NZ company takes Aussie security international

Police surveillance powes create business opportunities

New Zealand security company Mi5 is keenly anticipating the passage of the Search and Surveillance Powers Bill, currently at first reading stage, which will permit law-enforcement operators to mount video cameras covertly in private premises to gather evidence of crimes.

Mi5, with offices in Auckland and Christchurch, has gained world distribution rights to the Eye series of cameras, from Queensland’s Moreton Bay Systems (MBS).

It has also been responsible for the branding, as the Australian company is an expert technical developer, not a marketing specialist, says Mi5 partner Helen Wattie.

The cameras have a low power consumption and large storage capacity, which allows battery-powered “set-and-forget” operation for as long as 22 weeks, without the need for a mains connection.

Mi5 partner Scott Wattie says the surveillance industry to date has been something of a specialist area, disconnected – in a commercial and often a physical sense — from mainstream ICT. The MBS products are purely digital and a user company’s ICT team should be able to easily integrate them in to its information management systems, he says.

The Eye series cameras record images onto standard cards identical to those used in digital cameras. After removal from the camera, the card can be plugged, directly or through a USB adapter, into a PC loaded with software allowing the images to be rapidly scanned.

An option to transmit the signal directly via wi-fi is planned.

The design of the cameras reconciles the demand for high resolution with economical storage and power use, says Mi5. It does not record full-motion video, instead capturing still frames at adjustable time intervals. Scrolling through successive images can almost give the impression of video. Up to 65,000 images can be captured in one session.

The camera can run continuously, or be integrated with an existing alarm system and only film when an infrared or motion sensor detects suspicious activity.

The cameras’ use extends well beyond law enforcement; with routine use to assist security on private and commercial premises and in publicly accessible open areas.

The evidence they provide, because of the enhanced picture quality, is likely to be more evidentially secure from a legal perspective than fuzzy video from a conventional security camera, the Watties claim.

The product line-up includes models for indoor (Blue Eye) and outdoor (Red Eye) use, and the Patrol Eye; a camera the size of a cigarette packet, which is designed specifically for unobtrusive use. Patrol Eye can be clipped to a police officer’s or security guard’s uniform for continuous recording throughout a shift, or when trouble occurs.

A fourth model, the Amber Eye, can be coupled with a siren and strobe light, to quickly make an intruder aware that he/she has been spotted.

Mi5 is active in 10 markets to date, Helen Wattie says. “We have closed deals in Brazil and Thailand and are looking at distributorships.”

An early local user is Christchurch coach operator Leopard Coachlines. The company has mounted cameras in its coaches to watch for suspicious behaviour and prevention of vandalism, especially in regards to graffiti.

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