14 Challenges in Deploying Video Surveillance Systems

Security by  Ariana Smith 29 December 2021

Video Surveillance Systems

In response to the ever-increasing threats from states, corporations, individuals, terrorists, and criminal organizations, security, and video surveillance systems have experienced an exponential leap in capabilities over the past few years.

Increased Worldwide Security Threats

Increased Worldwide Security Threats

Threats range from corporate espionage, vandalism, and theft to terrorism and environmental events.

To keep up with the assaults a country or corporation may suffer, hardware and software upgrades and innovation endeavor to keep pace with an ever-changing and potentially hostile environment.

Evolving Surveillance Technology

Evolving Surveillance Technology

Video surveillance systems continue to evolve through the use of smart cameras, AI-enhanced management systems, and sophisticated data analytics and storage solutions.

To keep an organization safe, it needs to address the following issues or risk being left vulnerable to hostile surveillance, intrusion, and physical or intellectual property loss.

1. Procuring an Integrated Surveillance Solution

As with all security interventions, a surveillance system cannot provide 100% security on its own. A surveillance network needs to be integrated into a company or organization’s overall security plan.

This requires that personnel are sufficiently knowledgeable and experienced in the assessment, procurement, and deployment of surveillance assets as well as the ongoing management and monitoring of the huge quantities of data that need to be analyzed, archived, and retrieved.

2. Video Surveillance Privacy Concerns 

In an ever-expanding array of security measures, the deployment of surveillance systems is a particularly emotive protection measure.

Everything from the installation of old-school CCTV surveillance systems to the more modern smart-technology and covert systems evokes a certain measure of alarm from employees and various human rights organizations.

This is understandable given the intrusive level of information that video surveillance systems provide. However, a balance between the need to protect an organization’s property and an individual’s right to privacy needs to be maintained.

Discussions with employees and employee organizations will go a long way to building trust in the systems by all parties involved.

Human resource systems and standard operating procedures need to be put in place with the necessary legal safeguards for all parties, to ensure that everyone is aware of their rights and responsibilities.

Covert surveillance is another matter altogether and is covered in various state and national legislation.

This aspect of legal data collection needs to encompass policies on who has access to sensitive images, who can download or interrogate the data, levels of government and law enforcement access to sensitive information, and logging and archiving of material to facilitate accurate retrieval in the event of judicial requests.

3. Cost of Implementation, Maintenance, and Future Video Surveillance Upgrade Capabilities

Costs can be broken down into five categories:

  1. Hardware
  2. Software
  3. Storage and Retrieval
  4. Personnel Training
  5. Maintenance.

Costs can vary quite considerably depending on the quality and capabilities of the hardware and software required.

A full risk assessment is required to identify areas of concern and to enable contractors to provide suitable systems that are neither over- nor under-specified.

Identifying the specifications for cameras, networks, environmental risk factors, monitoring systems (including proactive and reactive systems), and archiving and storage retrieval capabilities all add to the cost.

Ongoing personnel training and upgrading of skills must form part of an ongoing review of the capabilities of surveillance systems. New technology is constantly being developed and threats to security systems require a highly trained staffing component to keep pace with developments.

Maintenance of the system is an often-ignored factor and can have a devastating impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of surveillance.

Environmental factors, vandalism, and directed attacks on surveillance infrastructure all contribute to degrading surveillance capabilities.

Wear and tear are also a major factor, not only in extreme climates but anywhere components are exposed to UV, wind, sand, water, animal, and insect damage.

A specific monitoring and maintenance plan needs to be put in operation to ensure that the surveillance systems continue to provide the level of security required.

4. Threat Assessment

Hardware, software, and storage systems can be vulnerable to criminals, hackers, and motivated individuals and the possible points of entry or impact on the system need to be well-documented and regularly reviewed.

Threat assessment is an ongoing process and encompasses both current and changing conditions as well as proactive assessments of developing technologies and cyber-attacks that can pose a potential threat to an organization or facility.

