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Cisco Aironet 1200 Series

Metropolitan Mobile Networks

Table Of Contents

Solutions Guide

Applications: Wireless Networking for Communities

Deployment: Flexible, Scalable, Wireless Solutions

Availability: Reliable and Predictable Performance

Security: New Safeguards for Sensitive Data

Radio Interference: Simple Steps for Clear Connections

Extending Intelligent Services to Wireless LANs

Comprehensive Solutions to Support a Wide Range of Wireless Needs

Service and Support: The Backing of a World Leader

Appendix


Solutions Guide


Metropolitan Mobile Networks

Government and public agencies are often challenged to provide extensive services and information with limited resources. They have come to rely heavily on networking technology to perform important public services—but this technology can be costly and complex to maintain. Next-generation wireless technology offers innovative new ways to accelerate communications and services, while simplifying their delivery and significantly lowering their operational costs.

This guide explores how the Cisco® Metropolitan Mobile Networks solution is leading the wireless industry in providing affordable, secure, easily managed wireless LAN solutions. As a result, government and public agencies can extend their communications beyond the physical network, without compromising quality or security. A properly designed and configured wireless LAN meets challenges such as data security and in-band radio interference—and is simple to set up with Cisco wireless technology.

Wireless technology enables flexible, mobile, and dynamic communications, so that information can be more easily shared and services performed more efficiently. Government and public agencies around the world are already deploying Cisco Metropolitan Mobile Networks solutions to enhance public safety and services.

For example, in the town of Chiran, Japan, long-range wireless bridges provide government agencies with a cost-effective means of sharing information and resources, to allow their citizens access to public- information databases. Wireless bridges also enable the government to efficiently set up election polling sites throughout the town and to better manage their resources.

In the City of Greensboro, North Carolina, USA, the city inspectors and police officers use wireless hot spots to access department databases for information to conduct their daily field assignments. With this solution, the inspectors can shorten their commute time between job sites and increase their responsiveness to public-service requests. The police officers are able to spend more time in the field by downloading and doing paperwork at secured hot spots throughout the city.

These are just a few examples of how city officials are leading the way into a new era of communications, using the Cisco Metropolitan Mobile Networks solution to improve public services and enhance the public safety and well-being of their citizens.

Applications: Wireless Networking for Communities

Government and public agencies are looking at different ways to better manage their resources, improve productivity, and enhance public safety in their communities. Some are extending their wired network infrastructure to the field using Cisco Metropolitan Mobile Networks solutions. These solutions give government and public-agency employees access to business-critical and time-sensitive information—information that can be used to better serve the public. Transit agencies, for example, can use wireless technology to better secure their facilities, and prepare for and respond to emergencies within the community.

City officials and police officers have traditionally used wireless communications to exchange information with each other. In addition to two-way radios, many use mobile computers to send and receive data over Cellular Digital Packet Data (CDPD) or private wired radio networks.

With an effective transmission rate of 9.6 Kbps, these networks offer adequate bandwidth for text-based applications such as e-mail, instant messaging, and simple database queries, but are too slow to support more sophisticated applications. Now many agencies are enhancing and complementing these systems with Cisco wireless LANs based on the international IEEE 802.11 standard, making it possible to store and retrieve data at far greater speeds. In doing so, they not only increase the performance and availability of existing text-based applications, but also open the door to entirely new ones, such as digital imaging and streaming video. And they save money in the process, avoiding the cost of monthly service charges and reducing their reliance on wireless service providers.

Photographs, digital images, structural diagrams, telematic information, voice-over-IP (VoIP) traffic, and video feeds can be transmitted over 802.11-compliant Cisco wireless networks. E-mail and other Web-based applications are also supported, giving personnel in the field mobile access to all the information and resources available through their wired networks.

As a result, local government employees can make faster, more informed decisions and are better able to manage their resources. They can also save considerable time filing reports and taking care of other administrative tasks by avoiding the need to transfer data between department servers and vehicle computers using floppy disks. And with so many tools at their disposal, they can be more self-reliant, easing the burden on dispatchers and other support staff.

