Mesh Without Wires

August 27, 2010

Muni Wireless Video Surveillance at Work in Orlando

Filed under: Physical Security,Public Safety Wireless,Wireless Mesh — kseniacoffman @ 1:45 pm
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Downtown Crime Cameras Help Police Catch Assailants

Downtown Crime Cameras Help Police Catch Assailants

View video: Downtown Crime Cameras Help Police Catch Assailants

Watch the video of an unfolding incident, as a passer-by is assaulted in an underpass parking lot. A light-duty officer watching the cameras from police headquarters spots the beat-down in progress, zooms onto the license plate of the attackers’ SUV, and calls in police reinforcement that promptly arrest the assailants as their car is leaving the parking lot. He also summons an ambulance for the victim.

I loved the ‘vox poluli’ moment:

“Watching the crime on video, several downtown patrons said they credit the cameras for crime fighting. “They can take that out of my taxes,” said Kristian Cody, of Orlando. “That might benefit me one day. I agree with that. That is awesome.”

Firetide mesh had been in use by the Orlando PD since about 2007, first by their tactical team (special events, SWAT operations), and then in a fixed “crime camera” installation throughout downtown Orlando. In the clip, you can see the back of the Firetide 6000 series mesh node (shown at left) against voice over of “Cameras can be a deterrent.”

Watch the video at Orlando’s Channel 2

Capturing Violent Crime on Camera Not the Only Reason for City Surveillance

These are the types of incidents that capture the public’s imagination. However, its also important to consider that there are a lot of mundane incidents captured on these cameras, that do not make it in the news: loitering, car break-ins, drug deals. The camera’s ability to deter crime is sometimes questioned, but the surveillance systems’ role in incident investigations cannot be disputed. This results in shorter investigation times, faster arrests, and fewer court costs. Watch Aug 3, 2010 TV clip New Cameras to Watch for [Orlando's] MetroWest Crime to see assaults and drug deals captured on the Orlando PD’s security cameras.

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Related blog posts:

August 22, 2010

Want to Build a B2B Community? Twitter Chat Offers Advice and How-to’s [#B2Bchat Recap]

Filed under: B2B,Social Media — kseniacoffman @ 9:42 am

(If you follow me on Twitter, you probably know that I am one of the moderators of #B2Bchat – a weekly conversation for B2B marketers. This post also appears on B2Bbloggers.com web site, which serves as the content hub for #B2Bchat. For all posts on #B2Bchat, search for #b2bchat tag on B2Bbloggers, or visit http://www.b2bbloggers.com/blog/tag/b2bchat/).

Follow #B2Bchat on Twitter

Follow #B2Bchat on Twitter

Any company, including B2B, wants a strong community – to provide feedback, evangelize your brand, and stand up for you in times of crisis. But how do you build and nurture this community, where do you start with? In other words, how can B2B companies move towards being ‘social enterprises’? These were some of the questions we tackled on the last #B2Bchat.

What does it take for a B2B company to be ‘social’? What are some of the attributes?

Companies have to become more social, but whether they embrace it (yet)  is subject for debate. The suggestions on starting with your customers especially resonated with me – they know your product and company best, and can provide real-world feedback, rather than a second-hand opinion. It’s also important not to equate social media with being social; presence on “social media outposts” alone does not make you a social enterprise. Ability to engage in meaningful conversations is essential:

  • b2bento: Start being ‘social’ with your existing customers (Flip the funnel) and partners
  • misskatiemo: Break out of speaking like a corporate robot – have actual conversations with people (offline AND online!)
  • Ron_Hudson: Involve existing customers/clients in product/service improvement/development. Clients/customers want to be heard, acknowledged, and rewarded. Doing it in a public forum inspires repeat behavior.
  • EngageStrat: Social B2B = Openness, willingness to be responsive, tenacity and dependability . Willing to commit the resources to stay involved
  • pathwaypr: Must have a clear plan or agreement on how to approach. To be successful, need to be willing to commit to it for the long term.
  • Kinaxis: You must trust your employees to speak on your behalf and educate them accordingly
  • cpechayco: B2B companies have to be social to survive. Whether social media as we know it makes sense is another question.
  • briansrice: Openness, commitment to participate, ability to add in personality, support, ability to integrate with other mediums
  • CelsiusMI: Be a partner! A solid B2Brelationship should be beneficial for all parties involved. Also, put in the work to do GREAT things.
  • joellenroberts: Listening = *most* important thing. Can’t properly respond to community if you don’t listen to wants/needs.

