CCTV – otherwise known as closed circuit television – is a system of digital camera and image transmission, to be viewed remotely via a private channel.
The images, moving or still, obtained with this system can be automatically processed and / or played back and then archived or destroyed.
CCTV image quality is overall inferior to today’s security cameras, which offers much crisper images and more features. Still, CCTV has been around longer and the general objective of this technology is and has always been to contribute to the security of goods and / or people. Conversely, there are those who saw the proliferation of these cameras as quite Orwellian, a la 1984. “Big Brother Is Watching”… if you have a spare couple hours, here’s the 1954 TV adaptation of the book…mind control, the elimination of independent thought… all of that good stuff!
In this article, we will talk about the proliferation of CCTV cameras over the decades, and specifically in Europe where it was the hope that these cameras would save the world from crime, and we will also discuss what appears to be the slow demise of CCTV at the hands of stark statistics and even more efficient cameras in recent years.
Regardless of whether or not you are pro or anti CCTV, this technology has certainly become known to us as a modern society. You’ve surely seen many examples of CCTV in movies and on tv over the years, often used to express a gritty realness or a paranoid feeling of “being watched” for dramatic effect, but in reality it has existed for over 50 years in an effort to add security to various locations via remote surveillance, such as with the example provided below…
In recent years, yes, CCTV has moved beyond government and commercial purposes, and into the home and into the hands of residential users, accessed remotely using smart home security systems which use different protocols but perform the same basic function.
As we’ve already mentioned, CCTV’s popularity as a consumer product has been far overshadowed in such a brief time by the growing popularity of smart cameras. In this year, 2016, smart cameras are now becoming the dominant form of home security camera, while CCTV cameras are relegated to the 2nd tier of what’s considered effective.
Be that as it may, the concept of this type of CCTV filming, by way of this remotely controlled technology, has been around for decades. It was first used during World War II by the Germans for safety reasons: to observe the launch of their missiles, so it does have a solid foundation in operating privately and being by and large hacker-proof.
During the 1980s, the UK was the first country to fully implement this system following the IRA attacks leading to the so-called “Ring Of Steel”.
The UK currently remains the European country which is the most “tele-monitored” via CCTV cameras. London is known as the city where the proliferation of such video (both public and private) is the largest.
Beyond the 1980’s, CCTV policies have been implemented in several European cities during the 1990s, with the thought that the more monitoring authorities did, the more crimes that could be prevented.
Benefits And Drawbacks Of CCTV Technology
According to its supporters, CCTV helps prevent terrorism and more generally crime (hold ups, burglaries, assaults on roads, etc.) and keep an eye on large groups of people in areas where incidents are known to occur.
In contrast, the detractors of CCTV (especially when it comes to surveying public places) basically accuse it of breach of privacy, but there is talk also its high cost and inefficiency.
According to several reports, including the United States and the United Kingdom, they paint a critical and perhaps scathing review of CCTV based on certain statistics that have come to light.
Scotland Yard’s Opinion Of CCTV
A representative from Scotland Yard to the Security Document World Conference of April 2008 speaking of the “utter fiasco” and “complete failure” of CCTV, because, as they said, police officers are not sufficiently trained to use it, and those who are trained often do not want to spend time watching the recorded video footage “because it’s a lot of work”.
So this can be taken one of two ways – either CCTV simply has no inherent effect on crime, or the people who are supposed to be watching the cameras and using the footage can’t be bothered.
Interestingly, recently Scotland Yard seems to have changed their tune quite drastically in regards to CCTV cameras, now wanting to put them in every home.