Closed circuit television (CCTV) systems have become an everyday sight. Take a moment to glance around in any public location, and there is a better-than-average chance a CCTV camera of some sort is within sight. Watch any action movie, and there is almost guaranteed to be a scene involving the protagonist eliminating CCTVs from a targeted facility. Even a quick glance at the headlines will probably include a blurb on the controversy surrounding surveillance versus privacy. Technology has allowed these cameras to get smaller and smaller as the images they produce become more and more defined. And whether the stage is pop-culture or politics, CCTVs have become a regular part of our daily lives.
So what are these systems actually used for?
1) Crime Prevention
We lead things off with a no-brainer. After all, anything that can be even conceivably used in law enforcement inevitably ends up there. Controversial studies have shown that CCTV systems can decrease crime in parking lots by as much as 51% and public transportation by as much as 23%. Critics point to other factors, such as brighter lighting and signs indicating the presence of monitoring equipment, but at minimum, the correlation between CCTVs and crime decrease is indisputable. In addition to crime prevention, footage obtained by cameras is frequently used as evidence in the prosecution of criminals for all manner of illegal acts. As technology progresses, more and more detailed and identifiable images are able to be used for both prosecution and criminal defense.
2) Traffic Monitoring
Many cities now use a combination of CCTV and GPS technologies in extensive traffic monitoring systems. These systems serve a multitude of purposes, ranging from simple traffic light monitoring to more advanced traffic-data collection and control. The UK has developed such systems the furthest, and currently run a network of over 1,200 cameras, monitoring the country’s various roadways. In the US, progressive use of CCTV traffic surveillance, particularly when related to law enforcement, has been met with significant public outrage. With the exception of red light ticketing, very few traffic laws are enforced via camera in the United States.
3) Industrial Processes
Out of the top three uses for CCTVs, this one is probably the most “out of sight, out of mind.” CCTV systems are frequently used to monitor industrial processes that take place in environments too dangerous for human observation. These systems are primarily used in chemical production plants, but have also been used in nuclear facilities as well. The presence of mechanical “eyes” allows monitoring systems and operators to observe processes taking place where human observation would be decidedly unsafe.
CCTVs come in all shapes and sizes. They can cost anywhere from a lot to a little, and they can be used for both the fascinating as well as the mundane. We hope you’ve learned some useful tidbits about a small piece of technology that has permanently embedded itself in our culture.
Tiffany Olson hails from Redding, CA where she blogs on behalf of small, local businesses in order for them to increase their business and online presence. She blogs on many topics including cctv in Redding, telecommunications install and repair, and security systems.