Blog - Chris Lewis Group

Getting Clever with CCTV

Written by Admin | Oct 23, 2020 5:28:00 AM

Origins of CCTV

Since its origin in the 1940s, CCTV has proven to be a valuable tool in the fight against crime and antisocial behaviour. Along with the technological advancements of the 21st Century has come the emergence of adaptations and improvements of basic CCTV, using new, innovative technology. Recent developments such as wireless devices, Power over Ethernet (PoE), High Definition (HD) images, and widespread adoption of Internet Protocol (IP), have led to IP surveillance becoming a preferred alternative to traditional CCTV systems. But these advances in technology are nothing to be feared, we’re here to ease your worries and show you why the evolution of CCTV is so great!

The evolution of CCTV


Closed circuit cameras set up to safely monitor the testing of the V2 Missile


CCTV’s arrival in the UK. A limited system was used during the Queen’s coronation.


CCTV systems began being installed in public places to monitor crowds during rallies and appearances of public figures


Video Cassette Recorders (VCRs) arrived and video surveillance became increasingly popular and accessible. VCRs allowed surveillance footage to be stored and played back later as evidence. However, this first generation of CCTV had several fundamental flaws. VCRs were temperamental at the best of times (as we’re sure some of you remember) and their recording quality was poor. This, combined with the low quality tapes produced by the CCTV camera itself, made for some very unreliable and grainy images, that could not be easily relied on for conclusive identification. If that wasn’t bad enough, with reviewers being unable to review and record events simultaneously finding and reviewing footage was costly and time consuming.


The computer based Digital Video Recorder (DVR) was introduced. DVRs allowed images from existing analogue cameras to be recorded at much higher resolution and stored on a hard disk. Images could be automatically retained for 7-30 days, without the need to change and store banks of tapes. Recorded incidents could be saved to CD to be later used as evidence.


In the early 2000s CCTV moved towards the Digital Age. Video footage was entirely digitised, being stored on a hard drive with the ability to store days or even months of footage all organised and searchable by date and time.


Today’s ever improving technology allows for remote viewing of footage through mobile devices like smartphones. With the most recent advances in CCTV technology being the introduction of IP megapixel cameras, the quality of video footage has vastly improved, with video being recorded at 5 times the resolution than a standard analogue video.


Alongside the revolution in recording technology, camera technology also advanced at a pace. IP cameras, which use Internet Protocol (IP) to transmit images over a network, have facilitated the capture and transmission of live, high quality video and audio. Each IP camera has its own IP address and built-in web server, so it has become possible to view images via the internet, without needing to be connected directly to the camera. As well as producing images without any loss in picture quality, IP CCTV cameras can make intelligent decisions based on the images they detect, bringing ever more sophisticated benefits to surveillance.

Traditional multi-site CCTV

Before IP CCTV became available, the number of cameras was limited to the available channels on the hard disk recorder. Adding additional cameras often required a new hard disk recorder to be added to the system and extending coverage to different locations required a DVR and dedicated cabling at each site.

Modern multi-site CCTV

In an IP CCTV system, a Network Video Recorder (NVR) can sit anywhere on the data network, removing the need for there to be a recorder at each location. IP cameras plug straight onto the network, and existing analogue cameras can be integrated into the network using IP encoders. Cameras at remote locations connect to the network via broadband. PoE removes the need to run separate power and data cables to each IP camera, making it easy and cost-effective to add a new camera anywhere. An IP CCTV system can grow and grow and doesn’t require investment in local recording equipment or camera upgrades. To minimise the impact of streaming video on the computer network, the CCTV system can either be configured to work within a fixed bandwidth, run through multi-cast capable network switches, or the cameras can be installed on a physically separate network.


What makes IP CCTV clever?

IP CCTV has many advantages and unique features compared to analogue systems:

Remote access

Live and recorded images can be accessed from any location in the world over the internet.

Centralised control

CCTV images from multiple locations can be monitored and controlled centrally, which offers resource efficiencies and cost-saving potential for multi-site organisations.

Remote support and diagnostics

The system can be securely accessed from a remote location to enable fast and effective diagnostics, maintenance and repair. The system can send automatic alerts to a monitoring station or to the CCTV maintenance company when there is a fault, such as the loss of picture or connection to a recorder, or when a camera is being tampered with or obscured.


Additional IP cameras can be easily added to a network and the bandwidth usage adjusted to avoid impact on other network applications. Open standards in IP CCTV technology make it possible to integrate products from different manufacturers to meet budget limitations and maximise performance.

Ease of use

The playback and search capabilities of a network-based CCTV system enable immediate search and archive by events. Pictures of alarm events can also be sent by email for review. Improved compression and storage – an IP surveillance system allows unlimited image storage. Moreover, these images can be stored and viewed off-site, and easily backed up.

Lower costs

PoE negates the need for expensive electrical wiring, significantly reducing the cost of installation whilst remote system access also reduces the cost of monitoring, fault diagnosis and maintenance.

System integration

IP surveillance technology can easily be integrated with other building controls such as alarm systems, access control, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, lighting control, etc. to enhance security and deliver cost-efficiencies.

Video analytics

Video analytics can be incorporated with IP CCTV to offer advanced motion detection and tracking. These smart CCTV systems can distinguish between a person walking, a car driving or a tree swaying in the wind and can use virtual tripwires to trigger alarms or count people entering a building.

The benefits for business

A CCTV system is generally considered a standalone investment, used solely for surveillance purposes. However, increasingly, businesses are seeing the potential to use CCTV to deliver additional benefits and solve unique challenges, for example:

  • Centrally monitored IP CCTV is being used as a back-up for lone workers, reducing manpower costs.
  • 3D facial recognition is being used to verify access control passes are being used by the assigned user.
  • Virtual tripwires are being used to monitor footfall, count people into and out of buildings, and to raise alerts when trespassers enter sensitive areas.

Although versatile, the choice of IP surveillance components and the variation in image quality and camera range can make it challenging for the inexperienced to select the right equipment to deliver the required results. By putting your trust in an installer with knowledge and experience of complex IP CCTV integration, you can be confident of building an extendible system cost-effectively and using your CCTV to maximum effect.

Chris Lewis Fire and Security is an experienced and award-winning company with a team skilled in designing and installing fire and security systems for commercial offices, retailers and licensed premises. We cover anything from access control gates to CCTV systems, and everything in-between.