What Is CCTV and How Does It Work?

CCTV systems are popular ways to surveil activity in homes, businesses and public spaces. But how do they work, what are their benefits and which types of cameras exist? This article covers everything you need to know about how CCTV can give your property the quality of security it needs, protecting you and your family or employees.

What Is CCTV?

CCTV, or closed-circuit television, is a video surveillance system that transmits video to a limited, or “closed,” number of monitors. These systems are mainly used to spot and prevent crime, although you can use them to locate and monitor various kinds of activity and situations. CCTV can work in residential, commercial and public spaces.

Different Types of CCTV Camera Systems

While all CCTV cameras achieve similar goals, they come in different styles, some of which may be better suited for your needs. Here are eight of the most popular CCTV cameras on the market:

  1. Bullet CCTV cameras: If you've ever seen white, cylinder-shaped security cameras when walking in public, you've seen bullet cameras in action. The main advantages of bullet cameras are that they can record video over long distances and they're extremely visible, meaning they're more likely to deter criminal activity.
  2. Dome CCTV cameras: Commonly used inside buildings in places like lobbies and shopping areas, dome cameras offer a discreet CCTV option. Because of their 360-degree, unobtrusive design, you can capture video from every angle without drawing too much attention to your CCTV setup.
  3. C-mount CCTV cameras: These cameras are ideal for customization, as you can add lenses to capture video at varying distances. Like bullet cameras, C-Mount cameras are cylinder in shape and work most effectively in outdoor environments.
  4. Day/night CCTV cameras: If you want to monitor an outdoor area 24/7, cameras that operate in bright and dark lighting will be your best option. Thanks to their imaging chips, day/night cameras can capture clear video even when the lighting conditions are extreme.
  5. Wireless CCTV cameras: Those who prefer a tidier environment without the clutter of wires will likely want to install wireless cameras. These cameras transmit video footage to the cloud, so you and your team can access it anywhere.
  6. Network CCTV cameras: Similar to wireless cameras, network cameras share video footage to the internet. The difference is that you can configure network cameras so they're connected to your internet router.
  7. PTZ CCTV cameras: Known fully as pan, tilt and zoom cameras, PTV cameras let your team have total control over where you capture video footage. Simply press the corresponding button and the camera will pan, tilt or zoom as you wish. These cameras are perfect for actively monitoring large spaces with lots of foot traffic.
  8. Infrared CCTV cameras: If you need to capture video footage in a completely dark area, you should install infrared cameras. Commonly referred to as night vision cameras, they use infrared LEDs to record video in the dark. However, you can also use them during the day when the cameras' infrared cut filter kicks in.

Many people choose to use more than one kind of CCTV camera, especially when they need to cover different environments. Consider what purpose your CCTV system will serve so you can make an informed decision about which types of cameras you need to install.

How Does CCTV Work?

While CCTV works differently based on which cameras you have, the concept of CCTV remains the same. CCTV cameras continually capture a sequence of images that transmit to a digital video recorder (DVR). Then, the images appear on the display monitor as a stream of video footage.

If your cameras are wired, the images will transmit via cable. If your cameras are wireless, the images will move through a secure, cloud-based network. Using dome or PTZ cameras can allow you to see images from various angles and have more control over what you see.

What Is CCTV Used For?

CCTV systems have numerous applications. These are just a few examples of how people can use CCTV:

  • Crime monitoring: The most popular reason people install CCTV systems is to monitor for criminal activity. If someone robs a store or breaks into a home, law enforcement can review the video footage to identify the suspect. Further, business owners and homeowners can look at the video footage to determine what happened during an incident.
  • Crime prevention: In many cases, people will install CCTV to deter criminals, as the mere presence of security cameras can dissuade bad actors.
  • Community observation: Sometimes, communities will install CCTV to monitor certain activities, such as traffic, as part of improvement projects. Through CCTV, officials can see when and how to enhance their communities based on the behavior they see.
  • Emergency management: Often, emergency services will use CCTV systems to monitor ongoing situations. For example, emergency service workers can relay the status of a flood to the responding disaster management team.
  • Retail data collection: CCTV is particularly effective for gathering information about retail shoppers. If you own a store, you can use your CCTV system to see when most people shop, which aisles see the most foot traffic and more.

Advantages of CCTV Security Systems

There are many benefits of using CCTV camera systems at home, for businesses and in public spaces. Here are three key advantages of installing a CCTV system:

1. Increased Safety

Of more than 7.5 million incidents reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in 2020, 60.5% were crimes against property. Having a way to protect your property against burglaries, vandalism and other property crimes is essential — and CCTV can help.

CCTV's most popular use is to increase property security. By installing CCTV, you can feel safer at home or work knowing your cameras are deterring bad actors and capturing criminal activity. If you pair your CCTV system with applications like camera doorbells and other security devices, you can increase your property's security significantly.

2. More Peace of Mind

CCTV offers homeowners and business owners alike more peace of mind. Because it's impossible to always know what's happening on your property, installing CCTV helps you have another set of eyes that can constantly monitor activity. This assistance will give you personal relief, and you can redirect your attention elsewhere.

3. Better Awareness

When you consistently have visitors, whether they're strangers or they've worked with you for years, it's important to know their locations and what's going on when they're present. These camera systems are ideal for large properties where people are always coming and going.

For example, people who own homes on several acres of land can use CCTV to check in on landscapers, contractors and other workers who are working far away from the main property. If you're hosting an event, such as a fundraiser, CCTV can help you ensure no one has wandered off into a restricted location, like your guest bedrooms.

No matter the situation, you should always be aware of what's happening on your property.

Things to Know Before Buying CCTV Camera Systems

Before you invest in a CCTV system, you should think about a few essential points to ensure you make the best choice for your needs:

  • Camera type: What kind of CCTV camera do you want to install? Consider each style of camera's capabilities — such as whether you can control the angle or zoom — so you can see how they align with your needs.
  • Camera quality: For basic purposes like monitoring your backyard, you may not need a camera with more than 720p resolution. However, businesses usually prefer cameras that have 1080p resolution, as they capture clearer video footage. If you choose a system with a higher resolution, be sure you have enough storage space to accommodate the video quality.
  • Camera range: How far can your cameras record legible video footage? If you're looking to monitor a parking lot, you should check that your cameras will be able to record cars until they drive off of the property, which could be several yards.
  • Installation time: How difficult will it be to set up your chosen CCTV system? Typically, wireless CCTV cameras take less time to install, since they don't require extensive wiring and groundwork. If you'd prefer to have your CCTV system up and running as quickly as possible, choosing a wireless setup may be your best bet.
  • Weather resistance: If you're installing outdoor CCTV cameras, you must ensure they can withstand harsh weather and consistent sunlight. A waterproof CCTV camera model is ideal for such purposes.
  • Offline capabilities: Can your CCTV system work offline? Consider what would happen to your CCTV system should your power go out. Using a wireless CCTV system may be best when lack of power is a concern, as it'll upload video footage to the cloud, which you can access from anywhere.

Contact Knight Security Systems to Learn More

If you would like to learn more about how CCTV can benefit your home or business, contact us at Knight Security Systems. Our systems can help increase your property's security, give you better peace of mind and help you be more aware of what's going on in your home or business. We look forward to hearing from you.

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