Wireless Security

The Wireless Linchpin

Public safety drives wireless into a 2010 recovery

This year is the turning point for the deployment of large-scale, multi-service municipal wireless mesh networks expanding upon their public safety wireless networks for a variety of municipal and government services.

The advent of larger, multi-service wireless mesh networks is being driven by a number of confluent factors, including proven market and technology leadership in city-owned video surveillance networks and the federal stimulus package, which is expected to dramatically increase spending on state and local infrastructures.

The wireless infrastructure market (cellular, mesh, WiMAX, Wi-Fi), while anticipated to experience an overall decline in 2009 as a result of the economic crisis, is now positioning for recovery in 2010 and beyond, according to IDC.

Certain segments, such as mesh and WiMAX, are even expected to demonstrate robust growth rates of 20 to 30 percent going forward.

Firetide's assessment of the resurgence in the municipal wireless market is in line with the public request for proposal information the company has been monitoring. After a dip in the fourth quarter of 2008, RFPs for public safety wireless infrastructure, including video surveillance and other high-bandwidth applications, are on the upswing. RFPs for public Wi-Fi access, although less numerous than public safety RFPs, have exhibited steady growth since early 2008, quadrupling in 15 months.

Expanding on Public Safety

In the past, while other vendors struggled to fi nd the right business model for enabling municipal wireless mesh networks, Firetide focused on providing wireless infrastructure mesh technology for video surveillance, which is the most demanding municipal application on a wireless network.

Most industry pundits now admit that public safety, rather than free public Wi-Fi, has become the linchpin for wireless municipal mesh networks. The public Wi-Fi model was forced from the beginning because of the limitations of underperforming networks. Firetide took a different route and focused on developing the technology and public safety market to prove the viability of products for large-scale, multi-service municipal mesh networks.

Municipalities have already begun to plan deployments of citywide wireless infrastructure, having proved the viability of the technology in public safety applications fi rst. In the United States, more than 300 municipalities have deployed Firetide-enabled wireless video surveillance systems and are expanding the use of their wireless infrastructure to include other applications that protect and serve their communities.

Internationally, Korea has deployed a number of municipal wireless mesh networks. For example, one covers 700 square miles on Jeju Island for weather monitoring and emergency preparedness, and another in the country's capital Seoul supports more than 10 applications: video surveillance for public safety, tourist information over Wi-Fi, video cameras for monitoring wildlife, sensor connectivity for water-level monitoring and event location services such as fi nding missing children in the park. Korea's second largest city, Busan, has deployed Firetide to give residents and visitors anytime access to wireless Internet information services.

New Capabilities

Now, new MIMO-based products are increasing the performance of the previous generation of products, making wireless-fi ber performance available at a fraction of the cost and time needed for deployment of wired infrastructure. Early Firetide customers, including the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, are achieving up to 300 MBps performance in outdoor environments.

These customers report that the new infrastructure mesh product is delivering up to 10 times the performance of any other wireless mesh network equipment, giving them greater flexibility in the design and deployment of their infrastructure mesh networks and enabling the addition of new applications and services on a single network, which was never before possible.

Strong Demand

Transportation and smart grid projects will contribute signifi cantly to the growth of large-scale municipal wireless mesh networks, as communication infrastructure and physical infrastructure become one. To improve the effi ciency of the nation's smart grid and transportation networks, utilities and transportation agencies need not only a sound physical infrastructure but also a way to share data applications, provide security and enable communications. New 900 MHz non-line-of-sight mesh is an ideal solution for street-level connectivity, where buildings and foliage often present a challenge. Meanwhile, high-throughput mobile infrastructure enabled by MIMO mesh solutions will provide real-time security and other applications in the transportation sector. Integrated video surveillance solutions simplify integration and installation of video security deployments in the core municipal vertical and new markets, including transportation.

Broadband initiatives tie in well with the new administration's plans to improve the country's critical infrastructure. To improve the effi ciency of ports, roads and cities, municipalities need a sound physical infrastructure and a way to communicate easily and seamlessly.

There is a renewed focus on urban revitalization and economic development where wireless networking plays a critical role by supporting public safety initiatives through real-time video and communications, with wireless video surveillance; for example, increasingly serving as a force multiplier and an offi cer safety tool. With the funding from the stimulus package, multi-service, large-scale networks will become the norm, rather than an exception.

Firetide also sees an even bigger focus on mobile applications—voice, video and data—to serve municipal and transportation markets. Always-on connectivity and visibility will improve productivity and public safety, whether on city streets, public transit or transportation corridors.

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