Shouldn’t Everyone Have a Surveillance Camera Commissioner?

by John Gallagher | May 29, 2015 10:39:07 PM

With the wide-spread and growing use of video surveillance cameras in many parts of society, the mission-critical nature of them continues to grow. The role they play in public safety is truly life-and-death, but increasingly business operations (especially retail and manufacturing), city management, and other functions are performed in part or directly by use of security video cameras. Perhaps the ultimate acknowledgement of something being mission-critical (at least from a governmental standpoint) is when someone oversees it in the role of a “czar”, a “Secretary of…”, or, as this post is dedicated to, a “Commissioner”.

In reading a recent speech by the UK’s Surveillance Camera Commissioner (Tony Porter) to CCTV installers I was first and most struck by the fact that there such a role. Three cheers to the UK Government for creating it, and for it being filled by someone with a passion for the topic (Commissioner Porter’s many speeches can be seen at Not only does he meet and speak regularly to the security video industry in the UK, he has a message to deliver.

Two things stood out in reading his speech:
1. This is a role that needs some authority to go along with the responsibility. Commissioner Porter addresses head-on that he has no real “teeth” to enforce the UK Government guidelines, suggesting that perhaps embarrassment is the only tool he has.
2. The perceived responsibilities of installers/integrators by their customers and what the installers/integrators think they are responsible for are different. While clearly you can’t paint all integrators with the same brush, the suggestion left by the speech is that too many integrators stop at the level of installing the surveillance system, as opposed to ensuring the customer has everything they need (including education) to keep the system working as it should.

Are there alternatives to giving people like Commissioner Porter “big sticks” to punish installers with, or requiring installers do more to keep the security video network up and running over time? Clearly there are some:
1. Community-level focus: there is no surprise that some parts the security world have a shared “zero tolerance” for security issues in the same way that other parts are more tolerant. Taking the best practices from areas like sports stadium security or energy production security and bringing them into other types of security could help.
2. Public shaming: while this was highlighted by Porter, there needs to be a corresponding transparency on all the details around what happened, and that often is difficult. For instance, in cases where there have been court settlements where all parties agree to a gag order, it would be hard to bring to light all the details. Public shaming without public knowledge would be difficult.
3. Automation: making it faster, easier, and cheaper to know at all times how your security video network is doing is can be another way to have organizations follow recommended practices. Is the “energy barrier” too high right now when it comes to putting more focus on keeping the video surveillance system working all the time? In many customer accounts that Viakoo deals with this is the case – by using Viakoo it’s made it massively easier to keep things running properly, thus removing the need to have a Commissioner able to punish you.

So, should everyone have a Surveillance Camera Commissioner? At Viakoo we think everyone should have the peace of mind, increased security, and reliance on security video that a Commissioner helps make happen – and our Viakoo Subscription service does just that for everyone.

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