Leveraging video data for local government

A strategic approach to public safety, privacy, and innovation

Public Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) systems are crucial in enhancing public safety, deterring crime, monitoring traffic, and supporting emergency response. However, local governments across Australia are grappling with the challenge of replacing aging CCTV infrastructure initially funded by grants that are no longer available.

Additionally, they must navigate compliance with privacy regulations, including the Privacy Act 1988 and the Australian Privacy Principles, which govern the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information, including CCTV data. Despite these challenges, CCTV systems remain pivotal in enhancing local government communities.

Why public CCTV matters

According to a 2019 Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) survey, 82% of local governments reported having CCTV systems. There are a variety of purposes that have driven the broad adoption of public CCTV, with a majority of councils reporting them to be effective in the following key areas:

Enhancing public safety and security: CCTV hits two nails on the head, deterring and detecting criminal activity. By keeping a watchful eye on dark alleys, busy intersections, and previous hotspots, antisocial behaviour can be brought to light—that is, unless the offender chooses to leave, knowing their actions are being recorded.

Traffic management and enforcement: By monitoring congestion and accidents, previously gridlocked streets are efficiently cleared. CCTV can identify common bottlenecks and parking violations to keep people moving and contribute to better traffic management.

Emergency response and disaster management: When disaster strikes, CCTV provides emergency services with real-time situational awareness and evidence, enabling them to better understand the scene and formulate effective response plans.

Event management and crowd control: Events transpire at their best, with CCTV actively monitoring crowd attendance, behaviour, and movements. Patterns found can also support planning future events.

Economic development and tourism: CCTV captures the flow of commerce, gauging where improvements can be made while attracting visitors and investors who wish to benefit from a community’s safety and security.

Urban planning and design: The complex network of footpaths and roads can be understood entirely as CCTV analyses pedestrian and vehicle flows, land use, and environmental conditions, to support informed decision-making.

Challenges and Barriers

Despite the number of benefits of CCTV making it a necessary investment, local governments face five key challenges in its implementation and upkeep:

  1. Funding constraints, including the resources required to maintain, upgrade, and expand the CCTV system.
  2. Technical expertise in managing and operating complex CCTV networks is a specialised skill.
  3. Integration and interoperability challenges due to different systems often lacking seamless integration.
  4. Data analysis remains difficult when extracting actionable insights from video.
  5. Governance and ethics require clear policies and guidelines for responsible CCTV use.

Reimagining public CCTV

Ericom are the experts in CCTV advantages and hurdles. We understand the best way to unlock your community’s full potential and can provide tailored guidance. From our wealth of experience, we’ve found that considering the following solutions is an excellent starting point.

Shift from capital to operational expenditure to cover the lack of state and federal funding. Transitioning from a significant upfront investment in CCTV assets to regular and predictable payments can ease financial burdens.

Cloud-based and scalable platforms provide flexible resources that can be easily adjusted as a community’s needs evolve. By moving away from traditional on-premises infrastructure, cloud platforms eliminate the need for costly hardware and the associated maintenance expenses.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and analytics can detect patterns and trends in real-time, unlocking valuable insights hidden within raw video data. The enhanced predictive capability also enables councils to anticipate potential problems and aid decision-making.

Collaborating with stakeholders such as other local governments and police and emergency services, can open channels for integration that were previously unavailable due to incompatible technology between CCTV resources and data.

Developing comprehensive policies encompassing governance, privacy, and ethics is crucial in establishing a robust framework for the responsible deployment and operation of surveillance systems.

For a comprehensive report that covers the impacts of CCTV and practical guidance for ensuring it is a valuable resource that generates a positive impact for your community: FT Whitepaper – Public CCTV: A Strategic Asset for Local Government (Jan 2024).

Public CCTV is more than just surveillance; it’s a strategic asset that can shape safer communities, drive economic development, and inform urban planning. By adopting innovative approaches, local governments can overcome challenges and ensure the responsible use of CCTV technology.

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