Wireless Cloud Drifting Toward Sunny Monterey - InformationWeek

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Wireless Cloud Drifting Toward Sunny Monterey

California city plans to deploy a wireless network over the next two years to let 420 city workers transmit and receive data and even TV signals.

If all goes well, there will be a permanent cloud over the city of Monterey in California by the end of 2007. Unlike the kind of cloud that would darken the city's picturesque shoreline, this one is actually expected to help grow its tourism business.

"We want a wireless cloud covering the city within the next 24 months," says Fred Cohn, Monterey deputy city manager. The "cloud," or wireless network, would be for city workers and initially include at least six hot-spots that can be used by police, firefighters, and even the library's bookmobile. The wireless network would ultimately provide access to 420 municipal employees and reach remote sites within the city that Cohn says he can't afford to extend fiber to, such as park irrigation systems and the sewage lift station.

The network also could be opened publicly in certain areas of the city, a move primarily to benefit tourists searching for things to do in the city.

Monterey's track record dealing with high-speed networks lends credibility to the city's wireless aspirations. Cisco Systems and Monterey earlier this week announced that the city has implemented a converged, high-capacity networking infrastructure that replaces an assortment of T1, digital subscriber line, and dial-up connections at about 60 different locations. These include 20 city facilities, 20 traffic-signal locations, 10 public schools, and 10 other facilities, including the Monterey Bay Aquarium and California State University Monterey Bay.

"From a community perspective, there's great economic value tied to this network," Cohn says. "We get big pipes for what we were paying for skinny pipes."

Indeed, Monterey is getting gigabit connectivity, or 1,000 Mbps, for the same price it had been paying for 1.5 Mbps on its T1 network. The new network allows video-conferencing among facilities, enabling City Council meetings to be broadcast on government-access TV and both live and on-demand over the Internet.

Monterey's network consists of Cisco Catalyst 4006 and 3500 Series switches, 7200 Series routers, and Cisco Aironet 1200 Series wireless access points.

Says Cohn, "The bottom line for us, it's all about getting the information from where it exists to where it's needed."

Monterey isn't the only city that's benefited from network upgrades. The city of Southfield, Mich., claims to be saving about $100,000 annually since it moved more than two dozen of its municipal departments to a new Cisco IP Communications infrastructure that runs its phone system. In Everett, Wash., a Cisco wireless network is making it easier for police to access mug shots, warrants, and other law-enforcement information from laptops in their squad cars.

In Denton County, Texas, an integrated Cisco network for voice, video, and data communications is estimated to be saving hundreds of thousands of dollars, increasing staff productivity, and improving service to its citizens. Denton is now streamlining back-office processes with Web-based applications, broadcasting commission meetings over IP-based TV, and instigating an assortment of online services, such as work bids and requests for proposals, property and judicial records searches, and tax-statement reviews.

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