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CCTV vs. Surveillance Camera — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Fiza Rafique — Published on December 3, 2023
CCTV, or Closed-Circuit Television, is a system where signals are privately monitored, while a surveillance camera is any camera used to watch an area for security purposes.
CCTV vs. Surveillance Camera — What's the Difference?

Difference Between CCTV and Surveillance Camera


Key Differences

CCTV, standing for Closed-Circuit Television, is a specific system of surveillance where the signals are not publicly broadcast but monitored privately. It generally involves a set of cameras connected to a monitoring station. In contrast, a surveillance camera refers to any camera—whether part of a CCTV system or not—used to observe areas for security or monitoring purposes.
While CCTV is a type of surveillance system that has its signals confined to a closed-loop, a surveillance camera is a broader term encompassing any camera serving the purpose of monitoring. Thus, while all CCTVs are surveillance cameras, not all surveillance cameras are part of a CCTV system.
In practical applications, you might find CCTV systems in places like malls, offices, and parking garages. These systems provide a continuous feed to a specific set of monitors. Surveillance cameras, on the other hand, might be standalone units transmitting footage to the cloud or directly to a user's device.
It's important to note that the distinction often comes down to the system's nature. While CCTV is closed and private, surveillance cameras can vary in their operation, transmission, and storage methods. Regardless of these technical differences, both CCTV and surveillance cameras aim to enhance security and monitor designated areas.

Comparison Chart


Refers to a private monitoring system.
Refers to any camera used for observation purposes.


Signals are closed and not broadcasted to the public.
Can be closed like in CCTV or openly transmitted.

Use Case

Typically used in businesses, parking areas, and public places.
Used anywhere, from homes to public areas. Can be part of a CCTV system.

Connection to Monitoring

Typically connected to specific monitors.
Can be connected to monitors, cloud storage, or direct to a device.


A subset of surveillance cameras.
A broader term that includes all cameras used for monitoring, including CCTV.

Compare with Definitions


A surveillance method with a closed-loop feed.
The footage from the CCTV was crucial in solving the case.

Surveillance Camera

Enhances security by providing visual monitoring.
All critical points in the building have a surveillance camera.


Monitors connected to cameras for private viewing.
Every entrance has a CCTV camera to track movements.

Surveillance Camera

A device used to observe areas for security.
The new surveillance camera has night vision capabilities.


A private system for monitoring specific areas.
The mall installed a new CCTV system for enhanced security.

Surveillance Camera

Any camera serving a monitoring purpose.
They installed a surveillance camera outside the main door.


Closed-Circuit Television used for surveillance.
Businesses often use CCTV to deter theft.

Surveillance Camera

Used for observation and can transmit footage.
The surveillance camera sends alerts to my phone.


A specific system where signals aren't publicly broadcasted.
The parking area's CCTV provides a live feed to the security room.

Surveillance Camera

Can be standalone or part of a system.
The surveillance camera in the hallway captured the incident.

Common Curiosities

Is every surveillance camera a part of a CCTV system?

No, while all CCTVs are surveillance cameras, not all surveillance cameras are part of a CCTV system.

Can a surveillance camera send footage to my phone?

Yes, some surveillance cameras can send live feeds or alerts directly to devices.

What does CCTV stand for?

CCTV stands for Closed-Circuit Television.

Why is it called "closed-circuit" in CCTV?

Because the transmission is within a closed loop, not accessible to the public.

Do all CCTVs store footage?

Most CCTVs have storage capabilities, but the duration and method of storage can vary.

How is CCTV different from regular broadcasting?

CCTV signals are private and not openly broadcasted to the public.

Are wireless security cameras considered surveillance cameras?

Yes, wireless security cameras are a type of surveillance camera.

Can CCTVs record audio?

Some CCTVs have the capability to record audio, but it depends on local laws and the specific device.

What's the primary purpose of a surveillance camera?

The main purpose is to monitor and enhance the security of designated areas.

Is it legal to record public areas using a surveillance camera?

While it's generally legal, there are privacy laws and guidelines to consider, which can vary by location.

Can a surveillance camera work in the dark?

Many modern surveillance cameras come with infrared or night vision capabilities to work in low light.

Is a home security camera considered a CCTV?

It can be if it's part of a closed-loop system, but standalone cameras transmitting to the cloud or a device aren't necessarily CCTVs.

Can a surveillance camera be hidden?

Yes, there are hidden or disguised surveillance cameras, but their use must adhere to local privacy laws.

Do CCTVs always provide live monitoring?

While many CCTVs provide live feeds, some might only record footage for later review.

How long can a CCTV system store its footage?

Storage duration varies by system setup, storage capacity, and specific settings, ranging from days to months.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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