By Post Staff
The City of Oakland held a town hall meeting this week, seeking public input and providing information on possibilities for building a citywide wireless broadband network that could used by residents, public safety officers or other city services.
Steve Blum and Cynthia Mackey, consultants for the city, moderated the meeting, held Monday afternoon at City Hall.
Summarizing the experiences of other cities, Blum said that smaller wireless projects have been more successful so far than large citywide networks. In the City of Folsom, for example, small wireless networks have been set up at various hotspots, at the aquatic center, around city hall and the library. It has been very success and is called the “drinking fountain model,” he said.
In Tucson, the city has used the technology to install video and audio in ambulances. Doctors can provide care from the moment the patient arrives in the hospital, because they are gathering information and seeing the patient during the trip to the emergency room. This approach has increased efficiency and saved money, Blum said.
Milpitas provides wireless access to public safety employees and has led to faster response time, he said. East Palo Alto provides wireless to community organizations and nonprofits for agencies such as after school tutoring and job placement programs.
While new technologies are beginning to be used, the cost of citywide network has been frequently too costly, Blum said. Initial costs are often low, but the networks are not cheap to maintain, he said
The use of wireless broadband and other communication technologies are a priority for Mayor Ron Dellums, said Kitty Kelly Epstein, executive assistant to the mayor.
“We consider access to technology to be an equity issues for the city,” she said. “We want people to have access whether or not they have resources in their homes or the employment opportunities to pay for it. It’s an issue of educational opportunity.”