All-seeing Eye: The History of Video Surveillance

There are eyes everywhere, and they do not belong to humans. In today’s fast-paced modern world, video surveillance has become as basic to society as security guards and gateways. Mention video surveillance and the average Joe will immediately associate the term with video cameras mounted in edges and department stores or videotapes of an erring spouse marked as characterize A in a messy divorce proceeding.

The history of video surveillance is as complicate as the system behind it. In fact, it goes back much farther in time than most of us realize. Press reports indicate that as early as 1965, United States police have been using video surveillance in public places. By 1969, police cameras had been mounted in strategic areas of the New York City Municipal Building. This set a strong precedent, and it was not long before the practice spread to other cities and police officers kept close watch on meaningful areas, with the use of CCTV, or closed circuit television, systems.

Analog Beginnings

Video cassette tapes are largely responsible for popularizing video surveillance. The analog technology used in video cassette recording gave decision-makers a ground-breaking insight: it is possible to preserve evidence on tape.

In 1975, England installed video surveillance systems in four of its major underground aim stations. At the same time, they also started monitoring traffic flow on major highways. The United States followed suit during the 1980s, and though it had not been as quick as England in employing video surveillance, it made up for lost time by widely instituting video surveillance systems in public areas.

Digital Multiplexing and later Developments

One drawback to analog technology was that users had to change the tapes daily. This was remedied in the 1990s, with the introduction of digital multiplexing. Digital multiplexer units had features like time-lapse and motion-only recording, which saved a great deal of tape space. Additionally, it enabled at the same time recordings on several cameras.

The next advancement, digitalization, featured compression capability and low cost, thereby allowing users to record a month’s worth of surveillance videos on hard excursion. Additionally, digitally recorded images are clearer and allowed manipulation of images to enhance clarity.

9/11 and the Internet

The events of September 11, 2001 changed the public’s perception of video surveillance. Software developers produced programs that enhance video surveillance. Facial recognition programs is one of these programs. Using meaningful facial characterize points, recorded faces are compared to photographs of terrorists and criminals.

In May 2002, facial recognition software was installed on the computer video surveillance cameras at Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. That same year, SmartGate was installed at the Sydney International Airport in Australia. SmartGate is an automated border crossing system for airline crew members. The system scans crew members’ faces, compares these to passport photos, and proves identity in less than ten seconds.

In December 2003, the Royal Palm Middle School in Phoenix, Arizona installed confront recognition video surveillance. This is a pilot program for registering sex offenders and tracking missing children.

To all these developments, the Internet is the cherry on top. It revolutionized video surveillance by removing all impediments for viewing and monitoring anywhere in the world.

Clearly, humankind has produced better and more perfected method for video surveillance. Smaller, sleeker, and more powerful video surveillance systems come out in the market nearly every month. Satellites bounce signals around the world. There are, indeed, eyes everywhere, and several of them are in the sky.

Someone is always watching.

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