The video surveillance world has seen a number of trends that are increasing overall system costs, including increased camera counts for better coverage, increased resolutions that produce better video, and extending retention times due to regulatory or best-practice requirements. These trends have caused the storage of video surveillance data to become the dominant cost factor for the security professional. Tight budgets have to accommodate more and more storage to simply get the job done.

Consider this - a rich image from a high-resolution IP camera might be 200K as opposed to a 40K VGA image from a lower resolution camera. When capturing footage 24 hours a day, security professionals are faced with having to buy tens or even hundreds of terabytes of storage for this footage. 

There are several solutions available to address the need for increased storage. The latest video compression standard, H.264, is now a preferred industry standard. With minimal impact on image quality, H.264 can reduce the size of a digital video file resulting in less network bandwidth and storage space.

Another benefit of H.264 is its granularity. It offers many levels of compression that allow users to decide which quality level they need versus the storage footprint required. When done in a scalable software implementation, this granularity can be applied over time, dynamically, freeing up valuable storage space.

The ability to use this dynamic compression opens the door to other adaptations. By combining H.264 compression with the concept of managing the value of video over time, the practice of video lifecycle management (VLM) has emerged. In the world of security, as video data gets older, it gets less relevant and less valuable to a business. VLM is the process of reducing the size of those images over time according to defined business rules as your risk, and the value of the video lessens.

For example, a security manager in a bank wants high quality video footage for the first 24 hours because he is concerned about robberies. After the first 24 hours, the security manager knows the bank wasn’t robbed, but still needs to keep that video due to possible “slip and fall” claims. With VLM, he can compress the size of the video to half or more of its original size. After 30-90 days, he can safely reduce the file down to five percent of its original size and still retain better clarity than a VGA image captured from an older analog camera.

Complementing VLM is, Motion Optimized Recording (MORe) whereby all video is captured. Non-motion video is recorded in a highly compressed footprint with lower frame rates, while motion-oriented video is recorded at less compression and higher frame rates.

These new technologies are also “greener” than their predecessors. A single Network Video Recorder (NVR) appliance running VLM software can handle over 180 high resolution cameras with one year of retention - all in a 1U footprint. Security managers can shrink their surveillance acquisition, storage and operating costs while experiencing higher video image resolution and longer retention times.

In a market that is moving toward digital networks, higher resolution images with increasing retention requirements will continue to drive up storage costs and accelerate the adoption of these new technologies. This transition is gaining momentum because security managers are realizing a positive return on investment from their video surveillance equipment. With flexible solutions that work with a hybrid of technologies, the market is poised to achieve high penetration rates.