71% of UK businesses see role for CCTV in keeping workplaces 'COVID Safe' as they encourage more workers back

A multi-country survey of organisations with more than 50 staff and running an existing video monitoring system, carried out by Video Security as a Service (VSaaS) innovator Ava Security, found that 71% of UK firms saw a role for their existing video system in supporting a safe return the workplace for more of their staff.

UK employers are busy making plans to encourage more staff to return to work in their offices as lockdown restrictions are slowly eased right across the UK.

However, in the UK some adaptations of existing video systems are favoured over others. For example, of the UK firms which saw a role for their video monitoring/CCTV system to help keep their offices COVID Safe, nearly half (45%) had already deployed video analytics to help manage social distancing and a further 34% planned to start managing social distancing using their video systems within the next 12 months. 

Nearly as many (43%), had already put their video cameras to work to help track and trace people movements in, out and around their workplaces. A further third (32%) planned to use their cameras to help track people movements on their premises within the next 12 months.   

Very similar numbers have already redeployed some cameras to monitor meeting room occupancy levels and count the numbers of people clustering in break out areas: 42% were already using their cameras to achieve this and 37% planned to put this in place within the next year as more staff move back to the office. 

Facial Recognition adoption slower in the UK 

However, UK firms are not yet major adopters of in-camera facial recognition software to enable contactless access control. Only 13% of firms had chosen this option to reduce infection risks associated with entering and exiting a building. A further 21% were planning to deploy facial recognition analytics within the next 12 months, indicating that deployment of facial recognition inside workplaces is set to more than double in 2021.  

Adoption here contrasts with much more rapid take-up of facial recognition in the US, where 39% had already deployed it and 45% planned to do so within the next 12 months. 

Thermal cameras adoption also slower

UK deployment of thermal cameras to support temperature measurement based screening at entrances, was also quite low when compared with the US. Just 15% of UK firms have already deployed thermal cameras for temperature checking and 34% said they were likely to deploy them within the next 12 months. By contrast, over half of US firms (51%) have already deployed thermal cameras for this purpose and an additional third (34%) plan to do so within the next 12 months.

Security budget squeeze

One in five UK firms (20%) running video monitoring systems had experienced a significant reduction in budget available for updating and improving their existing video monitoring systems during 2020 and a further third (33%) had seen a small security budget decrease last year. A further 17% anticipate a budget cut in 2021 but had not yet seen it. 

FM & Security still run more CCTV systems than IT

Facilities Management (FM) and Security departments still seem to control the running of more than half (56%) of UK businesses’ video monitoring systems. However, as most systems are now on the corporate IT network, and cybersecurity threats increase, it’s no surprise that 38% of UK firms have given control of video monitoring systems to their IT departments. 

Cyber Security & Data Protection Prioritised

In terms of priorities for improving CCTV systems in the near term, most UK firms captured in this study were prioritising multiple improvements to existing systems: 66% of UK firms gave ‘net’ high priority status (i.e., answering either ‘high priority’ or ‘somewhat a priority’) to improving their video monitoring systems’ ‘resilience and back-up systems/procedures’. 

On the same theme, 61% net gave high priority to improving ‘the system’s hardening to combat cyber security risks’. And 70% were placing a net high priority on improving ‘GDPR compliance/procedures surrounding our CCTV system’, as personal data management continues to be a strong focus area for all systems holding sensitive personal data. 

Video analytics and integration with other security systems spotlighted

Nearly half (47%) of UK firms questioned considered it high priority to reduce false alarms ‘dramatically as this is consuming too much of our time’. Linked to this, just over half (52%) were focused on making their video system ‘more intelligent, using video analytics to support better post-event decision-making.’

Over two thirds (71%) of UK firms considered that integration of their CCTV systems ‘better with other security-related systems, such as access control or alarm systems’ to be net high priority. 69% gave net high priority status to ‘finding and retrieving required footage of incidents easier and quicker’. 

