US Internet and the city of Minneapolis had a lot to brag about on Wednesday, August 1st. The coordination of response teams was top notch. The 800MHz radio system worked as planned. Add to that, municipal Wi-Fi. Minnesota Monitor reports on what USI Wireless did to help in the recovery efforts. If you have muni wifi, and there is a disaster, cell phones become useless, because their network gets jammed, and isn't as easy to expand. What USI Wireless did was to boost service in the area to handle more users, and the service around the disaster was made free. Also, to help the emergency response coorindation, they set up wifi webcams to monitor activity on the ground. The benefit of wifi to responders is the ability to have another method of communication, and to download large files, like GIS data of the area.
James Farstad writes a great analysis of the use of municipal wifi in the disaster.
While no one could have predicted what was going to happen, a lot of resources were available to to responders. You have to spend a lot of money to make sure nothing happens, or when something does happen, the loss of life is minimized. I'm going to try out the WiFi once it comes to town. Speed isn't such a big deal, although I'm spoiled with 10Mbps down, I don't download really large files anymore. Gone are my days of downloading large game demos, or linux distros. Those are downloaded from work anyway. You can look forward to a full review of the service once it comes to my neck of the woods, including mobile tests. I'll have a home station, and test out laptop, and Nokia 770 use. I'll make sure to test use with the muni wifi antenna's, and if possible without.