1 The Dollars and Sense of Government-Led Wireless Internet A Guide for Government Employees and Community Activists Introduction: Wireless Broadband for All in St. Cloud, Florida Local governments provide key services and infrastructure to their citizens: water, roads, parks, schools, emergency services. St. Cloud s Mayor and citizens say broadband wireless Internet access falls into the same category as those and other essential services and have created the Cyber Spot, a city-wide wireless broadband network. Our residents agree that availability and use of a free wireless computer network by citizens and public personnel will make us safer, better educate ourselves and our children, and save us all money at the same time, says Mayor Glenn Sangiovanni. The people of our community have decided what is best for them. The overwhelming economic opportunites and quality of life enhancements made possible by our 100% free Municipal Wireless system makes overwhelming sense. Although not all communities are interested in providing low or no-cost Internet access for their citizens, wireless infrastructure deployment can still benefit the community by making government more efficient, enhancing public safety, and spurring economic development. This guide is a how-to introduction for you to explore if and how wireless broadband might be the right fit for your community.
2 I. Background: Turning on the Faucet What does providing wireless broadband mean? Let s begin by comparing concepts related to providing water to a community versus providing Internet Access to that same community: Concept Water Network Data Network Flow Rates You use different amounts of water at different times. Watering the lawn uses lots of water quickly, which might be measured in gallons per minute of flow. Running the dishwasher might use water at a slower rate. Different uses of the Internet use data at different rates, called bandwidths. Watching a video or downloading a large file to your computer might take a lot of bandwidth, whereas using a browser to read Web pages or reading an would use bandwidth at a slower rate. Broadband means sufficient bandwidth for both types of activities. Limited Supply, Network Scalability Network Design There is a water supply, but that supply is limited. If everyone turned on their water at the same time, there wouldn t be enough. Usually, people only periodically use water to shower, water the grass, etc. Increasing pipe sizes to increase supply is very expensive. A network of pipes carries water to homes and businesses. There are big pipes at the core of the network, smaller distribution pipes that go to different regions and finally access pipes to individual locations. Water can flow at different rates depending upon how much water is needed at a location. People only periodically use data bandwidth (access lots of data on the Internet). Thus, to save money, the network is not built to enable everybody to use a lot of data bandwidth at once. This concept is called oversubscription. However, wireless bandwidth can be added relatively and inexpensively easily over time as needs increase. A typical broadband data network also has different sized pipes, or layers. Fiber optic cables or microwave wireless equipment moves large amounts of data on the core network. Fiber or copper cables or WiMAX wireless equipment provide the distribution to neighborhoods (sometimes called last mile distribution), and broadband access to an individual location is provided by fiber, cable modem or DSL service over copper cable, WiFi, or WiMAX technologies. WiFi and WiMAX enjoy a relatively low cost of implementation, maintenance and upgrade. Fiber infrastructure provides a high speed core. Wireless and cabled technologies can, and typically do, coexist in real world implementations.
3 II. Applications and Return on Investment:* Taking a Sip Specifically, what are the citizens, businesses, and local government of St. Cloud, Florida expecting to do with Cyber Spot? It s similar to asking, What can you do with water?. The possibilities are numerous, and the answers will be different for different communities. St. Cloud Snap Shot by The Numbers: Total number of residents 28,000 Total number of households 10,000 Capital cost for citywide deployment per household $ Operational cost per household per month $3.33 Internal savings to city operations per household per month $4.16 Average annual savings per household created by free service $ Cumulative annual savings to the St. Cloud community $4,000,000 Potential annual recurring local economic stimulus created by recapturing dollars currently leaving the local economy to be spent for local goods and services $28,000, Citizen Access: Internet access anywhere in town. St. Cloud s Cyber Spot service provides free wireless broadband Internet access to their 28,000 residents. Prior, residents paid an average of $600 (a total of over $4,000,000 per year that will now be recaptured and invested into the local economy as an economic stimulus) a year for their broadband Internet services. With Cyber Spot, citizens expect to do the same things they do now with their connections at home plus add new capabilities and utilize these capabilities anywhere in town: Communicate with friends and family via voice, , or video Access government services without waiting in line Consider teleworking part or all of the day to avoid and reduce traffic Participate in on-line educational programs or do research Make purchases from any location Manage finances Learn about community events Get on-demand, location-specific information in the event of a public emergency Further reduce phone costs and increase capabilities via VOIP services Watch webcasts of community events (e.g. public meetings, little league games, etc.) Utilize home healthcare and/or monitoring services As laptops and smart phones become smaller and more capable, this enables anywhere, anytime access to voice, video, and data. And desktop users in homes and offices can still utilize wireless broadband to access the Internet. Although St. Cloud has chosen to provide free wireless broadband for citizen access, not all local governments will choose to make the same choice. But if citizen access is desired, there are different ways government and business can partner to do so as explained later in the Business Models section. *Compiled with the assistance of BIG Wireless, LLC
