Closed-Circuit Television

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) is the use of video cameras to transmit a signal to a specific place, on a limited set of monitors. It differs frombroadcast television in that the signal is not openly transmitted, though it may employ point to point (P2P), point to multipoint, or mesh wireless links. Though almost all video cameras fit this definition, the term is most often applied to those used for surveillance in areas that may need monitoring such as banks, casinos, airports, military installations, and convenience stores. Videotelephony is seldom called “CCTV” but the use of video in distance education, where it is an important tool, is often so called.

In industrial plants, CCTV equipment may be used to observe parts of a process from a central control room, for example when the environment is not suitable for humans. CCTV systems may operate continuously or only as required to monitor a particular event. A more advanced form of CCTV, utilizingdigital video recorders (DVRs), provides recording for possibly many years, with a variety of quality and performance options and extra features (such as motion-detection and email alerts). More recently, decentralized IP cameras, some equipped with megapixel sensors, support recording directly tonetwork-attached storage devices, or internal flash for completely stand-alone operation. Surveillance of the public using CCTV is particularly common in many areas around the world.

History

The first CCTV system was installed by Siemens AG at Test Stand VII in Peenemünde, Germany in 1942, for observing the launch of V-2 rockets.[4] The noted German engineer Walter Bruch was responsible for the technological design and installation of the system.

In the U.S. the first commercial closed-circuit television system became available in 1949, called Vericon. Very little is known about Vericon except it was advertised as not requiring a government permit.[5]

The earliest systems required constant monitoring because there was no way to record and store the information. Recording systems would be introduced later, when primitive reel-to-reel media was used to preserve the data, where the magnetic tapes had to be changed manually. It was a time consuming, expensive and unreliable process; the operator had to manually thread the tape from the tape reel through the recorder onto an empty take-up reel. Due to these efforts, video surveillance was rare. Only when VCR technology became available in the 1970s, which made it easy to record and erase information, did video surveillance start to become much more common.

CCTV recording systems are still often used at modern launch sites to record the flight of the rockets, in order to find the possible causes of malfunctions, while larger rockets often send pictures of stage separation back to earth by radio link. The history of CCTV in the United States varies from that of the United Kingdom. One of its first appearances was in 1973 in Times Square in New York City. The NYPD installed it in order to deter crime that was occurring in the area; however, crime rates did not appear to drop much due to the cameras.[10] Nevertheless, during the 1980s video surveillance began to spread across the country specifically targeting public areas.  It was seen as a cheaper way to deter crime compared to increasing the size of the police departments. Some businesses as well, especially those that were prone to theft, began to use video surveillance.

During the 1990s digital multiplexing, which allowed for several cameras at once to record, and introduced time lapse and motion only recording, increased the use of CCTV across the country[11] and increased the savings of time and money. From the mid-1990s on, police departments across the country installed an increasing number of cameras in various public spaces including housing projects, schools and public parks departments.Following the September 11 attacks, the use of video surveillance has become a common occurrence in the country to deter future terrorist attacks.

In September 1968, Olean, New York was the first city in the United States to install video cameras along its main business street in an effort to fight crime.

CCTV later became very common in banks and stores to discourage theft, by recording evidence of criminal activity. Their use further popularised the concept. The first place to use CCTV in the United Kingdom was King’s Lynn, Norfolk.

Crime prevention

xperiments in the UK during the 1970s and 1980s (including outdoor CCTV in Bournemouth in 1985), led to several larger trial programs later that decade.

These were deemed successful in the government report “CCTV: Looking Out For You”, issued by the Home Office in 1994, and paved the way for a massive increase in the number of CCTV systems installed. Today, systems cover most town and city centres, and many stations, car-parks and estates.

A 2009 analysis by Northeastern University and the University of Cambridge, “Public Area CCTV and Crime Prevention: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis,” examined 44 different studies that collectively surveyed areas from the United Kingdom to U.S. cities such as Cincinnati and New York.

The analysis found that:

  1. Surveillance systems were most effective in parking lots, where their use resulted in a 51% decrease in crime;
  2. Public transportation areas saw a 23% decrease in crimes;
  3. Systems in public settings were the least effective, with just a 7% decrease in crimes overall. When sorted by country, however, systems in the United Kingdom accounted for the majority of the decrease; the drop in other areas was insignificant.[14]

The results from the above 2009 “Public Area CCTV and Crime Prevention: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”,[14][15] are somewhat controversial.[16] Earlier similar meta-analysis completed by Walsh and Farrington in 2002 showed similar results: a significant decrease in car park crime (41%), and a non-significant decrease of crime in public transit and public places.[17] This study was criticised for the inclusion of confounding variables (e.g. notification of CCTV cameras on site, improved street lighting) found in the studies analyzed (including car park studies). These factors could not be teased apart from the effect of CCTV cameras being present or absent while crimes were being committed.[15][16] Thus, a combination of factors might be important for the decrease in crime not just the CCTV cameras. The 2009 study admitted to similar problems as well as issues with the consistency of the percentage of area covered by CCTV cameras within the tested sites (e.g. car parks have more cameras per square inch than public transit).[15] There is still much research to be done to determine the effectiveness of CCTV cameras on crime prevention before any conclusions can be drawn.