What does it mean to have a community? Is community important, and why?

As expected, there were no suggestions that you should ignore your community. But the participants highlighted the fact that not all customers would want to interact online, some will require personalized attention. Also, don’t equate being on social media with having a community – it goes much deeper than that.

  • b2bento: SM or no SM – community is important. One evangelist of your brand is better than 100 salespeople.
  • kseniacoffman: Community to me means (1) customers & (2) partners – entities that contribute to/are vested in your success
  • marcseyon: Goes back to really knowing your business partners, not treating them as nameless faceless entities in a ledger
  • FSSimon: B2B community offers opportunity to build brand evangelists and WOM (word of mouth). Also new business development opportunities. Critical for long term growth.
  • kimgeralds: I really don’t get the point for B2B unless the company is listening. If you want to broadcast, use email.
  • jeffthesensei: Why customer communities? Foster stronger long term relationships, create champions and identify share of wallet opportunities for sales
  • Kinaxis: Community is about virtuous cycle of content and connecting. Community exists since dawn of time – only medium has changed.
  • asuthosh: Community is critical – but only if in it for the long term. Too often, communities are abandoned by their creators. Either disheartened by lack of initial interest, “no funding”, or shifting “strategic priorities”
  • joellenroberts: Some business customers have no interest in being part of a “community,” but do want personable communication beyond a sales pitch.
  • misskatiemo: Are prospects part of your community? Absolutely – partners, customers, prospects, fans… they’re all part of your community.
  • jeffthesensei: Prospects should be a part of it but have access to all. Customers need to feel “exclusive”. They paid to belong.

Do you have a designated community manager? How do they interface with PR, customer service, product development?

Community managers (or at least the titles) are not very common in B2B. On the chat, he had a few bona fide community managers, including misskatiemo and Kinaxis. Some insights shared on the chat into the role and responsibilities of a community manager: 

  • jeffthesensei: Community management should be done by the community ideally – company and customer mix. Create ground rules for all. Community is about inclusion and acceptance. If you exclude customer in managing it, you send a distinct message.
  • Kinaxis: Dedicated manager is critical; they bring super users into the mix through advocacy program
  • robbtrost: The community manager should be either: brand manager or marcom manager with strong social media experience
  • LoisMarketing: Idea from a conversation this week: in professional services firms, the administrator may be better social media/community manager than the marketing director, with insights into personalities
  • asuthosh: A community manager should almost be invisible, yet omnipresent… if that’s possible! A light touch works best. Something like a evening party host. Ensure everyone’s having fun & deriving benefit.

misskatiemo shared an interesting blog post (Community Roles & Players) on how her company set up its community engagement team, which includes close to a dozen people. Other companies are not so lucky, or have not yet defined the role with as much precision. Some tips and observations:

  • kimgeralds: Resource constraints make it difficult to have a dedicated person, until someone at the top makes it a priority.
  • joellenroberts: Having a dedicated community manager is one strategy. Not only one. Depends on the business objective you’re looking to fulfill.

How to move your company into ‘social’? Where to begin: forums, blogs, social outposts outposts (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook)?

  • bfr3nch: It’s best to build community sites where the community already resides – LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Meetup, associations, forums, etc.
  • briansrice: 1st look to see if they are out there in an existing community. Then determine if you can leverage or need to build your own
  • kimgeralds: Start with a community that already exists ‘face-to-face,’ say a Users Group, or via the Online Support site,  Wiki’s, forums, etc.
  • trainingfactor: Consider blogging; a blog allows for call to action links which enable viewers to make choice to connect
  • 30lines: Integrate. Put those links in your email signature, document footers, brochures, business cards, etc.
  • robbtrost: To encourage moving into ‘social’, best bet method is to provide data from like-situations or competition. Show impact examples and provide solutions
  • AliciaSanera: I recommend starting with 1 tool (based on the comfort level & potential ROI) learn how to use it. Avoid the ‘intimidation factor.
  • Kinaxis: For companies: Make the business case. For example, some research suggests that that customers who are community members remain customers 50% longer than those who aren’t.

