Dallas Airport: The Massive Cost of JPEG2000

By Carlton Purvis, Published May 01, 2013, 12:00am EDT

The Love Field Modernization Program (LFMP) is an ongoing $519 million dollar project to upgrade Dallas Love Field Airport that has received significant mass media attention. Renovations include security upgrades that LFMP hopes will provide capability to screen passengers more thoroughly with less intrusive techniques. To do that the airport said it wanted a surveillance system that could read license plates from afar and zoom in to polo shirt logos [link no longer available]. In this note, we review the airport’s $3 million surveillance contract, an example how the cost of a contract can increase substantially when using JPEG2000.

Project Overview

IPVM obtained a copy of the 45 page 2011 contract, including a detailed parts/price breakdown for the Avigilon surveillance equipment, totaling $2.77 million USD. The project included 500+ IP cameras of which 48 where 16MP and the rest where between 1 and 5MP. All part numbers are for the JPEG2000 versions of Avigilon cameras.

[UPDATE: The 5MP and under Avigilon JPEG2000 models were discontinued as of March 28, 2013.]

In addition to the cameras, 48 Avigilon servers with 10TB of storage each were purchased for $292,118.40 as well as 17 additional Avigilon / Dell storage arrays of 77TB each for $1.47 Million. VMS licenses were an additional ~$97,000 and licenses to integrate with the GE access control system were another ~$75,000.

Storage Cost Analyzed

These metrics show how large the server / storage component and cost were:

  • ~$3,000 was spent per camera just for server/storage
  • ~3TB per storage was used per camera
  • For every 16 cameras, ~48TBs of storage was used
  • 60% of the total surveillance equipment cost went to servers/storage
  • ~10 IP cameras per server (~500 IP cameras for 48 servers)
  • 1,700+ TBs were used for the ~500 cameras (10TB x 48 servers + 777TB x 17 storage arrays)

What clearly drove this cost was the use of JPEG2000. With H.264 cameras, either Avigilon's more recent HD (non PRO) cameras (where JPEG2000 has been dropped) or third party cameras, we expect the price of the project to drop by $1 million or more. IPVM tests of Avigilon's JPEG2000 cameras showed a routine bandwidth increase of 10x over similar resolution/fps H.264 cameras. On the other hand, the PRO cameras, like the (48) 16MP cameras, still require JPEG2000.

The industry, as a whole, has 'standardized' on H.264, and this contract shows the high cost of choosing less bit rate efficient codecs such as JPEG2000 or MJPEG.

We contacted airport officials for additional information about why the LFMP chose JPEG2000, but they declined saying, “For the safety and security of the airport, personnel and travelers, we do not comment on security measures being utilized at Dallas Love Field." 

Note: Compression choice is highly unlikely to have any impact on safety and security.

We reached out to Avigilon for comment, but calls and emails were not returned.

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