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Network camera adds to practice security

A few years ago I installed an Axis network camera on our surgery network to monitor a sub-wait area hidden from the receptionist's view. This gave users at any PC a view of the patients waiting in that area.

The camera was installed primarily to enable the receptionists to monitor this area but I often find myself clicking on the camera icon on my PC to look for a patient who may have forgotten to book-in at reception or who has failed to come to the consulting room when called.

Because we waste a lot of time trying to locate such patients, I decided to purchase another camera.

Network cameras have come down in price over the past few years and the specification has increased. They now come in both wired or wireless network versions.

Quite rightly, the NHS is apprehensive of wireless networks because of security concerns. There are well- publicised methods to overcome the security and hack into the network.

I therefore opted for a wired camera. Fortunately we had enough network points near reception as well as spare IP addresses so we did not need to upgrade our network at all.    

Because our existing Axis camera had been in continuous use since installation, I investigated the new Axis range as well as competitors such as D-link and Panasonic.

After considering resolution, performance, compatibility, price and my previous experience with an Axis camera, I decided to buy an Axis 210.

This camera has a manual focus (20cm to infinity) but no zoom or audio. The 210A offers audio output from an integral microphone, while the Axis 211 has zoom and focus that can be adjusted over the network by software. The 211 can also be used outdoors when fitted with a protective enclosure.

Installation

Hardware installation was easy, only requiring a screwdriver to mount the supplied adjustable mounting bracket (the camera itself has a standard camera mount for tripods and brackets).

The Axis 210 requires a power supply so I plugged it into the network using a Cat5 cable (not supplied).

The easy-to-use ‘Axis IP utility’ software discovers the camera on the network and assigns the camera your chosen IP address. This has to be on the same sub-net. If you are unsure, ask your local support desk what IP address you can use.

Next, open a web browser and type in http:// followed by the IP address to access the web server running the camera. The basic and advanced camera settings can be configured via your web browser.

You should set a new camera password as well as the date, time and camera name at this stage.

Further tweaks to the settings can be done at anytime by entering the same URL in a browser on the network.

As with all cameras, it is better if the subject you are viewing is well illuminated by a light source behind the camera.

As long as the light is not behind the subject and not shining directly at the camera, the picture should be clear.

The quality is remarkable even in artificial light. The camera can deliver output to up to 20 PCs simultaneously without loss of performance.

Axis cameras can be used with the optional Axis Camera Station software as a complete security surveillance system. Motion-trigger zones within the picture can be configured for each camera to record to hard disk, or even to send email alerts if motion is detected. This is ideal for sensitive areas like drug cupboards, safes and server rooms.

Overall I am very impressed with this camera. It has been reliable, the output is good quality and it was easy to install.

Dr Matthews is a GP in Thames Ditton, Surrey

Key points

Axis 210 network camera from £327 

Axis 210A network camera — audio output from integral microphone: from £411

Axis 211 network camera — remote focus and zoom: from £529

Optional software

Axis camera station (for up to four cameras) from £475

Axis 210 surveillance kit (software and four cameras) from £1,442


Available from www.misco.co.uk www.pcwb.com


Details and downloads from www.axis.com

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