17 Oct 2005

Wi-Fi Cloud Covers Rural Oregon

I have been talking about the benefits of municipal wireless setups for some time now. There have been many people commenting that much of my district is too rural for that to be very useful. Municipal Wireless is mostly useful for large cities – San Francisco, New York, Philadelphia.
Well, I just read an online article in Wired magazine that describes a wireless setup in rural Oregon that has some great examples of how a wireless network over a large rural area has great benefits – not the least of which being less of a fight from the big telecoms.
For farmers :
Parked alongside his onion fields, Bob Hale can prop open a laptop and read his e-mail or, with just a keystroke, check the moisture of his crops.
As the jack rabbits run by, he can watch CNN online, play a video game or turn his irrigation sprinklers on and off, all from the air conditioned comfort of his truck.
“Outside the cloud, I can’t even get DSL,� said Hale. “When I’m inside it, I can take a picture of one of my onions, plug it into my laptop and send it to the Subway guys in San Diego and say, ‘Here’s a picture of my crop.’�
For the Port:
For the Columbia River Port of Umatilla, one of the largest grain ports in the nation, the wireless network is being used to set up a high-tech security perimeter that will scan bar codes on incoming cargo.
“It has opened our eyes and minds to possibilities. Now that we’re not tied to offices and wires and poles, now what can we do?� said Kim Puzey, port director.
And municipal services are all benefiting from this setup, as well :
Now, emergency responders in the three counties surrounding the Umatilla Chemical Depot are equipped with laptop computers that are Wi-Fi ready.
These laptops are set up to detail the size and direction of a potential chemical leak, enabling responders to direct evacuees from the field.
Traffic lights and billboards posting evacuation messages can also be controlled remotely over the wireless network.
And for the Hermiston Police Department, having squad cars equipped with a wireless laptop means officers can work less overtime by being able to file their crime reports from the field.
They have also setup a specialized program that allows local officials to check parking meters remotely, among other things. These are some real life examples of what happens when wireless clouds are setup in any community. This is why I have made my Wireless America initiative part of our American Roadmap goals. It's about improving the economy – from the farmers to the Port Authority, small businesses to big ones.
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