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Technology Working Group Minutes: October 6, 2005

CITY OF FULLERTON
TECHNOLOGY WORKING GROUP
MEETING MINUTES
October 6, 2005
9:00 A.M.

CALL TO ORDER

Fullerton IT Manager Helen Hall called the meeting to order at 9:05 a.m.

ROLL CALL

Members Present:

Tony Anderson Roger Burtner Fred Canfield Mike Carter Helen Hall Gerald Lucas Cameron McCune Robb Port

Members Arriving After Roll Call:

Paul Stover

Members Absent:

Stephen Hall
Carl Samantello

Guests:

John Nelson, Vice President of Sales and Business Development, NextPhase

APPROVAL OF MINUTES

Ms. Hall asked if there were any corrections to the minutes of the August 29, 2005, meeting. With no corrections, a motion for approval was made by Mr. Burtner, with a second by Mr. Lucas. The motion to approve the August 29, 2005, minutes carried unanimously.

DISCUSSION ITEMS

Discussion Item 1: Election of Chair and Vice Chair

Ms. Hall suggested that they delay Discussion Item #1 (Election of Chair and Vice-Chair) for a few minutes to see if absent members arrived late.

Discussion Item 2: Creation of an education/municipal (institutional) fiber/wireless network, FullertonNet

Mr. Burtner informed the group that he had requested a representative from NextPhase, an internet service provider and integrator headquartered in Anaheim, to speak to the Technology Working Group about how the city can expand its institutional network and create a wireless interconnect of schools and government facilities.

John Nelson, Vice President of Sales and Business Development, NextPhase, introduced himself and gave a brief presentation on NextPhase's capabilities and discussed the options available to the City for expanding its institutional network using wireless technology. He explained that NextPhase is vendor neutral, and prefers to assess the client's applications and objectives before making recommendations or structuring a hybrid solution. Mr. Nelson stated that he is willing to make a preliminary survey and assessment for the TWG of how an institutional network could be created in Fullerton using wireless technology. He asked for the addresses of all facilities that might wish to be connected and a list of the likely application requirements. He also asked if the City would be interested in working with NextPhase to conduct a beta test of Alvarion's new 4.9 GHz wireless equipment that is designed for public safety applications. Helen Hall expressed interest dependent upon the costs likely to be involved in conducting the test.

Ms. Hall asked if Mr. Nelson was aware of any cities working with their cable companies to leverage off of their resources to build a wireless overlay. He indicated that there were different approaches being utilized by different cities. Mr. Burtner noted that the cities of La Quinta, Santa Monica, and Pasadena had expanded their institutional networks by using or having access to their cable companies' fiber, connecting virtually all of their schools, and they were able to pay for connecting their own electronics to the fiber infrastructure through their telecommunications cost savings. In addition, schools and government facilities are commonly spread throughout a city and once they are connected to a fiber network, they can readily be made gateways for wireless access points or base stations that blanket the city with wireless connectivity. Mr. Burtner later indicated that he was putting together a visit to Santa Monica for the committee, and asked Mr. Anderson to contact George Araya at Desert Sands Unified School District to arrange a visit by the committee to see their system in three or four weeks.

After a lengthy discussion of different options available to the City, it was suggested that the committee develop a list of applications they want to accomplish, which would determine the bandwidth requirements and the type of equipment needed to achieve the desired objectives.

Discussion Item 1: Election of Chair and Vice Chair

Ms. Hall returned to Discussion Item 1 and asked if there were any nominations for Chair. Roger Burtner was nominated by Tony Anderson. There were no other nominations. Mr. Port motioned to approve the nomination, and Mr. Canfield seconded. Motion carried by unanimous vote.

Ms. Hall nominated Paul Stover for Vice Chair. There were no other nominations. Mr. Canfield motioned to approve the nomination, and Mr. Burtner seconded. Motion passed by unanimous vote.

Ms. Hall turned the meeting over to Chair Burtner.

Before proceeding to Discussion Item 3, Chair Burtner asked if there were any more comments regarding the institutional network.

Ms. Hall indicated that she thought it was important for each of the committee members to relate what their expectations of the committee are, so that those expectations could be addressed, if not implemented, in some way. She began by indicating that her expectation is to start with beta testing for wireless for public safety, and eventually branch out to help the schools and implement other wireless projects to connect city buildings.

Mr. Canfield stated that after being a Fullerton resident for 40 years, he wanted to see the city's technology infrastructure continue to grow and improve.

Mr. Anderson noted that he had a couple of goals. One is to see the committee pursue the municipal network idea. Second is to ensure that the downtown wireless system operates smoothly for all users. In addition, he stated he is hopeful that the committee can look at some way of providing more cost-effective Internet access for lower-income families.

