Research: “The Bigger Picture” surveillance report.

Hailed as the most extensive study ever undertaken into the number and usage of video surveillance cameras in the UK.

We are delighted to announce that with the kind permission of the British Security Industry Association (BSIA), we are able to showcase the key steps in the team’s journey towards delivering this ground breaking video surveillance research report.*

The new report is an extensive update to “The Picture is not Clear” which was released in 2013.

In the intervening time, its key finding of 6 million cameras, has been widely quoted in the mainstream media, by industry and by government stakeholders in the UK and internationally. The extent of the original report has never been surpassed until now.

Due to the rapid advances in AI and analytics technology, also the prolific adoption of video surveillance cameras by private businesses in the UK, there was an urgent need to update the report.

The decision to go ahead was proposed by the membership and voted by the commissioning committee (the Video Surveillance Section) and given the green light by the BSIA Board, the governing body of the BSIA.

The need for video surveillance cameras continues to grow at an accelerated rate due to the ever-present threat of terrorism in public places and an increasing desire by the private sector to improve the safety and wellbeing of employees in the workplace. The threat of criminal damage and theft in the commercial sectors also remain consistent drivers for more video surveillance cameras.

Mike Reddington, Chief Executive Officer, BSIA

We have the permission of the BSIA to reveal a number of key elements of the report which were announced at the launch event in London at IFSEC International 2022, and to tell the story of the journey towards the research outcomes which included:

  1. The total number of video surveillance cameras in use in the UK.
  2. The ratio between public and private sector use.
  3. Insights into the use of video surveillance cameras to enable smart buildings and smart cities.
  4. The adoption of AI and facial recognition software to solve physical security problems.

The Anekanta team embarked on the journey from concept through to completion enlisting the help of the BSIA membership along the way.

Research project methodology.

The research team reviewed and dissected the original report of 2013; tested and challenged the previous methodology and found that the underlying principles were sound, if anything these resulted in a conservative number at the time.

The original report relied upon the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) statistics which provide information about the number of non-domestic properties in England and Wales extrapolated to reach a whole UK number of non-domestic properties.

We asked the BSIA membership to seek their views about what they would like to see in the new report.

The team translated the membership’s questions into surveys which were sent to members who have a specialised focus on video surveillance camera manufacture, recording, monitoring, AI and integration into security process. Stakeholders outside the BSIA membership were also included.

Of the 2.3 million non-domestic buildings in the UK, we undertook deep analysis of the largest categories by number being retail, industrial and office buildings. The security specialists, based on their experience, told us how many cameras they thought were now being used both inside and outside these buildings.

We determined what camera technology is in use now, whether it is IP or analogue, standard or high definition, fixed or pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ); also what types of AI based analytics such as facial recognition are used and for what purpose.

The questions about the use of local or cloud storage or whether there is a blend of both in use, revealed a paradigm shift.

Engaging with over 180 organisations across a range of sectors including retail, education, healthcare, local authority, transportation, police and utilities; the team learned who drives the decision making process with regards to technology, the integrator/reseller or end user.

We sought information directly from users about the type of cameras in use and for what purpose, also what their views are about the future upgrade of their cameras and infrastructure.

There are at least 21.1 million professional video surveillance cameras in use in non-domestic properties in the UK.

The headline which grabbed our attention was the extraordinary uplift in the number of video surveillance cameras in use in the UK.

The number was so large, we challenged sectors such as manufacturing/distribution and sensitised the numbers; although it appears that the rise of home delivery has been a significant driver towards the use of video technology for productivity and safety in the distribution centres.

The purpose and use of the cameras is regularly brought into the spotlight raising questions about whether video surveillance cameras are in use in a legal and ethical manner and whether their use is excessive or disproportionate to the risks identified.

Ben Linklater, Commercial Director, Optex and Chair BSIA VSS Section

Although the number of cameras in the public sector has increased since 2013, this area remains chronically underfunded. Public sector includes town centre control rooms which are dedicated to public safety.

However, the use of cameras in the private sector has grown over 300%.

99% (over 20 million) of the cameras are in use in the private sector in non-domestic properties.

The report reveals key findings:

The primary use is security and the use of video technology in business process is growing.

A paradigm shift in the management and storage of secure video.

Trends in video quality, cloud services (VSaaS and SaaS), AI and video analytics and much more.

70% of the private sector cameras are used for some form of crime prevention; this is around 15 million cameras.

The remaining cameras are used for business purposes and this is increasing as video feeds are integrated into operational processes by “DevOps” teams in retail, smart buildings and infrastructures.

Video surveillance cameras are seen as an IoT data source which can be analysed real time and forensically by AI based technologies enhancing the effectiveness, providing better predictions and situational awareness to the people who need to take action.

Over 25% of video surveillance camera deployments are used for a purpose other than crime prevention and this is a growing trend.

Adoption of AI and facial recognition software.

We asked the users across chosen sectors who told us that their use of facial recognition software is growing.

It is estimated that 2% of end user deployments use some form of facial recognition in their businesses, one example being for access control purposes and 53% of users said they would be using AI based technology with their cameras in the future.

We noticed that local government had the lowest outlook for AI with public surveillance cameras and CNI such as transportation the greatest.

Cameras are increasingly used beyond security and this report provides information about their other uses and whether Artificial Intelligence (AI) based technologies such as facial recognition, and object detection software enhance the benefit of the cameras.

Ben Linklater, Commercial Director, Optex, Chair BSIA VSS Section

Finally, the report is over 100 pages long and contains detailed analysis of the types of cameras used per sector, together with cloud storage and AI trends. We heard from the industry which designs, develops and deploys the technology and the users who put it into practice in their businesses.

The report is exceptionally valuable to companies who are planning to develop their video surveillance camera business strategy, enhance product road maps, and develop sales plans and is available now to members of the BSIA.

Background to Anekanta Consulting

Anekanta Consulting is led by Pauline Norstrom, a key security industry leader whose most recent 20 years of commercial experience are rooted in the field of video surveillance, sensor technology, high-risk AI, facial recognition, analytics and cybersecurity. Anekanta operates across multiple sectors and domains from defence and security, manufacturing, retail, smart buildings and smart cities and critical national infrastructure.

Pauline has worked with the BSIA on a voluntary basis for over 20 years, leading and contributing her ideas to the development of standards and best practice. The most recent being the BSIA’s Guide to the Ethical and Legal Use of Facial Recognition Software, which is soon to become a British Standard. Her work and commitment to the industry led to her being elected as overall Chair of the Association in 2014, and since, appointed an honorary member.

She continues to advise the BSIA on the subject of AI and facial recognition software and is seen as a subject matter expert in these fields providing opinion and input into UK Government, EU and USA issues pertaining to the use of AI and facial recognition in the security process.

*Anekanta Consulting’s work with its customers is confidential. We operate under NDA agreements to complete highly sensitive strategic missions. Usually we cannot talk about what we do, therefore we are highly grateful to the BSIA for allowing us to feature the report.

For further information about Anekanta Consulting‘s work in the area of AI, ethics and technology strategy please get in touch at

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