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Physical security consistently ranks as a top priority for businesses and property owners of all sizes. By developing proactive solutions designed to help teams identify, address and deter criminality, leaders demonstrate a commitment to the safety of their employees and assets.

Next to access control readers and on-site alarms, video security cameras are usually a critical aspect of a modern security system. However, organizations operating older or outdated CCTV solutions may not be as well-protected as they could be.

With support from cloud-based management tools and smart physical security solutions and integrations, using Internet Protocol (IP) surveillance cameras can help leaders better address a wide variety of common threats. For business and property owners wishing to learn more about different types of IP cameras, configurations and use cases, this guide outlines all you need to know.

What is an IP camera?

Internet protocol cameras, also known as IP cameras, are a special style of digital security camera designed to send and receive footage over a secure network or internet connection. 

They are standalone security devices with their own unique IP addresses. When connected to a local network, footage can be sent from installed IP cameras to a wide range of internet-connected viewing devices, enabling teams to view security feeds remotely. 

One of the main advantages of IP cameras is that they don’t require a local recording device like traditional analog CCTV systems. Instead, these cameras can be connected to a local network, just like a computer or a smartphone, with data processed internally to be viewed in real-time.

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How do IP cameras work?

IP security cameras capture images in the same way as traditional analog CCTV cameras. However, captured footage is processed and sent to relevant storage and viewing devices in a very different way. Analog cameras must be connected to a recording device using coaxial cables to transmit footage; IP cameras can perform this function wirelessly over the Internet.

Stakeholders may choose to physically connect IP cameras to a centralized video recorder using Ethernet cables or USB connections, though this is not always required. In addition, internet protocol cameras can process video and audio data internally without the need for external processing hardware, a requirement for analog CCTV solutions.

These distinctions imbue IP cameras with a few features not often found in analog systems:

  • Remote viewing - Verified admins can view live footage from any secure smart device, enabling security professionals to provide 24/7 incident responses.

  • Two-way audio - Stakeholders can send and receive audio data directly through IP camera systems; this same functionality is commonly seen in video doorbell devices.

  • Less cabling - IP cameras can be powered via Ethernet cables using a technology known as Power over Ethernet (PoE), meaning less cabling is required for installation.

  • High-res images - IP cameras often record footage at a much higher resolution than analog cameras, with many models able to capture 4K or even 8K definition footage.

Common IP camera types and configurations

The term internet protocol camera can be used to define any type of digital security camera designed to send and receive data over the Internet. However, there are numerous different types of IP camera systems available to suit a range of commercial and home security needs.

Fixed IP surveillance cameras

Fixed IP cameras are designed to continuously monitor high-risk areas from a fixed vantage point, meaning considerations must be made regarding the model of cameras installed. For example, bullet IP cameras can produce high-quality footage at a long range, though with a narrow field of view. At the same time, dome IP cameras can cover open areas at the cost of long-range functionality.

The main benefit of a fixed installation is that less bandwidth will be required to operate the system on a permanent basis. Fixed IP cameras can be effective in both indoor and outdoor installations and are commonly found in locations like retail stores, offices and rental units.

Pan Tilt Zoom (PTZ) IP cameras

PTZ internet protocol cameras offer greater functionality than fixed solutions, with security teams able to adjust each unit’s field of view in real-time. From a remote position, an operator can pan, tilt or zoom in and out of live images to monitor suspicious events as they unfold, though this added functionality contributes to a more bandwidth-intensive installation.

PoE IP cameras

PoE internet protocol cameras are designed to both receive power and transmit data over a single Ethernet cable. Traditional analog CCTV solutions require two separate cables to be installed, one for power and one for data transmission. This means PoE camera systems are usually far easier to install and simpler to maintain due to a reduction in required system hardware.

Wireless IP cameras

Wireless IP cameras can be connected to a private WiFi network to send video data over a large distance. Footage may be automatically sent to a cloud-storage system or saved in an internal storage device, enabling teams to continuously capture and retain security footage.

Wireless and cloud-based camera solutions can be of benefit in situations where installing Ethernet cables is deemed too difficult or resource-intensive. However, data transmitted over a wireless network can be more susceptible to interference and cyber-attacks. This means wireless IP cameras are not usually recommended for high-security applications that lack intensive encryption capabilities.

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Benefits of IP cameras

IP surveillance systems enable stakeholders to view live security footage from anywhere in the world, helping business and building owners provide 24/7 protection to people, property and valuable assets. In addition, their ability to transmit data using only a network connection means installations can be freely adjusted, adapted and moved as needs change.

With different types of hardware available to suit indoor and outdoor applications, and many high-quality IP security cameras able to be integrated into wider security systems, these devices provide a great deal of flexibility to stakeholders. When considering the development of an IP camera installation, leaders and security staff should focus on the following primary benefits they bring to the table. 

Efficient cloud storage 

As IP cameras typically record footage continuously, effective installations will require a lot of storage space. Businesses may also be required to store surveillance footage for a specific period of time to meet legal and regulatory requirements.

Secure cloud-based storage solutions featuring built-in encryption tools will ensure footage is kept in a safe environment for as long as required, with admins able to access saved footage remotely at any time. It’s also wise to backup saved footage in a physical storage device, like a solid-state or hard disk drive, as this will mitigate the risk of files being lost or corrupted.

