Ease of use brings value from video surveillance

Any technology is only as valuable as the user’s skills and ability to operate it. Looking at how we use business software applications, or only use a small part of the functionality on our mobile phones, it becomes clear how technology is rarely used to its full potential. Indeed, the accepted Technology Acceptance Model (which can be seen in the below video by QUT IFB101) shows that, alongside the perceived usefulness of a technology, ease of use is critical to how much value will be derived from it.

This is as true of video surveillance as any other technology: a solution that isn’t intuitive, easy to use and manage won’t deliver maximum value. And while the quality of video surveillance has improved enormously in recent years, and the addition of other network technologies and analytics have enhanced coverage and insight, these innovations will mean little if the operator cannot make full use of them. This is particularly true of smaller organizations – whether in retail, hospitality, education or manufacturing – which are far less likely to have people specifically employed to use and manage the video surveillance solution.

An intuitive user interface is therefore essential in allowing non-specialist employees to set up and operate cameras and deliver the associated security and operational benefits. Key aspects that should be considered include:

  • Automatic camera discovery and setup wizards so that systems are live as quickly as possible
  • The ability to view live and recorded video simultaneously
  • Tabs that enable instant recall of views of interest
  • On-screen controls for common and useful camera features
  • An ‘always on’ timeline for easier investigation after any incidents
  • Simple export of video footage to relevant authorities

In many smaller organizations, the video surveillance operator isn’t dedicated to the task full-time. In such cases, email notifications with an attached image can alert the operator, who can then use a mobile viewing app to access live surveillance. In doing so, system users are free from static camera management stations, allowing them to monitor video surveillance while engaged in other work.

Every organization is different, which is why it is vital to understand the unique requirements the surveillance system needs to fulfil.  Take Washington Community High School (WCHS) for example. As the school expanded, it outgrew its security system, which was made up of a variety of different analog cameras from multiple manufacturers. As such the system was difficult to use and generated a large number of false alarms, as well as there being gaps in coverage. The school decided to upgrade to an IP-based system to improve quality, coverage and ease of use. After deploying the new system, the schools issues around usability were reduced. For example, rather than spending an hour reviewing analog video to find five minutes’ worth of relevant footage, the school’s security officer can quickly find incidents on video and see exactly what happened, allowing them to address the issues immediately. By also using video management software security personnel can spend more time monitoring the school for potential problems. “It’s performed much better than the former system and it’s saved me a lot of time, probably several hours,” Westbrook said. “Also, the quality is not even comparable to the previous system. I’m able to see farther distances in much more detail, so there’s no question about what I’m seeing in the video.” Said School Resource Officer Troi Westbrook. By the new system being incredibly user-friendly, it allows new users to get up to speed quickly, saving money on training costs and the consequences of user errors.  Read more about this case study here.

With today’s intuitive management tools, the benefits of video surveillance in safety and security are more accessible than they have ever been, to a broader range of organizations. Read more about easy-to-use solutions here and about the top considerations when specifying a video surveillance solution.

Top 5 things to consider