Mesh Without Wires

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.

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.

April 9, 2011

Day 2 ISC West Impressions #ISCW11

Filed under: Physical Security,Technology — kseniacoffman @ 10:54 am
Tags: ,

Muni Surveillance Panel: Wireless Infrastructure

ISC West 2011

ISC West 2011

In the morning, I presented at and moderated the panel Muni Surveillance Panel: Wireless Infrastructure. During the Q&A portion, we again discussed how to get video off transit busses and police cruisers. The options vary: cellular broadband; wi-fi hotspots; mesh infrastructure mobility (placing mesh nodes in cars/vehicles); and wireless offload at depots and police stations for non-real-time video.

Below is my presentation from the session:

Or view the presentation directly on SlideShare: ISC West 2011 Muni Surveillance Panel: Wireless Infrastructure

Women in Security Panel

I was not able to attend this session; so if anyone blogged about it, please let me know! (You can link to any relevant posts in the comments).

IMS Research Market Update Panel

Key takeaways on the video surveillance side (I did not capture as much information on the access control or PSIM trends). The presentations focused on the Americas physical security market; so the comments below reference the trends in the Americas rather than worldwide.

  • IMS expects M&A activity to continue in video surveillance space
  • Per IMS, Axis Communications continues to lead in network video
  • Commercial thermal cameras trend: Pelco, Bosch and Axis all have lower cost solutions. Lower costs enable new applications; these cameras are effective for perimeter protection
  • The market is all about HD/megapixel; standard definition cameras will begin to (edit 4/18; see note below on timing) be phased out in 2-3 years, per IMS. Phase out of standard definition cameras in the Americas driven by production costs; HD vs standard definition production cost differential negligible. (So manufacturers are really driving this trend, vs the end-users. Big implications for both wireless networking and storage).
  • 3D video surveillance (1st time hearing of it) won’t be commercially available for a long while, per IMS
  • Per IMS, HDCCTV will have 4-6 percent market share by 2014 (rather small)

[Added 4/18] On the phase-out of standard definition cameras, IMS’s Gary Wong adds: “The phaseout will begin in next 2-3 years, however the vast majority of new network cameras released to the market now will be of HD or higher resolution. IMS Research believes that this trend is common to all manufacturers.”

Networking and More Networking

Thursday was networking overload! By the end of the day, I tried to get out of the company dinner, but the CEO said “absolutely not!” so I did not get to my room until 10 pm. A separate post on the networking opportunities, and how I did against my tentative plan (Tweetups, Networking, and More Things to Do While at #ISCW11) is coming up. As a side note, it’s much nicer to stay at a non-casino hotel – once you leave Venetian, you are done with this place and the whole casino scene.

Note on Wireless

Firetide booth at ISC West 2011

Firetide booth at ISC West 2011

Wireless connectivity was bad! Both at the Sands (3G) and Wi-Fi in my hotel; Venetian suite Wi-Fi wasn’t much better. That is why this post is being published Saturday: I just could not upload the presentation, especially in the evening when I assume more people were on Wi-Fi. Tweeting pictures from the show floor was also a challenge – I could not upload a single one while at the Sands. This picture of the booth was tweeted when the show closed already.

This experience echoed the comment from the co-panelist on the Muni Surveillance panel: if you try to do mission critical communications (and especially video) over a shared network, that network would be the first to let you down in case of a big event. So, dedicated mesh all the way!

(Just to illustrate my point: I was finishing up this post at the airport, and almost commented that their Wi-Fi was the best that I saw in Vegas. But just as I was about to hit publish, McCarran Wi-Fi kicked me off the network, and I had re-login. On the other hand, I’m adding this comment while on the plane using portable hotspot feature on my Nexus S. So wireless FTW, but be careful with mission critical traffic, and have something more solid than cellular or public Wi-Fi).

For more ISC West  2011 posts, see:

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

April 7, 2011

Day 1 ISC West Impressions #ISCW11

Filed under: Physical Security,Technology — kseniacoffman @ 8:41 am
Tags: ,

ISC West is in full swing! Here’s the recap of day 1 of the show.

Follow ISC West virtually through Twitter hashtag #ISCW11

Follow ISC West virtually through Twitter hashtag #ISCW11

Executive Club breakfast

We started the day with the breakfast with the Executive Club members (Firetide and TESSCO are jointly sponsoring the lounge, so our team was invited). One of the ‘perks’ of being an Executive Club member (besides the very nice lounge) is the access to the show floor at 9 am on Thursday. We’ll see today how many people actually show up!

Security specifiers become mediators

Continuing on the theme of security specifiers, I had a change to sit down with a security consultant who specified a couple of large municipal projects that ended up including Firetide as the wireless infrastructure. He shared with me that in the last year a so he’d been involved more in project mediation and expert witnessing on the projects that he’s not specified anything new (shame!). His new role (and more profitable as it seems) is to mediate between the end-user, A&E consultant, general contractor and the integrator, to avoid going to litigation. Echoing what was said on the yesterday’s panel, one of the issues is the 3-year old, cut-and-paste spec: “in security industry, it’s dog years – the project is 21 year behind the curve even before it gets started.”