Ms. Hall pointed out that expansion of FullertonWireless is something the city needs to address, but it's a question of funding. She stated that once the Economic Development Manager is hired, the committee should start working with that person to foster the businesses downtown to advertise on the portal in order to continue to pay for the ongoing costs for the free WiFi.

Mr. Port indicated that he would like to see Fullerton become competitive with surrounding cities, able to attract the right businesses to bring technology people to the community - an outgrowth and expansion of what the committee has done so far, so that it becomes an attractive entity for business.

Mr. Carter stated that he was interested in a high-speed, high bandwidth network that links all the schools.

Mr. Stover indicated the committee has the opportunity to figure out what it can do that's innovative and helpful to the community at large, noting that it's really about economic vitality for the city and the region.

Mr. McCune noted that as a school superintendent, looking at the issue from a school standpoint, what's important is expanding the use of technology and being able to have a solid system at an economical price. He indicated that a major issue with the school board was equity -- making sure that everyone has access. He also noted that alternate ways of communication are needed in case of natural disasters, indicating that school district staff have spent considerable time working on disaster plans. And from a homeowner standpoint, he stated that he would like to see more connectivity over the entire city.

Mr. Lucas indicated that his 40-year career in technology drew him to the committee, and that he was interested from a systems level, but he noted that it was important that a requirements list be developed from the various organizations in the city, determine what the existing infrastructure is, and then sort out what the committee's objectives are.

Chair Burtner referred back to the final report of the Technology Working Group (April 2005), pointing out three recommendations for the committee to pursue:
  • Provide assistance to other Fullerton institutions that might like to have wireless access, such as schools, government facilities, and medical centers outside the downtown area.

  • Evaluate other wireless applications and technologies such as those that support public safety and public works including City utilities.

  • Develop and investigate strategies for the creation of a limited fiberoptic or very high-speed point-to-point wireless network that links schools, government facilities, medical centers, etc.
It was suggested that the committee look at creating "innovation zones," perhaps within the redevelopment zones - creating an alliance between different entities, and getting the business community on board.

Chair Burtner suggested a "homework" assignment for the committee, that each member compile a list of application requirements so that the committee can talk further with NextPhase in terms of what they can provide.

Discussion Item 3: Next steps regarding FullertonWireless

Chair Burtner noted there are continuing problems with the downtown mesh and connectivity for Apple products. Carl Samantello and Tony Anderson had been asked at the previous meeting to check out the downtown mesh and report their experiences. Mr. Anderson indicated he had experienced very inconsistent behavior on the part of the network, and there were serious problems just getting on with Apple laptops. He noted there was no difficulty with access problems in public libraries, which confirmed that his equipment was not the problem.

Chair Burtner stated that he had spoken to Jeff Jones, a system engineer at Tropos (noting that Tropos had guaranteed 95% coverage). Mr. Jones indicated he would be willing to do some remote diagnostic testing on the system. Ms. Hall noted that the City does a test every morning of the system, which provides a diagram of all the access points and a diagnostic report of the percentage of coverage. She reported most of the access points are 90% or above. Chair Burtner asked that Ms. Hall print out copies of the reports so that committee members could review them. Several committee members indicated that connectivity between access points and clients could best be assessed from the wireless client; therefore, more work needs to be done using wireless clients in the field to survey connectivity.

Mr. Anderson indicated that he had an Apple system engineer drive around the city with him, who suggested that the problem might be with the method of certificate authentication that the system was using. Ms. Hall stated she would follow up with Tropos.

ITEMS FOR NEXT MEETING - OCTOBER 27, 2005

Chair Burtner indicated that he had distributed information to the committee members about Gigabeam, and had discussed with Jeff Chavez (Gigabeam-Silicon Valley) about possibly traveling to Fullerton to talk with the committee. It was noted that Gigabeam provides a high-speed link (1-2 Gbps) with one-mile range, but is three to four times the cost of wireless technology available from Orthogon Systems, which is somewhat lower speed (300-400 Mbps) but longer range.

Mr. Stover stated there was a major report coming out from the Economic Development Agency that will talk specifically about Orange County and where they think things should be going, which they believe will have significant impact on the area. Mr. Stover suggested that he would try to arrange to have someone come in and speak directly to that report when it comes out.

Chair Burtner concluded the meeting by asking members to complete their applications and requirements list, and requested that they email their lists to other committee members in advance of the meeting so they are prepared to begin a discussion at the October 27 meeting.

PUBLIC COMMENTS

None

ADJOURNMENT

There being no further business, a motion for adjournment was made and unanimously approved by the members present. The meeting adjourned at 10:30 a.m.

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