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Wireless Options – April 5th, 2011

Based on an analysis of the organization’s leadership, physical space and primary needs, what specific technology infrastructure makes sense? What do they need, and why do they need it? How long can this equipment reasonably be expected to fulfill their needs?

Technology Infrastructure

Last Updated April 5th, 2011

There are still a number of unanswered questions regarding the technology infrastructure of the wireless network that will span the administration building to the community center. Our options, as well as the overall outlook, pros, cons, and needs of each option are listed below.

Option #1 Image

Option #1- Charter hardwire line to community center, broadcast public Wi-Fi from both admin building and community center, with this option an access point is not needed

Pros – Most reliable connection for community center, decent coverage for public Wi-Fi
Cons – Very costly, most likely not possible, public Wi-Fi broadcast may be limited by trees
Needs – Discussion with Charter on options regarding hard line to the community center

Overall Outlook – This would be the ideal situation in that it would provide a reliable internet connection to the community center as well as decent coverage for broadcasting public access Wi-Fi to the park. Although this is our ideal option, the outlook is rather slim. It is unlikely that Charter has a line near the community center that will allow it to be hard wired. Further, to run a line out to the community center would be cost prohibitive. Right now, this remains our ideal option.

Option #2 Image

Option #2- Transmit a wireless signal from the administrative building to the community center using an antenna and concentrating its signal in one direction toward the community center.

Pros – Most likely cheaper than using a hard line and possibly cheaper than implementing a mesh network
Cons – May not be possible to broadcast the signal because of dense trees between the source and destination, signal may be unreliable during bad weather, does not provide public Wi-Fi access to park users
Needs – Signal strength testing results, using Soekris router and antenna, we need to test if there is a way that the signal has the strength to reach the community center, equipment wise, this infrastructure would entail two routers equipped with the proper antennas

Overall Outlook – This option would most likely be cheaper than having Charter run a hard line. However, even if we do get the signal transmitted to the community center, this option may pose a problem during adverse weather conditions. Further, come midsummer time, the trees may be much more dense thus causing the signal to absorbed. In general, this option is plausible, but must surpass our signal strength testing with flying colors in order for us to be confident in implementing it

Option #3 Image

Option #3- Create a mesh wireless network throughout the park using one or more access points in between the administrative building and the community. The mesh wireless network would be based on the internet service that is already in place at the administrative building. There is a shelter near the ball field that we believe has power and can be used as at least one access point. We may also consider using the boat house as another access point. The mesh network could hopefully be made simpler and easy to use by using Open Mesh products that appear to be the leading mesh network hardware provider.

Pros – Provide wireless coverage for nearly the entire park, and hopefully maintain a stronger signal throughout all access points
Cons – May turn out to be costly with routers and equipment to implement more access points, and might be to too technically advanced requiring the work of a professional to bring the design to fruition, possible problems in adverse weather conditions
Needs – Confirmation of at least one power source at shelter or boat house, at least one power on Ethernet injector (PoE) to transmit the signal without signal loss to a high point of the admin building, minimally 3 routers, one for each access point preferably equipped with the high power antennas

Overall Outlook – This option appears to be the one that we will end up implementing as long as the park district can supply the funds to purchase the necessary equipment. The biggest benefit of using this mesh network setup would be that it would provide a large area of coverage over the entire park which would hopefully bring more foot traffic into the park. See attached photos for possible access point setup.

 

Technology Infrastructure

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