Although the acronym CCTV is still used as a general term to describe a video surveillance system, it rarely refers to closed circuit television anymore. CCTV generally now indicates installation of a system of cameras designed to capture activity in and around the area or building where they are mounted. This “capture” can be in the form of a feed of video to a central station, and/or to a recording device, and/or to the internet cloud. The old analog systems of years past have now almost universally been replaced by digital cameras, both wired and wireless operating in an IP (internet protocol) system.
There are many options today for cameras in surveillance. The technology used for cameras today have made them smaller, of higher resolution in image quality, less expensive, greater storage capability, and easier to include in an environment requiring flexibility. Gone are the days of blurry images in black and white, from a large obvious camera placed in proximity to electricity and close enough to the area to be surveilled to insure enough detail is captured to make the cameras useful to the purpose of security.
Today, IP cameras can be placed almost anywhere, controlled remotely, and the video captured can be viewed and/or recorded remotely; thus expanding their effectiveness in enhancing security through the promise of observation.
Decisions about cameras should be based on location, indoor or outdoor placement, day/night viewing, viewing range, needed controls (zoom, panning, etc.), quality of the images collected (resolution requirements) for detail, and how the video will be monitored (over the internet, live feed on a monitor, and direct to a storage device).
Video cameras today can be placed anywhere they can connect to an IP network. When properly and professionally installed, they are configured into a secure network, feeding the digital video images captured to designated location(s) in the network to be accessed for real-time viewing or stored for future access. Audio capture can also be configured into placement decisions, if required.
- Remote Access
Due to cameras operating on an IP network, each with its own IP address, cameras can be set up to be accessed remotely for viewing, video storage, and control. It no longer requires many thousands of dollars to have a video camera that allows the owner to remotely control it, enabling real-time adjustments of focus, zoom, and angle; thus providing the best quality of images for the specific needs to the owner and their particular security needs. Plus, with the flexibility of digital capture, end-users can snap a quick still shot, watch in real-time, or store days of video to secure, off premise locations for review, reference, and in some cases, prosecution long after the day of incident. In some cases, cameras can be set up for multiple streams at different compression levels to different locations as dictated by the needs of the environment and customer’s security requirements.
- Enhanced Usability
Today’s IP cameras, when integrated into a security system, can be designed to respond to motion, be programmed into system scenarios for automated activity, notify the system (and therefore authorized managers and owners with automated alerts) of events, provide video data for analysis, respond intelligently to a closed security system’s other components, and more.
With the advent of wireless technology, location, purpose, and scalability are easily accommodated in a video system today. Changes in the environment, use of different spaces, and the risks meant to be mitigated through the use of surveillance can now be altered without hardship. Cameras can be moved, swapped out with different types, and new cameras can be added to the system without much difficulty. Considerations that impact these changes come in the recording software and equipment as well as storage expansion.
The greatest benefit to video as part of an integrated system is what’s known as “video verification”; the benefit of seeing in real time what is happening at the location when an event occurs. This window can provide valuable insight in an emergency situation, reduce false alarms, and facilitate investigation and prosecution after the event if needed.
For the average person, video surveillance is a tool for seeing what is happening at home or the office when they are not there. It provides additional security by allowing the system owner and authorized users to monitor visually through live streaming. In addition, an integrated system provides opportunities for video clip capture, secure cloud storage, instant video alerts, and continuous high definition recording.