Mesh Without Wires

November 11, 2010

ASIS 2010 Dallas PD Tour Goes Mainstream

The Dallas PD tour at ASIS 2010 continues to garner coverage.

A local news web site Pegasus News picked up the video tour recorded by Steve Titch: Video: Watch criminals strike, from the Dallas Police’s point of view. The author notes:

“The video takes a look into the Dallas Police Department’s video surveillance operations center, toured by Titch on October 11 during American Society for Industrial Security international seminar. Titch is a Houston resident whose business is sharing information about the latest in surveillance. He tells me via email, “I posted the video because it provided difficult-to-get comments from police officers who could speak to their experience with the technology, as well as footage from the operations center itself. For my audience, the video provides an example of an up-to-date implementation of urban video surveillance built incrementally with fairly economical technology (wireless), a topic on which many are seeking more information.”

Security Management magazine, the official publication of ASIS, published a comprehensive story on Dallas security in its October issue, including the Dallas PD use of technology and their camera system. The story also covers the Cowboy Stadium security, Dallas Fusion Center, and provides more details on the role of Downtown Dallas Inc in downtown security: How Dallas Does Security. Quoting from the article:

City surveillance system. Cameras survey the area according to a programmed schedule, but they can only pan down and move side to side so as to protect the privacy of businesses and residents. “All we concentrate on is what is in the public view,” says Lieutenant Tony Crawford, who serves as watch commander and oversees the camera system.

“The main monitoring center is located in the Dallas City Hall along with the police 911 dispatch center. Another monitoring station is placed in the Dallas Fusion Center (more on this later). Approximately 35 police officers work in shifts of four to watch the cameras around the clock. Camera feeds are continuously recorded at 25 frames per second and stored for up to 14 days. According to Crawford, the high resolution helps police capture details such as license plate numbers.

Dallas Fusion Center. The Dallas Police Department’s Fusion Center was founded in 2007 and operated during business hours with three officers until last year when it received $3 million in federal grants under the Department of Homeland Security’s Urban Area Security Initiative. Now, with 35 officers assigned to the center, it operates around the clock analyzing news, local camera feeds, and national security information.

“Officers monitor more than 25 databases from computer screens located around the center. The video from the city’s camera system feeds into the center, and officers there can control the pan-tilt-zoom features of the cameras if necessary. Also, all 911 calls are fed into the center and recorded. Television screens carry CNN and other 24-hour news stations.”

Since we are on the subject of the Dallas PD tour, here’s a picture I took in the Camera Unit, showing a real-time zoom onto a license plate from the wireless-networked camera. I asked the camera operator to zoom in, and there was no lag or hesitation from the camera:

Camera zoom - Dallas PD ASIS 2010 tour

Camera zoom onto a license plate (click to enlarge)

For more posts from ASIS 2010, see:

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

November 1, 2010

Dallas Police Department ASIS 2010 Tour – News Clip

A short clip by a local news station shot on the day of the Dallas PD ASIS 2010 tour. (None of the technology providers are mentioned, but at least the news anchor emphasized that the system is wireless.)

Click on the the clip above to play, or view on YouTube.

More Dallas PD tour coverage:

For more posts from ASIS 2010, see:

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

October 19, 2010

ASIS 2010 Recap, Part 2: New Products, Many Meetings

ASIS 2010ASIS show is a great venue to meet users of your technology, and hear first hand about their challenges, projects and feedback. Our booth traffic was equally split between integrators and end users. The integrated video solution (Firetide IVS-100) always draws attention. Our point-to-point MIMO bridges were well received; new 802.11n dual-radio access points were on display as well. Here’s an action shot from the booth:

ASIS 2010 Firetide booth

ASIS 2010 Firetide booth (click to enlarge)

New Firetide products

At ASIS, we announced new functionality on our HotPort 7000 mesh, to deliver a single-platform infrastructure mesh for a variety of fixed and mobile applications. For example, customers can use 900 MHz links for non-line-of-sight communications and line-of-sight (2.4, 4.9 and 5 GHz) MIMO mesh for highest-capacity backhaul, then add mobility later on. In fact, about 95% of Firetide projects involve an infrastructure mobility application, if not today, then in the near future.

