CCTV makes sense as the way forward to reduce crime

CCTV installation by ELFJudging by the small crowd that gathered at St Francis Links last evening for the CCTV meeting, it appears that crime is not on the minds of local St Francis residents as much as one would have expected. The chitter chatter on Crime Alert Whatsapp* group certainly gave the impression that there is real concern so a bigger crowd would have been expected. One must therefore assume that the opportunity of chatting about crime is the real reason some joined the group rather than taking the crime problem seriously.

The company presenting at the meeting had set up a camera to demonstrate how the system worked but Tuesday is a very quiet night at the Links so there was very little foot traffic. However the little there was certainly did demonstrate the effectiveness enough to see the power of these cameras.  The presenter cited an example of the success of CCTV in Sea Point that has resulted in a 65% drop in crime. He also cited golf estates in Gauteng where it has been used very successfully and showed several application in Hangzhou in China where the equipment is made and where there are some 300000 cameras installed. Hangzhou is the venue for the next G20 Summit.

There is no doubt that CCTV can reduce crime but it requires the buy-in of the community.  Already several areas of St Francis and Cape St Francis successfully use CCTV and this scribe has first-hand experience of how effective it can be when at 4:00am one morning a month or so ago the CCTV cameras in Cape St Francis Resort picked up intruders and alerted security. The end result was that security descended on the thieves who were busy helping themselves to the content of my car and although they managed to evade capture, the CCTV footage was used to identify the perpetrators and SAPS were able to arrest them within a few hours.

For CCTV to be really effective it really is all about the numbers, the more cameras the better the coverage, the less opportunity for criminals. Last week we discussed neighbourhood watches and there is no reason why CCTV cannot be deployed by street committees. Why not a system that can detect potential crime activity without having humans driving round in the dead of night, possibly endangering life?  during last night’s presentation it was discussed how even a single street can deploy a CCTV system and monitor it themselves without connecting to a security control room. So advanced is the equipment these days that a smart phone can can be used to monitor activity on a camera, even multiple cameras and act as a streets own “Control Centre”. In fact everyone in the particular street or area can monitor the camera activity and act on suspicious activity.

St Francis Today is going to undertake to meet with John Hammond, the driving force behind the introduction of CCTV, and see if we can expand on the concept in the coming days and relay the information to our readers of how to go about forming these street groups. The more the participation the lower the cost and ELF Rentals, who presented their equipment last night, rents out the equipment by amortising the cost over five years during which time they remain fully responsible for the maintenance of the equipment.

*As a footnote:

Possibly many of those who joined the Whatsapp group Crime Alert will be rethinking their Whatsapp usage if they are on cell phone contracts. In spite of many thinking Whatsapp is free, it is anything but. Those who connect only on Wi-Fi are okay and those who pay as you go will be spared for you would run out of airtime and probably wondered why. But those on cell phone contracts may get a rather big surprise when they see their data charges for the some cell companies charge a whopping R1 per meg for out of bundle data.

Please don’t misinterpret that we are against the Crime Alert initiative for we are not and if it had been used for that purpose it would have been a really effective service. Sadly the chatter made it not only impossible to sort the wheat from the chaff but it also started costing money in bandwidth charges for those not on Wi-Fi because of the excessive data being transmitted

To see just how much data each of your Whatsapp groups use, go and read this article. Seeing that data used on this seemingly ‘free’ application will surprise you.