Surveillance cameras can be traced back to as early as 1965, when they were used by police to keep an eye on public locations. The first surveillance cameras were strictly CCTV, or closed circuit television, which needed to be viewed constantly. The 1970ís saw the introduction of videocassettes and the surveillance system benefited in popularity because of it. Surveillance footage could now be stored on inexpensive tapes as evidence. Banks, stores, and gas stations began using surveillance equipment. This is all in addition to use by law enforcement. Some other situations that saw the introduction of surveillance camera usage are divorce proceedings and traffic control.
The biggest feature introduced during this period is the Charged Coupled Device (CCD) camera. These cameras are microchip based and they can record footage in low light and at night. CCDs were originally developed as memory devices when their sensitivity to light was discovered. They work by using a photo effect which generates electrons proportional to the amount of light that falls on the imaging area.
Surveillance camera history: 1990-Present
The next innovation, which occurred in the 1990s, is the digital multiplexer, which made it possible for several cameras to be recorded at the same time and which utilized several now standard features, including time lapse and motion recording. Surveillance cameras were installed in ATMs by the mid 1990s to record transactions made by customers. A major event occurred in February of 1993 which led to increased usage of surveillance equipment. After the first World Trade Center attack, the NYPD, the FBI, and the CIA all installed security cameras in the vicinity of the attack. This event brought new awareness to the use of surveillance equipment.
With the affordability of computers came an increase in digital surveillance. Security footage is now stored on hard drives up to a month at a time because of advanced compression ratios. The systems also have become more affordable. Another benefit of digital surveillance is the clarity of the recorded footage. Furthermore, special features such as digital zoom and image enhancement are now commonplace. A new market arose for security equipment as households in which both parents work became more prevalent. The nannycam, a general term used to describe equipment for keeping an eye on a child and his or her nanny while the parents are away has exploded in popularity. Covert cameras are now developed specifically for this application.
The tragic events of September 11, 2001 called even greater attention to the need for surveillance systems. As a result of the attacks, security equipment became even more prevalent among the general population. The next advancement in security arose due to the internet, which has allowed for monitoring of a surveillance system from anywhere in the world simply by using a standard web browser. This is possible because of IP surveillance cameras that plug directly in to an existing network. Images are archived on a remote web server and streamed to your location. The resolution has increased in quality over time and special features allow for motion activation and email alerts when motion is detected.
What will the next innovation in surveillance systems be? One theory involves cell phone cameras. Their proliferation means that they are everywhere and the unsuspecting person on the corner may be the one who records the next traffic accident, for example.