Flawed CCTV systems in deep South are to be overhauled
A big question mark in the minds of many people in this country is why the CCTV (closed circuit television) system cameras were torched or vandalized on almost daily basis lately in the deep South with the authorities appear to be totally incapable of stopping this illegal act believed to be perpetrated by Islamic militants and their supporters.
More than 400 CCTV cameras belonging to various state and local governmental agencies have been destroyed since the middle of 2011 when the torching of the surveillance cameras were first reported. Worse still, only a handful of perpetrators have so far been caught.
A team of reporters of Isra news agency lately conducted an in-depth investigation into the issue and came up with the following facts.
The CCTV system is normally consisted of four main components: the cameras which can be fixed or adjusted to the right or left and up or down; the lens of the cameras which are either fixed or adjustable lens; the digital video recording devices (DVR); and monitors.
Most of the surveillance cameras used in the deep South were equipped with DVRs but the problem is that the number of monitors is not in proportion with the number of cameras installed. It was discovered that as many as 4 to eight or more cameras were connected to one monitor.
In most cases, cameras were wired to the monitors which were set up in the offices of the agencies which installed the CCTV system for instances at police stations, district offices or at the offices of tambon administration organizations. Since 4-8 cameras are connected to one monitor, the images shot by the cameras which appear on the monitor are usually too small and do not provide much details. So if there is any illegal activity or suspicious activity happening right before the cameras, officials who are assigned to watch the monitors may miss them if they are not focused enough.
Another system used by several agencies in the far South is that there are just one or two monitors in the office. The monitors are linked to 10 or 20 cameras and the images of all the cameras will appear on the monitors in alternating order. The problem about this system is that the cameras can be destroyed without the notice of the officials when images of the cameras do not appear on the monitors.
But the biggest problem is that most of the monitors are not watched by officials around-the-clock.
Besides the technical problem and the fact that most of the monitors are not watched closely, there seems to be a lack of coordination between all the agencies who have installed their own CCTV systems.
For instance the Interior Ministry, there are three agencies which have separately operated their own CCTV systems namely the Office of the Permanent Secretary, the Provincial Administration Department and the Local Administration Promotion Department. Other agencies which operate their own surveillance systems are the Public Health Ministry, the Education Ministry, the military and the local governments.
A House committee tasked with investigating alleged corruption in the acquisition of CCTV cameras used in the deep South has recently come up with the following findings: inadequate number of cameras being installed; poor quality of cameras; most cameras are with out face recognition technology; most cameras lack backup information system; too many systems are being used and perpetrators usually cut off the electricity supply before setting cameras on fire.
To address all the identified problems, it was agreed that from now on the purchases of CCTV cameras by all state and local agencies will have to go through the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology.