. In addition, digital recordings of events can be stored on a server on premise or in the cloud (where recordings cannot be physically destroyed).

Digital CCTV recordings can be activated by movement in a defined area using intelligent motion detection or can be set to record at specific times. Used in conjunction with security and event management systems, they can also issue alerts when key events occur – for example, sending a notification to the business owner when there is a loud impact such as broken glass windows, or if key assets are removed. Importantly, these systems can now also use analytics in real time to identify criminals against a database of known perpetrators.

Modern video surveillance goes beyond the traditional recording of events. It can apply analytics to real time and recorded footage to identify suspicious people and potentially dangerous events and patterns of behaviour.

Face recognition

Facial analytics allow CCTV solutions to detect and recognise faces from a database with at least 98% accuracy, matching multiple points on a face against images stored in a database. For example, images of people within the camera range are captured and constantly compared to a database of images of people of interest—troublemakers, known offenders, VIPs or even ex-employees.

If such a person is identified by the CCTV system (e.g., upon walking into the store) a notification is sent to the relevant authority, usually the business owner, who can take action.

CCTV recording can also be run against such databases thus allowing SAPS, for example, to identify looters or to assist insurers to process a claim. It is important for businesses to look for CCTV solutions that have valuable built-in analytics due to the fact that this eliminates costs. Moreover, a solution is required that can store images of thousands of individuals for the highest possible accuracy in identification.

With crime rates in South Africa at an all-time high, it’s important to take every reasonable measure to protect people and assets. Smart digital technologies can help us do that. CCTV systems with analytics capabilities can be used in cities, townships and industrial areas to deter troublemakers and enforce law and order. It’s a layer of protection business owners should definitely explore.

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