Mesh Without Wires

March 16, 2010

Wireless Video Surveillance – IWCE 2010 Presentations

Filed under: Technology — kseniacoffman @ 11:42 am
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If you did not get to attend IWCE, here are the presentations I used:

Fixed Wireless Infrastructure for Security and Surveillance
(From IWCE session: Wireless Video Surveillance 101)

Mobile Real-time Video Surveillance
(From IWCE session: Wireless Killer Apps)

Also, check out my blog post with notes from Wireless Surveillance 101 session: The Many Interpretations of Wireless Mesh. You may also find useful a presentation on Video Surveillance Trends and Basics by Steve Surfaro of Axis Communications, who was also part of Wireless Surveillance 101 workshop: download 20 MB Google Docs PPT file.

February 26, 2010

Is Wireless ‘Easy’? (Video Surveillance, That is)

Filed under: Technology — kseniacoffman @ 1:17 pm
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Is wireless video surveillance easy?Earlier this month, Firetide ‘tweeted’ a headline from Government Video magazine Wireless Video Surveillance: Affordable Easy Solutions, which prompted a response from Sam Pfeifle of Security Systems News:

@firetide: Integrators I spoke with would not describe wireless as “easy.” Said requires “significantly more engineering.”

So was the tweet misleading or sugar-coating?

For full disclosure, we offered up a customer (Chief of Police at Cal State Long Beach) for Government Video to interview, but Firetide itself was not interviewed for the story, so the headline and the story angle were Government Video’s decisions. The chief stated his opinions, and since he saw no issues in the deployment and operation of the system, for him it was ‘easy.’ Quoting from the Government Video article:

“Installing the Firetide system using wireless made it affordable,” he adds. “The expense and disruption that cabling would have caused were just not practical. With wireless, it is easy to set up new surveillance locations, and to relocate cameras when necessary.”

In reality, there are different interpretations of ‘easy.’ ‘Easy’ from the end-user’s perspective means limited disruptions to business operations, no architectural approvals to go through, no sidewalks to bring up to code, let alone dealing with unsightly construction, piles of mud and noise. After the system is installed, it’s ‘easy’ to add or move cameras.

On the other hand, wireless is definitely not ‘easy’ for the designers, integrators, and installers. Wireless is considerably more difficult than a wired IP video system. Not only the designer has to be IP and networking-savvy, they also have to understand RF. A lot of things have to happen right for the system to appear ‘easy’ from the end-user perspective.

The success of this deployment is a testament to the great job the Cal State PD’s IT department, the installer (Moore Electric) and Firetide’s field sales engineering and tech support team did to make sure that the system was specified, designed and installed properly. To start off, the IT department did their own legwork, as the IT manager said in the 2009 press release from Firetide:

Before selecting Firetide, the school’s police department turned to neighboring law enforcement agencies, including the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department and the Santa Monica Police Department, for guidance. “Our extensive due diligence really paid off. We knew that the wireless technology used in this system would be essential to its success – choppy or granular video caused by limited bandwidth can be a critical flaw when it comes to surveillance. We were able to avoid any of these issues from day one.”

Yes, the great advantage of wireless is that it streamlines the installations, creates fewer disruptions and is generally ‘easy’ on the end-customers. But you have to select the right technology, the right designer and the right installer to do it “the easy way.”

See also:

February 9, 2010

Cal State Long Beach Wireless Video Surveillance – One Year Later

Filed under: Technology — kseniacoffman @ 9:35 pm
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In one of the previous posts, I described what can lead to a “deployment from hell.” In this installment, however, I’ll focus on the deployment that has worked just as expected – wireless video surveillance system at Cal State Long Beach University. The system was deployed in late 2008 and we announced it in early 2009. The system incorporates Firetide outdoor wireless mesh nodes, Bosch analog cameras, and InvdigoVision encoders and video management. The system was designed by the University PD’s communications department, and installed by Moore Electric.

