Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sign of Times

This must be a sign of times: I contacted my counterpart at a company that provides complementary products to Firetide's with an offer to collaborate on a PR project. After a few days I got this email from someone else at the company:

"XYZ forwarded me a voice mail message you left maybe a week or so ago about a PR opportunity regarding [the deployment].

XYZ is no longer with the company, and I’m following up on their activities. I’d like to talk more about this with you at your earliest convenience. Please feel free to drop me a note, or call me at the number below."

Ouch! I contacted my counterpart (thanks, LinkedIn), to see if they moved someplace else, and with an offer to send me a resume, but did not hear back.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Security Magazine Story

Security Magazine's Bill Zalud posted a story from an interview with Orlando Police Department and Firetide's integrator Avrio Group:

What's in Your Playbook

It’s that excellent hang time in the clouds that’s in the 2009 playbook for Agent Jeff Blye of the Orlando Police Department. Special events – from sports and car racing to political rallies – are a growing business, which also carry unique and sensitive security concerns. Security industry analysts contend that – this year – special event security will be one of the few shining lights in terms of growth and use of security technologies.

But for public law enforcement agencies and private enterprises, special events have an additional challenge: Often, events call for more and higher level security involving agencies and organizations that may not routinely interact and for a short period of time.

Systems integrator Mark Jules of Avrio Group, who advises to Blye, describes a solution that is based on wireless mesh and that can be implemented atop existing street light and utility poles for a temporary high security fix. “It’s a combination of a camera, a wireless device and all the electrical components needed to simply hang the unit on a pole and plug power into it.” His firm worked with the City of Phoenix when they hosted the Super Bowl, in Denver for the Democrat National Convention; St. Paul for the Republican National Convention and also works for a variety of federal agencies.

Blye, an Orlando Police detective with primary responsibility for electronic surveillance, is assigned to a multi-agency task force covering IP video surveillance within Orlando and Central Florida area.

His 2009 game plan: “Our idea was to purchase wireless mesh technology surveillance equipment for deployment at varying activities whether it be a county fair or a National Socialist Movement rally or at large immigration rallies.” In anticipation of special events challenges this year, the solution was deployed at the 12 Hours of Sebring Race and a Barack Obama rally.

“Once you’ve got this system configured, it’s basically pointing antennas at each other for it to talk. At the Sebring Race, we were able to set up an eight camera system within a couple hours. We had it configured within an hour or so out of the back of my truck. And then the hardest part of any installation is just getting elevated to mount the cameras up on poles. So that’s actually the most time consuming aspect of any installation that I do is just basically the site survey. What poles am I going to put it on, how am I going to get up there to hang it and where am I going to get power from?”

Boxes from the integrator provide an AC outlet. Blye runs an extension cord down to any pole that doesn’t have power already and power it off a simple generator.

Blye’s team is bigger than the integrator and Firetide as the wireless mesh provider. “We are part of the Target Department Stores’ Safe Cities Initiative. Our system is IRIS or Innovative Response to Improved Safety. And the first phase is 17 cameras that are going to be deployed on wireless mesh backhauled to the Orlando Police Department where we already have a preexisting command post.”

Such 2009 solutions are versatile. “I can take analog output from a preexisting surveillance system, put it into a video encoder which now converts that analog to IP, plug a mesh node into it, assure that it’s in range of my other mesh nodes and can then look at the cameras from that analog output.”

Hang time this year may get longer. Said Blye, “Our school board in Orange County has cameras at all their schools. It would be nice that if there was a high risk incident at a school I can then tie into their system with a mesh node, stick an antenna outside, put a mesh node on a command vehicle and manage the scene.”

This year, it’s obvious that wireless mesh will go well beyond video surveillance for special events, as one example. Jules’ firm is seeing customers that want to also pull access control, gunshot detection and data. “And all of that can be done, you know, back through the Pole Cam as result of the mesh,” he said.

Firetide’s Ksenia Coffman commented, “We set out to develop a reliable wireless infrastructure. And it’s very similar to getting a distributed wireless Ethernet switch. So really it’s the same connectivity that you would get from your cable except that you can place the nodes in any location you need. Video is really the test of wireless mesh technology or any wireless technology because of the bandwidth requirements for evidence grade video.”

I really need to stop using "really" so much!

Inaugural post

Yay! First post on the newly created blog. I plan to blog about being a marketing professional in Silicon Valley. It will be a bit difficult as I'll only be able to write about the things for "public consumption" (wearing my PR hat), but we'll see how it goes.