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  • Wireless WAN

    Ok, I'm hoping someone here will be able to help me with this.

    I've been doing some research on how to go about setting up laptops in our patrol vehicles. We want each vehicle to have access to the internet and be able to communicate with each other via IM.

    We had looked into purchasing MDCs and CAD software, but the cost at this point is too much.

    One option we'd looked at was purchasing wireless cards and service for each vehicle through a cellular company, however that appears to be very expensive as well.

    I stumbled across some info about WANs (wide-area networks) and found this company who sells WAN wireless router set-ups for patrol vehicles.

    http://www.digi.com/applications/bui...department.jsp

    Now, I read through their info, but I'm still not sure I completely understand.

    Will this work for what I'm trying to do? If so, could multiple vehicles recieve their signal from one main router? What is the range on the wireless WAN router?

    Any help is appreciated.
    "Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God" -Matthew 5:9

  • #2
    No. You still have to have a wireless card and service for each car. This device allows you to have a mini network in your car, so several things can use that single cell based internet connection.
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    The Future. It isn't what it used to be.

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    • #3
      At least the PCMCIA cards are cheap, not much more than a normal cellphone.
      The CCTV Blog.

      "Expert" is something like "leader". It's not a title that you can ever claim for yourself no matter what you might know or might have done. It's a title that others bestow on you based on their assessment of what you know and what you have done.

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      • #4
        Bummer!

        Ok, so any recommendations as far as service providers? Best deal?

        Thanks for the info.
        "Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God" -Matthew 5:9

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by SoCal Public Safety View Post
          Bummer!

          Ok, so any recommendations as far as service providers? Best deal?

          Thanks for the info.
          Not from me. The markets and service varies so much across the country, I wouldn't have a clue for California.
          sigpic
          Rocket Science
          Making everything else look simple, since 1958.


          http://my.opera.com/integrator/blog/
          One Man's Opinion

          The Future. It isn't what it used to be.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by integrator97 View Post
            Not from me. The markets and service varies so much across the country, I wouldn't have a clue for California.
            Same.

            What I would recommend is sitting down with a few service providers and finding out from them what they will do FOR YOU. I have found this very usefull with my cellular surveillance systems. Before you have your meetings with them just make sure you do some initial research on your own as far as coverage areas and blackout spots in your jurisdiction. Most companies will work with you to GET the contract. After the meetings go over what each company had to offer and rate them accordingly. Then call them back and tell the best one that "so and so" offered me this (tell them the cheaper company) and see if they will match the price. People are surprised at what you can get when you play it right, especially in these economic times.

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            • #7
              Exactly. Call Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T, and ask for the commercial account division or whatever they call it. Explain you need multiple wireless cards and make them work for it.

              Remember, you are the customer for once- the providers have to work for your business.
              The CCTV Blog.

              "Expert" is something like "leader". It's not a title that you can ever claim for yourself no matter what you might know or might have done. It's a title that others bestow on you based on their assessment of what you know and what you have done.

              -SecTrainer

              Comment


              • #8
                SoCal - Have you checked a few of your local PD's to see what they are using?
                Retail Security Consultant / Expert Witness
                Co-Author - Effective Security Management 6th Edition

                Contributor to Retail Crime, Security and Loss Prevention: An Encyclopedic Reference

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by integrator97 View Post
                  Not from me. The markets and service varies so much across the country, I wouldn't have a clue for California.
                  Originally posted by Rooney View Post
                  Same.

                  What I would recommend is sitting down with a few service providers and finding out from them what they will do FOR YOU. I have found this very usefull with my cellular surveillance systems. Before you have your meetings with them just make sure you do some initial research on your own as far as coverage areas and blackout spots in your jurisdiction. Most companies will work with you to GET the contract. After the meetings go over what each company had to offer and rate them accordingly. Then call them back and tell the best one that "so and so" offered me this (tell them the cheaper company) and see if they will match the price. People are surprised at what you can get when you play it right, especially in these economic times.
                  Originally posted by CameraMan View Post
                  Exactly. Call Sprint, Verizon, and AT&T, and ask for the commercial account division or whatever they call it. Explain you need multiple wireless cards and make them work for it.

