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How to deploy IP cameras in your small business

Paul Mah | Aug. 20, 2013
Deterring would-be criminals and resolving disputes rank among the benefits derived from setting up IP cameras to keep an eye on your business. Here are some guidelines and recommendations on what to look for in a network camera solution.

Looking to deploy video cameras to help keep an eye on your small business? Despite the unavoidable technical terminology involved, the technology that drives network-enabled cameras is actually quite mature and, with some effort, can be readily understood.

With this in mind, let's look at some of the key specifications that businesses should pay attention to-as well as a trio of IP camera solutions designed for easy deployment and robust operation.

IP Camera Capabilities: Look at Resolution, Frame Rate, PTZ and More
Image quality is one of the first considerations when deploying IP cameras for your small business. This is usually determined by their resolution, which ranges from 1280 x 720 (720p high definition) for a current top-tier camera to 720 x 576 (DVD quality) or 352 x 288 (video CD quality) for lower-range models.

Camera resolution is undoubtedly important, but it's hardly the last word in image quality. Other important specifications include light sensitivity, supported video compression formats and frame rate. The first helps capture clear images in low-light situations, while the last two impact the bandwidth and storage capacity that you'll need. Many IP cameras are enabled for Wi-Fi and support uploading video footage directly to the cloud. (You may not want to do this, though, as discussed below.)

Advanced cameras may be able to operate in complete darkness, record audio or offer pan, tilt and zoom (PTZ) remote control capabilities. Others also incorporate wide-angle lenses.

Connectivity: Power Over Ethernet Secure, Delivers Power to Boot
Deploying IP cameras is rarely a quick process, due to the need to properly wire your property. This is true even for wireless models, as you need to install electrical cables to power the cameras.

Due to possible interference from neighboring Wi-Fi networks, wireless cameras aren't generally recommended for business deployments. Moreover, misconfigured Wi-Fi configurations or security vulnerabilities in some wireless cameras may inadvertently allow hackers access into a crucial part of your business.

In contrast, a wired Ethernet network offers significantly better security and isn't susceptible to passphrase guessing brute-force attacks. That's why I highly recommend the use of IP cameras with Power over Ethernet (PoE). Though the need to lay Ethernet wires makes this more costly than a wireless deployment, it does offer improved security and reliability. Such a setup also allows power to be delivered using industry-standard PoE equipment in place of hard-to-replace AC adapters.

Know Your Options for Recording, Storing, Reviewing Footage
While some cameras store video footage locally (within their chassis), for management and security reasons it's generally a better idea to archive video at a central location within the monitored premises. For obvious reasons, this location should be secured against unauthorized access.


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