Strong data encryption

Video data encryption solutions ensure files sent between IP cameras, monitoring stations and storage devices remain unreadable to unauthorized external sources. Look for systems with both at-rest” and in-transit” encryption capabilities. This will ensure all data stored on IP cameras and data sent between security systems remains protected from outside threats.

Instant sharing

Choosing IP camera systems with instant sharing functionality enables teams to send video clips of suspicious events to relevant stakeholders instantly via SMS texts or email. Utilizing this feature can dramatically improve response times and enhance on-site security visibility.

Cost-effective PoE functionality

Prioritizing PoE IP cameras will reduce the initial cost of the installation as less cabling will be required to get the system operational. PoE cameras also offer some of the flexibility associated with wireless cameras while providing stable data transmissions comparable to traditional wired solutions, essentially offering the best of both worlds to property owners. 

Disadvantages of IP cameras

While IP cameras provide multiple benefits to business and property owners, including the ability to send and receive data over the internet, there are some disadvantages to consider:

  • Cybersecurity risks - IP cameras, especially those connected to third-party servers, can be vulnerable to cyberattacks. Make sure to choose hardware and software made by reputable manufacturers and regularly review/​update active cybersecurity solutions.

  • High bandwidth requirements - IP cameras require far more bandwidth than traditional analog camera systems. Calculations must be made prior to installation to ensure businesses can afford and provide ample bandwidth to meet surveillance needs.

  • Complex operation - IP surveillance systems usually require a number of additional accessories to perform optimally, including connectors, recorders and transmitters. It can be hard to set up and optimize these devices properly without prior experience.

Key features to look for in an IP security camera system

For business and property owners considering the deployment of IP cameras, it’s important to consider the requirements of a finished system prior to selecting appropriate hardware. Before exploring the key features of an ideal internet protocol camera solution, stakeholders must ask themselves the following questions regarding proposed business camera installations:

  • How will footage be stored? - Consider whether cloud-based, physical or a mix of the two storage solutions will be most appropriate for administrators and security staff.

  • Which areas need to be monitored? - Consider whether bullet or dome cameras should be used in certain areas, as well as the benefits of PTZ or wireless IP cameras.

  • How much bandwidth is available? - Check how much bandwidth is being used by essential systems and how much could be dedicated to a new IP camera installation.

  • Will cameras be indoors or outdoors? - Outdoor cameras will need some form of built-in weather protection, while indoor cameras may require anti-vandalism features.

  • Will the proposed systems comply with industry standards? - Data privacy rules and regulations must be considered to make sure recorded footage is handled appropriately.

With the above considerations taken into account, business and property owners should look for IP surveillance camera systems equipped with the following key features and capabilities.

1. Storage considerations 

Most modern IP camera systems will automatically store recorded footage in a linked cloud storage environment, though it may be beneficial to store backup footage on a physical hard disk drive or solid-state drive. Business owners should also consider industry-specific rules about data storage, including how long footage can be stored and how it should be removed.

It’s also important to consider the quality and resolution of recorded footage, as HD, 4K and 8K quality footage will take up much more storage space than standard definition images. If multiple high-quality cameras are needed, look for systems with upwards of 26TB of storage.

2. Encryption capabilities 

As IP cameras are designed to transmit data over the Internet, unprotected systems may be at risk from cyber-attacks. Using end-to-end encryption tools ensures all transferred data is unreadable without a preapproved key, preventing hackers from intercepting viewable data.

There are two types of encryption business owners should look out for when choosing ideal IP cameras. At rest” encryption is used to protect data stored on the camera itself, while in transit” encryption ensures data remains protected as it’s sent between the camera and any linked storage solutions. Both styles of encryption should be present in a secure installation.

3. PoE vs wireless benefits 

All internet protocol cameras will need to be connected to a power supply, though teams will need to consider whether electrical or Ethernet cables will be most appropriate. If possible, Ethernet cables used for power and data transmission should be prioritized, as these PoE solutions are less prone to interference and more likely to provide stable data transmissions.

Wireless IP cameras powered by electrical cables may be appropriate in situations where a physical Ethernet connection is deemed too costly or difficult to install. However, as wireless data transfers are typically less secure, encryption tools must be considered a top priority. 

4. Data sharing and remote access

Most IP camera solutions can be viewed remotely via a cloud-based management platform, but truly effective systems will also feature additional data-sharing features. Look for systems that enable teams to share footage via texts and emails for fast responses, and send automated alerts to admins if cameras detect suspicious events.

5. Video analytics integrations

IP surveillance camera systems can be optimized via integrations with smart video analytics software. These programs can autonomously detect suspicious events like persons carrying contraband items or crowds forming in unusual locations and instantly alert authorized admins for enhanced incident responses.


Video security solutions are a key component of any effective business security system, but outdated analog CCTV installations may no longer provide adequate protection. By using modern IP cameras with remote-access functionality, businesses can better identify and address security concerns around the clock to protect their assets from common threats.

Provided teams choose appropriate types of IP cameras, consider the pros and cons of PoE vs wireless installations and ensure chosen systems feature suitable storage and encryption capabilities, IP surveillance camera systems can help organizations strengthen their security.

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