Overt Vs. Covert

Traditional security lacks the benefits of overt security solutions.

March 23, 2021
| ~
min Read
Brian McFadyen
Mid-Market Account Executive in Mid-Market Sales
LiveView Technologies

I am going to be completely OVERT in my intention here. This post is meant to highlight the superiority of overt security measures to deter and defend against unwanted criminal behavior.

Consider this common scenario:

You’re driving down the highway. Perhaps you have music playing. Perhaps you are listening to a podcast. Or, maybe you are lost in thought as you reflect on “your day, your week, your month, or even your year” (points for naming the song referenced).

As you continue down the highway, your euphoric bubble is popped by the site of a highway patrol vehicle sitting off to the side just up ahead, easily in a position to radar you for speed. You immediately lift your foot off the gas, simultaneously checking your speed and then you either breathe a sigh of relief, or begin to apply the brake hoping you weren’t just picked up on radar.

We’ve all had that heart stopping moment at some point. What’s interesting to me is how we react—how our behavior changes when we know we can be seen...or caught.

Now consider another scenario:

Driving down the highway you know the speed limit is 65. Over the course of your trip you’ve got the cruise control pinned somewhere around 75, maybe a little higher. You notice a sign that says “speed enforced by radar” or “speed enforced by aircraft.” This time, you look out the windows at the sky and surrounding area and keep on driving, unchanged.

This time, no change of behavior. Why? Both situations are using a form of radar to monitor speed. Why the different choices?

It comes down to the difference between covert and overt forms of surveillance. One makes little to no immediate difference and the other causes an instant change in behavior.

Let’s define and highlight the differences between covert and overt.


Webster defines covert as not openly shown, engaged in, or avowed: veiled. Synonyms for covert include secret, stealthy, clandestine, and underhanded.

Law enforcement uses covert operations to infiltrate crime organizations in order to learn their operations and hierarchies and to build cases to bring them to justice. This often takes time (sometimes years) and the crimes continue while the cases are being built.

Businesses use covert camera setups (meaning not easily seen) to monitor and surveil property, people, and assets. Some will have those cameras monitored by humans 24/7. This can be problematic. Have you ever sat and stared at a screen for hours at a time? Try not to blink or lose focus or you are going to miss something.

Some organizations pay someone to review footage after the fact to try and find the criminal and recover assets. It is time consuming, and you still run the risk of human error while reviewing hours of footage. No thanks!


Webster’s definition of overt is open to view, easily seen: not secret or hidden: manifest. Synonyms include apparent, clear, and undisguised

When law enforcement wants to deter incidents from occurring at all, they deploy resources in force to be visible and present. Think of high level events such as large parades, presidential speeches, Super Bowls, World Series, and more. In every case there is a high level of security that is open and visible. They want you to see the presence of these resources and know you are being watched and that malfeasance will be punished.

Like the scenario with the highway patrol officer at the side of the highway, people change their behavior when there is a clear and visible security or law enforcement presence. In these cases, the incidents are deterred and very often avoided as a result.

At LiveView Technologies, we are major proponents of the OVERT approach. Why? Because we see how effective it is at stopping incidents through changing human behavior.

One of our newest customers is a large grocery chain out of the western United States. In our initial deployment of mobile security trailers to some of their most incident ridden locations, we achieved some phenomenal results. Consider a grocery parking lot that has had more than 15 shootings in the past year. That this same location averaged more than one deployment of police to the location on a nightly basis over that same time period. From the day these units were deployed, that trend dropped to zero.

Obviously there will be more time and more data to collect as we continue the relationship, but the start is amazing. It also falls in complete alignment with the results we’ve seen across all of our customers from big box retail, to construction job sites, to college campuses, and law enforcement organizations nationwide.

Ultimately, the bottom line is this:

Covert = More crime and more time and money spent recovering stolen or vandalized property.

Overt = Greater deterrent, less crime, and greater peace of mind.

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