                  Remember, you are the customer for once- the providers have to work for your business.
                  integrator, Rooney and CameraMan, thank you for the advice. For some reason, I was thinking I was stuck purchasing one of their packages, I never considered the idea I could try and negotiate with them. The cards themselves don't appear too expensive, it's the monthly service. If I can get some kind of discount for having multiple cards, maybe share data usage between all the cards, that would help. Thanks guys.

                  Originally posted by Curtis Baillie View Post
                  SoCal - Have you checked a few of your local PD's to see what they are using?
                  Curtis, I know the local PD uses Motorola MDCs and software, but I haven't checked with any of the other local PDs. I would love to purchase the same setup, however the cost is a major factor at this point Maybe in the future we can upgrade. I will definitey check with a few of my contacts and see what they're using. Great idea! Thanks!
                  "Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God" -Matthew 5:9

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by SoCal Public Safety View Post
                    integrator, Rooney and CameraMan, thank you for the advice. For some reason, I was thinking I was stuck purchasing one of their packages, I never considered the idea I could try and negotiate with them. The cards themselves don't appear too expensive, it's the monthly service. If I can get some kind of discount for having multiple cards, maybe share data usage between all the cards, that would help. Thanks guys.
                    Hell, make them give you the cards for free. Even paying retail they only charge you about $50 for the cards.

                    Remember, these reps work on commision and they are starving for new business right about now. A new, large commercial account will cause them to start salivating.

                    Expect to sign a 2 year contract, though
                    The CCTV Blog.

                    "Expert" is something like "leader". It's not a title that you can ever claim for yourself no matter what you might know or might have done. It's a title that others bestow on you based on their assessment of what you know and what you have done.

                    -SecTrainer

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by SoCal Public Safety View Post
                      Ok, I'm hoping someone here will be able to help me with this.

                      I've been doing some research on how to go about setting up laptops in our patrol vehicles. We want each vehicle to have access to the internet and be able to communicate with each other via IM.

                      We had looked into purchasing MDCs and CAD software, but the cost at this point is too much.

                      One option we'd looked at was purchasing wireless cards and service for each vehicle through a cellular company, however that appears to be very expensive as well.

                      I stumbled across some info about WANs (wide-area networks) and found this company who sells WAN wireless router set-ups for patrol vehicles.

                      http://www.digi.com/applications/bui...department.jsp

                      Now, I read through their info, but I'm still not sure I completely understand.

                      Will this work for what I'm trying to do? If so, could multiple vehicles recieve their signal from one main router? What is the range on the wireless WAN router?

                      Any help is appreciated.
                      Formally speaking, a wireless WAN is one where you would own the infrastructure - that's what governmental entities typically do for their police departments. This means owning a piece of radio spectrum and the associated towers, transmitters, repeaters (access points), etc. We're talking big bucks.

                      A variant of this type of WAN is a "mesh network", which uses special access point/repeaters in the units on the street that automatically detect and connect with one another whenever they're in range of one another. In effect, all of the units' transceivers substitute for the fixed facilities noted above and create a dynamic network that's constantly reconfiguring itself as units enter and leave the mesh. However, a mesh network requires that you reliably have units fielded in sufficient numbers to cover an area. Two or three units scattered over a large area could not create a mesh network due to the limited range of the transceivers.

                      If you use public transmission facilities like cell phone, you would want to implement a VPN, or "virtual private network", which emulates a WAN by providing a private end-to-end connection over public facilities. This is done using VPN software at both ends.

                      However, my question would be what the business reason for providing Internet access and IM might be. We did a study for a PD and found that even for the police, nearly 90% of the data that officers need in the field is "static" or "semi-static" and does not have to be accessed over the data network per se. With the enormous hard drives now available, you can run a sizeable database offline in each unit, updating it at regular intervals via CD-ROM. This can be implemented just like a website (but a local one), using MySQL and PHP. This is accessed via a web browser (except it's not on the Internet, but on the local machine). Of course, larger PDs do own their own data networks and also have very large data stores that officers need to query, so this offline method is neither necessary nor desirable. For smaller agencies that use public transmission facilities, it makes sense to limit the data transfer. Also, the offline method provides the data much more quickly if it's coming from the local database, and you don't have to worry about formatting and compression to minimize the data transfer. In addition, there are never any issues with the database being unavailable to a unit due to transmission problems - including those caused by disasters.

