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City launches public safety Wi-Fi

by on17 October 2007


Free Wi-Fi not offered to citizens; maybe later

A $1.2 million
wireless communications system that relies mainly on Wi-Fi has been launched by the City of Bowling Green, Kentucky.  The Wi-Fi network at this time links its fire trucks to its data center and will be expanded in the near future to include links to its police department and City inspectors. 

The City indicated that it decided not to offer free public Wi-Fi service at the onset due to concerns that other U.S. cities have faced in setting up similar municipal Wi-Fi systems, and said that they wanted to create Wi-Fi that would serve the public interest first for safety without having to worry about how to fund a public access Wi-Fi network.

The Bowling Green, Kentucky Wi-Fi system uses outdoor mesh with Cisco Systems, Inc. hardware, along with Panasonic Toughbook wireless laptops in 12 of its fire trucks.  Firefighters can access important data such as street maps and records while the trucks are on their way to the emergency scene and can retrieve data such as whether buildings contain hazardous materials without having to rely on someone in a remote office to research and then send them that information.

The City’s Wi-Fi system includes security to prevent outside access, and fiber-optic pathways for part of the backhaul to the data centers. Laptops will be added to police cars next, and then to City Inspectors and other officials who do auditing, inspections and interviews as part of their data collection.

And Cisco has just announced enhancements to its wireless access equipment by introducing 4.9-GHz radio interoperability between its 3200 wireless router and its model 1522 and 1524 modular radios, according to Cisco’s global industry solution manager for public safety and homeland security. The 4.9-GHz band is licensed by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission exclusively for public safety purposes, in contrast to Wi-Fi, which is unlicensed, potentially unsecured and accessible by anyone.  Cisco’s hardware uses Internet Protocol and is interoperable with many systems.  Interoperability is key to cities that are looking to link public safety, radio communications and systems to work together.

Read more here.



Last modified on 17 October 2007
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