The webinar with Sandy PD provided insights into how to design, deploy and run a successful municipal video surveillance system. We had both operational perspective from Sandy PD’s Captain Kevin Thacker, and technical details from Seth Ferrier with AlphaCorp Security, the integrator on the project. If you did not have a change to attend the webinar, the presentation is posted below. You can register on our web site to view the on-demand recording.
We also provided the Q&A from the webinar, including some of the questions we did not have time to address.
View the Presentation
View the webinar presentation: plenty of photos of the installed system and interesting details.
Planning & Technology Evaluation
Q: Besides the Firetide mesh, what other wireless technologies did you review, and why did you chose Firetide over those? How did you test and evaluate various systems?
Sandy PD: We looked at demonstrations that the vendors showed us; they set up temporary installations for evaluation. The other thing we looked at with AlphaCorp and Firetide was that AlpaCorp was a local company; we felt it would be good to have someone local to work with. They had the equipment and knowledge that we were interested in and they seemed to closely equate to what we were looking for in Sandy City.
AlphaCorp: Another technology that was evaluated was point-to-multipoint, which ended up being more costly and wasn’t as robust in terms of throughput compared to Firetide. Sandy City also contacted references, which I would encourage all customers who are deploying a system of this nature to do. It’s a good way to find out how the integrator has performed, how they have adapted to challenges, both from a design and a deployment standpoint.
Q: What is the ballpark cost of a project like this?
To date, the cost of the system is approximately $450,000. This figure includes all of the wireless equipment (Firetide mesh network, BridgeWave point-to-point link, AgileMesh portable units), video cameras, camera VMS licenses, as well as the site survey, design, installation and maintenance. This is the turn-key project cost.
You’ve got to go into to a project like this being realistic: it’s going to cost quite a bit of money to set up the system the way you want to.
Operation & Policies
Q: How long is the video stored for, and is it possible to remotely view the video from a laptop in the field?
We have the capability to store for three weeks, which gives us an good opportunity to find something if we think we need it. If there is any incident captured on the cameras, we have a person assigned that pulls that video out and puts it on a DVD. As far as the remote viewing, we have that ability in police cars for our sergeants and above.
Q: Who monitors the cameras?
All our officers have access to the cameras from City Hall. We also have a volunteer group that comes in and monitors the cameras; they are trained in our policies and procedures before they are allowed access to the system.
Q: Can I get a copy of Sandy PD’s camera use policies?
Please email Ksenia Coffman at Firetide firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain the policy document.
Feeds & Speeds
Q: What image resolution are you transmitting at 30 FPS?
Currently we are using 640*480 resolution, although we are not limited to that. We can go in on an individual camera basis and adjust the resolution through the OSSI platform. If you have a spot with higher requirements on details we can use megapixel or HD resolution cameras. This makes the system very flexible.
Q: What is the reasonable bandwidth requirement for a camera recording high-grade video?
It differs from manufacturer to manufacturer, with different compressions, different frame rates and different resolutions. All those factors play a part in the cameras requirement when it comes to throughput. Almost all manufacturers that I can think of offers tools on their websites, which can be used to get a very close approximation on what the requirements are going to be. In Sandy we are averaging around 1.5 Mbps per camera. In total we now have 14 sites with at least one camera at each site, and we haven’t reached 25% of the mesh’s capacity, so we still have plenty of room to expand the system.
Q: What frequency is the video transmitted on over the mesh network?
The mesh system is on the 4.9GHz spectrum. Here you only have two channels to utilize. The reason that we are using this frequency for Sandy City is that some of the high-point sites that the system covers already had wireless systems installed. So it was important not to cause any conflict with the other transmissions in the city.
Q: How many nodes are there in the Sandy UT system purely in a support role?
There are nine sites that currently have mesh hardware installed in a “repeater-only” configuration (no cameras). Cameras may or may not be added to these locations down the road.
Q: What Firetide equipment was used?
We standardized on Firetide HotPort 6202 outdoor dual-radio mesh nodes for the deployment. We could have used single-radio nodes in some of edge locations, but dual-radio network design gives us an opportunity to expand the network easier. Given the marginal incremental cost between single- and dual-radio solution, dual radio was the way to go. [On the HotPort 7000 platform, this is equivalent to a HotPort 7020 node + radio license to enable the 2nd radio.]
Q: I noticed that many of the installations were on utility poles and light poles, how was permission to use these handled?
Most of those poles belong to Sandy City, but in some cases the mounting locations (rooftops, etc) belong to private companies, which meant we had to obtain their permission. But we haven’t had any problems with that.
Q: Does the deployment include backup power provisioning for emergency conditions?
Yes backup power is included at every site. We are currently using the Novus Micro Secure power supplies by Alpha but there are many options.
Q: Is it possible to power the equipment, on the tower environment, using a locally mounted solar panel/s? Was this considered for Sandy?
Yes solar power for primary or backup power is definitely possible and is being used in Firetide deployments in other territories. Sandy is fortunate, at least thus far, when it comes to power at all the currently deployed sites and has not had the need to use solar power.
Q: Were any of the wireless nodes/cameras remote enough to require a separate battery source?
Only the AgileMesh portable units are battery operated. We have had temporary sites that required coverage but did not have power readily available. The AgileMesh units were temporarily deployed at these sites. At all of the planned permanent locations, we were lucky to have access to power.
Q: Is there factory training we can get as integrators?
Yes, Firetide offers a Certified Mesh Engineer course (FCME-1). This is a three-day course that provides essential information necessary to design, install, configure and troubleshoot Firetide wireless networks. For more information, visit Firetide Certification Training page.
Register for on-demand recording
If you did not have a change to attend the webinar, register on our web site to view the on-demand recording.
For more posts on Firetide deployments, see:
- Muni Wireless Video Surveillance at Work in Orlando
- Buffalo NY Wireless Surveillance System at Work
- “The Cameras Work”: Denver on Its Wireless Video Surveillance System
- Cal State Long Beach Wireless Video Surveillance – One Year Later