California installs wireless surveillance

California Department of Transportation

The announcement last month that the California Department of Transportation

(Caltrans) is putting wireless technology on several San Francisco bridges

and tunnels for video surveillance may be just the beginning of a nationwide

trend for such security measures.

In partnership with several contractors, Caltrans is installing a multimillion-dollar

state-of-the-art wireless electronic surveillance system to enhance security.

The system, called the Bay Area Security Enhancement, is operational and

in the final phases of commissioning.

The secure system will enable state public safety agencies to monitor

bridges and tunnels for potential security problems using cameras manufactured

by San Jose, Calif.-based RVision LLC.

The system is more flexible and functional than previous systems, said

Dave Brown, a division manager with Royal Electric Co. Inc., one of the

contractors working on the system.

For Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Proxim Inc., which supplied the wireless

technology, security and surveillance has become a more prominent segment

of its market since the September 2001 terrorist attacks, said Jeff Orr,

product marketing manager for the company's wide-area network division.

Until the Caltrans installation, most wireless applications were used

on government and military bases for perimeter surveillance.

"At this point a lot of applications have been military applications,"

he said. "In terms of the state-funded level, Caltrans has been pretty early."

In regard to the advantages of wireless technology, Orr said that the

cost is lower than laying down new fiber and the amount of time to deploy

the system is shorter. In addition, wireless transmission speeds are much

higher — 20 megabits/sec to 60 megabits/sec as opposed to 1.4 megabits/sec

for a T1 line, he added.

Also, wireless equipment is purchased outright, whereas telecommunications

companies charge a fee for use of their fiber lines, he said.

Wireless also permits flexibility in moving the technology from one

location to another rather than rewiring a system. That could be done in

a matter of hours instead of weeks or months, he said.

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