“CCTV is one of the essential tools used by the Singapore government to combat crime and other security threats. Acting as a force multiplier, it enables us to expand operational capabilities in countering threats and manage a growing workload as we face the problem of limited resources,” Dr Choong May Ling, Deputy Secretary of Security, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Singapore said at the opening keynote address.
Based on Singapore’s experience, CCTV has proven useful in deterring crimes. MHA has set up public camera zones in high density public places, such as Boat Quay, Little India, Geylang, Marina and Orchard. It has observed a drop in crime rates in all these areas after the installation of CCTV. “When there is a CCTV camera around, a potential perpetrator is likely to think twice about committing a crime such as robbery or theft,” Choong added.
Deterrence is also the main reason behind the MHA’s collaboration with the Housing and Development Board and Town Councils to enhance the security of public housing estates through the installation of CCTV in the common areas of residential blocks and multi-storey car parks.
CCTV cameras may not be as effective in deterring crimes in Hong Kong, but they have been instrumental in post-incident investigation. According to Mark Medwecki, Superintendent, Crime Prevention Bureau, the Hong Kong Police Force relies heavily on the wide network of surveillance cameras installed by the private sector. “Very often, the cameras do not capture the actual crime. But the footage is still very useful because it provides critical leads for the police,” he said.
Similar to Singapore, the Hong Kong government places strong emphasis on good surveillance coverage in residential areas. Three million, half of the country’s population, live in 153 public housing estates scattered across Hong Kong. Each of the 1036 blocks has six black and white analogue cameras with recordings kept for up to seven days. The Housing Department is in the midst of upgrading the whole system, installing 16 high quality digital cameras into each block and extending the storage capacity of recordings to 14 days. The project is estimated to be completed by 2014.
“The sharing of experiences among government users is particularly useful as we are exploring the use of video analytics in key government buildings and critical infrastructure,” revealed Sufian Tamam, Senior Executive Officer, Ministry of Defence, Brunei.