Australian Security and Intelligence Conference

Document Type

Conference Proceeding


secau Security Research Centre, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia


Originally published in the Proceedings of the 4th Australian Security and Intelligence Conference, Edith Cowan University, Perth Western Australia, 5th -7th December, 2011


This research uses a task disengagement framework to examine how CCTV surveillance operators and novices respond to the vigilance demands of the detection process. Vigilance tasks are acknowledged as being high in mental workload, yet little is known about how operators deal with these demands in jobs where successful performance is reliant upon sustaining attention on a daily basis. Much vigilance research makes an implicit assumption that people perform tasks that require sustained attention in a passive manner. By contrast, this study examines how operators manage their levels of task engagement and attention resources. The sample consisted of 73 participants (42 CCTV operators and 31 novices) who performed a 90-minute CCTV video surveillance task. Individualised responses to vigilance demands were identified. Alternating fluctuations in task engagement were found for the majority of participants, indicating efforts to manage attention resources and cope with vigilance demands. Differences in subjective responses to the vigilance task were identified. Implications for the management of vigilance performance are discussed.