Supporting Security Services

Supporting security services with wireless mesh networks

Demonstrations, celebrations, festivals, and major sporting events - any large gathering of people - presents police and security services with a range of issues relating to public safety. Increasing the police presence on the ground is a natural and highly visual way of increasing the number of eyes looking out for potential problems. But modern technology enables public protectors to cover far more ground far more efficiently. No large scale, planned public event would take place now without enhanced surveillance in the form of secure and high-definition CCTV.

Owing to their temporary nature, these kinds of gatherings pose many challenges for the police, with additional coverage needing to be set up quickly, securely, and reliably in locations where existing infrastructure may be inadequate or simply non-existent. Rajant Corporation works alongside blue light and security services around the globe to provide support for forces who are dealing with tens or even hundreds of thousands of visitors by deploying the wireless infrastructure that supports secure and stable connectivity.

BUILDING CRUCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE

Without having the right wireless infrastructure in place, public safety organizations can be presented with limited or fragmented connectivity between on-theground personnel, vehicles, and command centers, creating serious and possibly lifethreatening gaps in situational awareness.

Building a new but temporary infrastructure is not easy, and the network must overcome many complex challenges, including potentially incompatible equipment, which can lead to public safety organizations being unable to receive realtime data. Also, inadequate bandwidth can affect the ability to access files such as on-scene video, aerial imagery, maps, and images in real-time. Significantly, many existing public safety networks lack adequate bandwidth for streaming video from remote cameras to first responders, especially while response teams are racing to an incident.

On-the-move visibility is critical to providing first responders with a clear picture of the situation they are about to encounter. This can be essential to protecting people and saving lives. It is also critical when it comes to monitoring large public events, enabling officers to effectively control crowds, manage traffic, and supply more “event eyes” for greater safety.

A ROYAL PROBLEM

In recent years, there have not been many more high-profile and large-scale public events than the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Six hundred guests were invited to attend the church, 2,640 members of the public were invited to watch from the Windsor Castle grounds, and the local Thames Valley Police prepared for 100,000 people to line the two-mile journey the couple would make to their reception. In that crowd could have been any of the 160 royal ‘stalkers’ identi- fied and monitored by a special police unit.

Thames Valley Police needed to provide extra CCTV coverage of the crowds as part of the security arrangements being put into place in the small English village where the wedding was taking place. This was especially important given the route for the post-wedding processions of the royal couple as this was through the winding streets of Windsor and up through Windsor Castle’s Long Walk. Rajant was chosen to install the wireless infrastructure. In just under three days, Rajant was able to rapidly deploy eleven cameras with thirteen of its BreadCrumb® nodes, providing a high-speed, robust CTTV network. This ensured the whole area would be securely monitored with footage made available at multiple surveillance points and delivered in real-time in high definition.

But it was clear that a conventional point-to-point/multipoint network set-up would not work in the urban environment of Windsor. Only a true mesh network would provide the resilience and coverage required, especially at crucial points where network fiber infrastructure, for the essential additional cameras, was unavailable.

MESH INFRASTRUCTURE DEALS WITH A MASSIVE DEMAND FOR IMAGES

Unlike traditional mesh, Rajant’s private Kinetic Mesh® networks offer reliable, intelligent, and secure wireless broadband connectivity that not only survives but thrives in evolving and mobility-driven environments. It forms a “living” mesh network that can move with and adapt to the evolving communication requirements of public safety organizations. Crucially, Rajant’s network can seamlessly integrate with existing communications infrastructure, which was vital when linking together newly installed and existing CCTV cameras at the royal wedding.

Kinetic Mesh also provides high bandwidth with high throughput and low latency across networks. This was vital in a situation where large amounts of video data needed to be delivered fast and when massive amounts of wireless output from broadcasters, other security organizations, and the general public could have prevented transmission of the vital imagery. According to Thames Valley Police, “The imagery provided over the Rajant network was several seconds ahead of the television broadcasters covering the event and met the expectations of our users.”

But size and speed are nothing if the system is not secure. Rajant BreadCrumbs, fitted to cameras around the royal wedding location, offered many levels of encryption to protect the network from devices and people accessing them directly up to and including the use of B military-grade encryption. Thanks to Rajant, the delivery of fast, stable and high-definition CCTV was achieved. Hundreds of thousands of visitors and guests in Windsor, who wanted to catch a glimpse of the royal couple, were effectively covered during the wedding - ensuring that the day was enjoyable, but more importantly, safe for all those involved.

A REAL-LIFE WILDFIRE DEMONSTRATION

The royal wedding was a planned event that, even with the difficulties the urban environment created, it had a defined route and ran with clockwork timing. Emergency services can benefit from a Kinetic Mesh network in much more dynamic settings too.

Back in October 2019, the heat from the sun combined with winds gusting through the foothills of El Capitán Canyon in California and sparked a bush fire in the overly dry, desert hills. Word reached the emergency services and crews from the Santa Barbara County Fire Department, Cal Fire, the U.S Forest Service, and other agencies who were immediately dispatched to contain the blaze before it spread. More than 200 firefighters were dispatched to fight the fire and reinforce containment lines with helicopters and drones in the air and bulldozers on the ground.

Nearby, members of Rajant and its technology partner Dejero were planning to meet with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department and the Department of Homeland Security to deliver a live safety demonstration. The proposed solution uses mesh radio communications, bonded cellular, and satellite technologies to bridge the communication gap in locations where signals are often dropped and lost to provide firefighters with the mission-critical connectivity they seek. Realizing how it could use the equipment brought for the demonstration to help in a real-life situation, the Rajant and Dejero team systematically offered support to the fire department, and Rajant BreadCrumb nodes were mounted to the fire-breaking bulldozers. These 30-ton dozers, manned by trained firefighters, uprooted vegetation and eliminated the food needed to fuel the fire.

The firefighters manning the bulldozers were now able to communicate wirelessly from within the smoke-filled valley. As the flames and smoke created conditions with minimal visibility, the firefighters were able to utilize the data from both terrestrial and aerial sources to guide the dozers through the terrain. Video footage and data was sent from the bulldozers to the tactical truck and central command post over cellular and SAT networks. The SAT comms on the vehicle were powered by Kymeta’s flat-panel dish technology, enabling true “comms on the move” to best leverage Rajant Kinetic Mesh. Four days after it started, the fire was 100% contained. Four hundred twenty acres had burned with no structures damaged and no reported injuries.

MESH MAKES A DIFFERENCE

Making sure that police, firefighters, and emergency units can access and send large amounts of data from wherever they are and in real-time can make a big difference to the security of planned and unplanned events. A wireless mesh network can support emergency services by ensuring there are no single points of failure throughout the network – whether individuals or equipment are stationary or in motion. In complex and fast-moving environments, this can thwart potentially high-risk situations before they have a chance to develop.

This article originally appeared in the July / August 2020 issue of Security Today.

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