Security is not surveillance and surveillance is also not security. Even though the two terms often appear together in related articles, with one as indispensable as the other, there lie subtle differences that we might have missed.

In general, surveillance is a kind of behaviour supervision and it is performed for various reasons ranging from crowd management to exerting influence. Surveillance can be accounted as involuntary and one sided as the original phase stemming from French “sur-veiller” meaning “watching over”.

On the other hand, security can be seen as a form of protection, to safeguard someone or something vulnerable from being harm. As a result of security, certain controls are implement, such as the forbidden of bringing potential hazard or dangerous goods on board, X-ray machines, and metal detectors at check points.

Usually, people associate surveillance as more provoking than security, because the former has a higher tendency of violating one’s privacy.  This is to why there are laws to ensure the use of surveillance is not privatised.

Similarly, security also faces its own controversy with the desired security mismatching the real security. For example, the fear of terrorist attack is reported at a higher frequency as compared to home accident, although the latter killed more people as compared to the former.

Furthermore, sometimes the existence of a kind of security may deplete the other kind of security. For example, the installation of two anti-virus programs onto the same computer, owner may walk away with the knowledge that he or she is getting double protection, without realising that one program may interfere with the functionality of the other.

Besides, when it comes to surveillance, there is a higher tendency for it to intertwine technology, information, and social networks. Whereas security stamps all areas from domestic to the corporate world.

One may question the importance of knowing these differences. At a glance, understanding the differences between security and surveillance may seem trivial but with closer look, especially for prospective CCTV and alarm system users, it will be great if they can have it at the back of their minds. Such knowledge may come in handy when deciding on the type of security system to install within the desired premise.

Hence, to be a smart user, one should garner themselves with adequate relevant knowledge and when in doubt, remember to always consult an expert.