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Wi-Fiber is creating safer cities by combining wireless tech, smart streetlights

Clayton Moore
wi-fiber city

A small company based in Camp Springs, Maryland, is using two very different platforms to give cities and communities all over America a major upgrade. Wi-Fiber was named Best in Show in the Smart City category at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), and is poised to transform cities like Las Vegas with a combination of cutting-edge wireless technology and an interconnected smart surveillance network.

The company has been very successful in deploying seamless gigabit-capable Wi-Fi networks. In Ballston, a neighbornood in Arlington County, Virginia, a mere half-hour away from Wi-Fiber’s headquarters, the company has deployed Blinked, a free Wi-Fi network that creates a seamless, wireless mesh around an entire area. Wi-Fiber’s solution in Boston consists of 32 access points placed on the tops of buildings eight to 20 stories tall. The company has deployed a similar solution in such underserved communities as government-assisted housing projects in Arlington, Virginia.

“To date, we’ve seen success by listening to the needs of the municipalities, their employees, and the citizenry,” said Chase Donnelly, one of the founding partners and now chief experience officer for Wi-Fiber. “Our wireless expertise has allowed for some remarkable deployments, but we’ve allowed ourselves to venture into previously uncharted territories at the behest of our clients and prospects. We’ve succeeded to date primarily from filling obvious gaps in the market often resulting from the realities of free-market principles. With each new deployment, we’ve deepened our understanding of the mechanics  of the market, the fiber routes of disparate cities, the challenges those cities often face, and the near- and long-term road maps of their smart efforts.”

Building a better city with a single, intelligent solution

These smart Wi-Fi networks are just one side of Wi-Fiber’s plan to transform cities. What made a big splash at CES was the company’s new “Intelli-Platform,” a cutting-edge smart surveillance system. The device connects onto existing streetlight poles, and in as little as 30 minutes, connects to power lines and activates the platform’s true purpose.

wi fiber surveillance ces2018 street light crop

The modular housing consists of LED lighting with strobe and color-changing capabilities, two-way microphones, speakers, 4K cameras with facial and license plate recognition functions, as well as a gunshot detector, all with IoT, 2/5G Wi-Fi, and LTE connectivity. To round out the solution, Wi-Fiber integrated Zigbee’s IoT platform, allowing the unit to access or include virtually any device on its frequency.

This advanced surveillance system is completely modular, allowing system operators to snap in new components without replacing the entire unit. This simplified deployment saves users time and money by integrating lighting, communications, and surveillance into one unit.

A smarter, safer Las Vegas

The Intelli-Platform’s capabilities recently drew the interest of Dr. Michael Sherwood, the director of information technology for the city of Las Vegas, which in October suffered the largest mass shooting by an individual in American history. Sherwood has been proactively working to broaden law enforcement’s tool kits and is working with Wi-Fiber to keep Las Vegas safer by partnering with Wi-Fiber.

“Wi-Fiber offers more than just a lighting system,” Sherwood said at CES last week. “It’s a complete ecosystem that really allows us to look at our streetlight network as a real network now. As the city grows and evolves, the platform can grow and evolve with us. It’s a foundation for a complete sensor network to be built around it.”

In the case of the recent shooting, Donnelly notes that additional data points and a more complex surveillance platform may have saved additional lives.

“With just a single device, our gunshot sensors could have triangulated the gunshots, minimizing the time taken to locate the shooter,” he explained. “The video feeds could have offered real-time visual data on the ongoing concert and the built-in speakers could have issued auditory warnings or recommendations assisting in the fallout. The Intelli-Platform’s built in network could have served as a data offload, reducing the number of people unable to make calls, and could have fed live video or emergency warnings to mobile devices.”

For their part, Wi-Fiber’s founders look to their roots at Georgetown Prep, their alma mater, and its credo “Women and Men for Others,” for guidance moving forward.

“We look to build solutions offering a better tomorrow,” said Donnelly. “From here, our mission is simple: to socialize and realize all that is possible with Wi-Fiber’s proprietary mesh capabilities and one-of-a-kind approach to smart connectivity. Here at CES, we recognized the vastly different approach we’re taking to these core concerns held by municipalities. We feel driven to deliver, not only to expand our business but more importantly, to solve problems, to interconnect endless technologies, to safeguard the innocent, assist in the capture of those looking to do harm, and to create a better tomorrow.”