Mesh Without Wires

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 19, 2011

Firetide Named Finalist for 2011 Red Herring Top 100 N. America Award

Filed under: Technology,Wireless — kseniacoffman @ 9:46 am

Firetide announced today it has been selected as a Finalist for Red Herring’s Top 100 North America award, a prestigious list honoring the year’s most promising private technology ventures from the North American business region.

Firetide Red Herring 2011 Finalist

Firetide makes Red Herring 2011 finalist roster (click on image to view all finalists)

The Red Herring editorial team selected the most innovative companies from a pool of hundreds from across North America. Finalists for the 2011 edition of the Red Herring 100 North America award are selected based upon their technological innovation, management strength, market size, investor record, customer acquisition, and financial health.

Firetide is the leader in wireless infrastructure mesh technology for demanding public safety “crime camera” applications, and has been ranked as #1 private company in wireless infrastructure for video surveillance in the Americas by IMS Research (See: Firetide Lands at #1 Spot in Video Mesh in the Americas). To expand on its leadership position in infrastructure mesh, Firetide has recently introduced a family of point-to-point bridges and video-optimized WLAN solution, including 802.11n access points and WLAN controller.

Says Bo Larsson, our CEO:

“It’s an honor to be recognized as a top technology company, and as innovators in the wireless industry. It’s not surprising, since we continue to invest over 30% of revenues in R&D. No other company in the space offers an end-to-end product portfolio, capable of supporting metro-wide all-wireless infrastructures, from backhaul to Wi-Fi access. Our team has worked very hard this year, and the results speak for themselves.”

While not big news, I believe this is the first time we got on the finalist list! We’ll see if we are one of the winners. Winners will be announced in June 2011.

Our previous industry award was ASIS Accolades in 2010. Read more about that award here: ASIS 2010 Impressions: ASIS Accolades; Social Media at #ASIS10.

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 21, 2011

Firetide Launches an Aggressive Campaign Targeting WLAN for Education ‎

Filed under: Wireless LAN,WLAN — kseniacoffman @ 12:13 pm
Tags:

Yesterday we announced an aggressive campaign targeting education wireless LAN (WLAN) market. Firetide’s MIMO and non-MIMO access points (APs) and WLAN controller bundles are now available at significant discounts to North America based educational institutions, where the need for multimedia-capable WLAN is especially urgent.

WLAN controller feature licenses

WLAN controller feature licenses do add up! (Click to enlarge)

Firetide’s Wi-Fi access solutions have long been a staple of our outdoor deployments for government and commercial verticals. We are now bringing the same level of performance and security to indoor WLANs, targeting the education sector where we can meet the need for cost-effective and easy to maintain solutions.

Multimedia-optimized WLAN

Along with performance and security, we also bring our core video expertise to the WLAN market. Having established market leadership in wireless infrastructure mesh for video surveillance in the Americas (See: Firetide Lands at #1 Spot in Video Mesh in the Americas), we now set sight on the education market where multi-media streaming and video conferencing for distance learning are key requirements. Application-based quality of service and traffic shaping algorithms that Firetide implemented for its infrastructure mesh now drive video performance across WLAN.

No-hassle pricing and no feature licensing

With the aim of establishing a foothold in the WLAN market, Firetide implemented a surprisingly radical (given the practices in the space) pricing for its WLAN controller and AP scaling. Management of up to 50 APs are included in the controller price, with no per-AP licensing. Many features that WLAN vendors often charge for are also included, among them intrusion detection and policy management.

I did a quick comparison with the controller pricing of a leading WLAN manufacturer, using an actual price list of said vendor (see illustration above). The result speaks for itself: Firetide’s all inclusive controller capable of managing 50 APs is $5,000 US list, while competitor’s bundle comes up to almost $15,000. Note that this competitor does not have a 50-AP WLAN controller model, but the cost of various features relative to the controller are based on actual license pricing and should be a good approximation.

Up to 3 controllers can be stacked to support up to 150 APs. While we do not do per AP, or per 10-AP licensing, our pricing is such that it’s still competitive even if you have to buy 2 controllers to support 60 APs.

North America education discount: 25% to 50%

The program announced yesterday offers an attractive price point to educational institutions in North America with discount pricing available through June 30, 2011.

Firetide offers a 25% discount on 802.11n MIMO indoor APs bundled with a WLAN controller capable of managing up to 50 access points. Even more aggressive pricing is offered on 802.11a/b/g indoor access points, with 50% discount off list price for the overall bundle. Bundles range from five APs to 20 APs; each bundle includes a WLAN controller.

To take advantage of this limited time offer or to test drive a Firetide WLAN, contact a Firetide authorized partner or email partners@firetide.com.

In the words of Rohit Mehra, Director of Enterprise Communications Infrastructure at IDC:

“It is not surprising to see Firetide enter the enterprise WLAN market with an aggressive push. Performance, scalability, security and ease of use are key requirements in the enterprise WLAN space. Firetide’s track record in infrastructure mesh, with its emphasis on real-time video streaming, will make the company a contender to watch especially in key vertical segments of the WLAN market.”

For more posts on WLAN, see:

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 15, 2011

Firetide Wireless Ethernet Bridge Spotted in the Wild

Filed under: Physical Security,Point-to-point — kseniacoffman @ 11:00 am
Tags:
Firetide Wireless Ethernet Bridge

Firetide Wireless Ethernet Bridge Deployed for Access Control

… in Australia, of all places. The bridge projects tend to be on a smaller scale than our mesh deployments, so we don’t make announcements on them, but it’s nice to see one in operation. This is a project deployed by our integrator Independent Locksmiths & Security for an access control application.

The link pictured employs our FWB-102 wireless Ethernet bridge with integrated 2.4 GHz antennas.

Read the full post on the Independent Locksmiths’ blog: Firetide Enables Reliable Connectivity to Remote Access Control Gate.

For more posts on point-to-point products, please see:

/Image via Independent Locksmiths blog

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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