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Ponca City Press Release
Date: 11.10.08
Contact: Gary Martin, City Manager

Ponca City Announces World Class Wireless Network

     "Our goal is to be one of the most mobile communities in America, and this is a significant step in that direction" ,said Homer Nicholson, Mayor of Ponca City. "Seventy-five percent of the Citys staff performs duties outside an office. So this network is an important productivity tool for our employees. And the enhanced communications mean improved safety and service for our residents, and reduced costs for the City."

     This project was constructed under a contract with Honeywell, Inc., which implemented a broadband mesh network – comprised of more than 490 wireless nodes and gateways from Tropos Networks that will provide coverage for approximately 60 square miles of Ponca City. The mesh network offers the City reliability and redundancy through its self-healing capabilities; meaning if one radio node becomes unavailable, the network automatically routes wireless signals to a different node, ensuring uninterrupted service.

     Nearly every City department, including police, fire and emergency, parks and recreation, public works and energy, will have applications to leverage the new network. Once online, City employees will gain remote access to programs, files and information, which will help the City improve safety and security, expedite reporting, reduce paperwork and improve communications.  

     For example, the City is installing wireless video cameras in police vehicles, so precinct dispatchers and supervisors can monitor activities during traffic stops, and quickly deploy additional officers and resources if necessary.  Police officers can also instantly connect to online databases when making a routine traffic stop to check for outstanding warrants or to determine whether a vehicle is stolen – further increasing officer and public safety.

     "We explored various wireless options for more than five years", said Craige Baird, Technology Services Director for the City of Ponca City.  "When Honeywell combined its installation and service expertise with the Tropos technology, we knew this was the right solution.  It met all our requirements for public safety, as well as for the rest of our departments."  

     To top it all off - the City is offering residents and business in the coverage area free high-speed Internet access! Ponca City Free WiFi is a FREE Wireless Internet Service being offered to Ponca City residents and businesses, as part of an ongoing effort to meet the ever changing needs of our hometown!  "The applications for this network are nearly limitless," said Gary Martin, City Manager for the City of Ponca City. "This project will improve our ability to better serve the community. It gives us an advantage as we attract new business to the area, boosting our economic development efforts and helping provide a more livable community for our youth after college and our seniors upon retirement."

     Baird enthusiastically agrees to the countless applications now available, stating "With a Wi-Fi-enabled device, you can get access to the internet for free by accessing Ponca City Free WiFi almost anywhere in Ponca City. Once connected you can check your email while watching a sporting event or you can connect to the internet to look up a recipe while waiting to pick up your child from school, check the weather radar while fishing on Lake Ponca, or check the caloric content of different menu items while ordering at a restaurant."

   Wi-Fi is a trade name for this popular wireless technology used in home networks, mobile networks, and electronic devices, like laptops and iPhones that utilize this type of wireless network to connect to the internet or to a private network. Nicholson stated, "This technology became available in Ponca City after the outdoor wireless network was installed to provide field communications for City services, in order to improve worker efficiencies and level of service for customers.  However, the testing of this network showed that it was robust enough to handle not only municipal traffic, but also citizens traffic."  Nicholson continued, "So the Ponca City Board of Commissioners voted to allow the extra internet access to be given to the citizens of Ponca City for free! Ponca City is the first municipality in Oklahoma to provide this community service to its citizens. Few cities worldwide provide this service, especially at this coverage and speed."

    "Using innovative technology to create safer, more secure and productive environments is a cornerstone of our work,” said Paul Orzeske, President of Honeywell Building Solutions. "Having city-wide wireless broadband puts Ponca City in a select league, making the city a better place for people to live and do business, and creating a foundation for a more connected future. The broadband network is currently online. Honeywell and Ponca City are working on a second phase of the project, which will expand the network and wireless coverage to more than 700 square miles, including hard-to-reach areas such as Kaw Lake."

      "In taking the step of building a wireless IP foundation, Ponca City has demonstrated its leadership and commitment towards achieving its vision of becoming one of the most mobile communities in the country", said Tom Ayers, president and CEO of Tropos.  "Ponca City joins the Tropos family of over 500 other municipalities who are using city-owned, communication infrastructure to make their communities greener, smarter, and safer."

     Other potential uses for the broadband network:Emergency responders can send vital information from the ambulance to the emergency room, so doctors can begin advising on trauma care and better prepare for patients to arrive.  And building inspectors can quickly access records and input data into their laptops while working in the field to generate permits without traveling back to the office reducing fuel costs and increasing site inspections per day.
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