CCTV - How Much Good Does It Really Do?

Big John1970

Okay, here's the thing.
The year is 2015. There are ULTRA High Definition cameras available and yet even in this day and age, all CCTV cameras seem to have been manufactured in the 70s!
Now I always say that CCTV can indeed help to reduce crime and even help solve crimes and yet governments insist on using cameras of such low-quality that you literally cannot identify any individual unless they are standing about 3 feet away from the camera and looking directly into the lens.
Does anyone know why - other than cost and government cut-backs - why governments do not replace all of these badly outdated cameras with decent ones?
I mean with today's technology, they should be able to see a bead of sweat on a person's forehead let alone be able to identify someone.
Take the bombing in Bangkok. The quality is rubbish so this guy will - in all likelihood - get away scot-free. So I have to ask, what's the point?
So I say again, why don't they just replace them all?


Part of the issue I think is cost. It's expensive to get decent cameras, cheap to get out of date ones that can't easily identify people. On top of that, you have issues with privacy, where a lot of folks would prefer if they couldn't easily be identified by CCTV cameras (usually the folks who were against installing them in the first place).

But probably mostly cost, never underestimate the amount of money that it costs to produce large numbers of decent pieces of equipment.


Yeah some of these vidoes are so pixelated and blurry that you can't identify anyone in it. The average security video system contains usually 4 cameras with a DVR and hard drive. A good quality one will cost atleast $1k while cheaper ones are usually in the price bracket of $300-400. A 1080p // 720p video takes up a lot of storage space compared to a 240p / 360p camera and the basic principle is the lower the quality the lower the storage space. Some shop owners try to save costs by going for the cheaper options since it won't be feasible for them in the long run if they opt for HD options. In the end it all comes down to saving money + storage data.

Big John1970

Hmmm. Damned shame that cost and storage-capacity will mean x amount of criminals will get off scot-free with their crimes though simply because they cannot be identified.


The thing with CCTV is it kind of depends on who owns them, if they're owned by a private company then they could pay out the money for a high quality camera if they desired. Whereas those owned by a small business owner (like the local corner shop) or the local council can't afford the expense.
As for preventing crime, well CCTV is only really any good if you already have a suspect as a still photograph of a "White caucasian male with dark hair in his twenties" doesn't really narrow it down much.
Besides which, where the local corner shop is concerned its probably still cheaper to be robbed and have the insurance company pay out than it is to have a high quality CCTV camera which as you said probably isn't much help.

Big John1970

With the council's camera though, if it's just a blur, it doesn't help, but if they have a clear shot, showing someone committing a crime and they put it on the news, every single member of the public - not just those that know that person - will see his face and he won't be able to leave his house without someone spotting him and reporting him to the police.
When it's just a blur, no-one can help at all, except maybe a friend or relative might see the blur and say, 'Hey that looks just like our Jimmy!' or something along those lines.
You're right about the local shops though. To actually get the insurance, they will be forced to install a working camera system to 'deter crime', but it won't be stipulated what kind of quality they need to buy.