Mesh Without Wires

August 3, 2011

Firetide Blog Migrated to blog.firetide.com

Filed under: Housekeeping — kseniacoffman @ 11:48 am

Just a housekeeping note that we’ve migrated to blog.firetide.com

All of the content has been moved, including the comments.

If you are a current subscriber, please re-subscribe at the new domain!

June 17, 2011

When City Surveillance Cameras Aren’t There To Monitor Crowds: 1993 vs 2011

While checking up on the goings-on in Dallas related to Mavericks Victory Parade on June 16, I came across a pretty disturbing report on the 1993 parade following a Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl victory. It turned from celebration to riot and 18 people were hurt with more than a dozen others arrested. You can view the video report here: 1993 Cowboy Parade a Disaster.

"Firetide-inside' Dallas PD camera in front of City Hall, parade's starting point

"Firetide-inside' Dallas PD camera in front of City Hall, the parade's starting point (click to enlarge)

The reasons: poor planning, not enough first responders, and no way to monitor and manage crowds.

Compare it to yesterday’s parade where the biggest problem was getting people out of the downtown area following the parade. Everything else went without a hitch.

More than 250,o00 fans attended the parade. Ahead of the parade, WFAA.com reported:

“The department will monitor everything out of the Fusion Center and two command centers. They’ll keep a close eye on what’s happening with the parade crowds. DPD will use downtown surveillance cameras and a live view from its helicopter.

“It gives us awareness if the crowds are getting too big and if there’s a fight that we need to apply additional resources,”explained Lt. Todd Thomasson, who runs the Fusion Center.”

In fact, during the ASIS 2010 Dallas Police Department tour, the police representatives told us that any downtown parade route is planned around the camera locations, so that first responders have complete visibility into what’s going on and if any issues are cropping up.

In addition to fixed cameras, DPD used their mobile command center, which we also had a chance to visit during the ASIS tour. The mobile command center, as the entire surveillance system, now at 150+ cameras, was designed and deployed by our long-term integrator partner Bearcom. The system uses Sony IP cameras (mostly pan-tilt-zoom) and OnSSI video management system.

Read the full story and view the video on the parade preparations at WFAA.com: Surveillance cams, undercover cops to monitor parade crowd

For more information on the Dallas deployment, see:

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

May 26, 2011

Criminals ‘Caught On Camera’ Using Bethlehem PD’s Wireless Video Surveillance System

Muggings, home break-ins, armed robberies, drug deals and even medical emergencies have been caught on Bethlehem, Pennsylvania’s police department’s wireless video surveillance system since it was first deployed in September 2009 and has dramatically helped improve the city’s safety. Police have identified criminals, recovered stolen cars, busted drug dealers and users, cracked long-standing investigations and saved at least one person during a medical emergency. The system, deployed by Let’s Think Wireless LLC, uses Firetide Inc.’s wireless infrastructure mesh equipment and Bosch pan-tilt-zoom cameras that are monitored in real-time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week by police officials.

Bethlehem cameras in the shopping/cafe district

Bethlehem city surveillance cameras in the shopping/cafe district (click to enlarge)

“Not even two years since the first wireless system was deployed and, to our surprise, we have had so many successes,” says Bethlehem police Commissioner Stuart Bedics. “The wireless mesh network gives us coverage and access to areas where we don’t have a police presence. It also provides us extra set of eyes to back up police when they are citing violations or conducting an investigation.”

