Wireless History to Managed WIFI and Smart City Kiosks

/ smart city wirelss

By Jon Salisbury

Managed Wifi Providers like Nexigen & smartLINK want to plan and test weeks prior to deploying a system to ensure perfect results. Well in the world of managed wifi you don’t always get what you want. The key is overcoming the obstacles and having the experience to plan for the unforeseen challenges.

Nexigen has been strategic in hiring some very talented engineers that focus on technology related problems that are outside of a traditional IT project scope. As the leading managed WIFI provider in Cincinnati, we have a tremendous amount of experience and are great at overcoming obstacles when working with cities. Nexigen will always be the best cyber security service provider and cloud service firm in Cincinnati Ohio but with the explosion of the internet of things and advancement in wireless communication, we find ourselves working on city-wide projects as well. One such project is our smart city initiative (Managed WIFI / Smart City Kiosks) in Newport Kentucky (Just across the river from Cincinnati Ohio) which is getting underway in December 2016.

Last week we were challenged with a very cool solution request from the city of Lawrenceburg Indiana (Located just outside of Greater Cincinnati). The utility director of Lawrenceburg Indiana requested to have speaker’s set up across the city to play holiday music to Lawrenceburg for the Tree lighting. Because of challenges, this would have to be a wireless speaker system across a good portion of the city.

Request challenges

  1. The request came in just 7 days away from its implementation target.
  2. Fiber cabling had not been run to the poles yet.
  3. No Ethernet cabling had been ran
  4. Wireless equipment needed was not in inventory.
  5. Speakers were not in inventory.
  6. Amplifiers were not in inventory.
  7. Logistics.

How to overcome?

  1. Two words “hustle” and “intelligence”. Those are the two things we could guarantee we had.
  2. Lawrenceburg, unlike many cities, runs and maintains its own utilities and water systems. This means they have capabilities to run fiber so this could be accomplished. This also means they have the bucket trucks to help with the install.
  3. The city had poles and power at each pole which made the job possible.
  4. Nexigen created a plan all night Wednesday night will all equipment needs and specs / placement.
  5. Nexigen sales team called 8 different distributors to find the parts needed. We had to order the same part from multiple distributors due to stock being low. We also had to pay for fastest shipping possible and in some cases drive to cities close by to get the equipment from warehouses.
  6. Configuration was not too difficult for our engineers but consistency was needed so extensive QA was performed while configuring at Nexigen HQ over the weekend to get some extra days at the project.
  7. We had plenty of inventory on cables. (The easy part)

The Solution

  1. Nexigen chose Ubiquiti networks for the carrier antennas which can send 300Mbps of 5GHZ plus signal over 6 miles. (Managed WIFI Antennas)
  2. Lawrenceburg has 1 main street we would be deploying the solution to which ran just over 1 mile. We decided on placing the 3 carrier grade antennas on a tower at the front of the street.
  3. We had no time to field test so this was a guess based on much experience and we hoped it would work.
  4. We ordered outdoor-ready enclosures which would heat and cool the equipment and protect it from the elements.
  5. We chose Ubiquiti switches with POE to power the Wireless receives on the poles and keep consistency for management. (Optimal Managed WIFI)
  6. We chose Sonos AMP’s which would connect the outdoor speakers.
  7. The outdoor speakers and Ubiquiti wireless receivers would sit outside the enclosures while the AMP and switch were protected on the inside.

Ultra-Compressed Project Time Line

Wednesday, November 16th, 2016.
Plan and design all night.

Thursday, November 17th, 2016
Order all equipment with rush shipping.

Friday, November 18th, 2016
Ensure all equipment would arrive Friday or over the weekend.

Saturday, November the 19th, 2016
All boxes arrive other than outdoor enclosures.
Configuration began for antennas, switches, receivers.
Cincinnati Managed WIFI Antennas
Cincinnati Managed WIFI Antennas

Sunday, November 20th, 2016
Rest of boxes arrive and configuration & assembly begin
Configuration standard and documentation complete
Managed WIFI Pole attachment Kits
Managed WIFI Pole attachment Kits

Monday, November 21st, 2016
Team Nexigen jumps into high gear.
Nexigen Architect Chris Compton meets with team Lawrenceburg to discuss fiber logistics and bucket truck accessibility.
Nexigen finalizes configuration and assembly of all devices.
Deployment of full pole mount kit and antenna mounting complete.
Antenna signal to furthest point tested and confirmed satisfactory.
Fiber ran to the pole for the antenna by the City of Lawrenceburg utility department.

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016
Nexigen deploys 2 teams of 2 to deploy to start pole attachments of speaker, wireless receiver, enclosures.
This continues all day.

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2016
9AM 3 crews join the party with 2 network engineers directing traffic.
1PM 2 poles left
3 PM network is coming online but a problem exists.
5PM we identify that a bad password was set on 5 access point receiver’s meaning we would need to get to each one to reconfigure. Not a huge deal but time-consuming.
7 PM all but 2 are working properly and Sonos Amps are paired with the master station.
9 PM the town is lit up with music.
First song was crazy train which sounded amazing. The video does not do it justice.
The second song was holiday music.

This is the very definition of a compressed timeline and one that has some risk. The client knew the risks and helped solve many of the problems that came up. We were thankful to work with such a great client like the City of Lawrenceburg.

This project was designed, purchased, implemented and tested in under 7 days and it is working.

I am so lucky to be surrounded by such talented engineers that love to work hard and as a team.

The best part of this project was watching my team just laughing and working together. Our client even commented that he was overly impressed by the kinship that was apparent in the entire team of 9 from Nexigen. As the founder and CTO / COO it made my holiday season start off on a high note.

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