Intel Envisions Wireless Cities

By David Needle

August 18, 2005

A pilot program led by the chipmaker will help provide connectivity and applications in 13 communities.

Intel and a group of fellow technology companies today announced a "Digital Communities" initiative to help municipal governments use wireless technology and innovative applications to expand and improve services for businesses and citizens.

The applications range from automating mobile workers such as meter readers and building inspectors to increasing the safety and enhancing resource management of first responders by remotely monitoring vehicle location to enhancing parent, teacher collaboration for improved student success.

Coincidently, WiFi got a boost earlier this week when Intel's California neighbor to the north, San Francisco, announced a major initiative. Mayor Gavin announced the city had put forth a Request for Information and Comments about unwiring the 49 square miles south of the Golden Gate.

Intel said it plans to work with a diverse group of high-tech companies, to help 13 "pilot" communities design, develop and deploy comprehensive solutions and services. Examples include solutions to enhance government efficiency, promote economic growth, foster greater community satisfaction and bridge the so-called digital divide by making technology more accessible to poorer communities.

"Intel is coming in with an almost consultative, market development role," Jeff Manning, director of business development Airpath, one of the participating companies, told internetnews.com "We're tied to Intel' s hip on this. The two of us are similarly interested in trying to seed the market.

Cleveland, Corpus Christi, Texas; Philadelphia,; and Taipei, Taiwan are among the pilot areas with significant wireless services already in place. Corpus Christi, for example, is deploying a large wireless network that will soon span 147 square miles. This "multi-use" network, consisting of Tropos' mesh technology and Pronto Networks' security and management software, allows private and public users to securely share the same infrastructure, accessing only authorized applications and services.

The city expects to significantly benefit from mobile solutions, given 70 percent of its employees work in the field. Three of the solutions deployed focus on building inspection, video surveillance and vehicle location.

Dell outfitted the city's Construction and Permits Department with a mobile solution to re-engineer building inspectors' work processes with the ability to update permit data from a construction site, improving accuracy and reducing the inspection cycle by up to six days.

IBM equipped police cars with the capability for streaming video to help with better decision making regarding incident response and documentation of violators at a crime scene.

SAP developed a vehicle asset location tool, which allows the city to track vehicles more affordably, dispatch work crews more efficiently and ensure the safety of its first responders.

Other communities involved in the initiative are Portland, Oregon; Mangaratiba, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Duesseldorf, Germany; Gyor, Hungary; Jerusalem, Israel; Principality of Monaco; Seoul, South Korea; Osaka, Japan; and Westminster, London, United Kingdom.

Technology companies involved in the Digital Communities program not already mentioned include: Accela, Airpath Wireless, Alvarion, British Telecom, CapGemini, CDW Government, Inc (CDW-G), Check Point, Cisco, Civitium, EarthLink, iMove, Panasonic Computer Solutions Company, Pronto Networks, Szintezis Rt., Telindus, Tropos and Vertex.

Intel said it is also working closely with Muniwireless.com, an online site devoted to municipal wireless broadband. Muniwireless features a solutions library of case studies to detail the return on investment local governments can realize from technology deployment.



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