Using a digital camera and a handheld scanner, for example, a police officer can capture suspect mug shots and fingerprints at the point of arrest. The information can then be transmitted from the officer's vehicle back to headquarters over a Cisco wireless LAN, then automatically cross-referenced with regional, state, and federal databases.

Without this technology, a suspect typically would be transported back to headquarters to be photographed and fingerprinted by police technicians, who would then manually enter the results into relevant databases.

In addition to saving time and effort, a Cisco wireless LAN enables the officer to conduct a real-time database query on the suspect, comparing the fingerprints against thousands of others on file. This not only verifies the suspect's identity, but could potentially lead to a match with prints from an unsolved case.

Some of the most exciting applications for high-speed wireless LANs involve the ability to send and receive live video feeds. Known as IP video, because it is based on the Internet Protocol that defines how information is passed between systems via the Internet, it can be used to remotely monitor public areas and to gain insight into rapidly developing or escalating situations.

Public Safety Deployment Architecture

Deployment: Flexible, Scalable, Wireless Solutions

The cornerstones of the Cisco Metropolitan Mobile Networks solution are high-speed wireless hot spots. Unlike public hot spots—which have begun to appear in airports, hotel lobbies, and coffee shops as a convenience for visitors, allowing anyone with a wireless-enabled computer or device to access the Internet—the hot spots used by government employees are secure and accessible only by authorized personnel.

High-speed wireless LAN coverage can be limited to one or two private hot spots covering a short distance, or can be extended across important areas of the community using multiple overlapping hot spots.

With proxy mobile IP or mobile IP client devices, users can roam from one wireless hot spot to another and maintain network connectivity. 802.11 technology makes this possible by transporting individual IP addresses as users move from one subnet to the next.

With this method the wireless LAN can be partitioned into distinct, easily managed segments to enhance user mobility. This model more closely mirrors the architecture of the wired network, yet the boundaries are transparent from the user's perspective.

For many communities, one of the attractive features of 802.11 technology is the modular fashion with which it can be deployed, starting with the establishment of hot spots around city hall and police stations, and expanding to other areas including public transit terminals, schools, fire stations, libraries, and parks as resources become available or requirements grow.

For transit agencies, wireless networks help enable rapid and efficient communications with transit operations or depots. Wireless technology provides a single point of communication off vehicles that can be used for critical information including telemetrics, passenger load, route changes, and revenue-collection data. The Wi-Fi capabilities provide a foundation from which transit agencies can offer new services that benefit customers and generate additional revenue.

Wireless bridges offer an additional way to create high-speed wireless links between sites. Wireless bridges deliver several times the throughput of T1 lines at a fraction of the cost, because there are no recurring service charges.

Wireless bridges can be configured for point-to-point or point-to-multipoint applications, allowing two or more sites to connect into a single LAN and share a single high-speed Internet connection. They have a maximum range of about 25 miles (40 kilometers [km]), and can be used in tandem to cover even greater distances, with data transmissions hopping from one bridge to the next.

Wireless bridges can also be used to create hot spots in areas far beyond the reach of the wired LAN, because unlike access points, they don't need to be physically plugged into the network. All they require is a power source, and a link to the network via another wireless bridge.

For easy, mobile wireless connectivity, public-safety vehicles can be equipped with Cisco 3200 Mobile Access Routers. These rugged, compact devices make it possible to maintain secure network connections as the vehicles move from one hot spot to the next, avoiding the need to re-authenticate users each time they come within range of another access point.

Between hot spots, the mobile access router will automatically switch over to any other available wireless technology, taking advantage of slower radio, cellular, and satellite networks to maintain an uninterrupted connection until high-speed wireless LAN coverage resumes.

The mobile access router easily hands off the connection from one network to the next, so applications continue to run independently of any particular wireless technology.

Public Sector Deployment Architecture

Availability: Reliable and Predictable Performance

For government agencies, keeping the network up and running is very important. It's critical that the wireless LAN solutions they deploy offer enterprise-class performance and reliability.

