The Evolution of CCTV Surveillance
Each camera had its own monitor. One camera, one monitor.
CCTV systems were introduced in the US and the UK during the 60s and 70s.
CCTV systems are over a thousand times more advanced than the basic camera
and monitor configurations that first appeared in the 1960s. Systems from the
60s were basic, consisting of very low resolution black and white cameras
connected by coaxial cable. Each camera was connected to a black and white
monitor. A 16 camera configuration required 16 monitors. New applications of
camera security systems include: underground trains and stations, sports
stadiums, retail stores, shopping centers, public facilities, community parks,
garages and parking lots.
CCTV Technology Evolution The basic technology evolved in the 60s. First of
all, cctv switch boxes were added. A switchbox would allow the operator to
switch between cameras. Operators now could see multiple camera views on one
monitor. Only one camera could be viewed at a time. The 70's brought
Multiplexers, VCRs and solid state cameras. Multiplexers allowed the screen to
be broken into multiple frames on the same monitor. VCRs allowed easy recording
and video distribution. Solid state cameras helped improve reliability and the
integration of VCRs.
'First generation' CCTV technology was initially impeded by some fairly major
performance related problems.
In the 80s we learned that VCR recorders had many problems. VCR recorders
were temperamental. The quality of the recordings was very poor. The combination
of low resolution camera images, poor quality video tapes and low tech solutions
meant that grainy and unclear images couldn't be relied on even for conclusive
VCR technology couldn't allow the operator to review and record events
simultaneously and it was a very time consuming process to find and review
There was no motion detection capability and no way of viewing events from a
Expensive for what you get Even though early CCTV systems provided only
relatively basic functionality and moderate performance, they were quite
expensive - both in terms of the initial equipment cost and the installation.
Since this is still a new growth industry, there is still a lack of qualified
and skilled installers.
The Next Generation CCTV The 'next generation' of CCTV system arrived in the
mid 90s. The new technology was a computer based Digital Video Recorder (DVR)
DVRs allow images to be recorded at much higher resolution than previously. DVR
eliminated a major problem with first generation CCTV systems – Video Tape! Worn
out, forgot to change the tape, VCR recording tape.
DVRs are automatic and never require user intervention. When it is time to
look at recorded images, the DVR continues to record. Images are time and date
stamped and are very easy to review. DVRs using IP (Internet Protocol)
technology allow authorized remote users to view, transmit two way audio, fully
control the cameras and system itself over a local area network (LAN), a wide
area network (WAN) or via the internet. With such flexible access, the modern
generation of CCTV cameras may be operated remotely from a control center or, in
fact anywhere with internet access. Equally, high quality digital images may be
streamed anywhere and captured at a convenient and secure location. But it isn't
only the operating platform that has developed significantly; camera technology
too allows far more functionality.
Today's generation cameras can PTZ - pan, tilt and zoom, have higher
resolution options, a large variety of lenses and are also capable of operating
in 'night vision. Audio is also now part of CCTV DVR technology. An operator is
now able to synchronize motion based video events with audio analysis. Two way
audio transmission allows the operator to question possible intruders, give
instructions to staff and to record/search/replay in both audio and visual form.
Next generation DDTV DVR systems are compatible with earlier camera technology,
and are scaleable, flexible and can be integrated with a broad range of other
management systems, such as access control and building management systems.
CCTV has certainly come a long way since the 1960s; it's clear that the
future of CCTV is secure and that technology will continue to develop to meet
the needs of the surveillance market.
John Beagle is a technology writer for Camera Security Now.