Planning a Wireless Security Network

Wireless camera over port

There is a ton of talk these days about wireless security and surveillance networks. The reason is simple – wireless and security/surveillance are a natural fit due to the excessive cost, disruption, and static nature of any wired equivalent. Wireless networks provide the flexibility and give security and surveillance professionals the freedom they need to add, move, or change components on an as-needed basis.

When it comes to planning a wireless security network though, there are several key considerations you should take into account:

  • Clearly define both performance AND price – There is a tendency for many project managers to emphasize cost of the network over the capabilities of the network. Instead, it is important to be very clear about your expectations for the network’s performance and what applications you want to run, then identify the price range. Otherwise, a vendor may meet your price but not meet your performance requirements.
  • Design a mission-critical network– Wireless security and surveillance networks should be built using Line of Sight (LOS) to each location (i.e., each surveillance camera location). Using wireless mesh to compensate for lack of LOS or poor link quality rarely yields positive results, and does not guarantee mission-critical performance at all times (especially when dealing with video).
  • Involve all communications departments in the planning – IP surveillance and wireless deployments require the skill sets and coordination of the IT, RF and CCTV departments – so successful deployments incorporate input from all groups. Historically, these groups have had very different roles and responsibilities but in wireless surveillance applications, the lines between roles get very blurry. Communications must remain open, or else problems can occur.
  • Location, Location, Location – It is important to identify where cameras really need to be and where the subsequent radios need to be to support each camera. When possible, it is best to place radios in locations where there are city-owned buildings so that you can mount them freely. Where there are no city-owned buildings nearby, look to establish public/private partnerships to allow you to use privately-owned buildings for mounting radios.
  • Pick your partners wisely – When it comes to wireless security networks, be sure to pick a quality partner that knows both wireless and security. Picking a quality integrator can facilitate everything from design to installation. It will make your life much easier and help control costs. Quality integrators also have the close relationships needed with the individual component manufacturers (wireless radios, cameras, security software, etc.) to help ensure the best possible performance of the network.
  • Look into government grants – Often times, wireless security networks are eligible for government funding – from Department of Homeland Security funding to broadband wireless grants. If you need help funding your network, take a look here for an overview of the grants available and how to apply click here.

-- Robb Henshaw, Director of Marketing at Proxim Wireless