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Marbella's CCTV system is the most high-tech in all of Spain

The videowall at Marbella police station.
The videowall at Marbella police station. / Charo Márquez
  • The software used allows individuals to be identified by their appearance and spots unusual movement

Marbella's Local Police have unveiled their new control centre, which features the most advanced CCTV system in the country, similar to that used in New York.

Although similar systems have been used privately in Spain, no public body in the country has access to such advanced technology. Several authorities, however, are already planning to adopt Marbella's system, including Algeciras and San Juan de Aznalfarache (Seville).

The cameras are made by the American multinational Avigilon, which belongs to the Motorola group, and the images they produce are of sufficiently high quality to capture the brand of a handbag.

Aside from the ultra-high definition image, the system has several impressive artificial intelligence features. Operators can search by appearance; if they input brown hair and a red T-shirt, the system will trawl the video for any individuals who match the criteria. This does not entail facial recognition, however, which is still illegal in Spain.

Another cutting-edge element of Marbella's system is its ability to detect unusual movement, be it people waiting somewhere a long time at an unusual hour, or groups of people running in a particular area.

The system's security features are no less impressive; there is a double firewall, while the hard disks where the recordings are stored are encrypted to make sure that even if someone made off with the physical copies of the recordings, they would be of no use, explained José Alonso, the head of Marbella council's IT department.

The installation of this new CCTV network has required a new fibreoptic network; "Having ultra-high definition requires a high-quality network", Alonso stated.

The National and Local Police are connected via fibreoptic cable, so that the former can watch anything the latter are viewing in real time.

Thus far, the new system has mainly been used to track down thieves; it debuted in the arrest of two individuals who had stolen on the Marbella fairground. The system has also revealed that many of those who have claimed to have been victim of a robbery were in fact not in the place they claimed the crime happened at the time.

Marinas monitored

The 85-camera system already covers Puerto Banús and the Virgen del Carmen marina, as well as the areas around the La Cañada and Elviria shopping centres, and has cost more than a million euros.

The next phase will involve the installation of another 85 cameras, including in the old town and Paseo Marítimo, at a cost of roughly one and a half million euros. The third phase will involve the identification of number plates. There are also plans to geolocate all officers at a later date - the cars at the Local Police's disposal area already geolocated through GPS.

Javier Martín, chief of the Local Police, insists: "Cameras protect people's individual rights. People won't feel their privacy is being invaded. Cameras are being installed discretely and where necessary."