Mesh Without Wires

February 26, 2010

Is Wireless ‘Easy’? (Video Surveillance, That is)

Filed under: Technology — kseniacoffman @ 1:17 pm
Tags: ,

Is wireless video surveillance easy?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.”

See also:

February 19, 2010

Corporate Twitter for B2B: 12 Types of Compelling Content for Your Feed

Filed under: B2B,Corporate Twitter,Social Media — kseniacoffman @ 11:56 am
Tags: , ,

In Part 1 of this series on corporate twitter, I shared insights and ideas for getting started. If you followed the steps, you probably have some ‘early followers’ and a handful of tweets. Sadly, many corporate accounts abandon Twitter at this point, or begin to post very infrequently. The key here is to be consistent and keep your followers engaged. But how do you come up with content for your tweets? For me, getting the 1 to 3 daily tweets that I promised in the email to the company was daunting. I even posted links to new datasheets – lame, I know.

To help you keep your ‘Twitter momentum,’ here are 12 types of content that will be useful to your followers, will keep them engaged, and will draw new followers in (and they may be even paying attention, rather than filtering you out with 3rd party Twitter clients.)

Here’s the list, mostly in order of impact this content will have on your twitter presence. Items 11 and 12 may have most impact if you already have a substantial amount of followers, but it’s never too early to get started.

  1. Your media coverage: This is the best type of content for your twitter stream. I’m surprised not a lot of corporate twitter accounts make it a priority to tweet out their media coverage, given the amount of time and effort that goes into “getting ink.” Not only the articles mention you, your solution and/or your customers, they also come from an impartial 3rd party. Bonus points if the publication that ran the story has a twitter presence and you can reference them as “via @thisawesomepub.” Double bonus points if the editor or the publication put the article on their twitter stream, so that you can retweet them. (“Look, I’m not trying to self promote, it’s just an RT.”)
  2. Your digital media: Upload and link to your videos on YouTube, photos on Flikr, presentations on SlideShare, and blog posts. People want to know what you are about, and this digital content provides an additional window into your company. Deployment photos work very well; people like to see your gear in action. One of our early tweets was “@firetide:  Cool night-time photo of Firetide wireless video surveillance install” (it even got retweeted.) Production values do not need to be outstanding as you are just getting started; there will be room for improvement down the road.
  3. Events you are attending (planning to attend, have attended): Events are a great source of content for Twitter, with the added benefit that you can tweet about various aspects of them over time. When tweeting about / at an event, use the event’s hash tag, so that others can find you in the twittersphere. Bonus points if you have joint activities with other people and companies, and can reference them. For example, we ‘milked’ our joint demo at ASIS 2009 with Exacq, IQinVision and Pivot3 multiple times. This was a good exercise not just in interoperability, but also being able to reference the partners on social media.
  4. Local news coverage: Our deployments tend to get covered in local news if a municipality is launching its public surveillance system. Sadly, the local news crews do not get into the technical nitty-gritty of the project, and rarely even mention that the cameras are connected over wireless, let alone our name. I set up Google alerts around our larger deployments that tend to get covered in the local news. So whenever the system gets covered, I put the link on our twitter stream. Not only I’m linking to a positive story about crime reduction, community benefits, etc, in the eyes of my twitter followers I ‘created’ Firetide coverage by co-opting the story: “Hey, we did this!
  5. Your web updates: If you added new product information, case studies, white papers, webinar replays, put a note on Twitter. Be creative: for example, whenever we add a company to our Technology Partner page, we tweet it out, showcasing our partners, while sending traffic to our web site. You can also post links to press releases: don’t overdo this, and you may need to copyedit the headline into a compelling tweet.
  6. Retweeting others: Follow a few people influential in your industry (these may be publications, editors, analysts, bloggers), and occasionally retweet them if you think that their post or content they are linking to will be useful and relevant to your followers. You may even be followed back by said influencers. Also consider retweeting your partners or any other interesting people you follow; they will appreciate it and may return the favor down the road. Before retweeting, I make sure the content I’m about to link to is not about a competitor, contributed by a competitor, or present our technology / industry in a negative light. (Hey, this is a corporate account, so a certain amount of filtering and spin is permitted). Nor do I retweet links if they lead to ‘premium’ content that you have to pay for, or which may be available only to clients (analyst firms occasionally do that).
  7. Industry news and developments: Set up Google alerts for keywords relevant to your industry. I don’t source a lot of content this way in our core specialty – wireless mesh – since these articles are either about us (see # 1) or about our competitors. However, this can be useful if you want to get associated with a new industry or vertical you want to enter – smart Grid and transportation/ITS for us. So I occasionally tweet articles on these topics.
  8. Replying to others: If you see a question posed by someone you follow, or an interesting topic they are referencing and you have something to say, don’t hesitate to respond with an @ reply. People like to know they are being listened to. If someone follows both you and the recipient, they will see your tweet and maybe even engage in the discussion.
  9. Replying to @ messages directed at you: As a new account, unless you are widely known brand, you may not get any @ messages for a while. But if you do, be sure to respond promptly.
  10. Follow Friday: Twitter denizens recommend their favorite accounts on Fridays. Participate – even though it may seem cheesy at first. This is a way to be ‘nice’ on Twitter, and also show that you are actively listening to the people you are recommending. You can use your lists in conjunction with follow Friday, so each recommendation tweet is themed – be it wireless, physical security, etc.
  11. Asking questions of your network: You may not get a lot of replies if you are just starting out and your follower count is low. But it’s an excellent way to engage with your twitter community, and maybe even get your question answered.
  12. Building and promoting your twitter lists: List functionality has been a great addition to Twitter in many ways (I will cover lists separately). One way to get noticed on twitter is to (1) put people on relevant lists (they will likely notice and appreciate it); (2) promote your lists. Others who are looking to expand their presence on Twitter will be grateful that you put in the work, and it will also establish you as an authority of sorts, especially if your list is comprehensive. If you tweet out your lists, you may even see a few retweets.

