What is Video Monitoring?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Nancy Fann-Im
  • Last Modified Date: 13 September 2019
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Video monitoring is the placement of cameras on a site to allow people to view the area remotely for security and safety purposes. The cameras feed data to monitors that can be located anywhere, providing surveillance even when no one is actually on the site. The cost of a video monitoring system varies, depending on the level of sophistication people need, and it is possible to assemble very low cost systems with simple tools like webcams and Internet connections.

People place the cameras in an arrangement to provide the best view, usually with the goal of eliminating blind spots. If anyone passes into the space, a person watching the monitors can see what that person is doing and determine if there is a security threat. People can also review recorded footage later in the event of a problem. Video monitoring provides a mechanism for real-time surveillance from a central location. The monitors may be located in a security booth within a building, or could be at a remote site like a security company's offices.

It is also possible to send video feeds to surveillance vans, or to bring them up on computers and portable devices anywhere. This adds flexibility to video monitoring, allowing people to check in no matter where they are. People may use such systems to monitor children, keep an eye on employees, identify security threats like robbers, or to identify and respond to customer needs.


People can usually tell when a facility is under video monitoring because they can see the camera units. In some cases they may be hidden behind mirrors or windows for discretion, while in others, prominent display of the cameras is part of the security system, to remind people that they are under surveillance. In banks, for example, cameras trained on employees and customers monitor all transactions to keep track of any signs of illegal activity or security problems like attempted bank robberies.

Video monitoring can also be useful for activities like watching children or pets without being overbearing. The cameras allow a viewer to monitor play and other activities for safety, while permitting some independence. People may use video monitoring in a location like a nursery so they can see if their children are experiencing distress during the night without having to get up to check. With animals, video monitoring is very valuable for animals that are normally shy about giving birth around humans, allowing a watcher to monitor the progress of labor without upsetting the animal.


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Post 3

@umbra21 - I think that many of those problems can be solved with the right legislation. Video monitoring is something that is going to become increasingly ubiquitous, as video monitoring equipment becomes cheaper and cheaper. It's something that we will just have to live with.

And I don't think that people necessarily have the right to privacy when they are in a public sphere. As long as the video is only being used to persecute actual crime, in a legal and fair way, then I don't think there's a problem with it.

The problem is figuring out how to get to the point where it works like that.

Post 2

@MrsPramm - It doesn't really matter whether it does or not. The potential is there for remote video monitoring of public activities to be severely misused.

We already have massive problems with discrimination. If bigots have access to video feeds they can use that to really target the people they don't like. And the systems are hardly secure. People crack into them all the time.

Post 1

My friends got into a fight about this on Facebook the other day. Apparently in England it's quite common for video monitoring systems to be all over the city. One of my friends thought that was a terrible idea and impinged on the privacy of citizens, since they couldn't consent to being filmed.

Several others thought that it was worth it to make the streets safer. Just having the cameras there meant that crime was less likely to happen and if it did happen, the criminals could be identified and brought to justice.

In theory, if someone was monitoring the video as it happened, emergency services could be notified when they were needed without delay.

I don't know who I agree with, because I can see points on both sides. I think I'd have to look at some statistics as to whether or not the presence of the cameras actually cuts down on crime.

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