Threat levels will change dependent on the types of assets being protected and any comprehensive surveillance system needs to be able to adapt to the changing conditions.

This can encompass compatibility issues, future technologically enhanced capabilities, software upgrades, and data transmission vulnerabilities.

5. Proactive or Reactive Video Surveillance Deployment

It is an often-cited fact that cameras cannot stop theft, they can only monitor the activity and provide the necessary information to allow for follow-up operations during or after the fact.

That is no longer the case as face recognition capabilities, auditory and environmental threat detection capabilities become more sophisticated and available to a wider group of clients.

Remote detection, triggering and monitoring is built into high-end surveillance cameras. Infrared technology, zoom capabilities, and higher image qualities are commonplace and provide much higher levels of intelligence gathering and recording than what was previously available.

6. Video Surveillance System Protection

Easily visible surveillance assets are easier to interfere with and render unserviceable.

This has spawned a market in covert surveillance equipment with combined audio and visual capabilities together with enhanced multi-spectrum IR and low-light functionality.

7. IP Camera Network Security

Any time your network is accessible via the internet, you have the potential for hostile activity and system penetration attempts.

The deployment of IP cameras increases the risk as wireless networks that IP cameras utilize are more easily accessed than hardwired networks that can be protected within various layers of physical security.

However, anyone who has been part of a red-team/blue-team penetration exercise will know how vulnerable some facilities are to physical access.

Doors, gates, windows, rooves, locking mechanisms, and even on-site security teams can all be overcome by sometimes very elementary tools and social engineering techniques.

8. Camera Network Limitations

A camera network is only as good as its coverage. Budget constraints, as well as physical barriers, usually mean that large areas of a facility or target go unprotected by camera surveillance.

The implementation of drone-based cameras on a rotational basis has been operationally deployed in various high-risk environments. Their ability to detect and identify potential penetration points, sabotage, and monitor real-time activity is proven effective and should be seriously considered in high-risk, large-scale facilities such as power plants, oil rigs, and military installations.

9. Wireless Video Surveillance Networks

While wireless systems do provide the capability to install surveillance technology in remote and difficult-to-reach localities, there are some significant downsides.

As they operate on specific wireless frequencies, wireless cameras are vulnerable to normal background electronic activity from electrical appliances, lighting units, air conditioning, and other wireless appliances.

Targeted jamming of wireless signals is also possible, with image distortion and signal failures rendering the images unusable.

10. Wired Video Surveillance Networks

Although wired networks suffer from limitations due to the placement and physical obstructions, they are less prone to inference so long as their cables are sufficiently sheathed and hidden from view.

11. Video Surveillance Networks Vulnerability to Hackers

Any system that is accessible from the internet or which can be accessed from a link into a network is vulnerable to hackers. The use of professional installation staff and sophisticated security software, coupled with enforceable security protocols for all staff and contractors who access the network help to reduce the potential risk of penetration.

12. Video Surveillance Monitoring Systems

Both automated and human monitoring of the surveillance system is prone to interference.

This can be countered by the implementation of standard operating procedures and backup systems. However, the interruption of surveillance is most vulnerable to monitoring systems that are not routinely checked, measured, and updated.

13. Image Quality and Enhancement

Capturing high-quality images is getting easier as the cost of technology decreases. This cost reduction is apparent in both the hardware and software markets.

An assessment of the type of monitoring required, such as face recognition on the high end and general parking area surveillance on the low end, will help to mitigate unnecessary costs and ensure that the correct quality images are available when they are needed most.

14. Video Surveillance Operator Training

An often-neglected area of surveillance is operator training.

Any system is only as good as the weakest link and, all too often, personnel training and ongoing upgrading of skills are neglected.

This is an area of concern that needs to form part of the ongoing maintenance and upgrading of any surveillance system.

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Ariana Smith

Ariana Smith is a freelancer content writer and enthusiastic blogger. She is a regular contributor at The Daily Notes.

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