CCTV towers, a recent iteration of the traditional security camera set-up, have been used by police departments and enterprise organizations around the country to increase security posture and promote safety. Also called mobile surveillance units or security trailers, CCTV towers are security cameras mounted on a tower, pole, or trailer. They are mobile, and wireless and can include lights and speakers.
Traditionally, the instinct is to hide cameras — to tuck them away in the corners of the building and property. But why? Do hidden cameras stop more crimes? Are they more effective? Actually, the opposite is true. Multiple studies have proven that a show of force — cameras or even just signs warning of a recording in progress — deters more crime than hidden cameras. According to ADT, a camera can reduce crime by 50%. Another study from the University of North Carolina found that 25% of burglars were deterred by a security sign and 53% are deterred by cameras. Clearly, security works, but it is the most effective when it is visible.
One big box retailer in the Pacific Northwest had 15 shootings in a single year, as well as daily calls to the local police department. Since they placed a CCTV tower in the parking lot, the calls and shootings stopped. The deterrence factor of surveillance may have played a role in the decrease in safety incidents.
One CCTV tower user in Florida received a call from the local police department asking for evidence in an investigation. Two homeless men were attacked, one fatally, next to the user’s property where there was a CCTV tower. The police suspected the tower had evidence of the attack and contacted the property owner, who supplied the cloud-stored footage remotely. Within hours of the attack, the police had evidence and were able to make an arrest.
One police force had stationed a CCTV tower to deter security threats outside an apartment building as part of an investigation. They were actually staking out a different location down the street but wanted to use the tower in a more covert way. They finished their investigation and went to move the CCTV tower. However, residents of the apartment building where it was stationed asked them to leave it in place, saying the tower had inadvertently led to a decrease in incidents around the building.
Every industry that uses CCTV towers will have different priorities. Law enforcement will want them to collect evidence and prevent crime, retailers to reduce shrink, and construction companies may use them to cut back on material theft. CCTV towers have been shown to contribute to a decrease in security incidents through deterrence and other factors.