Mobile video mesh demo

Another highlight of the day was the mobile mesh demo on Axis Communications booth (check it out on booth 18051). There was a lot of interest in the demo, including the mesh connectivity portion of it.

Mobile video mesh demo at ISC West 11 - 'Firetide-inside'

Mobile video mesh demo at ISC West 11 - 'Firetide-inside'

The mobile mesh node is placed in the trunk of the car, while a fixed mesh node is located on the booth. This setup is what we call “infrastructure mobility” – the police cruiser is now essentially a mobile command center, connected to the mesh infrastructure and able to control the cameras on the fixed network. (For more information on infrastructure mobility, please see Technology Behind Wireless Infrastructure Mobility).

Social media for dealers and integrators

On Wednesday, I presented on the panel Social media and web marketing for dealers and integrators.” Here’s my presentation – gives you food for thought on why it’s important that you get started with social media now.

Or view the presentation directly on SlideShare: ISC West 2011 Social Media for Dealers & Integrators

See you at the show!

The show opens today at 10 am. I hope to see you in my session Muni Surveillance: Wireless Infrastructure (10:15 am to 11:15 am Thursday April 7, Room 204), and on Firetide booth 24083!

Follow @firetide and @kseniacoffman on Twitter for updates from the show. For the ISC West Twitter stream, follow hashtag #ISCW11.

For more ISC West  2011 posts, see:

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

April 6, 2011

Day 0 ISC West Impressions #ISCW11

Filed under: Physical Security,Technology — kseniacoffman @ 7:00 am
Tags: , ,

The ISC West 2011 show has not started yet, but I’ve already been in Vegas for almost a day and a half, so a daily recap is in order.

Register for a free ISC West exhibit pass courtesy of Firetide

Register for a free ISC West exhibit pass courtesy of Firetide

The booth setup went smoothly, apart from a monitor damaged in transit, a video camera that finally gave out, and a shipment that did not arrive (aka the usual). But, the wireless is up and running, so it’s all that matters!

Working with Security Specifiers

On Tuesday, I was able to join one of the ISC West Education sessions: Working with Security Specifiers. The panelist presented a good mix of perspectives: integrators, consultants and end-users. Here are a few take-aways (adopted from my tweets from the session):

  • Practitioner perspective: relationship with vendor and support they are able to provide are more important than intricate differentiators between vendors
  • Consultant perspective: Include manufacturer into the process, in addition to integrators, consultants, end users [KC: music to our ears!]
  • Integrator’s perspective: Goal of an integrator: Mitigate risk; provide compliance; deliver ROI for the project, and most importantly: build a long-term relationship with both the consultant and the end-user for ongoing project success
  • How can RFP response stand out? One example: send CEO to the pre-bid meeting!  (And provide your home number so that the end-customer can reach you) – That approach really stood out for one of the panelists.
  • How can you compete with a “low-bid integrator” in your RFP response? Define the price in terms of long-term value and project life cycle, vs “bill of materials.” Also, show domain expertise in a particular vertical; without a track record for this particular type of install, the integrator will be learning on the job at the user’s expense.
  • Validate claims of your bidders – e.g. visit offices of your prospective integrators (consultants may play this role)
  • One of the speakers (an end-user) cautioned against using a consultant who may be a one-man shop. He advised: Don’t be afraid to approach larger consultant firms with a smaller project; they may use junior associates who would work under a senior member’s oversight
  • New construction vs retrofit: in former case, harder to get to end user and communicate value. Consultants can be the conduit.
  • RFP needs to be written based on an assessment, not cut and paste from industry spec – This was a common concern regarding MEP firms (mechanical, engineering, plumbing).
  • When the panel was asked  “how do you handle a situation where a spec is clearly cut and paste?” – the integrator on the panel had an interesting perspective: Don’t just assign blame; use cut-and-paste or old spec as an opportunity to develop a relationship and educate the consultant for *next* project.

Overall, it was an interesting session: it was educational to see the emphasis on relationships and track record (although it’s hardly surprising).

Women’s Security Council

Another highlight of the day was the Women’s Security Council kick-off reception at the V Bar in the Venetian. I got there pretty late (7:30 pm) and was surprised to see the great turnout – most of the bar was dedicated to the event with a good crowd mingling. (Compare that to the conference session above, where I was the only woman among the 80-90 attendees).  I ran into the women I knew before, some who I only exchanged emails with, and met some new people. Thanks to Rhianna Daniels and the entire Council for organizing! Find out more about Women’s Security Council at the organization’s web site: http://wscouncil.com/

The show officially opens today at 10 am. I hope to see you in my session Social Media for Dealers and Integrators (4 to 5 pm Wednesday April 6, Room 202), and on Firetide booth 24083!

Follow @firetide and @kseniacoffman on Twitter for updates from the show. For the ISC West Twitter stream, follow hashtag #ISCW11.

For more ISC West  2011 posts, see:

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

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