Are you looking to wire up your small and mid-sized business for video surveillance? Aside from the morale-draining purpose of keeping an eye on staffers, a large number of legitimate uses for video surveillance exist. This includes its value as a deterrent against violence and crime, as well as the potential for video evidence to be used in defense of employees.
SMBs looking to wire up their SMB for video surveillance will be glad to know that it is not rocket science. There are basically three main methods of doing so, which I outline below.
Traditional Camera with DVR
The simplest method of wiring up your SMB would be to utilize traditional analog cameras wired to a DVR, or digital video recorder. Usually packed with ample storage capacity, a DVR is a self-contained appliance that will perform the task of digitalizing and saving incoming video streams onto its storage drive. Depending on configuration and available storage space, older recordings are automatically purged to make room for incoming recording.
The advantage of this setup is that it usually offers the widest range of cameras to choose from, with individual cameras generally costing less. A DVR could be a dedicated appliance or PC hardware adapted to record video, and is usually deployed as part of a solution by a vendor. One downside of this option would be the heightened potential of being locked into a proprietary solution, and some vendors may also peddle solutions that lack advanced capabilities such as remote viewing of video feeds.
IP Network Camera
A more modern option would be to deploy a digital IP network camera, which transmits captured video images as an MP4 or H.264 stream over a wired Ethernet network. Increasingly, wireless network cameras are also being deployed due to their ease of deployment. Where supported, an IP network camera can be set up in a standalone deployment by saving the digital images onto a local flash storage device, or over the network to a DVR appliance. Increasingly, network attached storage (NAS) appliances are incorporating support for network cameras, though additional licensing may apply.
An IP network camera is appealing due to its ability to integrate into a corporate network and its higher degree of configurability. Moreover, manufacturers routinely incorporate advanced features for streaming over the Internet into these devices, while higher-end models usually include support for Power-over-Ethernet. This latter is for ease of deployment, and helps the IT department to manage these network cameras as just another IT asset.
Dropcam HD with Internet access
The Dropcam HD is not so much a method of wiring up an SMB for video surveillance than a complete solution that revolves around a relatively cheap but advanced network camera. Video images are sent using Wi-Fi to Internet servers maintained by Dropcam, where they can be streamed "live" - with just a few seconds of latency, to any Web browser that is logged in.
For a small monthly fee, video can be archived for up to either seven or 30 days without the need to invest in an expensive DVR or NAS appliance. Though the Dropcam solution was designed primarily for home users, there is no reason why it cannot be deployed for small businesses, too. Finally, the company has also developed iOS and Android apps for viewing archived and live video streams from the respective smartphone platforms for even greater ease of use.
Do you have any experience in deploying video surveillance for your SMB? Feel free to share them in the comments section below.