It is legitimate for patients and carers to confuse a fall detection system with a surveillance camera. The aim of this article is to explain why a fall detection system is not a video surveillance system.

What does the Law of 21 March 2007 say about camera surveillance?

First of all, we should give you some information about the “camera law”. This law applies to the installation and use of surveillance cameras in open places, enclosed places to which the public has access or enclosed places to which it does not have access, with the aim of:

  • Preventing, observing, or detecting offences against persons or property;
  • Preventing, observing or detecting improper behaviour according to Article 135 of the new communal law, ensuring that communal regulations are respected and public order is maintained.

A surveillance camera is defined as “any permanent, temporarily permanent or mobile observation system, the objective of which is to survey and control places and which processes images in order to do so”. As a fall detector is a temporarily permanent observation system which is used to monitor a place (or a person in a place), it is considered to be a surveillance camera.

A fall detector is not a surveillance camera.

The sensors, however, serve purposes other than the prevention, observation or detection of crimes committed against persons or property.

The camera law does not apply as long as the purpose of the sensors is only to detect a fall (which may be presumed to be involuntary) and not to expose crimes committed against persons or property.

If a criminal offence is viewed in real time in “close surveillance mode” (for example, a person attacks somebody else in a room equipped with a sensor), the carer will, of course, be able to intervene, even if the purpose of the ISA system is not to observe crimes. Moreover, the “close surveillance mode” does not imply that images are viewed permanently (a sensor’s images are only viewed occasionally upon the request of a member of staff). It also does not imply that they are conserved (except in the case of a fall, including a fall resulting from an attack). The ISA system could therefore not fulfil the purpose of providing evidence of a crime committed against persons or property (unless, of course, a fall has occurred).

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