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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.

IP Camera Option No. 2: Dropcam
Dropcam is a wholly cloud-based solution that streams all captured video over the Internet. The only hardware to be purchased is the Dropcam HD camera, which captures video at 720p (1280 x 720) and streams it using Wi-Fi to Dropcam's servers.

The Dropcam HD may look like a Webcam, but its features let you keep tabs on your business over the Internet.

Setting up the Dropcam entails connecting it to an existing Wi-Fi network and registering it with a valid Dropcam account. Live video is subsequently accessed from a Web browser or from Dropcam's free iOS or Android app.

The Dropcam camera, which is powered from a USB adapter, offers features such as two-way audio support, night-vision capabilities and the ability to configure motion and sound alerts in the form of email or device notifications. The Dropcam HD costs $149. Subscription plans are $9.95 per month if you want to keep recorded footage for seven days and $29.95 per month to store footage for 30 days.

IP Camera Option No. 3: Ubiquiti airCam
The airVision IP camera system from Ubiquiti is touted as a complete, enterprise-class IP-based video surveillance system. The heart of this on-premises system is the airVision network video recorder (NVR) appliance, which serves as a central console to configure and manage the airCam IP cameras and archives all video footage captured by the cameras on its built-in hard disk drive.

Ubiquiti recommends the use of an airVision NVR unit for at least 20 Ubiquiti airCam cameras (the unit supports up to 50 cameras). Should its 500GB HDD storage prove inadequate, additional capacity can be added via external storage drives that connect to its USB ports.

The airVision Control Panel lets you configure and manage your cameras.

The airVision NVR is a sophisticated solution that delivers on its promise of a plug-and-play NVR. Newly installed airCam cameras appear automatically on the NVR's Web interface, which simplifies the process of adding new cameras. The interface also makes it easy to navigate between multiple airCam cameras, bring up the current live feed, modify the parameters for individual cameras or download recorded video snippets onto a local computer.

In addition, the ability to upload a custom floor plan will help administrators visualize the positions of deployed cameras, while the pervasive control means that even the firmware of individual cameras can be pushed out from the airVision NVR controller.

The airVision NVR costs $330, while its three models of wired IP cameras range from $89 to $109.

There are many IP camera options on the market. The three highlighted systems, along with the pointers outlined, will help you narrow your options for an IP camera solution that best meet the individual needs of your small business.


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