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"WI-LINC" Commission

Meeting Minutes

January 16, 2007, 9:30 - 11:30 a.m.

Welcome - Ken Doty, Chair

1. Introductions

The Commission meeting was called to order at 9:35 a.m. by Chair, Ken Doty. Introductions by those present were made. (See below for list of those present.)

2. Community Research and Analysis Subcommittee Update - Ken Doty

Ken Doty reviewed the work of the Community Research and Analysis Subcommittee, including the results of the general public survey and a separate business survey that were made available on the City of Lincoln website. The Subcommittee reviewed several publications, news articles and contacted municipalities that have implemented or are considering implementation of wireless initiatives. (See attached Power Point presentation.)

3. Presentations

  1. Public Safety

    1. Lincoln Police Department: Tom Casady

      The Lincoln Police Department foresees future needs with regard to mobile broadband: greater access to the RMS (records management system) and other high bandwidth applications (photos, maps, and video). Reliability is critical. In general, the Department anticipates continuing to own and operate their own RF backbone for their mobile data needs. They are currently upgrading from EDACS (9600) to the OpenSky network (19.2), which doubles their throughput. Cost will continue to be the major factor limiting their access to broadband. The Police Department uses a few commercial wireless cards and devices, primarily Alltel EVDO, but the current quote for monthly service for each workstation is nearly $60. With 125 mobile units, the cost puts such accessibility out of reach. (For additional information, see attached Power Point presentation.)

      "A luxury once tasted becomes a necessity" - T. Casady

    2. Lancaster County Sheriff's Office: Jim Baird

      The Sheriff's Office operates on the same network as the Police Department. The Court Security Division (25-30 employees) operates in the Justice and Law Enforcement Center using handhelds in the Hall of Justice. They have 5 civil processors and deputies using commercial wireless to service processing and access the imaging system. The Office uses a combination of Blackberry devices, handheld PDAs with service through Cingular or Alltel, as well. These employees could benefit from a more comprehensive wireless plan.

      Their goals are similar to those of the Police Department. They need increased bandwidth available throughout the county so that officers in a cruiser can utilize a 19.2 connection or DSL connection to access the Nebraska Criminal Justice System (NCJS) system. They use it extensively in the office but can't do it in the cruisers.

      Although they have 95% coverage in the county with the technology present in their command vehicle, providing the same access in every cruiser would be cost prohibitive. Alltel coverage is the only game in town at $60 per month. Cingular does not provide service in the county. They also pay $25 per data radio in use.

      Tim Pratt, Lincoln Public Works Department interjected that his department is currently installing EVDO cards to track the location of every StarTran vehicle. This is a federal requirement and is being implemented with a federal grant. As required by the Federal Intelligent Transportation System Regional Architecture, once StarTran AVL project is complete the open system will be available to the City/County.

      In general, it appears that law enforcement organizations will continue to utilize hybrid solutions to support their work.

      On a side note, many noted that all Lincoln Public Schools utilize wireless within their school buildings. If access to their signal was made available, it could enhance the work of law enforcement affording them access in every LPS parking lot throughout the city.

    3. Lincoln Fire and Rescue: Glen Louch

      The Fire Department is examining wireless access as an enhancement for their ambulance service more than the fire service. Ambulances could contact doctors in route. Right now it is up to the medic to relay information to the doctor and interpret what he is saying. As medics do reports, they could type things into a computer and have it transmitted directly to the hospital. Currently, they must write on paper and then type in the same information when they arrive at the hospital, where it is then transmitted to the doctor. They are examining the possibility of utilizing tablet PCs.

      As far as engines and trucks are concerned, they do not feel a need for pre-access. In an ideal world, they could access maps of every major building for use in fire emergencies. Command units utilize information loaded on laptops to take to the scene. AVL is being examined to assist in determining "closest unit."

      Tim Pratt added that Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) federal guidelines could be used by Fire, but they would need to purchase equipment. Currently, all trucks have mobile data terminals. However, their use is undetermined.

      Computer aided dispatch - critical to work of all public safety units.

    4. Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department: James Bare and Kathy Cook

      The Health Department is currently using commercial mobile data resources. Usage is prioritized based on cost. Three priorities:

      • Emergency response team (i.e. responses to unknown substances)
      • Animal Control officers - operating out of their trucks
      • Disease Control staff: communicable disease outbreaks. Currently, nurses are sent to affected individuals where they collect information and must return to the office to updating other field staff.

