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, 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 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

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 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.

March 7, 2011

Attending IWCE in Vegas? Here’s Where Firetide Team Will Be at #IWCE11

IWCE 2010 logoIf you are attending IWCE in Last Vegas, be sure to connect with the Firetide team. Here’s where to find us:

Panel: Wireless Surveillance Ecosystem – Tuesday March 7, 8 am

I will be part of the Wireless Surveillance Ecosystem panel starting at 8 am on March 7. The panel is moderated by Geoff Kohl and Steve Lasky of and will cover the following topics:

  • The Realities of Video Surveillance
  • Wireless Technologies Panel Discussion
  • Video Surveillance Technologies Panel Discussion
  • The End-User’s Checklist for a Wireless Video Project

The session takes place from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm in Room S228.

Workshop: Designing and Specifying High-Performance Wireless Infrastructure – March 8, 1 pm

Later that day, Jeff Butler, Firetide systems engineer, and I will present a workshop on designing and specifying high-performance wireless infrastructure. The workshop will cover:

  • Design Considerations for High-performance Wireless Networks
  • RF Basics for Wireless Systems Design
  • Wireless Applications In Fixed and Mobile Networks
  • Specification & Design: Approaches, Tools, Best Practices

The session takes place from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

Link to March 8 conference programming (all March 8 sessions).

During the Show: See Firetide on Hutton’s booth 4027 – March 9-11

The Firetide team will be on Hutton’s booth throughout the show – please stop by and check out our wireless mesh, point-to-point and WLAN equipment.

For for a free Exhibit Hall Pass, courtesy of Hutton: go to and use customer code V8 to register.

See you at the conference!

For my coverage of IWCE 2010, please see these posts:

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

March 2, 2011

Is Redundancy Important in Wireless Network Design?

We sometimes hear that mesh is an “overkill” and “why do you need redundancy in the first place?” If the network is designed properly (the skeptics continue), you don’t need redundant links anyway.

Aside from special situations when moving machinery can block your line of sight (such as in ports, mines, industrial facilities, warehouses, or construction sites), is there a case for redundant links in installations that don’t experience variations in line-of-sight conditions?

Absolutely! Just look at the pictures below:

Downed pole over a commuter train line

Downed pole over a commuter train line

Light pole downed due to a car accident

Electric pole damaged in a car accident

Light pole down at a stadium, apparently due to age

Light pole down at a stadium, apparently due to age

So while today’s wireless equipment is extremely reliable, the infrastructure it goes on – not so much. Weather, age, defects in construction, drunk (or distracted) drivers – these are the ‘hazards’ that often call for redundancy in wireless design.

Redundancy of course comes at a cost – in equipment and installation labor. But you should definitely consider it for your critical links – the ones that aggregate traffic from multiple cameras, for example, on the way to the command center.

I should also note that Firetide “pays you back” some of the investment in a redundant architecture by allowing you to load balance your traffic across multiple links. During the normal operation of your network, your redundant link is not just idling, waiting for a failure to occur, but can actively participate in increasing overall capacity of your network.

For more topics on wireless network design, see:

/Images sourced via “pole down” web search

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

January 18, 2011

Wireless Networks Bridge Past and Present in S. Korea’s River Restoration Project

Han River Firetide Wireless Mesh Node

Firetide wireless mesh node installed at Han River

Even though we are headquartered in the US, our most innovative and creative projects seem to happen in Asia Pacific first, and specifically in Korea. The latest example of this trend is the “4 Rivers” restoration project, which takes advantage of Firetide’s extensive product line – mesh, access points and customer premises equipment. The network is also multi-service, supporting a variety of applications: from public safety and emergency preparedness to free public Wi-Fi.

Billion dollar river restoration project

The South Korean government is undertaking a two billion dollar restoration project of the country’s four major rivers – the Han River, the Yeongsan River, the Nakdong River and the Seomjin River – and surrounding recreational areas. When completed in 2012, the multi-service wireless infrastructure will provide a sensor network for water level, temperature and pollution measurement; a video surveillance network to monitor the dams; and public Wi-Fi service for adjacent riverside parks.  Funded by the government, the project’s main objective is to prevent disasters caused by flooding, while supporting environmental preservation and attracting more visitors to the area.

240 miles of rivers to be covered

The four major rivers are over 240 miles in length combined. To cover this area, more than 200 Firetide MIMO and non-MIMO mesh nodes along with 300 cameras from Sony, Axis Communications and Samsung will be deployed to support the sensor and video surveillance applications. In addition, free public Wi-Fi service will be provided in adjacent parks using Firetide’s 802.11n wireless access points and customer premise equipment (CPEs).

Unique wireless mesh design

This projects illustrates the convergence of voice, video and data services over a wireless network – deployed in areas previously thought impossible or impractical to connect. The diagram below shows a section of the network, deployed in a redundant linear loop topology. Where the bends of the river allow, additional redundant links are built in to connect nodes within the chain. The section depicts about 10 km of a river “as the crow flies.”

4 Rivers Firetide Wireless Mesh

"4 Rivers" wireless mesh design

Backbone for ‘u-Korea’ projects

The wireless mesh technology being used in the ‘4 Rivers’ project has also been deployed in other South Korean wireless projects such mobile video surveillance at Seoul Subway, “children safety zones” in Seoul, and parks,  beaches and other recreational areas is Korea’s largest cities. We can even say that Firetide is the de facto wireless mesh standard for the backbone of South Korea’s ‘u-City’ government-supported programs to bring ubiquitous digital services to residents, tourists, employees and businesses throughout the country.

