Are IP CCTV Systems the best choice?

Doubtless, the market for IP CCTV is a growing one, despite there already being one camera for every four people in the UK. The market grows for lots of reasons, cuts in Policing, upgrade of existing systems, a desire for better systems, more flexible access.

Over the last few years, the CCTV industry has undergone another big change in the way it does things. Not so long ago, every CCTV system had at its heart a solid, if expensive, time-lapse Video recorder, which was able to record vast amounts of video onto a standard 3 or 4 hour VHS cassette tape. As technology marched, around 2000 or so, we began to offer today’s standard – the Digital Video Recorder, or DVR. Costs quickly tumbled, and as the device effectively replaced two other items of equipment, it fast became the default we know today.

So everyone involved in any way with CCTV Systems is familiar with the concept of digital recording, one box into which cameras connect and are recorded, played back, and monitored.

The industry is currently undergoing a similar magnitude of change – this time affecting the way CCTV is installed, recorded, played back and more. The convergence of computing and CCTV has rapidly allowed us to integrate the best aspects of both, and we now have IP CCTV Systems. These are at a point now where they are rapidly falling in cost, and will soon become the default CCTV offering on the market.

But, do they offer the best solution for your particular business need? Are they the right choice for your application? What advantages do they offer over more traditional CCTV Systems? Will it comply with the required Data Protection rules?

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IP CCTV Compared to “Standard” CCTV

As the market currently stands, there are still some areas in which IP CCTV may not be the best choice, though fewer and fewer as quality and features improve at each price point. There is an argument to be made that sticking with traditional CCTV systems now will offer considerable cost saving at each equivalent level of function and quality.

There are other areas where IP CCTV offers more features and functionality than the conventional type of camera system can deliver, and for an increasingly similar budget too. IP technology uses fairly standard networking technology and so can co-exist with other computing equipment on a network. Standard CCTV needs its own cabling. IP Cameras exist on a network much the same as any computer would, and can contain internal storage, which will allow it to continue to record while “offline”.  Conventional systems cannot do that. Many adjustments to the system can be made over the network without having to reach the camera – and while typical camera systems can also do this, it is at the higher end of what’s possible.

Quality of image, and storage are the two key areas of concern with IP CCTV. At current levels, it uses a comparatively massive amount of digital storage compared to normal CCTV systems. This is to do with the way images are recorded by each, but video requires an awful lot of compression to be useable digitally. Think about how much space a typical DVD film takes on your computer and you will get the idea.

The matter of quality lies in the fact that to keep price points as low as possible, lower end IP cameras often use the lowest cost components they can to provide a minimum level of quality, equivalent, perhaps to where normal cameras were a year or two back.

Of course, the decision cannot come down to any one area, as it remains as trues as ever that you get what you pay for. There is only one correct way to specify and purchase CCTV. Buying on a whim, or to a specific price point will only ever end up with a system of limitations.

Choosing IP CCTV or Traditional System

Ultimately, the choice should not be about the technology specifically, but rather about what you require your CCTV system to actually do.

There are three key areas to be considered in the purchase of any CCTV System. One, the purpose of the system – what it is to record, where it will work, what the conditions it faces will be. Two, the quality of the video required – including how it looks on your monitor. Three, whether or not you will require expandability in the future.

Using these three guide points, it very quickly becomes clear that “budget” solutions will only work for a very few situations. There’s no point in buying a £30 Maplin camera if you absolutely need to capture facial detail at 1am in the dark.  Similarly, there’s no point in buying a £3000 all singing, all dancing dome camera which can pan, tilt, and zoom into the next universe if it is only ever going to look at one scene.  Each has a valid purpose. In the right system.

The best approach is to invite an expert specifier to specify the system required for your purpose, and to have it professionally installed and maintained, giving additional peace of mind that you have the best system you can for the money, and that it will continue to be reliable, and compliant for a long time.

Contact us at AFSS today on 08453 884711 or from your mobile on 03330 884711, or complete our contact form for further information and advice. Our IP CCTV (and traditional) surveys are free.


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