ABB Wireless

Monday, November 9, 2009

Tropos Customer, City of Rock Hill, SC Selected to Showcase Citywide Network at Congress of Cities Expo

The National League of Cities’ has selected the City of Rock Hill, South Carolina to display its customer-driven citywide Wi-Fi system, based on Tropos, at the Congress of Cities Exposition, November 10-14, in San Antonio, TX. Rock Hill was one of a select group of U.S. cities chosen by the National League of Cities to share experiences with innovative and unique programs or services.

In 2006, Rock Hill installed a Tropos wireless broadband network citywide as a foundation for deploying a wide range of municipal services. The City was one of the first in the world to implement a citywide Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and fixed leak detection system. Not only has this real time meter data resulted in operational savings through greater efficiencies in manpower, it has enabled the City to offer enhanced customer services such as real time access to accounts and rate of use.

According to Rock Hill City Manager Carey Smith, the City incorporated the creation of a citywide Wi-Fi network as part of its strategic plan several years ago. “We knew that a Wi-Fi system had many practical uses in terms of maximizing manpower by utilizing the latest technology. The system is now used by all City Departments and facilities and has resulted in resource conservation, greater internal efficiencies and improved customer service capabilities,” said Smith.

While meter reading was the first key application to utilize the Tropos Network, the city experiences daily cost savings for a wide range of additional applications from law enforcement to public safety to public works. For example, the Police Department estimates that officers are out in the field two hours more per day because of the increased efficiencies in daily operations through use of the Wi-Fi network; the Fire Department can access information on the presence of hazardous materials en route to an emergency call.

James “Jimmy” G. Bagley, Jr., Public Services Administrator/CIO for the City of Rock Hill was instrumental in planning and implementation of the citywide Wi-Fi network. “We wanted to build a foundation for the City’s future rather than just an AMR (Automated Meter Reading) system,” said Bagley. “With our high-speed Wi-Fi infrastructure, we now have the capacity to continue delivering many different City services – all on the same low cost, reliable network.”

Friday, November 6, 2009

Broadband Collaboration -- Key to Expediting Smart Grid Rollouts?

For quicker and smarter implementation of smart grid broadband communications, we believe that a prudent approach is for public utilities, Co-Ops, municipalities and vendors to collaborate and share broadband communications in order to advance important grid initiatives. As Craig Settles, an analyst and president of consulting firm states in his blog about broadband stimulus recipients, “The end goal for Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA) applicants would be to strengthen the business case or the technology strategy of the broadband proposal. For the smart grid grant winners, this collaboration can lead to a better overall infrastructure that moves their data more efficiently.”

As Settles aptly points out, “Urban areas definitely need to jump on this opportunity with both feet. Public utilities in Philadelphia and Baltimore are just two major cities that won big grants, and these are areas that have little or no chance at getting an infrastructure grant. But if big cities have broadband adoption and/or public computer center proposals in the queue as Philly does, they possibly can work out a way to tap into aspects of the smart grids wireless network or backhaul. Because the network infrastructure would already be paid for, NOFA applicants can make a stronger case for financial sustainability of the project.”

Moreover, Sarah Reedy reporting from Telephony Online points out that “Two-way communication is critical to essentially all the advanced features of the smart grid, over which consumption data is backhauled. A community can either lend its fiber network to the utility for this backhaul or rely on the utility’s fiber network, if they choose to build their own, for their purposes.”

We couldn’t agree more. In fact, several Tropos Networks customers such as the City of Corpus Christi, Texas, have taken the lead to not only bring intelligence to their local utility communication networks, but to also leverage their investment to include broadband access for the community.

Municipalities, public utilities, and vendors all working together are today helping to make communities greener, safer, and smarter. Let’s continue that trend.


Tropos Customer Corpus Christi Named Top Digital City

In its annual survey, the Center for Digital Government ranked Corpus Christi, Texas as the number one digital city in the nation among cities with a population of over 250,000. Automated gas and water meter reading are two of the key municipal services utilizing the city-owned Tropos wireless broadband network. "We're getting about 99.9 percent accuracy on the readings and it's helped us quite a bit," stated Corpus Christi CIO, Michael Armstrong (pictured right). The automated metering system reads approximately 115,000 water and gas meters twice daily and enables generation of online billing statements.

The City also leverages the Tropos network for a range of other municipal services to improve municipal services delivered to the community. This includes:

  • Public Safety and Utility vehicles are tracked using the network to identify the closest vehicle to respond to incidents at a fraction of the cost of previous systems.
  • First responders and ER doctors have quick access to HIPAA releases for victims, enabling quicker treatment beyond simple field triage.
  • Building inspections became more efficient by reducing the lag time between helping cut overall construction time throughout the city by reducing delays between inspections and approvals.
  • Over 40 city facilities, such as police substations, fire stations, senior centers, and parks and recreation facilities have been outfitted with Tropos routers so they can serve as safe, reliable Wi-Fi hotspots for municipal workers who do not have mobile wireless network connectivity, enabling them to use conventional laptops to connect to city IT resources when out in the field.
"No city in the entire United States uses and manages technology better than we do, here in Corpus Christi, and we can be proud that we are the very best," Armstrong concluded.