For more information, read the press release: Firetide’s Wireless Mesh Networks Bridge Past and Present in South Korea’s Four Rivers Billion Dollar Restoration Project

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

December 15, 2010

LA County Video Mesh Profiled in Law Officer Magazine

LASD Century Station Dispatch Center

LASD Century Station Dispatch Center

There are some deployments that just “keep on giving” in terms of continued success and resulting press coverage. Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) is among them. I recently came across an article in Law Officer magazine, which details the ASAP (Advanced Surveillance And Protection) program implemented by the LASD’s Century Station in Lynwood, CA (an unincorporated area in Los Angeles.)

The article describes Lynwood and surrounding areas as follows: “Covering a little more than 13 square miles, with a population of about 200,000, LASD’s Century Station deputies patrol some of the most challenging streets in the nation. Prostitution and drug use are common. Gunshots and gang violence are seemingly endemic, and successful solutions to reduce crime are hard to come by.” I was at the station once, and let me tell you, that’s not the neighborhood you want to get lost in (which my companion and I did on the way there).

What’s impressive about the program is the integration of numerous technologies, changing the way law enforcement goes about their daily business: “LASD staff has used a strategy that involves cutting-edge technology to bring about change for these communities. The department has implemented an IP video surveillance system, a gunshot recognition system, license plate recognition (LPR) and in-field fingerprint scanning into a comprehensive approach to policing.” The video wall is right in the dispatch center, so it’s easily accessible to watch deputies. They bring up cameras as they get calls for service, and are able to track suspects or ‘watch over’ a stop performed by deputies on the ground.

The article elaborates on the video mesh system:

“IP Video Surveillance Cameras
In the initial approach to a monumental crime problem, the LASD installed eight surveillance cameras in areas that had a high number of calls for service, particularly for violent crime. These first cameras were funded as a proof of concept through the Safe Cities program. The success led to additional installations that now total 34 cameras, with 10 additional installations planned in the near term.

Because of bandwidth, line-of-sight and other environmental limitations, the construction of a wireless network to support an IP video system posed numerous challenges. Among them, fiber-optic infrastructure is not available in Lynwood, requiring wireless technology that would support real-time, high-quality video (4CIF/30 FPS). The obstacles were addressed in the initial proof of concept, and the successful design was replicated in later installations.

Sgt. Chris Kovac, who oversaw the Lynwood IP video surveillance project, emphasizes that one of the most important factors in the success of a technology project is the selection of a vendor that has the skill and experience to accomplish what they promise.

In the Lynwood case, LASD put the project out for competitive bid. The successful bidder was Leverage Information Systems, a Washington-based company with an office in the area. Sgt. Kovac found that after the first installation, Leverage was able to replicate its initial design, which enabled Lynwood to expand its system easily.

Presently, all cameras are linked via a Firetide wireless mesh network to the Century Station dispatch center, where deputies can both view and control the cameras in real time. Although no one is assigned to continually monitor the cameras, the deputies use them as a response tool. They can later retrieve video to aid in criminal investigations. In fact, the IP video system is now a standard form of doing business in the city of Lynwood.”

Read the full article on Law Officer web site: Caught on Tape: How one agency used technology to slash crime.

For more information on LASD’s use of video mesh technology, see:

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

December 9, 2010

Is Firetide Mesh Hardware Attractive? SecurityInfoWatch Must Think So

Filed under: Physical Security,Public Safety Wireless,Wireless backhaul,Wireless Mesh — kseniacoffman @ 10:39 am

Ever since we released our HotPort 7000 infrastructure mesh, we’ve been getting comments from resellers and end-customers alike that the hardware is ‘solid,’ ‘great form factor,’ ‘more capacity packed into a smaller package,’ etc. I got further proof of positive vibes that the nodes generate when I was reading an article by Fredrik Nilsson of Axis Communications on entitled “Going the distance with IP video.” The article was interesting, discussing ways to overcome the distance limitations in IP video imposed by the Ethernet cable standards (330 feet). I was encouraged to see that, in addition to wired solution, the article discussed wireless technology, and specifically wireless mesh, as a way to extend the reach of IP networks ‘many miles.’ Nilsson notes:

“Wireless mesh. Self-healing wireless mesh networks are popular when the area that has to be covered is large and requires many cameras. The nodes cover a broad area and provide overlapping and backup coverage through multiple transmission paths. A wireless broadband mesh generally operates at 4.9 GHz [5 GHz is also used for video surveillance, since 4.9 GHz band is reserved for public safety agencies in the US – comment by Ksenia Coffman] and can include hundreds of nodes, which makes it an ideal option for city center surveillance systems covering several square miles. The drawback is that it isn’t very economical for small system implementations.”

But I was completely taken by surprise to see a Firetide 7000 mesh node illustrating the mesh section! SecurityInfoWatch must have supplied the art, as I don’t recall us providing them the image specifically for this article:

Firetide MIMO mesh node on

Firetide MIMO mesh node on

Updated 12/13/2010: I ran into Geoff Kohl at CAA convention in San Francisco, and asked him about the article. Per Geoff, it was Axis who selected the artwork. So thanks SecurityInfoWatch and Axis!

To see Firetide 7000 mesh ‘in the wild,’ check out these posts:

Read the entire article by Fredrik Nilsson: Eye on Video: Going the Distance with IP Video

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

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