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, WFAA.com 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 WFAA.com: 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 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 22, 2011

Attending ISC West? Here’s Where to Find Firetide Team at #ISCW11

Attending ISC West? Be sure to connect with the Firetide team. Here’s where to find us:

Register for a free ISC West exhibit pass courtesy of Firetide

Register for a free ISC West exhibit pass courtesy of Firetide

On the Show Floor

Visit our booth #24083 to learn why Firetide wireless infrastructure is faster to deploy, costs less, and offers greater flexibility – and delivers HD/megapixel video equal in quality to wired. Explore the latest trends in wireless infrastructure and see Firetide products in action.

We will be demoing:

Drop by our booth #24083 or schedule a meeting with the Firetide team by emailing us at partners(at)firetide.com.

For a Free Exhibits Pass, click on the ISC West logo above or visit http://www.iscwest.com/DP197

At the Conference

I will be part of these ISC West conference sessions:

At Vendor Solutions Session

Firetide is presenting in Anixter’s Integrated Physical Security Seminar taking place as part of ISC West’s free Vendor Solutions sessions on April 6. We will discuss prerequisites for a wireless-enabled campus in this case study of a university transitioning to IP-based security.

  • Integrated Physical Security Seminar – April 6, 12:45 pm – 2:45pm, Room 704
    Learn about IP-based applications through a real-world scenario of a university’s transition to an open-architecture IP access control and video surveillance solution. Learn how an IP security system is built from the ground up!

The session is free for all ISC West attendees, but you must reserve your seat during the registration process. (This session is a condensed version of Anixter’s full-day Integrated Physical Security Seminar which I covered on this blog; see: Notes from Anixter Integrated Physical Security Seminar)

Virtually

Follow @firetide and @kseniacoffman on Twitter for updates from the show. For the ISC West Twitter stream, follow hashtag #ISCW11.

Look forward to seeing you at ISC West 2011!

For my coverage of ISC West 2010, please see:

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 SecurityInfoWatch.com 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 www.iwceexpo.com 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.

February 24, 2011

Wi-Fi in Train Tunnels? There’s Mesh For That!

Filed under: Wireless backhaul,Wireless LAN,Wireless Mesh — kseniacoffman @ 9:06 am
Tags:

Wi-Fi needs mesh, too

I covered infrastructure mobility as a unique mesh differentiator several times (see links below the post). Here’s another example of an infrastructure mobility project – to eliminate Wi-Fi blind spots and add bandwidth for Amtrak passengers traveling to and from New York City.

Contracted by Amtrak, Firetide’s integration partner OCLMedia deployed a dedicated wireless network that delivered a high-speed signal to trains traveling through the New York tunnels and when stopped at the New York Penn Station platforms. Previously, when an Acela Express train arrived in the tunnels under the East River and Hudson River, Wi-Fi coverage was interrupted due to a lack of cellular broadband signal.

No fiber? No problem!

OCLMedia installed Firetide mesh nodes in the 12 miles of tunnels and on the trains. Firetide’s infrastructure mobility architecture allows for uninterrupted connection between the fixed and mobile nodes, delivering seamless Wi-Fi for the passengers.

In contrast with previous infrastructure mobility projects we announced (Seoul Subway, Mumbai Metro), there was no fiber in the tunnels (or at least none that was available for the project). The fixed mesh nodes provided an alternative to installing fiber in the tunnels, which would have taken 2-3 years to deploy and the costs would have been five times as much as the wireless mesh solution. OCLMedia’s timeframe was 2-3 months for this project.

How does the network look like?

The mesh nodes (7000 series) are placed both in the tunnels, and in Penn Station itself. The spacing in the tunnels varies, because of of the varying ‘curvature’ of the tunnels. Mobility Controller (on the back end) manages high-speed mobility and roaming between meshes. The access points on the trains are not Firetide’s; they were already in place before the mesh project started. But for a greenfield installations, the access points are likely to be Firetide’s.

Amtrak network diagram: fixed and mobile mesh

Amtrak network diagram: fixed and mobile mesh (click to enlarge)

More to come?

The installation is part of the network that supports AmtrakConnect®, the free Wi-Fi service now installed on Amtrak Acela Express trains and coming later this year to Northeast Regional and other Amtrak trains.

This project shows that mesh technology provides a cost-effective alternative to fiber while infrastructure mobility adds unique capabilities, not possible with any other wireless or wired approach. Wireless mesh essentially extends wire-like connectivity all the way to the train.

See the announcement: Wireless Mesh Provides Wi-Fi Coverage For Passengers Through New York Penn Station

For more posts on infrastructure mobility, see:

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

/Amtrak Wi-Fi logo image via Amtrak

February 9, 2011

How Long Does Mesh Go?

Filed under: Wireless backhaul,Wireless Mesh — kseniacoffman @ 12:08 pm
Tags:

Every now and then we get questions on the distances Firetide mesh equipment can provide.

So how long can mesh go?

Even though many of our projects are in urban settings, with link distances ranging from 1/4 mile to 2 miles, mesh is being deployed in rural and remote settings, where link distances of 3-6 miles are fairly common.

One of the farthest links I came across in our deployments was a 35-km (21.7 miles) shot in South Korea. The link is part of the project with KT (Korea Telecom) to provide internet to residents of remote islands.  This particular link is from Daecheon city to Ho-do island.

Long-distance mesh link

Firetide long-distance mesh - S. Korea

long distance mesh

Ground view: mesh node and antenna

Parabolic antennas are recommended for long-distance links. This link above uses (what looks like) a 2-ft dish.

In the US, the longest link that I’m aware of was for a temporary installation at a government facility. I do not have pictures of the install, since this was a secure site: no picture taking allowed. The link used dual-radio mesh nodes in bonded mode for a point-to-point connection, achieving 50 Mbps UDP throughput over 27 miles, with 3-ft dish antennas. (Note that this deployment used our non-MIMO mesh series.) The link was in operation for 1 year.

For another long-distance mesh project (11-mile links), see Firetide Wireless Mesh Brings Rural Korean Communities Into the Network Fold.

For more discussion on mesh technology, see:

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.

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