The Travis County Sheriff’s Office of Environmental Enforcement Division in Austin, Texas, gave five staff members what would seem to be a Herculean task — monitoring the booming county for illegal dumping of trash and chemicals. What would seem impossible became manageable with the installation of what appeared to be utility enclosures on electric poles near several dump sites. What looked like utility enclosures were, however, actually Watchboxes from SuperCircuits containing powerful low-light cameras with high-end optics coupled with a digital video recorder (DVR). The systems enabled Travis County to monitor dump sites remotely and covertly and to be alerted instantly when activity occurs. The installation of the camera systems has already resulted in several successful investigations.
Covert camera systems like the one used in Travis County can also be valuable tools for corporate and institutional security applications. Covert video technology has more than proven its worth over the years in applications ranging from “nanny cams” to hidden cameras used to catch and identify shoplifters.
Incorrect concerns about legalities and privacy, and a misconception that the technology is difficult to use, have kept many businesses from including covert surveillance in their security management arsenal. It is a missed opportunity that costs businesses millions of dollars in preventable losses.
Benefits of Covert Surveillance
Traditional security cameras may need backup in performing their mission, especially as it relates to protecting against employee theft. A company’s employees may know the locations of visible cameras, and it can be possible to keep out of their range. Working in concert with traditional video surveillance, covert video can be placed where dishonest employees believe they are free from view.
Covert surveillance can also enable managers to view employee behavior to quietly address non-productive work habits without impacting a company’s general culture. An additional benefit is to monitor customer service. Covert video enables managers to see things as they really are and to use the information to improve training and hiring procedures to boost customer service standards.
Upscale restaurants, libraries, museums and even retail stores often want to minimize the evident presence of video cameras without losing the protection that video offers. The clear answer is covert video, which provides all the benefits without impacting ambiance.