Online tool assists surveillance-camera system planning and implementation

March 1, 2016
Version 2.0 of IPVM’s Camera Calculator addresses both outdoor and indoor camera networks.

By Patrick McLaughlin

Video-surveillance consulting and analysis firm IPVM describes itself as the world’s leading resource on video surveillance. On its website,, it provides news, reviews and test results on Internet Protocol (IP) cameras as well as video-surveillance equipment. In our November issue we mentioned that IPVM offers an online tool call Camera Calculator (“Resources available for planning IP video systems,” November 2015).

At the time that article was being written, IPVM had just introduced Version 2.0 of the Camera Calculator. We asked IPVM founder John Honovich about the calculator tool, including its origins as well as the development of 2.0. When asked if the calculator originated out of a specific unmet need within the video-surveillance industry, Honovich explained, “The original inspiration was our courses, where we were teaching about the tradeoffs between FoV [field of view], distance and pixel density. At that point, we weren’t trying to do anything ‘big,’ just help our students. It evolved from that.”

IPVM offers courses in IP networking, access control, and cameras. The 6-week, 12-sesson online camera course covers: basic lenses, advance lenses, image quality, streaming, WDR/FPS/AGC (wide dynamic range/frames per second/automatic gain control), low light, bandwidth, PPF (pixel per foot), form factors, panoramic vs. pan/tilt/zoom, ONVIF/API and SKs, and camera selection.

The calculator launched in April 2015 and is based on Google Maps. IPVM explains that the calculator “provides the ability to address and map out cameras completely online,” and “allows users to see a surveillance camera’s field of view before installation. In doing so, system integrators who use the calculator save on costly site visits. As cameras are moved around a selected scene, the street view automatically updates as well. Users and integrators can experiment with different angles and locations, from their computer, quickly finding the ones that work best.”

Honovich told us that in the original version, “The Google Maps integration was very well received, but that is best for outdoor cameras. In 2.0 we made it easy to do outdoor and indoor combined, by adding in floorplan support and markups to do complete system designs.”

Version 2.0 also includes a locking capability, through which once a camera’s positioning and specifications are optimized, the user can lock the camera to prevent inadvertent changes from being made.

The calculator now also includes a camera list. IPVM points out, “Our new camera list feature helps you navigate and edit cameras by providing a single scrollable list of every camera in your project.” Honovich added, “We have made it free to calculate specific models from more than 3,500 cameras and more than 40 manufacturers.”

A mobile app is being built now, with an expected rollout date of April. IPVM says the app will be another simple tool to make camera-system setup more straightforward. “You add cameras [and] the IPVM app automatically places them on the map,” it explains. “You take pictures of each camera’s FoV, the IPVM app automatically associates them with the camera. You experiment with different FoV, distances and resolutions to immediately find the right combination for your needs.”

Patrick McLaughlin is our chief editor.

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