by Yossie Segal
Our nation's borders are often characterized by long distance coverage of changing border conditions and challenges, from open borders to sealed borders, secured and unsecured perimeters, inhabited and uninhabited areas, hostile environments and ever changing terrain. They also require constant manpower. Commanding such vast distances and challenges depends, among other things, on reliable and resilient line of communications built to withstand situations that arise along the borders.
To obtain some visual contact over large stretches, most of the nation's borders are equipped with fixed wireless broadband point-to-point communications solutions. These often consist of a camera on a pole; some may include voice and data transmission options as well. Many solutions may even include ruggedized or extended ruggedized solutions that are designed to overcome the rough environmental conditions and extreme weather. Each camera is mounted as to obtain optimal view from its position on the pole and transmit video of what can be seen from each camera.
The Limitations of Current Fixed Wireless Security Solutions along the Nation's Borders
- The greatest challenge for today's fixed wireless security and surveillance solutions planted along the borders is sabotage and theft. The cost of replacing equipment that has either been stolen or sabotaged keeps rising, allowing for constant "blind spots" that illegal immigrants, human traffickers, drug related cartels and terrorists can fully exploit and take advantage of.
- Another limitation is unreliable or non-existent power grids. Yes, in some cases, this can be easily solved with solar panels replacing power grids, however in most long borders where weather conditions change drastically, sun is not always an option.
- In most borders, surveillance equipment is positioned in a straight line along the border, with each camera transmitting and receiving video from the next camera in line. This is referred to as point-to-point topology. Each camera or pole has its defined, often restricted line of site scope to monitor and transmit to a single point only within the vicinity.
- In order for video to be actionable, it must be transmitted back to a local headquarters or mobile command post. Of course, these must be within a few tens of miles range or else video and data will only be transmitted to the next pole, creating a chain of units transmitting information from one another until they reach the local headquarters.
- The above point creates greater points of failure, thus making any critical information reaching the closest command center.
- The fixed wireless security solutions do not include integrating back up units from air, patrol vehicles that are on the move, or sea vessels.
MESH Based Wireless Communication Solutions
There are several MESH-based wireless communications solutions out there. MESH eliminates most current limitations faced by fixed wireless solutions:
No need for existing communication infrastructure
Communications are not limited to a point-to-point topology only, and include a wide range of additional options: Multi-Point-to-Multi-Point, Collaborative Relay, Point-to-Multi-Point, etc.
The above point eliminates any points of failure, thus making any critical information reaching the closest command center in real time.
On-the-move technology designed to operate on-the-move from patrol cars, personnel, drones and any moving vehicle.
Greater scope of visual contact. As this option is not fixed and can be moved around at any given time, it delivers greater number of angles and visibility.
The most common types of MESH communications solutions are:
RF MESH is the most commonly used technology in the US. The reason for that is due to a wide spectrum ability allowing for devices employing at least 50 channels, to use license-exempt frequencies of 902-928 MHz with 1W maximum transmitted power. In Europe, however, there is a limitation of a single channel per device in 868MHz with a 25mW power transmission. This limitation restricts the communication range between devices.
4G Mobile MESH
This technology basically takes the best of all worlds. It takes the high-speed data for mobile phones and combines it with all MESH added values which include:
- No need for any existing communications infrastructure
- Triple layer security – Ensures that all collected data and information is securely transmitted back to local headquarters
- Flexibility and Scalability - Increase or decrease the architecture and number of units as needed.
- Frequency ranges can be configured according to specifications.
Are MESH Based Wireless Communication Solutions the Alternative to Fixed -based Security Solutions for Border Security?
Not so fast. The overall sense is that both technologies complement rather than compete with each other. Both technologies can be seen as supplementary to each other. While fixed wireless solutions may occupy the base for border security, this must be complemented with MESH based mobile to provide optimal visibility, command and control over the nation's borders.