Monday, May 25, 2009

The Second Civil Suit

N.O. alone in crime camera controversy

Rather interesting slant to take, but I'm really starting to dig David Hammer's style. I think I'm gonna call him Tenacious D....but of course the Hammer metaphor is low hanging fruit.

This article does a couple of things for draws out some new players and lets us in on some new findings.

Netmethods had crime camera deals in multiple cities including, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Savannah, GA, Gretna, and Westwego.

It also introduces us to a company who will be at the center of a second civil lawsuit, Tropos.

Tropos is the company who Netmethods used to acquire and set up the 802.11g antennae array which provides a meshed network of communication relays as opposed to a point to point relay.

What's the difference between a point to point network and a mesh network? Look at it like a point to point system, one "node" will contact the next node in a straight line down telephone poles and transfer information to a central point....if one of those nodes goes down, it will bring down every relay point behind that node. So one node can knock multiple cameras offline even though there is nothing wrong with the other nodes.

A node, by the way, can also be looked at as simply an antennae.

A mesh network uses nodes that connect to multiple nodes at once....therefore if one node goes down, it is isolated and the other nodes can connect to any other node within it's range and bypass the damaged node. The mesh network is much more efficient and reliable.

Incidentally this is exactly how a storm-proof interoperable communication system works and this is why the DOJ offered us a 7 million dollar grant, back in 2003....the same grant which Meffert scuttled.

Its important to understand the importance of this mesh network....once its set up, the company who holds the maintenance contract is going to be making millions off that city in perpetuity or until the contract is re-bid. The cameras aren't as a big a prize as the mesh network.

In their suit, they claim that while they developed groundbreaking ways to make cameras practical as a crimefighting tool, Meffert and St. Pierre conspired to replace them with Veracent and filch their technology.

But Veracent was being paid by the city to supervise the technology office, while at the same time supplying the crime cameras the city was buying.

Questions about that arrangement led the city to rebid the crime camera work and select a third vendor, LSI Research, which took over in 2007. By early 2008, 46 of 218 cameras were working, and the city brought in a fourth overseer, Ciber Inc., to get the program off the ground.

Not exactly. This gets real complicated, but the not exactly part of the above paragraph is that Ciber was already "in" the city...they were practically running it for that matter. Anthony Jones oversaw the rebidding process and Ciber introduced LSI into the fray. So while not inaccurate, it is a little misleading....Ciber was running the show before LSI was brought in. And its important to understand that LSI is in bed with Ciber.

LSI President Tim Perryman said his company kept working after Ciber stepped in and had all cameras functioning by mid-2008, but then Hurricane Gustav knocked most of them out of commission again.

I'm not sure I believe that statement. The reason why is because Ciber has a history of causing complete boondoggles with nearly everything they are involved in....thereby causing ever expanding bids and maintenance contracts, i.e. 311. It wouldn't surprise me if the majority of those cameras were unscathed after Gustav, but Ciber and LSI saw an opportunity to hit the city with another bill.

You know Jones wasn't on the ground out there checking those cameras to see if they were actually damaged.

Another criticism from auditors hired by the city is that New Orleans did not end up with a "mesh" network as did Savannah, even though that is what the vendors promised.

Tropos, NetMethods' "mesh" partner in Savannah and elsewhere, initially worked with Verge Wireless of Baton Rouge to introduce its system in the initial New Orleans camera project. Verge CEO Carlo MacDonald said he provided a mesh system as a subcontractor to Southern Electronics in New Orleans in 2004 and 2005. But by the time LSI held the contract, Tropos was not involved anymore.

According to the city audit, New Orleans did not get a mesh network in the end, but a less effective point-to-point system. It is not clear what happened to the roughly 200 Tropos nodes -- which MacDonald said he helped get donated to New Orleans after Katrina.

At some point there was a bait and switch which took place with the mesh nodes being substituted with point to point nodes under Anthony "Bowling Pin" Jones.

Jones was either 1. Incompetent and unaware or 2. crooked.

LSI and Ciber must have known what was going did Tropos, Verge, and Netmethods.

Now as far as the 200 donated Tropos nodes, one of AZ's avid readers is suggesting that those nodes were redistributed in other cities....with the respective cities most certainly getting charged for them. The word is that each node runs over 5k. That works out to a nice, even 1 million dollars in nodes (antennae). listening?

So Verge's CEO, Carlo MacDonald, got Tropos to donate 1 million dollars in mesh network nodes to New Orleans....but now no one knows where they are. Well, they have serial numbers....and I'm told MAC ID's....and there's 200 of the motherfuckers out there somewhere....anyone wanna grab a camera and go climb some poles in Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Savannah, Gretna, and Westwego?


Unknown said...

If they have Tropos nodes, they have the management software to administrate the nodes. This software will produce the Mac ID's and Serial #'s.

It's real simple, at some point in this venture someone at Tropos recorded the hardware information for each device it donated to New Orleans to ultimately write off on its taxes.
1. Subpeona Tropos for that information.
2. Subpeona New Orleans for a report of its equipment, if all of that equipment is not present and accounted for...
3. Subpoena the remaining cities that had business with NetMethods.

If I was a snail, I presume I could feel some sort of G-Force from the US Attorneys pace, however being outside of the "know" my jaw is hurting from the yawning.

No offense to them, I'm trying to remain positive and believe in their professionalism that they are trying to stuff the entire Nagin and crew in one of those bags you attach a vacuum to just before you shrink wrap it.

Perhaps I should consider this the visual stimulation of seeing the transparent bag fill up with crap we no longer need or want and instead of getting rid of it we decide to store the crap in our attic.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure all these topics will be covered in the looming second lawsuit. The rumors of who is representing the plaintiffs in the second lawsuit is pretty fucking impressive. If what the legal community is saying is true then the plaintiffs have ascertained some serious firepower and not just the same old same old but attorneys who piss vinegar for fun.

this second suit is going to be more fun than the first if everything we are hearing is true. These attorneys purportedly have hired the best private investigators from across the US over the last 4 years in preparation for this lawsuit.

Clay said...

Nagin has now been dismissed (for personal involvement, still on hook for professional malfeasance).