We also touched upon what might incentivize customers to join a community:

  • cuferg: Incentives? How about content, best practices, engagement, networking?
  • AliciaSanera: Education, idea building, networking, exposure are the most common. Not so different from business communities ‘in the real world’
  • stsanto: Special offers, first to know, offline gathering to create opportunity for networking
  • cpechayco: I prefer incentives that add value to both businesses: white paper, consulting services, how-tos, etc.
  • ExoPoirier: Guide your customers in listening first, where what and whom to listen, and let them find their comfort zone by themselves
  • jeffthesensei: Another way to get people to join yours is to be part of their communities. Pay it forward!
  • robbtrost: Incentive = information about the brand. Make your community feel like they have the scoop to what’s happening with the company/products.
  • joellenroberts: But shouldn’t just be about the brand; should be about what insight you bring to the table. That builds repeat business. Provide actionable content they can’t get elsewhere. Don’t do gimmicky bribes and assume they’ll stay in the long run.

Some cautioned that the communities need to be managed and moderated; otherwise the community will lose value:

  • Ron_Hudson: Interaction without direction can lead to a free for all promotional community. Nobody wants more clutter.

Others had more faith in self-moderating communities:

  • asuthosh: Works wonders if harnessed well! RT @kimgeralds: Consider crowdsourcing opportunities in a b2b technology community of your customers
  • jeffthesensei: Maturity in B2b communities is high. You can recruit and train volunteers to moderate.
  • ExoPoirier: Agree but still ambitious. However, regarding B2b maturity, you bring up a good point.

What obstacles have you encountered in ‘social’ initiatives? Successes?

At this time me veered into challenges, with major themes being: companies trying to be social, while the culture does not encourage it; lack of patience and expectations for immediate results; lack of appropriate metrics to measure engagement and tie it to lead generation:

  • cuferg: Concerns about sharing publicly (competitor awareness/involvement), inability to see the value.
  • 30lines: Make sure the technology isn’t getting ahead of your audience. Make it as easy to participate as possible.
  • pprothe: Biggest obstacles is simply making time for engagement/content development. Making “Community” a habit, integrated in your day-to-day marketing.
  • AliciaSanera: Helping clients get over the formality they are used to in traditional communication. It’s hard for them to be “real.”
  • trainingfactor: #1 obstacle is antisocial companies attempting to be social (whole culture must change)
  • jeffthesensei: Biggest challenge is company’s focus on sales/themselves in social media. Biggest success happen when you make it about your customers, relevant to them.
  • fearlesscomp: Lack of patience is good point. Too many managers expect instant leads.
  • girlmeetsgeek: If companies do not have in-person, authentic networking down, that should be focus before social media. Social media leads to human connection.

Having a ‘Community’ is generally viewed as desirable, but there’s much work to be done before B2B companies can truly embrace social interactions. Company culture, marketing approaches, executive attitudes all need to change before we can be considered ‘social enterprises.’

As @support2point0, one of the chat participants, said:

Community in B2B requires personality

That will be a good start!

Many thanks to all who participated. Join us for next week’s #B2Bchat, Thursday, August 26, at 8pm Eastern (5pm Pacific, 8am Aug 27 in Singapore). Follow @B2B_chat for updates.

For other posts on social media topics, see:

August 19, 2010

Questions and Answers on Firetide Wireless Mesh: From Obscure to Common

Filed under: Technology,Wireless Mesh — kseniacoffman @ 8:10 am

During our recent webinar to the channel, I got a number of questions, answers to which I am posting here, with the hope that they will address some of the common questions our readers may have on Firetide’s technology.

Mesh Operation and Product Interoperability

Question: Can both radios in the same mesh node transmit at the same time? If so, what is the max throughput each radio can transmit simultaneously?

