Cutting the Cable with Wireless Mesh

Industry leaders and experts are discussing the growing need for wireless capabilities and single solutions for security. Connection through “hot spots” no longer measures up to the standards of the developing security market. Some have even gone as far as referencing wireless mesh technology as a “must-have” or a “necessity.” With the recent buzz on mesh networking solutions, it's hard to ignore the question, ‘why wireless mesh now?'


One significant feature of wireless mesh that explains the increasing number of deployments in police departments is its invaluable range of distance and high bandwidth it can travel across, providing a greater opportunity for ease-of-use systems.

A communications network made up of radio nodes organized in a mesh topology, wireless mesh networks are multihop systems in which data is transferred through multiple nodes. Wireless nodes are able to connect to each other and though one node can stop operating, the functionality of the other nodes proves it as a reliable solution.

“I think the main reason we are seeing an increase in wireless mesh applications is because it settled into being the ‘killer' of wireless technology,” said Bill Dickerson, founder, president and director, AgileMesh Inc. “The lack of municipality installs back when the technology first came out was because no one could find an economic reason to put it into the municipal network. It was way too expensive at the time and there just wasn't anything driving that need. Now, you'll find that some municipality installations are mainly in high-crime areas where they'll put in a small piece of mesh in the high crime districts, not necessarily blanketing the whole community.”


One trend we are seeing is that in public municipalities. Police departments across the country are upgrading their technology in integrating wireless mesh to increase community protection and deter crime. Mega-cities such as Denver , Chicago , Ill. , Phoenix and Dallas deploy wireless mesh technology from providers including FireTide, Los Gatos , Calif. , Avrio Group, Easton , Md. and AgileMesh Inc., Richardson , Texas .

The period between 2002 and 2004 was the beginning of commercial solutions,” said Umberto Malesci, president of Fluidmesh Networks. “We've been talking about wireless mesh for a very long time, but more so in academic environments. Right now, the technology is getting more traction in police departments because okey applications in CCTV and the topic of safety and security. Today, police departments and municipalities are seeing the greatest use of wireless mesh.”

Employing one or two connection arrangements, full mesh networks or partial mesh networks, the differentiation between what one provider can offer from another is partly dependent on the number of ad hocs a radio system is able to provide.

One leading wireless mesh provider, BelAir Networks Inc., Kanata , Ontario , already sees the trends of mobile nodes being used in squad cars.

“The mobile nodes provide an officer with a fully wireless system enabling him to gain easier access,” said Dave Park, vice president of Product Marketing, BelAir Networks. “This type of node has already been deployed in transportation systems including train stations.”

Recent deployments of wireless mesh using BelAir Networks include the cities of Temple and Washington , Ga. The broadband wireless network deployed in Temple supports streaming video and mobile voice in police cars and provides access to data applications to officers in the field.

“On the border between two states we have higher crime rates than neighboring cities and wanted to protect our citizens by adding a high-speed public safety and wireless video security network to increase the eyes on the streets,” said Jay Repetto, Chief of Police, Temple Police Department. “Immediately following installation we already saw a decrease in crime, as the network is a visible deterrent to theft and other crimes.”


So what other areas can we expect to see wireless mesh progressing into?

With the trend of wireless mesh deployment by police departments nationwide already in effect, people are getting more comfortable and familiar with the idea of having that community security. The transportation market can expect to see wireless mesh continuing to develop, with deployments in train systems, airports and seaports already in effect. Industrial plants, corporate campuses and parks and business centers will also see more wireless mesh deployments.



Wireless Mesh Deployments in the U.S.


AgileMesh and Firetide deploy video surveillance and wireless mesh at the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event, Phoenix International Raceway, Ariz.

Cisco Systems Inc ., San Jose , Calif. , launched its Wi-Fi mesh solution in Lebanon , Ore. , covering 40 percent of the town.


BelAir Networks deployed its mesh networking solutions to the city of Minneapolis , Minn. in the wake of the 2007 35 W bridge collapse above the Mississippi River