megapixel cameras offer resolutions higher than broadcast HD resolution
No more confusion: high definition and megapixel resolution explained 

The growing popularity of IP-based video systems in the video surveillance market provides the ability to capture high-resolution images through megapixel video. The use of HDTV standards in the consumer video market is becoming more prevalent. The images produced by this new generation of surveillance cameras are often collectively referred to as high-definition (HD) or as megapixel images. Since the terms HD and megapixel both indicate an improved level of imaging performance compared to traditional analog video, they are often mistaken to be the same. In this article Raul Calderon, Senior Vice President of Marketing of Arecont Vision lays bare the differences.

The goal of video surveillance should not be to replicate the broadcast (or consumer) HD resolution. As megapixel cameras offer resolutions higher than broadcast HD resolution, an explanation is in order.

Megapixel Versus High-Definition (HD) camera resolution


HD may be considered a subset of megapixel. HD is defined by specific resolutions at specific frame rates with a specific aspect ratio. Any camera with a resolution of more than a million pixels is by definition a megapixel camera. The lowest resolution in the megapixel range in the security market is around 1.3 megapixels, which provides 1280 x 1024-pixel resolution (or 1.3 million pixels), to resolutions as high as 10 megapixels (3,648 x 2,752 pixels). The range of megapixel surveillance cameras continues to expand to accommodate various application requirements. For example, Arecont Vision has expanded its range of megapixel cameras to include 1.3, 1080p, 2, 3, 5, 8 and 10 megapixel offerings, with 20 megapixel solutions in the offing.

Megapixel cameras offer resolutions higher than broadcast HD resolution

Limitations of HD cameras resolution

HD refers to cameras with a standardized resolution of 720p or 1080p. The numbers 720 and 1080 refer to the horizontal resolution. Therefore, 720p HD camera resolution provides images that are 1280 x 720 pixels (921,600 pixels - not megapixel), and 1080p HD cameras provide 1920 x 1080-pixel resolution, or 2.1 megapixels. The HD video format also uses an aspect ratio of 16:9 (rather than 5:4 or 4:3), and the frame rate is standardized at 60, 50, 30 or 25 fps (depending on your TV).

IP video systems have momentum

According to a report by TechNavio Insights, IP video surveillance is poised for significant growth among end-users and large organizations. The benefits of software-driven functionality and the control, scalability and broad availability of video are often listed as factors contributing to this growth. However, among the biggest performance features of IP surveillance is the ability to provide a broad range of video resolutions. With H.264 compression and programmable resolutions and streaming, the new standard for video resolution can be defined simply as "whatever the application calls for". With IP/megapixel video, surveillance cameras assigned to cover critical areas can now capture any level of resolution up to 10 megapixel images (3,648 x 2,752 pixels - nearly five-times the resolution of a 1080p camera).

Using combinations of surveillance cameras with varying resolutions

With the ability of today's megapixel cameras to be adjusted to specific surveillance locations at different resolutions, cameras of varying resolutions can be combined on the same network. Core areas can then be viewed and recorded with higher resolution quality while secondary areas are viewed at less resolution with slower frame rates. Video analytics can also be applied to trigger megapixel streaming only when automatically activated. This approach conserves valuable bandwidth to optimize existing network pipelines as well as recorder storage space.

 The higher resolution provided by megapixel cameras also allows system designers to use fewer surveillance cameras to cover larger areas
To create an optimum surveillance solution CCTV cameras of different resolutions can be used where appropriate

The higher resolution provided by megapixel cameras also allows system designers to use fewer surveillance cameras to cover larger areas without losing detail, and with reduced infrastructure and cabling costs. In addition to reducing the initial installation costs of a system, these benefits translate directly into greater return-on-investment (ROI) and lower total cost of ownership.

Advantages of IP megapixel video

One of the advantages of IP megapixel video is versatility of resolution performance. Another factor contributing to the rapid rise of IP megapixel imaging is the ease of network system connectivity. Previously, every single surveillance camera had to have a "home run" coaxial cable running to the video recorder, which increased cabling costs exponentially. However, improved networking infrastructure enables connection of multiple cameras with fewer cables, and the use of Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) even allows power to be supplied to cameras on the same CAT-5 cables as video and control signals (rather than needing localized power or a distributed power supply). It's a very efficient and simple installation solution.

Additionally, the superior resolution provided by megapixel cameras enables highly detailed and accurate digital PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) of live and recorded images. As a result, megapixel cameras virtually eliminate the need for mechanical PTZ cameras, which are often costly and feature mechanical parts prone to failure.

