Closed Circuit Television, or CCTV, is the name given to a network of security cameras transmitting visual data to any number of television screens and / or video recorders. It differs from regular television in that all the links in the observation chain, from the security cameras to the monitors, are directly linked. This direct linkage is effected via cables or other means of limited transmission such as point-to-point transmission in the case of wireless security cameras. There is by definition no broadcast of images to the general public in CCTV systems intended for security purposes, hence “closed circuit.”
It is usual in CCTV systems for all the information provided by the security cameras to be fed in real-time to a central point of observation. Here a human guard decides what action, if any, to take in relation to unfolding events. Generally the guard, or guards in the case of larger setups, constitutes the only active part in the CCTV process. With more modern systems however, this is changing. Advances in computing technology mean that the security camera information can be screened in various ways.
Recognition software allows details of appearance or behavior to be noted and either automatically acted upon or brought to the particular attention of a guard who can then act upon the information.
CCTV systems and their attendant cameras, whether conspicuous or concealed, are present in a huge variety of locations. Airports are an area in which fingerprint biometrics or even face-recognition biometric technology is often employed to better identify individuals flagged as undesirable on a database. Another common usage: security cameras observing traffic for congestion, accidents and illegal driving.
ANPR or Automatic Number Plate Recognition technology is another new advancement designed to assist in this traffic-control process. Further, CCTV is used in many public places in order to discourage foul actions, as well as in places with an obvious need for security and access control from private homes, car parks, banks, businesses, military and government areas to the city streets. Not only do security cameras in these types of locations serve to dissuade and combat criminals but also to provide evidence with which to identify and convict them. CCTV systems are also often a necessity in areas which are hazardous for humans to enter yet which still require monitoring such as rocket launch sites, industrial areas which feature toxic chemicals or extreme temperatures or the insides of nuclear reactors.
Future innovations to expand the usefulness of CCTV will come in new applications for wireless security cameras which can be linked to PDAs, cell phones and so on in addition to central control rooms. Imagine the possibility of being able to observe any room in your house via your cell phone, and the benefits this would have for home security, and you’ll soon see what’s going on in the world of security cameras!