4 2. Local Government and Public/Private Utility Access: Reduce waste via higher productivity, provide better citizen service, and generate new revenue opportunities Lower government communication costs: - Wired Data: Consider replacing leased lines with wireless connections at government buildings, schools, libraries and hospitals, which eliminates leased lines each costing hundreds to thousands of dollars per month. - Cellular Voice and Data: Replace cell phones and cell-based data cards with voice-over-ip devices and wifi laptops for local communications, which eliminates cell phones (about $700 per person per year) and cell-based data cards (also about $700 per person per year). - VOIP Consolidation: Replace aging PBXs and consolidate to a VOIP-enabled PBX to reduce inbuilding phone costs and increase productivity - Access government data anywhere, anytime, to increase government efficiency Enable local government employees to be more productive: - Building inspectors get assignments; enter data, and issue permits and licenses in the field, avoiding wasteful trips to the office or time on the phone, enabling more inspections per day (on the order 33%) - The same in-field capabilities can be utilized by police and code enforcement officers, emergency medical personnel, fire safety inspectors, case workers, and public works employees Automate Electric, Water, and Gas Meter Reading - Enables reading of meters, detection of leaks, and safety monitoring either from a nearby vehicle or central location if meters can reach the wireless access layer Parking Meters - Enable citizens to pay be means other than cash, and enable remote monitoring of expired meters Remote Traffic Monitoring and Signal Control - Monitor key intersections - Control traffic signals to improve flow Better Utilize Government Assets - Schedule and track vehicles and equipment Increase Parks and Recreation Revenue - Reserve facility use on-line - In the field registration for scheduled events Revenue from Direct Alarms - Provide direct remote monitoring services for homes and businesses Reduced Court and Insurance Costs - Live in-car video provides a video event record, and backup support and guidance for officers in the field 3. A Safer Community: Police, Fire, Emergency Medical Access: In-field data for police (commonly called Mobile Data): - File reports in the field enabling more patrol time - Access vehicle and driver information - Monitor incident locations remotely via video surveillance - Use vehicle location to enable efficient dispatch and situational awareness from a central location Fire and Emergency Medical Mobile Data - File reports in the field - Access inter-departmental building blueprints on site - Access patient healthcare records on-site - Transmit patient information en route to the hospital Citizen Data - Enable remote monitoring of home, children, elderly, etc. - Community policing
5 4. Improved Economy: Access for tourists, local business, and those who could not otherwise afford it. Less expensive broadband access for local businesses Enable access for economically challenged individuals enabling economic and educational opportunities for all, often known by the phrase, Bridging the Digital Divide Support Tourism - Enable visitors to find restaurants, businesses, and local attractions - Easily locate public transportation schedules and even real-time train or bus locations 5. Improved Education: 1:1 computing, lighter backpacks, virtual high school (HP), buying fewer buildings (free up classroom seats) Review this list and identify applications of highest interest, and discuss them with others in your community. This enables you to zero in on your mission focus, key stakeholders, and business plan elements. It can spur groups in your community to consider creating and supporting a shared infrastructure. III. Process and Business Models: Laying the pipes What process did St. Cloud, with expert guidance from consultant MRI, use to get broad grass-roots support that WiFi was right for their community? Here are the steps they recommend: Phase 1: Identify Leadership, Educate Key Stakeholders Identify and Establish Project Leadership Early on, agree that a wireless project is about empowering your community, and technical implementation is a tool. The ideal leadership should come from a resource whose role is economic development and/or community relations. The leadership can be provided by an internal existing resource, or, as in the case of St. Cloud, and external consultant. Your leadership should then form a partnership with the Information Technology group, who should have reasonable networking skills and an up-to-date IT infrastructure. Even if the project is to be outsourced, IT should expect to dedicate one FTE on an ongoing basis. This resource will review and orchestrate vendor work, document network components, configuration, and best practices, and continually integrate new applications into city services. Identify Potential Stakeholders Local Government: Mayor, City Manager, Information Technology Department, city department directors Public Safety and Healthcare: Police Chief, Fire Chief, Hospital Administration Public Utilities: Energy and water officials (they often own light poles and towers) Education: School Administration, Student Government President, local universities Business: Chamber of Commerce President, local developers and builders, local incumbent service providers Local Media: Newspapers, radio, and TV Active Community Organizations: Senior Center Director, local community activists Interested Residents