A contributing factor of the rapid rise of IP megapixel imaging is the ease of network connectivity

Deploying IP megapixel systems

Many system integrators (and users) have a false perception that IP megapixel systems are too complicated to deploy. It's true these systems are not plug-and-play in the traditional sense, but partnerships between camera suppliers such as Arecont Vision and various DVR and VMS suppliers have paved the way for simplified integration of systems that meet the definition of plug-and-play on an IP network. Standards initiatives such as PSIA and ONVIF are making plug-and-play with little or no programming a possibility eventually. Additionally, there's a wide range of megapixel cameras available today with selectable resolution and frame rates that are ideal for general surveillance applications. These options provide system designers with a high degree of flexibility and confidence in their designs.

Megapixel cameras are also comparable in price to standard-resolution cameras
 Adopting megapixel cameras has been made easier with the development of H.264 video compression

The move to megapixel camera resolution

The developments related to H.264 video compression make bandwidth and storage requirements of megapixel images in IP-based systems comparable to those of standard resolution images. Megapixel cameras are also comparable in price to standard-resolution cameras. When you consider the ability to use fewer megapixel cameras to cover larger areas than analog cameras, the result is a related savings on infrastructure and labor costs. These are all reasons why IMS Research predicts a significant increase in the installation of networked video surveillance systems, and that more than half the network cameras shipped by 2014 will be high-definition or megapixel resolution.

Whether you prefer megapixel cameras or its subset HD based on your specific needs, the wide range of high resolution cameras today provides a powerful palette of imaging tools for industry professionals. It's crystal clear that better systems are a direct result of the superior imaging possible with these high-resolution camera technologies.

 

Raul Calderon Senior Vice President of Marketing Arecont Vision Raul Calderon
Senior Vice President of Marketing
Arecont Vision
Share with LinkedIn Share with Twitter Share with Facebook Share with Facebook
Download PDF version Download PDF version

In case you missed it

Are Privacy Concerns Stifling Innovation in Security?
Are Privacy Concerns Stifling Innovation in Security?

Facial recognition is the latest technology to be targeted because of concerns about privacy. If such concerns cloud the public perception, they can be harmful to technology markets. Whether the concerns are genuine or based on misinformation is often beside the point; the practical damage has already been done. But beyond market demand, what is the impact of privacy concerns on technology innovation? We asked this week’s Expert Panel Roundtable: Are privacy concerns stifling innovation in security and related markets? 

Building Security: How Audio Tells the Whole Story
Building Security: How Audio Tells the Whole Story

Every building starts with the entrance. A solid enterprise risk mitigation and security strategy include protecting that entrance. Often, risk mitigation strategies protecting the entrance have included high-resolution video surveillance cameras, video management systems, and access control solutions. But that strategy and set of security solutions only tells part of the story. Imagine a security guard who is protecting a facility after hours, when an individual approaches the entrance and seeks to gain access. The security guard can pull up the video surveillance feed and see the individual and his movements, which appear to be suspicious. But he also needs to hear him in order to decide the next decisions and actions. Does he escalate the situation, calling for backup and for first responders’ response, or does he allow the individual access to the building because he works there and is authorized to enter?   Meet high-definition voice What the security guard needs is to be able to hear and to communicate with that individual. All enterprise security systems need three primary components in order to successfully protect the entrance and to mitigate risk – access control, video surveillance, and the ability to hear and communicate. Each component plays an integral role in supporting a unified security system, and without all three, the security system is not complete. Access control can be thought of as the brains of a security system by holding data and permissions. It serves as the arms and hands of the system; it can either keep someone out or invite them in. IP video allows a security team to remotely position a set of eyes anywhere an IP camera can be placed on a network. With a video management system, security teams can see what is happening and decide how to respond. However, with remote viewing, the event may be over by the time security physically responds.  Audio adds interactivity That three-component enterprise security system – comprising IP video, access control, and high-definition voice working together mitigates risks and provides value. It also means that security is interactive. Security teams talk and listen to the person that’s seen on a video surveillance system, no matter where the location or how remote. If the person is lost or simply needs assistance, security personnel can talk to them and provide direction and reassurance. Even more, in an emergency, an interactive solution becomes a critical life-saving tool, as it provides data that can be shared between security, police, emergency services, and more. Audio can also detect voices, noises, breaking glass, or other sounds that are not within direct view of a video camera. An interactive security system creates an informed response, by providing real-time situation awareness management. Post-event, it supports forensics and investigations to mitigate future security incidents.  Audio and COVID-19 We are living in extraordinary times. As businesses begin to reopen and stay open, they are looking for any tools that can help them overcome the enormous challenges they face. In buildings and facilities, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a new security perimeter, one that demands contactless access with entry and exit, and that has also created a new duty of care for security professionals. Now more than ever is the need to interact and communicate with individuals moving in and out of doors and spaces without physical intervention. Intelligent communications, integrated with contactless access control, can help a business to comply with pandemic safety guidelines and ultimately, reopen for business and stay open.  COVID-19 has also increased the need for clean-room isolation and quarantine spaces, sometimes in areas not originally intended for that use, where risk of infection is high, and equipment must be easily disinfected between patients. Here, purpose-built cleanroom intercoms, providing clear touchless communications despite the noisy environment, have emerged as critical tools for enabling patient care while reducing the need to enter the contaminated space. For example, voice communication can enable hospital staff to verify identity and to communicate with patients without entering the isolated and infectious environment, which can save on personal protective equipment (PPE) and reduce the amount of exposure to the virus. In non-emergency healthcare facilities, such as medical centers, voice can effectively relay information to building occupants and visitors for screening purposes. Visitors can be seen and heard. For example, a patient who seeks access to a medical center for an appointment can hear important instructions from a nurse via the intercom solution. Seeing the person that you talk to is one thing but hearing them conveys a much better sense of closeness, making it possible to maintain a high level of security and customer service.  The whole story Today’s security systems should no longer simply involve video surveillance cameras generating feedback and images to a security guard. Instead, a new ecosystem for enterprise security and risk mitigation has emerged, and it’s one that involves video surveillance, access control, and high-definition voice. That ecosystem can ensure well-rounded and responsive information management and security platform, all communicating with each other and offering actionable insight into risks and potential physical breaches. Audio is the new value hub of the connected and intelligent school, campus, building, correctional facility, and more. Simply put, a silent security system cannot be an effective security system. In every situation, it is crucial for all security professionals to mitigate risk, no matter what they are protecting. This emphasizes the need to hear, be heard, and be understood in virtually any environment.  

