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Role of CCTV Camera Systems and How They Function

Posted on by Dawna M. Roberts in LawJanuary 23, 2021

These days our world is overrun with video devices, and you can't go anywhere without electronic eyes following your every move. Want to learn more about CCTV and how it affects your life? Read on.

CCTV camera

CCTV Meaning

CCTV stands for closed-circuit television, and even though you were unaware of it, you have probably seen it. CCTV is a video recording system that records live video and saves it on storage drives so that law enforcement can review people and places in the event of an emergency or crime. CCTV provides the backbone for a surveillance system. 

Closed-circuit television is different than most video as it is not streaming or broadcast anywhere. Instead, the signal is sent to the control center where the feed is recorded and kept on a DVR device or hard drive. Most systems use either point-to-point (P2P) or point-to-multipoint (P2MP) linkage.

What is CCTV Used for?

Large mansions sometimes use a CCTV system to monitor guests and watch out for intruders. Police set up CCTV cameras all over the city, including on stoplights, government buildings, and other places, to provide city-wide coverage. Private companies, hospitals, prisons, malls, and other types of organizations use CCTV to keep a close eye on every inch of the premises. Other uses include:

  • Toll plazas to catch people not paying.

  • Intersection cameras to monitor and ensure that drivers stop for red lights and stop signs.

  • Dressing rooms so that customers don't steal items by hiding them under their clothes.

  • Body cameras worn by police.

  • Businesses use them to deter criminal activity.

  • Some homeowners use them to keep predators away, and they can even get discounts on their homeowners' insurance if they do.

  • Cities and towns use them for disaster management to keep an eye on floods, fires, and other emergency situations.

  • Hospitals monitor patients and secure areas using them.

  • Researchers use them for behavioral analysis.

How Does a CCTV Camera System Work?

CCTV is typically connected directly to a monitor (like you see on TV and in movies) or is sent back to a DVR for recording. Typically, CCTV systems include a large number of cameras to cover a lot of areas. Sometimes, a guard is hired to monitor multiple monitors and different locations at once. 

Modern CCTV cameras may also have motion detection and provide email or text alerts upon detecting movement. The newer models (often called IP cameras) have zoom capabilities and are able to capture real-time, high-resolution feeds. Some can even be repositioned remotely and accessed through a web browser rather than a plain monitor. 

Types of CCTV Systems

CCTV systems

There are various types of CCTV systems used by law enforcement, organizations, schools, and homeowners. The most popular are:

  • Analog - An analog system uses a coax cable to send video signals back to the central controller unit or DVR. These types are relatively cheap but provide only low-resolution images. Typical analog systems do not transmit audio, only video. Analog devices can be more susceptible to issues with weather and background noise. 

  • Digital - Digital systems are more efficient because they digitize the signal before sending it; however, they require lots of disk space to store the feed. Typically, digital cameras are pretty reliable in most conditions. 

  • Network IP - A network IP system can use either analog or digital cameras and uses a video server to stream the video over the internet to its destination. These systems can make use of Wi-Fi and provide video and audio at the same time. Some even use Distributed Artificial Intelligence (DAI).

What Is the Primary Benefit of CCTV?

Whenever you go shopping or visit a school, business, or hospital, be aware that you are probably being videotaped. Potentially anything you do or say may be recorded on camera. You may take issue with this claiming privacy rights; however, when you enter a business, law enforcement agency, or a building not owned by you, the owner does have the right to film anything and everything. 

CCTV systems are relatively in the infancy stage, but the use of them is growing, and more and more cities are installing them everywhere. In the possible near future, there won't be any place you can go without being monitored, even in parking lots. As long as you are aware that the possibility exists that someone could hear or oversee private interactions, then you can take whatever precautions you need to. 

Privacy is important. However, you also have to balance that with your safety. In many cases, CCTV provides a safer environment, so you don't have to worry about bad buys. There is a lot of controversy surrounding CCTA and its use by law enforcement, cities, and agencies, but in the end, it probably does help save more lives than it disrupts. 

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