                      For instance, your offline website/database in the units might include information about client sites - including post orders, floor plans, pictures of interior/exterior, information about systems like fire suppression, electric, HVAC, an evacuation plan, and emergency notification numbers. This kind of information does not have to be accessed via data transmissions because it is relatively static and certainly wouldn't need to be updated in "real time". You could also include forms (reports, logs), etc., and I'd probably be tempted to throw in the hazmat first responder database as well.

                      An alternative to IM would, of course, be SMS messaging via cell phones. You can get cell phone plans that include a fair number of free SMS messages. SMS typically does not require a data plan.

                      Under no circumstances would I provide general Internet access to patrol units - the risks and potential for serious management problems are enormous. I would seriously consider a configuration something like this:

                      * An offline website/database system such as described above, updated by CD-ROM on an as-needed basis (you can pass out the CD-ROMs at roll call or otherwise and the officer merely inserts the CD-ROM into his system)...
                      * Business band radios (private trunked) for communications backed up by...
                      * Cell phones, and...
                      * SMS text messaging if officers need to text one another.

                      Private trunking means that you essentially rent bandwidth on an existing business radio network, sorta like you do with cable TV. Or, you could combine the radio and cell phone functions by using a PTT (push-to-talk) cell phone service like Nextel or Verizon. I always advise close consultation with a local business communications expert regarding all communications issues - they'll know what will work best for you and save you beaucoup bucks and headaches.

                      Finally, you could use a "hybrid" of these ideas. Implement the offline website/database but include links on the offline website that would access the mobile data service to do things like upload logs and reports to a "live" database at the office. That way, you would be greatly reducing the amount of data transfer bandwidth you'd be using and limiting security issues as well. It would not be difficult to implement firewall rules on the mobile computers so that the office file server is the only one that they can access. And even if you insist on providing wider Internet access, it would be achieved through a proxy server in the office that enforces strict limitations. Either way, iff you use any Internet access - even to this limited degree - you would almost certainly want to implement this as a VPN with all traffic being encrypted.
                      Last edited by SecTrainer; 02-25-2009, 09:05 AM.
                      "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

                      "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

                      "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

                      "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

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                      • #12
                        Wow SecTrainer, thank you!

                        That was much more comprehensive than I expected. I definitely have a lot to consider.

                        I understand your thoughts about having internet access in the patrol vehicles. This was actually a concern of mine too. I don't know a whole lot about this stuff, but I had assumed there were ways to limit the amount of access they had.

                        The main purpose of having internet in the vehicles is for IM communication between dispatch and the officer, and officer to officer. This will free up radio traffic for non-essential conversations, as well as provide a way for dispatch to send the officer information, ie. directions, contact numbers for RPs, addresses for service calls, etc.

                        The second reason is for submitting reports and detex (tour watch system) up loads. We plan to have a detex download station attached to each laptop. This way the officers can upload their rounds and send them to dispatch at the conclusion of their shift and before the incoming officer takes over.

                        I'm definitely going to need to hire someone to set everything up, which ever way we decide to go. This is much more involved than I had anticipated.

                        Thanks again for all your input.
                        "Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God" -Matthew 5:9

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Wow indeed SoCal Public Safety!
                          Now you see boys and girls why SecTrainer is such a valuable asset to this forum.
                          I have never seen WAN explained better and in such a comprehensive manner to include those vendors selling them.
                          Wow indeed!
                          This SecTrainer, goes into my guide.
                          Enjoy the day with C,
                          Bill
                          Last edited by Bill Warnock; 02-25-2009, 03:35 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by SoCal Public Safety View Post
                            Wow SecTrainer, thank you!

                            That was much more comprehensive than I expected. I definitely have a lot to consider.

                            I understand your thoughts about having internet access in the patrol vehicles. This was actually a concern of mine too. I don't know a whole lot about this stuff, but I had assumed there were ways to limit the amount of access they had.

                            The main purpose of having internet in the vehicles is for IM communication between dispatch and the officer, and officer to officer. This will free up radio traffic for non-essential conversations, as well as provide a way for dispatch to send the officer information, ie. directions, contact numbers for RPs, addresses for service calls, etc.

                            The second reason is for submitting reports and detex (tour watch system) up loads. We plan to have a detex download station attached to each laptop. This way the officers can upload their rounds and send them to dispatch at the conclusion of their shift and before the incoming officer takes over.

                            I'm definitely going to need to hire someone to set everything up, which ever way we decide to go. This is much more involved than I had anticipated.

