What is an Internet Protocol Camera?

Internet protocol (IP) cameras are used in security applications, and they transfer data over networks that can carry high bandwidth. This does not work well with low bandwidth networks, since IP cameras collect a large amount of video data. IP cameras are also referred to as network cameras. Typically, IP cameras use Power over Ethernet (PoE) to operate, saving the number of cables you need to have running to your surveillance cameras. IP cameras make a great replacement for closed circuit television (CCTV) camera systems, with improved visual definition and detail.

There are two different types of IP cameras:

  • Centralized IP Cameras
  • Decentralized IP Cameras

In this article, we will introduce the two types of IP cameras and help you decide which one is best for your business. These systems can work with your VoIP system. VoIP security cameras can stream video through the Internet and you can use various tools and applications alongside your cameras.

Article Contents:

  1. Use an Internet Protocol Camera for Surveillance and Security
  2. Centralized vs. Decentralized IP Cameras
  3. Are IP Cameras Right for My Business?
  4. Choosing the Right Cameras

1. Use an Internet Protocol Camera for Surveillance and Security

IP cameras can be used in surveillance. You can set up your cameras so they record your video and save it to memory or send it elsewhere via the Internet. These are excellent cameras to place near entryways, exits, near merchandise, in hallways or other areas in your building where your business has security concerns. Often, just having a visible security presence at your business is enough to deter people from committing criminal activity on the premises. IP cameras are relatively simple to set up and use. Once you have your cameras ready, you may make someone think twice about breaking the law or doing something unethical at your business.

These cameras have many benefits for the business that needs a solid security system with flexible features and adaptable functionality. With the two different types of IP cameras, you have a greater degree of flexibility in how you create your security system. IP cameras allow you to customize your security system and decide where to place cameras, how data is recorded and sent, how the data is processed and other factors. With PoE, your IP cameras receive electricity on their ethernet cables, so you have fewer wires crowding around your cameras.

2. Centralized vs. Decentralized IP Cameras

The difference between centralized and decentralized IP cameras is in what happens to video data and how the camera network is managed. You can have your cameras all feed data into a NVR or directly into storage. This data usually consists of visual and audio feed. You can connect your cameras to your VoIP system if you have VoIP service, giving you a variety of practical uses and applications.

With the higher resolution of IP cameras, they have more capabilities and uses than traditional CCTV systems. You can more readily identify hard-to-see features and individual characteristics of people when you can see IP camera video footage. Centralized and decentralized systems both offer the same high-quality footage and many of the same VoIP features. You can adjust your cameras, zoom-in to get a closer view and command your network wirelessly or using cables. Wireless cameras are easy to add to an existing system, since they require no additional wiring. You just set up your cameras and connect them to your system wirelessly.

Centralized IP Cameras

These camera systems are managed by a centralized unit, called a central Network Video Recorder (NVR). This part of the system manages the recording, alarms and videos. Cameras in the network feed into the NVR. The NVR is the “brain” of your security system and collects your data together. It also runs your alarms and manages other functions. These systems can be connected to your PBX and VoIP service for additional features.

Decentralized IP Cameras

Decentralized IP cameras have built-in storage. This is typically a hard drive, flash drive or network storage. Data goes directly to internal storage. If you need to see the cameras’ recordings, you usually need to retrieve the storage directly and replay the data. These cameras are not necessarily networked the same way that centralized cameras are, so you probably do not have access to the same features with these cameras.

3. Are IP Cameras Right for My Business?

With IP cameras, you can set up surveillance cameras at your business and there are a lot of different ways to create your own custom security system. You can program your cameras to network with your private branch exchange (PBX) and voice over IP (VoIP) service. Your VoIP system can command, broadcast, record and conduct other features and functions. You must have an Internet connection and the right equipment for this. If you secure a vehicle with IP cameras or another location that’s portable, you will probably need a Wi-Fi connection.

If your business needs a security system with some degree of adaptability, IP cameras give you a decent range of different capabilities and features. If you already have a VoIP system, then adding IP cameras is also an easy way to extend the features of your VoIP service and obtain the security system you need. It may make more sense to add IP cameras if you have a VoIP system already than to sign up for a security system service separately.

4. Choosing the Right Cameras

There are so many different VoIP services and IP cameras available on the market today. At first, it may seem challenging to make a decision. You may need to make a list of the different security system features you need and what you already have available. You may need to buy new equipment if you do not already have IP cameras, a NVR or a VoIP system. You may also need a PBX, depending on the VoIP system you plan to use or currently have with your IP camera security system. Be sure to ask your vendor for help choosing the correct cameras. If you need to purchase IP cameras, wait until you have a vendor in mind for VoIP service and ask what they recommend. SIP compatible cameras are generally compatible with most VoIP systems.

VoIP phone systems using IP cameras also allow you to view camera feeds externally, on a LAN network or even on your smartphone. You can check on your security cameras and view live feeds from your business. You can remotely store your video footage, as well. This may be more convenient than video stored on storage devices with the camera, so that is something to keep in mind as you shop for cameras and security services. On the other hand, an all-in-one decentralized IP camera can be easy to set up and is generally a self-contained unit, so if something happens to the centralized system your cameras can still continue to record and store data. Decentralized systems with internal memory may be more secure, in some circumstances. You may need to decide if this feature or if the functionality of centralized IP cameras is more important. Making a list of the camera features you need can help with your choice.

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