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Wireless CCTV cameras

Ever since the advent of the internet and wireless technology, wireless CCTV cameras have fundamentally changed the way how we perceive surveillance and access in general.

After the revolutionary invention of closed-circuit cameras for safety and security, wireless technology was always seen as the next quantum leap in surveillance but there were quite a lot of obstacles to overcome to make these cameras a reality.

The definition of wireless CCTV cameras can be defined as a surveillance system that transmits real-time video data over the cloud or the internet to any authorised device, regardless of where it is in the world.

In this guide, we will discuss the various types of wireless CCTV systems, how they work, and the crucial technologies behind them.

THE CONCEPT OF WIRELESS CAMERA TECHNOLOGY

CCTV cameras have been around since the 1940s, but back then these cameras had to be connected via wires to transmit data. Of course, this meant that these cameras had a fundamental flaw or weakness.

For example, if the wire were to be damaged or cut, then the camera would essentially not work. Furthermore, it was a real challenge to diagnose wired CCTV cameras, especially if the wiring was concealed since the technician would essentially have to check the entire length of the wire to pinpoint the damaged area.

However, there were a few technologies that would forever change humanity, let alone surveillance technology.

In the late 20th century, scientists were already working on a system that could transmit data over the air without the use of any wires. The system would work by exploiting the miracle of radio waves.

Everything in the universe has a certain frequency. For example, radio waves, microwaves, and X-rays all operate at different frequencies; think of it as a special code.

Scientists discovered that you could use these frequencies to broadcast signals that contained meaningful data. The first breakthrough came in the form of the humble radio.

The radio in your car works in the same way as modern Wi-Fi, but the technologies are different. A car radio simply receives the oncoming radio waves from the air through the antenna and plays back the signals through a speaker system.

But what if you wanted to transmit complicated data instead of a simple song? This is where Wi-Fi comes in. Wi-Fi or Wireless Fidelity is a system that uses frequencies to transmit computer data. What is computer data based on? Ones and zeroes!

The computer doesn’t understand human language like us, instead, it relies on two states, on and off, to understand data. This computer language is called binary, and you can think of it in the same way as Morse code works. For example, if you want the computer to display the word “egg” then you would first have to convert the word from English to binary.

Fun fact: the word “egg” in binary is 01100101 01100111 01100111.

In the old days, to transmit this data from one computer to another, you would have to pass a binary code through an ethernet cable but with Wi-Fi, you can do this magically over the air.

As explained, Wi-Fi works in the same way as your car radio, except instead of audio data, a binary code is transmitted by modulating the shape of the wave that would either represent a “1” or a “0”. This coding and broadcasting are usually done by a device called a router.

The signal is broadcasted from a router and then picked up by a receiver that does the opposite of the router: it decodes the code and converts it back to English. The thing that makes Wi-Fi magical, though, is its speed and accuracy. Imagine transmitting a whole dictionary full of words nearly instantaneously in the same way.

HOW WIRELESS CCTV CAMERAS WORK

Using the same concept, you can also transmit other types of complex data like audio and video data – this is the basis of how wireless CCTV cameras work! There are mainly three types of wireless CCTV camera systems. Let’s explore each type and highlight their pros and cons:

  • Private Wireless Camera Systems – Great for offices or business premises.
  • Wireless IP Cameras – Perfect for indoor or home use.
  • Cloud-Based/Smart CCTV Cameras – Excellent choice for home and business users who want additional camera features.

PRIVATE IP CAMERA SYSTEMS

When we talk about wireless cameras, private network wireless cameras are perhaps the closest replacement to wired CCTV cameras since they have the same features but transmit data over a closed and encrypted server. This way the data travels from the camera to a router and then to an authorised device without any wires in between.

Pros and Cons

Pro: No need for the Internet!

The benefit of these cameras is that they don’t particularly need the internet to work. Instead, the camera simultaneously records and transmits the audio and video signal over the air at 2.4Ghz, the frequency that most Wi-Fi routers use, and then the signal is received by a device connected to the same local network as the camera system.

This type of system is excellent for people who live in remote areas or in areas that have restricted internet access.

Pro: A Secure Wireless System

A closed system is also more secure since there are no third parties involved in the transmission of the data and the system is also shielded from outside attacks through the internet.

Furthermore, the lack of wire means that the camera feed will not go down due to damage to the wire, as is common with wired CCTV systems.

Con: Offers Limited Access

As you can imagine, without the internet, this system offers limited access since you will not be able to view the live feed from anywhere in the world. To view the live feed, the user will have to connect to the secure local network or be in the range of the router to access the camera wirelessly.

For example, if you install a wireless CCTV system for your office, then you will not be able to view the footage from your home Wi-Fi since the camera will be on a separate network that does not have access to the internet.

The only way to transmit this data over multiple networks would be to send the video and audio signal to a device that is connected to the internet.

Con: May be Difficult and Costly to Setup

Closed Network CCTV systems can be a costly replacement for wired camera systems. As mentioned above, these systems work in the same way as a traditional CCTV system and share the same surveillance features but with the added benefit of the system being wireless.

However, even though the system may have no need for wires which results in a speedier setup, wireless systems can be complicated to install since they require a lot of technical software and network-related knowledge.

WIRELESS IP CAMERAS

IP stands for Internet Protocol, and as the name suggests, these camera systems transmit data over the internet to anywhere in the world, essentially making your security footage available to you no matter where you are or what Wi-Fi you are connected to.

IP cameras work by transmitting data through a router to a secure server. The server then broadcasts this signal to an authorised device that can decode the signal and show the footage. There are various types of IP cameras. For example, most of them have PTZ features and usually come with a built-in SD card that stores security footage.

