Earlier this month, Firetide ‘tweeted’ a headline from Government Video magazine Wireless Video Surveillance: Affordable Easy Solutions, which prompted a response from Sam Pfeifle of Security Systems News:
@firetide: Integrators I spoke with would not describe wireless as “easy.” Said requires “significantly more engineering.”
So was the tweet misleading or sugar-coating?
For full disclosure, we offered up a customer (Chief of Police at Cal State Long Beach) for Government Video to interview, but Firetide itself was not interviewed for the story, so the headline and the story angle were Government Video’s decisions. The chief stated his opinions, and since he saw no issues in the deployment and operation of the system, for him it was ‘easy.’ Quoting from the Government Video article:
“Installing the Firetide system using wireless made it affordable,” he adds. “The expense and disruption that cabling would have caused were just not practical. With wireless, it is easy to set up new surveillance locations, and to relocate cameras when necessary.”
In reality, there are different interpretations of ‘easy.’ ‘Easy’ from the end-user’s perspective means limited disruptions to business operations, no architectural approvals to go through, no sidewalks to bring up to code, let alone dealing with unsightly construction, piles of mud and noise. After the system is installed, it’s ‘easy’ to add or move cameras.
On the other hand, wireless is definitely not ‘easy’ for the designers, integrators, and installers. Wireless is considerably more difficult than a wired IP video system. Not only the designer has to be IP and networking-savvy, they also have to understand RF. A lot of things have to happen right for the system to appear ‘easy’ from the end-user perspective.
The success of this deployment is a testament to the great job the Cal State PD’s IT department, the installer (Moore Electric) and Firetide’s field sales engineering and tech support team did to make sure that the system was specified, designed and installed properly. To start off, the IT department did their own legwork, as the IT manager said in the 2009 press release from Firetide:
Before selecting Firetide, the school’s police department turned to neighboring law enforcement agencies, including the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and the Santa Monica Police Department, for guidance. “Our extensive due diligence really paid off. We knew that the wireless technology used in this system would be essential to its success – choppy or granular video caused by limited bandwidth can be a critical flaw when it comes to surveillance. We were able to avoid any of these issues from day one.”
Yes, the great advantage of wireless is that it streamlines the installations, creates fewer disruptions and is generally ‘easy’ on the end-customers. But you have to select the right technology, the right designer and the right installer to do it “the easy way.”