(As one of the example of these successes, see a local news report from December 2010: Cameras Help Cops Nab 2 In University Mugging Spree. Not only did the cameras capture the suspects fleeing the scene just as the victim called 911, the operator also zooms in onto police officers knocking on the door of the suspect’s house to make an arrest. Talk about eyes in the sky.)
Public safety camera installed on a bridge

Public safety camera installed on a bridge; notice camera overlooking the roadway below (click to enlarge)

Bethlehem PD chose the wireless infrastructure mesh system over a fiber-based one because it is less costly and gives them the flexibility to move cameras as needed. 50 surveillance cameras connected to 48 Firetide nodes have been placed in parks, high-crime areas and on the three bridges of the city. In addition, the wireless network has been integrated with Lehigh University’s 13-camera wired video surveillance system extending the police’s view into the campus. The primary viewing station is the 911 dispatch center where one of five dispatchers monitors the cameras 24 x 7. The watch commander, vice and narcotic officers, commissioner and Lehigh University officials also have access to the camera feeds. In addition, in one of Bethlehem’s parks, the dispatchers are aided by Object Video’s analytics software to protect a children’s water park and public pool. The analytics software works in conjunction with two cameras to detect people entering the facility after hours and alert the PD.

Security camera installed on the roof of a parking garage

Security camera installed on the roof of a parking garage (Click to enlarge)

Bethlehem police arrests suspects on camera

Bethlehem police arrests suspect on camera (click to view news clip)

For more Firetide video surveillance deployments, see:

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

May 23, 2011

Orlando City Surveillance Cameras Capture Altercation, Alleged Police Brutality

Filed under: Physical Security,Public Safety Wireless,Technology — kseniacoffman @ 9:57 am
Tags:

City surveillance cameras work  both ways: not only they capture perpetrators, but also the police doing somethings questionable.

Orlando city surveillance cameras capture an altercation (click to view video)

View the video and decide for yourself whether it’s police brutality (the shoving incident happens towards the end of the video). The point here is that the incident has been captured on video, so it’s not “he said, she said.”

Also note that the cameras are being controlled live, presumably by a police operator – this is the best practice for municipal video, rather than recording only for post-incident analysis.

Orlando has a lot of fiber, so it’s likely that this (downtown?) camera is on a fiber connection. Firetide wireless mesh is used there to extend the fiber to where no wired infrastructure exists, such as Lake Eola and some bad parts of town that I did not visit.

Updated: As a follow up to the story, ClickOrlando now reports:

The police report filed by Orlando Police Officer Livio Becacchio conflicts with the video taken from the scene in downtown Orlando when 20-year-old Lisa Wareham was thrown to the pavement and then arrested a few minutes later, the state attorney’s office says.

Becacchio claimed Wareham assaulted him and resisted arrest. The state attorney’s office announced all charges against Wareham were dropped following a review of the OPD video taken from a city surveillance camera across from the Orlando Library.

Randy Means, a veteran investigator with the State Attorney’s Office, said Friday’s decision was made after it was obvious the video conflicts with the police report narrative filed by Becacchio.

OPD Internal Affairs has been reviewing the tape since last week. Incoming Chief Paul Rooney said there will be a “full formal investigation.”

See the news report on ClickOrlando.

The point here is that while the public safety cameras (according to ACLU) may be a “threat to our privacy,” they can protect us against police misconduct and being unfairly persecuted.

For more posts on Orlando city surveillance system, see:

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

May 19, 2011

Firetide Named Finalist for 2011 Red Herring Top 100 N. America Award

Filed under: Technology,Wireless — kseniacoffman @ 9:46 am

Firetide announced today it has been selected as a Finalist for Red Herring’s Top 100 North America award, a prestigious list honoring the year’s most promising private technology ventures from the North American business region.

Firetide Red Herring 2011 Finalist

Firetide makes Red Herring 2011 finalist roster (click on image to view all finalists)

The Red Herring editorial team selected the most innovative companies from a pool of hundreds from across North America. Finalists for the 2011 edition of the Red Herring 100 North America award are selected based upon their technological innovation, management strength, market size, investor record, customer acquisition, and financial health.

Firetide is the leader in wireless infrastructure mesh technology for demanding public safety “crime camera” applications, and has been ranked as #1 private company in wireless infrastructure for video surveillance in the Americas by IMS Research (See: Firetide Lands at #1 Spot in Video Mesh in the Americas). To expand on its leadership position in infrastructure mesh, Firetide has recently introduced a family of point-to-point bridges and video-optimized WLAN solution, including 802.11n access points and WLAN controller.