Cisco Aironet wireless solutions allow organizations to build highly resilient and high availability wireless LANs with fault-tolerant configurations. Using hot-standby capabilities, for example, the network can be designed so that a backup access point will immediately take over in the rare event a primary access point fails.

Because wireless bandwidth is a shared medium, organizations may wish to deploy multiple access points in areas where they expect high user densities. In such situations, the load-balancing features of Cisco Aironet solutions can be utilized to ensure the different access points work as a system, evenly distributing bandwidth among the various users and optimizing performance in real time.

Security: New Safeguards for Sensitive Data

For obvious reasons, government agencies are extremely cautious about any technology that might leave their networks vulnerable to intrusion. The Cisco Wireless Security Suite offers the most comprehensive set of wireless LAN authentication and encryption features available, closely paralleling the security services in a wired LAN.

This robust solution provides scalable, centralized security management and supports dynamic per-user, per-session encryption keys to protect the privacy of transmitted data. Other enhancements include the ability to encrypt every data packet with a different key, thwarting attempts to hack into the network by deciphering the key for an intercepted packet.

Cisco Aironet solutions support all 802.1X Extensible Authentication Protocol (EAP) types, including EAP Cisco Wireless, also known as LEAP. Cisco LEAP supports a broad range of operating systems and allows existing security procedures, such as user-name and password prompts, to be integrated into a single sign-on and authentication process.

From the user's perspective, the log-on process appears the same as it always has. After the user's name and password are entered, the access point will block all traffic until the user's credentials are authenticated. Once that's completed, a unique 128-bit cipher and temporal key integrity protocol (TKIP) enhancements from Cisco Systems are used to safeguard all information transmitted over the air.

For organizations looking to provide a seamless security framework between a radio networks, an added layer of security can be achieved through the use of virtual private network (VPN) solutions. Cisco VPN solutions meet the highest security requirement of the federal government, providing strong triple DES encryption and authentication through digital certificates, one-time password tokens, and pre-shared keys to further protect sensitive information transmitted over wireless networks.

A recognized leader in network security issues and solutions, Cisco believes that no single point of defense can guarantee data privacy and protection; for true network security, an end-to-end approach is required across both the wired and wireless LAN, from the network core to the network edge.

For more information on wireless LAN security, visit:

http://www.cisco.com/go/aironet/security

Radio Interference: Simple Steps for Clear Connections

Accustomed to using privately licensed radio frequencies for voice and data

transmissions, local government agencies are sometimes wary of technologies that operate in the unlicensed spectrum, including 802.11 wireless LANs. Fortunately, the Cisco Metropolitan Mobile Networks solution easily addresses these concerns.

One of the perceived problems with unlicensed frequencies is the fear of in-band interference from other devices, leading to signal degradation and an unreliable wireless network. Although the possibility of interference does exist—cordless phones, microwaves, and Bluetooth wireless devices share the 2.4-gigahertz (GHz) band with 802.11b wireless LANs—it is not a serious threat to a properly designed Cisco Metropolitan Mobile Network.

By measuring in-band interference beforehand, agencies can design around any possible sources of interference. If interference is detected on one channel, two others are still available.

Deploying additional access points also helps mitigate the risk of in-band interference, because mobile devices will automatically seek out a clear channel on another access point if performance drops below acceptable thresholds.

It is important to note that even when interference is encountered in the 2.4-GHz band, it does not disable 802.11b wireless networks. In most cases, performance will degrade by no more than 15 to 20 percent.

Cisco Aironet solutions support 802.11a wireless LANs, which operate in the 5-GHz band and are not subject to interference from devices using the 2.4-GHz frequency. 802.11a wireless LANs also offer faster data rates up to 54 Mbps—compared with the 11 Mbps of 802.11b devices.

Wide Area (multiple cities) Deployment Architecture

Extending Intelligent Services to Wireless LANs

More than just a line of wireless access points, bridges, adapters, and accessories, the Cisco Aironet Family reflects the end-to-end approach Cisco takes with the Cisco Metropolitan Mobile Networks solution, allowing public agencies and public transit authorities to use their wired infrastructure and extend intelligent services to wireless access points.

