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06/30/2004 - SPOKANEHOTZONEsm

Spokane's one hundred block wireless downtown area was "switched on" with much fanfare last Wednesday, June 23. This downtown area known as the SpokaneHotZonesm is the public domain of the City's dual purpose wireless network. The private City domain of the wireless network will be used for municipal operational and communication applications such as public safety, mobile work force, security ambassadors, and automated parking enforcement.

At the SpokaneHotZonesm launch, Mayor James West said, "The City of Spokane is achieving recognition in this country and around the world for our innovative projects. We just celebrated recent awards for All America City and Top U.S. Intelligent Community that highlighted our community's investment in broadband infrastructure and state-of-the-art applications. The SpokaneHotZonesm gives us a distinct advantage over other communities that aren't using these new technologies as an economic development tool."

Behind all such major developments there are the people who have the idea, the early adopters, and the unsung heroes without whom innovation would not exist. According to Martin Brewer, Senior Product Manager, Wavelink Corporation (based in Kirkland,) the genesis happened this way.

In March of 2003, Tom Heavey of Hoopfest had this crazy idea of making Spokane wireless for the Hoopfest event. Brewer was then an engineering manager at Vivato. He saw that this could be the beginning of great things; to not only get Hoopfest on the technology roadmap, but also to get Spokane well into the high-speed wireless era. Following a successful deployment for Hoopfest, Brewer met with the City with the idea of keeping the Vivato panels on City Hall permanently --- as a showcase for the city. The City; notably Garv Brakel, Director of MIS, and Joel Hobson, Technical Services Manager, were both accommodating and forward thinking. Hobson was the primary contact for the initial Hoopfest deployment.

"Anyway," says Brewer, "the seeds were sown at last year's Hoopfest and I'm delighted, really delighted, that the City and Vivato have gone forward with an expanded roll out that benefits any resident with WiFi."

The original Hoopfest deployment on City Hall shared the City's T1 connection. Now it has its own 180 Networks connection. The partners who shared the vision of Heavey, Brewer, Hobson and Brakel are the City of Spokane, Vivato, OneEighty Networks, Itronix, Downtown Spokane Partnership, Purcell Systems and WhiteRunkle. As Bob Green of New Horizons Computer Learning Center reported, "I was down at Hoopfest and was able to use my laptop from the park. It made for an interesting day."

Billie Moreland
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