                            Thanks again for all your input.
                            A couple of questions:

                            1. Are you locked into Detex for some reason (e.g. contract terms)?

                            2. Are you sure you need "real-time" field reporting (again, contract terms, etc.)?

                            There are many different ways to manage unit activities and reporting, inter-unit messaging, etc. As you evaluate these, you'll want to consider that there will be per-unit costs, sometimes including per-unit software licensing and special units (like the Detex download unit). At least one of the Detex products is based on Microsoft Access - I couldn't tell on the site whether you'd need to be running a copy of Access in each unit (with corresponding licensing cost), which wouldn't be cheap.

                            MySQL, on the other hand, is a powerful free database product and as easy as Access to use once the DB is designed, and there's about a jillion MySQL developers around because it's commonly used on the Apache web server, which is the one that is most used on websites. If you've ever visited a website where you could enter information for a query (say, looking up restaurants according to type of food and zip code), you've probably been using a MySQL database.

                            There are also solutions like FormStream from Spireline. The officer creates reports that are stored in the mobile unit's laptop until the unit is within range of the wireless network at the office, when they are automatically uploaded. That way, you're not using any public transport facility at all. Of course, all of the typical caveats and protections associated with securing wireless networks would apply to any solution, even this one.
                            Last edited by SecTrainer; 02-25-2009, 04:11 PM.
                            "Every betrayal begins with trust." - Brian Jacques

                            "I can't predict the future, but I know that it'll be very weird." - Anonymous

                            "There is nothing new under the sun." - Ecclesiastes 1:9

                            "History, with all its volumes vast, hath but one page." - Lord Byron

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by SecTrainer View Post
                              A couple of questions:

                              1. Are you locked into Detex for some reason (e.g. contract terms)?
                              Not locked in, I'm just happy with my experiences with the product and would like to continue using it. I could probably survive without it if necessary.

                              Originally posted by SecTrainer View Post
                              2. Are you sure you need "real-time" field reporting (again, contract terms, etc.)?
                              Again, don't have to have real-time field reporting, but I would like to if possible.

                              Originally posted by SecTrainer View Post
                              There are many different ways to manage unit activities and reporting, inter-unit messaging, etc. As you evaluate these, you'll want to consider that there will be per-unit costs, sometimes including per-unit software licensing and special units (like the Detex download unit). At least one of the Detex products is based on Microsoft Access - I couldn't tell on the site whether you'd need to be running a copy of Access in each unit (with corresponding licensing cost), which wouldn't be cheap.

                              MySQL, on the other hand, is a powerful free database product and as easy as Access to use once the DB is designed, and there's about a jillion MySQL developers around because it's commonly used on the Apache web server, which is the one that is most used on websites. If you've ever visited a website where you could enter information for a query (say, looking up restaurants according to type of food and zip code), you've probably been using a MySQL database.

                              There are also solutions like FormStream from Spireline. The officer creates reports that are stored in the mobile unit's laptop until the unit is within range of the wireless network at the office, when they are automatically uploaded. That way, you're not using any public transport facility at all. Of course, all of the typical caveats and protections associated with securing wireless networks would apply to any solution, even this one.
                              The detex software we currently use does not use MS Access, so that licensing shouldn't be an issue. I would need to talk to our vendor about the detex software licensing. I didn't think there was anything limiting the number of computers it's installed on, could be mistaken though.

                              A database like you're talking about could work for us, and wouldn't require constant internet access. If they update the info whenever they're in range of the office, like you said, that should be fine. Property info, license plates, etc. would still be available to them. I just would really like the messaging capabilities. We could use cellular SMS, but I'd prefer not to. We'd also run into issues now because of California's new law against texting while driving. Not that I'd want my officers using the laptop while driving, but IMO checking a message on the computer screen would be much easier than a cell phone.

                              At this point, none of these things are mandatory, just preferred. However, we were considering using this as a marketing tool to sell clients on our ability to easily and instantly communicate with officers in the field. We've also considered looking into setting something up allowing clients to login to a webpage and view their assigned officer's activity, location, etc. Not sure what would be involved with that though.

                              I'm starting to see more and more that what I want is going to be a lot of headache and a lot of money. Leave it to me to make things complicated.

                              Thanks again!
                              "Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God" -Matthew 5:9

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