Public sector rewarded for wireless innovation

Municipalities doing well

Municipalities doing well

The public sector has demonstrated it can lead the way in the use of wireless local area network (WLAN) technology, scooping several awards for its efforts last night.

At the first Wireless Broadband Innovation event, open to companies and initiatives from around the world, the city of Paris arguably took the greatest plaudits. The Paris Intelligent Bus Project won Best Public Wi-Fi Product, beating well-known initiatives such as the Connexion by Boeing in-flight WLAN system now being rolled out by airlines.

The company behind that is Sweden-based Appear Networks, which also took credit for the Paris Subway Wi-Fi Employee Project, winning Best Enterprise Deployment (commercial).

Appear VP EMEA Xavier Aubry told silicon.com that organisations such as the Paris or Stockholm subways or the rail network in the Netherlands are learning Wi-Fi isn't just about public access.

"Workers [on the Paris subway] have been shown to save 30 minutes each day," he said. "Once costs have been recouped, then it can be opened up to the public."

Closer to home, the Bristol Hotzone project walked away with Best Enterprise Deployment/Project (public sector). It is enabled by Cityspace, which is behind similar municipal wireless projects in cities such as Portsmouth.

Tina Speake, a design/project officer within Bristol City Council, said there will increasingly be knock-on benefits for all kinds of users, including small businesses and those wanting to run CCTV systems in that part of Bristol, but that learning from other Wi-Fi projects around the world is crucial.

Like Paris, Bristol is looking into wireless to update public terminals displaying bus times, for example.

Other awards of note include BT Infonet MobileXpress winning Best Service Provider, iPass Corporate Access winning Best Enterprise Wi-Fi Product and – maintaining a winning streak for the francophones – Colubris Networks CTO and founder Pierre Trudeau walking away with the Wireless Individual Achievement award. Colubris' technology underpins Connexion by Boeing in-flight wireless, among other things.