Smart Cities and Downtown WiFi

The City of Middletown has spent several months looking at Smart City concepts and their potential applications to our city.  The possibilities are almost as endless as the number of apps available for your smart phone. And the technology and the ideas are exploding exponentially as new ideas come online (pun intended!).

Cities around the country are looking at items such as smart street lighting, wireless surveillance cameras, smart parking meters, real time traffic control and traffic light operations, technology that triangulates where gunshots are fired from, free public WiFi, parking solutions where computers monitor the number of open spaces in public parking lots and direct people to open lots, transit options that show buses in real time and the number of minutes until the bus arrives at your stop and on and on.

Some of these concepts are designed to move people more quickly and more safely, while others are designed to save the municipality money in operating costs through efficiency.

All of this really cool “stuff” requires significant broadband access including usually fiber optic cable nearby.  As we work on the new Master Plan, part of that plan will likely include some use of this new technology and capacity built over time through multiple year’s budgets.

City Council believes in the concepts and applications that encompass being a “smart city.”  To start the process, we looked at a limited project of bringing free WiFi access to downtown Middletown in the Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA).

After talking to multiple vendors, we selected Cincinnati Bell to implement this first project. They will be working with downtown businesses to set up a WiFi network downtown this summer. Once completed, you should be able to log onto the City’s free WiFi network while you are enjoying downtown activities.

We are also exploring adding WiFi access at Smith Park. We have a number of large events in the park each year with soccer tournaments, the Ohio Balloon Challenge, the Fourth of July fireworks and other activities. We are looking to design a network that can be turned on and off as events take place. If we have a soccer tournament one week from Thursday through Sunday, we can “flip the switch” and turn the WiFi network on Wednesday night, operate it and pay for the network use through Sunday, and then turn it back off on Monday morning after everyone is gone.

Beyond these two projects, we’ll be exploring how we can utilize this new technology through out the city over time. Council will set the objectives and the priorities for implementation and then we’ll incorporate new pieces into the budget as directed by Council each year.

 

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