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Step 4: Scoping the system

Having established the need for a public space CCTV system, it is then important to scope the specific system requirements. Through this process, it will be possible to estimate the capital and recurrent expenditure required to establish and maintain a system and to sketch the exact specifications of the system.

Locating the right consultant

Table 1: Security Industry Regulator by jurisdiction
ASIAL has compiled a list of agencies responsible for the regulation of the security industry in each Australian state and territory.

Australian Capital Territory

Regulator: Office of Regulatory Services

Phone: 02 6207 0400

New South Wales

Regulator: Security Industry Registry (NSW Police Force)

Phone: 1300 362 001

Northern Territory

Regulator: Office of Racing, Gaming and Licensing

Phone: 08 8973 8170


Regulator: Office of Fair Trading, Dept of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation

Phone: 13 13 04

South Australia

Regulator: Office of Consumer and Business Affairs

Phone: 08 8204 9686


Regulator: Consumer Affairs and Fair Trading

Phone: 03 6233 2199


Regulator: Licensing Services Division (Victoria Police)

Phone: 03 9247 3737

Western Australia

Regulator: Commercial Agents (Western Australia Police)

Phone: 08 9231 7199

At this point, it may be beneficial to engage the services of an appropriately qualified and experienced security and/or CCTV consultant. A consultant familiar with all of the technical specifications necessary for building and operating a public space CCTV system will provide invaluable input when numerous decisions need to be made. The consultant will be able to advise on the requirements for a system which reflect local conditions and the latest technical developments. Given the significant advances in CCTV technology, specialist advice can avoid outdated equipment and incompatible components being purchased.

The Australian Security Industry Association Limited (ASIAL) provides a free service on its website to help identify appropriate security consultants and CCTV installation companies. A quick search can identify appropriately qualified organisations and individuals across Australia.

See http://www.asial.com.au/FindASecurityProvider for further information.

Selecting the right consultant is important. Some qualities of an appropriate consultant include:

  • vendor independence—a consultant with relationships to either one, or only a small number of suppliers may be less able to provide appropriate, independent advice. Selecting a consultant with knowledge of the latest products and an understanding of what will work best in specific local conditions (irrespective of the manufacturer of the equipment) may be beneficial;
  • qualifications—the consultant should be appropriately qualified and be able to provide evidence of relevant qualifications and registration with an Australian security organisation;
  • licence—each state and territory has different licensing requirements for security personnel. Consultants should have the relevant licence issued by the appropriate authority. In New South Wales for example, a consultant would be expected to have a 2A and 2F licence. See Table 1 for a list of Australian security industry regulators;
  • experience—ideally, a consultant would have previous experience in similar projects. With the growth in recent years of CCTV systems in public spaces, there are an increasing number of consultants who have worked specifically on such projects.

Whether the scoping of the public space CCTV system is driven internally or by a consultant, it is important to engage appropriate stakeholders. Police, local government, business representatives, organisations providing social and community services, relevant legal experts and stakeholders representing the views of users of the identified spaces have important perspectives to contribute during this process. Many local government authorities have existing systems to engage key stakeholders in scoping public space CCTV system requirements. Crime prevention and community safety committees, resident panels, council/police meetings and numerous other avenues can be easily utilised to engage the appropriate stakeholders.

While local conditions will ultimately shape and inform how a public space CCTV system project is scoped, Table 2 outlines some key considerations that should be addressed in this process. Addressing each of these issues will assist in preparing a budget for, and specifications of, the CCTV system.

Table 2: Key considerations in establishing a CCTV project

Key considerations


CCTV system component: Cameras

Which cameras to purchase?

PTZ cameras will be required for the greatest manoeuvrability. They will often be combined with fixed cameras.

How many cameras are needed?

Good visual fields are promoted by dense camera coverage. Tracking offenders will be aided by a dense system of cameras.

Where to position the cameras?

Cameras must be located in key areas. Negotiating placement of cameras on private property will require approval from owners.

Camera domes and cameras positioned to prevent easy access will prevent damage.