  • Transportation networks for real-time video, voice and data: Firetide Mobility Controller is an all-inclusive, high-capacity solution for advanced wireless infrastructure mobility. With the mobility controller functionality, Ethernet-enabled devices such as IP video cameras, Wi-Fi access points, RFID readers, and laptops can maintain network connectivity while traveling at high speeds across multiple Firetide mesh networks. Large-scale projects for Seoul Subway and Mumbai Metro are already being deployed with Firetide mobility technology for mobile, real-time video.
  • Non-line-of-sight mesh for utility and Smart Grid networks: HotPort 7000-900 infrastructure mesh operates in a 900 MHz spectrum to enable high bandwidth applications in challenging environments. It addresses the need for non-line-of-sight applications in Firetide’s core public safety, transportation and industrial markets as well as utilities. Municipal and private utilities have communications and physical security requirements that are often challenging to address. Interconnecting multiple sites at wire-like speeds is a daunting proposition for many, when fiber or leased lines are too costly or impractical.

“Our business is exclusively with utility customers who face challenging conditions in their projects, including remote facilities, vegetation, obstructions, and limited mounting and power options. Most of our Firetide projects include a combination of 900 MHz links for non-line-of-sight or partially obstructed locations and line-of-sight links at 5 GHz or 4.9 GHz, all the way to MIMO links for high-capacity backhaul at 100 Mbps throughput. With the range of capabilities that Firetide delivers, we can provide a solution that meets our customers’ needs, rather than having to limit network coverage or throughput due to environmental conditions. A single HotPort 7000 platform also simplifies specification, design and deployment.” Ken VandeVeer, sales manager at Sage Designs Inc.

Many meeting

The show was filled with meetings.  We even managed to swing a press breakfast (obviously, not on a scale of the big guys, but nonetheless.)

We met, as we typically do, with IMS Research; it was a pleasure to meet Niall Jenkins who authored the report “The Americas Market for Wireless Infrastructure Used in Video Surveillance – 2010 Edition.” (For more information on the report’s findings, see: Firetide Lands at #1 Spot in Video Mesh in the Americas). I asked Niall if there was interest in the wireless report, i.e. if it was worth their while having produced it. He said it definitely was: there was a lot of uptake on the report. We also discussed the integrator training dilemma – security integrators often expect free training, while wireless manufacturers prefer to charge for it, leaning towards an IT model. Firetide charges for its 3 day certification training, but the attendees receive a 10-node mesh management software license, which retails for roughly what the training investment is. We do offer free online training (1-hr interactive course), so people just wanting an introduction can take that.

In other notable meetings, we had a good chat with an editor of an IT reseller magazine, their first-time visiting the show. The editor shared with us that their reseller channel is moving into the physical security space, and the editorial coverage needs to reflect that.

In general, talk of IT and security channel and project convergence has come up quite a few times at the show. The move to IP was also evidenced by Axis Communications taking one of the top three sponsorship spots, which was typically occupied, I’m told, by an analog camera vendor. Way to go, network video!

Is technology the future of security?

On a final note: I was not going to be negative towards ASIS or the conference, since its great venue for us… But, here goes: those who attended the Awards Luncheon, did you notice the ASIS chairman’s curious comment: “Today, there’s too much technology in security, and not enough attention to the human element.” With the trade show floor filled with all kinds of technology, security guards being replaced with video surveillance cameras, etc, ASIS needs to embrace technology – it’s only a matter of time when security will be all about technology.

For more posts from ASIS in Dallas, see:

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

October 18, 2010

ASIS 2010 Impressions: ASIS Accolades; Social Media at #ASIS10

ASIS 2010 was a good show for us, and judging by the overall sentiment from the conference attendees and the vendors alike, things are picking up. Our booth traffic was 50% up from a slow show in Anaheim. We were also strategically positioned on the way to the ASIS booth and the Accolades show case, so that helped out as well.

ASIS Accolades; “What’s new on the floor?” session

Highlight of the first day of the show for us was The ASIS Accolades awards luncheon, where our CEO accepted the award for Firetide IVS-100 MIMO in front of thousands of ASIS members. That same day, Firetide was also featured on the session “What’s New on the Floor” presented Ron Lander, CPP, CMAS of Ultrasafe Security Specialists.

In his session, Ron shed some light on the selection and judging process (You can listen to the entire presentation here: What’s New on the Floor – flv file, audio only.)

