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CCTV Technology Continues to Evolve

posted by John Beagle 03/05/2006

 
CCTV systems were introduced in the US and the UK during the 60s and 70s.

Each camera had its own monitor. One camera, one monitor.
CCTV C-Mount Camera
Today's PC Based CCTV DVR Systems CCTV B&W Monitor 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 Switcher

CCTV Technology Evolution

(See here for CCTV Terms)

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.

CCTV Multiplexer (MUX)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 identification purposes.

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 specific events.

There was no motion detection capability and no way of viewing events from a remote location.

Expensive for what you get

Trespasser 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 changing needs of the surveillance market.

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John Beagle is a technical writer for Xponex Web and Media Services