There is strong anecdotal evidence that CCTV aids in detection and conviction of offenders; indeed UK police forces routinely seek CCTV recordings after crimes.[18] Moreover CCTV has played a crucial role in tracing the movements of suspects or victims and is widely regarded by antiterrorist officers as a fundamental tool in tracking terrorist suspects. Large-scale CCTV installations have played a key part of the defences against terrorism since the 1970s. Cameras have also been installed on public transport in the hope of deterring crime,[19][20] and in mobile police surveillance vans, often with automatic number plate recognition, and a network of APNI-linked cameras is used to manage London’s congestion charging zone. Even so there is political hostility to surveillance and several commentators downplay the evidence of CCTV’s effectiveness, especially in the US.[21] However, most of these assertions are based on poor methodology or imperfect comparisons.[22]

A more open question is whether most CCTV is cost-effective. While low-quality domestic kits are cheap the professional installation and maintenance of high definition CCTV is expensive.[23] Gill and Spriggs did a Cost-effectiveness analysis (CEA) of CCTV in crime prevention that showed little monetary saving with the installation of CCTV as most of the crimes prevented resulted in little monetary loss.[16] Critics however noted that benefits of non-monetary value cannot be captured in a traditional Cost Effectiveness Analysis and were omitted from their study.[16] A 2008 Report by UK Police Chiefs concluded that only 3% of crimes were solved by CCTV.[24] In London, a Metropolitan Police report showed that in 2008 only one crime was solved per 1000 cameras.[25] In some cases CCTV cameras have become a target of attacks themselves.[26]

On July 22, 2005, Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead by police at Stockwell tube station. According to brother Giovani Menezes, “The film showed that Jean did not have suspicious behaviour” .[27]

Because of the bombing attempts the previous day, some of the tapes had been supposedly removed from CCTV cameras for study, and they were not functional.[28] An ongoing change to DVR-based technology may in future stop similar problems occurring.[29]

In October 2009, an “Internet Eyes” website was announced which would pay members of the public to view CCTV camera images from their homes and report any crimes they witnessed. The site aimed to add “more eyes” to cameras which might be insufficiently monitored. Civil liberties campaigners criticized the idea as “a distasteful and a worrying development”.[30]

In 2013 Oaxaca hired deaf police officers to lip read conversations to uncover criminal conspiracies

Prevalence

An article published in CCTV Image magazine estimates that the number of cameras in the UK is 1.85 million. The number is based on extrapolating from a comprehensive survey of public and private cameras within the Cheshire Constabulary jurisdiction.[32] This works out as an average of one camera for every 32 people in the UK, although the density of cameras varies greatly from place to place. The Cheshire report also claims that the average person on a typical day would be seen by 70 CCTV cameras.

The Cheshire figure is regarded as more dependable than a previous study by Michael McCahill and Clive Norris of UrbanEye published in 2002.[33] Based on a small sample in Putney High Street, McCahill and Norris estimated the number of surveillance cameras in private premises in London at around 500,000 and the total number of cameras in the UK at around 4,200,000. According to their estimate the UK has one camera for every 14 people. Although it has been acknowledged for several years that the methodology behind this figure is somewhat dubious, it has continued to be quoted in the absence of a better figure.

The CCTV User Group estimates that there are around 1.5 million CCTV cameras in city centres, stations, airports, major retail areas and so forth. This figure does not include the smaller surveillance systems such as those that may be found in local corner shops and is therefore broadly in line with the Cheshire report.

Research conducted by the Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research and based on a survey of all Scottish local authorities, identified that there are over 2,200 public space CCTV cameras in Scotland.[36]

Hacking and video art

Hackers and guerrilla artists have exposed the vulnerabilities of the video systems in an act dubbed “video sniffing” They have crossed feeds, uploaded their own video feeds and used the video footage for artistic purposes.

Industrial processes

Industrial processes that take place under conditions dangerous for humans are today often supervised by CCTV. These are mainly processes in the chemical industry, the interior of reactors or facilities for manufacture of nuclear fuel. Special cameras for some of these purposes include line-scan cameras and thermographic cameras which allow operators to measure the temperature of the processes. The usage of CCTV in such processes is sometimes required by law.

Traffic monitoring

Many cities and motorway networks have extensive traffic-monitoring systems, using closed-circuit television to detect congestion and notice accidents. Many of these cameras however, are owned by private companies and transmit data to drivers’ GPS systems.

The UK Highways Agency has a publicly owned CCTV network of over 1,200 cameras covering the English motorway and trunk road network. These cameras are primarily used to monitor traffic conditions and are not used as speed cameras. With the addition of fixed cameras for the Active Traffic Management system, the number of cameras on the Highways Agency’s CCTV network is likely to increase significantly over the next few years.

The London congestion charge is enforced by cameras positioned at the boundaries of and inside the congestion charge zone, which automatically read the licence plates of cars. If the driver does not pay the charge then a fine will be imposed. Similar systems are being developed as a means of locating cars reported stolen.[citation needed]

Other surveillance cameras serve as traffic enforcement cameras.

Transport safety

A CCTV system may be installed where an operator of a machine cannot directly observe people who may be injured by some unexpected machine operation. For example, on a subway train, CCTV cameras may allow the operator to confirm that people are clear of doors before closing them and starting the train.

Operators of an amusement park ride may use a CCTV system to observe that people are not endangered by starting the ride. A CCTV camera and dashboard monitor can make reversing a vehicle safer, if it allows the driver to observe objects or people not otherwise visible.

 Control of retail

Some software integrates with CCTV to monitor the actions of workers in retail environments. Every action is recorded as an information block with subtitles that explain the performed operation. This helps to track the actions of workers, especially when they are making critical financial transactions, such as correcting or cancelling of a sale, withdrawing money or altering personal information.

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