The world of CCTV

September 2006 CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring

The use of closed circuit television (CCTV) as a deterrent to crime and to secure business and property assets is accepted and recognised throughout the world. But what exactly is CCTV?

As the term implies CCTV is a self-contained system in that all of the circuits within it are closed and directly connected. This is unlike 'broadcast television' where the signals generated by such a technology are accessed by special receiving equipment that is tuned to collect signals across the airwaves.

Initially CCTV was often used for surveillance in areas where there was an increased need for security, such as banks, casinos, and airports. It also had military uses. But over the past decade, use of CCTV in public places has escalated rapidly. Today, CCTV has developed to the point where it is simple and inexpensive enough to be used in home security systems, as well as for surveillance.

Developments in CCTV technology creates a new breed of surveillance

The first CCTV cameras used in public spaces were crude, conspicuous, low definition black and white systems without the ability to zoom or pan. Modern CCTV cameras use small high definition colour cameras that can not only focus to resolve minute detail, but by linking the control of the cameras to a computer, objects can even be tracked semi-automatically.

Due to these technological advancements CCTV has evolved from the high profile role in the security industry to a wider range of monitoring and control applications. As a result, the true potential of CCTV is becoming understood as it expands its scope to aid both operational surveillance practices, those being employed by traditional organisations and those involved with specialist surveillance.

CCTV taken to the streets

Many cities and motorway networks have extensive traffic-monitoring systems, using closed-circuit television to detect congestion and notice accidents.

The London congestion charge is enforced by cameras positioned at the boundaries of and inside the congestion charge zone, which automatically read the registration plates of cars. If the driver does not pay the charge then a fine will be imposed. Similar systems are being developed as a means of locating cars reported stolen.

Thus CCTV in traffic management allows planners to provide realtime traffic updates. Accidents can be cleared more quickly and long-term traffic planning, such as optimising traffic signal timing, is improved.

CCTV influenced by networking and communications

The use of CCTV is further increasing as technology leans toward the integration of management systems and enhanced networking and communications.

With increased influence by Internet protocol (IP) and communications infrastructures the CCTV industry is increasingly becoming PC-based. CCTV is further being integrated with other security networks and building management systems but with a provision that it be managed independently, outside the premises or core networked system. The CCTV system can therefore continue to retain its identity as a closed circuit.

CCTV will always have a prominent role to play in all security networks and management activities. Indeed, it will become increasingly refined as the standards, policies and requirements that govern its use become even more enhanced and demanding.

Maintaining its edge

Retailers use CCTV to monitor and record evidence on customer and employee misconduct. CCTV may also be used by organisations to institute training and increase productivity. Manufacturers, governments, hospitals and universities use CCTV to identify visitors and employees, monitor work areas, deter theft and ensure the security of the premises and other facilities.

The general availability of versatile, compatible high quality components for use across industries will ensure that the technology grows and will present enormous opportunities for all those personnel involved with CCTV activities at every level.


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