Should IPVM Do Its Own Storage / Bandwidth Calculator?

We get asked to do this a lot, especially with the success of the Camera Calculator.

Errors

Storage / bandwidth calculators are often off by a lot. The problem is I don't see any easy solution.

What We Recommend

The best thing we recommend is take the camera model you want in the location you plan to deploy it and do a quick test, recording bandwidth. Then just multiply it out for your percentage of motion, days of storage, number of cameras, etc.

On the other hand, I understand that people want a quick way to get estimates.

Issues Causing Errors

The main issue causing errors are:

  • Different camera models consume different amounts of bandwidth, even if resolution, compression, and frame rate are the same. The level of noise in a scene, how a camera deals with it, what brightness, color, saturation the manufacturer sets, etc., all can have dramatic impact on bandwidth. In our testing, even with the same resolution, compression and frame rate, bandwidth differences of 2x or more are common.
  • The scene a camera is in will cause bandwidth to vary. Even the same camera in 2 different scenes can result in vast differences in bandwidth (e.g., the same model, one aimed down a street, the other in a stairwell, the former can routinely consume 4x the bandwidth.
  • Lastly, almost all calculator assume fixed compression but the default can vary by manufacturer and users can change this, which can notably impact bandwidth.

All of these things makes an abstract storage / bandwidth calculator extremely unrealistic to deliver and results in the common errors found in calculators.

The calculator that works best is Axis', simply because they let you choose scenes and compression levels for their own cameras, adjusting bandwidth. I don't recall seeing any other camera manufacturers doing that and certainly no VMSes.

What To Do?

We could easily build a clean interface that simply requires to enter in your bandwidth estimate and then calculate the rest but, of course, that requires you to know the bandwidth level, something that many want the calculator to magically supply.

So, what do you think we should do?

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