Cisco wireless LAN architecture delivers performance, scalability, manageability, and security to public organizations and public transit agencies in an easy-to-deploy solution. The architecture, including the Cisco Aironet 1100 Series access points and Cisco Aironet 1200 access points, provides distributed intelligence and enterprise-class services such as VLANs, quality of service (QoS), and proxy mobile IP.

The result is a unique combination of features that allow agencies to segment wireless networks, prioritize wireless traffic, provide easy connectivity across multiple wireless subnets in the community, and bolster wireless LAN security to block intruders and safeguard transmitted data.

For intelligent and reliable network services in the wireless LAN, the Cisco Aironet Family also supports the following:

High-availability services, such as load balancing and hot-standby redundancy for dependable performance.

Rich filtering options to provide performance and application tuning to meet specific business requirements.

Inline power over Ethernet, simplifying and reducing the total cost of installation and ownership.

A scalable architecture to accommodate future software features and future radio technologies, protecting your investments.

Comprehensive Solutions to Support a Wide Range of Wireless Needs

Cisco Aironet 1200 Series Access Point sets the standard for secure, manageable, and reliable wireless connectivity. With simultaneous support for 2.4-GHz and 5-GHz radios, the Cisco Aironet 1200 operates on Cisco IOS® Software, enables users to deploy wireless LANs based on the 802.11b standard, the faster 802.11a standard, or both. Its scalable design also provides a migration path to future 802.11g equipment. With its plenum rating, inline power support, and two separate locking mechanisms, the Cisco Aironet 1200 Series is an ideal choice for the rigorous demands of public-safety applications, including outdoor deployments.

For a Cisco Aironet 1200 Series Access Point data sheet, please visit:

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/hw/wireless/ps430/products_data_sheet09186a00800937a6.html

For a Cisco Aironet Power Injector data sheet, please visit:

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/hw/wireless/ps430/products_data_sheet09186a00800f927d.html

Cisco Aironet 1100 Series Access Point offers an affordable, intelligent, and scalable 2.4-GHz wireless LAN solution that is highly secure and easy to manage. Based on Cisco IOS® Software and equipped for the IEEE 802.11b standard, the Cisco Aironet 1100 Series features a scalable design to facilitate migration to the future IEEE 802.11g standard. Its compact size, integrated diversity dipole antennas, and innovative bracket design allow for quick, easy installation in a variety of orientations. It is an ideal choice for indoor applications, allowing dispatchers, watch commanders, and other personnel to maintain network connections without having to stay at their desks.

For a Cisco Aironet 1100 Series Access Point data sheet, please visit:

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/hw/wireless/ps4570/products_data_sheets_list.html

For a Cisco Aironet Power Injector data sheet, please visit:

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/hw/wireless/ps469/products_data_sheet09186a00800f927d.html

Cisco Aironet 1400 Series Wireless Bridge provides a high-performance and feature-rich solution for connecting multiple LANs in a metropolitan area. Designed to be a cost-effective alternative to leased lines, it is engineered specifically for harsh outdoor environments with extended operating temperature range. It supports both point-to-point and point-to-multipoint configurations with data rates up to 54 Mbps. It has both integrated antennas and optional external antennas for flexibility in deployment. The Cisco Aironet 1400 is designed specifically for ease-of-installation and operation.

For a Cisco Aironet 1400 Series Wireless Bridge data sheet, please visit:

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/hw/wireless/ps5279/products_data_sheet09186a008018495c.html

Cisco Aironet 350 Wireless Bridge enables high-speed site-to-site links of up to 25 miles (40 km) in areas regulated by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Delivering throughput several times greater than T1 or E1 lines at a fraction of the cost, the Cisco Aironet 350 is ideal for data-intensive, line-of-sight applications, such as connecting public-safety headquarters, substations, and mobile command vehicles. It can be configured for point-to-point or point-to-multipoint applications, allowing two or more sites to connect into a single LAN and share a single high-speed Internet connection.