Ron Lander on the selection and judging process:

“Every year exhibitors are invited to participate in the Accolades competition. This  year we had 72 companies who submitted new technologies, new ideas and new products. Some of them were just recently released; some were released in the last 11 months, which is part of our criteria. 24 members of the ASIS Physical Security Council are tasked to review the written marketing material and specifications; they narrowed it down to around 40. Then a handful of judges, including myself, sat down and determined the top ten. And let me tell you, this was a tough year, there’s a lot of new technology within security and video surveillance, as you will see.”

Ron Lander on Firetide:

“Public safety is another vertical in security technology where you need forensic-quality video. You can have a good camera, you can have a good DVR, but if you don’t have a good way to transmit the video, your quality’s still going to be poor.

Firetide’s seized the lead of the market with good products, and as a consultant I’ve worked with them on different projects, among those the cities of Redland and Lynwood, California. They get forensic quality video to their customers; the sort that the DA likes: you can get a conviction with it. I also know of cities on the East coast that will not allow you to build a liquor store without cameras specified to meet their video surveillance requirements. They want to be able to look into your cameras first, to see what’s going on in the store, if there’s a hostile situation at that location.

And if you go downtown, you can see Firetide’s technology in the city of Dallas. The system is in a mesh configuration where one unit is connected to other units.”

ASIS Accolades Award Luncheon

Firetide CEO Bo Larrson accepts the Accolades award (click to enlarge)

Firetide team with the Accolades award

Firetide team with the Accolades award (click to enlarge)

Firetide IVS-100 MIMO - The Accolades award winner

Firetide IVS-100 MIMO - The Accolades award winner (click to enlarge)

Social Media at ASIS

On an interesting note, Ron Lander asked the audience about whether or not they participated in social media, and highlighted the #ASIS hash tag. I also saw ASIS signs throughout the convention center promoting the hash tag. @ASIS2010 account did a good job promoting the twitter stream and the blog, but it was mostly manufacturers and the media who were tweeting from ASIS. Still, there were 165 twitter accounts that used the hash tag; you can access the list here:

Social media, in my opinion, is a great add-on to any conference. I got a couple of comments on my picture-tweets from the Dallas PD tour thanking me, since they could not attend on Monday or flights were delayed. Brent Dirks live-tweeted many sessions, so you could follow the hash tag and virtually be in many places at once.

Tuesday was also the day of the Social Networking and Your Professional Development session, where I presented, alongside with Steve Surfaro and Shawn Flaugher. You can access the presentation and notes from the session here: Social Media For Crisis Communications, Presented at #ASIS10.

The audio from the session was recorded, and you can access it on ASIS web site, along with select other sessions from ASIS (wish slides were available as well, I’m getting audio only): ASIS Sessions Video.

For more posts from ASIS in Dallas, see:

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

October 15, 2010

Dallas Police Department Tour at ASIS 2010

Dallas turned out to be a great location for this year’s ASIS 2010 Conferences, in part because City of Dallas is a long-term user of Firetide technology for their municipal video surveillance system. The project started in 2006, and the first cameras (about 40) went in early 2007. Now the City of Dallas project is up to 152 cameras and 165 mesh nodes, in Downtown, Uptown, Jefferson Boulevard, and Jubilee Park neighborhood.

ASIS organized the tour, as they typically do, as part of Monday’s pre-conference programming. There were 50 participants, as we boarded the bus at the Dallas Convention Center.

Downtown Dallas bus tour, muni surveillance edition

The tour consisted of multiple segments, with the first leg being the bus tour of the downtown. John Watson, Chairman of Bearcom (the integrator on the project) narrated the bus tour, giving us the background and the history of the project. The system is 100% wireless using Firetide infrastructure mesh for street level connectivity and BridgeWave point-to-point links to backhaul various parts of the network to City Hall, and from City Hall to the Police Department building a few miles away.

