Weighing up costs versus benefits is an established commercial balancing act that helps to decide the uptake of new products, services and technology across all industries. It’s particularly relevant to CCTV because, until now, the balance for most organisations has seen the costs outweigh the benefits.
There are a multitude of reasons for this. But, in short, traditional CCTV is too expensive to install, access, run and scale. And to cap it all, the hardware, cameras or footage are often damaged or unusable. It seems a damning indictment of CCTV in general, but it begs the question ‘Why do so many housing providers use CCTV at all?’. Our experience shows it’s because CCTV still acts both as a deterrent against anti-social behaviour and a reassurance to tenants and staff.
But here at Cloudview, we think that CCTV can do so much more, and do it for a lot less. It’s why we created our unique Visual Surveillance system and why it’s been designed from the start to address the cost and scalability issues that have until now restricted the use, scope and effectiveness of traditional CCTV. You can see exactly how these issues affect Housing Associations by taking a look at the video case study highlighting the installation of Cloudview at MHS’s Saxon Shore site (housingtechdev.wpengine.com/videos).
The costs of traditional CCTV fall broadly into two areas. The first area is setting up and using the system; the second is expanding, contracting or upgrading it. For many housing providers, they have no choice about the set up. Legacy systems are already in place and, until now, the costs of such systems simply had to be accepted. That meant expensive and cumbersome equipment, including onsite DVRs, had to be maintained. If footage was needed, it had to be accessed physically on site, often by expensive contractors or by using remote access via dedicated broadband links to a designated PC. MHS are not alone in having spent considerable time and money over the years on such call outs. These costs become even more onerous when you realise that in MHS’s case, in over half the visits, the cameras were either not working or the footage was unusable for various reasons.
This is a common theme when it comes down to traditional CCTV costs. Cameras recording onto DVRs are at risk from vandalism, mechanical failure and even cyber-attacks. In some cases, something as simple as an incorrect time stamp can invalidate any recorded footage. The system we have developed circumvents all these issues. Our unique Visual Network Adapter can be connected to each camera and will then upload images securely to our cloud-based servers, ensuring 99.999 per cent reliability, with all footage accurately tagged, timed and encrypted. These images can then be quickly searched, found and shared remotely via laptop, tablet or smartphone. No expensive call outs and no time wasted searching for the right footage, only to find that it’s useless.
But Cloudview is a real game-changer for visual surveillance, not just because it’s easier and more cost-effective to set up and use. It’s also because, in an age where the amount of data generated is growing exponentially, Cloudview has been designed from the outset to scale. That doesn’t simply mean adding or subtracting cameras from existing networks, although Cloudview does make that easy. It means unifying and simplifying the use of visual data on an industrial scale; standardising the access and sharing of footage from disparate systems into one integrated solution that is both secure and compliant.
Automatic encryption, authorisation, secure servers and audit trails mean that Cloudview makes it much easier for its users to meet their regulatory requirements ranging from the Data Protection Act and the Freedom of Information Act to the Protection of Freedoms Act and the Human Rights Act.
Many legacy DVRs and systems are also extremely vulnerable from an internet security perspective as they represent vulnerable access points that hackers can use to gain entry to wider data networks. However, our cloud-based flexibility combined with our focus on security means that the latest firmware upgrades and system enhancements can be downloaded via the internet, ensuring systems remain secure against all threats.
Whether complying with the latest data protection regulations or simply combatting the latest cyber threats, Cloudview’s ability to automatically update via the internet is a vital cost-saving when compared to the expensive on-site visits that were previously necessary to either check footage, repair equipment, ensure compliance or install upgrades. In many cases, the expense of such visits meant they were simply not carried out. Now everything, from reviewing images to meeting regulatory requirements, can be met without the need for specialist expertise or dedicated staff.
We believe Cloudview represents a step change in both the capability and cost-effectiveness of CCTV. More and more housing providers such as MHS are seeing visual surveillance in a new light; as an on-tap, affordable and scalable resource that helps to protect people, property and reputations.
James Wickes is CEO of Cloudview.