Mesh Without Wires

April 9, 2010

Notes from Anixter Integrated Physical Security Seminar

It’s always interesting to get out of the office and mingle with integrators, consultants, vendors and distributors. I had the opportunity to do just that at Anixter’s Integrated Physical Security Seminar on Thurs April 8 in Denver.

First off, the event was very well attended for a road show – the final numbers are due from Anixter, but there are telling me there were 100+ attendees, not counting vendors and Anixter personnel. A lot of people seemed new to IP though (consider comments from a security specialist in a big bank, who is still dealing with VCRs). We’ll see what the final tally/feedback is.

IP fundamentals still needed for reseller channel

Ed Wassall of Anixter delivered an excellent intro presentation on IP networking, with forays into Layer 2 switching and Layer 3 routing concepts. That was a reminder that yes, you can have all sorts of technology and devices on the edge, but your core infrastructure is what you have to get up to par, if you want to have a successful security system. It was also a nice tie-in with Firetide’s message on our wireless infrastructure approach, with L2 distributed wireless Ethernet switching with L3 routing protocol within the mesh, as opposed to “Wi-Fi mesh” on one side, and point-to-point or point-to-multipoint systems on the other .

Integrated security solution for university campus

Denver PD focuses cameras on crime

Denver HALO security camera

The IP fundamentals were a great intro into the sessions on cabling by Anixter, wireless infrastructure by Firetide, video management and PSIM (physical security information management) by OnSSI, video technology by Axis Communications and integrated access control by S2 Security. We all had to present solutions for a hypothetical large university campus, which played to Firetide’s strengths in outdoor security and “wireless-enabled campus”: using wireless infrastructure mesh as outdoor backbone for video security and surveillance, mass notification devices, outdoor/indoor Wi-Fi access, LAN extension, VoIP as well as temporary and portable installations.

I, of course, also brought up Denver’s HALO (High Activity Location Observation) project, which utilizes Firetide for mesh connectivity. See picture at left – the white boxes are “Firetide inside” (i.e. contain Firetide indoor mesh nodes); also see our announcement around the DNC and coverage in Denver Post.

Road shows can deliver useful content

Anixter always puts on a great (road) show; they are able to get people in. Considering my concern on whether roadshows are just glorified sales pitches, I posed a question over lunch to one of the attendees (a telecom consultant getting into IP security and surveillance): “Has the content been commercial in nature, or was it educational?” He said – without hesitation – that the content was useful and very light on commercial messages. Indeed, Anixter had gotten better in policing vendor’s content and cutting out pages of product specs.

Former rep shares feedback

I ran into someone who used to be a Firetide’s manufacturer’s rep, and then went on to do other things in the security market. It was interesting to trade observations on physical security and wireless markets, and to talk to someone who was quite familiar with us, but no longer ‘vested’ in Firetide so I could get honest opinions. Among other things, we talked about our recently announced wireless Ethernet bridge, and he said: “It’s been long overdue!” So I hope it bodes well for the new product. I also asked him what the biggest challenge that Firetide faced was – but you’ll have to email me for his answer (kcoffman-at-firetide-dot-com).

Redundancy crucial for mission-critical communications

Another interesting conversation was with a public safety department in an adjacent municipality. They are looking to deploy wireless infrastructure, in addition to the fiber connecting their facilities. When I heard they had fiber, I inquired why they needed wireless on top of that. The answer was that they didn’t control the fiber network, there were outages, and that they needed redundant infrastructure. That is why they were interested in mesh – even though they were being pitched by a point-to-point wireless vendor. When they gave me their top budget estimate per facility, I thought: “Wow, for that kind of money you can deploy Firetide’s mesh & then stream video over it” – even though the requirement for now is just data. Of course, the estimate may be a pie in the sky, but if mesh is not possible budget-wise, then we have a low-cost point-to-point solution that they may want to look into.

In summary, the value of in-person events as opposed to online events is that you get to meet people in the industry. Hats off to Anixter for a great networking opportunity.

What have your experiences with vendor road shows been?

Image via Denver Post.

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


  1. As a Wireless Integrator that also has created a niche in outdoor wireless IP video backhaul we attend many of the vendor events from the distributors of video and security products. The video surveillance market has moved to IP and there is definitely a lack of IP networking knowledge among the traditional security installation companies. When we attend such events we are amazed how little the majority know about IP. Many attendees don’t even know how to configure an IP on their laptop.

    I believe it’s great for a wireless manufacture to market to the IP video marketplace. The one thing that concerns me through is at these events the presenters pitch the wireless products as a simple plug and play device. Every event we have attended we are the only company that understands the basics of outdoor wireless, how to perform spectrum analysis, site surveys, and perform proper RF installations. Just mount a wireless device on a pole with omni-directional antennas” is not right, but this is what we have heard at these events.

    Again, it’s a great market place to push wireless products, but I think it can also bite many wireless manufactures in the rear over time when end-users have a negative wireless experience. Not because the wireless products are bad, but because complete lack of wireless integration knowledge is present with the vendors they are being pitched to. First a video installer must learn about IP. Both the distributors and the wireless manufactures should really push the video installation vendors to partner with a good (experienced) outdoor wireless company.

    Comment by Joe Wargo — April 10, 2010 @ 2:30 pm | Reply

    • Great point, Joe. Wireless security and surveillance is definitely *not* plug and play – significant engineering and planning are required, as well as deployment and installation expertise. Most issues we are seeing in deployments is when a professional site survey has not been conducted. That is why when I give any presentation on wireless mesh video, I emphasize the need for engineering site surveys, installer certifications, as well as plug our professional services – i.e. if you (as an integrator) do not yet have the necessary expertise, you can engage our professional service services partners to do site survey, design and deployment for you – while you observe and learn. Wireless mesh video is definitely not something you should learn on the job.

      Comment by kseniacoffman — April 11, 2010 @ 3:24 pm | Reply

  2. wonderful put up, very informative. I’m wondering why the opposite experts of this sector do not realize this. You should continue your writing. I am sure, you’ve a great readers’ base already!

    Comment by get an office in denver — March 12, 2013 @ 5:37 pm | Reply

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