Since CCTV was first introduced to the UK in the late 1970’s the industry and technology involved has changed drastically. Here D.E.S. director Barry Gavahan explains how the industry has transformed and how the expertise required nowadays by system providers and installers has changed too.
When CCTV cameras were first introduced to the UK in the late 1970s they were a far cry from the small, discreet pinpoints that record in HD today. Back then they were clunky and robotic… Quite nightmarish. You really did feel like they were watching and following you (even if in practice they were quite incapable of doing either). That fear factor, that ‘Big Brother’ paranoia which they brought about, was partly due to them being mostly employed by government agencies and places that required high security. In those early days they were far too expensive and impractical for mass use. Not many people would have predicted the dramatic rise of the industry, and even fewer would have ever imagined that 40 years on Britain would be the most surveilled country in the world.
By the mid 1980s video surveillance technology had improved slightly. Companies like Panasonic introduced cameras with night-vision capabilities onto the market and the frist automatic cameras, mounted on a pivot system, were also introduced. Still, they remained far too expensive and, although the image of a stationary object had improved, images produced of moving targets were rendered at a very low quality. More than deter villains there was an argument to be had for CCTV actually attracting them – a sure sign that the warehouse or property willing to pay out for such expensive equipment must have something quite valuable inside to protect. Of the innovative pivot system, the cameras mounted on pan tilt motors, it was not uncommon for a camera to unscrew itself and be found flopped over quite dead for the returning security manager to revive in the morning. And interior cameras, manually operated, didn’t fare much better and were no cheaper to run. In fact, with the manpower required to control and monitor them, they equalled out to just about the same price. The best surveillance system was still the old faithful nightwatchman or security guard.
As expensive as video surveillance was back then, there was one major upside compared to the rather inexpensive HD systems available today: owners became very wily with the positioning of their hardware, really took the time to figure out the best placement of each camera so as to achieve maximum coverage by the fewest amount of cameras possible. Nowadays, with hardware relatively inexpensive and imagery so disposable, security chiefs and business owners have become a little lax in regards to the set-up and positioning of cameras which can have dire consequences in the unfortunate event of something happening. It is why our technicians at D.E.S place such importance in the manual surveillance of each client’s area or property, working out the optimum number of cameras to coverage and ensuring that not an inch of property goes unmapped for a second.
In the 1990s cameras improved and colour cameras en mass were introduced to the market. However, as fans of Crime Watch UK and Police 5 will remember, image quality was still awful and it was rare that a camera would work sufficiently well so as the image produced could be used as conclusive evidence in a court of law. All that was to change with the new millennium when a technological and creative revolution swept the globe and everything from cameras to TV and video would go digital. It was 2000 and electrical components, especially those used for storing data, would drastically reduce in size. Along with mobile phones, digital cameras and games consoles, CCTV would become a real possibility for not just businesses but homeowners as well and would spread like wildfire throughout the country.
Since that real birth of inexpensive, HD video surveillance culture the industry has gone from strength to super strength. It is now easier and cheaper than ever to buy and install a video security system. The problem nowadays is that businesses and homeowners buy video surveillance but fail to differentiate psychologically between CCTV and home web cams. Technologically, especially concerning the products at the upper end of the market, there is not so much of a difference, but that is precisely where a lax security system will evolve from: people thinking that it’s enough just to place cameras wherever, turn them on and let them do their thing. No, security installation systems are highly technical and need to be thought out and maintained correctly, by experts like D.E.S. technicians who know and understand exactly what they’re doing.
It’s 2017 and the capabilities of security systems are immense. Unfortunately the apparent ease of the technology, the red-herring of simplicity, has overtaken the majority of consumers technical know-how. For a proper, well-thought out and efficient system, it needs to be planned and installed by experts, experts who in addition to understanding the technological aspects of the industry also understand the visual and data aspects and how to best save and protect data. That’s where it becomes complicated. Luckily for businesses in Blackburn wanting CCTV systems installed or maintained, D.E.S. are here for them. Having established our business just as video surveillance first really began to take off, D.E.S is in the priveleged position of having grown with the technology and has become accustomed with the installation and maintenance of both old and new CCTV and monitoring systems in the UK – in fact, we and our fantastic technicians have evolved with them.
Just where CCTV and security systems will go in the future is anyone’s guess. What is quite certain is that the industry will continue to grow and continue to be poorly installed and mismanaged by the majority of people using them. With no UK wide standards in place for the supply and installation of CCTV systems it gives consumers a false idea that surveillance systems are pret-a-porter (ready to go). As an industry insider I can tell you that is far from the truth. Until standards and regulations are introduced it is down to responsible companies like Darwen Electrical Services to canvass consumers and push the reality that they really do need professionals to install and maintain their systems. So it’s what we do, evolving and learning as a company and humans as we go.
If you’re a business or a property owner in Blackburn and you are thinking of installing CCTV give us a call on 01254 678654 or contact us HERE.