Saw this in a 'puter magazine today:
My three cents:
1. Parts seem too gee-whiz for the sake of gee-whiz (come on, tieing traffic lights to automatic vehicle locators? Can you say, "Opticom" which would be much simpler, more robust, and cheaper.)
2. They didn't list Nokia as a vendor who AFAIK is the only company in the world to have pulled off something on this same scale -- Finland is blanketed by a nationwide police radio/video network with many of these capabilities. Rural areas probably offset "urban canyons" and their 4 million population is half that of the city, but still it's the next closest thing out there. The Finnish system is integrated to the point that their officers finish "typing" in a ticket, a printer spits it out -- complete with a fine based on information retrieved from income tax records. The officer's never know how much the ticket will be till it prints...
NYC Wireless Network Will Be Unprecedented
Public safety workers to get mobile data access citywide; costs are estimated at $500M to $1B
News Story by Bob Brewin
JUNE 21, 2004 (COMPUTERWORLD) - New York City plans to build a public safety wireless network of unprecedented scale and scope, including the capacity to provide tens of thousands of mobile users with the ability to send and receive data while traveling at speeds of up to 70 mph citywide.
Bids from vendors are due next month, and Gino Menchini, commissioner of the city's Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications, said he expects to award contracts for three-month pilot projects to multiple bidders by year's end. The final contract is expected to cover five years, with options for two five-year renewals.
Menchini described the planned network as "the most challenging and most comprehensive" wireless project that he's aware of -- an assertion that was backed up by vendors that have seen the request for proposals issued by the city.
"No one has ever attempted this before on such a scale," said Roger Skidmore, vice president and chief product officer at Austin-based Wireless Valley Communications Inc., which sells software for designing and managing wireless systems.
In fact, some vendors have asked the city whether it would scale back some of its requirements, such as a mandate to support 2Mbit/sec. data rates and streaming video from thousands of users simultaneously. But city officials rejected the requests in written responses. The RFP is "demanding and aggressive," Menchini said, but he believes that its requirements can be met.
He declined to disclose the projected cost of the project, saying he didn't want to influence the bidding process.
Mike Doble, a consultant at the Public Safety Communications Resource Center in San Ramon, Calif., estimated that it would cost about $500 million to develop the network architecture and install the wireless network plus handheld PCs and other mobile devices. An executive from a vendor that's involved in the bidding said the price tag could reach $1 billion.
Menchini said the network would provide mobile users from the New York police, fire and emergency medical service departments with broadband access to information such as mug shot and fingerprint databases and building floor plans. The city also wants to use the network to control traffic signals and support an automatic vehicle-location system that would be tied into its dispatch systems.
Installation Wanted Soon
Plans call for the wireless network to support up to 5,000 end users initially and then be expanded. The RFP doesn't specify a rollout date, but Menchini said he wants installation of the network to start "as soon as possible." continued>>
Menchini added that the pilot projects should be conducted by early next spring, if not sooner. The results will be used to evaluate which technologies should be used in the citywide network, he said.
New York wants a systems integrator to act as the prime contractor, according to the RFP. Electronic Data Systems Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM, iXP Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp. and Raytheon Co. all sent representatives to a bidders' conference and are viewed as potential candidates. Those companies either didn't return phone calls or declined to comment on whether they plan to bid.
Many consultants and vendors said the only way New York can meet its aggressive throughput and coverage goals is to use a mesh network architecture. Traditional Wi-Fi hot spots require a wired backhaul for each wireless access point. In comparison, access points in mesh networks communicate with one another in a so-called multihop sequence, allowing wired backhauls to be limited to the edge of a network or subnetwork.
Skidmore said that based on his reading of the RFP, a mesh network design "just jumps out at you" as a logical approach to the project.
Doble agreed, saying that any other network design would be too expensive.
Mesh networks are also well suited for solving potential wireless coverage problems in Manhattan's urban canyons, added Rick Rotondo, vice president of technical marketing at MeshNetworks Inc. in Maitland, Fla.
"You just deploy a lot of low-cost nodes," Rotondo said, noting that they could be installed on light poles.
Bert Williams, vice president of marketing at Tropos Networks Inc. in San Mateo, Calif., said his company could cover all of Manhattan with 600 Wi-Fi access points operating in the 2.4-GHz band in a mesh configuration.
Williams added that it would take more access points if the new 4.9-GHz public-safety band was used, but he didn't quantify the amount.
Murray Hill, N.J.-based Lucent Technologies Inc. is taking a different tack by proposing a network based on CDMA Evolution-Data Only (EV-DO) technology, which is used in cellular phone systems and has a peak data rate of 2.4Mbit/sec.
Karen Donahue, Lucent's director of government relations and strategy, said she envisions New York using EV-DO over a private network in the 1900-MHz cellular band.
Tropos, MeshNetworks and Lucent all said they have teamed up with systems integrators that are preparing bids, but they declined to identify their partners.