The term “IP” can be confusing; after all, IP is usually short of Internet Protocol, which is an internet website address. So, how does it connect with video surveillance? These days, it can also refer to a digital video surveillance system that is tied into a network. Even an older system, one that uses an analog camera, can convert the camera video signals into digital images through the use of a DVR or video encoder. On the other hand, a true IP surveillance system uses digital (also known as IP-based) cameras. These have the virtue of the images and video being able to be accesses without needing the DVR, video encoder (or other hardware) to convert the signal.
By making use of this technology, you gain a number of advantages. First off, this type of surveillance system is new and offers many benefits over traditional CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) systems. The IP security camera itself has a built-in computer so it can run stand-alone. Many features like remote access, motion detection, I/O inputs, etc., can be used without the need for additional hardware. When coupled with IP recording software, many other features are added to give advanced monitoring and recording.
Next, there’s the issue of access to your IP surveillance system. With a standard system, you have to go to the place where the equipment is installed, or maybe a central security center. This severely limits your ability to view your security feed. In the case of IP surveillance, you can access the system from any location at any time of day or night; you can view either video that’s been recorded on a harddrive or real-time images. You can then store the video at any site you want – the computer you routinely view the cameras on – a main server for your company, or any other computer (or computers) you want. For that matter, if you have IP surveillance set up on several locations (multiple businesses, multiple business locations etc), you can stream all of the signals to your one location or route them to any number of sites.
Some companies even offer hosting. This services allows you to record from your IP surveillance cameras to a remote secured location. This location can also setup your security camera to advanced recording and monitoring software that will notify you if motion is detected while you are away – or even notify the authorities.
Then there’s the issue of variability. With most security systems, you buy cameras, cables, a recording unit, and so on. With IP surveillance, you buy exactly the items you need, and no more. Considering the cameras are IP based, they plug directly into your home or business network. You want four cameras to cover the halls and offices of your business – that’s what you buy. No DVR or hardware device is needed.
This also connects in with the whole issue of IP surveillance being the most cost effective means of protecting a site. With an analog or standard type of security system, there are cameras, cables, a central control unit etc that you have to either buy or rent. Then, as newer systems become available, you have to upgrade your entire security equipment. On the other hand, an IP system requires cameras and software – nothing more. Not only does this save on the initial investment and future upgrades, but less overhead – few pieces of equipment use less electricity – this means a lower electric bill for you. Also, for those people concerned with Global Warming, an IP surveillance system will mean less of a carbon footprint.
When it comes to the quality of an image, nothing is better than digital. You get a high-quality, sharp image that is far and away better than analog. When faced with the issue of trying to identify people, a clear image is critical, and digital over analog is like CD over a cassette tape.
Lastly, is the issue of flexibility. Analog cameras require cables run to a control unit. In the case of IP surveillance cameras, they have the ability to connect to a network. This means you can transmit the video over a wireless network, a local network, even via satellite etc. In addition, the computer server can be stored onsite, with you, or any place else. This can be very valuable in terms of keeping the video recordings safe. By storing them in another location, if a break-in, fire or other disaster occurs, you can rest easy knowing that the video record of the event is safe.