For a Cisco Aironet 350 Series Wireless Bridge data sheet, please visit:

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/hw/wireless/ps458/products_data_sheet09186a008008883c.html

Cisco 3200 Series Mobile Access Router allows users to maintain secure data, voice, and video connections while their vehicles are in motion. These compact, high-performance devices offer easy mobility and interoperability, so automobiles, aircraft, and boats can stay connected while roaming between radio, cellular, and satellite networks. Supporting industry-standard IP, the Cisco 3200 Series accommodates any type of standard wireless connection, with IP traffic remaining independent of the wireless transmission medium.

For a Cisco 3200 Series Mobile Access Router data sheet, please visit:

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/hw/routers/ps272/products_data_sheet0900aecd800fe973.html

Cisco Aironet 350 Series Client Adapters complement Cisco Aironet 1200 access points using one or more 2.4-GHz radios. Available in PCMCIA and PCI form factors, these 802.11b-compliant client adapters quickly connect desktop and mobile computing devices to the wireless LAN.

For Cisco Aironet 350 Series Client Adapters data sheets, please visit:

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/hw/wireless/ps4555/products_data_sheet09186a00800c61ea.html

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/hw/wireless/ps4555/products_data_sheet09186a00801ebc33.html

Cisco Aironet 5 GHz 54 Mbps Wireless LAN Client Adapter (CB20A) complements Cisco Aironet 1200 Series access points using one or more 5-GHz radios. The 802.11a-compliant CardBus adapter operates in the UNII-1 and UNII-2 bands to provide up to 54-Mbps throughput.

For Cisco Aironet 5 GHz 54 Mbps Wireless LAN Client Adapter data sheet, please visit:

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/hw/wireless/ps4555/products_data_sheet09186a00800c61ea.html

Cisco Aironet antennas and accessories are available for client adapters, access points, and bridges to customize wireless solutions. With the industry's widest selection of directional and omnidirectional antennas (2.4-GHz or 5-GHz), low-loss cable, mounting hardware, and other accessories, users can create a wireless solution that meets the requirements of even the most challenging applications.

For Cisco Aironet antennas and accessories data sheets, please visit:

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/hw/wireless/ps469/index.html

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/hw/wireless/ps469/products_data_sheet09186a008008883b.html

Cisco Secure Access Control Server (ACS) provides user authentication, authorization, and accounting (AAA) to manage user and administrative access to the network. The Cisco Secure ACS is a highly scalable, high-performance access control server that operates as a centralized RADIUS server or TACACS+ server. It extends access security by combining authentication, user or administrator access, and policy control, thereby increasing flexibility, mobility, and network security.

For Cisco Secure Access Control Server data sheets, please visit:

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/sw/secursw/ps5338/products_data_sheet09186a008018ea8d.html

CiscoWorks Wireless LAN Solution Engine is a specialized, easily deployed solution for daily management of the entire Cisco Aironet wireless LAN infrastructure. It provides centralized, template-based configuration with hierarchical, customer-defined grouping to efficiently manage large numbers of access points and bridges. It monitors Cisco secure access control servers, both LEAP and generic RADIUS, and further enhances security management by detecting misconfigurations on access points and bridges. Its capabilities include proactive monitoring, troubleshooting, notification of performance degradation, and reports for improving capacity planning.

For CiscoWorks Wireless LAN Solution Engine data sheets, please visit:

http://www.cisco.com/en/US/products/sw/cscowork/ps3915/products_data_sheets_list.html

Service and Support: The Backing of a World Leader

From initial installation to future upgrades, Cisco Systems® makes it easy for public and government agencies to complement their existing communications systems with secure, reliable, high-speed wireless LANs.

