Monitored CCTV

What is monitored CCTV.

Monitored CCTV first started to come into its own in the late 90’s .This coincided with the advent of the ISDN telephone network that BT developed in order to transfer large amounts of data mainly for large corporate customers. The first ISDN lines were made up of two legs of 64k each giving a total of 128k. This was sufficient to allow CCTV images of reasonable quality to be compressed and transmitted using an ISDN modem.

CCTV monitoring station.

The early monitoring stations tended to use two formats for monitoring these pictures. As a rule they used either the Adpro or the DVST transceivers. It was a bit like the VHS/Beta Max battle when the VCR was first developed and the market for monitoring at that time was only ever going to be able to support one monitoring platform in the early days and as a consequence  the DVST solution lost and died a slow and expensive death.

What did the operator see?

It was quite simplistic really. The Adpro was able to transmit three separate snap shots each taken approximately one second apart. This was presented to the operator in the form of a quad image, the three snap shots and in the bottom right hand corner was the live streamed image. It had to be remembered that this was early days and the images were of questionable quality . Great skill was required on behalf of the operator to distinguish whether there was actually a break in occurring . Of course when the central station only had a few connections this was not a problem the operator had plenty of time to spend on each alarm ,but, this was soon to change.

The boom years.

The popularity of monitored systems took off as we entered the 21st century. Connections increased massively and central stations were only too keen to take these on. It did however mean that as these connections increased, the service to the end user started to decline ….dramatically.

False alarms.

False alarms were a considerable drawback to the industry, in the absence of regulation any CCTV installer could make a connection. Design of the systems seemed to take second place to the number of connections that could be made and as a result break ins were missed and litigation followed.


This made the central stations re-think their position and actually forced them to decline applications from installers who had a poor record of false alarms. Some sites were disconnected in an attempt to get false alarms and response times under control. It took a long time but with some heavy handed tactics from the central stations,  including isolating cameras that caused more than just a few activations in a 24hour period. Everyone started to appreciate the need to reduce dramatically the number of false alarms being signalled through.

IP solutions.

Of course as technology improved, Adpro was being challenged by some new players in the market place. Slowly but surely with the advent of IP monitoring it started to lose its grip as the main player. Broadband means better pictures and faster connections and also the ability for central stations to view pre- alarm events giving them far more information. There is still a school of thought however that IP monitoring is not always as secure as we would like to think. We have down time  at ISPs and certainly there is a percentage of information that is lost in the Internet cloud.

So where does CCTV monitoring go from here?

We need think hard about this one. IP camera systems mean that monitoring needs are changing and fast. Large organisations are beginning to realise that monitoring there own sites is a possibility and and that cost savings are possible. Hybrid CCTV systems will become the norm and it will only be a matter of time before ISDN is phased out completely so all the old legacy transmitting equipment will have to be upgraded. A great opportunity for installers and manufacturers alike. As for the monitoring stations they need to keep a very close eye on the market place .They must implement front end software that can integrate to as many legacy and new transmission products  as possible into its central station. Ineveitably they will have to reduce the cost of monitoring solutions in order to both maintain existing customers and generate new business

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