Saturday, 17 January 2009

[news] ubiquitous monitoring

Still not convinced about the value of city-owed fiber plus muni wireless? Listen to the webinar featuring Jimmy Bagley, city CIO of Rock Hill, South Carolina, about how Rock Hill uses the city’s fiber network and the municipal wireless broadband network to become more energy efficient, help the police and fire department do their work more effectively, and provide free Wi-Fi to residents in public areas. I listened to this webinar and summarized it for you below.
The city of Rock Hill, South Carolina owns a fiber network, as well as the public utility. Rock Hill deployed a municipal wireless broadband network with multiple uses:
wireless automated meter reading
public safety (police and fire)
wireless video surveillance in public parks
free Wi-Fi access to residents in certain outdoor locations
The city uses its own fiber network and Alvarion wireless units for backhaul. To create the citywide Wi-Fi network, they use Tropos mesh equipment (100 gateways and 700 mesh nodes). Some of the wireless access points are solar-powered.
More efficient energy management through Wi-Fi
The city installed wireless meter readers that allow it to monitor water and electricity use by residents. Utility trucks have small antennas on their roofs allowing them to connect to the network so utility workers can do their job from the field.
Because the city is a public utility (water, electricity, sewer), they installed the wireless meters that could report wirelessly when there’s an outage of electricity (the meters have batteries). There are 60,000 wireless meters that report every 15 minutes. The city plans to expand wireless network to cover an extra 10 square miles.
Why wireless automated meter reading (AMR)?
outage management: they can find out immediately where they are power outages
monitor water filter plants
quickly locate where there are problems at customer locations and sewage treatment facilities
Other benefits of the wireless AMR system?
reduced the number of times utility personnel have to re-read a meter
quickly respond to customer inquiries
fewer billing disputes with customers
if someone tries to manipulate or steal a meter, they find out immediately
Public safety
Police and fire department personnel do their work from the field. The fire department download building plans and hazardous materials storage information on the road. Police officers check databases from the street, file reports, check up on suspicious persons.
Disaster management
Because the area gets a lot of hurricanes, the city needs a way to restore communications when cellular and landlines are down. The municipal wireless network provides the alternative. Moreover, the wireless nodes in police cars and fire trucks enable them to communicate even when the nodes on the electric poles are not functioning, essentially creating point-to-point communications networks (an ad hoc network).
Wi-Fi in parks
Free Wi-Fi in parks , soccer fields and tennis courts have been popular, especially with parents who attend sporting events. The city hosts a girls’ softball league that attracts hundreds of teams and the Wi-Fi network allows the spectators to upload photos to photo sharing sites, check on league scores, look up rules and statistics, etc.i

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