What has worked for you? Please comment!

February 9, 2010

Cal State Long Beach Wireless Video Surveillance – One Year Later

Filed under: Technology — kseniacoffman @ 9:35 pm
Tags: , ,

In one of the previous posts, I described what can lead to a “deployment from hell.” In this installment, however, I’ll focus on the deployment that has worked just as expected – wireless video surveillance system at Cal State Long Beach University. The system was deployed in late 2008 and we announced it in early 2009. The system incorporates Firetide outdoor wireless mesh nodes, Bosch analog cameras, and InvdigoVision encoders and video management. The system was designed by the University PD’s communications department, and installed by Moore Electric.

Government Video recently posted an update on the deployment: Wireless Video Surveillance: Affordable Easy Solutions. The key take away – there were no surprises, the system just works. On the sensational side, which local media like to cover, the PD’s Chief describes the incident where the police were  able to track a suspect on camera until his arrest. The video detailing the incident and showing the video of the suspect is posted below.

Here’s the link to the original announcement: Wireless Surveillance Protects Facilities and Students at California State University. As our CEO said: “You cannot put a price on students’ safety, but when technology makes security monitoring ‘always-on’ in places you could only cover by foot patrols in the past, that’s a win for any school or university.”

February 2, 2010

How to Report the News – About Crime Cameras, or Virtually Anything

This hilarious video was making rounds on the internet over the weekend. While it reminded me of reports on local news, it is also quite apt in highlighting many of the “crime camera” news stories. “Dowdy kitchen man” is often replaced by a representative of a local ACLU chapter and/or by a police officer, who may or may not sound defensive depending on the tone of the newscast. [Warning: the BBC video below contains R-rated language.]

Compare with:

Austin, TX

Lancaster, PA

Cincinnati, OH – Follow the link

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