CCTV: What to watch out for…

CCTV systems are a vital component of supply chain security and an important and integral feature of TAPA EMEA’s Facility Security Requirements (FSR) Standard… but with the plethora of CCTV solutions constantly evolving, with emerging technologies bringing new innovations and product developments to further improve security systems deployed to protect logistics operations against criminal threats, what should you be thinking about when it’s time to install or upgrade your system? Vigilant invited Warren Taylor-Smith, a leading supply chain security practitioner, to give us his insight on what to consider… 

CCTV surveillance systems have evolved exponentially. Those of us of a certain age will remember grainy black and white analogue images, a bank of 31 video cassettes and the hours spent reviewing footage on a video recorder. Fast forward, excuse the analogue pun, to the present day and the choice of systems can be mind boggling for end-users, with a constantly evolving array of Digital – IP (Internet Protocol) and Cloud based devices marketed by a huge variety of manufacturers, all of whom are offering the latest state-of-the-art solutions for your needs.

But there lies the hardest decision – What are your needs when upgrading an existing system or designing your surveillance system for a new facility, what is the Operational Requirement (OR) for the security solution and where does CCTV fit into the overall design?

Failing to determine a clear needs analysis is probably one of the easiest mistakes to make when considering CCTV, resulting in a design which does not meet the risk requirement or one that is overspecified and, therefore, not proportionate for the risk, resulting in unnecessary cost and potentially falling foul of Data Protection guidelines. 

An effective OR will take time to develop, but that time is well spent and the key to a robust surveillance solution. For an experienced security professional, the OR may be an easy and practiced process but, for a novice, getting the OR right can be an intimidating task. By involving a range of stakeholders in every point of the decision, planning and sign-off stages, you will create a considered and well-rounded plan. 

When considering stakeholders, there will be differing levels of input. Whilst best practice will be to involve HR colleagues and employee representatives in engagement discussions of how and why cameras are being introduced or upgraded, as they will be impacted by its installation, this group would not be included in the more detailed security risk identification and requirement discussions.

Stakeholder engagement

This more detailed work will require stakeholder engagement from those who will be utilising the system, such as your security guarding provider as well as those requiring post incident investigation access, such as the facility’s operations team.  A key stakeholder will be the businesses Data Protection Officer, who should be engaged at an early stage as their input will ensure you will form a considered and compliant plan which is in-line with country-specific data protection legislation.

As a mainstay of security solutions, surveillance systems form one of the key elements of TAPA’s Facility Security Requirements (FSR) certification, which recommends a number of areas around the facility that would benefit from CCTV surveillance to help form the framework of the plan. Those locations have been included based on the feedback and experience of TAPA members as well as having a clearly defined OR. 

For example, FSR guidelines recommend having CCTV surveillance of internal dock areas, which from a security perspective provides images of stock marshalling and loading/unloading of cargo which can be used for investigations into stock loss or other criminal activity, which in itself may be the OR objective. But, from a customer services or operational point of view, those same images can provide information to respond to customer enquiries regarding a load query. In addition, the images also have the added benefit of providing Health & Safety colleagues with images for accident investigation in what can be a busy and congested area. These additional ‘non-security’ benefits need to be considered in OR discussions and may help in the project justification 

Building a robust OR will help you decide factors such as:

  • Is CCTV surveillance proportionate for the risks identified?
  • Will your system design meet local data protection laws?
  • Where and how many cameras are required?
  • What image quality is required? Do you need to identify an unknown person or vehicle, or simply have a general overview of a given area?
  • How are you going to use the surveillance system? Will it be monitored on-premise, or will off-site monitoring be required?
  • Will the system need to interface with other security or business systems?
  • Is an UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) required to maintain CCTV imagery in the event of a power outage?
  • How will the system be used, and how many viewing stations are required, and what measures are required to protect the viewing station and control equipment from manipulation or misuse? 
  • Budget setting. For the initial installation but also for an ongoing maintenance regime to protect the investment

Budget setting

Budget setting is always a difficult conversation. CCTV systems need to be fit-for-purpose and provide the coverage and image quality proportionate to the risk. It is, therefore, of importance that the budget holder for the project is a priority stakeholder during your discussions, so their understanding of spend versus risk is clear.

During your OR deliberations, you will need to consider how those with criminal intent will counter your intended risk reduction goals. Criminals will try to avoid their images being captured by CCTV wherever possible, identifying blind spots or gaps in coverage.  Known as hostile reconnaissance, criminals will observe and test response times to security breaches, allowing them to ascertain if the facility is vulnerable to a successful attack. Employing a guard force to react to on-site breaches can be an expensive but a necessary option. But with advances in technology, integration with motion detectors or AI (Artificial Intelligence) video analytics and VOIP (voice over internet protocol) hardware, cameras can be viewed from any location and intruders verbally challenged on activation of an alarm trigger, which is an option that could be far more cost effective

Image blind spots in logistic facilities are an ever-moving challenge when looking at how camera placement, movement, and storage of cargo within a facility may temporarily block intended CCTV camera locations, as will HGV traffic externally whilst parked or being unloaded on a dock. Proportionality plays a part in these decisions; do you install more cameras to eliminate the blind spots or accept the risk for the periods the camera view may be blocked. These are decisions you will need to make.

