Does a CCTV camera work?
A CCTV camera system basically involves a number of cameras directly linked to a closed circuit which is used to monitor a wide range of environments. CCTV stands for closed circuit television and the very nature of a closed circuit means that, unlike broadcast television, the images captured by a CCTV camera cannot be picked up by just any receiver. Generally they are quite secure and can only be picked up the receiver that is directly linked to the system.
CCTV was originally developed for added security in banks but gradually other organizations, such as government agencies and large corporate companies, began using these systems as well. Back then CCTV was still based on impractical analog systems which required storage space for videotapes, staff to maintain the system and the added disadvantage of not being able to view the video footage as it was recording.
Advances in CCTV security surveillance systems
With the advent of the Internet and Local Area Networks the CCTV camera entered the digital world where CCD (charged coupled devices) chips replaced analog tubing. This has meant big changes in surveillance technology and digital systems now allow remote access, remote operation and live video streaming over the Internet and other networks. Go to the digital surveillance page to read more about the advantages of a digital system.
Of course, this has also meant CCTV systems are now less expensive and more accessible. A CCTV camera can now be spotted in places like grocery stores and shopping centers, on ATM machines, in the streets and even in the home. New and improved CCTV camera features have been added along the way including bullet proof casings, infrared night vision, motion detection devices and self-defense mechanisms. Most of these features are designed for use in public areas where CCTV cameras are prone to attack by vandals.
The main idea behind the CCTV camera is security. Governments, local authorities, business owners and homeowners all install such systems with the intention of deterring criminals. Cameras may not be able to prevent crime but they can certainly help put a damper on criminal intentions. The type of crime that is discouraged in most cases is opportunistic crime. In other words, crimes that take place on the spur of the moment where a criminal has seen his chance and taken it.
In some situations this seems to work well. A good example is the retail industry. Many retail stores loose a lot of money each year to shoplifting. Shoplifters are quite often either caught on camera or they are simply deterred by the very possibility of being seen by the CCTV camera. Some reports have noted a significant drop in shoplifting incidents in retail stores that have a CCTV system.
While some reports may show a decrease in certain crimes, they are by no means conclusive. Many opponents of CCTV have pointed out the fact that most crime statistics quoted by law enforcement agencies do not cover the possibility of displacement. Opponents to CCTV, criminologists among them, have reported that criminals have simply moved to other areas.
Some studies have been done to compare the rate of violent crimes reported to the police and those that are reported in hospitals. The results have shown that while police have reported a significant drop in violent crime, hospital statistics do not reflect the same drop.
One of the biggest issues surrounding CCTV camera systems is the privacy versus security debate. Many people worry about misuse of CCTV surveillance and whether those behind it can really be trusted. Read the Big Brother video surveillance page to learn more about public surveillance.