We drove through the Central Business District and the Arts District, eventually coming to the City Hall. I snapped some pictures while on the bus:

Dallas PD city surveillance camera

Dallas PD city surveillance camera, 'Firetide-inside' (click to enlarge)

Dallas PD city surveillance camera at Main St

Dallas PD city surveillance camera at Main St (click to enlarge)

Dallas city surveillance camera at a part near construction

City surveillance camera at a park near construction

Dallas PD Mobile Command Center

The next stop of the tour was the Dallas PD Mobile Command Center (MCC), which was parked at City Hall. The MCC is also equipped with Firetide mesh nodes, enabling mesh connectivity to the MCC, if it’s within reach of any of the fixed mesh nodes. You can the mesh nodes peaking from the top of the MCC:

Dallas PD Mobile Command Center Equipped with Firetide Mesh

DPD Mobile Command Center equipped with Firetide mesh (click to Enlarge)

We got a brief presentation on the project at the side of the MCC (it’s equipped with a flat screen monitor). You can view the presentation below (pretty compelling statitistics on calls for service and arrests directly relating to the cameras, plus overall crime reduction statistics for the past three years):

911 Center, Police Dispatch and Camera Unit

City Hall houses 911 Center, the Police Dispatch, and the Camera Unit, where the city’s cameras are being monitored. We were give a talk in each of these areas, which were all very interesting so I was glad we did not focus just on the cameras. 911 Center takes 2 million calls a year, with 650,000 being passed onto the Police Dispatch.The 911 Center manager shared with us how the center operates, what types of calls they have, and how 911 call takers handle the sometimes harrowing aspects of their jobs.

The Camera Unit was the main “goal” of the tour so we spent a good deal of time in the unit, which is a newly opened room with 8 workstations. Retired or light duty police officers monitor video 24X7. The calls for service that I mentioned earlier either originate from the camera operators when they spot something suspicious, or when they are asked to view something on camera by the dispatch.

The camera operators played a few clips for us from the past incidents captured on camera, from robberies to car break-ins and even a traffic accident that resulted in a fatality. (I thought that the last one was a bit over the top, but nothing probably phases the operators). We also saw how they zoom in in real-time onto license plates hundreds of yards away, with no lag or hesitation from the camera. That was impressive, considering the network is all-wireless. OnSSI Ocularis client was on display – very snazzy!

Shots of the camera room:

Dallas PD Camera Unit

Dallas PD Camera Unit (click to enlarge)

DPD Camera Unit

DPD Camera Unit (click to enlarge)

This was a whirl-wind week in Dallas, but I was glad I took the time to participate in the tour. More recaps from ASIS 2010 are coming up!

Any questions about the tour? Feel free to ask.

For more posts on ASIS 2010, see:

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

October 13, 2010

Social Media For Crisis Communications, Presented at ASIS 2010

Filed under: B2B,Corporate Twitter,Physical Security,Social Media — kseniacoffman @ 9:11 am
Tags: ,

It was interesting to be at a physical security conference, but presenting on social media. As a brief background, we at Firetide started our social media efforts about a year ago around ASIS 2009, in part thanks to my co-presenters Shawn Flaugher (@shawnf on Twitter) and Steve Surfaro (@stevesurf), both physical security pros.) But I found out that in physical security space, we were the early adopters and are now considered social media experts!

I focused my part of the presentation on the business side of things, specifically deploying social media for crisis communications. Using three examples of recent events (PG&E’s social media communications in the aftermath of San Bruno Fire, “TSA took my son” incident, and University of Texas Austin active shooter response), I illustrate how to use social media to respond to emergencies, to address criticism and to supplement mass notification systems.

For any business, it’s important to be prepared for a crisis, and social media must be part of you crisis communication plans. Plus, it’s one of the ways to justify spending time and effort on social media, if the higher-ups don’t see the benefits (yet).

View the presentation on SlideShare:

(Hope you were following my tweets on Monday and Tue from the ASIS 2010 conference and the Dallas PD tour. Follow #ASIS10 hash tag for tweets from Dallas!)

For more posts on ASIS 2010, see:

For more posts on social media for business, see:

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

October 6, 2010

#ASIS10 Giveaway: Firetide Devil Duckie Is Retiring!

Filed under: Physical Security,Wireless Mesh — kseniacoffman @ 2:30 pm
Tags: , ,
Firetide devil duckie

The "infamous" Firetide devil duckie

Well, technically we retired the “infamous” (as some people used to say) devil duckies a few years ago. At every trade show we’d give out several thousands of them. At Interop 2005 it was mentioned as the most memorable give-away. But the company grew up, and the devil duckie was deemed not serious enough.

