Low-cost cameras can take shortcuts on security, yet high-profile hacking incidents have exposed the importance of firewalls, user authentication and solid standard security practices at a minimum. Don’t get caught installing cameras that can be easily hacked.
You can increase the security of your camera by knowing where the camera is manufactured and where all the components come from. Because codes and programming can easily be written into electronic components, including camera components, it is something an integrator should be able to account for in order to win projects in government markets. The last thing any government agency wants is to be connected to a camera that’s been programmed to record video, audio or sensitive information without your knowledge. Such a device in a government facility could quickly lead to concerns over national security.
Performance and reliability are paramount in the government market where the camera — and the system behind it — must always be operational. An agency’s reputation hinges on whether the camera system is working when there is a critical event. That alone is a steep cost — not to mention the burden of quickly or repeatedly replacing a low-cost camera. Buying a model that can be trusted and will remain functional for years is actually worth than the replacement cost of a $100 camera that must be swapped out three or four times.
Most cheaply made cameras don’t last for more than a year and less if it’s an outdoor camera. The circuitry and design might not be intended for outdoor use, especially if they are made from cheap plastic. Look for something that can withstand extreme temperatures, especially if you live down south. Humidity can play a huge role. Look at the (IP) ratings for the camera’s housing. For example, IP-66 refers to the housing’s ability to keep out foreign objects, such as dust and water. When you look at manufacturer specifications, you should see the IP-66 rating — at a minimum. Don’t be afraid to call the manufacturer for the certificate and for references. Any company can say a camera is IP-66, but dunking a camera in a bucket does not constitute IP-66 testing or certification.
All camera companies will claim to have reliable, durable cameras with high performance. Just because that’s what it says on the website or the box doesn’t mean that is what you are going to get. Run the cameras through their paces, read reviews, talk to actual users and make sure they really do perform.
It may not seem like a big hidden cost now, but if you end up spending hours figuring out a poorly written manual, or on the phone waiting for a solution, you’ll wish you had assessed the component’s support more thoroughly. If the company doesn’t have a local office or if it’s made in a foreign country, you might be out of luck on support help.
Instead of just reading the price on the sell sheet, do your research — talk to your peers, read reviews, and put the cameras through rigorous testing. Get the details before making a buying decision and consider the hidden costs of low-cost cameras before determining the right buy for your installation.