Optic fibre cabling is still used in many systems due to reliability.

Unclean cameras and domes obstruct vision. Quarterly cleaning regimes maintain good vision.

How to protect the cameras from damage?

Boring and laying conduit for the optic fibre can be very expensive.

Once locations of cameras are identified, obstructions to vision will have to be removed and lighting improved.

Will they be wireless or operate on an optic fibre platform?

Wireless systems require clear lines of sight and must be periodically re-calibrated.

How often will they be cleaned and maintained?

What requirements are there for installation (including excavation)?

Which fixtures, trees and lighting will need to be altered to enable the cameras to work effectively?

What considerations are there for wireless systems?

CCTV system component: Monitoring

Will the cameras be monitored? If so on what basis?

Monitoring improves effectiveness of crime detection, but is expensive. Peak periods might be monitored.

Who will monitor the cameras?

Trained control room operators are recommended.

How will these staff be trained and what ongoing training will they receive?

Staff should be trained in the technical features of the system and be given guidance on what they should be looking for.

What type of control room is required?

There are different standards of control room. The number of monitors and data storage will be two critical considerations for a control room. Back-up energy and data protection will also be required.

Where will it be located?

The control room should be away from public vision.

Who will have access to the control room?

Protocols should dictate who can gain entry.

Will there be a supervisor(s)?

The more strategic functions should sit with a supervisor.

What will the staff-to-monitor ratio be?

There are physical limits to the number of screens that can be monitored effectively.

Which communication systems will operate?

Direct communication with police will facilitate quicker response times.

What relationship will exist between police and the control room?

Some systems provide live feeds to police stations.

What instructions will be provided to guide the work of control room staff?

Standard operating procedures (SOPs) should govern the work of control room staff.

CCTV system component: Footage

What file size will be used to store the footage?

Storage capacities are improving, reducing the need for large computer processing units.

What system will be used to store the footage?

Internet protocol (IP) systems are increasingly being used.

How long will footage be stored for?

28 days is the usual storage period.

How will police and external agencies access footage?

Clear procedures should be established for accessing images, including for media.

Who will process requests for footage?

Control room staff generally complete such requests during their daily duties.

Is there a regular check that the date and time stamp recorded on the images is accurate?

Periodic auditing of this will be crucial for ensuring the quality of images as evidence.

CCTV system component: Governance

How has the system been funded and what are the ongoing reporting requirements?

Public space CCTV systems are funded in various ways. Some funding bodies are required to obtain financial and other auditing and reporting.

Who will check that all relevant statutory and policy requirements are satisfied?

External legal advice might be required regarding liability and privacy considerations.

What will be the central focus of the CCTV system (ie what crimes will be targeted)?

Identifying the specific objectives of the system ensures related procedures match objectives.

What signage is required to inform the public of their operation?

Signage will have to be erected within the CCTV system area.

Who will develop the Code of Practice and SOPs guiding the operation of the system and what will be the key requirements of the operation of the system?

There are many existing examples that can be utilised to inform local SOPs and Code of Practice documentation. Accessing images, responsibilities of key stakeholders and complaint procedures are just some of the critical considerations.

What auditing and evaluation procedures will be adopted?

Some authorities utilise external consultants to periodically audit the operation of the system. Oversight committees might also review the ongoing practises of the CCTV system.

How will relationships with critical stakeholders be maintained?

Regular meetings with police and other stakeholders will ensure that communication systems operate effectively and will keep key stakeholders informed of appropriate developments.

Who will be responsible for media requests?

Having a clear policy for responding to the media will alleviate any problems that emerge.

How will calls for the system to be expanded be dealt with?

When one area gets a CCTV system, surrounding areas often expect similar treatment.

Although Table 2 outlines some key considerations for developing a public space CCTV system, the list is not exhaustive. Local conditions and issues will also need to be reflected in the scoping of the system.

