Wireless Works: Citywide Wi-Fi in the Smart City
Paul West, Business Development Manager at Rhyzome Networks, Stratford’s city-owned “data utility”, reflects on the role of municipal broadband – both optical fibre and wireless.
As a citizen of Stratford since 1986 and having worked over 25 years globally in the enterprise wireless industry, I was convinced that the inventive City of Stratford’s vision for the digital economy was a winning strategy – a project that I wanted to contribute towards. So in 2009, I left a Silicon Valley technology company to join the city owned data utility company.
In 2010, the City of Stratford launched Rhyzome Networks a wholly owned data communications utility serving Stratford and six rural communities in southwest Ontario: Stratford, St. Marys, Brussels, Dashwood, Hensall, Seaforth and Zurich.
The Rhyzome Networks’ unique innovation was to “light” 70km of existing fibre optic infrastructure and add 100% city-wide high speed Wi-Fi for community services including;
- municipal mobile workforce
- utility smart meters
- health care
- digital inclusion
- business applications.
Here in Canada, community data connectivity is a critical factor in the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) “i-Canada Declaration”; Stratford is seen as a model city for their national communications high speed access standard.
So how does that affect people’s day-to-day life?
At a more quotidian level, here’s something that happened just today. One of Rhyzome’s clients called at 1PM this afternoon to say their current data network was down and they were sending their staff home.
However, we were able to provide a high-speed Wi-Fi link in less than an hour and kept their business open.
Owners, employees, customers… having ubiquitous Wi-Fi throughout the city made the day better for everyone.