WIRED paths are physical and demand a physical conduit, be that a tray, a trench, a bore or pole mounting. And these physical paths are costly and time consuming to construct. On private sites these costs are significant, in public spaces they can be prohibitive, with the result that surveillance solutions often wind up with design compromises forced upon them by the expense of trenching, or by the need to conform themselves to existing systems of pits and trenches owned by utilities or public authorities. 
In some applications, trenching and boring might cost more than the installation of cameras, recording devices and management software combined. Given this, it’s been instructive this month to notice a couple of public surveillance solutions that have used a different communications path to build systems that are robust, reliable and low cost. That path is wireless. 
Sure, we’ve covered wireless applications before. There’s a standalone system installed at Lakes Entrance and there’s a public surveillance system installed by SNP at Footscray that employs FireTide wireless. But the commissioning of 2 wireless public surveillance solutions in a month is something to take notice of.  
The first was installed by Security & Technology Services in Darwin and employs a Strix Systems multicast mesh wireless network to support more than 100 cameras, including 62 HD PTZ cameras from IndigoVision, as well as high resolution legacy cameras in another 40 locations around the city. 
The challenges of this application included carrying all video image streams to 3 police stations and a remote data storage facility and to handle these demands with 3DES encryption, complete redundancy and high reliability in the tough NT climate. 
Next, there’s Smith & Co Security’s installation of Pacific Communications’ supplied and configured Fluidmesh MITO 1100 at Wellington in NSW. It’s a smaller system and uses line of sight tri-band radio, giving the ability to modulate up to 300Mbps. This system employs high quality Panasonic SmartHD cameras, showing there are no performance penalties in the use of wireless links.  
The great strength of the Wellington system is that Fluidmesh gave the town 42 quality fixed cameras with 30 days storage and dual monitoring points for around $210,000. It’s a superb solution and hard to conceive at such a competitive price. Best of all, this solution is reducing crime in the town in a big way. 
In my opinion, this communications jack of all trades is going to make even bigger waves in future. In a recent report it was revealed that A*STAR’s Institute of Microelectronics has developed a 135GHz silicon-based cavity-backed slot antenna. This tiny antenna is the size of a sesame seed and can shovel data at 20Gbps – that’s 200 times faster than current WiFi technologies. It’s impossible to accept that such valuable and powerful technology will not find its way into our best surveillance cameras in the medium term. 
On the subject of public surveillance, in late September, an incident took place in Melbourne that brings home to us the power of video surveillance as an investigative tool. Far from being a meaningless application of technology, high resolution video surveillance supplied to police by members of the business community was instrumental in the rapid resolution of a terrible crime. 
It’s true that CCTV is not a proactive solution. But – and make no mistake about this – it offers law enforcement professionals the ultimate investigative tool. A tool that peels away the redaction of time, faulty witness memory and criminal deceit, giving an indelible record of events as, when and where they took place.  
After years of quibbling about cost and baseless fears of Orwellian government control there must be this realisation. Public surveillance properly applied actually works. And combined with the latest communications technologies it is becoming ever more affordable.