What It Takes to Get Wireless Surveillance Right
a&s International | Date:
In addition to having a solid technical background in IP, it is critical to know how radio frequencies (RF) propagate. “When cellular carriers deploy networks, they don't just throw up cellular base stations in random locations,” said Geoffrey Smith, VP of Business Development and Strategic Accounts, Proxim Wireless. “It's the same thing, for wireless, with base stations and subscriber radios. You need to understand how to get a robust connection in non-LOS situations.” As with all video surveillance installations, installers need to understand camera positions. “Cameras themselves have different issues, depending on where the sunlight is, what time of day it is, or whether the lights are always on,” Smith said.
Wireless networks are often deployed outdoors, where they need to withstand the elements in the long term. “Proper weatherproofing tends to be overlooked,” said Xu Zou, Senior Director for Outdoor Strategy and Technologies, Aruba Networks. “As a result, the solution could work well immediately after deployment, but may fail over a longer period. Proper weatherproofing installation starts from selecting the right products certified to work in outdoor environments. Some choose inexpensive indoor products with an additional NEMA enclosure under the assumption that the unit will now work outdoors. Unfortunately, the lesson learned is that solutions end up costing much more because of system failures.”
Different climates and terrains will also require different deployments. “For example, if it's in an earthquake-prone zone, what kind of solution should you implement; what kind of housing would you need? How do you shelter the installations from a physical perspective? Upfront planning is key to ensuring the success of a project,” said Mrinalini Lakshminarayanan, Video Solutions Strategist, Motorola Solutions.
Related to both the environment and RF propagation is the problem of interference, a big factor to consider in any wireless deployment. “When you put up wireless devices in a city environment, there are already wireless devices in place,” Lakshminarayanan said. “It's critical, from a wireless perspective, to know the environment of the city. So if it's a local installer, it's important to know what other wireless equipment/systems exist. What are the challenges in wireless in that particular city? Most certification programs cover interference and other factors, but it's a question of how well you understand it, and how you can leverage the learning, research the information, follow the trends, and do installations to gain even more insight.”
More so than any other technical requirement, understanding the customer 's wants and needs is crucial. “These include current and future expansion requirements,” Zou said. “From experience, most projects fail not because of technical issues, but because of misunderstanding customer requirements.”
Other key questions include: “What are you trying to use this wireless solution for? How does it fit into the complete ecosystem of solutions?” Lakshminarayanan said. “It's a purposefully designed solution to deliver what's needed today, while keeping the future in mind. We want to ensure what we are putting in place is not going to be ripped out when trying to meet their needs two years from now.”
There is currently no interoperability among different vendors on the market. “For backbone applications, different vendors can be used on the same network,” said Cosimo Malesci, cofounder and VP of Sales and Marketing, Fluidmesh Networks. “The limit is that a radio from manufacturer A will not talk to a radio from manufacturer B through the wireless interface. This is because every manufacturer uses different routing and transmission protocols. There is really not a standard for wireless backbone that its all applications, and previous attempts to make this happen, uch as WiMAX, have not been successful.”
“The main reason for a single vendor deployment is because different vendors have different ways to minimize interference, improve transmission efficiency and optimize video quality,” Zou aid.
Interoperability will likely come in the future, but how far this reality is remains to be seen. Currently, Smith does not think that wireless deployments have the scale needed to drive standards and interoperability. But there are a few driving forces behind wireless interoperability. “As we go further, demand from customers and the migration to IP will drive vendors to be more interoperable and compatible,” Lakshminarayanan said. “Many wireless vendors have been trying to optimize their own product to work well together to develop some data capabilities. I'm sure there will be other steps taken for more interoperable solutions in the future.”