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Closed-circuit television (CCTV) could be considered the heart of surveillance in our world, and almost every developed country’s infrastructure uses them to monitor the well-being of public and private spaces such as neighborhoods, businesses, schools, and private homes. They’re most common in cities and can deter crimes like thievery. Before you wave to the cameras in your local area, we’ll show you some surprising things about modern security systems that might teach you a thing or two about how effective they are.
|Location||Quantity of active CCTVs|
|London, United Kingdom||627,727|
Listed above are the top 5 places in the world with the highest number of CCTVs on record.
It’s estimated that the total number of CCTVs in the world far exceeds 700 million, with most of them being operated in China. In fact, Beijing, a city of plentiful historic landmarks and the capital of the country, holds in surplus 1 million individual surveillance recorders for its 20 million residents.
The East Asian giant also owns more than 50 percent of all security cameras that are currently in use. China’s technological advancement and serious industrial output are the root cause of this, and it’s mainly to control the social system as well as police massive and populous cities where law enforcement is limited.
Resources from ADT, a home security company, show that cameras used for protecting houses can improve defense against burglary by 300%. They’ve also concluded that cameras in plain sight drastically discourage a potential criminal from committing a crime for fear that they’ll get busted.
Luckily, these monitoring systems have skyrocketed in popularity within the last decade because they have become affordable to household consumers. However, this means that fake recording devices can also be used to deter crime as well.
Artificial Intelligence may seem like a buzzword, but it’s no joke in the hands of surveillance. CCTV has improved leagues recently, and many systems can now detect and track individual faces. This has become a concern among the general public as an invasion of privacy, but as they are strictly used by officials for public spaces only, so there isn’t much that can be done. Still, some people want their identity to be private.
Back in 1942, Germany built what is considered to be one of the foremost security systems with CCTV, which primarily aided in military testing. Walter Burch, the engineer of the device, developed a model to watch the newly constructed German V2 Rocket takeoff in Peenemunde. At this time, though, there weren’t memory cards to store data, so all information had to be monitored live. The operators essentially used them to view launches from a safe distance.
Traffic analysis, home security, and business security are the primary ways that CCTV recordings are utilized by the public. The first is implemented for busy streets and intersections to catch traffic violations where there is a high risk of accidents occurring. House security is a consumer-level version that enables homeowners to protect themselves and deter theft. The same goes for businesses, especially banks, fast food, and retail, since they are common places for shoplifters and heists.
Some places just aren’t safe enough for humans to be monitoring in person. For example, some businesses use CCTV to watch over environments with temperature instability or poor air quality—think power plants, chemical processing facilities, certain science labs, or even military testing.
All of these are too hazardous for us to be in unless we maintain an appropriate distance from the affected area unless special suits or equipment are used.
As we mentioned previously, it isn’t always easy to reach certain spots without compromising safety. The funny thing is that drones aren’t just being flown outside. They’re also being put as security assistants inside homes. Ring’s latest gadget, the “Always Home Cam,” is a self-sufficient flying device that can detect and watch over an entire house without any human intervention.
It’s an impressive feat of engineering, but it’s also a bit unusual. The company itself is known to collect customer data, and an autonomous drone robot might seem overkill for the average person.
A man by the name of Leon Theremin created the first official CCTV in 1927, which was a manual device used to spectate visitors to governmental buildings. This same device was showcased by Theremin to none other than Joseph Stalin, leader of the Russian regime. He used it to see who was entering the Moscow Kremlin.
If you live in or travel to London in the United Kingdom, it’s likely that you are being watched—a lot. This European nation has over 500,000 security cameras, about 20% of the entire world’s total CCTV. Reports by Relink claim that here, you are being actively recorded 300 times a day.
It doesn’t stop there because Britain plans to increase their home surveillance by 64% within the next 5 years. Still, about 95% of people are happy with their own home systems.
Dashcams are those little devices that hang off driver windshields to record if anything goes wrong on the road. There are a few nations, such as Russia, the UK, the US, and Australia, that use them to prevent insurance fraud or false accusations in court. They also deter car thieves and can record inside the vehicle cabin for a better view. However, in a small nation like Luxembourg, using a dashcam in public spaces is illegal and can get you a fine or even imprisonment.
Not all cameras are used for the greater good. While you might think that CCTV is only used by law enforcement, businesses, or public sectors, thieves can abuse these systems by placing small traps that gain sight of PINs entered in ATMs.
Some cyber-criminals can hijack nearby cameras as well and get control of police recordings or live monitors. Just watch out for tiny cameras the next time you withdraw money and cover your pin with your hand.
CCTV doesn’t just delete all its old footage. Most companies will hold their video streams for as long as 3 months. This is even a mandatory feature for banks who need to keep close tabs on suspicious activity, even if it happened some time ago.
In order to achieve this, storage units, such as hard drives, cloud storage, or high-capacity SD cards, are needed to have all the media stored effectively and securely.
HomeAdvisor states that the cost of installing a security television system could run you $616–$2,042. That’s an average of $1,328. Why? Because they are placed up high or in areas that would otherwise take quite the handyman to get to. This is a good thing because burglars might be able to break or steal cameras that are at ground level. Some people have them put on the top of a house or near the gutters.
Body cams are one recent add-on to police gear, and some US states now require them to be worn while on duty. Colorado, Maryland, New Jersey, and New Mexico are just to name a few, and it’s likely that more locations may mandate them in the future. In the US, capturing video in public spaces—on streets, walkways, parks, etc.—is completely legal. That means they can be used for criminal cases and court appearances to show what really happened in any event.
In recent years, imaging technology has become better in each generation of product line, and that doesn’t exclude CCTVs. You can now get security footage in a high-resolution format, just like big-budget films, although it probably won’t be used for professional movies.
Ultra-HD (UHD) video is now the new normal and at a more affordable cost for businesses and consumers to purchase. UHD recorders produce a sharper and clearer picture profile that makes it easier to see details in footage. The only downside is that it takes up quite a bit of storage. Luckily, standard hard drives have gone down in price as well.
Elon Musk and his crew of engineers at Tesla automotive developed something straight out of a science-fiction film by the name of “Sentry Mode.” This is a surveillance and security system built with and for their electric car lineup, which integrates sensors and cameras around the automobile that detect suspicious activity while you are away. According to the electric vehicle giant, there was a vehicle theft every 40 seconds just a few years back, and they currently want to prevent it as much as they can.
CCTV has become a popular self-defense mechanism for those who want to scare away potential threats and capture criminals in the act. Not only that, but its applications can be crucial to businesses operating smoothly and effectively. Yet some individuals and collective countries aren’t so fond of the idea because there is a dilemma regarding the right to privacy, even in public areas.
In either case, the technology and production of security cameras are only growing, and there is still much to be discussed. We hope you enjoyed our 16 most interesting facts about them!
Featured Image Credit: KsanderDN, Shutterstock
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Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.
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