Just Exactly How Many CCTV Cameras are in Britain?


The British government is planning to conduct a survey of all the closed-circuit TV cameras that have been installed, work and can provide usable pictures, according to the UPI. In 2002, there was an estimated 4.2 million CCTV cameras in Britain, which, according to one claim at least, represents 25% of all CCTV cameras in the world.

It probably also means that Britain has more people employed doing nothing but watching CCTV video than anyone else in the world. Of course, that may soon be changing.

In this week's Government Computer News, there is an article on video surveillance technology innovation, especially in the area of content analysis software. Now instead of having a person monitoring the video, you can have the computer do it for you, which will send out alerts when a particular activity is detected. The article is a good one to read if you want to get an overview of the latest in video surveillance technology.

However, as I noted in a post last year, the UK police do not believe that CCTV cameras deter crime. However, as I said then and the GCN article this week implies, that inconvenient fact won't stop even more CCTV cameras from being employed in Britain, the US or elsewhere.

Ever wonder what to do with all that CCTV video being captured? Not too worry.

US government researchers are trying to develop a computer program that â''could process millions of feet of videotape, such as surveillance-camera data from countries other than the United States,â'' to look for intelligence information, according to a story in the Washington Post.

According to the Post story, â''The researchers are trying to create an automated system that would detect objects and events, understand them and then classify them by category and index them. It also would be able to browse through and retrieve videos.â''

The Video Analysis and Content Extraction (VACE) effort is an effort being run under the Office of Incisive Analysis which part of the government's Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA).

Actually, VACE sounds like an ideal application for my father-in-law, who seems to have several million feet of video recordings of his children and grandchildren (along with same number of film and digital photos). He never shows (or reviews) the old videos because he doesn't know exactly who or what are on them.


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Robert Charette
Spotsylvania, Va.
Willie D. Jones
New York City