Says Bo Larsson, our CEO:

“It’s an honor to be recognized as a top technology company, and as innovators in the wireless industry. It’s not surprising, since we continue to invest over 30% of revenues in R&D. No other company in the space offers an end-to-end product portfolio, capable of supporting metro-wide all-wireless infrastructures, from backhaul to Wi-Fi access. Our team has worked very hard this year, and the results speak for themselves.”

While not big news, I believe this is the first time we got on the finalist list! We’ll see if we are one of the winners. Winners will be announced in June 2011.

Our previous industry award was ASIS Accolades in 2010. Read more about that award here: ASIS 2010 Impressions: ASIS Accolades; Social Media at #ASIS10.

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

May 17, 2011

Corporate Twitter for B2B: Who Should You Follow?

Filed under: Corporate Twitter,Social Media,Technology — kseniacoffman @ 9:48 am
Tags:

I’ve been asked a few times on whom corporate accounts should follow. The post below shares my thinking on a “Follow Policy” – hope that it’s helpful.

Follow Firetide on Twitter!

Follow Firetide on Twitter!

Early on, you have to follow people and hope they follow you back. So start slowly, follow industry folks who look like they follow back. Engage with them. Participate in industry specific hashtags, such as around events or #WirelessWednesday. (See: How to Use #WirelessWednesday to Connect with Wireless Industry on Twitter.)

Once your corporate account starts getting traction, you will mostly be following people back to reciprocate a follow. But, you may ask, why should corporate accounts follow anyone? Simple: (1) it shows respect and appreciation for the follow; (2) more importantly, it allows your follower to send you a direct message if they want to communicate something privately.

Here is @firetide’s “follow policy”:

We follow back:

  • Customers, consultants, end-users who are involved with Firetide, use our products, or are researching our solutions
  • Analysts, media and other ‘influencers’ (well, in most cases we had to follow them first).
  • Folks in our industries/verticals, as evidenced by who they follow or their Twitter timeline.
  • Accounts of our technology partners, potential partners or corporate accounts in adjacent markets (who knows when our paths may cross).
  • We also give benefit of the doubt to accounts with small follower counts – they may be just starting out, and our follow will be a nice gesture.

When in doubt, I check to see which accounts they follow – for example, if they follow physical security or wireless accounts that I recognize, they get a follow back.

We don’t follow back:

  • Social media consultants, news aggregators and other folks who already follow 3,000, 5,000 or more people. They are clearly fishing for followers. They may also be using automated follow software, so technically they don’t ‘follow’ follow you; something you posted might have tripped up the software’s algorithm.
  • People with protected accounts – if they want their accounts private, no reason to follow them back.
  • Spam accounts and twitter bots, for obvious reason.
  • Competitors – if they wish to follow us, fine, but don’t expect a follow from us (we do maintain a private “competitors” list)
  • Accounts that are clearly unrelated to anything with do, or that use Twitter as broadcasting medium only (often evidenced by all tweets being from Twitterfeed or another automated method).

Whom to unfollow:

  • Accounts that don’t follow you back or that unfollowed you (“how could they!”) Hurt feelings aside, Twitter is a non-reciprocal social network, so if our tweets are not interesting to them, it stands to reason that we should part ways. If you really need to follow someone who is not following you back, put them on a private list and follow their tweets that way.
  • Optional: unfollow “twitter-quitters” – accounts that have not posted in 1, 2 or 3 months, whatever seems right to you.
  • Accounts that excessively tweet their Foursquare check-ins. This is a pet peeve of mine, so this may lead to an unfollow or being relegated to a less-frequently-checked list.

Twitter lists is another great topic for discussion; I will cover them in a future post.

For more posts on social media, see:

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

May 12, 2011

City Surveillance System Proves its Worth in Carlisle, PA

The 5-camera wireless surveillance system has just been installed, but it’s already in local news, having caught a road rage incident, which lead to charges being filed against the allegedly guilty party.

