A video intercom system is a building access management tool featuring a camera, a method of audio communication, a connected door locking mechanism and an access management platform. When a visitor interacts with the system to request building access, the camera intercom system will send video and audio footage to the administrator, which could include a security team, resident or property owner. 

Admins can then visually verify the visitor before unlocking the doors to the building, helping to prevent unauthorized individuals from trespassing on private property, and providing building management teams with video evidence of potential intrusion events to help deter crime. 

Depending on the type of door video intercom system installed, admins are able to view and access live camera feeds either through an on-site monitor or remotely via a connected smart device. Further integrations can facilitate automated alerts, lockdown functions and time-based locks. 

How do video door intercom systems work? 

In simple terms, a video intercom doorbell system works by creating a video call between the hardware installed at a building entry point and a monitoring device controlled by a tenant or property owner. Once this connection is established, the tenant or property owner is able to visually verify the credentials of the visitor and choose whether or not to unlock the door from their monitoring position. 

Video entry systems often feature I/O relays to connect with door release mechanisms, allowing users to remotely control the lock from their substation. A wired video intercom system relies on cabling to each video doorbell device and unit, while IP and wireless options leverage the Internet, desktop software and smartphone apps to connect individual users to their visitors.

In multi-tenant buildings, such as apartments or large offices, the video intercom systems need to be able to route visitor calls to specific units or offices. Here, a visitor will request access using the main video intercom doorbell device installed at the entry point. In many cases, they will then be presented with a directory that can be used to locate the tenant that they wish to speak to. 

Some wired video door release systems connect visitors automatically to specific users by entering a code or pressing a specific button that calls that unit, depending on the video intercom system installed. 

Types of video intercom entry systems

IP video intercom systems 

An IP intercom with camera functionality describes any intercom network that operates over the internet, with IP standing for Internet Protocol. These systems are often able to connect to existing IP data networks or via Power over Ethernet (PoE) cabling, meaning no additional wiring work will be required during installation. 

IP video intercoms are commonly utilized in offices and multi-tenant complexes. When connected to a high-speed corporate data network, the video signals sent between visitors and residents are often protected by advanced security features and reliably maintained by IT staff. 

These configurations can also be protected using end-to-end encryption and other additional security features, helping company IT and security teams to develop comprehensive cyber and physical security strategies to help better protect a business’ internal systems and important data networks. 

Wireless video intercom doorbell

Wireless video intercom systems are becoming a popular alternative to traditional wired video intercoms. An ideal entry point management solution for situations in which extensive wiring work may be too time-consuming or expensive to carry out, wireless video intercom systems are particularly suited for use in areas where no permanent structural work will be required. 

A wireless video intercom system with door release uses Wi-Fi to establish a connection between the internal and external components of the network, meaning residents must have a strong and reliable Wi-Fi connection and a respective mobile app in order to effectively transmit video signals. 

Cloud-based video intercoms 

Cloud-based video entry systems can be configured as part of a wired or a wireless intercom, with the main benefit of these networks being the ability for administrators to effectively manage the system remotely regardless of whether they’re currently on-site. 

By connecting with a cloud-based video intercom door release management portal, security teams and property owners are able to access live camera feeds, edit permissions and engage with any additional security features that may be installed in the property via a secure Internet connection, allowing for 24/7 monitoring of commercial and residential buildings. 

Cloud-based intercoms enable security teams to manage entry permissions without being physically present, which is especially helpful in routing after-hours requests for late meetings, maintenance staff, deliveries and contractors. 

Video intercom that works with iPhone and smart-device apps

Like cloud-based video intercom networks and IP intercom systems, many modern configurations come equipped with their own dedicated smart-device applications. Once connected to the internet, these can be used to manage, adjust and operate the hardware components of a video intercom installation. 

These configurations provide all the same features as a hardware-based video doorphone system, like making and receiving video calls, accessing live camera feeds and editing settings, with the added convenience of this functionality always being accessible via the user’s own personal device. 

Cellphone network video intercom systems are commonly marketed towards residential use, with the convenience of tenants being able to grant property access for visitors, delivery couriers and outside vendors without being home. These intercoms can also be effective when deployed in retail and office environments as they require very little technical knowledge to effectively operate, and relieve the burden on security staff for constant visitor management.

The components of a door video intercom system

Readers for video intercoms

The main focal point of a front door video intercom system with camera is usually the reader unit: a device that features an integrated camera (a video intercom reader), a touchscreen or keypad, a monitor plus a microphone, speaker and buzzer or doorbell. This device is often referred to as the base station and will be installed at the entry point. 

Some basic models may only feature a video intercom doorbell, or a wireless video intercom doorbell and monitor, with an additional keypad or reader needing to be installed to manage access control systems and connect to the door locks. 

Camera system 

Connected to the door entry reader will be an integrated video camera. This device will be capable of sending live video footage to the building occupant either via internal wiring or a Wi-Fi connection. 

It’s important to choose the best video intercom systems capable of recording high-definition footage to ensure that the occupant always has a clear image of the visitor. Further considerations such as night vision and low-light recording settings are worth looking into if the system is intended to be used at all hours. 

Recording device 

To get the most out of a door intercom with camera functionality, the system should be capable of recording and storing video footage and audio within its own dedicated video management software, or with on-device storage. This feature allows property owners to analyze past footage and images, which can then be used to review potential intrusion events and develop more effective security protocols. 

Video management solutions can be designed to either store footage locally on a computer server or be integrated alongside a cloud-based platform. The latter option presents several unique benefits such as the ability to view footage remotely and automatic file sync to prevent data loss. 

Monitoring system for intercoms with video 

Any front video door intercom system with camera functionality needs to be equipped with a real-time monitoring system that can be accessed by tenants. For a single receptionist or security desk, this can consist of a single hardware monitor or smart device. However, video doorbell systems for multi-occupant configurations will require either several wired substations to be installed in each office or unit, or an interconnected web app that’s accessible to all tenants. 

Though video intercom monitor stations are still commonly used in commercial settings, Android and iPhone video intercom systems are becoming increasingly popular, as this configuration can help to decrease overall installation costs by removing the necessity for physical monitors to be wired into the building. 

Smart-device monitoring also allows occupants to view and access the intercom system remotely, providing a higher degree of flexibility. Plus, as most people are familiar with app-based interfaces, less training is required to ensure that residents are able to properly make use of the intercom system. 

Call routing 

One of the most challenging aspects of a video intercom system is making sure visitors can reach the correct person. Many IP video intercoms feature a directory that visitors can scroll through to find the person they want to see. While convenient and easy to use, this can pose security risks for anyone who may not want their name or business publicly listed. 

Voice-activated video door entry systems utilize audio to route visitor calls instead. This type of system leverages artificial intelligence to determine who visitors are there to see, and route the calls accordingly. These types of smart front door video intercoms can actively respond to visitor requests to speak to the front desk, call a specific tenant, or leave a voicemail if no one is available.

Power supply

Each component of the video intercom system must be connected to a reliable power source. The intercom can be powered by a main power supply, or a PoE system if the video intercom is connected to a data network. 

In either configuration it’s advised that the system also has access to a backup generator, as this will prevent a loss of service in the event of a power outage or an internet service interruption.


When deciding on the best video intercom for any particular use case, building owners and security teams should consider how each style of system operates. This includes whether remote access and cloud-based management is appropriate, the costs associated with installing different kinds of video intercoms as well as the potential for further integration and scalability. By taking the time to plan around these factors, the implementation of a video intercom system can be beneficial to almost any installation.

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