On March 16th, a teenager managed to make it to the top of 1 WTC undetected. This is a classic example of video surveillance without monitoring = useless.
There were three enabling factors at play:
1) No video surveillance cameras inside the building
2) Sleeping security guard
3) Nobody monitoring the perimeter video surveillance camera that had no automatic motion detection and alerts
While 1) and 2) are pretty obvious and easily fixed, it’s 3) that should be of concern to anyone using un-monitored video surveillance – video footage that goes directly into storage only to be retrieved after something happens, not when it happens. Even if somebody was monitoring the camera, they would have to have their eyes glued continuously to the monitor, otherwise looking away for even several seconds could cause an important event (like somebody breaking into the WTC property through a hole in the fence) to be missed.
Any proactive surveillance system (video or photo) needs to have motion detection and alerts as part of it’s core feature set. This way, when the teen was entering the WTC site through the hole in the fence, the perimeter surveillance camera would have sent an alert (along with the video footage) immediately to the security guard. The alert could have even woken him up.