IP surveillance camera technology has reached one of those “perfect storm” moments. Today’s digital cameras are inexpensive and easy to install. Wired and wireless networks alike are ubiquitous. And the camera-monitoring software is robust, easy-to-use and often free. Demand for security camera is high among both businesses and home users, and system builders stand to capitalize on this surging wave by offering installation services and support. There’s even potential for computer and server upgrades, as some companies will be looking to build dedicated systems that have guaranteed bandwidth and quality of service (QoS) over the video network.
Cameras are popping up all over the place. You can find them at retail businesses, factory floors, homes, apartments, landmarks, schools, financial institutions and transportation centers, to name but a few. Applications range from basic security and safety to quality control monitoring.
Although you can use these security cameras over the Web, they’re not really Webcams, which are those small, low-tech cameras designed for online socializing. Rather, IP-based cameras connect directly to IP networks, record at higher frame rates, and generally have better resolution then Webcams. They can pan, tilt and zoom, and many have one-way or two-way audio capabilities. They also come with monitoring and management software that lets you trigger alarms and e-mail alerts when certain events occur. For example, you can designate motion detection areas within a frame that generate alerts when motion occurs. Or you can set the system to begin recording when certain events occur or timers are set. Examples of motion events might include a person walking into the frame or a car driving across a designated area.
Since these systems are IP-based, you can monitor, store, and archive video, audio and associated application data over the Internet or across private data networks. The video can be carried anywhere the IP network extends, as opposed to closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems that require proprietary equipment and dedicated coaxial cabling. Anyone with the proper security clearance and a standard browser can monitor video, and control and configure the cameras on the network.
You need to have a fairly robust wired or wireless network set up for a successful IP surveillance roll-out. This Recipe assumes that you have a typical 10/100 wired or 802.11g wireless network already set up. We will, however, look at some Power over Ethernet (PoE) networking equipment and discuss the advantages of that type of system as well. PoE allows you to send power over ethernet lines so you don’t have to place the cameras near power sources.
Finally, a note on what all this will cost you. Simply put, pricing will depend on several factors you’ll need to carefully consider: Labor rates, the camera(s) selected, the structure of the building(s), the location of power outlets, the location of network infrastructure, etc.
A quick rundown of the main benefits of IP surveillance follows. Use these points when pitching solutions to your customers, and they will quickly recognize the advantages.