Are you getting the number of days of video retention that you need? Many users do not even know how many days of video their recorders are maintaining before the data is overwritten. Others may not be meeting the standard requirements to maintain a set number of recorded days if they accept credit and debit cards or are in certain regulated industries. Video stored on a video surveillance system might be used for investigation into fraud, as evidence in a crime, for auditing purposes, or for trend analysis. You need to ensure that your system has the storage capacity to provide the minimum days of retention while also providing high quality video images and coming in on budget. How do you make sure that you don't run out of storage space and also not pay for more than you need? Here are some easy steps you can take to verify the days of recorded video on a system and increase its storage retention.
You Can't Fix What You Don't Know
Go check your video retention on your existing system, this varies from recorder to recorder. OWS makes it easy for you to see the current number of days and a history of recorded video for each recorder in the System Summary report and you can also view the individual days of recorded video for every camera in the Inventory Report. The Inventory Report is also a great place to review all the settings for your cameras - we talk more about this later in the article. Either way, go find out what you are currently getting so you can measure how much you are able to improve after following the tips in this article.
Continuous or Motion Recording
It's a dilemma - if you have your cameras record continuously you risk eating up valuable storage space, especially if some of those cameras are located in low traffic but important areas like a back alley or basement storage space. But if you set the cameras to motion only recording there is a chance that they can miss an important incident if it doesn't trigger the camera's motion detection. Sometimes it is just as important to have video evidence that shows nothing happened. If a customer alleges that one of your employees backed into her car in the parking lot you could be liable for damages if you cannot produce continuous coverage of the parking lot with evidence to the contrary. Instead of recording high definition video continuously, set your recorder to Continuous + Motion recording where one stream of the camera records continuously at a lower resolution and a second stream records HD video when motion is detected. This option saves storage space by using a lower resolution for the continuous coverage while providing high definition video for the most important incidents. If you are using OWS and Apex, this is the default recording mode for connected cameras.
Now that you have enabled high-resolution video to record only when motion is detected, you should review your motion detection settings to make sure that only useful motion is detected. Look at the live video on your cameras, are there a bunch of swaying bushes in the corner? Do you have a display in the showroom that moves? Is there a busy road or sidewalk in the background? There might be moving water from a fountain or waterfront that reflects light, a ledge that is constantly home to perching pigeons, or ceiling fans that run all the time. These things might be causing your recorder to record motion video continuously. Go into your camera settings and adjusting the motion detection grids to ignore these areas and not trigger motion – this can be one of the biggest ways to increase storage. It has the added benefit of making it easier to find event video because only real motion events are included in search.
IP cameras are available in higher resolutions every year and offer significantly better detail than surveillance cameras did even a decade ago. But just because you got a good deal on 4K cameras doesn't mean you need to record all of your video at max resolution. Not only can recording at ultra-high resolution shrink your days of recording fast, it can also overload your network and create choppy video playback when trying to view video remotely. But you also don't want to lose the ability to capture details that could make or break an identification. If you handle credit or debit cards you need to make sure your systems meet PCI compliance standards and the cannabis industry has minimum resolution settings that vary from state to state. Find out if you need to meet any minimum resolution standards for your industry and make sure your camera settings meet or exceed minimum standard. To get high-quality video without overdoing it, verify that the motion recording stream is set to at least 1080p or up to the highest resolution the camera offers. You may not need 4K video in corridors or secondary shots where you have already captured higher definition video of a subject, scaling down the resolution on these cameras could yield significant storage savings. Make sure your continuous recording stream is set to 4CIF, D1, or 720p to ensure fluid video viewed on mobile or over the internet and to save on recording space.
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Frames per Second
It used to be standard to set surveillance cameras to 7 frames per second, but storage is cheaper and the internet is faster than it used to be. Still, there is little reason to record at 24 or 30 frames per second; the same frame rate that motion pictures are filmed. If you are using a Smart Compression Codec you must set the camera at a minimum of 10 FPS and there is very little storage difference between 10 FPS and 15 FPS when it comes to storage consumption. In fact, sometimes the camera can be more efficient with more frames available so selecting below 15 FPS will have you giving up smoothness in playback without any gain in storage space. To optimize the FPS on your camera, make sure the primary motion and continuous streams aren’t set to 30 FPS and unnecessarily taking up extra storage. If you are using smart compression, check that your camera's FPS is not set too low and possibly using more storage than you think it is saving. OWS makes this process easy using the inventory report to view all your cameras' settings in one place. Sort your report by frame rate and see if you have any cameras that are set too high or low and then adjust them to your optimized number.
You might be able to hand off most of the hard work of optimizing your settings by using a smart compression codec for your camera. Smart Compression will dynamically adjust the bitrate, keyframes and video compression on the camera to reduce storage requirements by up to 70% while maintaining high-resolution video and preventing a perceptible reduction in video quality. Enable Smart Compression on cameras which support it to significantly improve storage retention quickly and easily.
Treat Your Cameras Like Individuals
You don’t have to use the same settings for all of the cameras on your system. Remember, when using the tips above, that cameras in storage rooms or back hallways can often be configured with lower fps and resolutions to save more storage while leaving settings higher in entryways, at registers, or in other areas here more detail or higher video quality is desired. Configure your cameras with unique settings to help save that last extra bit of storage, OWS also lets you set minimum retention days on a per camera basis to ensure that the most important cameras always meet your minimum storage requirements.
Do an Audit
After you have changed your camera settings, set a calendar reminder and come back in 30 days to see how much your video retention has changed and confirm that you are still capturing the video and motion events that you want. Do a few searches for motion events and compare your results to the old ones, you did take a screen capture or record the old ones didn’t you? Don’t worry if you didn’t, OWS shows a trend line in the Summary Report for each recorder which can show you if the days of retention have increased. If you still aren’t meeting your minimum number of days, you may need to adjust a few more settings or it may be time to consider buying more storage.
Create an Alert
After optimizing your camera settings and confirming your days of retention, you can set an alert in OWS so the next time a camera or recorder isn’t meeting the days required you will receive a notification and can go address it. Motion might increase in one of the cameras that cause it to use more storage but OWS makes this super easy to get this notification in time to make adjustments to that camera or others to create more available storage space.
If you are already using an OpenEye Web Services recorder, don’t wait to check your system and make sure that your camera settings are optimized. All these settings can be accessed remotely and you can review and audit them through the OWS cloud portal as well as set retention alerts or review the days of video retention for all recorders. If you aren’t an OpenEye customer, you can still make these adjustments to your camera settings for an increase to your days of recorded video.
If you are buying a new recorder, make sure that you estimate your days of required video and storage in advance. Every manufacturer has a calculator to help you do this.
Use an online calculator like the OpenEye Apex System Configurator to determine the settings and total bandwidth on the system before you buy and then save the configuration to use when installing the system saving time and ensuring that each camera is set up properly.