VSaaS adoption linked to wider IT Service Cloud Migration Trend

Over half (51% net) considered ‘adopting VSaaS’ a high priority for improving or optimising their CCTV or video monitoring system. Linked to this, three-quarters (74%) of UK firms thought it ‘net’ likely (either ‘very likely’ or ‘likely’) that within the next 12 months the impact of the pandemic would accelerate the ‘migration of IT applications into the cloud’. Indeed, over a quarter (27%) of UK firms have already received new budget for moving more services into the cloud in the current financial year 2020/21. 

However, wider budget pressures associated with the pandemic also appear to have accelerated the ‘move from CAPEX (capital expenditure) to OPEX (operational expenditure) spending in more aspects of IT spend’: 43% of UK firms and 81% of US firms thought this increasing focus on OPEX which favours Cloud migration, is ‘net’ likely over the next 12 months. 

Onerous selection criteria for VSaaS providers

For the majority now actively considering VSaaS in UK firms, 47% considered it ‘very important’ that any VSaaS provider being considered ‘must allow us to continue using our existing third party cameras which we have already installed, we don’t want to rip & replace any equipment’. Ava Security’s new Cloud Connector solution allows for easy plug and play integration of third party cameras into its Ava Aware Cloud 2021 VSaaS platform.

A third (33%) of UK firms insisted that ‘allowing us to view their (the VSaaS providers’) directly attached cloud cameras alongside our third party cameras on the same interface’ was ‘very important’.

Nearly a third (30%) of UK firms also considered it ‘very important’ that there was no loss of continuity in terms of the Video Management Software (VMS) functionality when moving to the VSaaS providers’ own VMS offering. 

Access to state-of-the-art video analytics capabilities was also critical for many considering a VSaaS provider: 38% said it was ‘very important’ that the selected VSaaS ‘must enable us to run the latest video analytics capabilities such as occupancy levels for social distance management (in a room), noise analytics (e.g., breaking glass, screaming, yelling etc), people and vehicle search, object searching, colour searching.’

UK firms with video monitoring systems today were unprepared to compromise in other areas like integrating their video system with other security or access control systems: 43% of UK firms considering VSaaS today agreed with the statement ‘It must have very strong cyber security, including end-to-end encryption from the camera to the cloud.’

Finally, as well as coming with no functional shortcomings, VSaaS offerings must be ‘configurable and operable by non-IT people’ as ease of use took centre stage for 49% of UK firms. And over a third (37%) wanted to see a ‘reduction in the total cost of ownership’ as a result of the switch from existing on premise-based video systems to VSaaS. 

Vegard Aas, Head of Online Business at Ava Security, commented:

“Our findings indicate that plans for keeping workplaces safe following the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with improvements in video analytics and the maturing cloud infrastructure landscape, are all working together to make VSaaS a genuine consideration for many more UK businesses. 

“It’s our job to make sure that Ava Security meets the needs of all UK businesses considering cloud migration of their video monitoring systems over the next few years. This research definitely provides some timely insights to help direct our research and development efforts.”

Ava Security recently launched its Cloud Connector offering to enable video security system owners easy and cost-effective transition of video security solutions to the cloud. This brings Ava’s advanced real-time video analytics and proactive security to existing surveillance cameras by integrating them with Ava’s open Aware Cloud platform. Ava’s Cloud Connector eliminates the need to rip and replace existing video security devices to directly reap the cost and operational efficiencies of a true cloud service.

About the survey

The survey was conducted by the respected market research firm Opinium and completed by 300 video monitoring/CCTV system decision makers employed by firms with more than 50 employees. 

150 of these IT, FM, Security, and Operations management decision-makers were based in the UK. 100 were in the US and a further 25 each in Norway and Sweden. All 300 provided completed responses to all questions put to them via an online questionnaire between the 10th and 19th March 2021. Only firms with existing video monitoring or CCTV systems were invited to complete the survey. 

Of UK respondents, 35% were in the Education sector, 27% in Hospitality, 36% in Retail and 2% were in Public Venues and Visitor Attractions. The majority held senior decision-maker roles in Operations, IT, FM, and Security: 37% held IT roles and had job titles ranging from CTO, CIO, IT Director and IT Manager; 41% held Operations roles with Operations Manager or Operations Director roles. 13% held FM management, CISO or Head of Security positions. Others held cross functional middle, senior and board level roles.

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