Monthly Archives: May 2012
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.