What’s the Difference Between Surveillance Cameras and Security Cameras?

We are in the age of technology and many businesses and families are working hard to protect themselves from crime. This brings up a very important question, “what’s the difference between surveillance cameras and security cameras?”


While many people use both phrases interchangeably, they are quite different. We will attempt to differentiate them in this post and also look at their pros and cons. Without further ado, let’s dive into the crux of this article.

Laying the Foundation

Before we can answer the question of what’s the difference between surveillance cameras and security cameras, we must look at the root words. What do the words security and surveillance mean? If we understand these words, it becomes easier to solve the Surveillance cameras vs. Security cameras debate.


Explaining Surveillance

Surveillance is a general term that relates to watching over something or someone. By something, we mean business premises, residential abode, or surrounding property. Surveillance aims to detect intruders and prevent intrusion into the area in question.

Surveillance systems require placing cameras strategically in designated areas to capture video footage of events. The footage can be recorded for use in the future or broadcast live to a monitor.

A typical example is leaving your home for a few days after installing surveillance cameras. The cameras record every event that happens in the house including if there is an intrusion.


While this is great, there is a little challenge. You might access the information late and it might no longer be useful. Surveillance cameras help for constant observation, deterrence of crime, and access to recorded footage.

Even when someone is watching the monitor constantly, there is still a limitation. Watching a blank screen for several hours is boring and you are likely to miss out on details when they finally show up.

Explaining Security

Security is simply protection from possible or potential danger, harm, or crime. A security system is designed to keep you safe from loss or harm. It achieves this with the installation of an array of sensors and alarms. The good thing with security systems is that they go beyond protecting you from crime to non-crime-related issues.

With security systems, you have sensors for fire, heat, smoke, floods, break-ins, etc. As such, you have real-time alerts sent to you as well as all the appropriate authorities.


One of the challenges of a security system is that it doesn’t come with recorded videos. To understand security cameras better, we need to look at the different categories of security systems.

Self-monitored systems: With this category of security system, you get real-time alerts all day on your mobile device. The system also sends alerts to the appropriate authorities if there is a breach. While you save funds on monitoring fees, you can miss alerts on busy days.

Monitored systems: Here, there is a monitoring agent assigned to the system from the security company. This agent receives an alert when there is a breach and contacts the local authorities on your behalf.

It is the most common security system and it comes with an extra charge. The benefit of this system over the self-monitored system is that you also get alerts on your device.

Local security system: This category is the most basic and it sets off a loud siren or alarm that people around can hear. Anyone in the neighborhood can then put a call through to the authorities to report the situation.

What’s the Difference Between Surveillance Cameras and Security Cameras? Pros and Cons

So far, we have established the fact that security and surveillance cameras are not the same things. To further our discussion on the difference between Surveillance Cameras and Security cameras, let’s look at their pros and cons.

Pros and Cons of Surveillance Cameras

Surveillance cameras work on IP networks linking cameras to recorders. They are also known as Network Video Recorder systems that transfer footage to remote security areas. With this, you get both audio and video over longer periods and distances.

Below are the pros of surveillance cameras:

Curbs crime in public areas: Criminals tend to reduce their activities when they notice surveillance cameras, especially in public places. With this, you can drastically reduce the crime rate in a location that is notorious for criminal activities.

Improves public safety: With a drop in crime comes improved public safety. Installing surveillance cameras in parking areas, malls, and street crossings helps to make people feel safer. This is because criminals become hesitant to operate in such areas.

Easy remote monitoring: One of the biggest benefits of surveillance cameras is that you can monitor an area remotely over a long distance. Surveillance systems make use of wireless networks and IP cameras. As such, data is transmitted over long distances and you can even see the fee on your mobile device.

Some of the cons of surveillance cameras include:

Costly installation: Surveillance cameras are very costly as you have to purchase the system and its accessories differently. Maintenance of the system is also very costly.

Complex: If you are not tech-savvy, you may take some time getting used to the system. Even at that, you may never use it to the fullest of its potential.

Easy abuse: When surveillance cameras are placed in public locations they can be hacked, misused, or abused. As such, people may pick up the data and use it for unscrupulous purposes.

Pros and Cons of Security Cameras

Security cameras are sometimes referred to as CCTV cameras. Usually, you use them to transfer signals to specific monitors not too far from the camera.

Below are some of the benefits of security cameras:

Deters criminal acts: These cameras deter criminal acts regardless of where you place them. Criminals don’t want to get caught and would stay away once they notice the presence of these cameras.

Easy observation: Security cameras make it easy for you to track suspicious visitors. o, You can observe them easily over a distance and take action when necessary.

Evidence: You can gather crime evidence from a security camera easily. This way, you can track culprits and bring them to justice.

Cons of security cameras include:

Cost: Installation and maintenance of security cameras is getting costlier with the advancement in their technology.

Compromise of privacy: Many times, employees of organizations, guests at hotels, etc. see security cameras as a breach of their privacy. As such, while these cameras are great, they tend to incite controversies.

Vulnerability: Many criminals are becoming tech-savvy and now know how to hack security cameras. This leaves you vulnerable if they can break through your defenses.

Wrapping Up

What’s the difference between surveillance cameras and security cameras? We have been able to answer this question in this post. You can choose any of the cameras depending on your needs or purposes. Drop your questions in the comments section if you have any.

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