Once you have your plan in place, the next step will be to engage your installation providers to design a cost-effective CCTV system which will offer the risk mitigation and meets the needs you have outlined in the OR

Install partner considerations

Larger businesses may already have preferred install partners who they have developed a relationship and a level of trust with over a number of years, but when this is not the case and you are looking for a new provider, choosing your installation partner and system manufacturer can be challenging as there are many offering the service. 

Some areas to consider are: 

  • Does the provider have the appropriate accreditations for designing and installing CCTV systems in the country of operation?
  • Are the providers’ willing to share previous customer feedback or even arrange for you to view examples of their installation workmanship? Being able to talk to the providers previous customers, to understand if the installation has met their prescribed operational requirements, can be invaluable in your decision-making.
  • Do the installers have experience in providing design solutions for logistics? Do they understand your business and the challenges you face?
  • Warranties and maintenance packages: explore the cost and what components of the system are covered by maintenance packages. More importantly, understand the costs of replacement or repair of components which fall outside of those packages.
  • Are system components being specified ‘off the shelf’?  Lead times for component failure may need to be considered for replacement cameras deemed critical to the security of your facility.
  • Response times: If your business needs a 4hr engineering response to equipment failure, can the provider deliver on that timescale and does that response attract further cost?
  • Research the intended CCTV manufacturer. Are there any known issues with their equipment, be that supply and availability issues, reliability, or security concerns? This research may lead you to defining a preferred manufacturer for your installer to base the design around, which can then support a comparable pricing exercise with multiple installers.

Your chosen installer will need to embrace your OR Plan, translating those requirements into a credible design solution. This is a critical stage and one in which I would recommend seeking at least two to three installers to be involved in this process. Having comparable offerings will allow for competitive pricing but also ensure you are getting consistent interpretation of the OR needs.

Involving more than one installer in this process may also allow you to explore differing approaches to the latest innovation advances within the surveillance arena. Image quality and pixel density has improved dramatically and continues to do so in the digital sphere, allowing greater interrogation of images which could reduce the number of cameras required to cover a given area, reducing installation, cabling, and running costs.

Cloud-based solutions could sit on existing IT infrastructure and Cloud storage of images may negate the need for on-premise storage, both with potential cost saving benefits. Remote access, with the appropriate IT security controls, will also allow for software updates and security patches to be installed; system faults or issues identified without the need for an engineer to visit the facility, supporting your businesses sustainability agenda and cutting out needless travel.

AI and video analytics, VMS (Video Management Systems) or PSIM (Physical Security Information Management) platforms provide the end-user with a huge array of options to improve the ease of use and generates actionable MI (Management Information) data, an added benefit to return on investment calculations. This software development is an area which I believe will have the greatest impact moving forward. Hardware, such as cameras and storage devices, will get quicker, smaller and cheaper but the advances in software platforms can be a game changer on how surveillance systems are regarded. Taking the humble ‘security’ system to a true business-wide management tool, CCTV has come a long way since those old black and white images!

Every business will have a defined procurement strategy and the installers chosen to provide pricing for your project will need to comply with the process. But, do not lose sight of the OR. Pricing is clearly important but ensuring the brief is met, and provides exactly the solution your OR requires, is fundamental, too. Budgetary pressures can sometimes lead to a degradation of system effectiveness with lower cost, less effective components or cameras being used. So, caution must be applied when considering any price-driven changes to the specified design solution.  

The importance of system reviews 

Following installation of the surveillance system, it is important to review its use on a regular basis but particularly during the commissioning stage post installation. Has the system delivered on the OR, is it delivering the image quality you required? If it isn’t, then this needs to be resolved with the installer at this early stage.

Regularly revisit the original OR to satisfy that the justification for the surveillance requirement is still valid and the desired outcomes are being maintained. The review also provides an opportunity to identify where areas of the facility have changed, either in terms of operational usage or risk, which may require the removal or addition of surveillance cameras to maintain the facility security and to continue to comply with data protection guidelines.

I have been fortunate enough to have been involved in compiling the new CCTV Systems Guidance document along with a group of the TAPA Standards’ Team members. The guide is there as a support and reference document for members using the TAPA EMEA Facility Security Requirement Standard, and will expand on the detail of a number of the areas I have touched on in this article. The CCTV Systems Guidance document also has a really useful section of links to CCTV reference materials for further reading to improve your CCTV knowledge. 

Download your copy of the new TAPA EMEA CCTV Systems Guidance here

CCTV: What to watch out for…
CCTV: What to watch out for…
CCTV: What to watch out for…
CCTV: What to watch out for…
CCTV: What to watch out for…
CCTV: What to watch out for…
CCTV: What to watch out for…
CCTV: What to watch out for…
CCTV: What to watch out for…
CCTV: What to watch out for…
CCTV: What to watch out for…
CCTV: What to watch out for…
CCTV: What to watch out for…
CCTV: What to watch out for…