THE company behind an “intelligent” camera installed on a Chester housing estate claims it helped expel gang ring leaders.
Kent-based Viseum says the £7,000 Intelligent Moving Camera (IMC), installed at The Parade in Blacon, captured all reported incidents but also a number of crimes that would otherwise have passed by unnoticed.
These included a late night disturbance of gangs fighting with the ‘ring leaders’ later expelled from the area using ASBOs. Youths trespassing on a library roof to throw stones at members of the public were also recorded.
Chester City Council, which took part in the trial, said it would consider installing the camera, dubbed ‘robocam’, on a permanent basis, although no decision has been taken to buy the system.
The multi-directional camera, which could eventually do away with the need for human CCTV operators, was originally due to be trialled near The Cross, but was finally installed at The Parade as part a three-month pilot project.
It features a ring of eight lenses which record a panoramic view of the street scene below. The footage is scanned by a computer which can identify 50 behavioural traits and work out whether someone is acting in a suspicious manner. When a suspect is spotted, a ninth camera zooms in on them and follows their movements.
However, the system is not fool-proof and needs to be adjusted according to the environment.
After the first month, the daily surveillance profile had to be modified to ignore children playing on their way to school and people stopping to read their morning newspapers.
Stuart Thompson, managing director of Viseum, said: “The local community in Chester where this trial took place welcomed the IMC with open arms. There was a recognition of the improved feeling of safety as they went about their daily business.”
A Chester City Council spokesman said: “The team of CCTV operators used the system with other cameras to proactively monitor the area in question.
“As the system is constantly monitoring the area, this appeared to give the impression it was being controlled by a CCTV operator. This would have provided both reassurance to residents and small business owners and a deterrent to would-be offenders.”