Closed-circuit television is the generic name of video systems that distribute television signals to a limited number of screens. Closed-circuit television systems are typically used for surveillance and security purposes. The majority of closed-circuit television clients operate in the security, medical or educational fields.
CCTV uses video cameras to transmit a signal to a specific place, on a limited set of monitors. It differs from broadcast television in that the signal is not openly transmitted, though it may employ point to point (P2P), point to multipoint (P2MP), or mesh wired or wireless links. Though almost all video cameras fit this definition, the term is most often applied to those used for surveillance in areas that may need monitoring such as banks, stores, and other areas where security is needed. Though Videotelephony is seldom called 'CCTV' one exception is the use of video in distance education, where it is an important tool.
Surveillance of the public using CCTV is common in many areas around the world. In recent years, the use of body-worn video cameras has been introduced as a new form of surveillance, often used in law enforcement, with cameras located on a police officer's chest or head. Video surveillance has generated significant debate about balancing its use with individuals' right to privacy even when in public.
In industrial plants, CCTV equipment may be used to observe parts of a process from a central control room, for example when the environment is not suitable for humans. CCTV systems may operate continuously or only as required to monitor a particular event. A more advanced form of CCTV, utilizing digital video recorders (DVRs), provides recording for possibly many years, with a variety of quality and performance options and extra features (such as motion detection and email alerts). More recently, decentralized IP cameras, perhaps equipped with megapixel sensors, support recording directly to network-attached storage devices, or internal flash for completely stand-alone operation.
There are about 350 million surveillance cameras worldwide as of 2016. About 65% of these cameras are installed in Asia. The growth of CCTV has been slowing in recent years.