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Are Our Cities Safe Enough For Workers and Citizens?

Lone worker in a petrol stationWe all want to live in a safe and happy place, right? We all want our fellow citizens to live in healthy and secure places, don’t we? And if we see horrible things happening to good people, we are all outraged and demand better protection for our fellow citizens. This is certainly the case in India right now.

Indian Citizens Secure Protection With IP Cameras

At the moment, India is awash with calls and appeals to carpet the cities and streets in CCTV cameras after the horrendous rape and death of a young woman on a city bus.

Calcutta’s Telegraph reported:

“Every single bus in the city will have CCTV installed by March 1st 2013 and every single driver must have a photo identity card verified by the New Delhi police or they won’t be able to work.”

The newspaper also reported that a centralised control room to monitor all activity on buses will be in place by February 1st 2013.

This is a lightening-speed response necessitated by the justified worldwide outrage. These incidents are horrendous and highlight the need for adequate protection for all our citizens, both by traditional means and by using the most efficient technology at our disposal.

New Technology Permits Innovation in IP Cameras

But you don’t have to go far to find people working in extremely difficult situations demanding CCTV support from their bosses and their town councils.

Twice a day, Barry Brannick puts his life on the line to help children cross the road. As a lollipop man in Lincolnshire, UK, he’s been hit more than once by careless drivers and is now trialling a bodycam, capturing images of dangerous driving.  See the BBC video report here.

Together with warning signs around the crossing area, these safety devices act as a warning and a deterrent to reckless drivers who put Barry, the children and the parents in danger every single day.

Lollipop men and women are not the only people working hard and facing danger.

Vulnerable Workers Require Extra Protection

Community organisation Nottingham Citizens is calling for thousands of CCTV cameras to be installed in Nottingham taxis to prevent attacks on drivers after a recent survey recorded 1,900 abusive or insulting passengers with a shocking 166 assaults (not to mention thefts and non-paying fares) over just 7 days.

There are countless other people both working and simply enjoying their city or town’s streets and public or private spaces. They all need protection and advice on the right IP camera tools for the job.

Off the cuff, there are several mini IP cameras that would appear to be suitable for the job. For example, the Vivotek MD7560 and the Axis M3114-R are both particularly suited for buses, taxis and any moving vehicles. However, as with everything, a full scoping exercise of the objectives, environment, positioning, installation, recording requirements and manual eyes-on surveillance are required for any system to be properly effective. At NW Systems, we’re always happy to advise and always seek to provide the most appropriate system that’s optimised for our customers’ needs.

Who Are The Vulnerable Workers?

Taxi drivers and lollipop workers are not the only people working hard on our streets and in our city buildings who need adequate protection. Other vulnerable workers tend to be working alone or in isolated areas; have few workers on site; work at night; communicate face to face with customers or work where money, drugs or valuables are kept. Workers in our nighttime economy, in particular, are under threat.

It is really important that discussions and debates are had, in view of cutbacks and technological advances, on which type of CCTV support should be offered in supporting these frontline workers, and if so, should this protection be provided by the city or by their employers?

Our view is clear. Where adequate protection for individuals in vulnerable or dangerous positions is missing, IP video technology is a good fit to provide that protection and oversight and to keep our workers and citizens safe from harm. Its use as a deterrent is obvious, but if IP video technology can also be used to subsequently identify and prosecute offenders, then all the better. The objective in the use of IP video must always be one of safeguarding and where this safeguarding is in place workers feel less vulnerable.

Let’s All Live Safely

To live in a safe city, we have to afford protection to all, not just for those that can afford it.

We’ve made a short list of those people we feel are most at risk and who need the support of the most effective CCTV systems possible, that are also properly installed, monitored, and cost-effective for the job.

This list is by no means conclusive and we would appreciate it if you could add any groups we’ve left out in the comments section below or on our Twitter, Google+ or Facebook pages.

  • Lone workers (Petrol Stations, local shops, cleaners, security staff, maintenance and repair workers)
  • Health Care Workers: In England (2009/10) there were 56,718 assaults, up from 54,758 in the previous year, a rise of 3.5%. Some 38,959 were in the mental health and learning disability sector, 13,219 were in acute hospitals and 1,262 were against ambulance staff. Another 3,278 occurred in primary care, including GP surgeries.
  • Police and Prison Officers: Most at risk of violence at work, with 8.4% having experienced violence
  • Social Services Employees: Nine out of 10 social workers have been abused, assaulted or threatened with violence while on duty, an exclusive Community Care survey has revealed
  • Municipal Housing Inspectors
  • Public Works Employees
  • Bus and taxi drivers: (see above)
  • Lollypop staff: (see above case as a sample)
  • Retail staff at bookies, off-licenses, etc: The latest British Retail Consortium Survey found that at least 35,000 staff had suffered from physical or verbal attacks.
  • Teachers: (Government figures last year revealed school staff in England and Wales suffered 8,030 assaults in 2010/11 – a rise of 15% in four years)

These figures paint a disturbing picture. However, in the connected world no-one has to be unsafe any more. Video is vastly underutilised in the security of people and we must make better use of IP cameras and IP video technology in the connected world to safeguard our workers and our citizens.

Published on January 15th, 2013 by Kevin Bowyer

One Response to “Are Our Cities Safe Enough For Workers and Citizens?”

  1. Miles Clayton says:

    Very interesting piece. The top 10 most vulnerable groups is worthy of further discussion.