    Access to bandwidth similar to that of law enforcement agencies (police, sheriff, etc.) is needed to share streaming video and receive maps, as well as receive plume modeling from the field. Beyond these areas, other field staff are on predictable schedules and they have routines established to download needed information. Other resources could use good mobile access if budgetary dollars were available. 8 palm devices used amongst staff.

    Lincoln Electric System noted that they have a mobile radio system that is becoming less congested all the time, as day-to-day work migrates to cell phone operation. They will always maintain a mobile operation, in case of emergency to maintain ongoing communication with crews. They also deploying aerial photography on local machines.

    LES does have some dark fiber (unlit or unused) in the system. Not all stations are connected by fiber, but that will occur in the future, most likely. Many communication networks are used by LES. Substations are spaced 2 to 2.5 miles apart, that's how loading occurs. Some are used for cellular tower locations today. They serve Waverly and beyond the city limits about 1 to 1.5 miles. Norris Public Power surrounds the LES service area in the remainder of Lancaster County.

    Public Works. Tim Pratt reported that Public Works utilizes several "wireless" functions in their day-to-day operation. They currently have 33 Wireless systems in place (25 "Point to Point" & 8 "Point to Multi-Point). They have implemented 58.3 miles of Dark Fiber, including 17.6 miles of Information Systems Fiber and have 15.5 miles of empty conduit ready to receive fiber. They have 27 traffic cameras and connect 14 offices and all city parking garages through wireless systems.

  2. Economic Development: Darl Naumann, Lincoln-Lancaster Economic Development

    City efforts regarding economic development focus on four areas: start-up business or entrepreneurship, existing business retention or expansion, business recruitment, and community development and marketing.

    Wireless access can be of great assistance in start-up business and entrepreneurship area.

    Economic development occurs with the combined efforts of lots of partners: LES, LPED, City of Lincoln, Aquila and other communication partners. The internal operation and integration of information sharing between entities, including business retention surveys, can be shared with other entities to follow-up.

    Wireless enhancements can be helpful with business recruitment - selling the community to potential employers. Developing infrastructure is the main challenge facing our economic development efforts; wireless could be considered "intelligent infrastructure". When comparisons of communities are made, such an amenity could create an advantage for Lincoln.

  3. Education Discussion

    It is believed that Lincoln Public Schools is hot throughout the City. It is possible that their network could serve as a backbone for other wireless use.

    Libraries are gradually adding wireless service to the general public at their branches as funding becomes available.

    Terry Lowe reported that in the past, the City wired all recreation centers and senior centers in the county. (For additional information, see Community Research Subcommittee minutes)

4. Technology Subcommittee Update

Ken Doty reported that the committee is ready to meet: Wi-Fi Mesh, WiMAX and Wi-Fi zones will be discussed as possible options. The subcommittee will be tasked with reviewing cost options and how those costs would be meted out for start-up and ongoing operation.

5. Nebraska Unicameral Legislative Update

Ken Doty will be talking to the Governor's Office about any statewide initiatives, with specific interest in any Homeland Security issues. No legislation has been introduced regarding the recommendations of the State Task Force. Today is the last day for bill introduction.

6. Next Steps:

  1. Assignment Review
  2. Next meeting of the Full Commission

The full commission will meet following the Technology and Legal Subcommittee work, most likely within the next four to six weeks

The meeting was adjourned at 11:15 a.m.

Attendance List:

Name Organization
Jim Baird Lancaster County Sheriff's Office
James Bare Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department
Bruce Bohrer Lincoln Chamber of Commerce
Tom Casady Lincoln Police Department
Kathy Cook Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department
Lisa Darlington-Johnson LPED
Ken Doty Triadix Inc. - Chair
Eric Erlandson Internet Nebraska
Steve Huggenberger City Law Department
Glen Louch Lincoln Fire and Rescue
Terry Lowe City of Lincoln Information Services
Paul Marsolek
Steve Meradith Windstream
Darl Naumann Lincoln-Lancaster Economic Development
Patricia Owen Lincoln Chamber of Commerce - Public Policy
Tim Pratt Public Works Department - Engineering Services
Dan Pudenz Lincoln Electric System
Shelly Sahling-Zart Lincoln Electric System
Bob Sundquist ABLE
Doug Thomas City of Lincoln Information Services

Submitted by Jennifer Brinkman, Staff