Intel boosts wireless governments

Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel Corp. has embarked on a global initiative to promote wireless connectivity in local government services, as Canadian cities watch in the sidelines for “lessons learned” from the pilot implementations.

No Canadian city was among the 13 municipalities that participated in the pilot project, but Intel said there has been interest expressed from local communities in Toronto and Calgary.

“I suspect that there is interest in Canada and we will engage communities in Canada. Nothing is set in stone yet (but) lots of interest and discussions ongoing, you can expect to see something in the future,” said Intel’s vice-president for sales and marketing, Anand Chandrasekher.

The projects were implemented in major cities across the world, including Taipei, Osaka in Japan, London in the UK, and several US cities. The pilot communities used Intel’s Wi-Fi, wireless mesh and WiMax technologies to enhance various local government services, such as utility and asset management, police services, healthcare and education.

Dubbed, Digital Communities, the initiative allowed the local governments to work closely with Intel and other technology partners such as Cisco, Dell, IBM and SAP to develop and deploy wireless technology-based services to enhance government efficiency.

As part of Taipei City’s Cyber City initiative, the Taiwanese city aims to establish more than 10,000 access points across the city, according to Taipei City Mayor Ma Ying-jeou. Taipei has a population of 2.6 million and a land area of 272 sq. km. The city hopes to achieve 100 per cent wireless coverage by early 2006.

Taipei has embarked on a series of build-operate-transfer (BOT) projects with several IT companies for building the technology infrastructure under its Cyber City initiative. Under the BOT scheme, private companies invest in building wireless networks, while the city government provides the needed public infrastructure for installing the access points, said Mayor Ma.

“If you want to cover a city of 2.6 million people (with wireless access points), that is not easy (but) we are doing that not on government budget (but through) a BOT scheme,” the mayor said, adding that even at its initial phase, wireless users in Taipei has been increasing by 200 per week. “So far we have roughly 35,000 people using the service.”

Cleveland, Ohio Mayor Jane Campbell said the city has deployed mobile and wireless technology in partnership with Cisco, IBM and Accela to establish an automated system for city services such as asset management and water management.

Digital technology has changed Cleveland’s outdated paper-based system by integrating the workflow activities of 11 city departments involving 500 employees, allowing them to file reports, schedule inspections and issue permits from the field, according to Intel.

“As wireless technology rapidly evolves, local governments are seizing the opportunity to address issues such as the digital divide and the challenge of providing equal and affordable access to high-speed broadband, while delivering more efficient and effective government services,” said Chandrasekher.

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