Yes, both radios can transmit at the same time. You can set each radio to transmit on different frequencies (2.4, 4.9, or 5GHz) and on different channels.

The maximum throughput on each radio will depend on the RF environment, the length of the link, and the spectrum used. In outdoor settings using MIMO mesh nodes, our customers have achieved up to 180 Mbps of UDP throughput on a 4.9 GHz link, and up to 150 Mbps of UDP throughput on a 5 GHz link.

These numbers can be reached when using relatively clear 40 MHz channels. Since there’s only one 40 MHz channel available in the 4.9 GHz spectrum, you cannot ‘double’ the 180 Mbps throughput, and have to use the second radio in a different spectrum for maximum overall throughout.

Question: Do you support Spanning tree protocol?

Firetide mesh nodes pass Spanning tree BPDUs (Bridge Protocol Data Units). This feature is available via the HotView Pro network management system; the mesh nodes do not support Spanning tree ‘out of the box.’ On a related note, Firetide implemented its own loop detection mechanism for broadcast containment.

Question: What is the bandwidth for the 900 MHz radios?

Bandwidth on 900 MHz links will be very site specific due to the nature of near-line-of-sight or non-line-of-sight environments. You may also need use specialized antennas, such as yagis, for best performance. Throughput we’ve seen in customer installations ranges from 1 to 5 Mbps when operating on a 5 MHz channel (which is typically used for near- or non-line-of-sight deployments, as opposed to 20 or 40 MHz channels used for line-of-sight deployments).

Question: Can the current 7000 series communicate with the 6000-900 radios in the same mesh?

Yes, the HotPort 7000 series can communicate with the HotPort 6000-900 (900 MHz) nodes in the same mesh. The non-MIMO 7000 mesh nodes will perform exactly as HotPort 6000 series when connecting to the HotPort 6000-900 over the radio operating on 2.4, 4.9 or 5 GHz. (HotPort 6000-900 are dual-radio nodes, with one radio operating in 900 MHz and other operating in 2.4, 4.9 or 5 GHz.)

If the 7000 mesh node is MIMO-enabled and is operating using 802.11n radio technology, it can still communicate with a HotPort 6000-900 mesh node, over the 2.4/4.9/5 GH radio link. In this case, the MIMO mesh node reverts to non-MIMO operation, on a per link basis, to establish a connection with the HotPort 6000-900.

Firetide IVS-100 Integrated Video Enclosure

Question: What kind (SSD vs hard drive) of onboard storage is in the IVS units and how much storage is available?

Firetide IVS-100

Firetide IVS-100 (click to enlarge)

If you order the Firetide IVS-100 (integrated video enclosure) with an analog camera, the system will be equipped with an analog-to-IP encoder, which also acts as on-board storage. The encoder includes an 80 GB hard drive, providing several days of onboard storage when recording at 30 frames per second in standard resolution. Currentlty, onboard storage is only available if you order the system with an analog camera.

Question: What are the specs for the analog camera specified in the Firetide enclosure: TVL, auto iris, auto focus, etc?

The analog camera used in the enclosure is a high-end outdoor camera. Feature highlights include: day/night operation; high-resolution integrated camera/optics package; 540 TVL; 128X wide dynamic range (WDR); motion detection; electronic image stabilization; autofocus; automatic iris control with manual override; 35X optical, 12X digital zoom. If you need more information on the camera, please contact Firetide or Anixter (exclusive distributor for the IVS system).

Question: Will the IVS be made available in a “bring your own camera” configuration?

IVS units are built to order, so customers can specify their preferred cameras, as long as they fit into the enclosure with minimal modifications to the enclosure hardware. The cameras must be outdoor rated with extended operating range. Minimum order quantities may apply for a custom project.

FIPS 140-2 Validated Mesh

Question: From what I understand, there are 4 levels of security for the FIPS 140-2. What level of FIPS 140-2 certification did you receive?

Firetide HotPort 7000 mesh nodes have been certified at “overall level 2,” while EMI/EMC components have been certified to Level 3. See NIST database: http://csrc.nist.gov/groups/STM/cmvp/documents/140-1/1401val2010.htm

Note that only the MIMO version of our mesh has been FIPS 140-2 certified, so non-MIMO mesh is not available with FIPS 140-2 validation.

