Housing providers have a difficult juggling act when it comes to their responsibilities. Their first priority must always be to their tenants and residents. That means ensuring property, whether it’s an individual’s home or a communal area, is safe, secure and well maintained.
But housing providers also have a duty to ensure they deliver on their ethos of providing affordable, accessible housing to those most in need. That means they are under intense pressure to get the most from the rents and investments that comprise their income. And it’s only with astute and careful financial management that they can continue to meet their original goals.
The bottom line, as anyone who works in this sector will know, is that housing providers have to squeeze as much from limited finances as they can. This naturally leads to a focus on value and efficiency that has a wide influence over a range of strategic and tactical decisions, from maintenance and repairs to safety and security.
A good case in point is traditional CCTV. While its deployment is often essential, and is considered part of the duty of care that housing providers owe their residents, it has generally been seen purely as an overhead. This is because it has never been effective or affordable enough to become a ‘value-added’ option that brings enhanced benefits for residents, staff and property. On the contrary, experience has shown that it is expensive to install and the hardware is often unreliable, with disparate systems often deployed across multiple sites, all using incompatible equipment and operated by different CCTV companies.
This makes it difficult, costly and time consuming to find and access images from CCTV systems. What’s more, when extracted, the picture quality is often so poor as to be inconclusive, or the time stamps are missing or incorrect, rendering any data unusable. Cameras and hard drives are also subject to vandalism, hacking and criminal damage. And because of the high costs, damaged equipment is, in many cases, not replaced, leaving residents and staff vulnerable. To cap it all, someone within the housing provider Association, or even multiple people, have to be tasked with managing and maintaining all these systems, using up valuable time and resources.
Patently, traditional CCTV has not represented value for money for housing providers. But this doesn’t sound the death knell for visual surveillance. Because, in response to the failings of traditional CCTV, a new generation of cloud-based, internet-enabled systems are now entering the market, and providing practical, cost-effective and successful solutions to all the issues that blighted their predecessors.
In a series of videos (housingtechdev.wpengine.com/videos) and articles over the next few issues, Housing Technology and Cloudview will be taking a closer look at visual surveillance. We’ll focus on how the latest innovations mean solutions like Cloudview can now deliver across a variety of criteria by ‘utilitising’ visual imagery; in effect providing a ubiquitous, accessible, affordable and usable resource in the same way that energy, water and telecoms suppliers do.
This is a new era of cameras connected to a ‘National Grid’ of data, where images, like lights, can be securely switched on and off by authorised users as and when needed. It is a new age that will relegate traditional analogue CCTV to history, just as the lamplighters of the Victorian era were superseded by the introduction of electricity.
We’re starting our series of features on visual surveillance by taking an in-depth view into the way revolutionary new systems such as Cloudview are delivering a step change in the flexibility of camera networks. And we’ll be looking at how user-friendly, web-based interfaces are making accessing, sharing and acting on images easier and more cost-effective than ever.
Please visit housingtechdev.wpengine.com/videos to see the first in our series of short videos.