IP Vs Security Vs CCTV Vs Surveillance Camera - You Choose

We want your help choosing want term we should use to describe cameras in our industry.

Historically, we have used either IP camera or surveillance camera. However, there have been two recent trends that impact this:

  • HD analog is for real, and is already fairly significantly and capturing share from IP and SD analog. In the past, we could ignore SD analog because it was in decline and not technologically competitive but HD analog is different. So we need a term to describe all cameras in our industry, not just IP.
  • The term 'surveillance' has really taken a negative connotation due to government surveillance (monitoring emails, text messages, phone calls, etc.) that have nothing to do with our industry.

Here is what Google shows for trends across those 4 terms. Note the terms searched were 'IP camera', 'Security camera', 'CCTV camera' and 'Surveillance camera':

Interestingly, the term 'IP camera' has gained substantially over the past decade and is now the most frequently searched for of the group. Security camera is a close second.

We'll obviously continue to use IP camera for IP cameras but we need to pick a more general term when talking about all cameras, so is it security, cctv or surveillance?

What do you think we should use?


I absolutely despise spelling surviallence, and saying it is not a whole lot of fun either.

CCTV must be rejected, if for no other reason then the maddening search result confusion with the Chinese news service. This would appear to only get worse in future.

Which leaves Security camera.

Its not perfect (since business intelligence use cases are increasing), but barring a write-in ballot of 'deez cams', it's the best candidate on the ticket...

"since business intelligence use cases are increasing"

It's been that way for a decade but still small overall. If there was some way to incorporate that cleanly in a term, I'd be happy to do it but no idea what single word would encompass security, business intelligence, operations, etc.

It's been that way for a decade but still small overall....

There's also the 'Security Camera User 2.0' to consider:

Not content to merely secure and surveil, these Dropcam-buying youngins are using their cams for a number of applications that would be a stretch to label as security.

Such as knowing when the mailman has come, or talking back to your dog etc.

Perhaps the less defining but cooler sounding SecCam could be pushed as well. Now, if we could just get the millennials to think that SecCam was a counter-culture term no one understands, we might have a chance...

Btw, I did not explain above but we are not going to use CCTV. I am not against but in North America, at least, CCTV is viewed as antiquated and since that is our home market, it would be a bad idea.

That said, a 4 letter acronym is better than a long, not easy to spell, word (like surveillance) so it's unfortunate. Other CCTV problems, confusion with the Chinese government TV channel and that systems are no longer 'closed circuit'.

I'd agree that CCTV is antiquated in terms of it's definition but it's still synonymous with the industry.

There a still plenty of end users who still call it CCTV and IMHO the term has transcended the definition.

With all that being said, this seems like a big non issue and what ever you roll with, people will learn to live with.

Camera Data Capture Device (CDCD)

Video Data Capture Device (VDCD)

You may not like the term 'surveillance' camera for the reasons you mention above - but this is the only adjective from your list that describes what the camera actually does... regardless of the reasons (security, pet monitoring, biz process/intel, etc) you are using it.

Leave it to the token industry leftist to point that out... ;)

You make a good point. Here's the wikipedia definition: "Surveillance is the monitoring of the behavior, activities, or other changing information, usually of people for the purpose of influencing, managing, directing, or protecting them."

The problem is the connotation of surveillance has really turned into abuse but the type of surveillance that has been abused has been primarily of the non video variety.

You may not like the term 'surveillance' camera for the reasons you mention above - but this is the only adjective from your list that describes what the camera actually does...

Indisputably true. I voted agree.

Surveillance: It says it all. Though as John point out, maybe it says too much.

Security camera, describes what it is normally used for as opposed to what it actually does.

And even though it may fall short on several non-security uses, I think it may be the one to embrace here.

Cause, IMHO, nobody is really comfortable with the word Surveillance, not with writing it, saying it or having it. Proof is that we are even having this discussion, since surely such a perfect descriptor would have caught on big time by now. But it just didn't and it ain't gonna, again IMHO.

Surveillance. Take a good look at it. It just looks creepy, doesn't it? The 'ill' at its center, the 'lance' finish.

And how important is it really that the word cover ALL uses, lest it be rejected? Consider my kids playing kickball right now. We don't have a kickball. They use a soccer ball. They say go get the soccerball, because that's its primary use case. They don't say get the medium size sports ball.

Related: Most bathrooms lack a bath.

Finally, Surveillance is a French loan word and who knows when they'll want it back. ;)

I voted for "surveillance"... Personally I hate when surveillance cameras are called "security cameras". Are they truly protecting anything? I don't believe so. CCTV? Man that is an outdated title, when is the last time you installed a truly "closed circuit" system? Let alone considering it to be a closed circuit television system? Surveillance cameras do exactly as the name implies, surveil or observe. Maybe once analytics become stronger and more intelligent then perhaps they are protecting and could live up to the title of security camera. I am really surprised by the result of the ipvm vote and the google trends report however I will always call them surveillance cameras.

Are they truly protecting anything?

So Security to you is just the 3 G's? Guns, Guards, Gates?


No I am not saying that but it is a good thought and certainly offers more "security" than a surveillance camera would...

They call the red light cameras in my city 'safety cameras' - which I take as a personal insult to my intelligence. So I share your disdain for propagandist suggestive naming conventions.

No matter what you use it for - it's an Imaging Device. So how about E.I.D for Electronic Imaging Device? Too close to IED maybe?

David and Und 2, I think it would be confusing and problematic to create a new term. The risk would be people would say, "Wait, what does EID or CDC mean?"

I think we are essentially forced to choose a term that (most) people already basically understand.

"Wait, what does EID or CDC mean?"

Given enough reprogramming anythings possible. Now if you'll excuse me, I'll just plug in my 8P8C and get back to work.


What is the position of you and the IPVM staff on this topic?

My gut feel is security camera, because of its higher 'name recognition', less letters and avoids the 'surveillance' stigma from the data side.

I have no idea why people have any aversion to the term surveillance. I think the other terms are either intimidating acronyms, like CCTV or IP, or set the bar too high, security. I don't think of cameras as adding security, unless you have live operators. Otherwise, 99% of the time they are used for surveillance only.

I don't think of cameras as adding security, unless you have live operators.

Just because you don't see anything on the tape doesn't mean your security has not increased.

And when footage leads to a bad guy going away, even if the crime was not prevented, doesn't that make us more secure?

We use the term "video monitoring". We're our video verification service at the monitoring station and at the users computer/smartphone, we believe this term works well to begin the conversation about this service.

You have to use a mix of them all, plus about 3-4 other terms, on your website to get good SEO.

I recommend against "Security". I prefer Video Monitoring.

"Security" in a product description in 2015 means there's a good chance you don't understand why IT folks get offended at your product being hardcoded to username admin and password 1234. Or your product sells for under US$400 on normal colored Fridays in the local fix-it-yourself big box lumberyard. (Note "video monitoring" works for CCTV etc.)