Inclusion and Diversity in the Security Industry: ‘One Step at a Time’
Inclusion and Diversity in the Security Industry: ‘One Step at a Time’

Historically, concerns about inclusion and diversity have not been widely discussed in the security market. In the last couple of years, however, the Security Industry Association (SIA) and other groups have worked to raise awareness around issues of diversity and inclusion. Specifically, SIA’s Women in Security Forum has focused on the growing role of women in all aspects of security, and SIA’s RISE community has focused on “rising stars” in an industry previously dominated by Baby Boomers. The next generation of security leaders There is a business case to be made for diversity and inclusion, says a report by McKinsey & Company. According to the management consulting company, gender-diverse companies are 24% more likely to outperform less diverse companies, and ethnically diverse companies are 33% more likely to outperform their less diverse counterparts. Furthermore, the “next generation of security leaders” – employees under 30 – are particularly focused on diversity and inclusion. Diversity refers to the traits and characteristics that make people unique A panel discussion at ISC West’s Virtual Event highlighted aspects of inclusion and diversity, starting with a definition of each. Diversity refers to the traits and characteristics that make people unique. On the other hand, inclusion refers to the behavior and social norms that ensure people feel welcome. “We are all on a journey, and our journey takes different paths,” said Willem Ryan of AlertEnterprise, one of the SIA panelists. “There are opportunities to improve over time. We can all change and increase our ability to have a positive impact.” Industry responsibility The industry has a responsibility to the next generation of industry leaders to address issues of inclusion and diversity. Forbes magazine says that millennials are more engaged at work when they believe their company fosters an inclusive culture. So the question becomes: How do we unify and create opportunities to work with and champion tomorrow’s leaders? SIA is driving change in our industry to achieve that goal. More women are active in SIA than ever before. The SIA Women in Security Forum now has 520 members, said Maureen Carlo of BCD International, the SIA Women in Security Forum Chair and another panelist. Also, more women than ever are chairing SIA committees and serving on the SIA Board of Directors. More women than ever are chairing SIA committees Overcoming unconscious bias Former SIA Chairman Scott Shafer of SMS Advisors, another of the panelists, noted that SIA awarded the Chairman’s Award to the Women in Security Forum in 2019, and to the RISE community steering committee in 2020. “There are lots of ways we are seeing the elevation of women and ethnic groups in the security industry,” said Shafer. One topic of interest is the problem of “unconscious bias,” which can be overcome by looking at something through some else’s lens. Ryan suggested use of the acronym SELF –  Slow Down, Empathize, Learn, and Find commonalities. Ryan recalled the value of being mentored and having someone shepherd him around the industry. “Now I want to give back,” he said. “We need to look at the things we can change in ourselves, in our company, in our communities, and in our industry. Change comes from the bottom and the top.” Increasing representation “It takes all of us to increase representation everywhere,” said Kasia Hanson of Intel Corp., another panelist. “We have in common that we are all human beings. Let’s make sure the next generation all have opportunities.” Diverse companies can attract better talent Moving forward, the panelists urged the industry to get involved and create opportunities because inclusion drives diversity. Diverse companies can attract better talent and attain a competitive advantage. Awareness of unconscious bias, and working to eliminate it, is an important element of change. Despite the progress the security industry is making, change continues to be incremental. As Ruth Bader Ginsburg has said, “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.”