Wireless City Suveillance System Firetide

Wireless city suveillance system captures a crime on 1st day of operation (click to view video)

The system uses Firetide’s wireless infrastructure mesh equipment, and has been implemented by Iron Sky, a Firetide VAR partner.

Quoting from The Sentinel article:

“The cameras were installed with both general crime prevention and crime detection in mind,” said Lt. Michael Dzezinski. “This is what they were designed to accomplish. Each of these cameras is not only capable of recording footage, but also providing live footage and being panned, tilted or zoomed as needed.”

“I’m actually not surprised by how quickly these cameras assisted in an investigation,” he added.

From Channel 21 video clip:

“The cameras themselves are capable of zooming in from as far out as a block away, we’ve actually been able to tell license plates.”

As you will notice from the numbers quoted – $75,000 for the initial system (5 cameras) and $200,000 for the upcoming 10-camera project in downtown, – the costs are fairly consistent with other wireless muni surveillance systems at $20,000-25,000 per camera location. Note that the costs include the entire project – not just radio and camera equipment on the pole. Numbers typically include IT infrastructure at the monitoring center (monitors, storage, IT upgrades in the datacenter), design, installation, any repeater nodes used, and sometimes annual maintenance.

See the local coverage:

For more Firetide video surveillance deployments, see:

/Image via Channel 21 News

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

May 5, 2011

Corporate Twitter for B2B: How to Create an Event Archive or Chat Transcript

Filed under: B2B,Corporate Twitter — kseniacoffman @ 12:05 pm
Tags: ,

So you’ve attended, or managed, a conference, or participate in a Twitter chat, and want to save the tweets for archival purposes or to review them later. How do you capture the tweets in a user-friendly format?

With the demise of WTHashtag.com, I’ve been looking for a new tool to create Twitter transcripts. Of course you can use the built-in Twitter search, or http://search.twitter.com/ – but they only go back a few days, and also produce the results in reverse chronological order, so you’ll be reading the tweets backwards – from newest to oldest.

Of course, the answer came via a recommendation on Twitter – the new tool I’m using is TweetReports. The basic search, including generating transcripts, is free. Below is an example on how to filter results for an event hashtag. Same can be applied to Twitter chats, or any other time-based search you want to perform. When you export the results in HTML, they will be sorted from oldest to newest.

How to create Twitter transcript

How to create Twitter event or chat transcript (click to enlarge)

TweetReports appears to use basic Twitter search functionality, so the tweets themselves do not go far back. Therefore you might want to create your transcript within a few days of the event. The resulting HTML export URL continues to be available, but if you want to save the transcripts for posterity (and avoid losing them as happened with WTHashtag), print the HTML page to PDF or save as a Word document.

For other posts on social media, see:

April 21, 2011

Firetide Launches an Aggressive Campaign Targeting WLAN for Education ‎

Filed under: Wireless LAN,WLAN — kseniacoffman @ 12:13 pm
Tags:

Yesterday we announced an aggressive campaign targeting education wireless LAN (WLAN) market. Firetide’s MIMO and non-MIMO access points (APs) and WLAN controller bundles are now available at significant discounts to North America based educational institutions, where the need for multimedia-capable WLAN is especially urgent.

WLAN controller feature licenses

WLAN controller feature licenses do add up! (Click to enlarge)

Firetide’s Wi-Fi access solutions have long been a staple of our outdoor deployments for government and commercial verticals. We are now bringing the same level of performance and security to indoor WLANs, targeting the education sector where we can meet the need for cost-effective and easy to maintain solutions.

Multimedia-optimized WLAN

Along with performance and security, we also bring our core video expertise to the WLAN market. Having established market leadership in wireless infrastructure mesh for video surveillance in the Americas (See: Firetide Lands at #1 Spot in Video Mesh in the Americas), we now set sight on the education market where multi-media streaming and video conferencing for distance learning are key requirements. Application-based quality of service and traffic shaping algorithms that Firetide implemented for its infrastructure mesh now drive video performance across WLAN.

