"Integrators must know in advance what they are trying to achieve," Sherman said. If it is video then the appropriate video mesh technology is called for. If it is alarm data transmission then only a system designed for the transmission of alarm packet data should be used.
In other communications systems the first sign of a failure is the failure of the communications medium to deliver the critical data. This is unacceptable in any form of security communication networks.
"A system that is ideal for the transmission of one form of data may be a total disaster for another type of data," Sherman continued. "Setting up communication networks of any type should never be done without considerable forethought and planning."
That is why integrators and customers must be honest with themselves and select a mesh network that is optimized for the purpose at hand and not assume all data is the same. "To assume so will only lead to disappointment," Sherman said.
Integrators also should review the connection options for a particular mesh system, looking at ease of connecting security system components to a mesh access point.
Furlong likes the improvements that have been made in mesh networking over the past couple of years. For one thing, they can expand to two-way communications with panels they connect to transceivers.
"At one point, they could only transmit 'singles' to us. We now can send simple commands back over the network," Furlong said. They are able to arm/disarm systems, change codes or adjust and modify zones when the customers require.
"It's not the same as doing it over a phone line," Furlong said. However, given the situations where mesh is typically deployed, the added functionality is appreciated.
Cost is always a factor but should not be the only consideration, the experts agree. The good news here is that prices are coming down. Competitive pressures always cause drops in prices. As newer models are introduced the older versions often are offered at a discounted price. As the market expands, some observers feel prices will drop.
"We haven't seen costs drop yet," Furlong said. However, he said that there are applications where mesh is the only practical solution.
"We are getting more opportunities that would make the mesh network an attractive alternative," Furlong added.
Mesh networking is a go-to signaling communications infrastructure that's getting the attention it deserves by a host of different vertical markets, end-users and systems integrators. The technology continues to provide reliable communications, making it a fit for security and other value-add applications.
Did You Know?
- Mesh network vendors can employ signals built into the network to notify the alarm company that a system is being overloaded or that a network component is not performing to specifications.
- Mesh systems must have in-depth diagnostics to continually check the operation of the network to ensure its reliability and operation.
Sell or Up Sell
In many areas and applications, a mesh network is the only practical solution. If topography or distance make installing a wired backbone impossible, an integrator should look to a mesh radio application.
In the case of the railroad yard, any other application would have been cost-prohibitive.
In the case of a mall, or a campus, where other security services are offered, a mesh network makes a nice up-sell or add-on to a customer who wants to protect both the physical property and the people who are visiting the campus.
Sign Up For Secured Cities
Slated for May 10 through 11 in Atlanta and sponsored by Securityinfowatch.com, SD&I and STE magazines, Secured Cities is the only education and networking conference exclusively focused on municipal video surveillance. Secured Cities 2011 is specifically designed for the needs of city managers, law enforcement leaders and systems integrators who are operating, developing or implementing municipal video systems used for security, law enforcement and even traffic monitoring. Mesh networking will be part of the program's discussion from those who have successfully implemented this and other technologies in their cities. Visit www.securedcities.com to register and make hotel reservations.
Curt Harler is a freelance writer and regular contributor to SD&I magazine. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.