CCTV Systems Go Digital

Digital video delivers improved quality, which enables more details and changes in images.


With the introduction of network cameras and PC-based image processing and storage, Closed Circuit television systems are destined to become 100 percent digital. As modern security management insists on more video surveillance, and legacy CCTV systems wear out and require repair and upgrades, the...


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With the introduction of network cameras and PC-based image processing and storage, Closed Circuit television systems are destined to become 100 percent digital.

As modern security management insists on more video surveillance, and legacy CCTV systems wear out and require repair and upgrades, the new video technologies are here to supply the solutions.

Digital video delivers improved image quality, which enables more details and changes in images, allowing faster decisions concerning the safety of people and property. Digital video also uses automated analysis and alarm tools, such as face recognition, with fewer false positives.

Unlike traditional analog cameras, digital network cameras are equipped with the processing power not only to capture and present images, but also to digitally manage and compress them for network transport.

The video camera is evolving into an intelligent sensor that can perform many functions in security management.

Besides these operational benefits to the end-user, the new video technology is readily available at lower price points. Additionally, since the hardware is trending towards being totally within the digital domain, the knowledge, tools and terminology employed in the deployment of these systems are similar to those used in the other digitally-dominated areas of security, such as access control, electronic security systems (burglar alarms) and even your own lock shop's PC.

Locks: Essential For Integrated Systems

You will hear and read the term "System Integration" being used more and more frequently when security plans are being discussed. The locksmith knows that physical security is the essential ingredient of all security.

In the past, there were obvious points of demarcation which separated the various elements of physical and electronic security. With the advent of electrically controlled locks, and now the growing availability of cameras, access controls and other electronic security components which all can speak to one another using generic network and PC protocols; locksmiths with an eye to the future are adapting to these new techniques and providing integrated security solutions.

The video industry has been going through the transformation to digital for several years. An important milestone was the introduction of solid-state image sensors, CCDs (charge-coupled devices).

The CCD has replaced the venerable Vidicon, the vacuum tube device which had traditionally been used in virtually every CCTV camera to capture the image as the first step in the process of displaying and recording video images.

The Image Sensor transforms light into electrical signals. There are two possible technologies used for the camera image sensors: CCD and CMOS.

CCD sensors were developed specifically for the camera industry and have been in use for over 20 years. Advantages of CCD include better light sensitivity than CMOS sensors therefore better images in low light conditions. In extremely bright conditions, CCD images may smear or bleed. Most high-quality cameras use CCD sensors, but CMOS sensors are improving.

CMOS (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) sensors are based on standard technology already in use in computer memory chips.

Cabling: The Next Link

The next link in the process, the interconnection between the camera and the rest of the surveillance system, also changes. Coaxial cable which was used to carry the analog video is being replaced with wired and wireless infrastructure, which conforms to the digital and network topology. Cables include those rated for network applications, such as those referred to as Cat 5 (Category 5 is a classification which defines data transmission capability of cable; there are numerous classifications) and UTP (plain old untwisted pair wire). Wireless infrastructures also abound, and include proprietary RF (Radio Frequency) protocols, the ubiquitous Wi-Fi (wireless network) and others.

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