We recently came across the last two boxes, so we will be handing them out at the ASIS 2010 show in Dallas. When they are gone, they are gone! Be sure to get yours at our booth 3824. Stop by early if you want to get one; they may not last long.

If you are on twitter, follow @firetide and @kseniacoffman for updates from the show. Official Twitter hash tag is #ASIS10. I will also be attending the ASIS tour of the Dallas Police Department wireless surveillance system and monitoring center (Monday October 10), so look for my updates on that as well.

Dallas has been using Firetide since 2007 for their municipal video mesh system, and that was one of the deployments that put Firetide on the map for public safety video surveillance. So it will be very rewarding to see the system live.

See also:

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

March 4, 2010

Are Security Trade Shows Still Relevant?

Oct. 2010 update: This post was written around ISC West 2010, but the discussion is still applicable to ASIS 2010.  If you are on twitter, follow @firetide and @kseniacoffman for updates from the show. I will also be attending the ASIS tour of the Dallas Police Department wireless surveillance system and monitoring center (Monday October 10), so look for my updates on that as well. Firetide will be at ASIS in booth 3824).

Below commentary is a guest post by Severin Sorensen, President and CEO at Sikyur LLC, reprinted with permission from his comments on IP Video Market Info LinkedIn group’s discussion on the upcoming ISC West trade show in Las Vegas. (And of course Firetide will be exhibiting at ISC West – our 5th year.)

Severin offers excellent commentary on the state of the security industry, and his insights are especially valuable since, as a security consultant, he is involved with the projects at the very beginning. Here’s his take:

“Conventions and trade shows have been hard hit during this downturn, and ISC West is no exception. From the map, you can clearly see how much trade show space open at this late hour — and this was surely not the case in 2007 when they were filled early upstairs, and also filled a huge downstairs section with booths nearest the registration area. The trade show was also noticeably impacted last year (the 2009 show) coming some six months after the September 2008 economic market crash, however the impact of the economic crash on the trade show floor exhibit space was muted as many companies had pre-booked their exhibits a year in advance and their sunk costs were non-refundable, so this surely lessened the financial blow to the organization in 2009.

So what does lower expected booth sales and attendance at ISC West this year mean to the industry? Continued tight economic times. Many consultants idle. New construction starts of security projects slow to be released. CFOs and CEOs making incremental quarterly go/no-go decisions, not annually as before the crash. And for the security industry investor — an amazing market consolidation opportunity to purchase for fractions of company worth companies that are under-capitalized, picking apart and purchasing companies among the living dead at low multiples on actual 2009 earnings — which should have the vulture capitalists salivating — what an opportunity. Thucydides said it best — “The strong do what they can, the weak suffer what they must.” We are headed into a consolidation boom as there is much private equity capital waiting in the wings for just such an opportunity. My own market forecast calls for 2-3 more years of difficult times in the broader market, and perhaps another year for the security market, but down the market will go yet again. January 2010 was absolute murder for the integrators and suppliers — a near market seizure — wait for the results to be reported and you will see. We are all part of a bigger market event going on.

So what does this all mean to me? ISC West is still one of the two most important security shows in the USA held annually (the other being ASIS), and it is a must attend for me. Indeed, it is more important than ever before for me as a security advisor and management consultant, to lay eyes on the companies that remain in business, to take a snap shot and review of the industry, in order to make sensible recommendations to my clients and design projects on who will remain on my spec list for equipment and services in the future. The networking, off-floor hotel meetings, strategic partnership opportunities, private equity meetings, will be better this year than has been seen in many years. So yes, there will be fewer exhibiting vendors, but the show and the total event is more important this year as it is a “survivors” photo opportunity, and chance to network and make better plans to navigate the choppy waters of this economic environment.”

Severin SorensenAbout the post author: Severin Sorensen, CPP is President and CEO at Sikyur LLC and is also Chairman of the Physical Security Council of ASIS International, the world’s largest security manager association with 35,000 members. Sorensen, in his private security management consulting practice since 1987, helps senior level-security professionals, and in particular, the Chief Security Officers and their direct-reports, adapt to changing environments of risk, regulation, and information technology convergence that are rapidly reshaping the security field. Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.

See also:

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

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