Government Video recently posted an update on the deployment: Wireless Video Surveillance: Affordable Easy Solutions. The key take away – there were no surprises, the system just works. On the sensational side, which local media like to cover, the PD’s Chief describes the incident where the police were  able to track a suspect on camera until his arrest. The video detailing the incident and showing the video of the suspect is posted below.

Here’s the link to the original announcement: Wireless Surveillance Protects Facilities and Students at California State University. As our CEO said: “You cannot put a price on students’ safety, but when technology makes security monitoring ‘always-on’ in places you could only cover by foot patrols in the past, that’s a win for any school or university.”

February 2, 2010

How to Report the News – About Crime Cameras, or Virtually Anything

This hilarious video was making rounds on the internet over the weekend. While it reminded me of reports on local news, it is also quite apt in highlighting many of the “crime camera” news stories. “Dowdy kitchen man” is often replaced by a representative of a local ACLU chapter and/or by a police officer, who may or may not sound defensive depending on the tone of the newscast. [Warning: the BBC video below contains R-rated language.]

Compare with:

Austin, TX

Lancaster, PA

Cincinnati, OH – Follow the link

Related posts:

January 28, 2010

Wireless Security and Surveillance Presentation

Filed under: Technology — kseniacoffman @ 10:37 pm
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Slideshare is a great tool to share presentations and documents. Here’s Firetide’s most popular one – with 500+ views already. If you’d like to listen in to the webinar that these slides were used in, here’s the link: Webinar Replay (no registration required).

Feel free to comment – anything we are missing?

January 22, 2010

Why Some Wireless Video Surveillance Projects Fail

Filed under: Technology — kseniacoffman @ 11:58 am
Tags: , ,

After the publication of my article on what sells in wireless video surveillance, including my suggestion to wireless manufacturers to “stop selling, and start delivering”, John Honovich of – in his characteristic take-no-prisoners style – commented that Firetide was akin to “the kettle calling the pot black.” Granted, we’ve had our share of “deployments from hell,” but they’ve gotten farther and fewer between, especially since the introduction of our dual-radio product line in 2007.

It still stands true that wireless deployments have a slim margin of error, as I said in the article, and much depends on correct installation and proper selection and placement of antennas.

So why and how do some wireless video deployments fail? Here’s an example: I was copied on an interesting email exchange right before Christmas. As now the tradition, we sent out holiday greetings to our channel partners via email (yes, save the trees). One recipient responded: “These are not happy times. OUR DEPLOYMENT IS NOT WORKING!!!”

I alerted the tech support department and our local sales person. Here’s what the local guy emailed back to the tech support team:

“Just to give you all a short history, this integrator originally tried to install this deployment with omni-directional antennas from the roof of a multi-story hospital building to omni-directional antennas on each of the light poles where they had cameras. The signals were missing each other as the Fresnel zone elevations were out of line.

Per our suggestion they switched over to directional antennas. However, they cheapened out and purchased [non-Firetide approved antennas]. As a courtesy (because I live in the area) I went on site to see why they were still having problems. They had panel antennas at the poles but were trying to use 120 degree sector antennas to pick up multiple poles. I recommended purchasing more wireless mesh nodes but that was rejected. So they only other option was to use splitters to multiple panels which they accepted.  But because they did not want to spend the money or take the time to purchase LMR400 cable, they terminated some RG59 cable and it worked.

I’m not too surprised they are now having problems, but they really aren’t Firetide problems. If you cannot resolve the situation remotely, we can send them the contact information for our professional services to fix their system.”

As it turns out, the frantic email was sent out by the office manager (who was not familiar with the history of the deployment), and the GM of the company acknowledged that it was essentially their fault, and they will keep working on the issues.

So that’s [edit] one of the ways how wireless deployments can get the (occasional) black eye.

For information about how to avoid similar pitfalls, please view our presentation on wireless video surveillance on SlideShare.[Click here]

As always, comments are welcome! (Please note that if this is your first time commenting, your comment will be held for moderation. Otherwise, your comment will appear immediately.)

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