It is a commonly held view that people living in social housing are more vulnerable to anti-social behaviour but new web based technology – in the shape of Community Monitored TV (CMTV) – is proving effective in combating the problem. The extent of the problem was highlighted by research carried out back in 2009 by YouGov (see here http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/ihstory.aspx?storycode=6504174). The survey found that less than one third (29 per cent) of owner-occupiers said they or their families had suffered problems from anti-social behaviour. By contrast, 40 per cent of social tenants or their immediate families had been hit by anti-social behaviour within the previous two years. On top of this 42 per cent of council tenants and 40 per cent of housing association tenants said they or their families had been afflicted by bad behaviour.
Obviously, CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) can offer a means of combating anti-social behaviour but it is akin to using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. CCTV is both clumsy and expensive. By complete contrast, however, Community Monitored TV is both relatively inexpensive and easy to use. If you can handle Facebook then you can readily understand how CMTV works. Better still, Community Monitored TV is simple to deploy because all the required elements will be in place. All you need is an Internet link – fixed broadband, for example – and a screen. CMTV is so flexible that you could even use a smartphone to view captured video footage.
The key benefit with CMTV, however, is that it is intelligent. The system uses inexpensive motion detecting web cameras so they only record suspicious activity which saves the hours of trawling through video footage captured by traditional CCTV systems. Better still, alerts can be sent out via email or text (SMS) messages when unexpected activity is detected.
“The benefits of this kind of technology for Housing Associations across the UK and the wider community are endless,” said Community Safety Co-ordinator, Kerry Foster, who has been leading a CMTV project in conjunction with Surrey Police. “Instead of spending hundreds of pounds a month on surveillance contractors who collect and download footage, I can monitor events in real time as they occur and put the savings to use elsewhere”.
She continued “Results have been impressive so far, we have had an 85 per cent drop in complaint calls from residents since Jabbakam was installed and footage has already being used for evidence to convict offenders in police investigations.”
The Police seem to concur with this opinion. “The benefits of this kind of technology for the Police and the wider community are endless,” explained Surrey Heath Crime Reduction Advisor, John Eldridge. “Instead of taking hours to download footage and monitor it, which was expensive and time consuming, we can simply log onto the website and gain instant access to the footage and evidence we need.”
Both Kerry Foster and John Eldridge have been working with CMTV systems provided by UK based Jabbakam. The system is the brainchild of James Wickes, who founded the service back in 2010 after interrupting four men attempting to break into his house. James Wickes said, “As technology becomes a core part of human life, trying to solve complex crime with stone-age tools doesn’t work. Jabbakam has been deliberately designed with ease of use in mind and the platform is based around the latest mobile and social media tools that we are using in our daily lives. The flexibility of the solution is key to its success and widespread adoption.”
The proof is in the pudding, as they say. In the borough of Surrey Heath, one housing association, Accent Peerless Ltd, has pioneered a CMTV surveillance system in a trouble spot in a suburb of Camberley. Previously, the housing association had utilised a traditional CCTV system which proved both bulky and expensive. Worse still, the out-dated CCTV cameras stored footage took hours to download and monitor, wasting valuable time and money. Community Monitored TV works so well because it combines technologies which we are all so familiar with. The cameras are intelligent versions of web-cams; viewing captured video footage is like going onto YouTube; and there’s even an app if you want to be able to monitor the situation from anywhere at any time. Essentially, it’s the ultimate in flexible monitoring systems.
Fully-functional Jabbakam software for smartphones being developed
Good news for Jabbakam enthusiasts. A leading Jordanian provider of business solutions, United Business Applications (UBA), has recently acquired a major (20 per cent) stake in Jabbakam Limited. This will help to fuel further development of the Jabbakam platform. Specifically it will help to create a new, mobile-friendly version of the Jabbakam client software. Currently, Jabbakam customers can employ their smartphones to view video footage and control remote camera. However, UBA will help Jabbakam develop its existing platform to enable its users to have complete control of their online accounts from their smartphones. This move reflects the growing recognition of the importance of the mobile market. It is widely believed that the mobile web will overtake desktop internet by 2015.
Already, users can set up Jabbakam to alert them – via text message/SMS or email on their smartphones – when the cameras connected to the service detect any unexpected activity.
“Jabbakam sees the mobile device as being the primary client interface for its service and UBA’s technical expertise will enable Jabbakam to develop into the world leader in mobile security,” commented James Wickes, founder of Jabbakam.
UBA is a strong technology player in the Middle East, renowned for its mobile social media applications geared to Arab consumers. Bucking the trend of competitor technology companies in Jordan, the strategic investment in Jabbakam is the first step in UBA’s plan to expand its business globally. It will help the company to cement its position within the emerging Middle East market.
According to IMS Research http://www.imsresearch.com, the network video surveillance market within the Middle East is set to grow at a CAGR of over 20 per cent to 2016. A recent report from ReportLinker – ‘Global CCTV Market Forecast to 2014′ http://www.reportlinker.com/p0795424/Global-CCTV-Market-Forecast-to.html#utm_source=prnewswire&utm_medium=pr&utm_campaign=Security_Systems says that the surveillance market is growing rapidly in the Middle East region with Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Qatar being the three major markets where video surveillance equipment is actively deployed.
According to Hazem Bawab, CEO of UBA, ”This partnership [with Jabbakam] brings together our complementary skillsets: – UBA’s long-term know-how of the enterprise market, mobile solutions and established presence in the Middle East and Africa, along with the patented cloud-based surveillance technology provided by Jabbakam.
Bawab added, “Together we will introduce first of a kind integrated security solutions to the region. Our development teams will work to expand the capabilities of this product for not just our customer base, but people all over the world.”
So watch this space for more announcements of Jabbakam’s move into the mobile device space.
It’s tough enough for Britain’s High Streets in the current economic climate and now, with cuts to the budgets of local Councils, shopkeepers are also feeling vulnerable from the threat of thieves and vandals with a lack of CCTV and their local police stations being closed.
For example, an opticians in Ongar was broken into recently – the alarm was triggered and the thieves escaped with nothing, however, there wasn’t sufficient CCTV coverage of the shop to capture the raiders. “The recent spate of break-ins in Ongar does concern me,” said Mr Boatmans, the proprietor of the Opticians. “I’m not sure if it’s because they have shut the police station and the CCTV isn’t any good. Ongar is a target. We absolutely need another camera in the High Street.”
Going forward, police, shopkeepers and councils could really benefit by working closely together and installing cost-effective IP camera networks like Jabbakam. A fraction of the cost of traditional CCTV and able to alert the customer instantly when movement is detected, each shop could have their own cameras rather than rely on those in the High Street and the shopkeepers and police could work in unison when it came to managing their network of cameras.
The results of successful partnerships between the police, councils and residents can be seen in the village of Pilsley, Derbyshire where 6 months ago there were persistent reports of drunken and nuisance behavior. However, since the partnership was set up and new CCTV installed related calls to the police have dropped from 20 a week to zero.