The number of professional CCTV Cameras in the UK

Watchful Eye Security Ltd work closely with CCTV operations and can reveal just how many professional installations are in the UK.

The UK has some 21.1 million video surveillance cameras. That was the outstanding number to come out of the BSIA’s new report on the sector, as released at IFSEC in May, writes Mark Rowe.

Pauline Norstrom set out the report; her consultancy Anekanta Consulting was the author of the report that she led on.

As she said, the 21.1m are ‘professional’ cameras in use in the UK’s 2.3m non-domestic properties. And that total could be even higher already, as the need for video cameras continues to grow, she said. The same as in 2013 when the BSIA last carried out the research, near all, 99 per cent, of those cameras are in the private sector. The number of town centre, public space cameras has risen, but public sector CCTV remains chronically under-funded, she said.

Besides crime

Number is one thing, use (if any) is another. Pauline said that over 70pc of the private cameras are in use for crime prevention, of some sort. In other words, a fair few are not there in case of crime, but for operational or business process purposes. If the camera is added to AI, it’s seen as another Internet of Things (IoT) data source. Use of facial recognition software is growing. Two per cent of the end users talked to for the study use some form of such software; for example for access control. A good half, 53pc of those users said they would use some form of AI with their cameras, in the future. Various already big users of video – critical infrastructure, transport, crowded places – say that they see value in AI.

Rise explained

Professional Security asked Pauline about that ‘big jump’ in the total, from the 2013 estimate of six million. Was the 2013 number an under-estimate; or had use of video gone up sharply, or was there some other reason for the rise? Some of all three. That original number was conservative, and there had been some under-counting; and prices were lower, and products were easy to install, making for more availability. Every industry is going digital and getting ‘clued up’ about what AI can bring. Autonomous (driverless) cars for example will need video cameras. Video will underpin smart buildings and ‘smart cities’, as IoT devices. Pauline’s consultancy work is in this very field, so she’s well informed when she says that the security industry has become very good at anonymisation of video (necessary if you are to make data available for traffic control for example, while abiding by data privacy).

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