Mobile Mesh Network for Ferries is Canada’s First Deployment of Motorola’s AP7181

Originally Published in Security Director by Leischen Stelter

Nova Communications is proud to have worked with Chubb Security and Motorola Solutions to provide the Halifax Regional Municipality’s ferry system with Canada’s first Motorola AP7181 Mobile Mesh Network.

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia—Taking a corporate approach to security was an important step for Halifax Regional Municipality in its effort to protect more than 250 municipal facilities. “We saw different business units going out and addressing their needs and finding their own solution and it’s not that it was done incorrectly, but there was just no common denominator,” said Randy Stoddard, manager of corporate security at Halifax Regional Municipality. The growing number of standalone systems put in place to protect municipal properties made it increasingly difficult to manage and even more difficult to combine efforts and share resources.

When the city went through a threat/risk assessment, several needs were identified including the need to develop corporate-wide initiatives. “We brought in security advisors to do assessments and also started working with our IT department on the technical side to unify our intrusion systems, access control and CCTV systems, so across the board we can share in areas where we have network capabilities,” he said.

One of the first focus points was the city’s ferry system. New federal regulations required advanced security plans for domestic ferries, so the city installed a wireless mesh system from Motorola to remotely view activity on the ferry and in its terminals 24/7. In addition, the city installed more than 200 high-definition IP video cameras from Avigilon at several recreation centers, administration buildings, transit depots, operations buildings and other critical areas in the municipality. Cameras range from 1MP to 8MP throughout the city.

While moving to an IP video surveillance system had a lot of benefits including high-quality images and improved monitoring capabilities, one of the biggest selling points was the ability for the municipality to use its own servers to host the system. “We didn’t have to go out and buy Avigilon’s recording equipment or NVRs and we were able to use HRM’s buying power to buy servers that could then be turned into NVRs,” he said. This was a huge benefit for the municipality and clinched the buy in from IT. “When we had a problem, depending on the issue, our IT technicians could deal with it because it’s the same equipment throughout the municipality,” he said. Using the IT department’s equipment and services translated to significant cost sharing within the municipality.

In addition, the municipality was able to encode some of its existing analog cameras to work with the Avigilon system and be pushed over the network. When those cameras come to the end of their life cycle, it is relatively simple for the municipality to replace them with IP cameras.

The municipality will continue to share resources and network capabilities. While the ferry system required a mesh network, Stoddard said the city prefers to build systems off its fiber network. “We will look to expand on wireless, but if we can hardwire that’s our first option for sure,” he said. “It’s a constant exchange with IT to determine what they’re comfortable with and we can make recommendations, but it’s their decision in the end about what goes in place.”

Stoddard said the municipality will continue evaluating evolving technology, but with caution. “I think you’ve got to be realistic about expectations,” he said. “On the technology side, you don’t want to take big leaps and not get a big return. We’ve got to take it slow and make sure we’re spending money in the right places.”

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