CCTV standards

Standards Australia currently has four standard documents covering CCTV. These include:

  • Part 1: Management and operation (AS4806.1–2006)
  • Part 2: Application guidelines (AS4806.2–2006)
  • Part 3: PAL signal timings and levels (AS4806.3–2006)
  • Part 4: Remove video (AS4806.4–2008)

Parts 1 and 2 provide detailed guidance on the establishment of CCTV systems. Parts 1 and 2 also provide comprehensive technical guidance, including guidance on installation, testing and commissioning CCTV systems. Review of these standards is strongly recommended and all project staff (whether internal or contracted) should be familiar with the key features of these standards.

Box 8: Practitioner comments—Choosing a system

In your opinion, what are the advantages of an IP-based CCTV system over alternative system arrangements?

Wollongong has a full IP-based system which covers the wider city centre, Crown St Mall and council-owned buildings inside and out. A total of 160 cameras provide great coverage and it's the biggest IP street system in Australia. Not only that, but with clever planning and design it is getting real results—the stopping and/or detection of crime in so many areas. The IP system has it all from the camera direct to hard drive. No more of the old technology (DVRs, CD libraries and running power cables to every camera). The future that was once IP technology is now here. Quick, efficient and proven.

Source: Paul Fanning, General Manager, Wollongong City Centre Ltd, personal communication (2009)

Box 9: Real life example 3—Understanding network systems (City of Swan, WA)

Utilising their in-house IT team's knowledge, City of Swan were aware that when looking at building a network system, new equipment needs to be compatible with existing systems. This covers network systems software, cameras and data storage and management units. The implications for councils are that if they happen to choose one brand for cameras and that brand is only compatible with same-brand software, they are limited in their future options. City of Swan suggested councils do thorough research into identifying multi-compatible network systems, which will allow them to choose the most cost-effective option, and also fulfil any tendering/evaluation processes their council requires them to go through before purchasing new equipment.

Box 10: Talking technology

Keeping up with CCTV developments is a real challenge during these times of significant technological advances. Robert Portelli worked on enhancing the Melbourne public space CCTV system for the Commonwealth Games in 2006 and has provided answers to some common questions.

Some local government authorities have chosen wireless networks, while others have opted for networks run on optic fibre. Can you explain the relative merits/drawbacks of each?

Wireless is a good media; however, it is important to understand that the site, along with the environment and every other factor which needs to be taken into consideration when placing wireless for your application, can produce a hit-and-miss scenario. I have found wireless to be very good for the last mile applications, when it is just too hard to cable or fibre to the device. What wireless has in its favour is that an installation can be turned out quite fast as long as line of sight is not a problem.

For optic fibre, the data which is to be transmitted is guaranteed to reach the other end. There are no environmental problems, rain does not affect it and it's hard to interfere with as generally it is installed underground away from the world. In most cases it's future-proof when it comes to increasing bandwidth, which is not the case for wireless. Signal strength is never flaky and the integrity of the signal is always there. Its drawback is that if there is no infrastructure in place then the initial cost to install the optic fibre can be more expensive.

IP systems are being increasingly used. Can you provide a simple explanation of what an IP system is?

There are basically two forms of IP solution:

There is the digital video recorder (DVR) which resides upon an IP network with analogue or IP cameras pointed towards the DVR for recording and viewing. The client will view the DVR images via a web browser or application which had been installed upon their computer. The other form of IP solution is where all devices are of an IP nature and there is no DVR, which limits the number of cameras. This solution makes the streaming of video images across LANs or WANs much easier, with the ability to reduce the bandwidth of the streaming device dependent on the infrastructure available.

An IP system is one which allows the user to stream video, data and the associated information across the same network of the current computer or network devices. Viewing video from a network or IP camera is just like viewing images from a website. The network camera produces digital images, so there is no quality reduction due to physical location

In your experience, what should local government authorities look for in a camera for a public space CCTV network?

Important features which should be included for cameras being installed in a public space are:

  • low light properties;
  • ability to work under harsh environmental conditions; and
  • optical length of camera vision.

Source: Robert Portelli (Director, Teknocorp Australia Pty Ltd), personal communication (2009)

Last updated
3 November 2017