6 Educate and Build Consensus Learn What Is Possible: Sponsor moderated workshop(s) to for identified stakeholders. What is wireless broadband and what does it enable? What have others done with it? Hewlett Packard and MRI provided this service for St. Cloud. Identify Top Opportunities: Stakeholders can now identify the key initial applications of greatest benefit to the community, potentially utilizing the list in Section II. Phase 2: Create the Business Plan Based on Stakeholder Input Determine Current Community Broadband Status - What Internet access do citizens currently have: Connectivity Level (bandwidth), Connectivity Type (cable modem, DSL, dial-up, etc.), Connectivity Cost Per Year. Survey as needed. - What are average citizen tax bills: City, County, Property taxes - Are there state or local regulatory restrictions on providing broadband wireless services? - Identify Preferred Business Model: Stakeholders can now identify the key initial applications of greatest benefit to the community, potentially utilizing the list in Section II. Government generates plan, funded from government budget Plan Creation Business (Internet Service Provider) or business consortium generates plan, funds from private entities Public / private partnership Identify location and ownership of buildings, towers, light poles, traffic lights, fiber Government Entity Public Utility Private Utility Privately Owned Government Pays Outsourcer None (citizen and business only) Technical Design and Deployment Private Consortium Funds Government Access, Support, and Maintenance Outsourced Existing utility adds wireless Citizen and Business Access, Support, and Maintenance Public / Private Partnership Provide via public utility None (government use only) Outsourced: free or feebased access Outsourced: sell capacity to private service providers who sell to citizens Provide via public utility Develop Preliminary Technical Plan: Based on target applications, work with a consultant experienced in Digital Community deployments to develop a preliminary design and that delivers the required connectivity. Specify service levels, infrastructure maintenance, customer support, and billing procedures as appropriate. Calculate Estimated Budget Gather input from vendors to identify capital and operational costs. Identify potential city savings: telecommunications, productivity gains resulting in fewer new employees, and new services, etc. Marketing Plan: Consider newspaper articles, web site, workshops, cable TV shows, newsletter, and printed collateral to ensure awareness and education leading to broad accessibility and grass-roots support. To gather support for the Business Plan, validate the plan with your original stakeholder community.
7 Phase 3: Develop RFP and Select an Integrator Develop RFP based on adopted Business Plan - Example RFPs can be found on-line or requested from existing projects. Visit Other Cities - While the RFP is in the field, visit other communities who ve made similar application and business model choices to your own Interview and review RFP responses and make integrator selection Phase 4: Infrastructure Implementation and Public Education Integrator deploys system in cooperation with IT Department Simultaneously, execute marketing and public education plan Phase 5: Add End-User Applications and Track Results Be Accountable: Track costs and savings, and productivity gains. Report annually What St. Cloud discovered is that there are no short cuts nor should they be attempted in the process of building grass route community consensus. To quote Mayor Glenn Sangiovanni It s not about technology, it s about community. By carefully building that community support and ownership along with educating the public, St. Cloud was able to develop nearly unanimous citizen support to move forward which made the allocation of funding an easy decision. IV. Summary: Bathing in Broadband Communities around the world are using wireless broadband technology to improve their economy, educate and provide services to their citizens, enhance public safety, and reduce government waste through increased efficiency. Governments fund all types of projects for their communities (many of which benefit a small segment of the population) in order to enhance the quality of life, education, public safety or the economic interests of their constituents. Municipal wireless systems are somewhat unique in that they benefit the broad spectrum of the population touching everyone s life for a minimal investment. Community needs will drive technology choices, not vice-versa. This guide offers an overview of the technology, applications, and processes used to go about pursuing the use of wireless broadband for the benefit of your community. Additional Resources for more info:
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