Deployment assistance is available through Cisco Total Implementation Solutions, and extended technical support is offered through Cisco SMARTnet` support and Cisco SMARTnet Onsite service programs. For municipalities that require advanced deployment, design, and integration services, Cisco has a variety of partners with the expertise to assist in all phases of the process, including:

Site surveys

Coverage mapping

Hot-spot design and deployment

Wireless bridge installations

700 megahertz (MHz), 2.4 GHz, 5 GHz systems integration

Mobile device installation and configuration

Training and support

System certification

For information on how to get started, visit: www.cisco.com

Appendix

Customer Success Story:
Japanese Community Builds New Regional Network with Cisco Aironet Solution 

Chiran, a town noted for its sightseeing and tea industries, is located at the southern end of Japan's Satsuma Peninsula. Infrastructure in such regional areas tends to lag behind that of urban communities, and many local areas still have no continuous connection to the Internet. Consequently, more local governments are providing their own networks, and Chiran has developed a 128-Kbps private communication network.

The availability of a network inspires local development, and the network can function as an intranet inside the town government. The Chiran network connects public offices, community centers, schools, and similar organizations. It aids in the performance of administrative work, benefits the townspeople by increasing the efficiency of public services, and provides internet connectivity in community centers.

At first, branch locations used Chiran's network to connect with the main government office. To keep up with broadband technology, however, constructing a new network with high-speed connections became an urgent necessity. Chiran decided that maintaining a private network was too expensive, because of the costs of increasing both the connection speed and the number of lines. The town developed a budget to build an original local network.

"To bring about true computerization, information must be made available to the townspeople," said Mr. Tanaka, Chiran Town Officer. "This led to our decision to start the new wireless service with the network we have built."

Chiran built its wireless LAN upon its existing network, using 46 Cisco Aironet 340 Series wireless bridges plus strategically placed Yagi and Omni antennas. The Cisco Aironet 340 Series wireless bridges provide high-speed, long-range, point-to-point and point-to-multipoint wireless connections between Ethernet networks. Direct-sequence-spread spectrum technology permits a data rate of 11 Mbps. Range and performance are unaffected by inclement weather, and wireless bridges are not deterred by such physical barriers as freeways or bodies of water.

"11 Mbps is, by all means, the desired speed," explained Mr. Tanaka. "Narrowing down the choices, we selected the reliable Cisco Aironet product, as it is able to supply 11 Mbps, to encode data, and to maintain the system via the Web. The increased speed has allowed us to develop applications at places other than public offices. Also, information on residents and financial affairs can now be accessed from outside the public offices, requiring the encoding technology that Cisco Aironet provides."

The wireless LAN stretches for approximately 12 miles (20 km) and through three relay stations, from its base in the Chiran Town Office. The length of the Chiran peninsula slopes gradually to the sea, within the maximum carrying distance fixed by the radio regulations. It also allows connection with the minimum number of relay stations.

People are able to check online event schedules and to make reservations for community centers, sports facilities, and other activities. IT training sessions and aggressive public relations have increased the interest of residents. Currently, almost 300 clients use the network. Reliability remains the most important factor when choosing equipment, but Mr. Tanaka says he is also satisfied with the Cisco solution's other important merit—reducing operating costs.

Chiran's educational system is among the beneficiaries of the new wireless LAN. "Using the network between schools has been one of our main considerations," explained Mr. Tanaka. "Until now, each school had connected to the Internet individually. It was difficult for school A and school B to do the same thing by being connected to the Internet at the same time, for instance. Now, by being within the same network, the schools can be connected to each other directly without using the Internet."

In the future, electronic conferencing, e-mailing between schools, and other activities will be possible. Because a five-day school week started in 2002, the schools in Chiran open their computer rooms on weekends so that students' families can use the network for various activities. This system will also be used for townspeople to experience the Internet. "Constructing the network by installing the wireless LAN was a great choice, and has opened the way for the network to expand throughout the town," said Mr. Tanaka.

Many other local Japanese governments are now exploring various educational programs enabled by wireless networks, such as exchanging classes freely between schools, or allowing elementary school students to experience junior high school classes. Chiran also has plans to use its wireless network for new educational programs.