Question: Are there other mesh providers whose equipment is FIPS 140-2 certified?

Yes, I’m aware of one other wireless mesh provider whose wireless mesh equipment is FIPS 140-2 certified. However, their throughput for the MIMO product is around 12 to 18 Mbps, according to press reports from 2009. The company’s press release cites a customer as follows: “To test the performance, we replaced a cluster of [non-MIMO] with [MIMO nodes], and saw a node-to-node throughput increase from 6 Mbps to 15 Mbps.” This is a far from Firetide’s MIMO performance, and is even below the performance of our non-MIMO mesh.

Do you have any other questions on Firetide wireless infrastructure mesh, WLAN or point-t0-point technology? If yes, please leave a comment below or email me directly at kcoffman-at-firetide-dot-com.

See also:

August 11, 2010

Closing The 3G/4G Backhaul Capacity Gap With Wireless

Filed under: Technology,Wireless backhaul,Wireless Mesh — kseniacoffman @ 10:42 am

The challenge of providing back-end capacity is a growing issue for wireless operators world-wide as they move to faster broadband networks, in an effort to both increase data revenue and withstand the onslaught of smart phones and other mobile broadband devices which seem to be taking over the airwaves these days.

The issue of capacity is pressing: the backhaul infrastructure must cope with base stations that support growing numbers of data users: browsing the internet, texting, downloading music and videos, using video chat, or listening to internet radio. The carriers compete on how fast their data networks are, hoping to attract data-centric consumers and business users. Data download speeds is what sells today – be it WiMAX or LTE.

According to August 10 report from Light Reading, T-Mobile’s HSPA+ network delivers 5 Mbps average download speeds (available in 50 major cities). Further from the Light Reading report: “Clearwire claims average mobile download speeds of 3 to 6 Mbit/s, with bursts of up to 10 Mbit/s, for its mobile WiMax service. Verizon is promising average downloads of 5 to 12 Mbit/s for its LTE service, which is due to be launched later this year.” That’s a lot of traffic to backhaul on the back-end!

Carriers are building out extensive fiber infrastructures to support their network upgrades and 4G rollouts, but can they do it fast enough? And what about today, with some carrier networks are widely believed to be crumbling under the ‘data weight’ of smart phones (see Exhibit 1: AT&T and iPhone).

Wireless Mesh for Cellular Offload

Wireless Mesh for Cellular Offload (click on image to enlarge)

Does Firetide wireless mesh and point-to-point come into play?

Yes! Firetide wireless infrastructure grants you 3 wishes, even if one of them is for an iPhone 4. Joking aside, Firetide does have a solution for cellular backhaul.

Carriers are already well familiar with licensed microwave. Now, the latest advancements in 802.11n MIMO technology have brought increases in capacity to the unlicensed spectrum. MIMO point-to-point bridges deliver up to 150 Mbps of UDP user throughput at distances of about 2 miles (typical base stations are placed .5 to 1.5 miles apart).

Taking wireless approach a step further, wireless mesh adds redundancy and multi-hop capabilities to the backhaul, as an alternative to costly and time-consuming fiber deployments. A quick and effective way to increase the cellular network capacity is to set up a MIMO wireless mesh network to connect base stations to each other. This solution enables service providers to reliably and cost-effectively install and connect new base stations to fill in the coverage gaps.

Licensed vs unlicensed spectrum?

The big challenge is convincing carriers to use unlicensed spectrum, typically 5 GHz band, for backhaul. However, Firetide mesh works just as well when converted to a different (licensed) frequency – the secret sauce of our mesh in not in the spectrum the radios use, but in the proprietary routing/switching architecture of the mesh and network management. In fact, wireless mesh network for Seoul Subway is being deployed in a licensed 18 GHz band, using up- and down-converters. This adds cost to the project, but at least it’s a viable option (and still cheaper than fiber).

