About ten miles south of me, the city of Hollywood (pop. 142,000; 27 square miles; 70 square km) has apparently abandoned hopes of providing free municipal Wi-Fi to its residents. It is attempting to recover up to $3.8 million from the chief contractor, Johnson Controls. Hollywood had been named a top 10 digital city multiple times by the Center for Digital Government.
In 2008, the city signed a contract with Johnson Controls to install Wi-Fi for $3.8 million, an automated water-meter reading system for $9.2 million, and solar-powered parking meters for $3.1 million.
It sounds like this project failed because:
- The city’s wireless access points (APs) share the same channels with residents’ privately owned APs in their homes — a recipe for interference problems.
- Large buildings interrupt Wi-Fi signal.
- Providing adequate backhaul bandwidth from the APs to the city’s network backbone requires either dedicated fiber to each AP or a dense switched mesh network; neither option is cheap.
- The Wi-Fi spec doesn’t accommodate seamless handover.
I hope that the parking meter and water meter data aren’t being transported on Wi-Fi channels; the unlicensed 902 to 928 MHz ISM (industrial, scientific, and medical) band or a licensed frequency would make sense for those applications.
Apparently part of the contract includes deployment of a licensed 4.9 GHz radio system for its police department.
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© Russ Bellew · Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA · phone 954 873-4695