This month we’re departing from our roundtable Q&A format and have reached out to industry movers and shakers to chronicle the last three decades of major security technology product development. Check out the timeline as well.
CCTV–Someone to Watch Over
A look at some of the outstanding advancements in CCTV over the past several decades begins with the premise of capturing events and sending those images to a place for viewing. “In the 1970s the big invention was how to connect a video camera to a monitor,” explained Dvir Doron, vice president of Marketing, ioimage, Denton, Texas.
“This technology started with closed-circuit wiring between a camera and monitor enabling guards to watch over what was going on in the field.”
Early systems were cumbersome and relied on wiring from the monitor to the field camera resulting in high operational costs and manual labor. “Technology-aided surveillance began in the 1970s with closed-circuit television systems that were analog based,” said Eric Fullerton, chief sales and marketing officer, Milestone Systems, Beaverton, Ore. “These systems were built from cameras, multiplexers, time-lapse video camera recorders (VCRs) and monitors. They required a lot of coaxial cabling to send and store the video onto video tapes.” Operators were also required to change the tapes on a regular basis, adding to the labor intensity of the system’s early set up.
As technology improved, the 1980s and 1990s brought advancements in recording devices eliminating one of its biggest problems, all that tape. “Thankfully digital video recorders (DVR) started to come in and began solving one of the problems associated with the technology which was how to handle video recordings,” said Doron.
New DVRs provided greater storage capacity on a computer hard drive and archiving of images was greatly enhanced by taking up less space. “Due to the problems experienced with the VCR, people began installing digital video recorders as that technology became available,” added Fullerton.
By the mid 1990s as the VCR was well on its way to being replaced by the DVR, the industry was now able to incorporate automation into CCTV systems, according to Doron. “Up until now guards had to be in place watching the CCTV and every few hours the tapes would have to be refreshed. The introduction of digital technology replaced multiple devices with a single device. There were no more tapes and now there was something new: indexing and viewing on a PC.”
With many advancements being recognized in the recording aspect of technology, camera technology improved and so too did the method of sending images to the monitor. “The standards began to change in 2000 as cameras moved from analog to digital,” said Doron. “The whole infrastructure changed as the IP revolution took hold.”
This opened up the marketplace, according to Fullerton. Users could rely on systems to accomplish faster retrieval of video which meant more incidents could be alerted, averted, investigated, resolved and prosecuted. “This open platform IP video approach represents the evolution of the industry,” said Fullerton. “It decouples the hardware from the software, allowing free choice of both surveillance and IT equipment. With surveillance controlled through the computer, the installation could be used in brand new ways.”
The future holds endless possibilities for installers and end-users looking for ways to improve on its original task of monitoring with limitless potential. “As already experienced in the business world with other technologies, there is no doubt that the influence of IT networks, the Web and IP-protocols are continuing to dramatically change the surveillance technology,” said Fullerton.