Whether events of September 11th, 2001 portend permanent or temporary changes in our nation, or around the world, local law enforcement organizations around the country know that a seismic event of some magnitude occurred which will affect the way we do things for years to come. Certainly the psyche of this and many other nations were impacted. Elections were influenced, relations between nations were altered, and normal international discourse was dramatically changed – maybe permanently.
While so much changed in the way we approached our daily lives, the most fundamental change may have taken place in the realm of security. “Business as usual” could no longer be tolerated at the local law enforcement level as a very real and visceral reality hit home – that some of the world’s most capable and redoubtable military powers could find themselves vulnerable to far less sophisticated, asymmetric threats which could kill thousands without firing a single round. Asymmetric warfare migrated from an intellectual exercise that planners in the Pentagon used to channel the directions of the Revolution in Military Affairs to one of practical consequence that seemed to throw all of the rules out the window.
When those two passenger jets slammed into the Twin Towers on 9/11 they had a galvanizing affect on how we conduct our day-to-day activities and challenged conventional wisdom about how we deal with potential threats. Probably nothing in our lives changed more visibly than the explosion in surveillance capabilities and the willingness, albeit with some degree of objection, to accept greater intrusiveness by governments as they sought to prevent even more cataclysmic events. Securing the general population became the mantra of governments and their leaders, and surveillance systems became a key means to achieve that security.
Yet the need to fill the apparent gap in government as well as private security architectures has not in all cases been met by a concomitant appropriate response from the commercial arena. Many companies rushed to fill the void without the commensurate experience needed to provide the right customer solutions. Company size, financial deep pockets, and an army of engineers by themselves mean little without a deep bench of experienced technocrats who have put years in the trenches of the surveillance industry and have lived the complex challenges this industry poses.
Towards that end, there are some necessary considerations when looking to acquire a surveillance system. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. Surveillance systems are not simply cameras on a pole: Potential users such as local law enforcement agencies need to understand the broader applications and uses of all of the components in an integrated, “total systems” approach. Certainly simple, and cost effective, wired CCTV solutions are a piece of the total solution. However, by themselves, they deprive a user of a complete solution – a fact that can go unnoticed until it is too late and a situation arises whereby more is needed.
2. Surveillance systems should be holistic in design and defined by the …