No-hassle pricing and no feature licensing

With the aim of establishing a foothold in the WLAN market, Firetide implemented a surprisingly radical (given the practices in the space) pricing for its WLAN controller and AP scaling. Management of up to 50 APs are included in the controller price, with no per-AP licensing. Many features that WLAN vendors often charge for are also included, among them intrusion detection and policy management.

I did a quick comparison with the controller pricing of a leading WLAN manufacturer, using an actual price list of said vendor (see illustration above). The result speaks for itself: Firetide’s all inclusive controller capable of managing 50 APs is $5,000 US list, while competitor’s bundle comes up to almost $15,000. Note that this competitor does not have a 50-AP WLAN controller model, but the cost of various features relative to the controller are based on actual license pricing and should be a good approximation.

Up to 3 controllers can be stacked to support up to 150 APs. While we do not do per AP, or per 10-AP licensing, our pricing is such that it’s still competitive even if you have to buy 2 controllers to support 60 APs.

North America education discount: 25% to 50%

The program announced yesterday offers an attractive price point to educational institutions in North America with discount pricing available through June 30, 2011.

Firetide offers a 25% discount on 802.11n MIMO indoor APs bundled with a WLAN controller capable of managing up to 50 access points. Even more aggressive pricing is offered on 802.11a/b/g indoor access points, with 50% discount off list price for the overall bundle. Bundles range from five APs to 20 APs; each bundle includes a WLAN controller.

To take advantage of this limited time offer or to test drive a Firetide WLAN, contact a Firetide authorized partner or email partners@firetide.com.

In the words of Rohit Mehra, Director of Enterprise Communications Infrastructure at IDC:

“It is not surprising to see Firetide enter the enterprise WLAN market with an aggressive push. Performance, scalability, security and ease of use are key requirements in the enterprise WLAN space. Firetide’s track record in infrastructure mesh, with its emphasis on real-time video streaming, will make the company a contender to watch especially in key vertical segments of the WLAN market.”

For more posts on WLAN, see:

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

April 14, 2011

Municipal Video Mesh Surveillance Comes to Ontario, Canada

It’s always nice to be featured in local news – this time in The Intelligencer of Belleville, Ontario.

Belleville ON video mesh

Belleville ON video mesh: Firetide node and Bosch camera

The newspaper reports that 15 cameras have been activated in downtown Belleville. When the project is completed there will be 17 cameras in 9 locations, for a total cost of $183,000. (As an aside, this roughly translates into $20K per camera location, which is the  ballpark I give when asked “how much do these systems cost?” Note that the figure includes all equipment – not just Firetide’s – plus design and installation. Sometimes the number also includes upgrades that are needed in the IT datacenter, such as storage, monitoring room equipment, plus system maintenance.)

Systems integrator is Quinte-Kawartha Alarm System. About 13 Firetide mesh nodes have been deployed for the project. IP cameras and video management have been provided by Bosch and Genetec respectively.

Quoting from the article:

CCTVs keep an eye on the street

The eye in the sky is now all-seeing. There are 15 security cameras in the skies of downtown Belleville and they’ve been activated, keeping an eye on street activity.

The CCTV system, or closed-circuit television camera network, was installed last March on storefronts and parking lots for a total cost of $183,000.

Police Chief Cory McMullan said Wednesday during an overview of the project and a tour of the the monitoring room at police headquarters: “A priority in the downtown area is to assist victims, prevent victimization, deter potential crime, assist members (of the police service) with evidence required to solve crimes and improve the overall feeling of safety by citizens while in downtown Belleville.”

For the full story, including more photos and video from the press conference, see: The Intelligencer: CCTVs keep an eye on the street

For more coverage of Firetide’s video mesh installations, see:

Image via The Intelligencer

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

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