When people need serious help they call the cops, and when the Birmingham Police Department needed help of its own, they turned to the technology only Fluidmesh Networks can offer. Boston-based Fluidmesh develops top-quality wireless products for video-surveillance applications and provides superior technical support throughout all installations.

Testament to that is Mark Monarch of Abel Electronics in Michigan and the integrator on the project. Monarch credits Fluidmesh with providing through training on the technology and solid support during the installation. “Fluidmesh gave us excellent service and support,” he points out. “Everything was very positive.”

Fluidmesh and Abel Electronics came together in the spring of ’07 to meet the pressing needs of the Birmingham Police Department. The Chief of Police wanted to install the video surveillance system to assist the officers during dispatch. The networked system now serves as a critical visual aid to communicate what is going on at the location and also helps to control traffic.

“The system spans across an area of a square mile, covering all of downtown Birmingham. It is running on a Fluidmesh 2200 Mesh network,” explains Fluidmesh VP of Sales Cosimo Malesci. “The police station is able to monitor and control all the PTZ cameras in real time from the control room. The system runs on 5.1-5.8 and 4.9 Ghz.” Malesci also notes that the PTZ cameras have very little latency due to the Fluidmesh proprietary transmission system. The benefit to the client, Malesci explains, is, a reliable and easy to deploy wireless network which does not have the drawbacks of an 802.11 system such as latency and intermittent video.

For the project, the Fluidmesh engineering team worked tenaciously to design the mesh network according to the clients’ needs. The network had to be laid out on a map and factors such as link distance, bandwidth, line of sight, and interferences needed to be taken into account. “This is a service we provide to all our customers to make sure that our networks can match their expectations and that their clients will be fully satisfied,” Malesci adds.

Monarch adds that a Fluidmesh system, due to its great flexibility in frequency selection, was needed becasue the police department’s Wi-Fi system would have caused interference issues. “We had to find one that would work with their system and Fluidmesh gave us the most options in the frequency range,” he says.

Birmingham Police Chief Richard Patterson points out that “By using a direct line of site, Fluidmesh allowed us greater flexibility to place our cameras and repeaters where we needed them to be.”

Malesci explains that mesh networks provide a higher level of reliability compared to traditional wireless systems which make them the network of choice for many systems, particularly in urban areas. And Fluidmesh dual radio technology provides a greater level of redundancy than single radio mesh systems.

The strength of Fluidmesh technology is the advanced internal prioritization and optimization system, capable of detecting the type of packet transmitted (eg. TCP, UDP, etc.) and video-encoding standard employed (eg. MPEG4 I-frame, MEPG4 P-frame, M-JPEG). Based on the packet type and characteristics, the wireless system automatically optimizes every packet transmission.

The innovative networking algorithm used by Fluidmesh 2200 leads to great advantages in terms of flexibility and ease of installation. A new unit can be easily added to the network with no need for changing the configuration of the rest of the system. The routing protocol detects the new node automatically without requiring any human intervention. These characteristics make Fluidmesh 2200 the product of choice for mobile, temporary or nomadic video-surveillance and enable several innovative applications for video control.

That sentiment is echoed by the Milsk Company, which reps Fluidmesh in Michigan.

"We found in Fluidmesh Networks an excellent partner to deliver reliable and cost effective wireless solutions for the public safety market. We tested the system of the Birmingham Police Dept. and were impressed by the quality of the video and the speed with which the PTZ cameras can be controlled. It is hard to believe that you are running across a wireless network."