Case Study: Housing America

Wireless mesh radio networks protect housing complex facility wide


When your facility is a multi-faceted, multifamily development that needs video security and additional safety and accountability, you need robust and reliable communications. In the example of the Milford Redevelopment & Housing Partnership (MRHP), Milford, Conn., a mesh network radio communications deployment fit the bill.

In 2011, MRHP released an open architecture bid for a facilities-wide wireless video security and access control system. The objective of the wireless infrastructure was to provide a highly reliable and available high-speed 100MB connection to multiple cameras that would allow high quality remote real-time viewing to system users across the network.

MRHP provides housing assistance to low income residents through the management of programs such as Low Rent Public Housing and the Housing Choice Voucher Program—Section 8. These programs are income based and the eligibility requirements are set by HUD.

The MRHP facilities span nine main properties in Milford and include both high-rise apartment buildings and multifamily residential complexes. MRHP Executive Director Anthony Vasiliou wanted to provide a high level of tenant and public safety across all properties, including comprehensive video security coverage of all interior and exterior public spaces and integrated access control for several of the larger building complexes. Vasiliou is a major proponent of using technology as a force multiplier, allowing small housing authority staffs to provide a greater range of tenant and facilities safety and protection services.

 

Challenges presented

The main technology challenges were the integration of the various vendor products into a leading edge, integrated and cohesive video management solution and implementing a highly available IP infrastructure using both wired and wireless connections to cameras. In addition, cameras had to literally be mounted in lots of interesting and untraditional spaces.

The main wireless challenges for the project were the sensitivity of the megapixel cameras and propensity for latency. In addition, there was a shortness of certain communications links in the multi-family building complex. Finally, there were acute vertical angles of certain links, from high rise roofs to neighboring complexes, often across city streets. In the end, Fluidmesh radios were specified to meet the challenges of the project.

 

Why wireless mesh?

The main benefit of deploying wireless at MRHP was the significant cost savings versus trenching and piping for the numerous cameras installed to cover the perimeter of the housing properties. Many of the required camera locations were one- or two-story multifamily residential buildings, with no common wiring or LAN network in place. Wireless connections proved to be the only viable way to install those cameras and connect them back to the network. An additional benefit was the form factor of the wireless mesh product; with the combined radio and antenna, the installations were aesthetically pleasing, unobtrusive and contained a small footprint. This was important to the overall look of the properties and the desire by the end user to keep security devices in general unobtrusive.

 

Overview and project planning

Initiated in September 2011, the project was completed in March 2012. Valley Communications Systems Inc., Chicopee, Mass., responded to the public bid along with many other vendors and provided the best design at the best cost to win the business. “Fluidmesh was specified in the bid as one of the recommended wireless vendors for the project, because we knew from experience that they built excellent wireless solutions,” noted Project Integrator Fernando Flores, Valley Communications Systems. “Fluidmesh provided us outstanding support in our wireless network design process for MRHP, as well excellent installation support and training during the implementation,” he added. “The deployed MITO series radio is easy to install and configure and the form factor is durable, small, light and easy to work with. We have lots of previous experience designing wireless IP camera networks for schools, reservoirs, large enterprises and other housing authorities.” The MITO series is a MIMO-based tri-band wireless Ethernet product line designed and manufactured specifically for multi-service backhaul applications.

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