Wi-Fi Will Help Emergency Services

By: Ryan Dearbone Email
By: Ryan Dearbone Email

The recent Minnesota bridge collapse puts a spotlight on emergency response during disasters.

A major player during the bridge collapse was "wireless fidelity" or "Wi-Fi."

Minneapolis' Wi-Fi system allowed paramedics and first responders to get to the scene quickly.

Soon, Bowling Green will be following suit and adding Wi-Fi to its emergency operations plan.

Wi-Fi would allow all public safety vehicles to access any information they need from a laptop computer in their vehicles.

Many believe this will cut down response time drastically and possibly save lives in the process.

Don't be surprised if you see response times for area public safety officials decrease.

Bowling Green officials have been working for the past year to add wireless Internet throughout the city.

They say Wi-Fi will decrease lag time between when a call is sent and when it's responded to.

"When they go out in the field they won't have to come back to finish their paperwork or find out what their next assignment might be. They can do a lot of work right out in the field," said Lynn Hartley, Bowling Green Information Technology Director.

Public safety officials will also be better educated when they go out on an emergency.

"We'll be able to access information about a structure that we're on route to and find out if there's any special information we need, like a confined space within the building that we need to know," said Marlee Boenig, with the Bowling Green Fire Dept.

Boenig said it'll be a major change from their current system.

"It used to be that we would have to figure out that information once we arrived at the scene and that slowed our reaction time," Boenig explained.

Hartley said the city will be blanketed in Wi-Fi hubs.

"Right now we're projecting between 300 to 400 access points at various points across the city," he said.

Soon lightpoles will be retro-fitted with Wi-Fi technology throughout the city limits which will help public safety officials like the Bowling Green Fire Dept. do their job quicker.

Hartley said the move will also prove useful in case of a major disaster.

"It'll assist in the event of a disaster in the future. It'll help other agencies to communicate with each other in case of a disaster. It will be a big part of our disaster recovery plan," Hartley explained.

"Once everything gets up and running and we all have the same capabilities we hope that we can communicate with each other and find out all that information at the drop of a hat. Everybody knows where we're at, what page we're on and we can go from there," Boenig added.

Hartley said initially the Wi-Fi capabilities will be restricted to public safety officials and some city departments.

He noted that in the future it may be opened up so that everyone can log on using this Wi-Fi technology. Hartley also hopes installation of the Wi-Fi hubs can begin in September.

The system should be partially up and running by the end of this year.

To read about the Wi-Fi network that was put to the test in Minneapolis, click here.

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