The wireless LAN also gives Chiran an opportunity to upgrade its voting process. In the near future, a computerized election system will be possible and Chiran plans to adopt it at an early stage. There are 17 polling places in Chiran, and the seven that are in community centers are networked to the Town Office. When the other 10 become networked via the wireless LAN, election results can be transmitted online. (Currently, each polling place relays information by telephone.) Voting results will be continually totaled online, and moment-to-moment reports of the election returns will be possible. This new capability, and many future applications, will be simple to deploy with the wireless LAN already in place.


Customer Success Story: For Greensboro, Wireless Network Is Like Adding Unpaid Staff 

For the City of Greensboro, North Carolina, USA, adopting a Cisco Aironet wireless network has been like adding eight extra employees, none of whom require salaries or take vacations.

The third largest city in North Carolina, Greensboro is a manufacturing and distribution center for agriculture, primarily cotton textiles. It is the home for two universities and three colleges. As part of a broad program to improve the quality and reduce the costs of city services through upgrading its technology base, Greensboro has placed Cisco Aironet 340 access points at eight sites throughout the city—seven fire departments and one police substation—and installed Cisco Aironet 340 Series client adapter cards into 32 handheld units and laptop computers.

At present, the main user of the Cisco Aironet wireless network is Greensboro's Inspections Department, which monitors for plumbing, electrical, mechanical, and structural compliance and safety. In the past, inspectors would travel from their homes to the main downtown office, receive their daily assignments, and then return to the field, often retracing their steps.

Now each inspector simply takes the handheld unit to one of the eight wireless networked sites nearest home, logs onto the city network, downloads the day's itinerary, and begins to work. Twice a day, inspectors return to one of the sites to download inspection information onto the server. And at any time they can stop by one of the sites to check on route changes, access the Internet, and collect e-mail.

The eight sites are strategically located in different parts of the city. For some inspectors, the journey from home is just two or three minutes.

"The Cisco system works very well. We're fortunate in that the eight download sites are already connected by fiber optics to the antenna, so we are running the wireless LAN at 11 Mbps, faster than some of the desktops," said Walter "Butch" Simmons, codes enforcement manager for the city. "It's all part of an integrated system, of which the high-speed wireless LAN is a key element."

The system is automated and takes requests 24 hours a day. Inspectors not only download information for immediate posting, but they can carry every active permit with them at all times. The wireless system allows them all the capability they would have at a desk.

In addition, downloading reports through the wireless network enables contractors to learn inspection results a full day earlier than before, according to Simmons. Thus, contractors know quickly whether they passed or failed so they can move forward with a project or begin addressing unsatisfactory findings.

"The wireless network saves everybody a lot of time. We have calculated that it adds two hours per day per inspector, and we have 32 inspectors. That's like getting eight new people without paying for them," Simmons stated.

Another group scheduled to use the Cisco Aironet 340 access points for field reporting is the Greensboro Police Mobile Response Team (MRT). "Non-sworn" MRTs—civilian employees who work for the department but are not police officers—record general police reports on such events as stolen bikes or car break-ins. Like the inspectors, these MRTs can drive to remote sites and upload their reports to the police record management system.

The Solid Waste Management Division will soon be added to the wireless network. "Eventually, we will get some type of device in their trucks so that when they are picking up garbage and we get a call saying they need to visit another area in town, we can send them a message to take another route to pick up in this particular area," Jones explained.

"We also want to use the access points to do smart routing. We will use a software package that can route the trucks in the most efficient manner to provide timely trash pickup without doing unnecessary backtracking. All we are waiting for are more units, and the installation of more access points," he continued. In addition to the eight access points already installed, the city has 25 more planned, which eventually will provide coverage throughout the entire community.

Others to join the network include soil-erosion experts, fire inspectors, sworn police officers, and park and street maintenance personnel. "There are so many people in the field with whom we want to be able to communicate. We have an intranet Website that keeps everybody posted on new developments, but often the field people are not connected," Jones said, "so having a device that ties them back to city hall on a constant basis will make them more informed and more efficient. Wireless is the ideal solution."

Greensboro has become "a Cisco shop," Jones added. "We have a Cisco LAN with Cisco routers, Cisco chassis, and other smaller Cisco switches. We are committed to remaining on the cutting edge of technology."