IP cameras are most commonly used as webcams, but their ability to be accessed via the internet has made them popular choices for security cameras as well. In fact, when the term IP camera is used, it almost always refers to security or other monitoring equipment.
Unlike CCTV cameras, which use television broadcast frequencies to connect to their own local security networks, IP cams transmit and receive data using internet protocols. In fact, the “IP” in their title is short for “Internet Protocol.” This brings some benefits when using them for security, but paradoxically, the same factor can turn them into security risks if they are not properly configured.
Benefits of IP Security Cameras
Assuming they are set up right, IP security cameras bring several benefits.
- They can be watched by the owner or a service from remote locations
- Some allow for two-way audio communication
- They are secure when properly configured
- They are often inexpensive
- They can work wirelessly
- Some work with cellular networks (though most require a broadband connection and router)
- They tend to be small
- Some can be monitored by security services
When these cameras are mentioned on television, it’s typically as part of a story about how a homeowner logged into their systems from work and saw a robbery or assault in progress. Then, the owner called police and the suspect was apprehended. These stories can make it seem as if IP cams are an excellent home security tool.
In reality, security systems based on IP cams are only great when certain conditions are met. If everything isn’t set up right, and there is no constant monitoring of the system, they are far less useful as security tools.
Drawbacks That Can Come with IP Security Cameras
- They are often sold with no monitoring service. If you don’t happen to be looking when a robber comes, the crime will continue without interference.
- If access controls are misconfigured or absent, anybody can look through your camera and watch everything that’s in range.
- Criminals can case your place from the comfort of their recliners if you have insecure cameras.
- They can be tricky to set up.
- Some of them are rather expensive.
IP cameras have two main variations when it comes to systems: They can all connect to a hub, called a network video recorder or NVR, or they can work independently to connect to decentralized remote storage equipment. Some NVRs contain alarm capabilities, and will activate those alarms if any of the connected security equipment triggers them.
Monitored vs. Unmonitored IP Cameras
Despite news stories of people catching criminals in the act over their IP cams, the fact is that most of the time, the owner of an unmonitored system isn’t going to be looking at live footage. This makes it so that unmonitored cameras are really only good for collecting footage that can be given to the police if a crime does occur. By that time, a criminal may have had hours or even days to get away.
With a monitored system, you don’t have to be at your phone or a computer to be sure that nothing is amiss. Such systems often come with multiple alarm sensors as well as cameras. More importantly, they hire staff to pay attention when these alarms go off, so your home is safe even when you’re not actively watching your system.
Try Protect America
Protect America is an alarm system and monitoring company that lets you have the best of IP camera systems with none of the downsides. When you sign up, you get up to $1,600 worth of free equipment, including cameras, monitored smoke detectors, motion detectors, and more. This equipment comes with clear instructions, so you can install it yourself with no fear of any unauthorized people using your cameras to watch you. Once activated, we monitor your system for alarms, and if one comes in, we call you to make sure emergency response is needed. You can then rest assured that you aren’t missing any action when you’re not actively watching your cameras yourself.
To learn more and get a quote, just contact us. We’ll be glad to help you secure your property.