See also:

August 4, 2010

Mesh Provider Jumps into 802.11n Wireless LAN Fray

Filed under: Technology,Wireless LAN,WLAN — kseniacoffman @ 9:05 am

Firetide expands product line up with 802.11n wireless LAN

Not to be left behind in the rapidly growing 802.11n Wi-Fi access market, last month we announced a new WLAN family, including both 802.11n access points and an enterprise-grade wireless LAN controller. The new Firetide products – Firetide WLAN controller and indoor and outdoor dual-radio 802.11n MIMO access points, – bring the high performance and reliability for real-time voice, video and data applications for which the company is known to broadband access space.

802.11n drives Wi-Fi access market momentum

According to a market research firm IDC, the worldwide enterprise-class wireless LAN market suffered relatively small declines in 2009, despite tough economic conditions, and is now poised for a strong rebound in 2010. According to their research published in June of 2010, the WLAN market will gain momentum throughout the year, growing 23% from $1.7 billion in 2009 to a robust $2.1 billion in 2010. “More and more customers are demanding resilient, intelligent, scalable, and adaptive wireless network infrastructures. They are gearing up for widespread deployments across the board – not just in the carpeted areas of enterprise and in the education market segment, but in widespread applications across major verticals,” says IDC’s Rohit Mehra, director of Enterprise Communications Infrastructure.

Outdoor Wi-Fi Hotspot

Outdoor Wi-Fi is blossoming

Wireless technology has evolved from being a “nice to have” feature to being an essential part of an enterprise network. A rapidly growing number of business processes rely on a wireless connection, while multimedia applications are increasingly used in all organizations, large or small. Another trend is the need for wireless LAN outside the carpeted space. Enterprises want anywhere Wi-Fi coverage for their employees, not only in their offices.

Service providers continue to deploy Wi-Fi hotspots at a growing pace, in an effort to move cellular data users to a more suitable Wi-Fi connection, where available. Municipalities are deploying Wi-Fi for city workers, first responders, as well as in tourist attractions.

The driving force behind these changes is the 802.11n standard. This improved technology allows much higher throughout compared to older standards, driving renewed investment in indoor and outdoor Wi-Fi.

Mesh and access integration

As the economy recovers, we plan to capitalize on the growth in the enterprise and industrial WLAN space, by offering a combination of infrastructure mesh to extend the network’s reach, and access points to offer client access. Unique to Firetide, wireless LAN can be a part of a Firetide mesh network. The combination of mesh and access points enables the customer to easily and cost effectively extend connectivity to areas without network infrastructure.

“Wireless mesh networks enable organizations to own and operate their own flexible private wireless networks, and video is becoming the next “must have” application,” says Gerry Kaufhold, principal analyst with In-Stat, a market research company based in Scottsdale, Arizona. “Firetide is already well known for their mission critical public safety applications. Their new competitively-priced access points, wireless LAN controller, and point-to-point products create an attractive front end that will help extend Firetide’s core infrastructure mesh business into new high-growth markets.”

WLAN that’s simple to buy, deploy and manage

The WLAN solution is simple to deploy with the controller automatically discovering and connecting all supported APs and providing optimized connectivity with automatic RF management and channel selection. The controller also provides centralized configuration of security and wireless settings. Once deployed it automatically load balances the Wi-Fi network to prevent AP overload and continuously monitors for auto channel re-assignment and RF adjustments for best performance. Advanced fairness algorithms derived from Firetide mesh technology provide rate limiting to make sure that no one client or AP hogs bandwidth.

Leverage Information Systems in Southern California recently won an RFP for a MIMO-based wireless mesh video surveillance system for the City of Gardena that requires placing 802.11n MIMO APs in city parks and along three major transportation corridors of the city. Leverage had sealed the deal when they confirmed that Firetide would soon ship their new 802.11n APs. “Firetide’s reputation is golden,” says Mark Sarria, account manager for Leverage Information Systems. “We knew the 802.11n APs would have the same performance and reliability as the wireless infrastructure mesh for the video surveillance network. It’s great to have one Firetide infrastructure platform – for both mesh backbone and client access – that is easy to set up, manage and support.”

For more information:

Image via: Roman Bonnefoy http://www.romanceor.net/

By: Ksenia Coffman – Connect with me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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