Many individuals and businesses are increasingly concerned about security, and health and safety both in public places and in their own respective homes and offices.

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We can’t always have a physical presence to protect our properties and ensure that no incidents occur, so we often turn to the next best thing – CCTV.

Short for closed-circuit television, CCTV is a way for people to remotely observe specific areas in a building or public place. These systems are often wired up to a particular control room somewhere, but the trouble with those kinds of setup is that they aren’t very flexible or in some cases scalable.

But an increasingly popular alternative that builds on familiar CCTV technology is the use of IP cameras.

What are IP cameras?

IP cameras are similar to the traditional CCTV systems that we are familiar with, but with one major difference: they can be accessed over a network and the Internet (hence the ‘IP’ part of the term). These network-accessible cameras can work in one of two ways: centralised and decentralised.

Centralised IP camera systems work with a device called an NVR, which is short for network video recorder. You can think of an NVR as being akin to a satellite or cable TV box which can record television programmes onto a built-in hard drive.

Although many NVR systems utilise a hard drive for recording audio and video footage, there are many other options available such as recording to an external storage device.

Decentralised IP camera systems do not use an NVR, as each IP camera has its own built-in recording facility, and just like with centralised systems they can record to hard drives or other storage mediums.

Why are IP cameras better than traditional CCTV systems?

As I mentioned earlier, CCTV systems aren’t particularly adaptable or flexible. They are fixed systems, and have to link to some kind of central control room. They are also analogue-only systems, which means they do not have the ability to send and receive data over a network like IP camera systems can.

But perhaps the biggest selling point of all for IP camera systems is that they can be accessed remotely! This means that it is possible to set an IP camera up in one location, and view it from another – even if that other location is half way around the world!

IP camera systems, such as those sold by Create Automation, are also much cheaper to purchase and set up than traditional CCTV systems. This makes such systems attractive in any type of premises, whether it be an individual’s home, a small office or even a large factory!

Because of the nature of how any audio and video can be accessed (i.e. over a data network), it is also possible to utilise Wi-Fi IP cameras that are battery operated. Such IP cameras are perfect for situations where it is not feasible to have power and network cables going to it; for example, in an outdoors setting such as a zoo or nature reserve.