CCTV or closed circuit television, is a system that can be used to monitor or capture footage from a camera. Closed circuit is the opposite of open circuit television, which could be used to describe what we watch on our TV at home. Open circuit means it can be viewed by anyone, people can tune into the same TV signal and watch free to air channels such as BBC one. Closed circuit in contrast is something that can only be viewed by a connected device, a DVD player connected to your home TV is a closed circuit device, and likewise the cameras in a CCTV setup, are in a closed circuit.
In its infancy, back in the 1960′s to 1970′s, CCTV was very expensive and large in size, it was used in areas where security was of paramount importance, such as prisons, embassies, etc. Home users couldn’t afford the luxury, plus had little need for it.
Fast forward to 2012 and CCTV is everywhere we turn, it is estimated that the UK has more government and council run CCTV cameras operating than any other country. Are we a nation that is paranoid, or security conscious?
Cameras in the modern day are fast, small, discreet and above all cheap. The average home user can call to their local electronics supplier, pick up a 4 channel DVR with ample recording space, 4 cameras with Infra red lighting, all for around £250. Back in the day £250 wouldn’t buy you a camera.
Home users are savvy, they realise with a bit of basic technical know how they can set something up that will help protect their house, possessions and vehicles. Whilst it may not be the best executed setup, professionally setup, or the best quality, it is a great entry point with a low price tag.
Business users can have their slice of the pie, CCTV companies can setup cameras capable of HD recording, DVR’s with redundancy incase a disk fails, and remote monitoring for a relatively low cost. Protecting their business and staff is now the norm and something that businesses feel is important to address, CCTV plays a key part in this.
When deciding on a CCTV solution for the home or business their are quite a few factors to consider, and a lot of technology at your disposal. The more technical you get, the more the cost, however some elements would be considered a must, as without them it isn’t worth bothering.
Firstly you have two different types of camera, analogue or digital, analogue being the traditional type, offering pretty much the same picture quality from both. The difference comes from the digital being able to be plugged into your network, with one cable. Plug into a nearby network socket and you are away, this can then be moved to another network socket to relocate the camera, should you wish. A traditional analogue camera, needs power, and a video cable, has to be wired to wire you wish the camera to be, and cannot be easily moved. Now then, the choice seems simple, the digital route is surely the best, however the negative is the price, a digital camera is currently, significantly more expensive than an analogue camera.
Next you have to consider standard definition over high definition. Standard definition used to be very low quality, but can now be up to 720TVL (television lines), this is a very good quality picture as it is. Take it to high definition and you are into a whole new league. The balance needs to be the price, versus the quality, there is no point in capturing footage that would be inadmissible in a court, due to not being able to see a face clearly enough. The price point of HD is again something that is high, however it is said that with the correct positioning of a HD CCTV camera, it can do the work of 5 standard definition cameras.
Night vision? Do you need it? If the camera is outside and protecting an area that is normally in darkness, yes it would be helpful. There are various ways of doing this, firstly cameras with built in infra red beams, most go up to 10-15 metres as standard, these work great, but do need some light to work, a street light somewhere nearby can provide enough light to work just fine. If you need more vision in the dark, there are external infra red rings that can be added on, ramping up the power. The final consideration is external lighting, security lighting is something that is useful full stop. It acts as a major deterrent as would be criminals don’t like to be lit up whilst attempting to burgle or vandalise a property. Throw some external lighting into the mix, to put criminals off and also provide ample lighting for your cameras to see at night.
DVR’s, Digital Video Recorders are the main hub behind your CCTV recording infrastructure, all the CCTV cameras are wired back to here, and this is where the clever stuff happens. These can be as simple and complex as you like, budget permitting. A basic 4 channel DVR, will record what is plugged in constantly, until the disks are full, then start to over write the footage. More sophisticated ones will only record when they detect movement on a camera, this saves space and makes finding incidents a breeze. They can also be set to use pre set patterns, the camera can pan in certain directions, at certain times of the day, they can instruct the camera to follow people around a site, etc. Most modern day DVR units, also plug into your network, allowing you to monitor the cameras and play back footage, from a networked computer, over the internet, or in some cases on a smart phone.
Monitoring the cameras, can be time consuming, making use of the above technology will follow people, record what is going on, and can even trigger alarm events. However it is all well and good recording something that has happened, how about intervening? ARC or alarm receiving centres, are used in the security industry to remotely monitor your site 24/7/365. Your system can be linked to their receiving centres, to watch over, contact the relevant authorities should something happen, and even talk to the criminals via on site speakers.
All in all your CCTV system at home or business is important, and what ever you go for their will be a cash outlay, make sure it is the right amount for you, but also not wasted by doing half a job, that isn’t of any use.
Hopefully the above sheds some light on the CCTV industry, it is a bit of a mind field, but broken down into manageable steps, you can choose what you need for your requirements.
Lights Camera Access provide CCTV, Access Control, Smoke Cloak and Data Cabling to domestic and commercial customers alike.
CCTV installation services, CCTV repair services, and CCTV maintenance services are something that LCA Security specialise in.
Article Source: John_P_Davies