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An Introduction to IP Surveillance Cameras

Surveillance on Large Monitor

For years, the traditional analog closed circuit television (CCTS) camera was the surveillance tool of choices for homes and businesses. These cameras typically broadcast signals to only a single location where property owners could keep an eye on their buildings. Over the past few years, CCTV has slowly fallen out of favour as IP surveillance cameras have become more prominent.

Video Recording

IP surveillance cameras typically deliver content to a system known as a network video recorder (NVR), allowing for a pure digital signal. Why is this important? In a traditional CCTV system, an analog signal is converted into a digital signal before being recorded. This conversion process results in lower resolution, lower quality video.

An example of a networked IP surveillance system

On the other hand, an IP camera uses digital signal that is recorded without any signal conversion. The resulting video is of a higher quality and resolution. In some cases, an IP surveillance camera does not require an NVR. They can handle all the recording and storage within the camera itself with the use of flash memory cards. The recorded data can be transferred to another storage medium, such as a Network Attached Storage (NAS) server.

A camera capable of local recording does have its advantages over other types of security cameras. Firstly, an NVR needs to be able to process camera signals from multiple cameras, which can take up a lot of network bandwidth. Bandwidth overload could result in slowed down recording, dropped video frames and disconnected users. Similarly, an underpowered NVR could have the same disastrous results. The other advantage is that it is significantly more difficult getting physical access to the storage media in a well secured camera.

Fortunately, modern network devices are resilient and more than capable of utilising quality of service (QoS) rules in optimising network traffic. A solid approach today would be to have the best of both worlds. This enables a degree of redundancy as the recordings on the camera become the backup to the recordings stored on the NVR. Managing an extensive network of IP based cameras is far easier through a single NVR.


Choosing the right location to install is just as important as the quality of the camera

Once you’ve determined what type of IP surveillance camera you want, you’ll have to settle on ideal locations where your cameras will capture the most information. For home owners, the most likely place where a criminal will try and enter the home is through the first floor. The most common entry points include the front door, back door, and windows along the building, so you’ll want to position your cameras so that they can clearly capture these sensitive spots. Outdoor cameras need to be waterproof and equipped with night vision. These features will guarantee that your camera functions even during the rain or whenever it gets dark outside.

Something else to consider when placing your camera is whether it captures a wide angle or not. Cameras with small angle lenses should focused on a specific spot, like a doorway. They capture a smaller field of view so need to be tightly focused on specific areas. With wider camera lenses, you can bring the camera back a bit and capture a larger area. This can help you to capture wider views without sacrificing visual quality. You can check what type of lens the camera has by checking the product details prior to purchase.

One last important guideline to consider when placing your camera is the issue of reach. While you do want to position your cameras in ways that grant a clear view, you also want to keep them out of reach of potential burglars and criminals. However, resist the temptation to hide the camera entirely. Cameras are a great way of documenting burglaries after they’ve occurred, but they can also act as a visual deterrent.

Choose Wisely

Buying the right camera for you and setting it up in a way that will maximize its benefits requires some planning. Before you go out to buy a security camera, carefully consider where you intend to install it, how many people will have access to it, and whether you think you’ll need access to multiple cameras in real time. All these factors should inform your purchase and help you find an IP camera that’s best for you.