‘Traingate’ shows us that CCTV systems need the cloud

The furore over Jeremy Corbyn and ‘Traingate’ may have died down, but it highlights an unfortunate truth about CCTV which those of us who use it would do well to note.

The press, whilst reporting Mr Corbyn’s mis-telling of the events which led to him sitting on the floor instead of a seat on a Virgin train, seem to have missed an important point. Given Virgin’s reputation for using the latest technology and providing accurate, rapid communication through every media channel, why could it not produce CCTV footage to counter Mr Corbyn’s claims immediately after the event, instead of leaving it a week and then producing some grainy footage with incorrect time-stamping?

To be nice about it – CCTV in general isn’t very good.

In this day and age you’d think that footage would have been quickly identified within a secure central corporate repository with an accurate timestamp, downloaded and sent immediately to Mr Corbyn’s office with a polite note requesting that he withdraw his remarks. We live in an age when anyone can quickly upload video from their phones to Facebook, so why did this not happen?

[easy-tweet tweet=”Why is CCTV bad in an age when we can quickly upload video from phones to Facebook” hashtags=”tech, security, CCTV”]

I have no doubt that if Virgin could have got their hands on the CCTV footage of what actually happened as soon as they needed it they would have countered Mr Corbyn’s claims immediately. The trouble is that the CCTV footage is recorded to DVRs in each train carriage and, as trains are on the move, even getting hold of the footage within a week would have been no mean feat.

The Daily Mail reported that some of the footage was incorrectly time-stamped. It is not that important in this instance, but if the system had been recording a serious crime or terrorist attack, timings would have been vital. CCTV systems are notoriously bad at keeping the correct time and have to be constantly checked to ensure they are correct.

Another small point on time-keeping is that, to meet the requirements of the Data Protection Act (DPA), it’s essential that footage should be of evidential quality and is correctly timestamped. It’s not great for Virgin to have to display such an inaccuracy in the public domain – particularly as it makes the footage unlawful.

Of course I’m pointing all this out for a reason – CCTV really does not have to be this way. Footage from one or many corporate CCTV cameras can be simply, securely and inexpensively consolidated onto cloud servers, where it can be quickly interrogated by authorised personnel from any location and on any device (even by a busy CEO on their smartphone on a Caribbean island, provided they have the authorisation).

[easy-tweet tweet=”IoT devices have to tell the right time or they won’t work very well” hashtags=”IoT, tech, CCTV”]

What’s more, IoT devices have to tell the right time or they won’t work very well, so cloud-based systems such as Cloudview are constantly polling NTP servers to ensure they are telling the right time regardless of location.

In this age of instant opinion CCTV footage needs to keep up – and it can, as long as it becomes part of the IoT.

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