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IP is an abbreviation for Internet Protocol, the most common protocol for communication over computer networks and the internet. IP Camera is a camera that creates digitized video streams and transfers via a wired or wireless IP network, enabling monitoring and video recording as far away as the network reaches. In other words, using an IP camera can save a lot of money on installation since most facilities are already wired with LAN cables. Wiring coaxial cables is the major expense when implementing analog cameras. Also, it allows users to have a camera at one location while view live video at another location over the network / internet.
A web camera is connected to a PC, normally through USB, and uses the PC to make video available to other viewers. It will not work without a PC locally connected to the camera. An IP camera usually stands alone, and combines the functionality of a high-end web camera, the PC and network interface into one network-ready product.
IP cameras can be used in professional security systems and enable live video to be viewed remotely by authorized personnel. The IP cameras are easily integrated into larger, complex systems, but can also function as stand-alone solutions in entry-level surveillance applications. IP cameras can be used for surveillance of sensitive areas, such as buildings, casinos, banks and shops. Video of those areas can be monitored from relevant control rooms, at police stations and by security managers from a variety of locations. IP cameras are also effective substitutes for analog cameras in traditional law enforcement applications, such as keeping public places safe. IP cameras can be used for access control. People as well as vehicles can be recorded with time stamps that are easy to locate and review. The images can be stored in a remote location, making it impossible to steal the information.

IP cameras are easily connected to the existing IP network and enable real-time updates of high-quality video to be accessible from any computer on the network. Sensitive areas such as the server room, the reception area or any remote site can be closely monitored in a cost-effective and simple way, over the local network or via the internet. IP cameras enhance the monitoring of a retail location by ensuring that everything is in good order. An IP camera is a useful tool at the office. Areas like the reception area, and conference rooms can be monitored for Launchvity. In addition, users can keep track of who has been in the server room and take appropriate Launchon when problems occur. IP cameras are useful tools for the manufacturing industry. Monitor robots, other machines and production lines from the office or home and allow service engineers to access the cameras remotely. With Pan/Tilt/Zoom cameras it is possible to look at comprehensive as well as detailed views.

CCTV cameras connect to a video monitor or DVR using a coax connection, while IP cameras connect directly to the network using a RJ45 connector and have their own IP address. That means the camera has intelligence and can be shared by many PCs using web browser and the video recorded using video management software or a NVR.
It depends on your application. To determine the best cameras you need to answer some questions.

>What do you want to view? How far away and how wide an area you want to view will determine the lens.
>Do you plan to use the camera indoors or outdoors?
>How much light is available? The amount of light determines how sensitive the camera needs to be.
>Do you have a large area that requires a Pan, tilt, zoom (PTZ) camera? A PTZ camera can step through a set of positions (guard tour). Adding additional software, such as NetDVR, will instruct the camera to stop and record the video as long as motion is detected.
>What frame rate is required? Fast frame rate is required if you are looking at a fast moving object, but if you are using it for general surveillance, you may only require 1 or 2 frames/sec. The higher the frame rate the more storage you will require.
>What resolution do you require? To be able to identify a person’s face you require about 50 pixels/foot. This means a camera with a resolution of 700 x 480 can be used to identify a person in a 14 foot wide area. To get this I divided 50 pixels/ft into 700 pixels. If you want to view a larger area then you need a higher resolution camera.

The Network Video Recorder (NVR) is a complete IP Camera recording device. It includes a computer and special software required to not only record the video but also allow many people to view real time and recorded video. The term evolved from the older DVR (or Digital Video Recorder). The NVR includes both the computer and special Video Management Software (VMS). The computer can use Windows, UNIX or Mac operating systems.
MPEG4 provides better compression, but MJPEG provides higher resolution in some situations. MPEG4 improves the compression by transferring only the difference between frames. MJPEG supports very high resolution.

Calculating bandwidth used by IP cameras is complicated, but it can be estimated. Bandwidth used by an IP camera system is determined by the number of cameras, camera resolution, frame rate, compression used, amount of motion seen by each camera, and sometimes even the lighting.

For example one frame of video uses about 30K Bytes when using MJPEG compression. If we require 10 frames per second, it takes up 10 frames/sec. X 30K Bytes = 300 K Bytes/sec. which equals 2400 K bits/sec. (using 8 bits per Byte). This can be reduced over 20 times when using the latest H.264 compression, so you use only 120 K bits/sec.

If you just want to view and control the camera, you can use a standard web browser. Most cameras are compatible with Windows IE. You usually will need to download Active X component to be able to view the camera.

If you want to view many cameras on the same screen, or need to record the video, you must select a video management software product or select one of the network video recorder systems.

There are a number of different Video Management Software (VMS) products available. The primary job of the VMS is to record the video from many IP cameras on the network. It is very important to select software that is very reliable and doesn’t crash. You certainly don’t want to lose important video. It is also important to use a dedicated computer system to run the VMS.

The various software products available have many additional functions including motion detection, special alerts that tell you when something important has happened. Flexible display of real time and recorded video, and easy locating and display of multiple recorded video channels to name a few. The exact feature set depends on your objectives. Take a look at the table of VMS that compares a number of different products.

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