Technology & Product

How Facial Recognition Technology Works on CCTV Cameras

Learn how the fusion of CCTV and facial recognition technology has revolutionised the landscape of security and surveillance.
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January 29, 2024


In the modern age of technology, the fusion of CCTV cameras with advanced face recognition techniques has revolutionised the landscape of security and surveillance. This article aims to provide an in-depth exploration of these technologies, their evolution, and their combined potential in shaping the future of security systems.

1. The Evolution of CCTV Systems:

a. The Genesis of CCTV:

Origins and Early Applications:

Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) systems made their debut in the mid-20th century. Initially, they were used in high-security zones like military installations and critical infrastructure facilities. Their primary function was to monitor and ensure the safety of these areas without the need for physical presence, thus providing a cost-effective and efficient surveillance solution.

Technological Limitations:

Early CCTV systems were limited by the technology of their time. They relied on analog signals, which meant that the video quality was often grainy and lacked clarity. Additionally, these systems required extensive wiring and were restricted in terms of the distance they could cover.

b. Modern-day CCTV:

Digital Revolution:

The advent of digital technology marked a significant turning point for CCTV systems. Digital cameras offered higher resolutions, clearer images, and the ability to cover larger areas. This transition from analog to digital also meant that data could be stored more efficiently, allowing for longer recording durations and easier retrieval of footage.

Integration with Other Systems:

Modern CCTV systems are no longer standalone devices. They can be integrated with other security systems such as alarms, access control systems, and even building management systems. This integration provides a holistic security solution, where different systems can communicate with each other to offer a more comprehensive security coverage.

AI and Machine Learning Enhancements:

The integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning has taken CCTV systems to new heights. These technologies enable the cameras to recognise patterns, detect unusual activities, and even identify potential threats before they materialise. For instance, advanced CCTV systems can differentiate between a human and an animal, detect loitering in restricted areas, or even identify abandoned objects, which could be potential security threats.

Remote Access and Cloud Storage:

With the rise of the internet and cloud technology, CCTV footage can now be accessed remotely from anywhere in the world. This means that security personnel no longer need to be on-site to monitor the footage. Additionally, cloud storage solutions offer an alternative to traditional storage methods, ensuring that vast amounts of data can be stored securely and accessed easily when needed.

Enhanced Analytics:

Modern CCTV systems are equipped with sophisticated analytics capabilities. They can provide insights into customer behavior for businesses, track the flow of people in public spaces, and even help in traffic management in urban areas. These analytics-driven insights are invaluable for both security and business optimisation purposes.

2. Understanding Facial Recognition Technology:

Facial recognition systems operate by capturing a visual image of an individual's face and comparing key geometric data points, such as the distance between the eyes, to a database of known faces. This process involves creating a facial signature unique to each individual, which is then used for identification purposes.

The Face Recognition Pipeline:

Face recognition involves a series of steps:

1. Face Detection:

Face detection is the initial step where the system scans images or video feeds to identify and locate human faces. It's all about recognising patterns and shapes that are typical of a human face, such as the eyes, nose, and mouth configurations. The effectiveness of this step is vital, especially when detecting faces under various conditions like different lighting, angles, or obstructions.

Example - MTCNN (Multi-task Cascaded Convolutional Networks):

MTCNN is a popular algorithm in this domain. It employs a cascaded structure with three neural network stages:

The first stage proposes candidate facial regions.

The second refines these proposals, focusing more closely on potential faces.

The third stage further refines the results and outputs facial landmarks (like the positions of eyes, nose, and mouth).

This method ensures high precision and is capable of detecting faces across a wide range of conditions.

2. Feature Extraction:

After detecting a face, the system delves deeper to extract unique features that set one face apart from another. This involves analysing specific details, from the spacing between the eyes to the shape of the nose and the contour of the lips. These unique attributes are then converted into a numerical format, forming a distinct 'facial signature' for each individual.

Example - FaceNet:

FaceNet is a state-of-the-art feature extraction algorithm. It uses deep convolutional neural networks to convert facial features into a compact 128-dimensional vector (or 128-number code). This representation effectively captures the unique characteristics of a face, allowing for accurate differentiation between individuals.

3. Face Classification:

With the facial signature in hand, the next step is to compare it against a database of known faces to see if there's a match. This involves assessing the similarity between the new facial signature and the stored ones.

Example - Softmax Classifier:

The Softmax function is widely used in classification tasks, including facial recognition. It's a mathematical function that converts a vector of numbers into a vector of probabilities, where the probabilities of each value are proportional to the relative scale of each value in the vector. In facial recognition, Softmax can classify the extracted facial signature into distinct categories, correlating with known identities. This assists in accurately identifying individuals or flagging new entries for subsequent addition to the database or for further analysis.

The Reliability of Facial Recognition CCTV:

The accuracy of facial recognition in CCTV cameras is heavily dependent on the quality of the camera and the sophistication of the software it employs. High-quality cameras paired with advanced software can reliably identify faces, improving their accuracy over time as more facial signatures are added to the database.

Integration and Application:

Modern facial recognition CCTV systems can be seamlessly integrated into existing security frameworks, enhancing the capabilities of ID management products. These systems are designed to be user-friendly and can be managed with minimal interaction, making them suitable for high-security areas where access control is paramount.

3. The Confluence of CCTV and Face Recognition:

a. Beyond Traditional Surveillance:

The integration of face recognition technology with CCTV systems has redefined surveillance. No longer limited to passive monitoring, modern systems can actively recognise individuals, making them invaluable for applications like access control, crowd management, and even targeted marketing in retail environments.

For Homes: The modern homeowner can benefit immensely from this integration. Imagine a scenario where your home security system not only alerts you of an intruder but also identifies if it's just a known family member or friend. Parents can receive notifications when their children arrive home from school, or homeowners can grant entry to known visitors while they're away, all thanks to face recognition.

For Businesses: In corporate settings, these advanced systems can control access to restricted areas, ensuring only authorised personnel can enter. Moreover, in event settings, organisers can manage VIP entries seamlessly, ensuring a smooth experience for attendees.


The fusion of CCTV and facial recognition is a testament to how technology can enhance security and offer insights that transcend traditional surveillance. As we move forward, it's evident that the potential of these combined technologies is vast, promising a safer and more informed future. 

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