This footage can be accessed wirelessly from the camera through the server! The entire process is simultaneous, and most IP cameras work seamlessly without any loss of data.

Pros and Cons

Pro: Easy and Cheap to Setup

IP cameras are the default choice for homeowners who want to install a quick, easy, and cheap surveillance system for their homes. They are one of the most popular types of surveillance systems in the world and thanks to how easy it is to install them, even non-tech-savvy people can quickly integrate IP cameras in their homes without needing help.

Pro: Convenient and Support Features

IP cameras are usually produced by companies that provide end-to-end services. For example, a surveillance company may produce an IP camera and provide various related services like online data storage and an intuitive app that makes it easier for the user to access and control the camera.

These cameras may also get regular software updates that can help fix known bugs or even make the camera better. For example, a manufacturer can update old (but capable) camera hardware to newer codecs that can support a higher resolution, thereby effectively improving the video output of the camera.

Con: Requires a Solid Internet Connection

A big part of IP camera systems is the internet and to access security footage, you must have a good enough internet connection.

Most experts believe that a connection of 10Mpbs or more is recommended for accessing IP cameras that output 720p or 1080p resolution footage.

If you don’t have a good internet connection, then you will not be able to view the live feed in real-time. Even if you do, there will be a considerable lag in the footage and the video may even cut in between – unless you have a great connection on both sides.

Con: Usually Not Built for Outdoor Surveillance

IP cameras are usually only built for indoor use and most of them are not rated for various environmental conditions like traditional wireless CCTV cameras.

The lack of certifications that allow a camera to be used in various weather conditions is one of the reasons that makes IP cameras cheaper. Some IP cameras can be used outdoors, but then you will also have to have a solid internet connection to access the camera.

Some IP cameras can also work via ethernet, but if you choose to go that route with outdoor IP cameras then that would defeat the purpose of having a wireless camera system.

CLOUD-BASED/SMART CCTV CAMERAS

Cloud-based CCTV cameras have been labelled as the future of security and surveillance. These cameras are not only connected to the internet, but they are also smart.

With the progress in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other surveillance technologies, surveillance companies have now started to use advanced and intelligent software-based surveillance. Cloud-enabled CCTV cameras work essentially in the same way as regular IP cameras but with the added benefit of a few added features.

These features can be cloud storage which enables users to store and save their security footage online on a secure server instead of storing it locally on an SD card. The biggest benefit of this is that you can store way more data depending on what type of service you subscribe to. For example, a cloud-powered IP camera company may offer a month’s worth of storage rather than a week’s worth with your current SD card.

In the same way, these cameras may also have a range of smart features. For example, AI detection is a promising field that is gaining widespread attention. Smart cameras can now record footage and categorise them according to their type. For example, you can program your camera to specifically store footage of your pet, cars, and people. Some companies are also working on smarter recognition software that can even detect faces!

Pros and Cons

Pro: All the features of IP cameras and more

As mentioned above, not only do you get all the great wireless features of IP cameras, but you can also expand the capabilities of your camera by subscribing to additional features.

Cloud computing has enabled companies to go with a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model for surveillance as well. This means that you get to choose what additional features you want for your camera, and you can even pay according to these features.

Furthermore, installing cloud-based cameras is extremely simple and you can even configure the cameras yourself by simply following an intuitive guide that is usually provided in a mobile app.

Pro: Overtime Benefits Using AI and Great Support

The benefit of applying AI in camera systems is that companies can use surveillance data (anonymously, and in accordance with the law) to improve their products. For example, the surveillance data collected from various customers around the world can help train the detection system to be progressively better.

AI can also be used to improve the video quality of cameras. Manufacturers can push an update that will provide High Dynamic Range (HDR) support using AI which can greatly improve the quality of images in bright daylight or areas exposed to a direct light source, like streetlamps.

Using this strategy, surveillance companies may push these software updates and upgrade your old hardware without replacing anything physically! Another benefit of this system is that you can also quickly connect with support agents that can help you troubleshoot or configure your camera right from the mobile app.

Cons: Pay-as-you-go Model

Smart camera systems may provide a range of advanced and useful features, but they may also be costly. In traditional wireless systems, you only must pay upfront for the hardware and/or installation charges. After the initial cost, the system does not accumulate costs beyond maintenance charges, and that too only if maintenance is needed.

However, in smart camera systems, you will likely have to subscribe to a monthly or yearly subscription plan to access all the smart features. These subscription plans are competitive, but the accrued costs will likely make smart camera systems more expensive than traditional wireless or even wired systems.

Cons: Vulnerable to Hacks

Anything connected to the internet is vulnerable to cyber-attacks and this includes any CCTV camera connected to the internet. With the advances and reliance on internet-enabled devices, hackers have been able to equally evolve and improve their tactics to breach security systems.

While you should always go with security companies with a proven track record, fully securing internet-enabled camera systems is impossible which is why you should always follow a few best practices to keep yourself and your online devices safe.

CONTACT CALDER SECURITY

Calder Security offers a comprehensive solution for CCTV cameras that are state-of-the-art and comply with CCTV laws and regulations.

We understand the special security and safety needs of various properties and offer professional installation services for CCTV systems bespoke to each property.

We are expert SSAIB-approved security system installers and supply only high-quality CCTV equipment from trusted brands such as Hikvision, one of the world’s leading CCTV manufacturers.

We conduct every aspect from surveys, design, specification, and installation ourselves, and our professional repair and maintenance services ensure that your CCTV systems work in optimal condition all year round, guaranteeing effectiveness and compliance with the law.

We also offer professional CCTV monitoring services that help detect criminal activity and security breaches as they are in progress for the appropriate action to be taken, even when the property is empty.

Contact us here or call us at 0800 612 9799 to talk to our security experts right away!

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash