What is a CCTV Camera?

CCTV stands for closed-circuit television. The technology was first developed and used by Germans for monitoring V2 rocket launches. Later, the Americans followed and used it for testing the atomic bomb. The broadcasts from CCTVs are transmitted to a limited number of monitors as opposed to regular television broadcasts which are open to the public. A CCTV system helps amp up security by giving real-time footage to monitors. The footage can be recorded and played back as and when needed.

what is a cctv camera

What is a closed-circuit security camera?

A closed-circuit television system consists of not just the cameras but also includes the wiring, video footage storage, monitors, access control, and general system management. CCTV cameras can help secure your business and personal spaces through round-the-clock surveillance. Many cameras today have motion sensors as well. This helps detect any irregular movements around the premises under monitoring.

What is a CCTV system?

A CCTV system, also known as video surveillance, utilizes video cameras and transmits the video to a limited number of monitors. CCTVs may employ point to point (P2P) or point to multipoint (P2MP), or mesh wired or wireless links. If we break down the main components of a CCTV system, there are three. These are the camera, monitor and video management software. The installed system may vary depending on the type of system being utilized. The surveillance coverage depends on the number of cameras being used and the size of the area being covered.

what is a cctv camera

Everything you need to know about CCTV systems

Everyone wants to secure their professional and personal spaces. We will tell you everything you need to consider when installing a video surveillance system.


When you are thinking of installing cameras, there are generally two options to choose from. These are analog cameras and Internet Protocol (IP).  With advancements in technology, people are preferring IP cameras because of their high compatibility with other surveillance applications.

Types of CCTV systems 

There are two basic types of CCTV systems, Network Video Recorders (NVR) and Digital Video Recorder (DVR). DVR systems are more popular among consumers due to their cost-efficiency factor. However, NVR systems are a better option when it comes to compatibility and better integration with IP cameras. It is recommended to have a combination of an NVR system and IP cameras to enhance the transmission’s resolution and acquire a flexible wireless system.

Selecting the right monitor

A good monitor screen will help in viewing the video transmissions. You need to prioritize a high-resolution monitor for clarity. Selecting a monitor depends on the recording software and camera selected. If you have a 4K resolution camera, a monitor with a high definition will be required. However, if you have cameras with lower resolution, you can settle for an average monitor.

Once you have decided the type of monitors you need, it’s time to figure out the number of screens needed. It’s a good idea to start off with three to five screens, but generally, the size of the premises dictates the number you’ll need. You can easily add or remove monitors according to your requirements.

Understanding Video Management Software 

Video Management Software control NVR and DVR systems. Business-grade VMS provides better security solutions and monitoring as compared to basic ones. They can record and extract critical information from the recordings.

Figuring out supporting technology

Once the VMS has been finalized, you need to assess the supporting technology required.  The selected systems determine the kind of wiring, routers and power supplies you need to install. 

Analog cameras need coaxial cables and an additional power cable to connect to the DVR while NVR systems connect to the IP cameras through Power over Ethernet (PoE) through one cable. Wireless options available in the market are more convenient since they do not need wires, but they do require a router.

What is CCTV monitoring?

CCTV monitoring works by picking up a sequence of images which are then transmitted as a signal to a recording device and a display device. This comes as video footage on a screen or monitor. CCTV cameras need a power supply through a power box or adapter for working. IP cameras are powered through PoE technology by using special cables. There is a battery-operated and solar-powered option available as well.

What are CCTV surveillance cameras?

Surveillance cameras differ from ordinary cameras. They come in different types depending on their functionality and purpose. Some of these are dome cameras, bullet cameras, c-mount cameras, day-night cameras and PTZ cameras. Different technologies are utilized in manufacturing such as Dark Fighter Technology and ANPR/LPR technology. These technologies come with upgraded features such as face detection, motion sensors, high-definition imaging and high information storage.

what is a cctv camera

What does CCTV do?

Installing a CCTV system can help you in:

  • Crime management

    CCTV cameras can help deter crimes and enable law enforcement to identify criminals. Businesses can use CCTV cameras to monitor on-site and in-house activities. Employees can be monitored and held accountable in the event of any mishaps.

  • Disaster management

    CCTV cameras can help prevent disasters by identifying problem areas beforehand. Emergency services can effectively track and monitor disaster-stricken areas. Video surveillance can help teams to reach places that could potentially be dangerous for them.

  • Neighborhood monitoring

    Neighborhoods and communities can install CCTV cameras to monitor traffic conditions and identify events or people that may seem suspicious. CCTV cameras can also be used to gather data regarding the community as well.

  • Quality control

    Businesses and corporations can use CCTV cameras for quality control and assurance. Production and consumption can be monitored through video surveillance. Employees’ performance can also be assessed and evaluated through cameras.

  • Medical diagnosis

    Special software can be utilized via CCTV cameras to assess and detect facial muscles. This helps doctors with an accurate diagnosis.

  • Retail intelligence

    Retailers and distributors are using surveillance cameras to identify buying trends and enhance marketing strategies. Retailers can pinpoint which products are in high demand and which aisles have the highest footfall. 

How does the process work?

  • The installed camera records the images.
  • The images are transmitted to a recording via a cable or wireless interface.
  • The data is scanned, and automated alerts are sent to other devices.
  • The transmitted information can be viewed on monitors.

Important terms regarding CCTV systems

Video encoders

Video encoders allow the migration of some analog CCTV systems to network systems. This helps people use modern features with old hardware. The software utilizes a wired connection and then digitizes the video signals. The signals are then sent to a wired or wireless IP connection.

Image sensors

Image sensors convert light waves to electronic signals. Sensors have varying pixels which convert the exposed light waves to electrons. There are two most popular types of sensors namely, CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductors) and CCD ( charged coupled device). CMOS is more cost-effective and uses many pixels at once. CCDs are more costly and have higher power consumption. However, they have high sensitivity towards light and make less noise.

Image scanners

CMOS and CCDs use an interlaced scanning method. It can either be interlaced or progressive scanning. Whereas analog cameras only use interlaced scanning. CCD applications commonly use interlaced scanning. The interlaced recordings are viewed on an interlaced monitor. A progressive scan monitor can distort the image. Progressive image scanners project the images on a screen sequentially. They are most commonly used for CMOS.


As a part of the CCTV system, DVR connects the internal components of the system. They are usually connected with analog cameras, and every camera has to be connected directly to a recorder. DCR systems process the footage themselves. Meanwhile, NVR systems encode and process the image at the initial camera level and then stream it to the recorder. This is then used for remote monitoring and storage. NVR systems use IP cameras that connect to the same network.

Network CCTV systems enable remote monitoring and do not require network cabling. The surveillance process becomes automated once you install a network CCTV system. On the downside, they can be heavy on the pocket, need a high level of expertise and there is always a risk of hackers hacking into the system.

Analog CCTV systems are much cheaper and easier to install. However, they have low-resolution imaging, require a large mesh of wiring and do not provide data encryption.

Criticisms towards CCTV Systems

A study has shown that surveillance has been hampered by ineffective system configurations, poor quality video recordings, outdated equipment, lack of communication between stakeholders, blotchy security policies and operators who are not aware of the system.

The most voiced criticism raised has been “breach of privacy”. Many employees and customers have laid out complaints of feeling that their privacy is being invaded by being monitored constantly.

The future of CCTV systems

With the emergence of new technologies, we should expect an amalgamation of these technological advances with CCTV systems. Features like face detection, motion sensing, linked cameras, intelligent hardware, drones and body cameras will boost the existing surveillance system. Centralized CCTV systems are already in use in many countries. The new CCTV system could see the complete dissolution of a wired system as well as providing clearer images and sound and faster data encryption. The future also holds a reduced number of operators needed for monitoring CCTV systems.

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