Government Technology

    Digital Communities
    Industry Members

  • Click sponsor logos for whitepapers, case studies, and best practices.
  • McAfee

Jim Long


March 2, 2005 By

The Washington State Ferries (WSF) system serves more than eight counties in Washington state and the province of British Columbia, Canada, and includes 10 routes and 20 terminals served by 29 vessels.

Passengers have been inquiring about wireless Internet service aboard the ferries since Jim Long, the WSF's director of information technology, arrived in 2001.

Because of Long's help in implementing the Wireless Over Water (WOW) pilot, commuters on three routes can connect to the Internet from the moment they arrive at the dock, throughout their journey and on the dock at their destination.

What was your role in the WOW implementation?

Washington State Ferries supplied the platform. My role was to work with Mobilisa [a Washington-based wireless company] in arranging for them to get out to the various sites, to review their analysis and to give them our data on our coverage envelopes.

We already have a wireless system for general business, but it's very narrow bandwidth -- nowhere near the bandwidth the customers have. It did not give continuous connectivity and really only gave connectivity, say, a quarter mile from the terminal to the boat. After that, there was no connection. I participated in the WOW evaluation, overall management of the project, managing the funding and reporting to the federal transportation administration. All the technology is done by Mobilisa.

The wireless network is already live on one route. Which other lines will get wireless access, and when?

Right now it's also live on Kingston-Edmonds and on Bainbridge-Seattle. The Bainbridge run is our highest-volume passenger run -- during peak commute runs, we can have 2,500 people aboard the vessel. If 2,500 wanted to connect, that would be a problem. We're thinking anywhere between 100 and 300 could do concurrent work, maybe 500 total.

The analogy I use is Starbucks. You walk into Starbucks -- Starbucks has wireless Internet access, they have 20 customers, and maybe five are using their laptops. That doesn't create a bandwidth problem. But if you've got 2,500 and the same percentage -- or let's make the percentage even less, so 20 percent, or 500 are using it -- that's a tremendous amount of data you're trying to cram down a couple of T1s.

How do you handle 200 or 300 concurrent users?

This is what we're trying to find out. The issue gets to be -- we can get the data off the boat -- it's from its first receipt onshore, getting it out to the Internet service provider. What kind of bandwidth do we really need? When you're cramming things down a T1, which is 1.4 MB per second, how is the ISP going to deal with this kind of volume?

Part of this study is pointing that out. It's not the data on the boat. It's not getting the data off the boat. It's, once it's off the boat and goes through the cloud, if you will, to the initial point of presence, how do we keep that going? When we go out for a formal RFP to the private sector, that will be pointed out.


| More

Comments

Add Your Comment

You are solely responsible for the content of your comments. We reserve the right to remove comments that are considered profane, vulgar, obscene, factually inaccurate, off-topic, or considered a personal attack.

In Our Library

White Papers | Exclusives Reports | Webinar Archives | Best Practices and Case Studies
Digital Cities & Counties Survey: Best Practices Quick Reference Guide
This Best Practices Quick Reference Guide is a compilation of examples from the 2013 Digital Cities and Counties Surveys showcasing the innovative ways local governments are using technological tools to respond to the needs of their communities. It is our hope that by calling attention to just a few examples from cities and counties of all sizes, we will encourage further collaboration and spark additional creativity in local government service delivery.
Wireless Reporting Takes Pain (& Wait) out of Voting
In Michigan and Minnesota counties, wireless voting via the AT&T network has brought speed, efficiency and accuracy to elections - another illustration of how mobility and machine-to-machine (M2M) technology help governments to bring superior services and communication to constituents.
Why Would a City Proclaim Their Data “Open by Default?”
The City of Palo Alto, California, a 2013 Center for Digital Government Digital City Survey winner, has officially proclaimed “open” to be the default setting for all city data. Are they courageous or crazy?
View All