Friday, June 20, 2008

Not Just Your Old Man's Traffic Cams...

Wireless Video! What a wonderful phrase! To think you can build an IP Video CCTV System almost completely without wires, and open it up to the masses or keep it as controlled as you need it…

A major state in the Mid-Atlantic area has recently undergone a phased approach to improving their traffic camera system. They have been placing more and more cameras along the major roadways for the purpose of traffic safety and as a secondary purpose to provide a means by which the public might see a snapshot of the cameras (at 5 minute intervals). Answering the age-old question… How long will I be stuck in traffic this morning?

Nothing new here, right? For years, states (and companies) have been providing traffic cams for emergency purposes, and for traffic reports from your favorite news stations. Except one thing, MOST of those cameras have required a long strand of fiber laid before they can be implemented. This can be a costly endeavor, not to mention time consuming. In addition, consider the major investment requirements to trench and bury fiber, or to carefully pull the fiber through existing underground piping.

Enter Wireless traffic cams. The speed at which these cameras can be added to an existing network is extremely high. A single lift truck, and the right permits, allows a company to mount the camera and associated wireless transmitters or access points (like Verint’s Wireless 5.X equipment, or Motorola’s MotoMESH) to the existing poles along the roads. Using Verint’s Turbo SPCF Protocol, up to 28 Mbps ACTUAL bandwidth is likely, and Motorola MotoMESH, has great redundant path capability. These are just two examples of how technology is making great strides for Wireless Video.

But be careful when considering which product(s) to use! Not all products are the same, and not all products should be used for Wireless CCTV. There’s a little known issue with wireless technology called “Hidden Node” that can cause significant problems for the end user. When collisions occur, the Master Unit says, let’s slow things down a bit, dropping the bit rate to very low levels. This can be disastrous for a Wireless CCTV System. Verint has a technology that organizes the nodes to give recognition to all, so collisions rarely occur. If they do, the Master steps in and re-organizes, and lets everyone continue at their regular speeds. If one camera shows a higher level of activity, the Master allows more openings for it to send its packets. Not many other products deal with the Hidden Node well.

Motorola has a means by which a MESH can be used, so if a failure happens within a system, a redundant path can be immediately routed, and the loss of connectivity is almost eliminated. This is great for a city wide solution where you may have many users trying to access the video system.

Using MESH to get video INTO the network is perhaps not a good move. Mainly because, if a wireless network is built to handle a certain amount of video traffic, and then you try to put a whole bunch more video on that particular leg, jams, and collisions occur more frequently. Now, put these two applications (Verint to get the video into the network and Motorola to serve it out), and you have a GREAT solution, which is highly reliable.

Just food for thought…

- Security Caffeine

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