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Housing Associations – Beating ASB, Getting More from CCTV

Gary Flood is an independent IT journalist and commentator @garfage

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of anti-social behaviour, you’ll not need telling what it is. Or how nasty and insidious it can be to your sense of peace and quiet either.

Still, it’s worth noting what law enforcement says it consists of: in the words of the police, anti-social behaviour (ASB) comprises anything from nuisance, rowdy or inconsiderate neighbours to vandalism, graffiti and fly-posting, from street drinking to environmental damage, all the way out to inconsiderate or inappropriate use of vehicles. (Citizens Advice has another useful set of definitions and guidance here.)
Housing Association tenants are, unfortunately, often both the witnesses and the main victims of this kind of stuff.
Managers of such organisations are more than aware of this, and take great pains to do their best to work with community and resident organisations, and the authorities, to curb ASB as much as they can.

A problem: they’re too often ignoring one of the most potent weapons in their armories – CCTV data.
Why do I say that? Well, a lot of housing estates do have CCTV cameras, but the issue is how do they access, manage and use the vast amount of footage they gather?
With the best will in the world, few Housing Association managers can dedicate time to going from site to site, trawling through hour after hour of mainly incident-free CCTV footage for the fun of it. But that doesn’t mean that this wealth of visual should be just discarded…though, really, by lacking the means to really use it effectively and exploit it, arguably that is sort of what's happening.

Turn your CCTV cameras into on-site team members.

A much better option is what some of Cloudview’s Housing Association customers are doing – working to create a single, secure, access-controlled cloud repository where all CCTV footage can be stored and centrally managed. Federating CCTV footage in this way means that footage can be quickly, and easily, accessed when it's needed without wasting huge amounts of time, and it's also incredibly helpful towards achieving compliance with the GDPR.

Even better, once you’ve done that, it becomes an online library that can be easily navigated and searched – from your team’s desktops, laptops or mobiles/laptops, which is great for when they’re out and about, helping tenants.
It also means, thanks to the intelligence in our system, that it goes from being a passive filing cabinet to a more proactive library. You can apply analytics and data-mining techniques to start getting on top of the ASB problem, for a change, seeing problem areas and blind spots, say, or identifying troublemakers in time to head off issues that could really, negatively, impact the lives of your clients.

There’s also a very practical benefit; removing the need for dispersed recording equipment means maintenance costs are reduced, and there is less chance of equipment being deliberately damaged or stolen.

That immediately translates into saved budget – budget you can immediately find a better use for, like helping the vulnerable residents who’ve been having a hard time from some individuals or families, for example.

And while none of us are wild about CCTV in its commonly understood role of 'Big Brother', smart, linked-up visual data capture could also quickly be turned to other uses, like looking for damaged or vandalised amenities on an estate that can’t easily be seen otherwise, or even aid teams or contractors out in the field, trying to get work done.
Putting all this together, the verdict’s clear; if you’re not actively using all that wealth of visual data you can grab from your CCTV cameras, you’re missing a big trick when it comes to fending off the hooligan, and helping tenants enjoy the high-quality environment you and your team work so hard to provide, and sustain, for them.

If you’d like to find out more about how Housing Associations are using technology to its best effect, check out - Related Information >>>