Helping public agencies build smarter, safer communities


Johannesburg, 02 Dec 2019
Read time 6min 10sec

Public safety agencies know that having always-connected, high-capacity communications between personnel, vehicles and command centres can mean the difference between life and death. With so much at stake, many government agencies are expanding their networks to more efficiently deliver voice, video and data across their coverage areas – with video and mobility being major drivers for these initiatives.

In order to provide public safety professionals with this connectivity, communication networks have to deal with a number of complex challenges that include incompatible and ageing equipment, inadequate mobile infrastructure, insufficient bandwidth and, of course, budgetary constraints.

Connecting the various public safety organisations such as the police force, ambulance services, disaster management and the fire brigade, can be a logistical nightmare. It is common for these agencies to have a disparate collection of devices and systems delivering varying types of information such as street maps, medical records and incident details to police officers, firefighters, emergency medical teams (EMTs) and other public safety officials. The goal is to pull existing systems together to establish an integrated, high-capacity communication network that will help to achieve multiple objectives, among which is improving public safety effectiveness and responsiveness.

Supplied by Duxbury Networking, Rajant Kinetic Mesh networks have been providing any-node to any-node connectivity across hundreds of high-bandwidth nodes with years of unattended, high-quality service. These networks provide the ongoing communications needed to achieve objectives reliably and cost-effectively.

Using Rajant BreadCrumb wireless nodes with the patented InstaMesh networking software, Rajant Kinetic Mesh networks deliver highly available mobile connectivity. With up to 300Mbps physical layer data rate, each high-bandwidth BreadCrumb can connect with multiple neighbouring nodes.

“Interestingly, adding more nodes results in more communication pathways being established, and ultimately, it provides a more resilient network. In a network with hundreds of nodes, the network can provide billions of possible data delivery paths to ensure that voice, video and data reach the intended destination,” says Andre Kannemeyer, CTO at Duxbury Networking, distributor of Rajant solutions.

Rajant mesh networks are self-healing, peer-to-peer networks that can seamlessly integrate with non-Rajant devices and technologies. Irrespective of whether the user has satellite, fibre, copper, cellular, point-to-point (PTP) wireless, point-to-multipoint (PMP) wireless, LTE, or 3G/4G communications, they can leverage the client’s existing investment while providing the mobility, reliability and performance of a BreadCrumbs-based network.

The industrial-strength BreadCrumbs wireless nodes are proven to withstand challenging environments and severe weather conditions. The small footprint, light-weight nodes can be readily deployed on vehicles, towers, lampposts, command centres and personnel such as police officers and firefighters.

BreadCrumbs can be configured with multiple radio transceivers and radio frequencies, including 900MHz, 2.4GHz, 4.9GHz and 5GHz. Multi-transceiver, multi-frequency capabilities help avoid interference and allow multiple applications to run simultaneously.

A BreadCrumb-based network can support WiFi and integrate easily with Ethernet-connected devices to deliver low-latency, high-throughput connectivity across the mesh. Wherever an ingress/egress point is needed, the Automatic Protocol Tunneling (APT) feature can enable reliable and fast off-loading to a wired Ethernet network.

InstaMesh networking software orchestrates all network traffic and continuously discovers and updates BreadCrumb information with each packet to forward data via the best available path. Because each BreadCrumb can have multiple connections to neighbouring nodes, users have fully redundant connectivity throughout the network. As nodes are added, moved or removed, InstaMesh automatically adapts to the changes and establishes new links in real-time while keeping the network available, intact and secure. The software will automatically redirect data packets over available frequencies to avoid interference or obstructions.

“For example, if a four-frequency node encounters interference on one or two frequencies, InstaMesh will redirect packets over frequencies that are not experiencing interference,” says Kannemeyer.

Rajant networks do not use a controller node and have no single point of failure. BreadCrumbs can connect to multiple network nodes, providing several pathways for each transmission. Multi-transceiver and multi-frequency capabilities greatly increase network availability.

“The Rajant networks retain communications as personnel and vehicles move from one location to another. While people and assets are in motion, InstaMesh automatically connects to approaching nodes while maintaining connectivity with previous nodes. This provides continuous communication for first responders, command centres, dispatchers and other public safety professionals,” Kannemeyer points out.

The mesh clustering feature allows users to designate per-BreadCrumb sub-meshes that will only mesh with a specified series of nodes. One can isolate groups of BreadCrumbs to mesh with each other and no other nodes outside a defined cluster. This capability also allows one to operate two BreadCrumbs in a point-to-point (PTP) capacity, eliminating the need to purchase a third-party PTP backhaul link.

“For example, you could have two separate municipal mesh networks connected with two LX5 nodes – one at each network location. Because each LX5 can have four radio transceivers, you could designate one radio transceiver in each LX5 as a PTP radio. Then those two radios would communicate with each other as a PTP link, while the other three radios in each LX5 would communicate over the mesh network,” says Kannemeyer.

Users can either use the self-configuring BreadCrumbs option that offers virtually one-button set-up, or they can opt for a more hands-on approach using the feature-rich, intuitive BC|Commander software. Available for both Microsoft Windows and Linux, the application provides a secure, encrypted link to each BreadCrumb and helps users configure, monitor and manage nodes through the easy-to-use graphical interface. “For example, one can update firmware remotely, configure multiple BreadCrumbs simultaneously, analyse and report network performance, configure wireless encryption and authentication, and view the network in real-time,” Kannemeyer explains.

Rajant networks can support a variety of public safety applications, including:

  • Remote information and application access for police officers, firefighters and EMTs;
  • Improved situational awareness. Police vehicles, fire engines, ambulances and officers fitted with cameras and BreadCrumbs can stream on-scene video en route;
  • Enhanced evidence gathering;
  • Traffic control and enforcement. With traffic signal and on-vehicle cameras connected to the network, police departments can issue red-light and parking violations automatically and they will have video records of violations;
  • Mass transit safety. A Rajant wireless network can support applications such as train-to-trackside connectivity, vehicle-to-vehicle communications, passenger information systems, on-scene incident video, and fleet maintenance; and
  • Event monitoring.

“The ability to supply essential communications between public safety personnel and assets is crucial for efficient crime prevention, law enforcement and emergency preparedness. The right wireless mesh network can help the agencies within the public safety community collaborate more effectively to protect citizens, personnel and property. Duxbury’s team is available to discuss customised networking solutions suited to the specific requirements of public safety agencies,” says Kannemeyer.

For more information, contact Duxbury Networking, +27 (0) 11 351 9800, info@duxnet.co.za, www.duxbury.co.za

Editorial contacts
Allyson Koekhoven write-on@iafrica.com
Luned Lira (+27) 011 351 9800 llira@duxnet.co.za