What is CCTV?

CCTV stands for ‘Closed-Circuit Television’ is also known as video surveillance, and is a system of cameras transmitting private video for security purposes

It is common to see signs in public places warning that an area is monitored by CCTV.

But what is CCTV? And do you need to learn more about CCTV technology?

A definition for what is CCTV

CCTV is an acronym and stands for Closed-Circuit Television. Traditionally, CCTV meant video cameras monitoring any area – such as a street, airport, shop, or business. These videos camera would be wired via coaxial cable to a recording target and monitored by security personnel.

Examples for what is CCTV - various camerasThese days, with webcams, wireless IP cameras and spy cams, the definition for ‘what is CCTV’ has broadened.

Security cameras can still use coaxial cables. It is increasingly common to use Cat5e or ethernet cables to wire digital cameras to a recording target. These digital cameras are known as IP or Internet Protocol cameras, and they transmit digital video streams.

More security cameras are now using wireless or Wifi network protocols to stream video from CCTV cameras.

Regardless of how the video stream is distributed, these are all examples of closed-circuit video systems for private surveillance.

I know what you’re going to ask though – what does ‘closed-circuit’ mean?

What does Closed-circuits mean in CCTV?

When defining what is CCTV, a closed circuit means that the video signals from a security camera system are not broadcast. The video and images are delivered on a closed circuit to only approved personnel.

CCTV is commonly seen in public areas where a security presence is necessary. The CCTV cameras are receiving live video signals are transmitting them electronically on a closed-circuit to a control room or video recorder.

Some CCTV systems can be broadcast publicly. Public webcams or IP cameras monitoring public areas are sometimes broadcast online. You would still refer to these as CCTV.

Modern CCTV systems can allow for two-way communication. CCTV baby monitors and indoor IP cameras provide video and sound surveillance. Speakers in the camera also allow the viewer to communicate with the CCTV target.

What is CCTV used for?

CCTV is used in a wide range of security and monitoring applications today such as:

  • Security in public spaces such as streets, stations and airports
  • Private surveillance inside and outside business premises and homes
  • Monitoring traffic on roads
  • For safety purposes in schools, hospitals and hazardous workplaces
  • For law enforcement, including live tracking in public spaces

What is CCTV these days?

CCTV systems based on analogue video signals used to very expensive.

Nowadays with cheaper digital cameras, networking protocols, and budget network video recorders (NVR) or digital video recorders (DVR), home CCTV systems are now quite affordable.

Homeowners can get a closed-circuit video surveillance system for their private use.

These days, this will consist of one or more digital cameras connected via ethernet or wireless signals to a video recorder.

Cloud video recording is now an option. A CCTV source like an IP camera can stream via a router to a cloud-based recording source. The users can access the recordings via software or apps. The system is private in so far as only the user can access their own video footage.

Apps are also available for Apple and Android devices to view CCTV video streams, or to turn a phone camera into a CCTV video source.

The acronym ‘CCTV’ therefore stands for an ecosystem of security cameras, secure network protocols, video recording solutions and video monitoring software all designed around private surveillance applications.