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What is CCTV?

Nicole Madison
Updated Feb 20, 2024
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Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) is a network of cameras and monitors that are directly connected on a closed circuit. This means the images picked up by the cameras aren’t accessible by anyone who has a receiver, which is the norm with regular television. Instead, the monitor must have a direct connection to the cameras of the system in order to access its signal. CCTV can be used in a number of different ways, including as a part of a security system for a business or residence. It may also be used in such applications as aerial photography, which involves taking photographs from up high; in football stadiums; in hospitals; and even in monitoring the movement of traffic at intersections.

The size of a CCTV system may depend on how and where it is used, but the basic elements of the system are the same, regardless of its application. A CCTV system has at least one camera, but may include several cameras if needed. It also includes display monitors that pick up the images captured by the cameras. The display monitors have a direct connection to the CCTV network, which is the reason they can pick up the images on the cameras. Display monitors that are not directly connected to the closed-circuit network cannot access the signal or see the images provided by the cameras.

There are different ways in which a CCTV system can send its images from the cameras to the display monitors. This type of system may use coaxial cables for signal broadcasting, but some systems use other types of technology to accomplish this. For example, a CCTV may also use microwaves or infrared technology to send its broadcasts from its cameras to the display units that are connected to the network.

The uses of CCTV are numerous. a store owner, for example, may install this type of system to monitor his store and keep track of each customer who enters. With this type of system in place, catching thieves may be easier. A homeowner may also use a closed-circuit system for the purpose of monitoring parts of his home for intruders. Hospitals may also have a use for these systems, as they allow health care professionals to monitor patients visually, without being in the room with them. This sort of system may even be used in the monitoring of intersections in order to capture traffic violations.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Nicole Madison
By Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. Her passion for knowledge is evident in the well-researched and informative articles she authors. As a mother of four, Nicole balances work with quality family time activities such as reading, camping, and beach trips.
Discussion Comments
By anon259700 — On Apr 07, 2012

Can someone who works on the town center cctv watch your movements, then report you to the police for moving your car, saying you had been drinking? This was done by the person who had a grudge against you.

By wander — On Jun 09, 2011

If you are considering putting in CCTV into your home and surrounding property you should look into a central system that can be monitored from your computers. While paying someone to watch your property can get expensive, motion sensor cameras and a good computer can be much cheaper in the long run.

There is a lot of software available that can help you discern possible threats, and allow you to record evidence of wrong doing. Nanny cams are probably one of the most famous uses of CCTV for private use. There provide parents the security of knowing that they can always see their children and that child care workers are acting as they should.

By lonelygod — On Jun 07, 2011

There are varying laws in different states that regulate the use of CCTV cameras. In most areas the public must be notified that they are on film and being recorded. This protects the CCTV user from invading an unsuspecting person's privacy.

On that note, CCTV may not be used in bathrooms or changing rooms in stores. This practice is generally illegal and you should report any cameras present in this area to the authorities. While deterring shoplifters is one benefit of CCTV, people should not be subjected to what amounts to peeping.

If you are unsure if an area has cameras, it is always best to ask. Many people prefer to have this security in place when choosing which apartment complexes to live in.

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison's love for learning inspires her work as a WiseGeek writer, where she focuses on topics like...
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