5 Guiding Rules for Megapixel Storage and Bandwidth Requirements

Most any security professional – from dealers and integrators to CEOs of the world’s largest manufacturers – understands the benefits megapixel video can offer end users.

The gap between traditional analog cameras and megapixel cameras is tremendous. For example, not only is high-resolution video sharper and more detailed, it also allows users to digitally pan and zoom to view specific areas within a frame in greater detail without compromising image quality. 

In security, details are crucial; the more the better. Given the proliferation of HD video in our everyday lives – on our TVs, smartphones and other mobile devices – it’s not surprising that end users now demand megapixel levels of detail from their security video. This holds true whether for live monitoring or forensic investigation.

For a growing number of end users, the idea of using lower-resolution analog cameras is no longer acceptable. However, megapixel video has historically made its own high demands when it comes to bandwidth and storage needs.

The detail contained in the video is comprised of data, which must be transmitted back to the head-end for viewing or recording. Because it provides such rich detail, megapixel video results in much larger file sizes that require higher bandwidth and storage capacity than their analog counterparts.

It would seem that bandwidth and storage could account for a substantial percentage of the total cost of a video system, putting a strain on both infrastructure and the financial resources necessary to upgrade that infrastructure to accommodate megapixel video. And while end users want megapixel-quality video, they might not be in a position to make the necessary investment in the technology. Unfortunately, these extra costs could end up being a deal-breaker for installing security contractors.

As a result, dealers and integrators can and often do face challenges in delivering the high-quality video that end users desire and need while staying within budgetary constraints. Thankfully, there are ways to reduce the size of megapixel video files without negatively impacting image quality.

For those dealers and integrators who understand the solutions and strategies that mitigate, and even overcome bandwidth and storage challenges, megapixel video presents an excellent opportunity for revenue growth both today and in the future.

What follows are the top five bandwidth and storage management factors that can help in-stalling security contractors win new business by reducing costs and making megapixel video more budget-friendly to end customers. 

1. Resolution – As stated previously, the resolution of the camera itself is the main reason video files are so large. This resolution conundrum has been somewhat mitigated by compression technologies, which nearly all cameras incorporate.

An encoder within the camera uses a complex algorithm to compress video data more densely to create smaller file sizes. When transmitted, these smaller file sizes tie up much less of the net-work’s bandwidth. Once the data reaches its destination, the recorder/decoder unpacks it for viewing and storage.

There are three main compression formats used in security today: H.264, M-JPEG and MPEG-4. While most cameras and NVRs support more than one format, security equipment providers have almost universally adopted H.264 as the go-to standard. Why? Of the three, H.264 is the most efficient at reducing file size without compromising image quality, producing high-quality video using less bandwidth than the others.

Files compressed using H.264 can be up to 80% smaller than comparable M-JPEG files and as little as half the size of JPEG files, resulting in much more bandwidth and storage-friendly video.

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