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Wif to the rescue as governments react to COVID pandemic

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, many people have been forced or required to work from him. Working from home has exposed the digital divide that is present. Very few have the kind of reliable internet necessary to work from home as they socially distance.

This distancing has led to state and local governments having to work out means to get internet through wifi projects to the people.

Buses as wifi hotspots

Improvisation, adaptability and flexibility are some of the words that can describe some of the steps local governments have taken to provide wifi services to their citizens. In Sacramento for example, Regional Transit buses, because of their size were turned into mobile wifi hotspots. The conversion was done by Sacramento’s chief innovation officer Louis Stewart to help people get internet access through the Sacramento Public Library’s portal.

Sacramento though is strategically positioned as it is the capital of California. As such, has government affairs representatives situated there. Adding to that, the private sector through companies such as Cradlepoint, Aruba and sierra wireless helped provide wifi access points and routers with mobile carriers such as AT&T, Verizon and T-mobile providing wireless backhaul.

There are 10 Sacramento buses currently operating as of 11th May; these buses work in 3-hour shifts according to Stewart; in locations such as churches, schools and public parks with a gradual increase in the use of the services.

Repurposing mobile wifi for static deployment

Another city that has deployed the idea of mobile wifi is Albuquerque. Although these programs have their challenges as the city’s technology and innovation department director Brian Osterloh said. The most prevalent being marketing and public awareness.

The program officials have used robocall school systems to provide awareness of the city’s wifi on wheels program. Which works in almost the same way as Sacramento’s system.

The city has as well created fixed wifi points around municipal buildings. Using Cisco Access Points that are usually on transit buses during standard times.

Outdoor wifi making in-school internet available

Public schools have provided some of the best solutions to providing wifi solutions to the public. Sioux City (Iowa) public school systems are using the city’s most active meal-pickup sites as locations for its wifi project. But this is a much smaller project compared to others as only 3 vans are in use.

As is the case in other cities with mobile hotspot projects. Verizon is providing the vans with a backhaul link and standard wifi access points.

School buildings in Sioux City are used as wifi hotspots. They have access points mounted outside so that their parking lots can be used by those seeking Internet access.

Microsoft grant helps Washington State

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Outdoor Wifi provided by Cisco & Ruckus

Community wifi projects are expanding to cover more ground. Washington has partnered with a non- profit; ITDRC (Information Technology Disaster Resource Center) aided by grants from Microsoft. They wire the outside of buildings and parking lots throughout the state. Ruckus and Cambium access points are being used in this project to create large zones between 1,000 to 2,000 feet. According to The Director of the Washington State Broadband Office, Russ Elliot.

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